The Tampa Bay Rays have acquired minor league right-handed pitcher Eduar Lopez from the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in exchange for veteran outfielder David DeJesus, according to a team press release. The Rays will play tonight's game vs. the Detroit Tigers with 24 players, and will make a corresponding later to replace DeJesus on the active roster.
It was reported late last week by Chris Cotillo that the Rays were open to trading veterans Dejesus, as well as John Jaso and Kevin Jepsen, ahead of this year's trade deadline. DeJesus appears to be the first domino that has fallen, though there has yet to be a substantial offer made for either of the other two rumored.
The 20-year old Lopez has posted a 4.32 ERA over 33.1 IP, including 16 ER, 33 strikeouts, and 16 walks in eight starts for Rookie-level Orem. Among his peers, he ranked ninth in the Pioneer League in ERA, while tied for first in starts and third in strikeouts per nine innings (8.9).
Over parts of four minor league seasons, he owns a 3.39 ERA (191.1-IP, 72-ER) and 11.9 strikeouts per nine innings. Lopez made his professional debut as a 17-year-old in the Dominican Summer League in 2012, finishing third in the league in strikeouts (83). The following year, he ranked among DSL leaders with 83 strikeouts (tied for first), .132 opponents' batting average (first), and 12.0 strikeouts per nine innings (first). His 2013 season included a 1.88 ERA and 2.59 FIP over 62.1 innings, though that pales in comparison to his current 4.32 ERA and 5.03 FIP.
Lopez was signed by the Angels as a free agent in 2012, and has been ranked by Baseball America as a Top-30 prospect in the Angels system in each pre-season list he was part of Anaheim's organization (2013-15). Lopez is not mentioned in any write ups by Kiley McDaniel. His consensus score was 44th in the organization in 2014.
As the only source in on Lopez being a legitimate prospect, Ben Badler reports the following summary: "Eduar Lopez throws low-to-mid 90s, flashes a good curveball. Feel for pitching still lags behind," although Scout.com reportedly lists a top-out speed of 97 MPH for the heater. The same report, listing Lopez the 46th prospect in the Angels system, notes a harsh delivery, high praise for the curve, and notes he can throw a decent change from flat ground.
DeJesus, a "splash bro" on the post-season celebrations who embraced his role as mentor this season, is a 13-year veteran who hit .259 (60-for-232) with five home runs and 26 RBI in 82 games for the Rays this season. He started 65 games across 200 appearances, and showed his best value off the bench. Versatile across all outfield positions, DeJesus concludes his Rays career with 13 home runs, 56 RBI and 33 doubles. In 2013, he took part in the first postseason of his career as the Rays advanced to the American League Division Series. Watching this team, I will miss him greatly.