Is there hope for the Missions after an 0-6 homestand?

It’s hard to find too many bright spots for the San Antonio Missions this week. When they weren’t kicking balls around in the infield on defense, they were hitting weak grounders on offense. But as the ball club takes a few days off before starting a series at Amarillo on Tuesday, I did see a few things worth noting as Saturday afternoon turned to Saturday night. Here they are, in a video sequence:

Felipe is a guy that just has a presence about him. He is big and tall and can throw really hard. In this case, Felipe also kept his cool, making a nice pitch to get the batter to hit it softly to the infield to start the twin-killing.

Howell has had a really tough go of it lately. After getting traded from the Brewers organization to the Padres 10 days ago, he has struggled mightily at the plate. Howell homered in his first game with the team on April 10. But on the homestand, he couldn’t get it going at all. He made some errors on defense, too. But he didn’t hang his head, kept playing hard and made two really nice plays as shown in the video clips above.

If you liked the breaking ball that Felipe threw to Duran in the video above, wait until you see the one he threw for the third strike.

After the game, I asked Missions pitching coach Pete Zamora about Felipe, who is 6-feet-7 and 240 pounds and every bit the physical specimen. Specifically, what is his best pitch?

“We’re talking about a guy with an upper-90s fastball, who can hit triple digits,” the coach said. “Obviously people would say his fastball is his best pitch. But, when he does have his slider going, I think it’s equal as his 100 mph. When he’s got ’em both going, he’s extremely tough.”

Felipe worked two innings against Frisco, allowing no runs on two hits, one of them fisted into right field. He walked one and struck out one. For the season, in three outings, he has struck out five and walked three in four innings. Hits? Just three. Earned runs? Zero.

Even though it’s a small sample size of work, considering the length of the season, the Missions coaches are happy with his development.

“We saw him in spring training,” Zamora said. “We liked the arm, obviously. For a bigger guy, he’s pretty athletic. Smart kid. I’ve talked pitching with him. His English is very good. We’ve got good dialogue with him. He knows what he wants to do. Very confident.

“He still has things to work on like they all do down here. But we’re real happy with the way he’s progressing and going after hitters.”

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