Fourth in a series of stories on championships won by the San Antonio Missions in the Wolff Stadium era:
Big picture: With Chase Headley, Nick Hundley and Will Venable on the team, the Missions’ hopes soared entering their first year of affiliation with the San Diego Padres. But after a last-place finish in the first half, they had to rally, and they did, winning 42 games for the second-half division crown. Then the Missions rolled to the championship behind first-year manager Randy Ready, once a rival in the 1980s as a player for the El Paso Diablos. Headley was Player of the Year and Josh Geer Pitcher of the Year.
Regular-season record: 73-66
First half: 31-39. Second half: 42-27.
Playoff record: 6-1. The Missions rolled through two best-of-5 series, winning three straight against the Frisco RoughRiders, before taking down the Springfield Cardinals in four games.
Parent club: San Diego Padres.
Manager: Randy Ready, first season with the Missions.
Top players: Chase Headley (.330, 20 HR, 78 RBI, Nick Hundley (20 HR, 72 RBI), P Josh Geer (16-6, 3.20); P Cesar Ramos (13-9, 3.41).
Players who reached MLB: Position players — Matt Antonelli, Luis Cruz, Chase Headley, Chad Huffman, Nick Hundley, Sean Kazmar Jr., Drew Macias, Colt Morton, Will Venable, Shawn Wooten. Pitchers – Frank Brooks, Roger Deago, Mike Ekstrom, Josh Geer, Dirk Hayhurst, Wade LeBlanc, Arturo Lopez, Edwin Moreno, Cesar Ramos.
Key team stats: Eighth in batting average (.256), fifth in runs scored (642) third in home runs (133). First in earned run average (3.81), first in WHIP (1.299) and sixth in strikeouts (902). Tied for first in fielding percentage (.981) and first in fewest errors (95).
Notable: Utility player Brett Dowdy wasn’t thrilled when he was sent down from Triple-A Portland at midseason. But he didn’t let it bother him in the playoffs. Defensively, he played shortstop, left field and center field in the postseason. Offensively, he hit .379, including four doubles, two triples and three home runs. The former collegiate standout at Florida drove in six runs in an 11-7 title-clincher at Springfield.
Quotable: “It was somewhat difficult for me to come back down here, but I knew there was a role for me and a plan for me and it was hard for me to complain about the way the year turned out.” – Brett Dowdy told Express-News reporter David King, discussing his journey down to Double-A and a postseason title.
Sources: samissions.com, expressnews.com, baseball-reference.com