Prospect Files: Jose Lopez

Ranked as one of the top Mariners' prospects on every list around, Jose Lopez ranks No. 2 our list. He has earned his status with a versatile bat and gold glove defense in each place he's played. Still only 20 years old, Lopez has as bright of a future as any other Mariner farmhand.

Position: SS
Born: Nov. 24, 1983
Place: Anzoategui, Venezuela
Height: 6-0
Weight: 204
Bats: Right
Throws: Right
How Acquired: Signed as an undrafted free agent in July, 2000


Signed as a free agent out of Venezuela in 2001, Jose Lopez has shot up the prospect charts over the past three seasons. Lopez spent 2001 in short-season Everett and showed great promise right from the get-go. At age 17, prospects aren't expected to show much patience and discipline at the plate, but Lopez was different, displaying mature instincts in his first year of pro baseball.

In 2002 the 6-foot, 200-pound 18-year-old made great strides and his prospect status really took off. After hitting .258 in Everett in 2001 with very little power, Lopez skipped a level and hit .324 with eight homers, five triples, 39 doubles and 31 steals with San Bernardino of the California League. The speed and power numbers were as impressive as you could want from a teenage middle-infielder at Advanced-A ball. But the tools don't stop there. His defense took a huge step in development with Lopez committing just 7 errors in the second half of the season while playing mostly shortstop.

The phenom was picking up steam as a prospect after the 2002 season and was poised to make another all-important jump to Double-A San Antonio for 2003. After starting off the year red hot but showing a little less power, Lopez dropped his average down into the .250's in the second half but began showing the power that the organization was hoping but not fully expecting to see. Lopez finished 2003 two months shy of his 20th birthday, but no one could tell.

The defending Texas League Champion Missions went into the postseason as the favorite and earned a bye in the first round. Many believed the layoff would assist the Frisco Roughriders in dethroning the Missions in the League Championship Series. Lopez had other ideas, smashing two homeruns in game one to set the tone for a second consecutive Texas League Championship. He finished the TCS with nine hits in 22 at-bats. Lopez finished the regular season hitting .256 with 13 homeruns, 35 doubles, 69 RBI, and 18 steals.

The most impressive attribute in Lopez' talent locker is his eye at the plate. Through three seasons and over 1400 plate appearances in 325 games, he has logged just 145 strikeouts.

The kid can play.

TOOLS:

Stick: 70
Lopez has the tools to hit .300 and smack 20-25 homeruns. His ability to make consistent contact allows him to pick up hits consistently while his power develops. Lopez handles the bat like a 10-year veteran.

Glove: 70
Lopez has the ability to play 2B, SS, and 3B, but his advanced footwork and strong arm make him a perfect fit at shortstop. For two consecutive years, Lopez has made strides defensively and could turn into a top-notch, gold glove defender.

Speed: 70
Lopez has the speed to swipe 30 bases a year and consistently turns doubles into triples, taking the extra base.

MLB ETA: 2005

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