The Las Vegas 51s begin their 34th season of Pacific Coast League action tonight when they host the defending PCL and triple-A champion Fresno Grizzlies at 7:05 p.m. at Cashman Field.
It’s the start of an eight-game homestand for the 51s who begin their fourth season as the triple-A affiliate for the 2015 National League champion New York Mets. The 51s also play the Grizzlies, the triple-A affiliate of the Houston Astros, on Friday and Saturday night at 7:05 and Sunday at 12:05 before hosting the Sacramento River Cats, the triple-A team for the San Francisco Giants, April 11-14.
The 51s, who helped produced future big league stars like 2014 NL Rookie of the Year Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz in recent years, have two of the Mets’ top five prospects on their roster to begin the season in shortstop Gavin Cecchini (No. 4, No. 86 MLB Top 100) and outfielder Brandon Nimmo (No. 5).
The pitching staff features two local products in right-hander Paul Sewald, who played for three AAAA state title teams at Bishop Gorman, and right-hander Chasen Bradford, a former all-state pick at Silverado High School in Henderson.
Fresno is lead by 6-foot-4, 275-pound first baseman A.J. Reed who was the consensus Player of the Year for college baseball in 2014, leading NCAA Division I in homers (23), slugging (.735) and OPS (1.211) while also winning 12 games as Kentucky’s No. 1 starter. Reed, rated the 39th best prospect by MLB.com and a former California League MVP, is projected to be a mid-year call-up by the Astros.