That isn’t going to happen this year.
While the offense is down somewhat in the always difficult to hit Nelson Wolff Stadium but the big difference is in the pitching and especially the defense.
The overall team ERA at the end of last year was 3.43 and this year its sitting at over a full run above at 4.35 ERA. However, what is killing the Missions this season, and a big reason why they are in last is the defense.
In 61 games they have made 72 errors as compared to last year when they made 108 errors in 140 games.
But according to nearly everyone who watches the Missions on a regular basis the biggest change isn’t only reflected in the errors but also in the amount of plays the team doesn’t make particularly when you look at the plus outfield of last year, Tekotte, Dan Robertson, Sawyer Carroll and Jaff Decker compared to what they are running out this year who are playing in the outfield for the first time in their professional careers.
Also in 107 games last year shortstops Beemer Weems/Andy Parrino made 14 errors for the season. Jeudy Valdez, the team’s current shortstop, has 15 in 56 games.
Although OF Jaff Decker hit .236 last year he also had 19 home runs, 92 RBIS and a .373 on-base percentage. Despite having a solid year in the Arizona Fall League and in Spring Training, Decker has struggled big time with a .184/.365/.293 line in 187 plate appearances before going on the DL with a foot injury.
Scouts and team personnel will be first to tell you that while Decker has been hitting the ball square, especially in May, .184 is also .184. He does have a tendency to be somewhat over selective and should look to shoot the ball the other way for singles occasionally to avoid getting in pitcher’s counts.
However, nearly everyone believes the numbers are more of a case of a bad start and what is happening now is more of an aberration. The on-base percentage numbers seem to bear this out as Decker’s numbers this year are only slightly off from what he produced in the past two years.
He is in great shape and despite the foot injury has played very well in the field seeing most of his time in center and right.
He is expected to be out four to six weeks.
1B Nate Freiman’s numbers are going to go down some with the promotions of 3B/2B Jed Gyorko and OF/1B Cody Decker but the 6’8” 240 lbs. Duke graduate is more than just a big slugger.
With an infield that has already made 36 errors this year Freiman has saved them from making a lot more and has yet to make an error at first. With runners on and two outs he is hitting .309/.356/.600 with runners on with two outs.
The only negative is the big guy is limited to first base.
A really nice surprise has been the play of utility man Dean Anna who so far has seen time at five positions with the most being at second with the injuries to Jonathan Galvez. The left-handed hitting Anna is second in the Texas League in on-base percentage at .432 and has been fairly solid defensively.
Missions’ manager John Gibbons has said with the return of Galvez he will find a spot for Anna in the line-up somewhere everyday.
LHP Robbie Erlin’s elbow is not that serious but as with RHP Casey Kelly in Tucson the team is taking a very cautious approach and attempting to build the muscles up around the elbow more before sending him back to the mound.
Erlin is unsure exactly when he will be back out but said it could be sometime in mid-July.
RHP Keyvius Sampson has pitched very well at home with a 2.86 ERA and not so well on the road at 9.53 ERA a fact that Sampson has no idea of why its occurring.
Interesting note, despite a 12-3 record and 2.90 ERA last year in Fort Wayne, on the road he had a 3.58 ERA.
In addition to discovering that life on the road in the Texas League is difficult he is also working on some new mechanics with a slightly quicker motion to increase his velocity and take less pressure off of his arm.
Although his numbers don’t indicate it CF Reymond Fuentes looked better at the plate than he did last year with his ability to go the other way and improved bunting.
Also he’s put on about 15 pounds of muscle.
The Padres’ past teams in San Antonio have had some quality managers in Randy Ready and Doug Dascenzo and John Gibbons, the former Toronto Blue Jay manager and San Antonio resident, is as good as anyone.
Despite being vey much limited in what he gets to run out onto the field everyday because of either promotions, Gyorko, C. Decker and Mikolas, or injuries, Erlin and Galvez, he is still coming in with the same positive attitude for everyone.
And with what he has had to watch this year, that is something to be proud off.