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.
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”.
Fernando Tatis Jr. had a wRC+ of 133 in close to 400 PA’s at the AA level in 2018 at the age of 19. pic.twitter.com/pwz5c8CzFE
— Tex Padre (@texpadres) September 15, 2018
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”.
Padres farmhand, catcher Austin Allen had an offensive year that is hard to ignore – 130 wRC+ and a slash of .290/.351/.506/.857 in the pitching friendly Texas League is quite an achievement, particulary for a backstop in the blazing Texas heat and humidity.
— Tex Padre (@texpadres) September 16, 2018
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.
Josh Naylor had a 11% walk rate (64) and a 12% K rate (69) in 2018. His 128 wRC+ & .383 OBP was impressive at the AA level especially when you consider how young he is. pic.twitter.com/BXtaVJ16mw
— Tex Padre (@texpadres) September 16, 2018
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.”
Josh Naylor Stolen Base pic.twitter.com/W6Omjiegko
— Josh (@purpl3m) September 12, 2018
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.
Owen Miller rips a single after a Reed walk. Runners on the corners with no outs in the first. pic.twitter.com/LcuHfvnsAL
— Tex Padre (@texpadres) September 9, 2018
The Missions pitching staff ranked either first or second in all Texas League pitching categories.
In the 8 team Texas League, the 2018 @missionsmilb rank at the top or in close second in all pitching categories – #1 in WHIP at 1.246 & SO/W at 2.97. They are second in ERA at 3.58. https://t.co/AYsqWE6Zyh
— Tex Padre (@texpadres) September 12, 2018
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.
2018 stats for #Padres Logan Allen: 14-6, 2.54 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, 151 K in 148.2 IP, 9.1 K/9 in 25 games (24 GS) between AA @missionsmilb & AAA @epchihuahuas. Named Texas League All-Star. (photo via https://t.co/eYbXUCb1Gn) #LetsGoPadres #POTY @SD_Southpaw pic.twitter.com/20Rsy4HfYQ
— Prospects1500 (@Prospects1500) September 14, 2018
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.
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”.
When Andres Munoz gets up in the pen the entire bullpen starts to loudly chant “El Caballo” ! along with mimicking the riding of a horse. pic.twitter.com/Wi6o7abzEb
— Tex Padre (@texpadres) September 13, 2018
— James E. Clark (@EVT_JClark) November 12, 2017