FORT MYERS, Florida – Known by the names Aristides Sevilla in Nicaragua and Wilton López in the United States, Wilton Aristides Sevilla López, the 26-year-old hard-throwing hurler from León, last year became the 11th Nicaraguan player to make the major leagues when he got called up by the Houston Astros on Aug. 28, 2009.
Though he got roughed up in several outings last season, López was invited back to spring training this year and is making the most of getting a second look by the Astros.
In his first five appearances in this year’s Grapefruit League in Florida, López has yet to give up an earned run or base on balls in four appearances. He’s struck out six batters in six innings of relief work.
His strong performance so far has caught the attention of the Astros’ coaching staff. “He’s had a very good spring – a very good spring, and he’s put himself in a position to hopefully get a chance to throw in our bullpen,” Astros Manager Brad Mills told The Nica Times in a brief interview this week, before his team faced off against the Boston Red Sox in a spring training game in City of Palms Park in Fort Myers, Florida. Mills said for now the team plans to use the hard-throwing Nicaraguan righty out of the bullpen, but says those plans could evolve as the long season goes on.
“We’ll just have to see,” Mills said. “We haven’t been stretching him out as one of our starters because we haven’t had room to stretch him out as one of our starters. But that’s the only reason. That’s not to say that he might not be a starter later on in the season for us.”
Mills also said that López is getting along just fine in the clubhouse and isn’t having any problems with the language barrier. “It’s no problem at all – he’s been fine, no language issues at all,” Mills said.