Tomorrow afternoon, the San Antonio Missions will hold a press conference to discuss their move from the Texas League (Double-A) to the Pacific Coast League (Triple-A). The move will take place at the start of the 2019 season.
Founded in 1888 (no, that’s not a typo), the Missions have been part of the Texas League for… well, a long time (a quick glance at their Wikipedia page will show the storied history, which included monikers such as “Missionaries”, “Gentlemen”, “Bronchos”, “Aces”, and “Bullets”). They began MLB affiliation in 1946 with the St. Louis Browns, and have been a farm team for ten different major league clubs. Their affiliation with the Padres began in 2007.
San Antonio boasts a population of almost 1.5 million and is the second largest city in Texas, behind only Houston. None of the other Texas League teams come anywhere close to that number, though Frisco, who routinely leads the league in average attendance, is a suburb of Dallas.
To make room for San Antonio in the PCL, the Colorado Springs Sky Sox will be moving from the highest level of the minors to the lowest. They will join the short-season Pioneer League (Low-A). Aside from having attendance issues, there are some obvious difficulties playing baseball games at Colorado Springs (elevation 6,000 feet) in the spring time.
How does this impact the Padres?
The Padres already have a Triple-A affiliate in the Pacific Coast League – the El Paso Chihuahuas. While the player development contract with them expires in 2018, it’s pretty unlikely (from an outsider’s perspective) that they don’t extend it. The Chihuahuas entered the PCL with the Padres (after moving from Portland via Tucson), and there’s no indication that they’d terminate the relationship. Not that it wouldn’t be beneficial, however, since El Paso is a desert located at 3,700 feet above sea level, (compared to San Antonio’s 650 feet) and it’s often difficult to gauge how well players will perform when they get to Petco Park.
More than likely, they continue their affiliation with El Paso, and their Double-A affiliate will be based in Amarillo. There have been rumors that Amarillo or Lubbock was trying to lure a Texas League team, and it appears that Amarillo has finally figured out the funding for a stadium.
Amarillo has been a member in the Texas League before, as Tony Gwynn spent 23 games there in 1982 after being promoted from Walla Walla (Low-A). He hit .462/.490/.725 during his stint with the Gold Sox.
Both the San Antonio Missions, the Colorado Springs SkySox, and the new Amarillo team, are owned by the Elmore Sports Group.