About an hour prior to the Isotopes’ game against Round Rock on Friday evening, a group of baseball standouts past and present — all with Albuquerque ties — congregated on the infield.
Not only was it a reunion of former high school stars and ex-New Mexico Lobos with varying degrees of professional success, but the photo op also brought together a quartet of players with a wealth of experience playing on that very field. The group included three former players — Jordan Pacheco, Brian Cavazos-Galvez and Austin House — along with Mitch Garver, who is on a rehab stint for the Express after suffering a knee injury with the Texas Rangers earlier this season.
With Garver making his first professional appearance at Isotopes Park this week, all four have now played prep, collegiate and pro ball on the field. Rod Nichols (Highland, UNM, Albuquerque Dukes) is the only other player to have accomplished that feat. The meeting was orchestrated by Isotopes general manager John Traub, who saw an opportunity to gather some of the city’s best baseball talent with Garver in town.
The Isotopes got the best of Garver’s Express, as three Albuquerque pitchers —led by 4⅔ shutout innings from Dinelson Lamet — limited Round Rock to three hits in a 4-1 victory. Garver, meanwhile, went 0-1 with a pair of walks while starting at catcher.
“Too many memories on this field,” said House, whose minor league career as a pitcher included a stop at Albuquerque from 2016 to 2018. “(When) Mitch and I were at UNM, we played here. State championship here (with La Cueva)… It’s real cool to kind of get us all back together. Brian and I were former Isotopes, so we spent some time on this field.”
Pacheco, a Lobo great who is currently in his second season as Isotopes hitting coach, first played at the park when it was known as Albuquerque Sports Stadium as a La Cueva star. Pacheco’s professional playing career included stints with the Colorado Rockies, Arizona Diamondbacks and Cincinnati Reds, but he also made an appearance at the Lab with the Tacoma Rainiers in 2019.
“It’s just really too cool to kind of see where New Mexico baseball is and, I think, where it’s going,” Pacheco said. “Definitely when I was coming up, there weren’t any expectations. The younger guys started coming up and they kind of raised that bar. Especially with Mitch now. That’s how it should be.
“It’s just cool to see guys be able to kind of live out their dream and play at a very high level of baseball and be able to set that standard for the next generation of younger players, especially here in New Mexico.”
For Cavazos-Galvez, a former Manzano and UNM standout who played for the Isotopes in 2012 and 2014, one memory in particular still resonates. In this case, it was a mix of both the sweet and the sour.
“It would have to be my home debut for the Isotopes. It was on my birthday (May 17, 2012). Obviously family and friends — everyone in town,” he said. “That would probably be my biggest moment. I also made a pretty bad blunder in the outfield in that game as well. So I definitely remember it for the good and the bad.”
Both Pacheco and House recalled winning state high school titles with La Cueva among their fondest memories from playing at the stadium. Along with Garver, they helped make the Bears one of the state’s great prep baseball dynasties. Cavazos-Galvez, while known for his prodigious power with the Monarchs, didn’t get to hoist a blue trophy. He laughed it off when asked if he received any good-natured ribbing from the trio. At this point, it’s all in the family — literally.
“That is funny. I just noticed that,” Cavazos-Galvez said. “My wife’s actually a graduate of La Cueva. There’s a tie there.
“At that point in our career, we all knew there was talent everywhere at different schools … I think honestly we do bond as native New Mexicans. As soon as high school’s over, that really wasn’t part of it.”
‘TOPES SATURDAY: Vs. Round Rock
6:35 p.m., Isotopes Park,
610 AM/95.9 FM
PROMOTION: Salute To Services/Postgame fireworks
PROBABLES: Express LHP Cody Bradford (6-1, 0.99) vs. Isotopes LHP Ryan Rolison (no record)
FRIDAY: RHP Dinelson Lamet pitched 4.2 innings of scoreless baseball in his third rehab start for the Albuquerque Isotopes in a 4-1 win over visiting Round Rock. It was the 999th managerial victory for Albuquerque’s Pedro Lopez. Elehuris Montero connected on his 12th home run, and Brian Serven extended his hitting streak to eight games. La Cueva and UNM alumnus Mitch Garver appeared in his third rehab game of this series, catching and finishing 0-for-1 at the plate with two walks. He departed after six innings. The rehabbing (knee) Texas Rangers catcher is 4-for-9 with two doubles and a homer in his hometown this week.
(Friday’s box score, updated Pacific Coast League standings)