Former Naperville Central star Nicky Lopez traded to Atlanta Braves

Nicky Lopez batting for the Kansas City Royals
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Former Naperville Central baseball star Nicky Lopez is on the move after the Atlanta Braves acquired the former Redhawk from the Kansas City Royals in exchange for relief pitcher Taylor Hearn.

Lopez had spent his entire career with the Royals organization

After a standout career at Creighton University, Lopez was selected by the Royals in the 5th round of the 2016. He rose through the minor league ranks quickly, making his MLB debut with Kansas City in 2019.

Lopez is valued for his strong glove work and defensive versatility across the infield. He was named a Gold Glove finalist in 2020 and has played shortstop, second base and third base throughout his career. He even played first base for the first time in his career earlier this season.

His best season at the plate came in 2021, when Lopez hit .301 with a .744 OPS in 565 at bats. While Nicky Lopez is hitting just .212 this season, the Braves are hoping that a top tier defensive presence will help secure a second World Series victory in the past three seasons.

A chance to make a splash in the post season

Despite the Royals being the defending World Series champions when they drafted Lopez in 2016, playing in Atlanta will be the first opportunity for the Naperville native to compete in the post season. The Braves currently have the best record in all of baseball at 67-36 and lead the NL East by over ten games.

Lopez has stayed connected to Naperville

After being the first ever Naperville Central player to reach the major leagues, Lopez has continued to stay connected to the Naperville community since making it to the big leagues, contributing autographs and other memorabilia for local charity functions. He also returned to his hometown in late 2021 for an autograph signing to raise money for the Justin Wegner Jwegstrong Foundation.