Lopez (6-foot-1, 185 pounds) was ranked the Devil Rays' 23rd best prospect by Baseball America entering 2006 and had spent the first two years of his professional career with Class Low-A Princeton (W.Va.) in the Appalachian League prior to Tuesday's trade. He hit .256 in 56 games a season ago.
"He's got a pretty good idea of what he wants to accomplish at the plate," Wilken said when asked about his impressions of the 20-year-old Lopez. "He's selective and there isn't a lot of panic in his approach."
Selective as he may be, Lopez's 65 strikeouts a year ago were the second highest total among Appy League hitters. He drew 25 walks in 199 at-bats.
"If there's a negative side to him, it's that he might sometimes over-analyze," Wilken said.
Drafted out of Elk Grove High School near Sacramento, Calif., Lopez committed to Long Beach State University and was considered a tough sign by many clubs. He received a $300,000 signing bonus from the Devil Rays and would bat .325 with 16 extra-base hits in only 34 games with Princeton later that year. He averaged one strikeout for every three at-bats.
"Those strikeouts are probably a little high because of him trying to think too much in some situations instead of letting his swing take over," Wilken said. "But he centers the ball good and if he can get away from over-analyzing and just be aggressive, I think good things are going to happen for him.
"He's a sharp young man. When he just lets it go, he's a pretty good hitter. I would say he catches the ball on the barrel of the bat about as good as anyone," Wilken observed.
"He's got some pop in his bat and he's still putting his frame together," Wilken said. "There could be more power in there later on, but he had a pretty fair amount of extra base hits for the at-bats he got that first year. There is pop in his bat and I think as he puts his body and his strength together, you'll see a little more of that pop on down the road."
Lopez managed four home runs in both his 2005 and 2006 seasons. Thirty-five percent of his hits a season ago went for extra bases while 41 percent were for extra bases the previous season at Princeton.
Defensively, Lopez spent a good majority of his first year with the Devil Rays in center field, but moved to the corner spots a year ago, where he contributed with five assists. Only three players in the Appy League totaled more assists from the outfield a year ago than Lopez, who already had a reputation for showcasing a strong arm as an amateur.
"He's a true right fielder with a very good arm," Wilken said. "Very accurate throws. He's got an above-average throwing arm and he's a true right fielder because of the arm strength. All in all, we got a pretty good ballplayer."
Lopez is scheduled to report to Cubs Minor League Spring Training at Fitch Park in Mesa, Ariz., in early March.