Padres Minor League System Review: The San Antonio Missions

Credit: AP Photo

Credit: Missions

In their 12th and final year as the Padres’ Double-A team, the 2018 San Antonio Missions showcased one of their most impressive rosters in team history, despite an unexceptional 71-67 regular-season record.

Shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr., one of the game’s top prospects, was lost for the year with a thumb injury on July 20 when the Missions were 58-39.

Later in the year, some San Antonio’s best starting pitchers were promoted, with Logan Allen and Cal Quantrill moving up to Triple-A El Paso and Jacob Nix ending up in the big leagues. Another starter, Chris Paddack, was shut down late in the season by order of the Padres. Among other promotions, slugging third baseman Ty France also went to El Paso.

Manager Phillip Wellman told the Union-Tribune the various promotions were a tribute to the organization’s system:

“Last time I looked there were six or seven guys in the big leagues that started at Double-A this year. If you step back and look at the big picture, I think that speaks highly of the scouting department, the player development department, the organization as a whole, that six guys started in Double-A and are in the big leagues now.”

Wellman led San Antonio to a first-round playoff victory and spot in the Texas League championship series to close the team’s run as a Padres affiliate. The Missions will be affiliated with the Milwaukee Brewers starting next year.

Position players

Super prospect Fernando Tatis Jr.’s numbers at the age of 19 are truly eye-opening, particularly when you consider that he got off to a rough start, hitting only .177 in April. Wellman certainly was not surprised with Tatis’ slow start
<a href=”http://“>”I’m sure in Fort Wayne he wasn’t getting a whole lot of 2-0 change-ups or first-pitch sliders. He was getting to see that here. Once he started figuring those things out and was staying in the zone, his talent surfaced”.

Catcher Austin Allen (twenty-fifth best Padres prospect) put together an offensive year as a catcher that simply cannot be ignored. Sporting a 130 wRC+ and a slash of .290/.351/.506/.857 in the pitching-friendly Texas League is quite an achievement, particularly for a backstop in what usually amounts to blazing Texas heat and humidity.

Yet there remains some skepticism about his defense. Eric Longenhagen states in his recently published AZL Winter League preview We didn’t have Padres C Austin Allen on our Padres list entering the year because we don’t think he can catch. Watching him for six weeks in the AFL should be telling.

Allen has met this criticism head-on in a Dennis Lin piece from June. “I like when people doubt me”.

Josh Naylor (fifteenth best Padres prospect) At the beginning of the season, Josh Naylor was the fourth youngest players in the Texas League. Yet, despite his age, his plate approach entails all the discipline of a seasoned pro. His 128 w/RC+ and .383 OBP in 2018 was very impressive and the fact that he doesn’t strike out much yet works counts bodes well for the future of this young prospect.

Naylor is a good athlete who shows high baseball IQ and savvy. He made the transition to left field early in the season and despite usual issues related to a change in position, he made progress.

Manager Phillip Wellman, in an interview with John Conniff, commented on the adjustment “He’s graceful and athletic out there,” said his manager Phillip Wellman on Naylor’s progress in the outfield. “I told A.J. [Preller, the Padres’ General Manager] that the only balls that give him difficulty are the ones that he hasn’t seen. A left-handed hitter cuts one and it fades hard, it’s difficult for him because he has been playing on the other side of the field for his whole life.”

Buddy Reed (fifteenth best prospect according to MLB.com) & Hudson Potts (twenty-third best org. prospect) both had some adjustment issues when they arrived in San Antonio but both showed flashes and will be starting the season at Double-A next year. Potts is one of the younger players in the Texas League at nineteen years old.

Meanwhile, Owen Miller (thirtieth org. prospect) made his debut in the post season and didn’t disappoint. He is quickly rising up the prospect chart for the club and with his age and college experience, he could be in the majors fairly soon.

Pitching

The Missions pitching staff ranked either first or second in all Texas League pitching categories.

Chris Paddack (fifth-best Padres prospect by MLB.com and No. 48 overall) – Paddack couldn’t have had any better season when you consider the fact that he was coming back from Tommy John surgery. His 120 strikeouts, 8 walks, and .89 WHIP in 90+ innings in 2018 is literally beyond comprehension. Perhaps EVT writer Gavin Binns stated it best in a recent piece “This stellar command is rare for someone who’s fastball can reach up to 96 mph. Paddack’s best pitch is his changeup, which has been known to fool hitters at 82 mph” It wasn’t a surprise when Jeff Passan named Paddack as the 2018’s best minor league pitcher in the nation.

Logan Allen (eighth best org. prospect and No. 87 overall) Allen may be one of the more polished minor league hurlers in the system in terms of being major league ready.

Cal Quantrill (10th best org. prospect) Quantrill scuffled at times in 2018. At San Antonio, he gave up 135 hits in 117 innings and his WHIP was a high 1.44. However, considering that he was still coming back from recent Tommy John surgery and came through it healthy means a step forward was made.

Credit: Missions

Jacob Nix (fourteenth best Padres prospect) Nix is another young strike thrower. Nix fashioned another eye-popping WHIP at .91 in his duty with Missions and was elevated to the parent club in August wherein four of his first seven starts he was serviceable with two of the starts being exceptional.
Nix is still young at 22 and still learning yet he has risen far in one year after a poor 2017 campaign. Now Nix turning into a fourth or fifth rotation guy looks promising.

Andres Munoz (twenty-second best prospect) Another fast riser, Andres Munoz had an abbreviated campaign due to early season elbow problems. He threw only 24+ very effective innings but still garnered attention on a national level because of the fact that he throws a 103 mile per hour fastball at the then tender age of nineteen.

Manager Phillip Wellman was impressed by Munoz “It’s just a quick arm and the ball explodes out of his hand to the plate. And he’s 19”.

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Jeffrey Pilch on Twitter
Jeffrey Pilch
Jeffrey grew up in Carlsbad and has been a Padres fan since the late 70's. He is currently a Social Studies teacher at Newman Smith High School in Carrollton, Texas.

1 thought on “Padres Minor League System Review: The San Antonio Missions

  1. So? They will move to Amarillo to what AA league and be called what? What stadium will they be playing at? Any predicted coaching changes?

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