Former Bomber and Mallard Rafael Lopez Debuts with the Cubs
Lopez is the 121st former Northwoods League player to debut in MLB
Rochester, Minn. – Former Battle Creek Bomber and Madison Mallard Rafael Lopez made his Major League debut for the Chicago Cubs on Tuesday, September 2, 2014. Lopez is the 121st former Northwoods League player to reach the Major League level.
Lopez, who played collegiately at Florida State, played for the Battle Creek Bombers in 2007 and the Madison Mallards in 2010. Lopez was drafted by the Chicago Cubs in the 16th round of the 2011 MLB draft.
While with the Bombers, Lopez hit .317 in 21 games and also had two home runs and 10 RBI. During the 2010 season with the Mallards Lopez hit .344 over 37 games. He also had four home runs and drove in 30 runs.
Lopez began his minor league career in 2011 with the Cubs rookie level team in the Arizona league. He was only there for three games before being promoted to Boise in the Northwest League. Lopez hit a combined .319 over 59 games between the two teams and also added six home runs, nine doubles and drove in 39 runs.
In 2012 Lopez appeared with three teams over the course of the season. He began again in rookie ball in Arizona before being promoted, after four games, to the Lo A Midwest League with the Peoria Chiefs. Lopez played 31 games with Peoria and then was promoted again to Hi A with the Daytona Cubs in the Florida State League. He finished out the season in Daytona playing in 35 games. For the 2012 season Lopez hit .279 and drove in 28 runs. He also walked 31 times and had 19 doubles. Behind the plate he had a .983 fielding percentage.
Lopez spent the entire 2013 season in the AA Southern League with the Tennessee Smokies. In 95 games with the Smokies Lopez hit .247 with eight home runs and 43 RBI. He also increased his doubles total with 22 on the season.
Lopez started the 2014 season in Tennessee and was promoted after 45 games to the AAA Pacific Coast League with the Iowa Cubs. Lopez had appeared in 61 games with Iowa before being called up to Chicago on September 2, 2014. Between the two teams Lopez was hitting .290 with five home runs and 51 RBI.
In his Major League debut, versus the Milwaukee Brewers, Lopez entered the game as a pinch hitter for the pitcher, Brian Schlitter. Lopez then grounded out to first base in a two pitch at-bat against Brewers reliever Alfredo Figaro.
The Northwoods League is the proven leader in the development of elite college baseball players. The 21-year old summer collegiate league is the largest organized baseball league in the world with 18 teams, drawing significantly more fans, in a friendly ballpark experience, than any league of its kind. A valuable training ground for coaches, umpires and front office staff, more than 120 Northwoods League players have advanced to Major League Baseball, including Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer (DET) and MLB All-Stars Chris Sale (CWS), Jordan Zimmermann (WAS), Curtis Granderson (NYM), Allen Craig (STL) and Ben Zobrist (TB). All league games are viewable live via the Northwoods League YouTube channel. For more information, visit www.northwoodsleague.com.