SAN ANTONIO — The Missions wrapped up a dominant series against the Midland RockHounds with a 7- 3 victory on Sunday afternoon, to give them five out of six wins that included a no-hitter on Wednesday and an offensive onslaught over the final three games.
Shortstop Connor Kaiser, 25, had a huge day with four RBI and came a triple short of the cycle. The Padres signed Kaiser in early May after he was released by the Pittsburgh Pirates, who drafted him in the third round in 2018. The 6-foot-4 Kaiser never really hit with the Pirates, but there wasn’t any question about his defensive ability.
“The way he plays shortstop, the only thing holding him back from progressing is his bat,” said Missions manager Phillip Wellman. “He has been unbelievable with his range and arm, and we made a few recommendations mainly about cutting down the moving parts of the swing and keeping his head still.
“He did better today, and we hope he can keep it up.”
Kaiser also seemed to buy into the recommendations.
“Just simplifying things and getting more into my legs helped me out,” said a smiling Kaiser after the game. “Cutting down on my head movement was also was a big help.”
Kaiser also laughed when asked if he was thinking about a cycle.
“A couple of guys were joking around with me [on the bench], and I thought I hit one in the seventh in the right spot for a triple, but it didn’t happen. But I am always happy just to hit something hard.”
Left-hander Gabriel Morales got the start for San Antonio and threw four shutout innings but needed 57 pitches with only 36 strikes.
“It’s been his issue for the year, but his fastball and changeup were much better today,” said Wellman. “This was the first time that he went four, which is growth.
“He’s been blessed with being left-handed and the ability to throw 94, so we will continue to work with that.”
Esteury Ruiz hitthe ball hard four times and just missed on a bunt attempt, but came up empty as the DH and saw his season-long 38 game on-base streak end.
“That was an amazing streak, and it didn’t go unrecognized by his teammates who clapped for him when he came back in the dugout, which I thought was great,” said Wellman.
Yorman Rodriguez went two for four with a massive home to left field in the fourth. The former minor league Rule 5 selection has quietly put up a line of .293/.336/.443, which is around what he did last year when he struggled with a shoulder injury that’s now resolved. While he’s caught a bit, he has mainly played first and third.
Left-hander Adrian Morejon made another appearance and touched 97 a few times as he needed just 13 pitches – 11 for strikes – to get through his inning.
Wellman, who managed Morejon when the Padres had their Double-A team in Amarillo, has liked what he has seen so far.
“Adrian looks sharper and cleaner from what I saw from him in the past. When he misses, it’s not six to eight inches, but more around two. He just looks more refined, and when he is healthy, he throws a fastball around 97 or 98.
“Right now, he looks pretty healthy.”