It’s Thursday, April 6, and the Major League season is already on its fifth day.
With the Padres season starting on Monday, with a 14-3 loss at the hands of the Los Angeles Dodgers, the minor league season has gotten ever closer. After the Padres announced their final roster cuts on Saturday morning, roster news on the Padres minor league affiliates has slowly trickled in. The Padres began by announcing the Fort Wayne TinCaps roster on Sunday morning, followed by the Lake Elsinore Storm roster on Monday, which was followed by the El Paso Chihuahuas roster later on Monday afternoon, and the San Antonio Missions roster on Tuesday.
With the seasons of the Storm, Missions, and Chihuahuas all set to kick off on Thursday evening, there’s no better time to take a look at which players have earned spots on which rosters. We have already covered the rosters of the TinCaps and the Storm here at East Village Times, so let’s look at the other two rosters, starting with the San Antonio Missions.
Of all the Padres minor league affiliates, the Missions are the most sparse in terms of top-30 talent, with only three top-30 prospects, compared to five in Fort Wayne and eight in Lake Elsinore. Although there are only three, they are three good ones in infielders Luis Urias and Jose Rondon and pitcher Enyel De Los Santos. All three are looking to build off very successful 2016 seasons, and all three could move quickly to Triple-A if they start well over the first few months of the season.
Starting behind the plate, the Missions will have both A.J. Kennedy and Stephen McGee at catcher to begin the season. Neither catcher was too successful in 2016, but Kennedy figures to see the majority of playing time as the Padres attempt to see what they have in the young backstop.
In the infield, the Missions will have both of the aforementioned Luis Urias and Jose Rondon, as well as Fernando Perez, Noah Perio, and River Stevens. Urias earned a well-deserved promotion to Double-A after having a fantastic 2016 season in Lake Elsinore in which he won the league batting title as well as the league MVP. Rondon returns to the Missions after seeing some playing time in El Paso in 2016 and in San Diego in September. The trio of Perio, Perez, and Stevens aren’t too exciting, but Perez could be a player to watch going forward for the Missions.
In the outfield, the Missions will see the return of Nick Torres and Nick Schulz, who both had very successful seasons in San Antonio in 2016, as well as the return of Auston Bousfield and Alberth Martinez, and the promotion of Franmil Reyes. While Torres and Schulz will be the duo to watch for the Missions in 2017, as both could see a promotion to Triple-A sooner rather than later, Reyes is a player who could really make a statement in 2017 after a successful year with the Storm in 2016.
Last but not least is the Missions pitching staff, which houses more intriguing relief pitchers than starters, but still has interesting names nonetheless. At the top of that list is Enyel De Los Santos, who is looking to build off a strong 2016 with the Lake Elsinore Storm and Fort Wayne TinCaps. Beyond him, the most intriguing names are Brad Wieck and Kyle McGrath, two left-handed relievers who could move quickly through the Padres system and into the majors. Beyond those three, the Missions will also have Tyler Barnette, Rafael De Paula, Jake Esch, Justin Hancock, Michael Kelly, Brett Kennedy, Kyle Lloyd, Chad Nading, Trey Wingenter, and Eric Yardley on the pitching staff.
The Missions don’t have the depth of other levels of the Padres’ farm system, but there is still no shortage of players to watch in San Antonio in 2017. With only three top-30 prospects, the Missions may be the least talented of the Padres minor league teams, but Rondon, Urias, De Los Santos, McGrath, and Wieck should all give Padre fans plenty to watch.
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