Riders Rewind: Audio Highlights from 4.23

The Riders fell in game one of a four game set against the Corpus Christi Hooks 8-2 on Thursday night. The full recap is here.

INNING: BOTTOM 2 
SCORE: RIDERS 2-1
PLAY: Drew Robinson hits his Texas League-leading fifth home run

INNING: TOP 3 
SCORE: RIDERS 2 HOOKS 2
PLAY: Carlos Correa RBI double

INNING: TOP 3 
SCORE: HOOKS 3-2
PLAY: Conrad Gregor RBI double

INNING: TOP 4 
SCORE: HOOKS 4-2
PLAY: Colin Moran RBI double 

INNING: TOP 4  
SCORE: HOOKS 5-2
PLAY: Brandon Meredith RBI single

INNING: TOP 4 
SCORE: HOOKS 7-2
PLAY: Tyler Heineman double scores two runs 

Hear from your Frisco RoughRiders!

Here are pregame interviews from the weekend, including Alex’s chat with manager Joe Mikulik on Sunday:

Riders Rewind: Audio Highlights from 4.17

The Frisco RoughRiders (4-4) have won five of six and go for the series sweep Saturday in Arkansas.

Lets recap Friday’s win

INNING: TOP 2 
SCORE: RIDERS 1-0
PLAY: Nick Williams crushes his first AA homerun

INNING: TOP 4
SCORE: RIDERS 2-0
PLAY: Luis Mendez singles home Jorge Alfaro with two outs

INNING: BOTTOM 6
SCORE: RIDERS 2-0
PLAY: Jake Thompson strikes out Brian Hernandez to end the 6th inning

INNING: BOTTOM 9
SCORE: RIDERS 2-0 (FINAL)
PLAY: Final out: Josh McElwee gets Kentrail Davis to fly out.

Riders Rewind: Audio Highlights From 4.16

The Riders won the first of three against the Arkansas Travelers on Thursday night. Below are the audio highlights from the 2-0 victory.

INNING: TOP 2 
SCORE: RIDERS 1-0
PLAY: Riders strike first thanks to an Eric Stamets throwing error

INNING: BOTTOM 3
SCORE: RIDERS 1-0
PLAY: Jake Skole slides to rob Drew Maggi of a hit 

INNING: TOP 5
SCORE: RIDERS 1-0
PLAY: Andrew Faulkner throws out Chad Hinkle on a slow tapper

INNING: TOP 6
SCORE: RIDERS 2-0
PLAY: Suarez walks Robinson with the bases loaded

INNING: BOTTOM 8
SCORE: RIDERS 2-0
PLAY: Jesus Pirela works out of a bases loaded jam to retire Travs in 8th

INNING: BOTTOM 9
SCORE: RIDERS 2-0
PLAY: Closer Francisco Mendoza records his second save 

Next Game: Frisco RoughRiders (3-4) @ Arkansas Travelers (6-1) on Friday, April 17th at 7:10 p.m.

Probables: Jake Thompson (0-1, 4.50) vs. Tyler DeLoach (1-0, 0.00)

Riders Pregame show starts at 6:50 p.m. Listen live on your computer or smartphone.

MLB Opening Day Rosters Filled With RoughRiders

Opening Day for the Frisco RoughRiders is this Thursday, but former Riders players will have a presence in nearly every Opening Day contest at the start of the 2015 Major League Baseball season. There are 33 former RoughRiders on the Opening Day active rosters of 16 different MLB teams this season, highlighted by the big league debuts of 2014 Frisco players Keone Kela and Odubel Herrera.

Rangers pitcher Keone Kela at spring training in Surprise, Az., (Rodger Mallison/Fort Worth Star-Telegram/TNS via Getty Images)

Rangers pitcher Keone Kela at spring training in Surprise, Az., (Rodger Mallison/Fort Worth Star-Telegram/TNS via Getty Images)

The Texas Rangers have an MLB-high 12 former RoughRiders on their roster, with Kela making his first appearance on a major league roster. He is expected to be a member of the Texas bullpen for tonight’s season opener in Oakland. The 21-year-old right-handed pitcher was promoted to Frisco on May 3, 2014 and spent the remainder of the season as a RoughRider. Kela posted a 2-1 record with five saves and a 1.86 ERA in 36 Texas League appearances in 2014, registering a 55:27 strikeout-to-walk ratio and a .162 opponents’ batting average in 38.2 innings. He did not allow an earned run in 30 of his last 32 regular season outings and twice compiled streaks of 14 consecutive scoreless appearances. Kela was the Rangers’ 12th round selection in the 2012 First-Year Player Draft out of Everett (Wash.) Community College.

Herrera is expected to be the Philadelphia Phillies’ everyday centerfielder when the Phillies open the season this afternoon at home against Boston. A Rule 5 Draft selection by Philadelphia in the off-season, Herrera spent the bulk of the past two seasons as a second baseman with the RoughRiders.

 Odubel Herrera of the Philadelphia Phillies bats during a spring training game. (Photo by Ronald C. Modra /Sports Imagery/ Getty Images)

Odubel Herrera of the Philadelphia Phillies bats during a spring training game. (Photo by Ronald C. Modra /Sports Imagery/ Getty Images)

He won the Texas League batting crown last year with a .321 average, 13 points higher than second place. In 96 games with the Riders, Herrera compiled 16 doubles, four triples, two home runs and 48 runs batted in. The left-handed batter was named a Texas League Postseason and Mid-Season All-Star last year; he was also a Mid-Season TL All-Star in 2013. A native of Zulia, Venezuela, Herrera was signed by the Rangers as a non-drafted free agent in 2008.

Twelve of the of the 15 Opening Day games scheduled for last night and today feature a former RoughRider on the 25-man roster of at least one team. Since 2003, Frisco has sent 128 former players to the big leagues (not including Major League rehabbers).

FULL LIST OF FORMER ROUGHRIDERS ON MLB OPENING DAY ACTIVE ROSTERS

Texas Rangers (12)

  • SS Elvis Andrus
  • RHP Neftali Feliz
  • LHP Derek Holland
  • RHP Keone Kela (MLB debut)
  • RHP Phil Klein
  • OF Leonys Martin
  • RHP Nick Martinez
  • RHP Roman Mendez
  • 1B/OF Mitch Moreland
  • 2B Rougned Odor
  • OF Ryan Rua
  • Jake Smolinski

Chicago Cubs (4)

  • RHP Justin Grimm
  • RHP Kyle Hendricks
  • 3B Mike Olt
  • RHP Neil Ramirez

Boston Red Sox (2)

  • RHP Alexi Ogando
  • LHP Robbie Ross, Jr.

Kansas City Royals (2)

  • RHP Edinson Volquez
  • RHP Chris Young

Oakland Athletics (2)

  • RHP Jesse Chavez
  • OF Craig Gentry

Baltimore Orioles (1)

  • RHP Tommy Hunter

Cincinnati Reds (1)

  •  RHP Jumbo Diaz

Chicago White Sox (1)

  • RHP John Danks

Detroit Tigers (1)

  • Ian Kinsler

Houston Astros (1)

  • RHP Scott Feldman

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (1)

  • LHP C.J. Wilson

New York Mets (1)

  • OF John Mayberry, Jr.

Philadelphia Phillies (1)

  • OF Odubel Herrera (MLB debut)

San Francisco Giants (1)

  • 3B Joakim Arias

Toronto Blue Jays (1)

  • Justin Smoak

Washington Nationals (1)

  • Tanner Roark

– Alex

Frisco’s New Skipper

Change is in the air at Dr Pepper Ballpark. The Frisco RoughRiders’ active offseason saw a new ownership group take over, significant stadium upgrades, an overhauled logo design and the arrival of new manager Joe Mikulik.

Mikulik (pronounced “MICK-uh-LICK”) is the definition of a baseball lifer. Drafted in the ninth round of the 1984 June Draft, Mikulik played 12 seasons in the Astros organization. His biggest hit came for Triple-A Tucson when he drove in the winning run in the bottom of the ninth, clinching the Pacific Coast League Championship. Mikulik, a late season addition to the roster, drove an 0-2 pitch into right field to score Trinidad Hubbard, and the city of Tucson went into a state of pandemonium.

Mikulik managed the Texas Ranger's Advanced Single-A Myrtle Beach Pelicans in 2014.

Mikulik managed the Texas Ranger’s Advanced Single-A Myrtle Beach Pelicans in 2014.

A perennial losing pro baseball franchise had finally won a championship, from perhaps the most unlikely contributor. Immediately following the game Mikulik offered, “I don’t know what it’s like in the [major leagues], but if it’s better than this … wow.”

The closest Mikulik came to the big leagues was in 1995, the year following the work stoppage that curtailed the ’94 season. The league threatened to have replacement players fill rosters for the season. Mikulik was a prime candidate at age 31 with 3,634 minor league at-bats. In an article with Sports Illustrated in January of ’95, Mikulik tried to explain the dilemma should he get asked to play. On one hand here is a chance to fulfill his lifelong dream, donning a major league uniform. Trying to support a young family, Mikulik would more than quadruple his typical salary, saying he would be “living high on the hog.”

On the other hand, he would antagonize the MLB Players Association and those he hoped to call teammates one day.

The opportunity never arrived, as MLB and the MLBPA reached an agreement in late April.

Following his playing days, Mikulik immediately entered the coaching realm. He spent two years with the Cleveland Indians Single-A team before joining the Colorado Rockies organization. He managed the Class-A Ashville Tourists for an impressive 13 seasons, amassing 938 wins. His wins are the most ever for the franchise and the South Atlantic League, which inducted him into its Hall of Fame in 2010.

Mikulik joined the Rangers as a roving instructor in 2013 before returning to the dugout in 2014 with Advanced Single-A Myrtle Beach, leading the Pelicans to an 82-56 season. Mikulik won his 1,000th game in the minor leagues last season with a 7-5 victory over the Potomac Nationals. The feat went largely unnoticed because of a statistical error dating back to his first managing gig in 1997 with Burlington. He only managed the final 16 games, but is wrongly credited in online databases with an additional 22 wins and 30 losses from that season.

Speaking to a South Carolina reporter, Mikulik found humor in the situation, “It (was) a silent victory,” he said with a laugh. “Nobody around knows about it. I guess I’ll have to celebrate by myself.”

To the public outside of Tucson, Mikulik is best known for his extensive tirades with umpires. A quick Google or YouTube search provides an entertaining potential preview of what may come to Frisco this season.

Whether he’s (literally) stealing second base, undressing at home plate, bashing coolers or barricading the umpires’ Screen Shot 2015-03-27 at 10.32.27 AMdressing room, there is no shortage of energy.

Following a major blowup in 2006, Mikulik was quick to point out, “I don’t think I ever lost total control.”

Former major league outfielder Kenny Lofton played with Mikulik in the Houston organization. When the video of his tantrum(s) went viral, Lofton was unmoved,

“This was nothing new about him being intense,” Lofton said. “He loved the game. He wanted to play every day. He had the same intensity every day. If he didn’t play, he was mad, because he wanted to play. That’s how he was. And he loved baseball, boy. He’d live and die for it.

“That’s just his nature.”

Mikulik brings an extensive legacy and well-known temper to the RoughRiders.

Most importantly, he brings a proven track record to help the next wave of future Rangers become great.

Thanks for reading.

Nate

Now On The Clock

Major and Minor League Baseball are trying to improve the fan experience at the ballpark this season with the implementation of new Pace of Game Regulations. Over the years, MLB has seen the time of its games rise to over three hours in length. It’s fair to assume everyone enjoys a fluid pace with limited interruption. The league understands committing an entire afternoon/evening to a baseball game is valuable time.

Umpire Time Clock

Umpire Mark Wegner looks on while the new baseball pace-of-play inning break clock is shown in the background (Photo by Mark Cunningham/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

The rules will require pitchers in the minors to work on a 20-second timer, while hitters must stay inside the batter’s box between pitches. Ironically, the current MLB rulebook already includes Rule 6.02 and Rule 8.04.

Rule 6.02: The Batter Must Be in the Box
The umpire has the right to call a “strike” on any batter who refuses to take his position in the batter’s box. The batter must keep one foot in the box throughout the at-bat.

Rule 8.04: Twelve Seconds to Pitch
When the bases are unoccupied, a pitcher must deliver the ball to the batter within 12 seconds or an umpire may assign a “ball” to the batter’s count.

Those rules are simply never enforced (with one rare, notable exception), but that will soon change. MiLB has lightly implemented Rule 6.02 for several years, but the new rule will strictly require the batter to stay in the box and ready for the pitch.

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

  1. There will be three different timers inside the ballpark: one in the outfield and two behind home plate. Should any timer fail, all three will be turned off.
  2. As soon as the final out of an inning is recorded, the timer will reset to 2 minutes, 25 seconds. All in-house entertainment must be complete and off the field after two minutes. The pitcher cannot throw a warm-up pitch after the timer hits 30 seconds. Ideally, both the batter and pitcher are ready for action when the timer hits 20 seconds.
  3. The pitcher must be in motion before the timer hits “0” or an automatic “ball” is awarded.
  4. The batter must make every reasonable effort to enter the batter’s box with 20 seconds on the timer. If the batter does not enter the box with five or more seconds remaining, the umpire will automatically award a “strike”.
  5. The timer will reset to 20 seconds after the catcher returns the ball to the pitcher (following each pitch).
  6. The umpire has the right to reset the timer at his discretion.
  7. With runners on base, the pitcher has the right to step-off, make a pickoff attempt (any base), or feint a pickoff attempt (any base). The timer will immediately reset to 20 seconds.

Here is the link to the 13-page breakdown of the new rule.

MY THOUGHTS

Pace of play is a growing issue in baseball. Too many batters are stepping out, adjusting batting gloves, and taking the time for whatever other superstition one can come up with. Pitchers, specifically relief pitchers, have enough time to casually enjoy a sandwich in between pitches.

In the heat of summer, I’m not sure how many people enjoy a three-hour contest sitting in a balmy 103 degrees.

People have vastly different opinions regarding this issue. For example, hardcore baseball fans could care less, the casual fan might wish the game lasted about three innings, and the media prefers an entertaining, but precise 2-hour, 15-minute affair.

After each game, the official scorer always announces the “official time of game”, which, to the best of my knowledge, only the media cares about.

I believe implementing rules to speed up the game that could ultimately change the outcome of a game is a dangerous line to walk. Take the playoffs for instance…

With every game so close, with so much on the line, does it really make sense to put a timer on someone to be ready? I’ve never attended a World Series game that I left and said to myself, “Wow, that game took way too long.”

The umpire can dictate the pace of game without the necessity of a timer. The umpire does not have to grant timeout simply because a player asks. Again, it’s a rule rarely enforced, but it’s a rule… and one that is there for pace of play. The umpire could enforce both Rule 6.02 and Rule 8.04, but often opts to ignore them. The umpire could strictly warn a player taking his sweet time that he will be penalized (and ultimately do so), but typically refrains.

I’ve seen a lot of games and I could not name one dominant pitcher who worked S.L.O.W.

Great pitchers like to stay in rhythm, work quickly, and trust the catcher’s game calling.

I appreciate the league trying to improve its product and attract new fans, but part of the game is the length, and the only “clock” necessary in a ballpark is the radar gun.

As the great comedian George Carlin once said, “Baseball has no time limit! We don’t know when it’s going to end… we might have extra innings!” and that is just part of the unexpected that makes baseball, well, baseball.

Will the new regulations speed up the game? What unforeseen consequences will result? Could arguments stemming from an automatic “strike” negate the difference?

Those are all questions that the 2015 season will answer, and the clock is ticking (17 days) until we begin to find out.

Nate

Counting Down To Opening Day With Nate Lucas

Disclaimer: Please excuse my disregard for any hurt feelings from the 2011 World Series!  

Opening Day is right around the corner, and for many of us, we consider it a national holiday. Spring Training offers a friendly reminder that winter will soon concede to summer’s warmth, and America’s pastime will politely intrude our daily lives.

wsluczsBaseball is unlike other sports. The grueling 162-game season produces the unexpected each night. Think you’ve seen it all in baseball? Think again. Preseason predictions meet reality, where new heroes are put on pedestals and greatness achieves championships.

Growing up in St. Louis, I feel fortunate to call myself a Cardinals fan. The Cardinals are St. Louis. As Hall of Fame closer Bruce Sutter once reminded me, “there’s not much else to do on a 100-degree day in St. Louis.”

Though technically the state bird is a bluebird, little doubt persists the Cardinal is reigning king.

Opening Day at Busch Stadium is a true spectacle, and something I would never miss­–even if that meant forging an early excuse note for a doctor’s appointment that conveniently gave myself enough time to scalp a ticket before the ceremonies commenced. For the record, good luck seeing a doctor on Opening Day, because they’re likely in attendance as well.

The history of the organization, the 12 World Series titles, the 19 National League Pennants, and the annual 3-plus million fans undoubtedly generated my love for the game.

Baseball echoes the history of this great nation. Baseball unites cultures around the globe. Baseball is Jackie Robinson. Baseball is Ernie Banks’ “Let’s play two!” Baseball is friendly, but contentious rivalries. Baseball is a classic day at Wrigley or Fenway. Baseball is Stan Musial, Roberto Clemente, Willie Mays and Mike Trout. Baseball is home to the greatest five-set toolboxes. Baseball is Sandy Koufax, Bob Gibson, Pedro Martinez and Greg Maddux. Baseball is built for October, where locals like David Freese become engraved into history, and workhorses like Madison Bumgarner shoulder 52.2 innings.

At one point in my life I was playing, coaching, officiating, and covering baseball. When the realization hit that my 5-foot-nothin’ structure and soft-tossing lefty skillset weren’t my ticket to the big leagues, I changed course.

Baseball found a voice on the radio with the likes of Jack Buck, Vin Scully, Harry Caray and Mel Allen. The opportunity to announce baseball has been my dream for a long time. I cannot express how excited I am to help bring you Frisco RoughRiders baseball this season. Please forgive me for my allegiance to the St. Louis Cardinals; I promise to not bring up any lingering memories from 2011.

I look forward to meeting a lot of you here at Dr Pepper Ballpark throughout the season. Let’s have some fun.

Cheers to baseball.

Nate Lucas

PS: I’ll be joining Alex Vispoli on the radio for every RoughRiders home game this season. For all things Riders baseball follow me on Twitter.

Spring in their step

2015-Texas-Rangers-Spring-Training-LogoFollowing a long 2014 season and an off-season light on major roster developments, spring training is well underway for the Rangers out in Surprise, Arizona. And, despite camp starting under the dark cloud of serious injuries (see Darvish, Yu and Profar, Jurickson) for the second straight year, the promise of a new season and better results on the horizon are enough to encourage any baseball fan back here in the Metroplex. The big league club has already played nearly two handfuls of Cactus League games and, as expected, Texas has used a plentiful number of players in those contests, including several players we can expect to see in Frisco this season.

It’s never wise to put too much stock into spring training numbers, because it’s difficult to decipher between what’s reality and versus a desert mirage. That said it’s hard not to get excited over things like Rougned Odor’s torrid start (6 for 13 with two doubles) and good early reports on Elvis Andrus. Knowing that spring results should be taken with a heavy grain of salt, let’s take a look at what some like 2015 RoughRiders have done while moonlighting in big league games through March 10. (The minor league games for the players in camp will begin on March 16, and that is when we’ll begin to get a better idea of the roster makeup for each affiliate).

Joey Gallo

Joey Gallo showing off his defensive prowess at the hot corner in 2014. (Grant Nelson/Frisco RoughRiders)

Joey Gallo showing off his defensive prowess at the hot corner in 2014. (Grant Nelson/Frisco RoughRiders)

The Rangers’ 2014 Tom Grieve Minor League Player of the Year will look to take another big step toward the big leagues and may not be a long term resident in Frisco this season (assuming he starts there). Gallo, a non-roster invitee to spring training, has played in five of Texas’ eight games and is 3 for 10 with two walks, two strikeouts and a homer on March 8 against Cubs roster hopeful Eric Jokisch.

Jorge Alfaro

Gallo’s fellow “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle” (the collective nickname given to teen wonders – Gallo, Alfaro, Mazara, Williams, Guzman and Brinson – that populated the 2013 Hickory Crawdads) has gotten into seven games, going 2 for 9 with a pair of runs scored and an RBI. Look for Alfaro to get the lion’s share of the time behind the plate for Frisco this season.

Nick Williams

The 21-year-old from Galveston has played in one spring training game, going 1 for 2. Williams did not have the smoothest entry into Double-A last season (.226/.250/.290), but he showed flashes of his powerful hit tool and figures to be one of the more scrutinized prospects on the RoughRiders this season.

Hanser Alberto

Alberto could be ticketed for a level higher in the farm system at the start of the season based on position need and there is no doubt he has an advanced defensive tool. The Dominican, who was added to the Rangers’ 40-man roster in the off-season, won the Minor League Gold Glove Award for 2014. In six spring games with the big club, he is 4 for 12 with a double and a steal.

Trever Adams

The Nebraska native could be in line to begin 2015 in Frisco despite being named a Texas League Postseason All-Star last year. He has swung the bat well in limited spring action, going 2 for 3 over two games.

Pitchers

Chad Bell looked to be on the fast track to the big leagues before Tommy John surgery sidelined him for 2013. (Alex Yocum-Beeman/Frisco RoughRiders)

Chad Bell looked to be on the fast track to the big leagues before Tommy John surgery sidelined him for 2013. (Alex Yocum-Beeman/Frisco RoughRiders)

Some of the big names (Jake Thompson, Andrew Faulkner) that figure to come to Frisco haven’t yet pitched in any big league games this spring, but several other hurlers have. Prospective Riders that have pitched scoreless baseball to date include Cody Kendall, Jose Leclerc and Kohsuke Tomita. Chad Bell, a Rider in 2012, may be with Frisco to begin 2015 as he continues his journey back from Tommy John surgery. He has allowed one run (on a solo homer) in his lone inning of action while Jesus Pirela (one run, 1.1 innings), Josh McElwee (two runs, 0.2 innings) and Efrain Nieves (two runs, 0.2 innings) have also been touched for runs.

  • Alex

Ace Ventura: From the Texas League to the World Series

Ventura cardWhen Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura takes to the mound at Kaufmann Stadium tonight with the hopes of an entire fan base weighing on his slim frame, he can take comfort in one indisputable fact: at least he won’t have to face Brett Nicholas in tonight’s Giants lineup. While the former RoughRiders first baseman, who played his college baseball in the Show Me State, won’t be confused with Buster Posey or Hunter Pence, he is one of only 13 players who have a perfect 1.000 batting average in multiple at bats against Ventura. Nicholas was a perfect 2 for 2 versus the hard-throwing righty in Ventura’s sole Texas League start against the RoughRiders back on April 7, 2013 while pitching for the Royals-affiliated Northwest Arkansas Naturals.

I remember talking with Frisco hitting coach Jason Hart about Ventura before the game and he (based on what he saw in spring training) compared him to Pedro Martinez, an observation that has been made on Fox’s World Series telecast over the past week. I even wrote in my game notes that day that the 5’11”, 178 lb. native of the Dominican Republic had been nicknamed “Lil Pedro” (despite being about ten pounds heavier than the future Hall of Famer). Looking at their age-23 seasons, the comparison is even more apt. In 1995, when Pedro was 23 and throwing for the Expos, he went 14-10 with a 3.51 ERA, 174 strikeouts, 66 walks (in 194.2 innings), 123 ERA+ and a 3.90 FIP. As for Ventura’s 2014: 14-10, 3.20 ERA, 159 strikeouts, 69 walks (in 183 innings), 125 ERA+ and a 3.60 FIP. Lil Pedro, indeed.

On top of being a heralded prospect (ranked #3 going into the 2013 season by Baseball America), he had a killer nickname: Ace Ventura. Of course, it works on a baseball level in addition to a pop culture one, though I would doubt if Yordano knows if Finkle is Einhorn or not (he wasn’t even three years old when the pet detective hit theaters).

As for Ventura’s outing against the ’Riders, it was a solid start to begin a season that would later see him make his major league debut. After a perfect first inning, he allowed a single to Nicholas in the second before inducing a double-play ball off Alex Buchholz’s bat. He finished the inning with a strikeout of Chih-Hsien Chiang and tossed another scoreless frame in the third, yielding a harmless two-out single to Teodoro Martinez.

With pre-knuckleballin’ Kevin Pucetas putting up zeros in his first three innings, the ’Riders finally got to Ventura in the fourth. Hanser Alberto nicked his countryman for a single to right field and moved up to second on a deep flyout by Jared Hoying. Then Nicholas lined a 1-0 pitch down the left field line for a run-scoring double to get Frisco on the scoreboard. Two pitches later, he scored on a single by Buchholz to make it 2-0 .

Ventura came back with a 1-2-3 fifth inning to mark the end of his day. The 72-pitch outing featured five strikeouts and no walks over five frames. Ventura was let off the hook for a loss thanks to Naturals runs in the fourth and fifth innings, but Alberto’s sac fly in the sixth pushed the RoughRiders ahead for good in a tightly played 3-2 victory.

That sunny day in Springdale, Arkansas sticks out because it was the only time I saw Ventura pitch until catching him in a Royals uniform on television later in the season (because Frisco and Northwest Arkansas play in different divisions, the teams don’t match up frequently). He looked as sharp as advertised, with a fastball that hit triple digits on the RoughRiders’ radar gun several times in addition to a hard curveball and a solid changeup. While there were questions as to whether or not his body could hold up to be a starting pitcher, he certainly looked the part of a starter that afternoon and since hasn’t made anyone think twice about Kansas City’s move to keep him away from the bullpen.

(Fun fact about that game: the only other future major leaguer to play in the contest to date was 2014 Ranger Ben Rowen, who earned a hold by tossing a scoreless eighth inning for the ’Riders.)

The hope here is to see Ventura pitch well enough for the Royals to win and get us all to a Game Seven tomorrow night. Then maybe we can ask someone who was in the Texas League in 1999 to write a retrospective piece on Tim Hudson’s three starts that season for the Midland RockHounds.

A look at the scorebook from Yordano Ventura's start against the Frisco RoughRiders on April 7, 2013.

A look at the scorebook from Yordano Ventura’s start against the Frisco RoughRiders on April 7, 2013.

  • Alex
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