Reds: Alejo Lopez sparks rally, demonstrates value with pinch hit

CINCINNATI, OHIO - JUNE 28: Alejo Lopez #28 of the Cincinnati Reds bats in the seventh inning. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
CINCINNATI, OHIO - JUNE 28: Alejo Lopez #28 of the Cincinnati Reds bats in the seventh inning. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images) /

Get used to that smile, folks. Alejo Lopez sparked a seventh-inning rally with a pinch hit appearance in his Major League Baseball debut. Lopez lined the first ball he saw into shallow right-center field, and the Cincinnati Reds used the momentum to take the lead on a Nick Castellanos grand slam.

After hitting everything he saw during his time in the minor leagues earlier this season, Lopez forced the hand of the Cincinnati front office. The Reds called up the 25-year-old yesterday afternoon and designated Scott Heineman for assignment.

Alejo Lopez will impact the Reds lineup regardless of where he plays.

Immediately, once David Bell’s lineup was released yesterday, fans became angry with the fact that Alejo Lopez wasn’t in the starting lineup. Instead, Bell tabbed veteran infielder Mike Freeman to start at shortstop.

However, Lopez demonstrated that it didn’t matter when or where he plays, the switch-hitting infielder has the ability to impact the game. After Bailey Falter entered the game in the third inning, the Reds had virally no answer for the left-hander. Lopez changed that with one swing of the bat.

With the Cincinnati Reds trailing 4-2 in the seventh inning, Lopez replaced Freeman with no one on and one out. Lopez’s single into right-center field led to a pitching change after Falter had retired 11 of the previous 13 Reds’ batters that stepped into the box.

Lopez’s base knock chased Falter from the game and the Philadelphia Phillies countered with right-hander Neftalí Feliz who promptly walked Aristides Aquino, struck out Jonathan India, hit Jesse Winker with an inside pitch and then watched Nick Castellanos reclaim the lead for the Reds.

Lopez did not stay in the game and was replaced by Kyle Farmer. Cincinnati never relinquished the lead and pummeled the Phillies over the remainder of the game, winning by a final score of 12-4. Castellanos will get the majority of credit for the Reds’ come-from-behind win, and deservedly so, but make no mistake, that seventh inning rally was sparked by Alejo Lopez.

That’s the type of impact Lopez can and will have on this ball club. A reliable bat that Cincinnati can turn to when they need a hit. Don’t look for Lopez to crush 10 home runs over the remainder of the season, but the Mexico City native is going to put the bat on the ball. Here’s an excerpt from Lopez’s conversation with the media prior to the game via

"“I just think it’s very cool to hit .350. Yeah, I understand this is a different era and people love the long ball and it’s great — watching a home run, it’s hard to do, so it’s cool to appreciate it. But hitting .350 is just a different beast. It’s never going to get old.”"

That type of attitude will keep Alejo Lopez in the major leagues for a long time. Just like a pitcher who can consistently throw strikes, a batter who can make consistent contact will not be unemployed for long.

Lopez got the first of what fans hope are many base hits, and I’ve got a feeling we’ll see the rookie in the starting lineup tonight versus the San Diego Padres. While he came up as a shortstop, I’d be a bit surprised if Lopez got his first big league start playing the most important position on the field.

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Instead, I look for Alejo Lopez to get some reps at third base and we’ll likely see Eugenio Suarez slide back over to shortstop. That’s the inevitable future of the Cincinnati Reds’ infield when Mike Moustakas returns from injury. Lopez will get plenty of opportunities to showcase his talents, as this team has plenty of power, but needs similar to Jonathan India that can get on base.