Breakout Or Bust: Will Shed Long Or Nicky Lopez Prove Valuable In 2020?


Fantasy owners are constantly looking for the next big thing, but not every hyped play delivers on the promise. Let’s take a look at two young middle infielders and determine if they will breakout in 2020 or if they are better off being ignored:

Shed Long – Second Baseman – Seattle Mariners

Long has shown both power and speed as he worked his way through the minors and gave a sneak peek of what could be possible upon making his debut in ’19.  Over 168 PA with the Mariners he hit .263 with 5 HR and 3 SB, while adding 12 doubles and 1 triple.  With Dee Gordon remaining on the roster there’s a chance he takes some AB away from Long, though for a rebuilding franchise that makes little sense.

Instead we need to focus on what Long can do on the diamond, with the power (14.3% HR/FB) and speed there to post 20/10 seasons.  The question comes in his approach, though he wasn’t abysmal last season with a 10.7% SwStr% and 27.3% O-Swing%.  Of course he had a 12.0% SwStr% while at Triple-A, though these Whiff% in the Majors (albeit in a small sample size) gives further hope:

  • Hard – 9.71%
  • Breaking – 13.95%
  • Offspeed – 20.43%

It was a small sample size and he only saw offspeed pitches 14.37% of the time.  Considering he hit .150 with a .250 SLG against changeups it’s easy to envision opposing pitchers showing him more and more of them.  That could lead to sophomore struggles and lost AB, especially in a sprint as opposed to a marathon season.

Verdict – Worthy of a Bench Spot (High Risk Though)

Nicky Lopez – Shortstop – Kansas City Royals

Lopez was never viewed as a high-end prospect, as we handed him a “C+” grade prior to the 2019 season.  At that time we said:

While many of the Royals’ hitting prospects come with questions about their approach, Lopez is a different animal.  Playing between Double and Triple-A he posted a 5.5% SwStr%, leading to a 9.0% strikeout rate and 10.3% walk rate.  The problem is, what else does he bring to the table?  In 504 AB he hit .308 with 9 HR and 15 SB, and while it’s possible he develops into a 10/20 producer from a middle infield spot that’s not quite a given.  If he gets there he’s going to have some appeal, and that makes him worth monitoring.

He did continue to show that same type of approach at the highest level, including a 6.4% SwStr% and 31.6% O-Swing%, but he didn’t show anything to suggest the power and speed would play.  Over 402 PA in the Majors in ’19 he managed just 2 HR and 1 SB.  There is more upside in his SB total, assuming he starts to get on base more…

That’s a big assumption, however, as he simply didn’t hit the ball hard enough (25.4% Hard%) and owned among the worst Barrel% in the league (1.5%).  Throw in an immense number of groundballs (62.2%) and bottom level exit velocities (83.8 mph) and it’s impossible to get excited.

Verdict – Hard Pass

Sources – Fangraphs, Brooks Baseball, Baseball Savant

Make sure to check out all of our 2020 prospect rankings:

AL EastAL CentralAL West
Baltimore OriolesChicago White SoxHouston Astros
Boston Red SoxCleveland IndiansLos Angeles Angels
New York YankeesDetroit TigersOakland A's
Tampa Bay RaysKansas City RoyalsSeattle Mariners
Toronto Blue JaysMinnesota TwinsTexas Rangers
NL EastNL CentralNL West
Atlanta BravesChicago CubsArizona Diamondbacks
Miami MarlinsCincinnati RedsColorado Rockies
New York MetsMilwaukee BrewersLos Angeles Dodgers
Philadelphia PhilliesPittsburgh PiratesSan Diego Padres
Washington NationalsSt. Louis CardinalsSan Francisco Giants
PositionLast Updated
First Baseman--
Second Baseman04/15/20
Third Baseman04/20/20


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