Down on the Farm: Checking in on the Washington Nationals’ top-5 prospects

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Feb 24, 2014; Viera, FL, USA; Washington Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo watches the spring training action at space Coast Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Barr-USA TODAY Sports

No. 4: Reynaldo Lopez

Reynaldo Lopez is one of those prospects who may not be all that familiar to the Nationals and their fans. Nevertheless, he’s one of the team’s most promising young pitching talents and their No. 4 prospect.

The Nationals signed Lopez out of the Dominican Republic in 2012. At the time, the right-hander was a little known 18-year-old without any particularly impressive makeup. Since then, however, ope has improved dramatically and has made his presence known in the hierarchy of the Nationals’ minor league system.

At this point, Lopez’s best pitch is his fastball. The 21-year-old right-hander regularly sits in the mid-90s with his heater and often reaches back and touches 99 mph. Lopez also has a plus curveball and promising, albeit, unfinished changeup.

The right-hander’s raw talent has finally translated to success on the mound over the last couple of years with the Nationals.

After missing the 2013 season with an injury, 2014 was a breakout year for Lopez. The right-hander dominated last season, going 7-3 with a 1.08 ERA and a 0.816 WHIP in 16 combined starts between Low-A Auburn and Class-A Hagerstown. Lopez has struggled a bit this season after making the jump to High-A Potomac, going 5-5 with a 4.30 ERA in 13 starts.

Despite his recent struggles, Lopez is still one of the most exciting prospects on the Nationals and definitely a name to keep an eye on in the future. He still has a ways to go in his development, but if he can return to his dominant form from last season, we could see him on the mound at Nationals Park in 2017.

Next: No. 3: Trea Turner