Dayton Dragons infielder Alejo Lopez has been living like a grown-up since he was 14. That’s when he and his family decided his baseball dreams required him to leave his home in Mexico City for Canada.
A group from a baseball academy in Calgary, Alberta, came to Mexico City to run a camp and saw Lopez play. They wanted a foreign player and invited him to come north. He spent a year and a half in Calgary and lived with a host family and went to high school for a year.
His next goal was to find a place to play year-round. His Canadian team played in a tournament in Phoenix and he liked it there. So he moved into an apartment paid for by his parents, who own a marketing company, and lived there for his last three years of high school.
“We just thought it would be a great idea to get more exposure and play all year-round,” Lopez said. “The idea was commit to a university or get drafted.”
Lopez signed to play baseball at Arizona State, but the Reds drafted him in the 27th round in 2015.
“I just thought I was ready to perform at a higher level, and I don’t regret my decision,” Lopez said. “It’s been a good career so far.”
Lopez joined the Dragons on June 15 from extended spring training after recovering from a separated shoulder. He batted .273 and .302 in two seasons of rookie league ball in Billings, Montana. He gets on base, has some speed and can play second base, shortstop and third base. He has been primarily a third baseman with the Dragons.
Lopez is batting .275 in 14 games and has a .346 on-base percentage. He had a sixth-inning single and scored a run in Dayton’s 5-4 loss to Lake County on Thursday night.
Lopez sees his family six or seven times a year, and they will be in Dayton next week. He is grateful for how they provided him with baseball opportunities and allowed him to sacrifice what is normal for most teenagers.
“Once I got to an age of what do I want to be when I grow up, this was it,” Lopez said. “I was not really interested in school. All my attention was in baseball.”
The dream of making the majors feels as realistic to Lopez as a 27th-round draft choice as it is does for first-round picks.
“A lot of people love the game, but if I didn’t think I could do it wouldn’t be here,” Lopez said. “I wouldn’t be wasting my time.”
Dragons tales: Starting pitcher Andrew Jordan has been promoted to advanced Class A Daytona as part of a string of starting pitcher promotions in the Reds’ organization. Jordan takes the place of former Dragon Tony Santillan, who was promoted to AA Pensacola. Keury Mella, who the Reds traded for along with Adam Duvall in the Mike Leake trade, is now in AAA Louisville.
Jordan was 2-3 with a 3.83 ERA in 10 starts for the Dragons (7-8, 38-45). Taking Jordan’s scheduled start Friday at Great Lakes is long reliever Austin Orewiler, who is making his second start for the Dragons. He has a 4.12 ERA in 19 appearances.
•Another Dragons roster spot opened Thursday when reliever Jesse Adams was shut down for the season because of hip injury he has been battling. Adams will have surgery and has had two cortisone shots. He came back to Dayton from Daytona on June 28. He allowed four runs in 2 1/3 innings in two appearances.
•New Dragons reliever Aneurys Zabala made his first appearance and tied a Fifth Third Field record with a 101 mph fastball in the fifth inning. He shares the record with Aroldis Chapman and Hunter Greene.