The Padres' AA affiliate, the San Antonio Missions, kick off their season later today against the Springfield Cardinals (5 PM PT). It looks to be the last season for the Texas League club since there are plans to bring a AAA team to San Antonio and move the franchise to Amarillo. As of now it is unknown if the Padres affiliation will move with them or find a new club. In the meantime, the Missions will still be the home of future Friars for this season and recently released their roster for us to analyze.
To see the entire roster, you can go here: 2016 San Antonio Missions roster.
RHP Fabio Castillo, RHP Luis Diaz, RHP Johnny Hellweg, RHP Bryan Rodriguez, RHP Cesar Vargas
Analysis: I'm going to be frank here and say I'm not a fan of the choices here. Most of these guys don't even have a recent history of starting and none are very compelling. Hellweg got himself to the majors a couple years back, but is trying to get his career back on track. Diaz was a prospect in the Red Sox organization, but after a bad 2015 the Padres are trying to right his ship. Vargas did quite well in AA last year and the Padres liked him enough to put him on the 40 man roster with a Spring Training invite. He'll transition back to starting pitching apparently after just relieving in 2014 and 2015. Like Vargas, Castillo hasn't been a starting pitcher since 2013. He joins the organization after bouncing around a few farm systems. The 24 year old Bryan Rodriguez returns to the Storm after starting 23 unspectacular games for them last year and will look to bounce back.
Best Prospect: The 24 year-old Vargas is probably the most interesting given that the Padres seemed to have invested some resources into him. He converted from starting to relieving in 2013 and probably was just starting to tap into his upside as a 'pen arm, but now is back to starting. We'll have to see how that turns out.
LHP Brandon Alger, LHP Kyle Bartsch, LHP Ramon Benjamin, RHP Adam Cimber, RHP Rafael De Paula, RHP Jason Jester, RHP Kyle Lloyd, RHP Eric Yardley
Analysis: This group is a little more interesting than the starters, but that's not saying too much. Cimber and Alger both return to the Missions staff from last year. Cimber and Alger both had decent enough seasons. Bartsch, Jester and Yardley all got promotions from Lake Elsinore. Yardley was excellent for the Storm, Jester was solid, but Bartsch (who the Padres acquired for current Royal Reymond Fuentes) had some struggles. Benjamin came from outside the org.
Best prospect: This could go to just about anybody. Former SPs De Paula and Lloyd both didn't stand out in High A last year, but both do post strikeout stuff and decent control. De Paula came over in the Chase Headley trade and Lloyd is doing well for a 29th round selection the Padres made in 2013. Both are 25 years old. Truthfully, I'm not that excited about either of them. Yardley and Jester intrigue me a little.
C Rocky Gale, C Ryan Miller
Analysis: Nothing to see here. Gale is already an organization soldier and Miller looks like he's on the path to become one. You might remember that Gale actually got a cup of coffee with the Padres last year. That shouldn't happen again unless September rolls around and one of Norris, Bethancourt or Hedges is traded or hurt.
SS Diego Goris, 1B Duanel Jones, 2B Taylor Lindsey, 3B Gabriel Quintana, SS Jose Rondon, 2B/3B Nelson Ward
Analysis: I feel like Jones and Quintana have been around forever, but neither are that old (22 and 23 respectively). Their bats have shown promise and so they keep getting chances. Goris has been trying to work his way as a utility guy with just enough pop to get him to the majors. Lindsey seemed on the verge of becoming a major leaguer a couple years ago when he was a top prospect with the Angels. After coming to the Padres in the Huston Street trade his prospect have faded and now he's a level lower than when he arrived. Rondon should hold down SS for the club, steal bases and bat high in the order. Ward came over in the Benoit trade with the Mariners and looks to be the starting 2B for the club. His bat showed promise last year, but it could have been a Cal League mirage.
Best Prospect: Rondon should be able to make the majors at least as a utility guy, but he might have the chops to be SS. The Padres have a couple SS prospects in lower levels that will push him so his bat needs to play quickly if he wants to get his shot. I like Ward as well, but scouts will point to Rondon as having the betters tools to get to the bigs. Rondon is on the 40 man roster, so if he starts strong he could move up to AAA midseason and then be in San Diego for September.
RF Yeison Asencio, CF Auston Bousfield, CF Alberth Martinez, RF Nick Torres
Analysis: Asencio and Martinez are both AA and AAA veterans that are still just young enough to hold onto hopes for development into future major league players, although Asencio's time is quickly running out. Bousfield and Torres arrive after solid seasons with the Storm. Bousfield can run and Torres can hit.
Best Prospect: I'll take Torres here. His ceiling isn't high, but he shows enough skill with the bat that maybe there's a major league future there. It'll be tough for him as a right handed hitter, but he might have enough contact skills to go with just enough pop to make it happen. This promotion is a bit aggressive for the 22 year-old as he only spent half a season in High A Lake Elsinore.