Catching Up With Bobby Livingston

SAN ANTONIO, Texas - With risk of sounding redundant, Bobby Livingston has been lights out all year for the Missions, prompting restlessness within the organization and amongst its fans, concerned with how much longer the top prospect will remain in the Alamo City.

The 22-year-old southpaw has already put together three quality seasons in the minors, not to mention what he has done this year with the Missions, his first attempt at Double-A ball.

Livingston, known amongst his peers and coaches as a cool-headed customer, has settled in nicely as San Antonio's ace, turning in an 8-4 mark and 2.86 ERA.

Fresh off his third career all-star start, Livingston went right back to work for the Missions, who are 12-7 on the young second-half season. Since the break, the Lubbock-native has registered three quality starts in as many outings, bringing his total to 14 in 18 games, including 10 in a row.

"I'm just trying to continue doing what I did in the first half - locating my pitches and changing speeds," Livingston said. "In four years (of professional ball), I've always done the same thing, and I just want to finish the year strong and continue to work hard."

With such consistency, Livingston anchors a Missions staff that currently ranks third in the league with a 3.64 ERA, not to mention topping the charts for shutouts and saves with seven and 32, respectively. As for himself, he places among league leaders in a number of categories, including ERA, wins, innings pitched and strikeouts, the latter quite an accomplishment for a control pitcher whose fastball tops out at around 87 miles per hour.

"We've been doing a great job all year - the starters and the bullpen. You can't ask any more out of the starting five than what we've done this year," Livingston said. "Hopefully we can continue to do our job until the season's over and win the championship."

With such accolades already under his belt, both from past years and this season, it is apparent that Livingston is a top pitching prospect - the "real deal" - yet it seems he is destined to finish the year with San Antonio, a situation which the polished pitcher has no problem with at all.

"Everyday you come to the field you've got something to prove, no matter how good or how bad you did (the last time out)," Livingston said. "Anytime you can go out and get paid to play baseball is good, and I think you've always got something to prove when you're playing for a great organization."

Livingston said he has not been told about any time frame for his departure, and the Mariners may be content to let him take in a full season at Double-A before giving him any kind of promotion.

"I don't think about that; I've got no control over it," Livingston said. "If they move me, they move me. Otherwise I'll just finish strong here and get ready for Triple-A next year." Still, with the way Livingston has handled Texas League hitters for the past two months, some are growing anxious to see what the youngster can do for the Tacoma Rainiers.

"He just needs to keep maturing and developing as a pitcher and person," said Missions manager Dave Brundage. "If he pitches well enough, he's going to move up (at some point)."

Whatever the final verdict is, anyone following the Missions will acknowledge that the team needs their ace if it hopes to go anywhere in the playoffs. After welcoming back key components Rene Rivera and Jon Nelson, to go with shortstop Adam Jones' promotion from High-A Inland Empire to San Antonio, the Missions have reloaded for the second half but would be taking a huge step back should they lose Livingston.

"Jones's done a terrific job filling Betancourt's place. He's a tremendous athlete and he hasn't let anyone down since he's been here," Livingston said. "Having Rene back is good, and we're hitting and pitching well right now. I think we worked out the kinks during the first half, and we're going to play a little better this half."

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