What can Reds fans expect from Alejo Lopez in 2022?

Cincinnati Reds infielder Alejo Lopez watches from the dugout.
Cincinnati Reds infielder Alejo Lopez watches from the dugout. / David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

We're taking a more in-depth look at what Reds fans can expect from last year's rookies heading into their sophomore season. We've already checked in on Vladimir Gutierrez and Tony Santillan. Today, we turn our attention to Cincinnati Reds infielder Alejo Lopez.

Lopez only saw action in 14 major league contests last season and made 23 plate appearances. The 25-year-old gathered three starts; one at second base and two at the hot corner. Lopez will head to Goodyear looking to claim a spot on the Reds bench heading into the 2022 season.

Reds IF Alejo Lopez had a breakout season in the minors.

Alejo Lopez began the 2021 season at Double-A Chattanooga, but quickly showed that he was ready for a new challenge. Lopez crushed everything in sight while suiting up for the Chattanooga Lookouts. In 25 games, Lopez hit .362/.437/.448 and a wRC+ of 153.

That performance in southeast Tennessee quickly earned the Mexico native a promotion to Triple-A Louisville. Before making his Cincinnati Reds debut, Lopez hit .358 in 24 games for the Bats which included a 13-game hit streak and nine multi-hit games.

Lopez made his major league debut on June 28th and proceeded to swing at the first pitch he saw and looped it into right field. A few days later, Lopez would go 4-for-5 and score two runs in Cincinnati's walk-off win against the San Diego Padres.

So what should Reds fans expect from Alejo Lopez in 2022? Well, to be honest, I'd say that Lopez will be in a fight for a spot on Cincinnati's Opening Day roster. While Lopez can also play the outfield, he's an infielder by trade and the Reds already have a crowded situation on the infield dirt.

Does Alejo Lopez have a shot to make the Reds roster?

Joey Votto and Jonathan India are locked in on the right side of the infield, Kyle Farmer and Jose Barrero will be duking it out for the role of starting shortstop next spring, and the Reds have $27M invested in the third base duo of Mike Moustakas and Eugenio Suárez.

I think it's fair to assume that Lopez will be grappling with the likes of Max Schrock and TJ Friedl for a utility role on next year's team. Baseball Reference estimates that Lopez will garner 190 ABs and post a nifty .709 OPS. FanGraphs is a bit more pessimistic and predicts in his age 26 season that Lopez will make just 20 plate appearances, but still hit .279.

I tend to think Alejo Lopez will be somewhere in between. Barring an injury to one of the Reds primary infielders, I don't expect Lopez to make the team's Opening Day roster. However, Lopez is solid bench bat and brings defensive flexibility to the team.

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No matter where he lines up on the field, Lopez is always a threat to put the bat on the ball. I'd expect to see Lopez yo-yo between Triple-A and the big leagues next season and possibly make a handful of starts for the Reds. Alejo Lopez is a high-character player with a great clubhouse presence who will bring value to the ball club in 2022.