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Missions Report: Series Preview vs. Frisco RoughRiders

Photo: Marcus Pond

Normally, you won’t see many minor league series previews, but the Padres aren’t playing for a few more days and the Missions will be playing in Frisco (hands down the highest quality broadcast I’ve seen on MiLB.tv).  If you have the means (i.e. a subscription), I highly recommend it.

And it’s not just for the broadcast quality that makes tuning in worthwhile – its who you’ll be able to see.  After winning their division in the first half, San Antonio is off to a 11-7 start and sitting in first place again, having taken two out of three from Northwest Arkansas at Wolff Stadium.  The RoughRiders, who were last in the Texas League South division in the first half (31-39) find themselves in a slightly improved 9-9 record; tied for second place and just two games behind the Missions.

Probable Starters:

Wednesday: Enyel De Los Santos (4.55 ERA) vs. Ariel Jurado (4.39 ERA)

I say this every time I talk about De Los Santos, but his stats against the Midland RockHounds really skew the rest of his numbers.  In 20.1 innings against Midland, he has a 11.07 ERA, while his 70.2 innings against the rest of the Texas League net him a much more impressive 2.67 mark. His walk and strikeout splits are pretty similar, but half of his eight home runs allowed came in those five starts.  I prefer watching him pitch against the rest of the league.

On the other side, Jurado is one of the Rangers’ top pitching prospects (ranked no.3 on MLB.com).  They’ve moved him aggressively through the system, but he hasn’t really excelled since he was in the Sally League (Single-A) in 2015, when he was 12-1 with a 2.45 ERA and a 7.9 K/BB ratio.  He’s still only 21 years old and still has a lot of potential, but some of the shine has worn off.  Frisco is 0-3 in games where he’s started against San Antonio, where he has held them to five earned runs in 15 innings.  Strangely enough, the Missions have scratched across six unearned runs in his starts.

Thursday: Brett Kennedy (3.80 ERA) vs. Tyler Davis (1.38 ERA)

* Game will be broadcast on FOX Sports Southwest

Kennedy has been one of the biggest under-the-radar surprises in the Padres organization this year.  With hardly any fanfare, the 22-year-old Fordham graduate is following up an impressive 2016, which saw him strike out over a batter an inning in Single-A and High-A, with an even better season in San Antonio.  He’s lowered his BB/9 rate down to an even 2.0, and since May, his ERA has been 2.74.  He’s coming off a pair of rough starts against the Arkansas Travelers where he gave up eight runs in 11 innings, so it’ll be interesting to see if he can rebound against Frisco.

Tyler Davis was taken in the 23rd round of the 2015 MLB Draft, but has had a pretty unspectacular start to his career.  He hasn’t recorded an ERA below the 5.00 mark in any year, and has a decent but not exciting 7.5 K/9 during his time in the Rangers organization.  What is noteworthy about him is that he throws strikes (perhaps to a fault) and doesn’t walk many batters (2.9 BB/9).  He’s had just two starts at Double-A and has only allowed two earned runs in 13 innings, so the Missions will look to extinguish his hot start.

Friday: Eric Lauer (1-0, 1.42 ERA) vs. Collin Wiles (7-5, 3.63 ERA)

Lauer had nothing more to prove in Lake Elsinore when he left a few weeks ago (11.2 K/9, 1.241 WHIP), and he’s been doing much of the same since he joined the Missions.  In his first two starts with San Antonio, he’s walked two while striking out 13.  He’s on the fast track to the majors, and he’ll look to show that he’s the real deal while giving the rotation a boost as they push towards the playoffs.

Collin Wiles was a first round pick in 2012, but the 23-year-old has gotten a bit lost in the system.  I didn’t find him on any recent top prospect lists, but he’s still had a good year for Frisco.  Like Davis, he’s not striking out very many guys, but he’s also not walking anyone.  He’s had a bit of success against San Antonio, going seven innings and giving up two runs in his first three starts against them, but he got the loss in his last game at home against the Missions, giving up five runs in six innings.

Saturday: Cal Quantrill (0-0, -.– ERA) vs. Pedro Payano (1-2, 4.25 ERA)

Cal Quantrill’s Double-A debut!  Alright!  While it came as a bit of surprise that he was promoted (he wasn’t dominating the Cal League by any stretch, and some believed he still had something to prove there), he still has the most potential of any pitcher in High-A or Double-A, so the Padres are being aggressive with his placement.  The Texas League is a little more forgiving to pitchers than the Cal League, but he’ll still  be facing advanced competition.  His strikeout and walk numbers on the year look good, he’ll need to limit contact more (9.5 hits/9 innings so far this year) if he wants to be successful.

Pedro Payano has started eight games for Frisco, and is allowing a whopping 6.3 BB/9 in Double-A.  He’s only gone into the sixth twice, so the Missions should be able to provide Quantrill some run support in his first start for the Missions.  Payano is ranked as the no.27 top prospect for the Rangers (according to MLB.com), so he’s not a bum, but the 22-year-old has struggled in Frisco this year.

Keys for the Missions:

First and foremost, San Antonio is hoping that Luis Urías can get back on track.  After hitting .343/.433/.480 the first two months of the season (playing as the youngest player in the league), he’s been in a funk.  His .216/.323/.234 slash line is buoyed by the fact that he can still walk with the best of them (12.6% BB rate on the season), but his grounders haven’t been finding holes like they were in the spring.  His .388 BABIP those first two months shows that he may have been a little luck, so hopefully it’s not bad luck that it’s been .245 since then, and not something more concerning.

It’ll also be interesting to see how the newly called up Josh Naylor performs.  While his power numbers weren’t too high in the Cal League, it’ll still be fun to see how he does next to Franmil Reyes and Ty France, the latter of which has been scuffling a bit too.  Also worth noting: Auston Bousfield can flat out play centerfield, and I get giddy with joy watching Trey Wingenter close out games.

Keys for the RoughRiders:

Frisco has a bunch of top organizational prospects on their team, but the Rangers system has taken a hit in the past few years.  Yohander Mendez is the ace of their staff and is missing this series, so that hurts their chances to gain ground against San Antonio.  Isiah Kiner-Falefa, the RoughRiders own personal Swiss Army knife (he’s played second base, third base, shortstop, and catcher this year), has been a spark plug this year.  With a .362 OBP, he’s a good guy to start a rally with, but his .326 slugging shows that he’s not the power threat that will hurt you late in the game.

They’ve been waiting for their full-time catcher, Jose Trevino (ranked no.6 in the organization by MLB.com), to heat up, as he’s only posting a .647 OPS since June. He doesn’t strike out much (10.3%), but doesn’t walk much either (5%).  I haven’t watched enough Frisco games to know what his contact looks like, but a .284 BABIP isn’t helping him out right now.

Anything you want to know about the series, the Missions, or anything else?  Let us know in the comments.