The San Diego Padres may not have the best major league ball club, but the team is home to one of the best farm systems in all of baseball.
With incredible talent spread across all levels, it is no surprise that the Padres farm system is often referred to as the deepest and most talented in the majors.
Last season the El Paso Chihuahuas won the PCL title. The core of the Chihuahuas (Hunter Renfroe, Manuel Margot, and Austin Hedges) are all currently busy making an impact at the major league level. While El Paso has had their own struggles this season, another Padres affiliate is making some noise in the Texas League.
The San Antonio Missions enter today with a 63-45 record, good enough to cement themselves with the best record in the entire Texas League. The talent on this Missions team is absolutely incredible. Positional players Luis Urias, Javier Guerra, Nick Torres, Josh Naylor, and Franmil Reyes lead a Missions’ offense that has terrorized opposing pitching thus far. Eric Lauer, Cal Quantrill, Joey Lucchesi, Enyel De Los Santos, and Brett Kennedy makeup a dominant pitching staff that may have an impact at the big league level shortly.
However, we haven’t even gotten to the best part yet.
The Missions also happen to have one of the most dominant bullpens the Texas League has ever seen.If San Antonio has any kind of lead going into the end of a game, you can already bet that they are going to come up with a win. Let’s take a look at the key players that make up such a dominant bullpen.
Nina has been a surprise for the Missions this season. He’s 2-2 with a 2.33 ERA in 27 innings pitched, posting a 1.11 WHIP with 18 strikeouts in 20 games. Nina has been a career minor leaguer, spending all eight of his previous professional seasons with the Kansas City Royals.
Nina possesses an upper 90’s fastball with an above average curve ball. Is he going to make an impact at the big league level? More than likely no. That being said, Nina has done a fantastic job in the Missions bullpen this season and may lead them to a Texas League title.
Weir has acted as the long reliever for the Missions, having pitched in 42 ⅓ innings thus far this season. Weir has posted a 1.91 ERA with a 3-1 record in 26 games thus far this season with a 0.92 WHIP. Weir possesses nasty stuff, holding opposing batters to a .194 batting average against, making him a huge piece in the Missions bullpen.
Now we start to get into the real good stuff of the Missions bullpen. With Kyle McGrath recently getting promoted to the Padres, Eric Yardley’s role with the team just keeps on getting more important. Nonetheless, Yardley is surely up to the task. He has a 3-0 record in 36 games this season with a 1.85 ERA and a 0.95 WHIP. His funky right-handed delivery is obviously very tough to hit for Texas league batters.
The pitchers strikeouts have been impressive, as he has struck out 43 batters in 48 ⅔ innings, while only walking 10 batters. Yardley isn’t going to impress you on the radar gun. His physical stature isn’t impressive either, but Yardley has excellent command of his pitches and locates extremely well. He’s simply a ground ball pitcher and someone who can come in during high leverage situations and get the Missions an out. Yardley could very well be arriving at Petco Park sometime this season or next, looking to make an immediate impact in the Padres bullpen.
Wieck is just as exciting of a prospect as he is confusing. His 6’9” stature makes Wieck an extremely interesting pitcher. He doesn’t deliver the ball hard, sitting at around mid 90’s velocity, but his perceived velocity is high due to him delivering the ball so closely to the plate. Wieck’s primary pitch is a fastball as it demonstrates good run to it. His slider is his primary off speed pitch, but Wieck also possesses a curve ball and a changeup.
In 28 games this season, Wieck has a 2-1 record with a 2.60 ERA and a 1.12 WHIP. What is even more impressive is the fact that Wieck has struck out 47 batters in 27 ⅔ innings pitched, truly demonstrating how devastating he can be. Wieck earned himself a mid-season promotion to El Paso, but struggled mightily and was brought back down to San Antonio. He is still raw and will surely need to develop more, but many Padres fans believe that Wieck may eventually toe the rubber at Petco Park.
As if going through the plethora of talented pitchers listed above isn’t enough of a punishment for opposing batters, they will have to face off against quite possibly the best of them all come the ninth inning. The Missions closer for a majority of the season, Trey Wingenter has been absolutely dominant. In 37 games this year, Wingenter is 2-0 with a 1.96 ERA and 1.15 WHIP in 36 ⅔ innings pitched. Wingenter has struck out a ridiculous 50 batters as opposed to the 16 batters he has walked.
Trey Wingenter (14) is one save behind the Texas League leader, but has also pitched in 13 less innings than him. Wingenter has been electrifying so far, possessing a vicious fastball and an absolutely devastating slider. He has a legit chance to make an impact at the big league level at the pace he is currently on. If he continues to carve up hitters at the Double-A level, you might see him very soon.
With the Missions set to make a deep run at a Texas League title, their extremely deep bullpen will surely help them achieve that goal.
It will truly be exciting to see, one day, the impact that these talented arms can have at the big league level for the Padres.