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Missions Report: San Antonio Clinches First Half Title

Photo: Marcus Pond

Last night, the Missions defeated the Frisco RoughRiders by a score of 6-4, backed by home runs from outfielders Alberth Martinez and Nick Torres.  They are 9-5 against Frisco this year, all while facing many of the Rangers top pitching prospects, including Yohander Mendez (who pitched last night) and Ariel Jurado.

After securing the win, they waited around for the result of the second place Midland RockHounds game.  They were soundly defeated by the Corpus Christi Hooks 11-3, and the celebration was on.

The Missions got off to a rough start to the season, posting a 9-13 mark out of the gate.  However, since that start, they have gone 30-14, the best record of Double-A club during that stretch.  Luis Urías has been one of the best hitters in the league, putting up a .343/.433/.480 slash line in April and May.  His neighbor in the infield, José Rondon, has helped pick up the slack during Urías’ struggles in June, and has a .407/.435/.542 hitting line this month. The outfield duo of Alberth Martinez and Franmil Reyes has also combined for 50 extra base hits (including 13 round-trippers) and 74 RBI in 2017.

By almost any measure, San Antonio’s pitching staff has been the best in the Texas League.

Stats current as of 6/15/2017

Their team ERA is the lowest in the league, and is 0.79 lower than the second best team (the Springfield Cardinals).  Their league leading strikeout total is also 64 more than the runner up (Frisco).  Leading the staff is Texas League All-Star Michael Kelly, who along with a 2.55 ERA, has 75 strikeouts in 74 innings of work.  Kyle Lloyd, who has spent some time with Triple-A El Paso this year, threw a no-hitter in May, and reinforcements like Jerry Keel (1.02 ERA) and Chris Huffman (1.73) helped solidify the rotation.  In the bullpen, Eric Yardley (1.03 WHIP) and Trey Wingenter (12.1 K/9) have helped preserve many Missions leads.

Even with a spot in the postseason guaranteed, don’t look for San Antonio to start slowing down.  Urías, one of the top prospects in the Padres organization, will likely be at Double-A the duration of the season, and it’s probable that even more quality pitching trickles in from High-A Lake Elsinore (some names that have been thrown around include Cal Quantrill, Joey Lucchesi, and Eric Lauer).

Some doubt remains with Urías, who was hit in the elbow in Wednesday against Frisco, and was shortly removed from the game.  As of yesterday, there was still swelling, and he should be reevaluated today.  The Missions continue their push towards the All-Star break this evening, as they continue their series against the RoughRiders with Michael Kelly on the hill, facing Connor Sadzeck.

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