Pedro Lopez will begin his first day at his new job, manager of the Las Vegas 51s, on April 6, but he is far from a stranger to the New York Mets organization. The 2017 season will mark the 48-year-old’s tenth in the system, and he’s looking to parlay that experience into a productive year at the helm of the Mets’ Triple-A club.
In an interview with Betsy Helfand of the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Lopez said, “We’ve got to teach these guys how to win. In order for them to have some kind of success at the major league level, which we have seen the past couple years in New York, I think we’ve got to teach these guys how to win, and they have done that.”
Nothing short of a successful ball club is to be expected from a Lopez-led team. As a skipper, he has procured a 809-740 (.522) record, including a franchise record 86 wins with the Binghamton Mets (AA) in 2013. As tough of an act to follow as that might have been, Lopez led his squad to the Eastern League crown in 2014. The following year, he was inducted into the Binghamton Baseball Shrine, an honor that has been bestowed upon some of the most recognizable names in the game.
Even though he has become one of Minor League Baseball’s preeminent managers, Lopez has never strayed far from what has gotten him to this point.
“First and foremost, what’s most important for me is to have the respect of my players. The good thing about it is most of the guys that we’re going to have there, they have played for me before, so they know what I’m all about. I’m a guy that likes to do things the right way.”
Lopez’ tour of duty with the Mets has taken him from Kingsport, Tenn., to Brooklyn, N.Y., Savannah, Ga., Port Saint Lucie, Fla., Binghamton, N.Y., and his latest stop in Las Vegas, Nev. Under his watch, Lopez has produced 53 future major-leaguers, including all five pitchers in the New York Mets’ rotation, a 16-year-old Wilmer Flores, and Gavin Cecchini, who had rave reviews for his former skipper.
“He knows how to manage the game and interact with his players and get the best out of them. I enjoyed playing for Pedro in Double A, and I think he’s a great manager,” said Cecchini, who hit a then-career high .317 with Binghamton in 2015.
Looking ahead to 2017, Lopez is expected to trot out a prospect-laden lineup on a nightly basis in Las Vegas. In addition to Cecchini, The 51s’ infield is projected to showcase number one prospect Amed Rosario at shortstop, and former first-round draft pick Dominic Smith at first base. His outfield could feature Michael Conforto and Brandon Nimmo, depending on how certain injury situations shake out leading up to opening day.
And if Lopez somehow needs acclimating to his new club, he’ll have two trusty steeds at his side in pitching coach Frank Viola, and hitting coach Jack Voigt, who served in the same position on Lopez’ Brooklyn staff in 2009. The athletic trainer for that Brooklyn team was Deb Iwanow, who will be the 51s’ trainer this season.
With the recent trend of success at the major league level for the Mets, it is imperative that the front office stresses that culture throughout the minor league system. With Pedro Lopez at the helm for Las Vegas, it appears they are going to accomplish just that.