SAN ANTONIO - Late Thursday afternoon, the San Diego Padres and the San Antonio Missions announced the field staff for the 2018 season.
Managing the Missions once again in 2018 will be Phillip Wellman, who enters his third season in the Padres' organization and his 34th in professional baseball. The reigning Texas League Manager of the Year is coming off a terrific 2017 season in which he piloted the Missions to a 78-62 record and both First and Second Half South Division titles. The division crowns were the club's first since winning both halves of the 2011 season and the playoff appearance was San Antonio's first since 2013.
"I'm really looking forward to coming back to San Antonio," said Wellman, who earned his 1,000th career win in April. "This team has a chance to be special. It should be fun to watch."
The 56-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 managed clubs such as Winston-Salem (Cincinnati Reds High-A) of the Carolina League (1996), Burlington (Cincinnati Class A) of the Midwest League (1997-98), Chattanooga (Cincinnati AA) of the Southern League (1999, 2001-2003), Mississippi (Atlanta AA) of the Southern League (2007-2010) and Arkansas (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 six other seasons. In 18 seasons as a manager, Wellman is 1073-1148.
"We are very excited to be working with Phillip once again this year as we close out our long history in the Texas League, said Missions President Burl Yarbrough. "Phillip is a pleasure to work with and has done a tremendous job here over the last two years. With his leadership and the talent from the San Diego Padres we expect to once again be competing for a Texas League Championship in 2018."
"We are very thankful for our 12-year player development partnership with the Missions and the city of San Antonio," said Padres Director of Player Development Sam Geaney. "2018 promises to bring an exciting group of players to the Wolff as Phillip Wellman and his staff look to bring back another division championship."
Returning to the San Antonio staff is pitching coach, Jimmy Jones. The Dallas, TX native enters his 10th season in the Padres organization and his eighth straight with the Missions. Under Jones' tutelage in 2017, Mission pitching set a TL record with 1,186 strikeouts. San Antonio has led the league in ERA in four of the seven years during the Jones era, including last year's 3.28 mark.
New to the Missions is hitting coach, Raul Padron, who enters his fourth season in the Padres organization. The 33-year old served in the same capacity last season for High-A Lake Elsinore and was a coach for Class A Fort Wayne in 2016. Padron played professionally for 12 seasons after originally signing with the Oakland Athletics as an international free agent in 2002. He made his professional debut with the AZL Athletics in 2004 and split time with all four remaining levels of the A's system until 2009. Padron played in the Texas League in 2009, hitting .275 over 39 games with Midland. Padron's other affiliated ball experience came in 2011 when he played 55 games for Akron (Cleveland Indians AA). The former catcher/first baseman also played in the Venezuelan Winter League from 2007-2015 and in the independent Atlantic League for the Camden Riversharks from 2010-2013.
Also new to the Missions' field staff will be strength and conditioning coach Drew Heithoff, who like Padron, arrives from Lake Elsinore.
Fielding coach Jonathan Meyer and athletic trainer Isak Yoon each return for their second seasons with the Missions.
The 13-time Texas League champions will open the 2018 campaign on Thursday, April 5 at Dickey-Stephens Park in North Little Rock, AR when they square off with the Arkansas Travelers (Seattle Mariners AA) for the first of three. Following their series with the Travs, the Missions will play another three-game set against the Northwest Arkansas Naturals (Kansas City Royals AA) from April 8-10.
San Antonio kicks off its 25th season at Wolff Stadium on Thursday, April 12 when they take on the Travelers at 7:05 PM. The Missions' opening homestand, which includes another series with the Naturals, runs through April 17.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.