Written By: Austin F
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San Antonio Missions vs Northwest Arkansas Naturals Recap
On Tuesday, June 15, and Wednesday, June 16 I attended two games that featured the San Antonio Missions and Northwest Arkansas Naturals. Both games were played very competitively and featured a few of the game’s top prospects that included Nick Pratto, MJ Melendez, and Bobby Witt Jr. for Northwest Arkansas and CJ Abrams, Jake Suwinski, and Eguy Rosario for the home team San Antonio Missions. The two big names I came for were Witt and Abrams and I have been following MJ Melendez for quite some time now, so it was a treat to see him, and he did indeed deliver during the two games that I attended. Both games were competitive with some loud power on display and some nice plays made on the field.
Game 1: San Antonio 5, Northwest Arkansas 3
The Missions struck first in game one scoring one run in the second inning in an unconventional way. Eguy Rosario reached on a standup double then stole third base, in his stolen base attempt, MJ Melendez overthrew, and Rosario came into score. The Naturals answered back with two runs in the top of the third off two groundouts as Freddy Fermin and Brhet Bewley scored. MJ Melendez belted a beautiful homerun over the centerfield wall in the top of the 4th for the Naturals final run of the game. For the Missions half of the inning, Allen Cordoba knocked in Eguy Rosario off a sac fly and Jack Suwinski scored off a Jose Azocar single. Neither team scored in the 5th inning and the final run of the game came for the Missions off a monstrous homerun to rightfield off the bat of Jack Suwinski.
Game 2: Northwest Arkansas 3, San Antonio 2
After having game one off, Bobby Witt Jr. was back in the lineup for game two and had a loud performance in a very competitive game. He started off his game with a standup double and finished his performance just a single shy of the cycle. Both teams scored in the first inning with the Naturals’ run coming off a Clay Dungan homer. Jose Azocar scored for the Missions off a sac fly from the bat of Kyle Overstreet. A run didn’t occur again until the 4th inning when Blake Perkins knocked in MJ Melendez. Northwest Arkansas scored their final run of the game the following inning as Bobby Witt Jr. blasted a ball to right center with a beautiful swing. The final run of the game happened in the bottom of the 8th inning as Yorman Rodriguez hit his first double-a homer of his career as he deposited the ball over the left-centerfield wall. Drew Parrish had an outstanding start for the Naturals as he went five innings, giving up a hit and a run that was earned and only walked one Missions batter as he struck out four.
Prospects to Watch
The big name of the series is Bobby Witt Jr. The Colleyville, TX native was the second overall pick in 2019 behind only Adley Rutschman in the amateur draft. He is the son of former Major Leaguer Bobby Witt, who pitched for 16 seasons with the Rangers (11 seasons), Athletics (three seasons), Diamondbacks (one season), Rays (one season), Cardinals (one season), Indians (one season) and Marlins (one season). Witt Jr. seemed at home at the plate with a relaxed stance and a quick swing. Perhaps Witt Jr.’s most underrated tool that he possesses is his run tool. It appeared as if he did not get good jumps coming out of the box, but once he got his wheels going, his acceleration around the basepaths was phenomenal and he showed that he was an aggressive and smart base runner. His double game two broke his bat and he managed to reach third base as he saw that he had an opportunity but was returned to second base. He was just a single away from the cycle in game two. Witt hits from an even stance with a medium handset almost at neck level with his back elbow down and shows some loft in his swing but doesn’t appear to be hunting for homeruns.
MJ Melendez is the son of Florida International’s head baseball coach Meryvl Melendez. MJ had a commitment to play for his father there out of high school before he was taken by the Kansas City Royals in the second round of the 2017 MLB Draft. His younger brother Jayden is also a top catching prospect for the 2021 draft and is signed to play for Florida International. While most of MJ’s value will come from his skills behind the plate, the older Melendez did show that he has some pop as he belted his 11th homer of the season over the centerfield wall in game one. He also showed his arm strength as he gunned down both CJ Abrams, who is known for his speed, and Eguy Rosario in game one. However, he did overthrow a ball as Eguy Rosario took third base in the second inning of game one. The Missions did not attempt to steal in game two.
Nick Pratto had a base hit in each game including a double in game one. The Kansas City Royals took the lefty first baseman with the 14th overall pick in the first round of the 2017 MLB Draft out of Huntington Beach HS in California. He’s got a large frame and decent speed and good pop. His double in game one was his 8th of the season. He’s presently hitting over .300 and has 11 bombs.
While I mostly wanted to see Witt Jr. play, I also was very excited to see CJ Abrams as he’s got one of the best skillsets throughout the minor leagues. The left-handed hitting shortstop from Alpharetta, GA didn’t disappoint during the two games. Despite only having one hit, Abrams has very good barrel control and a quick swing. Perhaps the best swing he had both nights was a foul ball he hit that looked like a picture-perfect homerun swing. He also had a sac fly in game one that once again, showed off his barrel control. The Georgia native did try to display his speed but was just gunned down by MJ Melendez. He’s been clocked as fast as 6.29 seconds on his 60-yard dash at a Perfect Game event. While he may never be a big-time power hitter, he’s got plenty of pop and he should be a fan favorite for years to come. Abrams also flashed some leather getting to a couple of balls with his good speed and range.
The MVP of game one was Eguy Rosario. Rosario had three hits in game one including a double and stole two bases. He also made an outstanding diving play at second base. He’s got a smaller frame standing at 5’9 and 150 pounds but plays the game hard. He’s got an upright stance with weight on his back leg and a high elbow and a medium handset. Rosario had another double in game two for his only hit but flashed leather once more. Rosario is only 21 this season and could have an interesting career as a scrappy contact hitter with speed and a solid glove.
Jack Suwinski is a name not too many baseball fans or prospect fans might be familiar with, but he belted a monster homer in game one over the rightfield fence. His swing was electric and the moment the ball touched his bat, it was gone. It was his only hit both games, but the lefty outfielder is an impressive athlete with a good frame standing at 6’2 and weighs 205 pounds. The Chicago native was a 15th rounder in 2016 out of Taft HS in Chicago and could make the other 29 teams who slept on him in the draft regret it as his power is developing nicely.
Henry Henry is a man with the same name for his first and last. He threw one inning during both games that I attended and according to the stadium radar gun was sitting 93-95 mph with his fastball. In his inning of work, the 6’4 righty from the Dominican Republic walked a batter and recorded a strikeout to get the hold for the Missions.
Drew Parrish had a phenomenal outing in game two for the Naturals going five innings while allowing just one hit and a run that was earned and walked just one batter while striking out four. The former 8th round draft pick out of Florida State sat 91-93 with his fastball and got his breaking ball into the mid-to-upper 70s and his changeup got into the low 80s.
Dylan Rheault threw two innings in game two for the Missions and hit 94-97 with max effort in his delivery to go along with an upper 80s breaking ball and mid 80s changeup. In his two innings he allowed just one hit but dealt with control issues as he walked three batters.
Yefri Del Rosario sat 96-97 with his fastball for the Naturals and threw two innings in game two while flashing a low 80s breaking ball. He got the hold and struck out two batters.
Carlos Reynaldo Belen was another reliever who threw two innings of work in game two and hit 93-94 with his fastball and flashed a mid 80s slider. In his two innings he allowed just one hit and struck out a batter.
Perhaps the biggest surprise during my two games in San Antonio was Dylan Coleman. Coleman stands at 6’5 and was making Mission’s hitters look silly in his 1.1 innings of work to record the save. What was most surprising about Coleman was how hard he was throwing. He consistently hit 100 miles per hour on the stadium radar gun and hit 101. He struck out three of the four batters he faced including Jack Suwinski to end the game off a mid-80s slider. Coleman was a 4th round pick in 2018 out of Missouri State.