SAN ANTONIO - Late Friday morning, the San Diego Padres and the San Antonio Missions announced the field staff for the 2017 season.
Managing the Missions once again in 2017 will be Phillip Wellman, who enters his second season in the Padres organization and his 33rd in professional baseball. After going 22-48 in the first half last season, Wellman piloted San Antonio to a much improved 36-34 mark in the second half.
"I'm excited to build off what we did in last year's second half," said Wellman. "With it being my second season with the Padres, I'm more familiar with the system and look forward to working with a lot of talented players."
The 55-year old skipper was born in Marlin, TX, but grew up in San Antonio. Wellman attended Madison High School, graduating in 1980.
Wellman's managerial career began in 1992 with the Baltimore Orioles Gulf Coast League affiliate. He has also piloted the independent Lethbridge Mounties of the Pioneer League (1993-94), the independent River City Rumblers of the Appalachian League, the Winston-Salem Warthogs (Cincinnati Reds High-A) of the Carolina League (1996), the Burlington Bees (Cincinnati Class A) of the Midwest League (1997-98), the Chattanooga Lookouts (Cincinnati AA) of the Southern League (1999, 2001-2003), the Mississippi Braves (Atlanta AA) of the Southern League (2007-2010) and the Arkansas Travelers (Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim AA) of the Texas League (2014). In 2008, Wellman led the Mississippi Braves to a 73-66 record and a Southern League championship. He has steered teams to the playoffs in five other seasons. In 17 seasons as a manager, Wellman is 995-1086.
"I'm very excited to have Phillip back for his second year with our club," said Missions President Burl Yarbrough. "He did a great job for us last year and we are really fortunate to have someone with his experience leading the San Antonio Missions."
Returning to the San Antonio staff is pitching coach, Jimmy Jones. The Dallas, TX native enters his ninth season in the Padres organization and his seventh straight with the Missions. In 2015, Jones was named the Mike Coolbaugh Memorial Texas League Coach of the Year. Under Jones' tutelage in 2014, Mission pitching set a TL record with 1,156 strikeouts (breaking the old record held by the 2008 Missions). San Antonio has led the league in ERA in three of the six years during the Jones era.
New to the Missions is hitting coach, Lance Burkhart, who enters his third season in the Padres organization. The 42-year old served as hitting coach last season for Class A Fort Wayne before being promoted to manager of High-A Lake Elsinore in late May. The St. Louis, MO native guided the Storm to a 50-46 record. Lake Elsinore's 39-31 second-half record was tied for the second-best mark in the California League. Prior to joining the Padres in 2015, Burkhart spent five seasons coaching in the independent Atlantic League, the first four as the hitting coach for the Lancaster Barnstormers and the final season as manager for the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs. Burkhart also finished his playing career in the Atlantic League, spending five seasons between Lancaster (2005-08) and Southern Maryland (2009).
The Montreal Expos selected Burkhart in the 15th round of the 1997 MLB Draft out of Missouri State University. In eight seasons of affiliated ball with Montreal (1997-99), Milwaukee (2000-02), Texas (2003) and Baltimore (2004), Burkhart batted .237 (374-for-1575) with 104 doubles, 81 home runs, 288 RBI and 267 runs over 496 games. Lance is the younger brother of Morgan Burkhart, who was San Antonio's hitting coach in 2015.
Also new to the Missions' field staff will be strength and conditioning coach Scott Cline and coach Jonathan Meyer.
The 13-time Texas League champions will open the 2017 campaign on Thursday, April 6 at Arvest Ballpark in Springdale, AR when they square off with the Northwest Arkansas Naturals (Kansas City Royals AA) for the first of three. Following their series with the Naturals, the Missions will play another three-game set against the Arkansas Travelers (Seattle Mariners AA) from April 9-11.
San Antonio kicks off its 24th season at Wolff Stadium on Thursday, April 13 when they take on the Naturals at 7:05 PM. The Missions' opening homestand, which includes another series with the Travs, runs through April 18.