Pedro Lopez Addresses the Binghamton Press on Media Day | Astromets Mind

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Pedro Lopez Addresses the Binghamton Press on Media Day

The B-Mets posted the interview on Periscope today, but here are the highlights if you missed it

Q: Have you settled on an opening day starter?

Pedro: We’re thinking about Robert Gsellman, but it’s kind of up in the air right now. I just flew in last night and I haven’t had a chance to talk to Abby [pitching coach].

Q: Do have any idea of what your lineup is going to look like?

Pedro: I was playing with it in Spring Training for a while. I think Jeff McNeil will be the leadoff guy, he’ll probably either play 2B or 3B. Victor Cruzado hitting second, probably. Niuman Romero hitting third. Dominic Smith hitting fourth. Stefan Sabol fifth. Xorge Carrillo, Maikis De La Cruz, and L.J. Mazzilli are in the mix there too. I know at least the first 5 guys, I just have to figure out 6-9.

Q: You mentioned having Dom Smith in the middle of the lineup and the thing with him is: when’s the power going to get there? Is that something that a player can consciously work on, or does it have to come naturally?

Pedro: I think that comes with time. The power, as we all know, is the last thing a player develops. He’s going to be OK. I think Dominic is going to hit quite a few homeruns, but the one thing he’s got going well for him is his approach at the plate. He’s got a really quiet and passive approach at the plate, but is aggressive with pitches that he can drive. I think eventually we’re going to see the homeruns. Everybody last year was talking about Conforto and whether he would be able to hit homeruns or not. I told people that the power is there, it’s just a matter of time. He only hit a handful here, but next thing you know he hits 9 in the big leagues. I think Dominic is in the same route. He’s a good player, with great discipline at the plate, I just hope he doesn’t shy away from it. He’s hitting cleanup not because he’s got to hit homeruns now, but because we think that’s where he’ll hit in the bigs.

Q: You have a mix of some young players and some veterans. From what you saw in Spring Training, where do you think the strengths of this squad will be?

Pedro: I think the offense, I like what I saw from the offense. Last year we had a lot of power, but we also had a lot of swing-and-misses. Last year we had a lot of guys that swung out of control. This year it’s a team with a better approach at the plate. I don’t want to say this is how the season is going to go, but we didn’t lose many games in Spring Training, so I just hope that we keep the same approach. I’ve always said pitching and defense wins championships, so hopefully the defense will be there for us. We have guys like Niuman who has been in the league before, he’s played some 3B and some shortstop. Gibson was also in the league a few years ago, and he’s played 3B/2B/SS. We’re going to be OK with McNeil or Mazzilli playing 2B and/or 3B. Not to take anything away from all the guys I’ve had here at Binghamton, but I think for the first time in a long time I have a really good first baseman. I think you guys are going to enjoy watching Dom play.

Q: After being asked about predicting where this team will end up - note, I pick up midway through the answer.

Pedro: Abby was asking me, who’s going to be the closer? For me, it’s Akeel Morris. The way he threw the ball in Spring Training, in big league camp, I saw huge strides from last year. Last year we saw a guy whose fastball was scattered all over the place, and only at times did he have good command of it. This year in Spring Training he threw the ball extremely well and I just hope that he continues do that. If he does that with his changeup it’s devastating, and he’ll be the guy at the end of the game.

Q: Is Niuman going to be your shortstop?

Pedro: It’s going to be between Niuman and Gibson. Right now, it’s probably half and half between both of them. They’re also going to play some 2B and 3B, and possibly DH sometimes.

Q: Is Mazzilli just 2B?

Pedro: He’s going to play some 3B and 2B.

Q: Over the last number of years, you guys have graduated a lot of players up to the majors. When that happens, it can be tough for a system to keep its depth, so where do rate the Mets system now?

Pedro: From all the guys that moved up after 2014, I thought we were going to struggle here in 2015, but I tell you what, the players stepped up. I feel like we still have a lot of good players coming up. In St. Lucie, oh my gosh, they have a squad over there! They’ve got Amed Rosario, they have Luis Guillorme at 2B, they have Jhoan Urena playing 3B. I told Luis Rojas, you probably have the best middle infield combo in the minor leagues, by far. If you watch these two guys playing together, it’s incredible. Guillorme is not a 2B, he’s a shortstop who happens to go to 2B because of Rosario. So I think they have a good team. I think Columbia has a good team as well. So we have some good players coming, we still have a lot of prospects in the system, and it’s not going to be long until those guys are coming to Binghamton.

Q: How would you rate Gsellman compared to some of the guys who came here recently?

Pedro: I think he’s going to be the next guy, I really believe so. He doesn’t light you guys up with the gun, he doesn’t throw 97-98 like Syndergaard, Wheeler or Harvey. When the Spring Training games started, he went out there and did what he does: he pounded the strike zone, he got groundballs, his fastball was 93-95 with good sink, and he threw good sliders (curveballs?). That was the one thing he was lacking when he was up here last year in the second half, his secondaries. When TC saw him pitch in camp, time-after-time he was really pleased with what he saw.

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