The 2010 Mission pitching staff was led by 2010 #1 prospect Simon Castro. 2011 will once again see the Missions led by the Padres #1 prospect. This time the prospect is once again a 21 year old RHP, but this time he goes by Casey Kelly. Luckily, Kelly will get the run support that Castro and company never got in 2010, but that is another post for later in the week. The Missions had all the makings of a terrific rotation in 2010, but unfortunately trades, injuries, and inability to score runs decimated the rotation and the W/L record. However, 2011 is a new season, with a new rotation, and an almost completely new staff ready to recapture the Texas League crown.

Starting Pitching:
Casey Kelly: RHP (AA, 3-5, 5.31 ERA, 95 IP, 118 H, 10 HR, 35 BB, 81 K). There is no doubt that the stats put up by Kelly last year were not stats expected out of the #1 Padre prospect, and top 30 MLB prospect. However, like many stats in baseball, you can take these numbers with a grain of salt. Not only was Kelly one of the youngest players in AA but he was also transitioning to his first full year of pitching. Kelly already has 2 MLB quality pitches in his mid 90’s FB and change. His curveball will eventually be a plus pitch, giving him 3 above average MLB pitches. Kelly’s move to the NL might have been a best of both worlds as he will have the opportunity to hit in both AA and AAA. Kelly might challenge for a rotation spot with the Padres in 2012 but for right now he should be the Missions opening day starter.

Anthony Bass: RHP (A+, 8-7, 3.13 ERA, 132.1 IP, 124 H, 9 HR, 20 BB, 109 K). Bass has the type of hard work and dedication that makes him an easy guy to root for, and makes every coach wish he had 24 other Anthony Bass’s. Bass does not have any overpowering pitches, but has tremendous control (a ridiculous 1.36 BB/9), and has a deceptive delivery that causes swings and misses. Bass may not have the projection of almost any of the other starters, but with his control and ability to get consistent outs, he will find himself in a Padre uniform sooner rather than later.

Juan Oramas: LHP (A+, 7-3, 3.00 ERA, 84 IP, 64 H, 10 HR, 26 BB, 90 K). No one really knew what to expect out of the 2009 Mexican League ERA champ. Well before the pen could even hit the paper to write a report on Oramas, he came within 2 outs of a perfect game with Lake Elsinore. While he started the year in Fort Wayne, Oramas was the Storms most dominating and consistent starter. Oramas is actually 7 months younger than Kelly, and 3 months younger than Jaff Decker, thus making him the youngest 2011 Mission. Oramas has a solid low 90’s FB and is able to compliment it with one of the best curves in the system. Oramas is tenacious on the mound and is not afraid to pitch inside. Despite the age difference Oramas has the maturity, work ethic, stuff, and undoubtedly huevos to succeed in San Antonio.

Jeremy McBryde RHP (A+, 4-4, 4.38 ERA, 63.2 IP, 62 H, 17 BB, 49 K). Stupid injuries. Last year I went with the bold prediction and put McBryde in my top 10 prospect list. While I wasn’t proved wrong, Jeremy missing most of the season due to injuries didn’t help. Before an injury derailed 2009 McBryde was working on great numbers in the Cal League (3.44 ERA, .218 BAA, 9.68 K/9). McBryde will have another opportunity in 2011 and despite missing more than an entire year due to injuries, at only 23 years of age McBryde is far from old for AA. McBryde has one of the heaviest sinkers in the system, and being able to locate it in the low 90’s makes it a true plus pitch. For McBryde it is just about getting healthy, stay healthy, and performing to the level we all know he is capable of.

So many names so little spots. Erik Davis once again led the Padres minor league system in wins in 2010 going 14-3. However there is a great chance he starts the year in AAA. Despite being kicked out of the Tin Cap rotation in 2009 and being subjugated to long relief for the Storm in 2010, Rob Musgrave led the team in K’s (113). Not only did Musgrave have a 10.38 K/9 but also allowed only 27 BB in 99 IP. Musgrave might be subjugated to the pen once again, but it chomping at the bit and proving he is earning the opportunity again. Jorge Reyes has the tools to be a top prospect but has shown it at times but has not put everything together just yet. He might be the most likely choice but could also end up in Elsinore to begin the season. Then there is former #1 pick Nick Schmidt. Could the Padres really effectively wipe the slate clean of 4 1st round picks this year? Antonelli was let go and signed by the Nats, Carrillo is gone, Rizzo will start over Dykstra at 1st, and Schmidt really doesn’t deserve the 5th starter spot over any of the above pitchers. Schmidt still has the stuff to be dominating, but at 25 years of age, and virtually no command shown post surgery, the time is running out.

Closer: Brad Brach (A+, 5-2, 2.47 ERA, 41 SV, 65.2 IP, 50 H, 11 BB, 74 K). As easy as it was to write Kelly’s name as the top pitcher, it is even easier to write in Brach’s name as the closer. Brach broke the saves record in the Cal League and is one of the more dominant closers in the minors. Brach pitches quickly, pounds the corners and has a FB that creeps up to 94 mph. For Brach to ever be considered a future MLB pitcher he will need to work on his splitter/change and not get too fastball happy.
Setup: Nick Vincent RHP (A+, 4-0, 1.87 ERA, 81.2 IP, 60 H, 23 BB, 76 K) and Rob Musgrave LHP (if he isn’t the 5th starter, 4-4, 2.48 ERA, 98 IP, 91 H, 27 BB, 113 K in A+).
Others: Along with the starting rotation rejects you will probably see Zach Herr LHP (A+, 4-2, 3.04 ERA) Colt Hynes, Eric Gonzalez (if he is not released), and Aaron Breit. Also last years beloved ST prospect Alexis Lara has a good chance of remaining in SA. If he does we can see him anywhere from long man to 8th inning in a 1 run game. Lara as most of us know has tremendous stuff but has difficulties with control.

All in all the rotation and bullpen should be a strength for the Missions. Even better is that should 1 or 2 of the pitchers go down with injuries the Missions have tremendous depth at both SP and reliever. Giving a spot start to Reyes/Schmidt/Musgrave/calling up Lollis >>>>> Tyler Lumsden (who was 4-8 with more BB (34) than K (33) in 91 IP for SA last year).

Up next will be the offense that will see a surplus of returning top prospects as Portland will have former Padres (Evereth, Blanks, Richie Cunningham) blocking them.