SAN ANTONIO – The Missions crushed the Arkansas Travelers 7-2 in the opening game of the three-game series with a five-run second inning highlighted by third baseman Ty France’s bases-loaded triple.
“I was just looking for something elevated, that I could drive,” said France. “It was actually a little in on me, but the wind and the rain helped me out some too.”
“I’m not a speed guy,” laughed France, “but I will take that triple.”
However, all of the attention was focused on the return of Texas native Chris Paddack to his home state after a wildly successful stint in High-A Lake Elsinore. With the Storm, he struck out 83 batters in 52.1 innings and only issued four walks for a 4-1 record and 2.24 ERA.
“The rehab process from Tommy John was something no one ever wants to experience,” said the right-hander. “I worked as hard as I could physically, but also tried to go over all my starts in my head to think what I could do better mentally.
“If I was going to be out for that amount of time, I was going to think of every way possible to get better.”
Tonight he picked up where he left off in the Cal League going six innings and giving up only a single hit – an opposite-field solo home run in the second inning – while striking out six and issuing only a single walk.
Paddack throws three pitches; a four-seam fastball, changeup and a curveball. What has gotten him all the attention is the amount of separation there is between his fastball that can touch 96 but sits in the low 90’s and his changeup that sits in the high 70’s.
“I have to give a shout-out to Calvin Schiraldi [a former star pitcher for the Texas Longhorns and later the Boston Red Sox and Padres]. I played on his team when I was a freshman in high school and he was the one who taught me the Vulcan grip.”
“The changeup goes off my fastball and I have the confidence to throw it any time in the count. I can throw it for a strike or I can bury it.”
The key for Paddack will be the development of his curveball, to give him a third option.
“All the big league pitchers have three or four pitches and that is something that I got to develop. The spin is there on the curve, it’s just a question of getting it more consistent.”
“Tonight I showed them that I have a curveball, but it needs to get better.”
Missions’ manager Philip Wellman was a little more effusive on his first look at Paddack.
“His stuff was just electric, which is impressive. But the thing I really noticed about him was what a competitor he is.”
“I thought his curveball was good too and one thing I liked was when he missed with it, he missed down, he didn’t hang it.”
“But again, what stands out to me was just how intense he was. He fired up the whole team.”
Mission Notes: Tomorrow right-handed pitcher Cal Quantrill takes the mound and we should see shortstop Fernando Tatis, Jr. after he had two days off.