San Antonio Missions 2021 Year in Review
SAN ANTONIO - The 2020 year saw the Minor League Baseball season get pushed aside while the world focused on getting through the Covid-19 pandemic. This meant no baseball in San Antonio. While the pandemic is still ongoing, Minor League Baseball and the San Antonio Missions returned in 2021.
The Missions had last played in 2019 as the Triple-A affiliate for the Milwaukee Brewers. Former Missions players like Fernando Tatis, Jr., Trent Grisham, and Devin Williams were taking the Major League Baseball world by storm. Missions fans were eagerly awaiting to see the next batch of potential MLB all-stars in San Antonio.
In the off-season leading up the 2021 campaign, the MLB announced a plan to re-structure and re-align much of the Minor Leagues. This meant that certain teams would switch affiliations and/or change leagues. For the Missions, they signed a new contract to return as the Double-A affiliate with the San Diego Padres. The Missions and Padres has previously worked together from 2007-2018.
Phillip Wellman made his return as the manager for the Missions after previously holding the position from 2016-2018. Pete Zamora, who previously played for the Missions in 1998, served as the team's pitching coach. Raul Padron returned to the Missions as the team's hitting coach after previously holding that position in 2018. Lastly, Freddy Flores began his first season as the Missions fielding coach.
The opening day roster for the Missions consisted of familiar faces like Kyle Overstreet and Jerry Keel while including promising prospects like Eguy Rosario, Jack Suwinski, and top-10 MLB prospect CJ Abrams.
No longer called the Texas League, San Antonio participated in the Double-A Central which consisted of nine other teams: Corpus Christi Hooks, Amarillo Sod Poodles, Frisco RoughRiders, Midland RockHounds, Arkansas Travelers, Northwest Arkansas Naturals, Springfield Cardinals, Tulsa Drillers, and the Wichita Wind Surge. The teams were broken up into North and South divisions and played 120 games made up of six-game series.
The Missions began the season on May 4th against a familiar foe in the Corpus Christi Hooks. Reiss Knehr was the opening night starter for the Missions on the road against the Hooks. The Missions started on the right track with an 8-3 victory on opening night. Knehr was victorious after pitching five quality innings. Abrams collected two doubles and an RBI in his Double-A debut. Outfielder Robbie Podorsky had four hits in the win.
The remainder of that series was a successful one for the Missions as they took the opening series against Corpus Christi 4-2. Then it was off to Midland. The Missions struggled against the RockHounds as they lost the first four games of the series. Following the series loss in Midland, it was time to return home to The Wolff.
The opening homestand for the Missions saw them host the Frisco RoughRiders. The Missions offense struggled against the strong arms for Frisco. San Antonio dropped five of six against the RoughRiders including their May 18th game when the pitching staff allowed one hit in a losing effort.
San Antonio bounced back in their final series of the month against the Naturals. On the road once again, the Missions took four of six games against the Royals affiliate. Missions outfielder Jack Suwinski had a tremendous week against the Naturals capped off by him being named the Double-A Central Player of the Week. Suwinski batted .450 during the series with six extra-base hits (2 HR, 3B, 2 2B), and six runs batted in. The Missions finished their opening month of the season with an 11-13 record.
Team Batting: .227 average, 91 runs, 177 hits, 11 HR, 27 stolen bases, .313 OBP
Team Pitching: 4.67 ERA, 5-5 in saves, 206 strikeouts in 206 IP, 1.41 WHIP, .251 average
Jack Suwinski's first career weekly award (May 24-30), 5 HR, 14 RBI in 21 games in May
Six-run 6th inning against Midland on May 16th
11 transactions (six players called up to Triple-A El Paso)
CJ Abrams: .286 average in first 18 games in the Double-A
James Reeves: 1-0 with a 1.35 ERA in 8 games
Aaron Leasher: 1-1 with a 2.93 ERA in four starts
Reiss Knehr: 3-1 in five starts
The month of June saw the Missions return home to host the Springfield Cardinals. Despite losing the opening game of that series, the Missions defeated Springfield four games to two.
That series saw the Missions offense come to life through the long ball. On June 2nd, Missions catcher hit a grand slam which was the first and only one hit by a Missions player in 2021. On June 4th, Chandler Seagle and Jose Azocar hit back-to-back home runs. This was the first of two instances for the Missions in 2021. Lastly, Eguy Rosario had a five-RBI game on June 5th.
The best series for San Antonio during the 2021 campaign came against Midland from the 8th-13th. The Missions were victorious in five of those six games against the RockHounds. Reiss Knehr recorded his fourth and fifth wins during that series. Jack Suwinski recorded the first multi-homer game for the Missions on June 13th. The Missions also set a season-high with a seven-run inning on June 11th.
Following the home series with Midland, the Missions stayed at home to host the Northwest Arkansas Naturals. San Antonio recorded their first series split against the Naturals with Adrian Martinez, Aaron Leasher, and Nick Kuzia each recording wins. It was at this point in the season when the Missions had a respectable 23-19 record.
San Antonio hit a bump in the road when they traveled to Frisco to take on the RoughRiders. For the first and only time in 2021, the Missions were swept by Frisco. However, this was series that was nearly won by the Missions.
With the exception of game one, the Missions had a chance to win the other five games of the series. June 23rd saw the Missions allow four runs in the bottom of the ninth and surrender a walk-off home run. The following day saw the pitching staff allow eight runs in the seventh inning in a 12-10 loss. On June 25th, Frisco launched another walk-off home run followed by second consecutive walk-off victory on the 26th. Lastly, the Missions dropped the series finale by just one run.
In the middle of the month, it was announced that the San Diego Padres had signed 44-year-old former big leaguer Joe Beimel to a contract. The veteran southpaw had been reportedly throwing in the mid-90's and pursued a return to the MLB. Beimel went from the Arizona Complex League and joined the Missions on June 28th.
The Missions wrapped up the month of June with the Corpus Christi Hooks in a series that carried over to July. Game one of the series was postponed due to poor fielding conditions. The Missions then lost to the Hooks on June 30th in a game that saw the offense record just two base hits. San Antonio went 12-13 in the month of June.
In that final game of the month, Missions phenom CJ Abrams exited the game after a collision with Eguy Rosario. On a ground ball up the middle, both Abrams and Rosario attempted to make the play leading to the two players colliding. Abrams took the worst of the hit as he needed help being walked off the field, putting little to no pressure on his leg. More on that situation later.
Team Batting: .269 average (Season best), 152 runs, 220 hits (Season best), 25 HR, .362 OBP
Team Pitching: 4.46 ERA, 5-9 in saves, 200 strikeouts in 218 IP, 1.40 WHIP, .255 average
Seven innings with five or more runs scored including seven-run inning on June 11th
Jose Azocar: 4-run game on June 18th vs. Northwest Arkansas
Eguy Rosario: 2nd Missions multi-homer game on June 27th against Frisco
15 transactions (Major additions included Reggie Lawson, Allen Cordoba and Joe Beimel), Esteury Ruiz and Tom Cosgrove placed on the Injured List
Chandler Seagle: .344 average in 11 games (highest average for Missions player in June)
Jack Suwinski: eight home runs and 16 RBI in 24 games played
Rosario: .303 average, six doubles, five home runs and 22 RBI in 25 games played
Cosgrove: 1-0 with a 1.35 ERA in five games
Aaron Leasher: 3-2 with a 2.39 ERA in six starts
The Missions picked up their series with the Corpus Christi Hooks as the calendar switched over to July. July's opening series saw the two teams split a doubleheader and split the series. Adrian Martinez put together what could be considered as the strongest outing for a Missions pitcher in 2021. On July 2nd, Martinez tossed six no-hit innings while striking out nine batters. He was the first Missions pitcher to strike out nine in a game at that time. His performance led to him being named the Double-A Central Pitcher of the Week.
Prior to the series' conclusion, it was announced that CJ Abrams, who was injured on June 30th, would be shut down for the remainder of the season due to a broken bone in his leg and an MCL sprain.
The homestand continued on July 6th with the Amarillo Sod Poodles coming to town. The Missions got off to a hot start against the Sod Poodles and took two of the first three games. San Antonio had a flare for the dramatic in their July 6th and 7th victories. Both of those games ended in walk-off singles for the Missions. Jose Azocar recorded a walk-off single on July 6th while Juan Fernandez drove in the winning run with a walk-off single on the 7th.
Mother Nature had other plans as the next two games were postponed due to rainy conditions. One of those games was made up as part of the July 11th doubleheader while the other game was rescheduled for September 1st. The July 11th doubleheader ended with the Missions on the wrong side of history. In a seven-inning contest, the Missions were no-hit by Matt Tabor in a 6-0 defeat.
The San Antonio Missions had one player reach the big leagues from their initial roster and that player was Reiss Knehr. After recording his sixth win of the season on July 1st, the San Diego Padres called up Knehr to make his MLB debut on July 9th. As of September 28th, Knehr is 1-1 with a 5.25 ERA in 10 games (four starts) with the Padres this season.
Following back-to-back split series, the Missions hit the road to face the Hooks. The Hooks were victorious in the series after taking four of the six games. San Antonio fell victim to two walk-off losses on July 14th and July 18th with the latter being one of the toughest losses for the Missions in 2021.
The Missions led throughout the first eight innings of the contest and at one point held a comfortable 5-2 lead. Then the bottom of the ninth happened. Joe Beimel began the inning in attempts to convert the save. He was pulled after recording one out and allowing two runs. The usually reliable Jose Quezada came on to replace Beimel in a 5-4 game. After allowing the tying run to score and recording an out, Quezada was pulled and replaced by Fred Schlichtholz. On the very first pitch of his at-bat with Scott Schreiber, the slugger connected for a walk-off grand slam to defeat the Missions 9-5.
San Antonio returned to their winning ways when they returned home to The Wolff to take on the Springfield Cardinals. In another series plagued by rain outs, the Missions took four of the six games against Springfield. The highlight of the series came on July 24th. Playing a doubleheader, the Missions pitched back-to-back shutouts courtesy of Adrian Martinez, Jose Quezada, Osvaldo Hernandez, and Pedro Avila.
During the series finale on July 25th, and with the Major League Baseball Trade Deadline approaching, rumors were speculating that Jack Suwinski was being traded. Those rumors were officially confirmed on July 26th as Suwinski was included in a package to the Pittsburgh Pirates in return for infielder Adam Frazier. Suwinski finished his stellar season with the Missions as the team's leader in home runs (15) while batting .269 and driving in 37 runs in 66 games.
San Antonio finished the month of July on the road against the Amarillo Sod Poodles in a series that carried over into August. The Missions won back-to-back games on the 29th and 30th. During their win on the 29th, the Missions tied their season-high with a seven-run seventh inning. Dwanya Williams-Sutton and Michael Curry both homered during the inning. The offense scored 10 runs on 16 hits during the victory.
The month of July saw the Missions put together their only winning month of the 2021 campaign (14-12). At the conclusion of the month, they had a 37-38 record. Adrian Martinez was awarded the Double-A Central Pitcher of the Month after going 4-0 with a 0.32 ERA in five starts. His ERA was tied for the lowest by a Missions pitcher with at least 25 innings pitched in a calendar month (Aaron Wilkerson, 2019).
Team Batting: .247 average, 115 runs scored, 201 hits, 26 HR (Season best), .345 OBP
Team Pitching: 3.99 ERA (Season best), 8-15 in saves, 204 strikeouts in 221 IP, 1.32 WHIP
Back-to-back walk-off victories on July 6th and July 7th
Adrian Martinez: Pitcher of the Week and Pitcher of the Month (4-0, 0.32 ERA in five starts)
Back-to-back shutout victories in July 24th doubleheader
Reiss Knehr makes MLB Debut on July 9th
20 transactions (Additions include Ethan Elliott, Matt Waldron, and Yorman Rodriguez)
Jose Azocar: .333 average with five home runs and 22 RBI in 23 games played
Eguy Rosario: .316 average with nine doubles and nine stolen bases in 26 games played
Michael Curry: Five home runs with 14 RBI in 17 games played
Pedro Avila: 0.96 ERA in six games, including one start and 2-2 in save attempts
The San Antonio Missions began the month of August by rounding out a road trip against the Amarillo Sod Poodles. They found themselves on the wrong side of history once again. In game one of the doubleheader, Luis Frias tossed a seven-inning no-hitter to become the second Amarillo pitcher to no-hit the Missions in 2021. Frias allowed one baserunner and struck out six in a 4-0 defeat.
With the no-hitter plus a game two loss, the Missions were in need of some wins as they returned home to face the Corpus Christi Hooks. The rough stretch continued as San Antonio dropped five of the six games against their familiar foes. Pedro Avila recorded two losses during the series while Jose Quezada, Matt Waldron and Jerry Keel ended up on the losing side as well. The losing skid placed the Missions at 38-45 on the year.
San Antonio began a two-week road trip beginning with a series in Midland against the RockHounds. Prior to the first game, promising outfielder Agustin Ruiz joined the Missions after being called up from Fort Wayne.
Game one of the series saw the Missions suffer one of their worst losses of the season. The pitching staff allowed 15 runs on 21 hits while the offense was held to no runs and just three hits. The Missions quickly put that behind them as they took three of the remaining five games in the series. Agustin Ruiz made an immediate impact on August 11th. The slugger hit a home run, a double, and drove in seven runs during a 13-4 victory. The seven-RBI performance was the most by a Missions player in 2021.
San Antonio recorded one of their most exciting victories on August 14th. In the10th inning of a tie game, the Missions encountered their time hitting back-to-back home runs. With one on and one out, Ben Ruta left the yard to put the Missions in front. Juan Fernandez followed that up with a solo blast to make it a 7-4 ballgame.
August 13th was an important date for the Missions offense as it began two impressive streaks: a home run streak and a hitting streak. San Antonio recorded 10 consecutive games with a home run from the 13th until August 24th. Beginning on the 13th, Allen Cordoba recorded a season-long 12-game hitting streak lasting until August 26th.
Following the series split in Midland, the Missions once again returned to Corpus Christi. The team returned to their winning ways as they took four of the six games against the Hooks. Leading the way in that series was outfielder Esteury Ruiz. Ruiz was awarded Double-A Central Player of the Week after batting .333 with two doubles, three homers, and eight runs scored in the series. This was the fourth and final time a Missions player won an award in 2021.
San Antonio returned to Nelson Wolff Stadium for the conclusion of the month of August. The Midland RockHounds made their final trip to San Antonio. The two teams would split the series with Sam McWilliams, Osvaldo Hernandez, and Tyler Viza recording wins for the Missions.
The homestand continued with a series against the Amarillo Sod Poodles. The opening game of the series was the August finale. That game saw the Missions fall to Amarillo by a final score of 9-4. Infielder Kelvin Melean pitched a scoreless ninth inning during the losing effort.
For the month of August, the Missions went 11-16 which was their worst record for a month this season. The team had a 48-54 record heading into September.
Team Batting: .236 average, 106 runs, 205 hits, 18 HR, 44 2B (Season best), .319 OBP
Team Pitching: 4.46 ERA, 6-10 in saves, 250 strikeouts (Season best) in 234 IP, 1.43 WHIP
Allen Cordoba: 12-game hitting streak from 8/13 - 8/26
10-game home run streak from 8/13 - 8/24
Agustin Ruiz: 7-RBI game on 8/11
Esteury Ruiz: Double-A Central Player of the Week (8/16 - 8/22)
21 transactions (Additions include Agustin Ruiz and Ethan Skender)
Allen Cordoba: .325 average, eight doubles, 10 RBI in 24 games played
Esteury Ruiz: five HR, 16 RBI, and 12 SB in 26 games played
Joe Beimel: no earned runs in six games played (7.1 IP), called up Triple-A on 8/21
Carlos Belen: 2-0 with an 0.61 ERA in nine games including one save
Relievers: 8-3 with a 3.58 ERA and 141 strikeouts in 118 IP (All season highs)
The San Antonio Missions began the month of September by continuing their homestand with the Amarillo Sod Poodles. The two teams played in a doubleheader on September 1st which saw the Missions win both matchups.
In Game one, the pitching staff combine for their 10th shutout victory of the season. Brandon Komar allowed one base hit in five innings while Tom Cosgrove and Jose Quezada pitched two no-hit innings. In game two, the Missions were victorious with their third and final walk-off win in 2021. In the bottom of the seventh inning, Ethan Skender drove in the winning run with an RBI single.
The two teams split the series following a three-game winning streak for the Sod Poodles. The Missions took the series finale by a final score of 7-4. Kyle Overstreet and Olivier Basabe both contributed with home runs during the victory.
The Missions hit the road for their final road trip of the season when they traveled to Frisco on September 7th. After struggling with the RoughRiders throughout the season, San Antonio got the best of Frisco in this series winning four of the six games. Mason Fox, Carlos Belen, Jerry Keel, and Pedro Avila all recorded wins in the series. Avila matched Adrian Martinez's season high with nine strikeouts on September 12th.
Prior to this series, it was announced that MacKenzie Gore, the top pitching prospect for the Padres, was joining the Missions. Gore made his Missions debut on September 11th against Frisco. In five innings of work, he allowed two earned runs on three hits, with five walks, and eight strikeouts.
After the series victory in Frisco, the Missions returned home for the final series of the season. Facing the Corpus Christi Hooks, San Antonio struggled in their final six games of the season. They dropped four of the six games, including the final two games of the season. James Reeves recorded the final win of the season on September 17th.
In that game, Gore made his second and final appearance for the Missions. He struck out eight batters in four innings of work while allowing one earned run. He finished with a 3.00 ERA in nine innings pitched with the Missions. He recorded 16 strikeouts across his two outings.
At the beginning of the final series, Kevin Kopps was called up from Fort Wayne to join the Missions. Kopps, a 2021 3rd round pick, made two scoreless appearances with San Antonio during the final series.
Despite losing their final game of the season, the Missions pitching staff accomplished feat by striking out 19 batters. Brandon Komar (6), Sam McWilliams (1), Mason Fox (5), James Reeves (5), and Henry Henry (2) all contributed. Matt Waldron was the starting pitcher for that game but was pulled in the first inning after allowing five earned runs without recording an out. The Hooks defeated the Missions 9-1.
San Antonio went an even 9-9 in the final month of the season. They finished with a losing record of 57-63. The Missions went 28-32 at home while going 29-31 on the road.
Team Batting: .217 average, 71 runs, 120 hits, 23 2B, 15 HR, .298 OBP
Team Pitching: 4.67 ERA, 7-9 in saves, 189 strikeouts in 156 IP, 1.46 WHIP
10th shutout victory of the season in game one of September 1st doubleheader
Walk-off single from Ethan Skender in game two of September 1st doubleheader
MacKenzie Gore strikes out eight batters in Missions debut on September 11th
Pedro Avila strikes out nine batters on September 12th
11 transactions (Additions include MacKenzie Gore and Kevin Kopps)
Eguy Rosario: .292 average, two HR, and 10 RBI in 18 games played
James Reeves: 1-0 with a 0.00 ERA in six games
Moises Lugo: 0-0 with a 1.23 ERA in four games (one start)
From Major League call-ups, big name prospects, and exciting victories, the 2021 season had plenty of positives despite the losing record. CJ Abrams demonstrated how exciting of a player he is. Reiss Knehr played well enough to get the call to The Show. Adrian Martinez put together one of the best months by a Missions pitcher in the clubs' illustrious history. Lastly, the fans were able to get back to the stadium and watch baseball again.
2021 Team Leaders
Batting Average (min. 60 games): Allen Cordoba, .299 average
Hits: Eguy Rosario, 118
Home Runs: Jack Suwinski, 15
Runs Batted In: Eguy Rosario, 61
Stolen Bases: Esteury Ruiz, 36
Earned Run Average (min. 25 IP): Adrian Martinez, 2.34
Wins: Adrian Martinez, 7
Saves: Jose Quezada, 18
Innings Pitched: Osvaldo Hernandez, 100.1
Strikeouts: Osvaldo Hernandez, 88
The 2022 season will begin on April 8th with the Missions hitting road for a three-game series against the Corpus Christi Hooks. The home opener for San Antonio will come on April 12th against the Frisco RoughRiders.
The San Antonio Missions are the Double-A affiliate for the San Diego Padres. This is the 115th professional season for the San Antonio Missions. Tickets are on sale now at the Wolff Stadium Box Office or online at samissions.com. Season seat memberships are available now by calling 210-675-PARK (7275).
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