The San Antonio Missions today released the roster that will take on the Springfield Cardinals Thursday April 3. The headliners of the team come as no surprise since they all have played for the Missions previously. RHP Matt Wisler, C Austin Hedges and OF Rymer Liriano will all call Wolff Stadium home again in 2014. For all three it will be the first time that they begin a season in the Texas League. Liriano would have already done that, but he missed all of last year recovering from Tommy John surgery after earning a midseason promotion to San Antonio in 2012. Hedges, Wisler and Liriano were recently ranked as the #1, #2 and #4 prospects in the Padres' organization by John Sickels of SBNation's minorleagueball.com. You can expect Matt Wisler to start the aforementioned opening game on Thursday.
In addition to the big three there are some other ranked prospects that will suit up for the Missions:
- SS Jace Peterson was ranked #6. The 22 year old earned a promotion from Lake Elsinore with his solid glove, patient bat and base swiping speed that he looks to carry over to this season against better competition.
- RHP Jesse Hahn was ranked #9. He has impressed anyone who has watched him pitch since being acquired from the Tampa Bay Rays. He should join Wisler in the rotation and finally get to work some longer outings as a starting pitcher.
- 2B Cory Spangenberg also missed the rankings and got a C+ grade. He returns to San Antonio after getting promoted to the club midseason last year. The speedy 10th overall selection in the 2011 draft needs to work on getting on base more and getting some pop out of his bat. There is talk that the team may make him a utility player to supplant (or complement) Alexi Amarista some day.
Others to note:
- RHP Johnny Barbato gets a promotion despite a tough year with the Storm last season. Before that he got a C+ grade from Sickels and went to camp with the Padres as a Non-Roster Invitee. He is looking for a bounceback year, but the Padres are pushing him with this promotion. He's still just 21.
- LHP Frank Garces is in a similar boat as Barbato. He was also given a C+ grade a year ago, but struggled with the Storm. The Dominican southpaw already turned 24 and is on the smaller side as far as pitchers go at 5'11" 175 lbs. He should be in the starting rotation with Wisler and Hahn.
- RHP James Needy did not struggle last year with Lake Elsinore. The Santee native had a good enough year to earn a promotion to the Missions' playoff roster last season. He is another candidate for the rotation with Wisler, Hahn and Garces.
- RHP Adys Portillo has been in the Padres organization a long time now. The Padres had him on their 40 man roster for a while, but designated him for assignment and sent him back to AA once he cleared waivers. Once a starter, he is now a reliever with a lot to prove. He is still just 22 years old, despite this being his 6th year playing in the Padres' organization.
- OF Kyle Gaedele played all 3 OF positions for the Storm last year and had a decent year with the stick. The versatility is a plus, but players decent with years at the plate in the Cal League are a dime a dozen. The 24 year old will be challenged in AA.
- OF Travis Jankowski was 44th overall selection in 2012 draft and has moved up quickly. He plays an excellent CF and steals tons of bases (71 last year for Lake Elsinore). The bat can be a little light though as his career slugging percentage is south of .400. The Padres are being quite aggressive with the both Gaedele and Jankowski.
- OF Yeison Asencio is on the 40 man roster and returns to AA San Antonio after being promoted to them midseason last year. The team still has some belief in him after some solid years following the revelation that his name is not Yoan Alcantera and was not as young as he had claimed to be.
After seeing both the High A and AA rosters, I'm a bit confused as to what happened to Jeremy Baltz (#Baltz) who was excellent for Lake Elsinore last year, but is not on either roster. It would appear that RHP Leonel Campos, who was a Non-Roster Invitee with the Padres this Spring, will be in AAA. LHP Juan Pablo Oramas who was with San Antonio last year and is on the Padres' 40 man roster has already been announced as an El Paso Chihuahua. C Rocky Gale got a cup of coffee with the AAA club last year and looks headed to the new AAA club this year.