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.”

Leiter fans four in a four-inning no decision as Frisco beats San Antonio

Frisco RoughRiders pitcher Jack Leiter experienced some early wildness but settled down to pitch four fairly clean innings Saturday afternoon at Wolff Stadium.

Leiter, the No. 2 overall pick in the baseball draft last summer by the Texas Rangers, gave up one run on one hit and three walks. Showing off a crackling high fastball, he struck out four.

In his second game as pro, the former All-American at Vanderbilt threw 75 pitches, and 42 of them were strikes. He left the game with a 4-1 lead.

Trailing 2-0, the Missions got to Leiter for a run in the bottom of the second. Yorman Rodriguez led off with a double to deep center field.

Rodriguez moved to third on a ground ball by Tirso Ornelas and scored on a grounder by Connor Hollis. Leiter struck out Chris Givin to end the threat.

In the third inning, Leiter found trouble again with back-to-back, one-out walks to Esteury Ruiz and Korry Howell. When Ruiz walked, he stole second, and then Howell was issued his free pass.

The next two batters hit the ball hard. Brandon Dixon flied to right field, moving Ruiz to third. With Walding at the plate, Howell stole second, putting two men in scoring position with two out.

Walding followed by driving a ball deep to center that was run down by the Rough Riders’ J.P. Martinez on the warning track.

In the fourth inning, Leiter set down the Missions 1-2-3.

First, Rodriguez smashed a ball hard to center that was caught. Next, Tirso Ornelas was caught looking at strike three. Finally, Hollis grounded sharply to shortstop Ezequiel Duran.

The Missions rallied with two runs in the sixth. But the Rough Riders held on to win the seven-inning game, 4-3.

Through two games, Leiter has worked seven innings, and he’s yielded two runs (both earned) on only two hits. He’s had some control problems, walking five. But his fastball and breaking pitches have been good, as he’s struck out 11.

One scout told a Missions staffer that Leiter was throwing as hard as 97 mph.


Before the start of the doubleheader, a broadcaster for the Frisco RoughRiders said that the ball club would not make Leiter available to speak with the media.

Frisco reliever Grant Wolfram was the winning pitcher and Nick Starr picked up the save. Missions starter Thomas Eshelman took the loss.

Eschelman worked all seven innings and gave up 12 hits. All four runs were earned. He walked none and struck out two.

Rangers prospect Jack Leiter to start today at Wolff Stadium


Heralded Texas Rangers pitching prospect Jack Leiter, a gifted athlete who always “seemed to have the game in his blood,” is expected to take the mound in San Antonio for the first time today.

Leiter (0-0, 3.00 ERA) is the scheduled starter for the Frisco RoughRiders in the first game of a Texas League doubleheader at Wolff Stadium against the San Antonio Missions.

He’ll opoose Thomas Eshelman (1-0, 1.80) of the Missions, with the first pitch set for 5:05 p.m.

In Leiter’s ballyhooed professional debut last Saturday at Frisco, the No. 1-ranked prospect in the Rangers organization threw 60 pitches in three innings in an 8-7 victory over the Arkansas Travelers.

Leiter, the No. 17 overall prospect in baseball, allowed one run on one hit and walked two. Showing off tremendous stuff, the 21-year-old righthander struck out seven of the 12 batters he faced.

One day in the not-too-distant future, Leiter figures to be a top-of-the-rotation starter in the big leagues.

But at this stage of his career, RoughRiders manager Jared Goedert says he doesn’t even want to verbalize the organization’s expectations for him.

“I think expectations can be dangerous,” he said.

In essence, Goedert just wants Leiter to do what he has always done as a player. Prepare. Work hard. Execute.

“We need him to just to go be himself,” Goedert said.

Goedert said he has confidence that Leiter will fare well for however long he pitches at the Double-A level with the RoughRiders.

“He has such a great repertoire of pitches that, if he can go out and execute those and be consistent with that, to me, that’s going to be a successful year for him,” the manager said. “I think he’ll do that, especially once he gets settled in … We want him to feel like he’s like one of 28 guys on our active roster.

“It doesn’t have to be him and 27 other guys. He’s a Frisco RoughRider, just like everybody else.”

When Leiter showed up for his debut last weekend at Frisco, he learned that the ball club had promoted his arrival with ‘Jack Pack’ ticket deals, T-shirts and a ‘K-card’ distribution for the first 1,500 fans.

Goedert said he thinks Leiter handled it as well as could be expected.

“I would say with the amount of buildup and hype and expectation, I was pretty impressed,” Goedert said. “They really promoted it (and we) had a really, really good crowd, especially for the first Saturday night of the year.

“I think he’d be the first to admit he probably needed to get in the strike zone more early with hitters. Because he didn’t, his pitch count got up there.

“But, overall … being able to shoulder all of that pressure, all of that expectation, to go about it like it was just another day at the office, it was pretty impressive.”

After the Pittsburgh Pirates selected University of Louisville catcher Henry Davis with the No. 1 pick last summer, the Rangers picked Leiter. Eventually, he signed for a reported $7.9 million.

In one season-plus at Vanderbilt University, Leiter produced a record of 13-4 with a 2.08 earned run average. He struck out 201 batters in 125 and 2/3 innings.

His record includes four games in the truncated 2020 season and then another 18 in 2021, when he went 11-4 with a 2.13 ERA.

For his efforts, he erned unanimous first-team All-American honors as well as being a finalist for the Golden Spikes Award and the Dick Howser Trophy.

Leiter is the son of former major leaguer Al Leiter. His father won 162 games in 19 seasons in the big leagues.

One of the most consistently good pitchers of his day, Al Leiter had double-figure victory totals for 10 straight seasons through 2004.

Al Leiter told a reporter last year at the College World Series that his son has “always loved the game” and also always seemed to have a good arm.

“When I was playing for the (New York) Mets, and going out to Shea Stadium, we lived on the upper East side (of Manhattan), and he always had a ball in his hand, he always had a glove,” Leiter said. “We’d go to the park (and) he’s throwing wall ball.

“So, it’s been kind of in his blood.”

Series at a glance

Tuesday — Frisco 6, San Antonio 4
Wednesday — Frisco 9, San Antonio 6
Thursday — Frisco 6, San Antonio 3
Friday — Frisco 7, San Antonio 3
Saturday — Doubleheader, 5:05 p.m.

Coming up

April 19-24 — San Antonio at Amarillo
April 26-May 1 — Springfield at San Antonio

Frisco’s Lee re-invented his delivery, and his career came alive

Fall baseball tryouts at major schools in NCAA Division I usually don’t produce too many success stories.

Most of the time, tryouts end with players walking off the field and into a life outside the game.

Chase Lee was rejected once at the University of Alabama and nearly didn’t go back.

“After the tryout, I gave myself about a month, and I thought about it,” he said. “Was it worth it, getting my pride shot again? Getting told you weren’t good enough? Again?”

Lee decided he’d stay with it. At the suggestion of Alabama coach Brad Bohannon, he ditched his over-hand delivery and started to throw from the side.

He ended up making the team on the second try, played three years on varsity for the Crimson Tide and turned himself into one of the top relief pitchers in school history.

Now the 6-foot, 170-pounder is in his second year with the Frisco RoughRiders, and he’s still turning heads.

“He’s a good pitcher,” Frisco manager Jared Goedert said. “He’s got good stuff.”

On Tuesday night at Wolff Stadium, Lee pitched scoreless ball in the eighth and ninth innings to earn the save.

His stuff in the ninth was impressive. With the RoughRiders leading by two runs, and with two runners aboard, he struck out Missions standout Esteury Ruiz looking to end the game.

Ruiz was frozen on a sinker that started out wide and broke back into the zone.

“Honestly, the slider has been the bread-and-butter pitch since I started throwing from that slot,” Lee said. “It’s really helped me get right-handed hitters out. The sinker really allows me to keep them off of it.

“Actually, the way it’s shaped now, it’s turned into a pitch I can get away with. In year’s past, it was something I had to (use) to set up the slider. I feel like I can throw it for a strike and not get hurt.”

Lee has two saves in two save opportunities this season and a 0.00 earned run average. In two years, he’s got five saves in six chances. In his brief pro career as a prospect with the Texas Rangers, his ERA is 3.00.

Goedert said he likes the way that Lee, a sixth-round draft choice last summer, is coming along in his development.

“He’s funky enough, with his arm slot,” Goedert said. “But then his … fastball and his slider, they stay on the same track. They can go one or two ways.”

Meaning that, if a hitter guesses wrong, Lee usually wins the battle.


The Missions have lost three straight on the homestand to the RoughRiders going into Game 4 of a six-game series Friday night.

Late Thursday, the RoughRiders scored four unearned runs in the eighth inning to win, 6-3. An error by Missions shortstop Korry Howell led to the uprising, which included a three-run homer by Jordan Procyshen.

Pitcher Jack Leiter, the No. 1 prospect in the Texas Rangers’ minor league system, is scheduled to start the first game of a doubleheader on Saturday.

Series at a glance

Tuesday — Frisco 6, San Antonio 4
Wednesday — Frisco 9, San Antonio 6
Thursday — Frisco 6, San Antonio 3

Coming up

Friday — Frisco at San Antonio, 7:05 p.m.

Saturday — Frisco at San Antonio, doubleheader, 5:05 p.m.

Frisco wins 6-4 to spoil the San Antonio Missions’ home opener

Trailing by two runs with two outs in the ninth inning, the San Antonio Missions had their hottest batter at the plate with runners at first and second base.

A well-placed extra-base hit could tie the game.

Frisco RoughRiders reliever Chase Lee had other ideas.

Lee struck out Esteury Ruiz looking to leave the runners stranded, securing for the RoughRiders a 6-4 victory in the Missions’ home opener Tuesday night at Wolff Stadium.

A crowd of 5,823 watched as the Missions took a 4-3 lead on a fifth-inning sacrifice fly by Brandon Dixon.

Undeterred, the RoughRiders rallied with two runs in the eighth and one in the ninth to win the first game of a six-game series with the Missions.


Frisco 3-1
San Antonio 2-2

Coming up

Wednesday — Frisco at San Antonio, 7:05 p.m.
Thursday — Frisco at San Antonio, 7:05 p.m.
Friday — Frisco at San Antonio, 7:05 p.m.
Saturday — Frisco at San Antonio (DH), 5:05 p.m.


Esteury Ruiz, who hit .249 for the Missions last year, has started fast in his second straight year at the Double-A level. The 23-year-old from the Dominican Republic is batting .471 with two doubles, a triple and a home run in his first four games.

RoughRiders win 1-0 to spoil Missions’ home opener

One-hit pitching usually wins. Not tonight. The Frisco RoughRiders spoiled the Missions’ home opener on Tuesday, scoring the only run of the game on a wild pitch in a 1-0 victory at Wolff Stadium.

The RoughRiders broke through with the only run they would need in the seventh inning to win the opener of a six-game series. First, Frisco put runners at first and second base on a Diosbel Arias leadoff single and a one-out walk to Jordan Procyshen. At that point, Missions lefty Sam Williams was promptly lifted for right-hander Henry Henry.

Henry found more trouble when he walked Matt Whatley to load the bases, but he looked like he might escape unscathed when he made a good pitch to force a pop up for the second out. On the next batter, Henry’s breaking pitch got away from catcher Juan Fernandez for a wild pitch, allowing Arias to score the only run of the game.

Frisco used five pitchers to hand the Missions their first shut-out loss of the season. After starter Hans Crouse pitched the first inning, he was followed by left-hander Jake Latz, who allowed only two hits in four and two thirds. Blake Bass, A.J. Alexy and Cole Uvila finished the game.

For the Missions, starter Caleb Boushley enjoyed his best outing of the season. Boushley, from Wisconsin, pitched no-hit ball for five scoreless innings. He struck out two and walked two.


Frisco 8-4
San Antonio 6-7

Coming up

Frisco at San Antonio, 7:05 p.m. Wednesday


The Missions were playing a home game for the first time since August 2019. Last season was canceled in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. Frisco is the Double-A affiliate of the Texas Rangers. The Missions are now linked with the San Diego Padres. On the opening 12-game road trip, the Missions survived some adversity to finish with a couple of victories at Midland. During the trip, their roster was shuffled in a big way as leading hitter Robbie Podorsky was called up to Triple-A El Paso. Going into Tuesday night, the Missions had suffered three losses during games in which they scored only one run.