Former College of the Canyons standout pitcher Jacob Lopez made his Major League Baseball debut for the Tampa Bay Rays on Monday, Aug. 14, pitching the final three innings of his new club’s 10-2 victory over the San Francisco Giants at Oracle Park.
Lopez, who attended Saugus High School before a stellar two-year run with the Cougars, got the full experience in his first major league outing.
He entered the game with the Rays leading 6-1 in the bottom of the seventh in relief of Tampa Bay starter Tyler Glasnow, a fellow Santa Clarita Valley product who attended Hart High School.
Lopez retired the first two batters he faced before seeing the Giants get runners aboard on an infield error and a single that skipped just under the glove of the outstretched infielder.
The situation intensified when a pitch in the dirt grazed the foot of J.D. Davis to load the bases for San Francisco. Lopez then buckled down to strike out the highly touted Giants prospect Wade Meckler, who was also making his MLB debut, to get out of the inning unscathed.
The young lefty stayed in to pitch the rest of the way and finished the game with a save for his efforts. He allowed one run on three hits with a pair of strikeouts.
In a twist a fate, Lopez made his MLB debut against the franchise that originally drafted him. Lopez was selected by the Giants in the 26th round (766th overall) of the 2018 draft and signed with the club a few weeks later.
In 2019, Lopez was part of a trade deadline deal that sent him from the Giants to the Rays system. After rehabbing from a Tommy John surgery that sidelined him through most of 2022, Lopez started this season at Double-A and was soon promoted to the Triple-A club in Durham, North Carolina earlier this summer. In his 13 starts at Durham Lopez had posted a 2.72 ERA.
That success is in keeping with what Lopez accomplished at College of the Canyons.
A two-year starter for the Cougars, Lopez helped COC win a conference title as a freshman in 2017 and was later named the 2018 Western State Conference (WSC), East Division Pitcher of the Year, after his sophomore campaign.
Lopez was also named to the 2018 American Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA)/Rawlings Pacific Association Division (PAD) All-American Second Team; the ABCA/PAD Southern California All-Region First Team; and the California Community College Baseball Coaches Association (CCCBCA) Southern California All-State Team.
He finished the 2018 season with an 9-2 record and state-leading 128 punch-outs after logging double-digit strikeout totals in six of his 14 starts. His 1.62 ERA across 88 and 2/3 innings of work also ranked fourth in California that season.
The Rays will face the host Giants Tuesday and again on Wednesday before heading south for a three-game set vs. the Los Angeles Angels this weekend.
Stay up to date on all this season’s action by visiting the College of the Canyons Athletic department and following on social media at @COCathletics on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and YouTube.