Since moving to our new house, the San Antonio Missions are no longer the closest Double-A Texas League team. That honor would go to the Frisco Rough Riders, who have a beautiful stadium that is a paltry 20 minutes closer. Either way, it's a pretty long drive, especially when the games don't start til seven o'clock.
Still, I have a special place in my heart for San Antonio, which is where my son Foster saw his first game, and is also an affiliate of the Padres.
Anyways, I mentioned in my last post that I started writing for a website called RO Baseball, and about a month ago, I contacted the Missions' PR guy to see if I'd be able to interview some of their players for the website. And he said yes!
I was pretty star struck. Not by any of the particular players, but just the fact that I was able to go into the dugout while they were practicing and ask them whatever I wanted was really cool.
They were all really nice guys, from Rich, the PR guy, to the players, and the people I met afterwards in the press box.
The first player I interviewed was catcher Rocky Gale. He had a cup of coffee with the Padres at the end of last year, but has been moved to Double-A to maximize playing time while Austin Hedges gets all the reps in Triple-A. He didn't have a card in the 2016 Missions team set, but I happened to have a card from 2012, when he was on the Lake Elsinore Storm. I talked to him about the differences between game prep in the Texas League and the majors, and about growing up playing in the Pacific Northwest. Link to the article is here.
Next I talked to Adam Cimber, a relief pitcher who is also from the PNW. He has a unique style, rocking high socks (which led to me to ask about uniform preferences and Chris Sale) and a unique sidearm delivery. I asked him about striking out fewer people this year than the past few years, and I don't think he really appreciated it, but he was still polite. Guess I'll have to figure out how to tactfully ask the uncomfortable questions. Link to the article is here.
The last player I talked to was Franchy Cordero. Of the three I talked to, he's probably the hottest prospect, though he's lost some of the hype after a few rough years in low A. This year, he's been hitting really well, and actually just got called up to Triple-A El Paso. He's from the Dominican Republic and his English is a little rough, so I got to use my Spanish, which was fun. I was a little nervous and talked kinda fast, so it wasn't as crisp as I would've liked it. He was a bit of a mumbler too, so I haven't finished translating the last question, but when I do, I'll add a link. I asked him about leaving his family and playing in America, as well as how changing his defensive position from shortstop to center field helped with his offense. I got this card off eBay right after the interview because I liked him so much. Never heard of this set, but it looks kinda nice, and is hand numbered out of 50, so that seems cool.
Here's a few pics I'll post here of the guys during the game.
Cordero on second after doubling down the first base line.
Cordero in center.
Gale behind the plate.
Cimber warming up in the bullpen.
Trae Santos, another Padres prospect who started the scoring with a big home run. I missed it because I was in an elevator on my way down from the press box to the field. Oh, it was pretty cool being in the press box. I got to see the guy who does the MiLB GameDay, who actually seemed pretty disinterested. He was from New Jersey and was preoccupied about finding employment after the season was over. He was also checking Facebook. A lot.
Cimber on the mound. His pre-delivery movement is so interesting to watch. Along with almost doubling over at the waist before every pitch, he also contorts his front (left) legs it's perpendicular to his back foot, with his heel towards the batter. Weird. He did well though, and even struck out a guy, just to stick it to me for asking about why his K numbers were down.
Anyways, yeah, it was a blast. I'd love to do it again, but even if I don't, it'll still be an awesome memory. Also, these cards are from the San Antonio Missions team issued set, which are rad, because I'm a big fan of the 2013 Topps set, of which these are a blatant rip off. I watched Gabriel Quintana in High-A Lake Elsinore a few years ago, and watched him that night. The card at the top of this post is of Kyle Lloyd, who was the starting pitcher who went seven scoreless innings. I'm not sure if anybody would really be interested in reading about any of these fringy Padres prospects, but if you are, I wrote about Quintana here and about Lloyd here.
Hope everybody's having a good weekend. My collecting has slowed down a bit, but I have a few new (to me) cards that have made their way to my mailbox the past few days and I'll post up here soon. Take care.