Lopez adds six frames to scoreless string

Nationals prospect has not allowed an earned run in 48 1/3 innings

Former Auburn right-hander Reynaldo Lopez hasn't allowed an earned run since July 3. (Rick Nelson/MiLB.com)

By Mark Emery / MiLB.com | August 20, 2014 12:40 AM ET

With the way he's pitching, Reynaldo Lopez could score his first run before he gives up another one.

The Nationals prospect extended his scoreless streak with six two-hit innings in Class A Hagerstown's 5-0 blanking of Greensboro on Tuesday night. He's gone 37 1/3 frames without allowing any runs and 48 1/3 innings without yielding an earned run.

"The thing Reynaldo has been doing is he's been commanding his fastball really well," Suns pitching coach Sam Narron said. "As I'm sure you've heard, he has a very good fastball. And when you can command that type of pitch, move it around the strike zone, pitch to both sides of the plate, it makes everything else that much better.

"And his off-speed stuff, really good to go on top of that. So he is definitely a challenge for any hitter to face right now."

Against the Grasshoppers, Lopez yielded two hits -- leadoff singles to Chris Hoo and Yefri Perez in the third and sixth, respectively -- while issuing one walk and recording four strikeouts. He faced three batters over the minimum, inducing 13 groundouts and one flyout.

Since rejoining Hagerstown on July 28, the 20-year-old right-hander has not been charged with a run in 29 innings over five starts. He's held opponents to 11 hits while fanning 25 and walking during that stretch. Lopez last allowed a run on July 16 while the last earned run charged to him was on July 3, both while he was with Short-Season Auburn.

"It's very impressive, especially when you consider what time of year it is," said Narron, who believed Lopez hit 99 mph on the radar gun Tuesday. "He's got it all working right now. He's throwing the baseball very well."

In 14 starts split evenly between Auburn and Hagerstown this season, the native of the Dominican Republic is 6-3 with a 1.11 ERA and 61 strikeouts against 23 walks over 72 2/3 innings. He has pitched to a 0.84 WHIP, kept foes to a .153 average and has not allowed a home run.

"Reynaldo does a really good job of pitching with his fastball and knows that he doesn't need to dial it up every pitch," Narron said. "He might take a little bit off so he can command the baseball a little bit better, but we all know -- and those hitters know -- that when he needs it, he can reach back and add a little bit more to get on up there.

"That's what's so impressive with him, is that he does have a very special fastball, but he pitches with it."

Back on June 26, the right-hander threw 5 2/3 hitless innings for Auburn en route to being named New York-Penn League Pitcher of the Week. Clearly, he has not relented a whole lot since then.

"When he steps on that mound, he is all business and ready to do his best and put up zeros and give us a chance to win," Narron said. "And fortunately for us, he's been doing a pretty good job of it."

Manny Rodriguez followed Lopez and allowed one hit while striking out three over the final three innings to earn the save in his South Atlantic League debut.

Narciso Mesa went 3-for-4 with a triple, an RBI and a run scored for Hagerstown, while Drew Ward contributed a two-run homer.

Greensboro starter Jose Adames (1-2) was charged with five runs -- four earned -- on five hits and five walks while striking out three over four innings.

Mark Emery is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @Mark_Emery. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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