Miami Marlins rookie Pablo Lopez to make MLB debut at perfect time

Sandy Alcantara isn’t the only Miami Marlins rookie debuting this weekend against the New York Mets. Pablo Lopez, a 22-year old Venezuelan-born right-hander, will be making his MLB debut on the same day that the Marlins are celebrating Venezuelan night.

Lopez was one of the three prospects that was acquired by the Marlins in the trade with the Seattle Mariners for reliever David Phelps just before the 2017 trade deadline.

Marlins manager Don Mattingly said in an earlier interview that he was initially baffled at the notion of a minor league prospect shooting up from High A to Triple-A in a single season when he first became a manager in Los Angeles. Lopez began the season in Double-A Jacksonville and worked his way to the show after a combined 1.44 ERA between Jacksonville and Triple-A New Orleans.

“It’s still very unreal,” Lopez said. “It still doesn’t feel real that I’m right here with this field, with these teammates, this scenario. It’s still very overwhelming, but still very exciting as well.”

“I remember hearing at the winter meetings in November, I believe, how much our guys liked him and the presence he had,” Mattingly said. “We were able to see it in spring training. It was impressive, just his whole demeanor, the way he handles himself. You can tell he’s a sharp kid, well prepared.”

Lopez remained consistency strong on the mound no matter what level he pitched in. He credited that to being able to developing a routine in between starts.

“I’ve developed good routines between starts, taking care of my body, going through heatmaps to learn about the hitters that I’ll be facing next time,” Lopez said. “Just creating good habits. Talking to teammates, picking their brains because we feed off each other. We can always learn from each other new things.”

It took a cycle of circumstances to create an opening for Alcantara and Lopez to make it into the big leagues at this time. Fellow rookie Caleb Smith elected to undergo season ending shoulder surgery and Dan Straily is currently serving a five game suspension after hitting San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey last week.

“Some things have happened to set the dominos in effect,” Mattingly said.

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About: Tony Capobianco

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A graduate of the University of Arizona (2008-2013), Tony Capobianco covered sports from preps to pros since 2011 from the Tucson Citizen to Miami Herald to most recently with the Enid News & Eagle. The "Cuban Cowboy" took a first pitch to the nuts and lived to laugh at the viral video. Follow him @TonyCapobianco

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