4. San Antonio Missions
The San Antonio Missions are the AA affiliate of the Padres, and they play in the Texas League. The Missions play at Nelson W. Wolff municipal stadium, which can hold over 9,000 spectators.
The stadium is very old, but it has been renovated and balances modern and old-school styles. The top hit at the park are when the Missions have “Thursday Dollar Nights.” On these nights, all food items are a dollar,whether it be the Barbed Wire BBQ sandwich, the burger, hot dog, grilled chicken sandwich, etc. Tickets are very affordable and range from $5 to $11, with parking in the main lot being $4.
There is an outer concourse with concessions stands, the team store, and banners saluting former Missions players who have gone on to Cooperstown.
The team does have contests involving the fans between innings. The longest tradition is a race around the base path between Henry the Puffy Taco and a small child picked out of the stands. There is a rule that the fan can tackle Puffy before he reaches home plate, and because of that, the last time that the taco won a race was in the 1990’s.
The team’s official mascot is “Ballapeño,” which is a baseball jalapeno. Yeah, you can’t get more “minor league” than that. Here, spend 90 seconds of your life watching a Taco and Ballapeno have a dance off!
San Antonio has been the home for Texas League Baseball since 1888. They have been an affiliate with the Cubs, Brewers, Indians, Rangers, St. Louis Browns, Dodgers, Mariners, and now the Padres. Whew. There is a lot of history there. More than 700 Missions players have made the big leagues, including:
- Dennis Eckersley
- Orel Hershiser
- Eric Karros
- Pedro Martínez
- Joe Morgan
- Brooks Robinson
- Fernando Valenzuela
- Paul Konerko
- Mike Piazza
- Paul Lo Duca
- Alex Cora
- Adrián Beltré
- Félix Hernández
- Adam Jones
Obviously, the most interesting prospect that is going to play for the Missions this year is Luis Urias. Urias, only 19, was the Cal League MVP in 2016 and has passed every single test the Padres have given him. He figures to receive another test, AA at age 19, to begin the 2017 season.
One interesting name to look at on the pitching side of things is Yimmi Brasoban. Brasoban, who has had many arm and elbow issues, has been pretty dominant while actually being able to pitch. Between Lake Elsinore and San Antonio, Brasoban registered a 2.39 ERA with 48 K’s in 49 innings. He also only gave up 35 hits with a 1.06 WHIP.
One major red flag with Brasoban is that the Padres did not protect him in the Rule V Draft… and he still did not get picked. He also had an elbow injection in San Diego during the second week in November in attempt to avoid elbow surgery. At this point, he is a wild card for 2018 and beyond. His 98 MPH fastball and slider make him an intriguing wild card, though.
With A.J. Preller acquiring a lot of extremely young talent, San Antonio does not figure to reap the benefits of Preller’s trades and international haul until at least 2018. Perhaps Eric Lauer will progress quick enough and pitch for the Missions later in the 2017 season, but Luis Urias is the obvious name to watch here for the Missions all year.
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Baseball is fun. College sophomore that is aspiring to work someday in the sports industry. Follow me on twitter @Friar_Faithful. Go Pads!