Prospects Rondon, Asencio, Martinez, Torres lead San Antonio

Padres' Double-A affiliate opens Texas League season Thursday

Bill Center, longtime sportswriter for U-T San Diego, is an employee of the Padres.

The most advanced of the Padres' trio of promising shortstop prospects and three productive outfielders will lead Double-A San Antonio when they open the Texas League season at home Thursday.

The shortstop is 22-year-old Jose Rondon, who is ranked as the No. 5 prospect in the Padres system by MLBPipeline.com. But he is only the third-ranked shortstop in the Padres' organization.

The Padres No. 2 prospect is Javier Guerra, who will be opening the season at short for high Single-A Lake Elsinore. The system's fourth-ranked prospect is Ruddy Giron, the Opening Day shortstop for low Single-A Fort Wayne.

Rondon returns to San Antonio because his 2015 season was cut short due to a fractured elbow suffered while stealing second.

Rondon was hitting .190 in 28 games at San Antonio last summer after starting the season at Lake Elsinore, where he hit .300 with 17 steals, three homers and 22 RBIs in 57 games.

The outfielders to watch at San Antonio are Yeison Asencio, Alberth Martinez and Nick Torres.

Asencio, 26, returns to the Missions after hitting .301 with San Antonio last season while ranking among the Texas League leaders in batting average (sixth), hits (fifth, 145), RBIs (fourth, 74) and total bases (tied for fifth, 209). Asencio also had 23 doubles and 13 homers while striking out only once every 12.7 plate appearances.

Also returning to the Missions is Martinez, 25, who hit .276 with 11 homers and 56 at San Antonio last season.

Torres, 22, the club's fourth-round pick in the 2014 draft, played at both full-season Single-A levels last year and hit .305 with 152 hits, five homers and 70 RBIs in 129 games. Torres also worked out at first base this spring. Torres is ranked the 20th-best prospect in the Padres system.

The fourth outfielder on the San Antonio roster is Auston Bousfield, 22, the club's fifth-round pick in 2014. Bousfield also finished the 2015 season with the Missions after hitting .273 with a .361 on-base percentage and 22 steals at Lake Elsinore.

Rondon is one of four infielders returning to San Antonio. The two newcomers are Gabriel Quintana, 23, who hit .245 at Lake Elsinore, and Nelson Ward, 23, who came to the Padres from the Seattle system in the trade that sent Joaquin Benoit to the Mariners. Ward hit .282 in the California League last year.

Rocky Gale, 28, who finished the 2015 season with the Padres after hitting .307 as Triple-A El Paso's primary catcher, will handle the Missions staff this season with Ryan Miller.

The Missions will be managed by Phillip Wellman, who is in his first season in the Padres' organization. Johnny Washington will be the Missions' hitting coach and Jimmy Jones will start his sixth season as the San Antonio pitching coach.

The San Antonio Missions Opening Day Roster:

Right-handed pitchers (10): Fabio Castillo, Adam Cimber, Rafael De Paula, Luis Diaz, Johnny Hellweg, Jason Jester, Kyle Lloyd, Bryan Rodriguez, Cesar Vargas, Eric Yardley.

Left-handed pitchers (3): Brandon Alger, Kyle Bartsch, Ramon Benjamin.

Catchers (2): Rocky Gale, Ryan Miller.

Infielders (6): 2B-SS Diego Goris, 1B-3B Duanel Jones, 3B Taylor Lindsey, 2B-3B Gabriel Quintana, SS Jose Rondon, 2B Nelson Ward.

Outfielders (4): RF Yeison Asencio, CF Auston Bousfield, CF Alberth Martinez, LF Nick Torres.