June 2011

First Half By The Numbers

It is hard to summarize a 70-game period, but we are going to try with the beauty of numbers. I’m not a stat genius like Michael Damman, the head of the RoughRiders Statistical Research Department and the writer of this blog. However, I’m going to put on my best Damman-esque performance and give you a “First Half By The Numbers” edition of the Facts.

FRISCO FACTS:

  • 76 – The number of days it took for the RoughRiders to complete the 70-game half.
  • 203:19 – The combined time of the 70 games in the first half, shown in hours and minutes.
  • 8.47 – That’s the equivalent in days to the time shown in the bullet above.
  • 266,774 – The number of fans that passed through the Dr Pepper Ballpark turnstiles during the 34-game home schedule. That’s good for an average of 7,846, which is by far the best mark in the Texas League.
  • 40 – The number of wins for Frisco, which is the tied for the sixth-most in a half in the history of the franchise.
  • 69 – Frisco’s home run total, which is one better than the RoughRiders’ home run count for all of the 2010 season (68).
  • 386 – The number of runs the ‘Riders scored in the first 70 games. That amounts to 5.5 per game.
  • 2746 – The number of batters that Frisco pitching faced during the first half.
  • 22 – The combined total of at bats for Julio Borbon, Nelson Cruz and Josh Hamilton while with the RoughRiders on rehab stints. That trio played in a combined seven games with Frisco during the first half.
  • 78 – Martin Perez’s strikeout total, which was second in the Texas League. Only Corpus Christi’s Xavier Cedeno (79) had more.
  • 65 – The number of transactions that the RoughRiders made, which included things such as a trade with Cincinnati, a promotion from Low-A Hickory, a $15.5 million-dollar addition, and much more.
  • 17 – Frisco’s come-from-behind victories during the first half. This means that the ‘Riders trailed at some point during 42.5% of their wins.
  • 2 – The number of days that the RoughRiders spent in a tie for first place. Frisco never had the top spot to itself because of the dominance of San Antonio (49-21 in the first half).
  • 9 – The number of RoughRiders who will head to San Antonio for the 75th Texas League All-Star Game.
  • 44 – The number of players who have appeared for the RoughRiders this season. 24 of those are pitchers.
  • 2.8 – The percentage of the second half that has been completed.

That last number means that there is still a long way to go in 2011. Join us for game three of half two tonight along the RoughRiders Baseball Network. Pre-game coverage begins at 6:35 for the ‘Riders and the Hooks. Enjoy!

- Brian

Perez Headed to XM All-Star Futures Game

Frisco left-hander Martin Perez will represent the Texas Rangers Sunday, July 10, in the XM All-Star Futures Game, as announced today by Major League Baseball. Perez will play for the World Team.

The only other Ranger farmhand is shortstop Jurickson Profar, who has hit .269 with six homers and 26 RBIs for Low-A Hickory. Profar trails only Perez in Baseball America‘s list of Texas prospects.

The game takes place at Chase Field in Phoenix, Ariz., at 5 p.m.

Why is Perez going to the Futures Game (at least statistically)? Let’s tell you about it in a Perez version of the Facts.

FRISCO FACTS:

  • Perez is near the top of many categories in the Texas League. He is second in strikeouts (78), tied for third in innings pitched (82.1), fourth in earned run average (3.28), and sixth in WHIP (1.32).
  • Obviously the most frequently used numbers for Perez have dramatically improved from last year to this year (5-5, 5.96 ERA in ’10; 4-2, 3.28 ERA in ’11).
  • In 2011, Perez is averaging almost five and a half innings per start. During those efforts, he has given up an average of 2.2 runs on 5.1 hits. He has struck out 5.2 and walked only 2.1.
  • Compare that to last year, when Perez only mustered an average outing of a little more than four frames per start. The averages for last year came out to 3.0 runs, 4.9 hits, 4.2 strikeouts and 2.1 walks.
  • Two other situational improvements have aided Perez’s game. The difference in his performance against lefties (.267 to .188) has been profound, as has his ability to retire the leadoff man (.313 to .240).
  • Plus, that perfect game thing that he threw. That was a boost, obviously. It also allowed him to win this honor.

Congrats to Martin Perez. He deserves it, no doubt. Good luck to him and Jurickson Profar once they head to the Southwest next month.

The ‘Riders and ‘Hounds wrap up this four-game series tonight at 7:05. Pre-game coverage at 6:35 on the RoughRiders Baseball Network or online right here. Enjoy!

- Brian

First Half Countdown

April 7 seems like a long time ago. September 5 seems like a long time from now. Welcome to the halfway point of the 2011 season. The RoughRiders finished up the first half at 40-30, which is good for the second best record in the Texas League.

Before the ‘Riders begin the second half, let’s take a look back at the first half. It’s a Top 10 edition of the Facts.

FRISCO FACTS (Top 10 moments from the first half):

10. Three straight blowouts (June 15–Frisco 14, Midland 7)
The RoughRiders were rolling on the road in the month of June, and the trend continued in a big way at Midland. Frisco posted double-digit run totals in three consecutive games for just the second time in franchise history. In those three contests, the ‘Riders scored 37 runs on 54 hits. This game, a 14-7 beating at Citibank Ballpark, capped off the three-day dominance. Frisco was 9-1 on the road in June after this one.

Mike Bianucci is second in the Texas League with 16 home runs (James Garner).

9. Bianucci’s blast sinks Hooks (June 18–Frisco 9, Corpus Christi 6)
You don’t have to look too far for this one. Saturday night, Mike Bianucci crushed a three-run home run off Kyle Greenwalt to give the ‘Riders the lead for good in the 13th inning. This blast rewarded Adalberto Flores, who set highs in innings pitched (4) and strikeouts (6) by a Frisco reliever in a single game, with his second win of the season. Bianucci leads the club and is in the top five in the Texas League with 16 home runs.

8. Adair’s single stuns San Antonio (June 10–Frisco 5, San Antonio 4)
After San Antonio finally mustered a hit (and four runs) against starter Robbie Erlin, Travis Adair decided to save the day. His RBI single in the bottom of the ninth kept the ‘Riders in the playoff chase. Unfortunately, the Missions would go on to clinch the first half title. Still, it was a memorable moment in front of a Fireworks Friday crowd at Dr Pepper Ballpark.

7. Adair’s two-out, bases-clearing magic (May 7–Frisco 9, Midland 8 )
This one foreshadowed the dominance that the ‘Riders would have over the RockHounds this year. Midland took an 8-6 lead in the bottom of the eighth with three runs. In the top of the ninth, the ‘Riders packed the bases with two down. Travis Adair, a new outfielder fresh up from High-A Myrtle Beach, doubled home everyone with a shot down the left field line. It was a big win for a club starting to come into its own.

Jose Ruiz's three-run blast clinched a perfect road trip June 6 (James Garner).

6. Ruiz’s shot clinches 6-0 trip (June 6–Frisco 9, Tulsa 4)
The score wouldn’t indicate it, but this game was close throughout. The RoughRiders took a 5-4 lead into the ninth and scored four more, capped off by Jose Ruiz’s three-run home run. The win wrapped up Frisco’s first perfect road trip since April 29–May 2, 2008. At that point, the ‘Riders had won 24 of 34 games.

5. Throwing error hands ‘Riders win (April 8–Frisco 7, Springfield 6)
In front of the first of many 10,000+ crowds at Dr Pepper Ballpark, the RoughRiders erased a four-run deficit and completed the comeback when Richard Castillo overthrew first base on a sacrifice bunt try by Tommy Mendonca. The win gave Frisco an early 2-0 start.

Leonys Martin is a Texas League All-Star in his first minor league season (James Garner).

4. Leonys Martin thrives in debut (May 12–Frisco 10, Corpus Christi 7)
Days after signing a $15.5 million dollar contract with a $5 million signing bonus, Cuban outfielder Leonys Martin went 3-for-5 in his debut with the ‘Riders. In his first at bat, Martin doubled to deep center. Martin drove in a run and scored one in a game that was decided by a three-run eighth.

3. Ruiz walks off with a RoughRiders win (May 17–Frisco 1, Midland 0)
Scoreless game. Two down. Bases empty. Bottom nine. The game was destined for extras, until Jose Ruiz corked a towering home run over the right field fence. To this point, it is the only walk-off home run for the RoughRiders this year, and it was the most dramatic Frisco win during a four-game sweep of the ‘Hounds in mid May.

2010 A.L. MVP Josh Hamilton played in two games with Frisco (James Garner).

2. Hamilton homers in rehab start (May 18–Frisco 8, Midland 7)
The defending American League Most Valuable Player made a stop at Dr Pepper Ballpark before heading back to the Rangers following a shoulder injury that kept him out of action for more than a month. Swinging at the first pitch in his second at bat, Hamilton lined a two-run home run to left field. Hamilton finished the day 2-for-4 and helped the ‘Riders win a close one against the RockHounds. He also made many RoughRiders fans very happy after the game.

1. Perez tosses rain-shortened perfect game (April 19–Frisco 1, Arkansas 0)
Martin Perez, the Rangers’ number one prospect, set down the first 15 men he faced. In those situations, with a pitcher that is as talented as Perez, it is easy to start thinking about history. However, mother nature wanted to make sure Perez made history. Severe thunderstorms rolled through North Little Rock, Ark., forcing the game’s umpires to call the game in the top of the sixth inning.

Perez’s perfecto was the fifth in Texas League history and the second in RoughRiders history. Not only was it a historic night, but it showed that Perez was going to improve upon his 2010 numbers when with the ‘Riders. So far, so good for Perez, who boasts a 4-1 record and a 3.30 ERA.

What does the second half have in store? You can find out beginning tonight from Dr Pepper Ballpark. Pre-game coverage along the RoughRiders Baseball Network begins at 6:35. Enjoy!

- Brian

Early Starts Mean Late Endings

The RoughRiders lead the league in extra inning games this season. Frisco has played bonus baseball in 12 games. Considering today is the final game of the first half, the ‘Riders are on pace to play almost a month’s worth of extra inning games by the end of the season.

The main culprit for the frequency of bonus baseball? Day games. Maybe that’s not entirely true, but there is a trend.

Here are the eight games that began at noon or earlier. Notice the extra baseball.

  • April 12: Arkansas 9, Frisco 4: No extra innings here. In fact, this one was tied for the most lopsided early game of the year. Mike Trout, the Angels number one prospect, hit a pair of home runs, including a grand slam that hit his head shot on Rider Vision. I promise, it gets better from here.
  • April 18: Arkansas 4, Frisco 3 (15 innings): This one was a marathon. To this point in the season, it is the longest game in terms of time (4:26). It looked like the game would end in 13 frames when Robbie Diaz blooped in the go-ahead run in the top half. However, Trout was at it again, as he homered to lead off the bottom of the inning. That loss sent Frisco to 4-7 on the year.
  • April 26: San Antonio 6, Frisco 5: It wasn’t an extra-inning game, but it was crazy. Quick version: San Antonio scored three in the eighth on a Cody Decker homer to take a two-run lead. Then, Mike Bianucci hit a ball to the wall that was originally ruled a three-run bomb. It was overturned to an RBI double. The game took almost three hours, and it was the ultimate seesaw battle.
  • May 10: Frisco 4, Midland 3 (11 innings): The ‘Riders took a 3-0 lead into the eighth inning, when the ‘Hounds scored three times. Tommy Mendonca hit a go-ahead solo shot in the 11th to win it for the RoughRiders. The victory clinched a series win at Citibank Ballpark.
  • May 17: Frisco 1, Midland 0: It looked destined for extras. Two down, nobody on, tied game, bottom 9. Then, Jose Ruiz crushed a home run down the right field line to prevent the trend from continuing. The ‘Riders swept Midland in that four-game set.
  • May 23: Frisco 6, San Antonio 4 (10 innings): Frisco dominated this game until the ninth inning, when the Missions scored four runs to tie the game at 4 apiece. The ‘Riders regained all the momentum in the top of the tenth on a Davis Stoneburner home run and salvaged the finale in that four-game series at the Wolff.
  • May 26: Frisco 3, Northwest Arkansas 0: Along with the first early game, this one was the other “outlier.” Martin Perez tossed seven scoreless innings, and the game ended in a quick 2:14. The ‘Riders scored runs in three different innings.
  • June 6: Frisco 9, Tulsa 4: The ‘Riders and Drillers were locked in a good one until the top of the ninth, when Frisco scored four times. Jose Ruiz’s three-run bomb was the big blow in that frame. The victory completed a perfect 6-0 road trip to Northwest Arkansas and Tulsa.

Overall, the ‘Riders are 5-3 in these games, and those five wins came after three losses in April.

The run differential in those games: +5.

Average innings played: 10.1.

Likelihood of today’s game going down to the wire: very good.

Pre-game coverage begins at 10:35. First pitch is shortly after 11. Enjoy!

- Brian

O’Day Tosses One Inning with Frisco

Right-hander Darren O’Day worked the first inning for the RoughRiders Monday night at Dr Pepper Ballpark against the Midland RockHounds.

O’Day allowed only one hit, but it was a solo home run off the bat of Grant Green, Oakland’s top prospect. Other than the homer, O’Day retired the side on a groundout, flyout and strikeout. He threw 15 pitches, eight of which were strikes.

O’Day is currently on the 60-day disabled list. He has not pitched since April 28 because of a torn labrum.

Frisco left-hander Robbie Erlin, the Rangers’ number four-prospect according to Baseball America, is scheduled to pitch behind O’Day.

O’Day is the eighth Ranger to rehab with the ‘Riders this season.

Another Ranger Rehabs in Frisco

It all began on May 4th when Neftali Feliz and Tommy Hunter (a pair of former ‘Riders) returned to Frisco for rehab appearances.  Little did we know that was just the beginning.  These two right-handers have left the front door of Dr Pepper Ballpark open for this long list of major leaguers to follow:

  • Scott Feldman (May 14, June 11)
  • Josh Hamilton (May 18-19)
  • Nelson Cruz (May 16-18)
  • Julio Borbon (May 30)
  • Brandon Webb (May 30, June 14, 19)
Tonight that list adds and eighth name: Darren O’Day.  The former Florida Gator is currently listed on the 60-day DL and has been on the shelf since April 28 with a torn labrum in his left hip.  According to the great T.R Sullivan, “O’Day threw 50 pitches of live batting practice on Saturday and all went well.”

O’Day is expected to pitch one inning tonight, followed by Rangers No. 4 prospect, Robbie Erlin. O’Day is then scheduled to pitch with Triple-A Round Rock next.  Fun note: his wife Elizabeth is a southeast correspondent for FOX News.

First pitch tonight at 7:05 … Brian takes it live at 6:35 with the pre-game show. Talk with you then.

AG

Scheppers, Webb Results from Sunday

Tanner Scheppers struck out four over two perfect innings of relief in his first minor league appearance in more than two months.

Scheppers needed 14 pitches to record two strikeouts and a groundout in the seventh inning. The right-hander whiffed a pair looking in the eighth. In that frame, he tossed 16 pitches.

Scheppers had not pitched since April 16, when he was a member of Triple-A Round Rock.

The former 44th-overall pick made six appearances for the ‘Riders last season. He allowed just one run on three hits in 11 innings of work with Frisco.

Brandon Webb, on the flip side, did not make it out of the first inning in his rehab start. Webb allowed four runs on six hits in two-thirds of an inning. All six hits were singles.

The former Cy Young Award winner threw 36 pitches, 22 of which were strikes. Webb’s fastball hovered around 85 miles per hour according to the radar gun at Whataburger Field.

The organization has not yet scheduled the next outing for both Scheppers and Webb.

Webb, Scheppers to Pitch Tonight

Both Brandon Webb and Tanner Scheppers are scheduled to pitch for the RoughRiders tonight in the finale of a four-game series at Corpus Christi.

Webb will pitch four innings or about 65 pitches. This will be his third rehab start with the RoughRiders. Webb has tossed six and a third innings for the ‘Riders this year. In that action, the former Cy Young Award winner has given up five runs on nine hits. All of those runs and eight of those nine hits came in his first start against Tulsa May 30.

Carlos Pimentel will follow Webb. Then, Scheppers is set to pitch two innings for Frisco. Scheppers last pitched in a competitive game April 16 for Triple-A Round Rock. It was his only outing of the 2011 season.

You can listen to the contest here. Pre-game coverage begins at 5:35.

“Dad, wanna play catch?”

Every Father’s Day I can’t help but think of that scene from Field of Dreams where Kevin Costner plays catch with his dad (once your done reading you can watch it here).

I’m not ashamed to say it makes me cry every time.  I wanted to ask some of the ‘Riders what some of their favorite baseball memories were with their dads, and I’m glad I can share their answers with you.

Manager, Steve Buechele: From playing in little league, to college baseball at Stanford, all the way to the major leagues, Boo’s dad supported him the entire way.

“To this day, I remember my dad, and my mom, always being there and watching every game my brothers and I played.

I then asked Boo about the first time his dad got to see him play in the major leagues.

“We were playing the Angles and I had a bunch of friends and family come out to the game.  I remember hugging my dad after the game and him telling me that he had tears in his eyes during the National Anthem.”

LHP, Robbie Erlin: Growing up in Santa Cruz, Calif., Erlin’s father probably never imagined that his son would be the Rangers’ No. 4 prospect at just 20-years-old.  But as Erlin’s coach in the Scotts Valley Little League, he greatly influenced his son’s future career.

“When I was 9-years-old my dad told me that before I could throw a curveball, I had to be able to locate my fastball.  He and I worked after practice on throwing a curve and finally one day during a game I was pitching he signaled to our catcher to call for a curveball.”

As we all know, Robbie’s curveball is now one of the best in the Rangers’ minor league system.  I then asked Robbie if 9-years-old was a bit early to be throwing a curve.

“Not if you know how to throw it.”  

3B, Tommy Mendonca: By now, we all know how well Tommy has been playing lately.  And we all know how hard he’s been working out.  Most are aware of the magical ride he went on when playing for Fresno State University in 2008 when the Bulldogs won the College World Series and Mendo was named the College World Series Most Outstanding Player as a sophomore.

“Both of my parents were at every game in Omaha during our playoff run.  My dad was my little league coach and it was great having him and my mom watching me and supporting me when we were playing in such big games.”

RHP, Jake Brigham: One of seven kids (four brothers, two sisters) , Jake grew up in Florida where his dad was a barber.  He had to cut a lot of hair to support all those hungry mouths and thus had one day off a week: Wednesday.

“Every Wednesday afternoon he’d take us seven kids to Barnett Park and we had practically enough players to field a team.  I remember him pitching to us … We all got a chance to field, catch, hit, and play the outfield.”

LF/DH, Mike Bianucci: “Nuch” had the big blast last night in the 13th inning to give the ‘Riders the win, but it was his dad who saw him hit has a kid.

“It was great having my dad coach me in Babe Ruth League.  Once I turned pro, he first had a chance to watch me play in Hickory.  My best memories are of him watching me in high school, though.  It was great then because I always had lots of family at the games.”


 

2B, Davis Stoneburner: His real name is Ralph, which, so conveniently for today’s article, is his father’s name.  After asking him a baseball memory he shared with his dad, Stoney gave me an answer in a way that only he could.

“The first time my dad saw me play as a professional was in Clinton, Ia. when I was playing for the LumberKings.  I was a shortstop at the time and he came out to watch me play a four-game series.  Bad part was I didn’t get a single hit.”

Fortunately, he’s now riding a nine-game hitting streak.  Looks like he’s recovered.

We’ll have more of a tribute to Father’s Day on the pre-game show tonight.  Along with Mother’s Day, it’s one of my favorite pre-game segments all season long.  First pitch tonight in the series finale in Corpus Christi crosses home plate at 6:05, pre-game coverage kicks off at 5:35.

If for some reason you miss the pre-game segment of all the ‘Riders wishing their dad’s a happy Father’s Day but would like to hear it, feel free to email me at agoldsmith@ridersbaseball.com and I’ll send you the .mp3 version.

Talk with you tonight,

AG

RoughRiders on the Green

I am not a golf fanatic. In fact, I haven’t golfed more than twice in a summer since high school, mainly because my skill level is just below awful. I don’t know what word describes “just below awful,” but it can’t be good.

However, I make sure to watch as much of pro golf’s four majors as possible. As I’m perched in my room watching the U.S. Open’s third round, let’s take a look at how some golfers compare to those who are down at Whataburger Field this weekend. It’s a special edition of the Facts.

FRISCO FACTS (U.S. Open style):

  • Rory McIlroy (-11; first place) = Tommy Mendonca: McIlroy has dominated the U.S. Open so far with a first-round 65 and a second-round 66. He heads into day three with a six-stroke lead. We have talked about Mendonca recently on this blog. Since that post, Mendonca has gone 3-for-7 with a homer and two RBIs. In June, the ‘Riders’ third baseman is hitting an absurd .433 with 21 RBIs. Both men are dominating their field right now.
  • Y.E. Yang (-5; second place) = Renny Osuna: Both men are undersized a bit (Yang: 5’9″, 190 lbs; Osuna: 6’0″, 180 lbs), yet both have had solid years and careers. Yang took down Tiger Woods (well get to him in a bit) in the ’09 PGA Championship, but he still is a surprise in this year’s event. Osuna continues to hit well, but other RoughRiders tend to get the attention. Osuna is hitting .304 with a career-high five home runs. He’ll have plenty of chances to blow that old career high in homers (four) out of the water.
  • Phil Mickelson (+1; T-26th place) = Mike Bianucci: Mickelson is very much on the outside looking in this weekend, but he is probably the most marketable golfer on tour right now with Woods on the shelf. Bianucci has struggled a bit lately, too. However, Bianucci still sits in a tie for third in homers (14) and a tie for fourth in RBIs (49). Fortunately for Bianucci, he has more than half the season left. Mickelson has 36 holes and a scorching up-and-comer 12 strokes ahead. Advantage: Bianucci.
  • Sergio Garcia (-2; T-third place) = Jake Brigham: Both Garcia and Brigham are not flashy, but they both tend to hang around and give themselves a chance to win at the end. Garcia posted a 69 in round one and followed it up with an even-par 71 yesterday. Brigham has gone at least five innings in all but one of his 13 starts this year. Tonight’s starter has allowed more than three runs only three times. These two won’t grab the headlines, but they get the job done.
  • Michael Barbosa (+24; last place) = Corpus Christi Hooks: This is not me unnecessarily ripping on the Hooks, I promise. Both Barbosa and the Hooks had rough starts to their week/season, and next week both will get a chance with clean slates. I’m sure they are thrilled.
  • Tiger Woods (DNP – injury) = Josh Hamilton: Woods has been in the PGA Tour this year. Hamilton has been with the RoughRiders this year. Thousands follow Woods around when he is on the course. Thousands waited for Hamilton to sign some autographs when he visited Dr Pepper Ballpark, and he rewarded many of them. Golf fans hope Woods returns soon. However, I think RoughRiders and Rangers fans alike would like Hamilton to stay right where he is for the rest of the season.
  • Other quick connections: Davis Love III (-1; T-eighth place) and Guilder Rodriguez = thriving veterans; Patrick Cantlay (highest-ranked amateur) and Robbie Erlin = future stars; Louis Oosthuizen and Davis Stoneburner = names that flow; Chubby Chandler (McIlroy’s manager) and Steve Buechele = successful managers.

Catch the pre-game coverage for tonight’s 6:05 showdown at 5:35 along the RoughRiders Baseball Network. Enjoy!

- Brian

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