It's a shame that Juan Oramas' 2013 season has to end because ever since it began, it's gotten better by the day. The consolation prize is that his final sterling performance helped his team earn the right to play another day.
The Padres prospect allowed two hits over six scoreless innings and Yeison Asencio's bases-loaded triple provided a chunk of the offense Saturday night as San Antonio beat Arkansas, 6-5, in Game 4 of the Texas League Championship Series.
The Missions staved off elimination again and forced a decisive fifth game on Sunday afternoon at Arkansas' Dickey-Stephens Park.
Oramas matched his performance in his first postseason start, when he limited Corpus Christi to three hits in the Missions' 1-0 loss in Game 4 of the semifinals.
The 23-year-old left-hander missed most of last season and about half of 2013 while recovering from Tommy John surgery. He made his 2013 Double-A debut on June 30 and, after getting lit up for eight runs over two innings in his second start on July 6, was mostly effective for the Missions.
Oramas (1-0) made 12 regular-season starts, posting a 3.01 ERA with 64 strikeouts and 16 walks in 55 2/3 innings. He improved as the year wore on, compiling a 0.65 ERA in five August starts with 26 strikeouts and four walks in 27 2/3 frames.
"His command has improved immensely," San Antonio manager Rich Dauer said. "His stuff has gotten better and better every time out. He has good movement away from right-handers and he has a great curve that runs from lefties. His best pitch is his changeup, and that's been getting better and better with each outing. The guy is a quality pitcher."
The Padres signed Oramas out of Mexico in November 2006 and he's progressed through the Minors at a standard pace, spending all of 2011 at Double-A and even making one start in Triple-A. His 2012 season was less encouraging as he had a 6.37 ERA in eight Double-A starts before undergoing surgery.
Dauer never saw Oramas pitch before the procedure but raved about the southpaw's consistent progress since returning and said he thinks Oramas has a shot to hold down a rotation spot in the Major Leagues.
"I think he'd be a quality starter," Dauer said. "Anytime you have a lefty like that, starting would be his preferred role. I think that's where he would be."
Asencio extended the Missions' lead to 6-0 in the fifth inning with a bases-loaded triple that received a little assistance from the Arkansas defense. Facing Elvin Ramirez, the Padres' No. 11 prospect blooped a ball that right fielder Randal Grichuk charged. Grichuk stabbed it with a diving effort but missed, clearing the bases and enabling Asencio to trot into third.
Asencio went 2-for-4 and is hitting .344 in the postseason.
"He's definitely swinging the bat better," Dauer said. "He's swinging with more power and authority. He can hit the ball off the ground or over his head. Now I think he's kind of getting himself into better counts, swinging the bat with more authority."
Angels No. 2 prospect C.J. Cron mashed a long homer in the eighth to get Arkansas within 6-5. It was his league-leading fourth of the playoffs and second to the opposite field in two games.