Pedro Lopez has been here before.
The newly named Albuquerque Isotopes manager – formally named such on Friday by the parent organization Colorado Rockies – has both experience as a minor league manager and has spent the past two seasons on the staff of the Triple-A Isotopes.
Aside from the primary role of helping develop players into big-league-ready products, Lopez said he’s fortunate to get this opportunity as the eighth manager in Isotopes history in a town that has some of the best fan support in all of minor league baseball.
“I think we got to set a winning culture. I mean, we’ve got to win,” Lopez said Friday on a video call with the media from his native Dominican Republic. “… Being in Albuquerque for the last two years, seeing so many fans coming to the games, the fan support, the fan base and not being able to win as many games for whatever reason … hopefully, we can set a winning culture. Hopefully we can give the city of Albuquerque what they deserve, which is a championship.”
Lopez was the Isotopes’ hitting coach in 2021 and bench coach last season under manager Warren Schaeffer, who is now with the Rockies as their third base coach.
Joining Lopez with the Isotopes this season on staff will be La Cueva High graduate and former UNM Lobo star Jordan Pacheco, who will be in his second season with the team as well as newcomers in bench coach Bobby Meacham and pitching coach Chris Michalak.
Lopez played 13 minor league seasons as an infielder and has been in minor league coaching the past 19 seasons, including as a Triple-A manager in the past in the New York Mets organization at a time they had one of the highest rated farm systems in baseball. He knows how loaded the Rockies system is with highly-regarded prospects that are likely to spend some time in Albuquerque in the coming seasons.
MLB Pipeline last season ranked the Rockies prospects No. 9 overall in all of Major League Baseball, and Lopez said it’s a similar feel to when he was helping young Mets prospects like Wilmer Flores, Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Steven Matz along through that organization.
“The list goes on of guys I had the privilege to (manage),” Lopez said. “And I think we’re starting to see that with the Rockies – upcoming players that, in the near future, they’re going to be helping out the big league club.”
The Isotopes’ season begins March 31 at Round Rock with a home opener April 4 against Salt Lake.
ON JORDAN: As for Pacheco, the you can put Lopez firmly in the camp of those who left the 2022 season thoroughly impressed with the coaching future of the former La Cueva Bear and UNM Lobo.
“He did a great job with those theaters. I think that all the work that he put in – people might not see it. They probably aren’t aware of how much work goes into being a hitting coach at that level. … I’ll tell you what, I tip my hat to Jordan because being his first year and being able to set the tone and help those guys reach their maximum potential, it was outstanding.”
Lopez noted that Pacheco, after just one season with the Topes, was in consideration for a big league gig already.
In Pacheco’s first season with the Isotopes, the team led all of Minor League Baseball in home runs (240) and was second in OPS (.836) while hitting 14 grand slams, the most by any MiLB team ever and tied for the most in professional baseball history with the 2000 Oakland Athletics and 2006 Cleveland Indians.
Pacheco is a 2004 graduate of La Cueva and went on to star for the Lobos until being a 9th round draft pick of the Rockies in 2007, when he started his 14-season professional playing career.
OTHER STAFF: The Rockies also named Meacham the team’s new bench coach and Michalak the pitching coach.
Meacham is back in the Rockies organization for a third time and his long coaching career has including 10 seasons on big league staffs. He was manager of the 1995 Calgary Cannons, whose public relations director at that time was current Isotopes General Manager John Traub.
Michalak pitched with the Albuquerque Dukes in 2000, when he led the team in wins with an 11-3 record.
He also played with the Isotopes in 2004 and 2008. He appeared in 61 MLB games.
Trainer Hoshi Mizutani is back in the same position with the team this season and his sixth season in the Rockies organization.