This is one in a series of stories breaking down PBN’s Top 30 Pittsburgh Pirates prospects.
Pittsburgh Pirates prospect Dariel Lopez took an impressive step forward in the 2022 season while playing for the High-A Greensboro Grasshoppers.
That year, Lopez appeared in 102 games and displayed the power potential that MLB Pipeline considered above-average with a 55-grade on the 20-80 scouting scale. Lopez finished the year hitting .286 with a .476 slugging percentage and belted 19 home runs.
Because of the production, Lopez was going to be one to keep an eye on this season, presumably in Double-A Altoona. However, Lopez’s 2023 campaign ended before it even began after he dislocated his knee and eventually underwent season-ending surgery.
Lopez is expected to be ready for the 2024 season, and while there are obvious concerns about any lingering effects of the injury, the upside remains in tact with the 21-year-old infielder.
Despite not having an extraordinarily large frame — 6-foot-1, 183 lbs. — Lopez does possess some of the better power potential in the Pirates’ minor league system. An aggressive hitter, Lopez has a career .285 batting average in 247 minor league games and had double-digit home runs in 2021-22.
The native of Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic has experience at all four infield spots with the majority of the time coming on the left side, splitting time relatively evenly between third base (103 games) and shortstop (92 games).
With his profile as a power hitter with below-average speed, Lopez looks the part of a potential first baseman moving forward, though his playing time there has only been sparse. But with the left side of the Pirates’ infield occupied by Ke’Bryan Hayes at third and Oneil Cruz at short, combined with the knee injury to Lopez, a move across the diamond could be in the works.
The Pirates originally signed Lopez for a substantial $400,000 as an amateur free agent in the 2018-19 international signing period. As he looks to shake off the rust after being sidelined for a full season, Lopez remains a compelling prospect for the Pirates even with the missed time.