In their final season as the Padres Double-A affiliate in the Texas League (they will join the Brewers organization next year in the Pacific Coast League), the Missions started off strong, finishing a game and a half back of the Corpus Christi Hooks for the first half division title. An injury to Padres top prospect Fernando Tatis Jr.and the promotions of Jacob Nix and Logan Allen, among others, dampened their second half, though they still made it to the Texas League championship before being swept by the Tulsa Drillers.
When considering team awards, we took into account where the players made the majority of their regular-season appearances. So, while the aforementioned Nix finished the year in the big leagues after being promoted from El Paso, he’d still be eligible for the Missions end of year awards since he spent 52.2 of his 101 innings pitched in San Antonio.
While there can be some overlap in awards, the Player of the Year is the player we think had the best overall season, while the Top Prospect is the one who has the brightest future and potentially the biggest impact at the major league level.
Double-A is where things start getting pretty real for prospects. It’s not unheard of for players to show enough at this level and earn promotions to the majors while skipping past Triple-A (Joey Lucchesi being a recent example of this for San Diego).
Unlike the Cal League (High-A) the Texas League has less of a reputation for being hitter friendly, so it’s not uncommon to see pitcher production improve upon promotion, while many hitters struggle to adjust to facing advanced pitching and playing in more neutral parks.
2018 San Antonio Missions Pitcher of the Year (unanimous)
LHP Logan Allen: 2.75 ERA, 10-6, 121 IP, 125 K, 38 BB
Not only the unanimous choice for the Missions Pitcher of the Year in 2018, but the six-foot-three lefty was also named the Texas League Pitcher of the Year and with good reason. As a 21-year old, he placed second in the league in strikeouts, allowed hitters to slug just .306 against him, and in his final ten outings (61.1 innings) he had a 1.91 ERA.
The stellar season earned him a promotion the last month of the year, and upon arriving in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League, he put up more impressive numbers, posting a 1.63 ERA in 27.2 innings, while striking out 8.5 hitters per nine.
While Chris Paddack would’ve given Allen a run for his money, he didn’t qualify for the Missions, having thrown just 37.2 of his 90 innings on the year in the Texas League. Escaping the high altitude of the Cal League helped improve Paddack’s run prevention numbers slightly (moving from a 2.24 ERA to a 1.91), he struggled to put hitters away via strikeout when facing advanced competition, seeing his K/9 rate shrink from an otherworldly 14.3 to a simply solid 8.8.
2018 San Antonio Missions Top Pitching Prospect of the Year (near consensus)
LHP Logan Allen
Remember when the Craig Kimbrel trade went down and Padres fans were excited, having been able to snag the shortstop of the future in Javier Guerra? And then when Guerra lost his shine, it looked like Manuel Margot could be the gem of the haul? Well, Margot had a down year, so now it looks like it’s time to go all in on Allen.
His heater sits around 93 MPH but can get up to 96, and he has a curve and a slider that are both solid secondaries. Although a jump up to Triple-A saw him lower his ERA, he also walked 4.2 batters per nine, which was easily the highest rate of his career. All told, however, he has the command and pitch mix to make it as a starter in the big leagues, and the fact that he made it to Triple-A as at 21 makes Allen a prospect on the rise that may get him included on a few Top 100 lists heading into 2019.
Others Receiving Votes:
RHP Jacob Nix: 2.05 ERA, 2-3, 52.2 IP, 41 K, 9 BB
Nix made his debut for San Diego in 2018, to some pretty mixed reviews. In his first MLB start, he threw six shutout innings of 4-hit ball, and a few starts later, he fell two outs short of a complete game, holding the Mariners to one run on just 79 pitches. Many of his other outings, however, were much tougher to watch, as he saw his ERA balloon to 7.02 and his K/9 rate drop to 4.5.
Nix had some success in the minors when he was able to induce a lot of groundballs while keeping his K/9 rate around the high six’s and low seven’s. He struggled to keep runners off the bases in his first big league stint (allowing 11.1 H/9), and he’ll need to be able to put it past major league hitters if he wants to stay in the Padres rotation, but keep in mind that he is still just 22 years old.
Others of Note:
RHP Andres Muñoz: 0.95 ERA, 7 SV, 19 IP, 19 K, 11 BB
Muñoz gained the attention of a lot of Padre fans during the Arizona Fall League in 2017, as they watched the almost 19-year-old reliever regularly light up the radar gun to triple digits. He has a two-pitch mix, fastball, and slider, though he’s said he’s working on developing a change, that he can use to overpower hitters, though he’ll need to keep the walks in check to be effective out of the bullpen.
Right-hander Cal Quantrill, the Padres first-round selection in 2016 and eighth overall pick in the draft, showed flashes of the ability that made the Padres take him at the top – particularly with his fastball velocity and plus change – but he also struggled with his fastball command and finding an effective breaking ball when we saw him the first and second time.
On a positive note, his ERA went from 5.15 in San Antonio (117 IP) to 3.48 in Triple-A El Paso in his last six starts (31 IP), so maybe something clicked.