Lopez, Guerrero Highlight Diamondbacks’ Fall League Roster


Diamondback fans that happen to live in Arizona are a pretty lucky bunch. Living in the greater-Phoenix area gives them a unique opportunity, one that allows them to watch professional baseball almost year-round.

The Copper State is home to the Diamondbacks, ten facilities that host Spring Training games, and the Arizona Fall League. The latter is almost the forgotten child of the group; Spring Training is a tourist boom for the state, and the Diamondbacks are a major league team that will always draw fans. The Fall League gives fans the chance to see young players before they hit the big time, and this year the Diamondbacks are being represented by some very intriguing talent that will be worth watching.

All told, Arizona will be sending eight players to represent them in the Fall League. Of those eight, the two that might stick out are Cuban pitcher Yoan Lopez and Gabriel Guerrero, an outfielder from the Dominican Republic.

Let’s start with Lopez. The Diamondbacks signed the 22-year-old at the beginning of 2015. Lopez is listed as 6’3″‘ and 185 pounds, and he sports a mid-90s fastball that is considered to be his best pitch. A scouting report on Fangraphs gives Lopez’ fastball a grade of 60/65 on the 20-80 scouting scale, meaning that it’s currently a 60 but has the potential to be a 65. This makes his fastball a “plus” pitch in scouting terms; in other words, it’s pretty good.

The grades of his other pitches aren’t as impressive (45/55 for his slider, 40/50 for his changup), but his delivery could play a role in how effective those pitches are. As you can see in this article from Baseball America, which was written after Lopez signed with the Diamondbacks, he nearly goes into a three-quarter delivery to deliver his slider. This helps contribute to the drop that can be seen in the video, and it’s a pitch that could be developed into a real weapon. His slight change in delivery could also be contributing to his slider being hit; if the batter knows what’s coming, it’s easier to hit. Thus, a few tweaks to his delivery could lead to a real boost for the young right-hander.

His 4.69 ERA and 4.55 FIP for the Mobile BayBears leave much to be desired, but hey, he’s only 22 years old. It’s my opinion that the Diamondbacks often give up too early on young pitching (see Max Scherzer, Trevor Bauer, etc.), and Lopez could be a good piece for Arizona in the next few years to compliment more prominent prospects, such as Braden Shipley and Aaron Blair. Go see him play in the Arizona Fall League and decide for yourself.

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The other name that might garner interest is Gabriel Guerrero, nephew of noted nine-time All Star and nephew of former MVP Vladimir Guerrero. Vladimir was one of the better hitters of the past decade, and he developed a reputation as one of the best bad ball hitters in the league. It was fascinating as a baseball fan, but terrifying as a fan of a team that Vlad never played for. Thus, the first question that everyone asks is this: how similar is Gabriel to his uncle?

Gabriel is only 21 years old, but his first season with the Diamondbacks farm system was actually his fifth overall (he spent roughly four years in the Mariners minor league system). Therefore, most of his numbers are that of a raw teenager who is still developing and learning the game. Also, Vladimir is quite possibly a first ballot Hall of Famer, so comparisons to him are completely unwarranted. To hell with that though, let’s compare them because they’re related and fans want to know if the next Vladimir is currently in the Diamondbacks farm system.

In his time in the minor leagues, Gabriel has compiled a slash line of .277/.316/.412. I’m going to pretty much disregard Vladimir’s major league numbers because that’s just not fair to Gabriel, so we’ll look at Vlad’s time in the minors. Apparently that’s still unfair, because he put together a .346/.403/.588 line during his time in the minors, leaps and bounds ahead of where Gabriel currently is. To be fair, these numbers are slightly boosted by time that he spent on rehabs later in his career, but not by much.

Vladimir was also much more disciplined as a minor leaguer. He drew 96 walks and struck out 118 times in 306 games. Gabriel, on the other hand, has drawn 116 walks and struck out 422 times in 507 games.

So is it fair to compare Gabriel to Vladimir? Of course not, but that’s what people want to know when they hear the name Guerrero. However, good coaching and development can go a long way, so perhaps Gabriel could remind us of his uncle every once in a while. Only time will tell.

There are six other players that will be representing the Diamondbacks at the Arizona Fall League, but Yoan Lopez and Gabriel Guerrero are the most fascinating in my eyes. If you have the opportunity, go see these kids play. You may see the start of something special.