Lopez will start at second base and bat second Tuesday against the Rangers, Alec Lewis of The Athletic reports. As promised, Lopez will immediately step into a starting role with the Royals at the keystone upon his arrival in the big leagues, meaning more time in the outfield for Whit Merrifield. Lopez is set to face Shelby Miller in the first big-league start of his career.
Lopez will have his contract selected from Triple-A Omaha prior to Tuesday's game against the Rangers. According to Rustin Dodd of The Athletic, Lopez will immediately step in as the Royals' primary second baseman. The addition of Lopez will move Whit Merrifield to the outfield on a more regular basis, while third baseman Kelvin Gutierrez will likely shift to a bench role as part of the domino effect of the roster shuffle. The promotion is warranted for Lopez, as the well-regarded prospect was slashing .353/.457/.500 with a trio of homers and nine stolen bases through 31 games with Triple-A Omaha this season. Jake Newberry was optioned to Triple-A in a corresponding move.
Lopez was assigned to minor-league camp Tuesday. Lopez hit .278/.365/.417 in 57 games for Triple-A Omaha last season. He'll likely return there to make his case for a callup.
Lopez has gone 11-for-35 (.314 average) at the plate with three stolen bases in Cactus League play entering Thursday's game against the Rangers. The excellent bat-to-ball skills Lopez has demonstrated throughout his career have again surfaced during spring training, as the 23-year-old has struck out in just five of his plate appearances. All but one of Lopez's 11 hits have gone for extra bases, however, and his lack of power will likely put a cap on his fantasy ceiling once he reaches the big leagues. Lopez has made a compelling case for the Opening Day roster, but it's most likely the Royals will send him back to Triple-A Omaha to play on an everyday basis with Whit Merrifield and Adalberto Mondesi already entrenched as the big club's starting middle-infield tandem.
Lopez was invited to the Royals' major-league camp Tuesday. Lopez is at best a long shot to break camp with the Royals, but the invitation indicates that the team likes Lopez and wants to give him a chance to work with the big-league coaching staff. He reached Triple-A for the first time in the middle of last season, posting a 109 wRC+ in 57 games for Omaha with an impressive 27:29 BB:K. With a little more seasoning in the minors, he could be knocking on the door sometime this summer.