Nicky Lopez, second baseman for the Kansas City Royals, remembers pretending he was standing in a batter's box, in front of a large crowd, mimicking his role models in his parent's backyard as a kid. Whether it was the vintage swing of Derek Jeter or Dustin Pedroia. It was a long shot.
Nicky Lopez, second baseman for the Kansas City Royals, remembers pretending he was standing in a batter's box, in front of a large crowd, mimicking his role models in his parent's backyard as a kid.
Whether it was the vintage swing of Derek Jeter or Dustin Pedroia.
It was a long shot. A dream many have dreamt about.
Nicky was able to accomplish a feat, he himself, believed he could do since he was standing in his backyard. Trying to become his idols, when now he is that to someone else growing up.
Especially for someone that was considered "never tall enough" or "just didn't have the power", but he did, and he knew it.
"You will always have people who doubt you and you will always have people on your side through it all. Just have to stay close with them. But the biggest challenge that a baseball player has to overcome is the constant adjustments that are needed to succeed at these higher levels. Baseball is a game of adjustments."
In 2016, Kansas City selected Lopez in the fifth round of the First-Year Player Draft, making him the 11th player in school history to be selected within the first five rounds. Nicky quickly made his way through the Royals' organization, reaching four different levels in two seasons.
"To be a Royal has been a dream come true. To wear the Royals name across my chest is something that I definitely don't take for granted. There were a lot of great players who put on these jerseys before us, so I try every time I put my jersey on to wear it proudly and to play the game the right way."
This game of baseball is special to Nicky and one that even himself struggles with putting into words.
"This is a game I have been playing ever since I could walk. I remember going in the backyard and picking up a bat and ball and imitating people that were in the MLB at that time. I have just always been so wrapped up in baseball and I know that is what I wanted to do."
Choosing the game of baseball wasn't difficult for him either.
"People dream of wanting to be a doctor, or astronaut, whatever kids dream of being, but for me, it was to be a Major League Baseball Player. Baseball has been my whole life since I was young."
In 2018 he won the George Brett Hitter of the Year award, which recognizes the top position player.
"It was a tremendous honor. To be able to win an award from a Hall of Famer is something I am humbled by, and something I will never forget."
May 13th, 2019, Nicky was told he was making his Major League debut with the Kansas City Royals, a thought going back to when he was standing in his parent's backyard.
"I was told in Des Moines, Iowa, it was unbelievable. And then obviously, pair that with my debut and that had to be my favorite moments. It was such a relief and a great feeling. All of the hard work paid off and dreams do come true."
Nicky played his rookie season in Burlington, where this past season the Burlington Royals had an official "Nicky Lopez Bobblehead night".
"The bobblehead day was special. It was the first bobblehead I have ever had made for me so it was really cool to see that. It was almost identical which I loved most about it. Burlington was very good to me my rookie season and I loved every minute I played there."
Being a Royal is everything to him.
"The Royals are family to me and they are someone who believes in me, so I try and do my best and give 100% every time I am on and off the field."
Alex Feuz is the broadcaster and reporter for the Burlington Royals. You can follow @alexfeuz on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.