Nicky Lopez open to play anywhere needed to help Royals succeed
Infielder Nicky Lopez had a dreadful start to the season at Class AAA Omaha.
In a four-game series at Memphis, Lopez was hitless in 14 at-bats, although he did walk twice and collect two RBIs. Since then, Lopez has an eight-game hitting streak in which he is batting .500 (17 for 34). Lopez has a streak within the streak with multiple hits in his last five games. During that stretch, he is batting .591 (13 for 22) with a 1.045 slugging percentage.
“I don’t really know why this happens to me,” Lopez told MiLB.com on Thursday. “It’s sort of part of my track record to get off to bad starts, but it’s something I definitely don’t want to continue. It makes it a little harder on me and gives me some sleepless nights, but it’s baseball and that’s what happens sometimes.”
Lopez has a .354 average overall and is one of six Storm Chasers batting .300 or better.
Catcher Nick Dini leads the way with a .440 average, three doubles, a home run and a 1.213 on-base-plus slugging percentage in eight games. Third baseman Kelvin Gutierrez, who was acquired last year as part of the Kelvin Herrera trade with Washington, has a .362 average, two homers and nine RBIs.
Outfielder Elier Hernandez is batting .355 with two home runs and 11 RBIs, outfielder Bubba Starling has a .342 average, one home run and five stolen bases, while infielder Cheslor Cuthbert has three homers, 11 RBIs and a .300 average.
As a team, the Storm Chasers are batting 17 points higher than any other team in their division.
Omaha reliever Andres Machado has struck out 12 in 11 innings over five appearances and has a 1.64 ERA. Left-handed starter Foster Griffin got his first Class AAA victory on Thursday as the Storm Chasers won 5-3 at Oklahoma City. Griffin struck out nine in 5 1/3 innings.
Here are how some other Royals minor-league players are faring:
BUBIC’S FAST START: Left-hander Kris Bubic, was taken by the Royals with the 40th overall pick, who is 2-0 with a 2.25 ERA and 27 strikeouts in 16 innings over three starts at Class A Lexington. He’s walked four and given up nine hits.
ISBEL IS RAKING: Class A Wilmington center fielder Kyle Isbel is batting .348 after 13 games. Isbel, who was a third round pick in last year’s draft, has five doubles, a triple, two homers and five stolen bases. Blue Rocks starter Jackson Kowar, the 33rd overall pick last year, has a 1.80 ERA and 18 strikeouts in 15 innings pitched.
GREENE MISSING BATS: Connor Greene is second in the Texas League with 20 strikeouts in 17 innings for Class AA Northwest Arkansas. Greene, who was claimed off waivers from the Cardinals last November, has a 2.12 ERA.