Former TinCaps Lead Texas League Title Charge, Tucson Baseball, Parkview Field

Although the TinCaps fell short in their pursuit of a second Midwest League title, the San Antonio Missions, the Double-A affiliate of the Padres, were successful in their quest for a Texas League title. The crown was the second for the franchise in three years and their third since 2007, when they began their affiliation with the Padres. This year’s Missions team was full of former TinCaps players, which helped fuel their ascent to the top of the league.

According to MiLB.com:

“They led the league with a 3.19 ERA, 50 saves, a .256 batting average and 171 stolen bases. No team hit fewer homers (85) or allowed fewer homers (93) than San Antonio.

And during their 10-game playoff run, the Missions allowed a total of 22 runs.”

Photo courtesy of the San Antonio Missions

Photo courtesy of the San Antonio Missions

Starting with the coaching staff, there were two former TinCaps there: hitting coach Jacque Jones, who was in Fort Wayne in 2012, and coach Chris Fetter, who played for the TinCaps in both in 2009 as a 23-year-old and in 2012 as a 26-year-old, and went into coaching this season.

Jacque Jones

Jacque Jones

Perhaps the names that are freshest in our minds are those players who were in Fort Wayne in 2012, like Matt Wisler, Austin Hedges, Lee Orr, Yeison Asencio and James Needy. Among these five, Wisler had the best season of all. He began the season in the California League, but only lasted all of six starts after posting a 2-1 record with a 2.03 ERA. In 31 innings he struck out 28 and walked six. At Double-A he made 20 regular-season starts and in 105 innings struck out 103 while walking 27.

In the playoffs, Wisler went 1-0 with a 0.56 ERA (1ER in 16IP), allowed five hits, walked five and struck out 13.  Wow. He was the winning pitcher in game one of the championship series and pitched three innings of relief in game five to help close the deal. That was just the second time in Wisler’s career that he made an appearance out of the bullpen.

Hedges, like Wisler, began the season at Lake Elsinore. Anyone who’s paid any attention to the Padres farm system knows that Hedges is expected to speed through the ranks as one of the top catching prospects in all of Minor League Baseball. In 66 games with the Storm he hit .270 with four home runs and 30 runs batted in, and he moved to San Antonio in August, batting .224 with eight runs batted in over 20 games. He threw out 37% of baserunners at High-A and 18% at Double-A.

Austin Hedges

Austin Hedges

Let’s keep in mind that Wisler just turned 21 (September 12th) and Hedges is in the same boat, having turned 21 in August.

Meanwhile, Needy, the last of the pitchers, was only added to the Double-A roster at the beginning of the postseason on September 4th. He pitched 1 2/3 innings in relief and allowed one earned run. That advancement was a positive step for the 22-year-old Needy, who went 10-5 on a team that only won 61 games for the entire season. He also saw his innings take a nice bump up to 134 after pitching 95 1/3 innings the year before (87 1/3 of those in Fort Wayne).

James Needy

James Needy

Orr, who took over first base duties in May of 2012 for the TinCaps, held the same spot for Lake Elsinore from opening day until August 8th, his last day in a Storm uniform. In the California League (70 games) he hit .276 with 17 doubles, 10 homers, and 30 runs batted in. He saw action in 19 games with the Missions and hit .226 (14-62).

Le Orr

Le Orr

Another pitcher who helped the Missions stay alive in the playoffs was 2010 TinCaps pitcher Juan Oramas. In game four of the Texas League Championship Series, Oramas tossed six shutout innings and struck out seven, helping San Antonio force a decisive game five.

In that same game, with the Missions leading, 3-0, 2012 TinCaps rightfielder Yeison Asencio hit a bases-clearing triple to make it a 6-0 game. San Antonio hung on and won, 6-5. After winning the Midwest League batting title in ’12, Asencio  hit .296 in the California League before earning a promotion to Double-A, where he played in 74 games and hit .261. During the post-season he was the league’s top hitter, going 14-36 (.389).

Yeison Asencio

Yeison Asencio

Here’s a list of other former TinCaps and their regular season/post-season stat lines this year at San Antonio:

Eddie Bonine (2004) 4-3, 3.76 ERA/1-1, 0.60 ERA, 15IP, 5BB, 6K

Matt Branham (2010, 2011) 4-2, 2.61 ERA/1-0, 2.70 ERA, 3.1IP, 5K, 1BB

Jose de Paula (2010) 4-6, 3.86 ERA/DNP

Josh Geer (2005, 2006) 8-5, 3.41 ERA/2-0, 1.64 ERA, 11IP, 9K, 1BB

Jeff Ibarra (2010, 2011) 3-1, 5.88 ERA/ 1.1 IP

Matt Lollis (2010) 1-3, 6.28 ERA/1.0IP, 1K

Jeremy McBryde (2008, 2010) 4-4, 2.35 ERA/0-1, 4.76 ERA, 5.2IP, 9K, 1BB

Rocky Gale (2011) .246, 1HR, 22 RBI/4-20, RBI

Jake Blackwood (2011) .259, 7HR, 61 RBI/8-37, 4 RBI

Cory Spangenberg (2011) .289, 2 HR, 20 RBI/11-44, 1 RBI

Jeudy Valdez (2009, 2010) .251, 10HR, 49 RBI/4-35

Rico Noel (2010, 2011) .266, 0HR, 41 RBI/11-43, 1 RBI

Everett Williams (2010, 2011) .257, 2HR, 31 RBI/0-6

MEANWHILE, IN TUCSON…

The Padres’ Triple-A affiliate was located in Portland, Oregon, from 2001 until 2010 as the Portland Beavers, and then was forced to relocate to Tucson, Arizona, on a temporary basis for the 2011, 2012 and 2013 seasons. Well, the Tucson Padres three-year run has come to a close…maybe. The franchise was purchased in 2012 by MountainStar Sports Group, which now plans to move the team to El Paso, Texas.

The latest word in the situation is that the Padres could spend another year in Tucson if everything doesn’t go according to plan. Here’s more from the Arizona Daily Star:

The owners of the minor league baseball team, El Paso-based MountainStar Sports Group, have extended their contract with Pima County to use the Kino Veterans Memorial Stadium for another season.

The $70,000 contract, approved by the Pima County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday, gives the yet-to-be-renamed Triple A team the option to play in Tucson for another season if their new stadium in El Paso isn’t ready for spring training.

The team was supposed to have played its “final” game in Tucson last Thursday.

The MountainStar Sports Group was already on the hook for $35,000 with the Pima County Sports & Tourism Authority, the built-in cost for not renewing last year’s contract.

Alan Ledford, the president of the MountainStar Sports Group, said the decision to renew the contract is more of a backup plan for the team, an insurance policy in case the downtown El Paso stadium isn’t finished by April.

He wouldn’t rule out the possibility the team could play in Tucson next year, at least for a few games, but said such a decision is several months away.

That said, things in El Paso are well underway. You can see the full extend of the operation at ElPasoTripleA.com. That’s one to keep our eyes on.

LOTS HAPPENING AT PARKVIEW FIELD

Here’s the setup at Parkview Field, which hosted a baseball game just 12 days ago, for K105′s Country Fest 2013, scheduled to take place tomorrow night:

More than 12,000 people will pack Parkview Field for Country Fest 2013.

More than 12,000 people will pack Parkview Field for Country Fest 2013.

The TinCaps staff has spent the last few days laying down the flooring for the concert, and the stage/sound/everything else workers have been busy today preparing the setup for the performers. The Journal Gazette wrote a piece on the concert in today’s paper:

“CountryFest marks a transition for the festival, which has been held at Headwaters Park since its inaugural year in 2008.

The concert is sold out, which breaks the attendance record for the festival and for a single-day event at Parkview Field.

David Michaels, program director of WQHK K105FM, says the festival has come full circle as platinum recording artist Gary Allan headlines the festival for the second time.

Singer-songwriter Craig Morgan and country duo Love and Theft will be featured acts, along with Katie Arminger, Bill Gentry and Charlie Worsham.

Mike Nutter, president of the Fort Wayne TinCaps, says the ballpark was designed to be a multifunctional facility and accommodate events other than baseball games. When Parkview Field opened in 2009, the venue was used for one concert that year, followed by two more concerts in 2010 and the Bob Dylan concert last year.

“A lot of work went into the design so that we could do this. A good goal for us is to have two or three major shows a year,” he says.

“We purchased $100,000 worth of flooring for concerts, which helps keep our field in good shape. It’s a little unique.”

Nutter says Parkview Field also offers a convenient location, close to a number of downtown locales for dining and shopping before and after events. He says once people visit for one event, the venue tends to win over people who wouldn’t consider themselves baseball fans.

“I’m a baseball guy, but things are changing. We’re attracting over 100,000 people with activities that have nothing to do with baseball. It helps (keep) the field rocking year-round,” he says.”

The ballpark will also host 98.9 The Bear’s Birthday Bash on Sunday (another concert) and Fort4Fitness, a road race with more than 10,000 runners the following weekend. Just because baseball is over at Parkview Field doesn’t mean that things are quiet!

MUSICAL GUEST

Gary Allan…take it away!

Thanks for reading. If you’d like to get in touch, you can reach me at Couzens@TinCaps.com or on Twitter @MikeCouzens.

MCsig

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