If mid-season accolades is a sign of things to come, then the San Diego Padres have to be pretty excited about the future. Two position players, and three pitchers were recently named to the Texas League All-Star Game, representing the Southern Division. Leading the way for the San Antonio Missions will be catcher Austin Hedges, and outfielder Rymer Liriano. Pitchers James Needy, Johnny Barbato, and Adys Portillo fill out the Baby Friar’s participation in the 78th annual game that will be played on June 24th in North Little Rock, Arkansas.
Hedges so far in 2014, is hitting .254, with 5 home runs and 26 runs batted in. He is another, in a long line of Padres’ catchers who have the ability to frame pitches well, and could find himself in Petco Park within the next couple of seasons. The All-Star nod for Liriano has to be rewarding, as he missed all of 2013 while recovering from Tommy John surgery. He is currently hitting .275 with 11 home runs, 39 runs batted in, a pair of triples, to go along with 13 doubles. If the Padres were to move either Carlos Quentin or Chris Denorfia, Liriano could at least see a September call-up for his efforts thus far.
James Needy is a native of San Diego, and so far in 2014, has posted a record of 4-3 with a 2.70 ERA. He has recorded 40 strikeouts, while only walking 19 batters. Since the start of May, Needy hasn’t lost a game, going 4-0, with a top-10 ERA of 1.51. Johnny Barbato is one of the best closers at the Double-A level, currently leading the Texas League with 16 saves with an ERA of 2.61. He took over the closer’s job during the middle of last season for San Antonio. Adys Portillo, the former starter, has a minuscule ERA of 1.17 this season, along with 38 Ks in only 30 2/3 innings pitched. He could be the next in a long line of highly productive Padres’ middle relievers once he is fully polished and used to his new role in the bullpen.
Since the Missions won the Texas League championship last season, manager Rich Dauer along with several members of his coaching staff and the team’s strength and conditioning coach will join him to lead the South Division into battle during All-Star week in Arkansas.