The 2019 Hooks season kicks off today as the team is looking to replicate its success from last season.
The Hooks claimed the Texas League South in both halves of the regular season.
The team will be returning some of its key players like electrifying Ronnie Dawson and flame thrower JB Bukauskas. However, the team’s most important piece back is Manager Omar Lopez.
Lopez is no stranger to the game. A former player himself, Lopez hails from Venezuela; a country that produces MLB talent year after year.
Now Lopez, a former scout, enters his 21st season in the Astros organization and is ready for what this season will bring.
“I think this is going to be a really fun season,” Lopez said.
The 2018 Texas League Manager of the Year will serve as manager for the Hooks for the second consecutive season. He is seen as a players’ coach by those who have played for him, doing his best to focus on what is most important at the minor league level: player development.
“Myself and my coaches we have to put these kids in a good spot, try to go out there and compete,” he said.
The Hooks had one of their best seasons in team history last season. They finished with an 82-56 overall record but finished just short of the Texas League title when they lost to the San Antonio Missions in the playoffs.
Now, Lopez and his team are reloaded with talent that has become the envy of MLB teams everywhere. Lopez, 42, enjoys his time in the working in the minors but says that the jump to the big leagues is something he has in his sights.
“I think every coach wants to reach to the big league level and that is my goal,” he said.
It is a lofty goal. However, Lopez has spent the last two seasons working with Astros Manager AJ Hinch, during spring training.
Lopez says that Hinch hasn’t specifically instructed him on skills needed to be a manager. But Lopez said he learned just by watching the World Series champion, soaking it all in.
“When I see him talking to the media, I understand how to present myself to the press,” Lopez said. “It is the little things like that which teaches me.”
The Hooks begin the season tonight against the Amarillo SodPoodles at Whataburger Field.
Rotation is constant on the roster of any minor league team as player move up or down the organization. Lopez will be the constant that keeps his team together.
“I have to have energy every single day, be there for my guys, support them and work them every day,” he said.
KRIS 6 News will have your Hooks action covered all season long.