In 2011 the Brewers were in the middle of what would become their most successful season in franchise history. That year I had just moved back to the city where I grew up. It was also the year Jorge Lopez got drafted by the Brewers. Five years later the Brewers are rebuilding, I'm managing BCB, and Jorge Lopez is Milwaukee's top pitching prospect.
Not that long ago claiming the top spot among Brewers pitching prospects wasn't exactly a notable achievement. But that's no longer the case. The Brewers have a consensus top ten farm system. Baseball America and MLB Pipeline ranked them 9th, Kieth Law ranked them 5th, and I've ranked them number one in my heart.
The position players are the strength of the system, but it's pretty deep in pitching prospects with Jorge Lopez sitting atop the heap. He's ranked 3rd or 4th by most accounts. BP has him 4th giving his fastball "future tools" grade of 65 and his curveball a 60. Pipeline's grades are the same. Baseball America gives him a 60 on each pitch. His change-up and command need work but each grades out between 45-50, making it very likely his future role is somewhere in a rotation. On global Top 100 lists he ranks 57th by Pipeline, 59th by BA, 71st by BP, and 75th by Klaw.
Last year Lopez made huge strides which garnered him such lofty praise. He was a part of the dominating Biloxi Shuckers rotation. Among qualified pitchers in the Southern League, Lopez's 2.26 ERA was bested only by teammate Ty Wagner's 2.25. He would end the season logging 10 innings with the Brewers during a September call-up. This year he'll start the season in AAA, which will be his first stop at the level. But given his success and the September call-up last year, we should expect to see the young righty pitching with the Brewers before too long.
For a long terrible time being called the Brewers' top pitching prospect wasn't saying very much. Those days are in the long, long ago now. And when we say Jorge Lopez is the Brewers current top pitching prospect we say with pride and we say it with meaning! Jorge Lopez is not a front line starter, but he looks to be a mid-rotation pitcher with some upside and he's pretty close to ready for major league innings. That's pretty exciting.
Statistics courtesy of FanGraphs