Like every season, the 2018 year was one with its ups and downs. While none of the minor league affiliates managed to win their respective league championship and the system’s ranking took a hit thanks in part to graduations, and disappointing seasons for several prospects there were a few players that had breakout years.
Some of these prospects had a lot of hype from their strong seasons, others not so much. This series will take a look at five players throughout the system that had breakout seasons.
Jason Lopez – Catcher
When it comes to catching, the Yankees went into the 2018 season without much depth. Gone were the days when they were stocked with prospect talent at the position, now it was one of the weakest talent-wise in the entire system. They needed some of the catching talent in the system to breakout, and one of them did. That was Jason Lopez.
Lopez entered the 2018 season appearing in 108 total games over three seasons with a .228/.332/.301 slash line and has never played a full season after signing as part of that big 2014 international free agent class.
This season the 20-year old catcher from Valencia, Venezuela got his first chance to show what he can do with a full season of at-bats. Over 85 games, a career high, between the Charleston RiverDogs and Tampa Tarpons he hit .272/.313/.430 with 22 doubles, a triple, and eight home runs while driving in 35 runs.
To put that season in perspective, Lopez had more hits, doubles, and home runs in 2018 than his previous three seasons combined. Vg6
The breakout season allowed him to raise his career slash line to .248/.323/.362 from the .228/.332/.301 line he came into the year with.
The vast majority of Lopez’s success game in the 72 games he played in the South Atlantic League with the RiverDogs. In Charleston, he hit .285/.330/.453 in 256 at-bats before being promoted to Tampa on August 10, 2018.
With the Tarpons, Lopez appeared in just 13 games with 46 total at-bats and nine hits. His brief cameo in the Florida State League was not pretty but did give him the chance to experience some tougher competition that he will face in 2019 should he not be selected in the Rule 5 draft.