June 2011

Alumni Update

There are hundreds of former RoughRiders, so this post will not include all of them. However, many more than the 24 men currently on the ‘Riders’ roster have donned the Frisco jersey this year. Let’s update you on those men who are elsewhere in the Rangers’ farm system or elsewhere in minor league baseball.

Wilfredo Boscan (now with high-A Myrtle Beach):
Since his demotion to Myrtle Beach May 3, Boscan has pitched well. The right-hander boasts a 2-2 record and a 3.86 earned run average in nine appearances. Three of his last four efforts have been quality starts, including his seven-inning, one-run win last night that lowered Myrtle Beach’s magic number to 2.

Joey Butler (now with Triple-A Round Rock):
Butler has become an everyday outfielder for the Express. In 42 games at the Triple-A level, Butler is hitting .336 with three homers and 21 RBIs. His 0-for-2 effort yesterday snapped his 16-game hitting streak. Before that game, Butler had posted multi-hit showings in six of his last nine games. Against lefties, Butler is hitting .372.

Robbie Diaz (now with Triple-A Round Rock):
Diaz has played one fewer game in Frisco (13) than he has at Round Rock (14). He was bumped back up to Round Rock Sunday, but he has only played in one game since then. That game came Tuesday night, when he went 1-for-4 in a loss to Nashville. On the year between the ‘Riders and Express, Diaz is hitting .309 with two homers and eight RBIs.

Mark Hamburger (now with Triple-A Round Rock):
Since his first ever promotion to the Triple-A level May 11, Hamburger has recorded a 1-3 record and an 8.35 earned run average. The Minnesota native has struck out 17 men in almost 19 innings of work out of the bullpen. After a bit of a shaky start, Hamburger has begun to settle down. In his last three outings, Hamburger has allowed just one run on three hits in five and two-thirds innings. He also had this feature written about him. It is definitely recommended reading.

Beau Jones (now with Triple-A Round Rock):
Following his first promotion to Triple-A April 23, Jones has appeared in 16 games out of the bullpen. The left-hander has a 3.25 earned run average in 27 and two-thirds innings of action. Jones has struck out 18 and walked ten. Lefties are hitting just .227 against Jones, while right-handers own a .310 average.

Chris Mobley (now with Triple-A Louisville [Reds]):
Traded to Cincinnati in late May, Mobley has been a quality reliever for the Louisville Bats over the last few weeks. Mobley is 1-0 with a 1.23 earned run average in eight outings. In seven and a third innings, the right-hander has allowed one run on five hits. Including his time the Rangers and Reds’ organizations, Mobley is 3-0 with a 3.93 ERA in 22 appearances this season.

David Paisano (now with high-A Myrtle Beach):
Sent down to the Carolina League May 14, Paisano has struggled a bit with the Pelicans. He is hitting .191 with four RBIs. He has hit .238 in ten games during the month of June. During Myrtle Beach’s historic 23-inning game Sunday, Paisano went 3-for-9 with one of the Pelicans’ two runs.

Sorry this update didn’t include updates on names like Nelson Cruz, Neftali Feliz or Josh Hamilton. I think you can figure those out yourselves! Catch the pre-game coverage tonight at 6:35. First pitch between the Hooks and ‘Riders is set for 7:05. Enjoy.

- Brian

Inside Tommy Mendonca’s Surge

When you put up seven straight games like Frisco third baseman Tommy Mendonca has, you deserve a blog post of your own. That’s what Mendonca gets now.

Over his last seven games, Mendonca is hitting an absurd .633 (19-for-30). In tonight’s 5-2 loss to Corpus Christi, Mendonca actually had his “worst” run of the week. He went 1-for-3 with a solo homer in the fourth inning. He also walked, popped to short and grounded to second.

Here are his stat lines prior to tonight’s effort:

- Friday v. San Antonio: 3-for-4, RBI, R
– Saturday v. San Antonio: 2-for-5, HR, 4 RBIs
– Sunday at Midland: 3-for-4, R
– Monday at Midland: 4-for-6, 4 RBIs, 3 R
– Tuesday at Midland: 3-for-4, RBI, R
– Wednesday at Midland: 3-for-4, 3 RBIs, 2 R

When you add it up, Mendonca has driven in 14 runs and scored 10 times in the last seven days. He not only has a seven-game hitting streak, but he has a seven-game extra base hit streak (5 doubles, 1 triple and 2 homers).

One week ago, Mendonca’s average sat at .286. It is now .329, which paces all RoughRiders. For the month of June, he is hitting .429 with 19 RBIs, which is already more than his totals for April and May.

In other words, he’s pretty good at baseball.

- Brian

Frisco “Bus” ‘Riders

The RoughRiders are about as centrally located as it comes in the Texas League.  However, that doesn’t mean that the bus rides are always short.  Frisco radio broadcaster Aaron Goldsmith lets you ride shotgun on the RoughRiders’ journey Wednesday night from Midland to Corpus Christi.  Before you begin reading, a quick bathroom break is of course recommended. 

9:50 p.m. Thanks to a 6:30 p.m. first pitch, I’m off the air now and can quickly wrap up my

Post-game clubhouse dinner never looked so good.

Post-game clubhouse dinner never looked so good.

post-game work and pack my radio gear to load on the bus.

10:14 p.m. Before every bus ride you have to fuel up – and not just with gas.  After you’ve played for three hours – or in my case talked for three hours – food is a must.  Here’s what was put out for us in the clubhouse in Midland.  I get some BBQ chicken thighs, mac and cheese, and a few small bags of trail mix to take on the bus.  All the players pay “dues” to the “clubbie” who provides the pre- and post-game spread.  Since I don’t pay daily dues, I gave the clubbie $7 for my share of food (I’m that wealthy).

10:33 p.m. After quickly chowing down, it’s time to load up.  Most of the players are already on the bus and, as you can see below, cards is a favorite way to pass the time.  Hitting Coach Brant “Brownie” Brown has already put season one of Las Vegas into the DVD player on the bus for some entertainment.  Brownie is a major movie buff (his favorite is the Matrix)He always brings a good selection of movies each trip.

L to R: Tommy Mendonca's arm, Richard Bleier, Jake Brigham, Mike Bianucci.

L to R: Tommy Mendonca's arm, Richard Bleier, Jake Brigham, Mike Bianucci.

10:40 p.m. Carlos, the best bus driver in the Texas League – and it’s not even close – puts the gearshift in drive and we pull away from the clubhouse and hit the road for Corpus Christi.  Steve Buechele, the ‘Riders manager, is on his laptop, as is Pitching Coach Jeff Andrews.  They’re both working on their post-game player reports that they usually do from the clubhouse.  On get-away-days, however, they’re forced to type from the bus.

11:07 p.m. I’m surprised it took this long, but I finally break out my noise canceling headphones.  A pricy investment, but worth every penny.  Between the movie, the air conditioning, and the noise from the road, the bus is very loud – even if no one is talking.  The one thing giving the noise a run for its money is the temperature.  The bus tends to get incredibly cold.  Even though it was 99 degrees outside when we boarded, I have a pair of grey sweat pants pulled up over my kaki shorts.  (I sense a wedgie mounting an attack within the next few hours).

11:40 p.m. Love my iPhone.  With the MLB At Bat app, I’m listening to the final innings of the Mariners vs. Angles game (the only game in progress at this hour).  I’m not a fan of either team, but after calling four games solo in Midland, it’s nice to hear a voice other than my own (I’m sure others would agree).

1:13 a.m. My first “wakeup” of the trip.  Something you get used to.  On an eight hour trip I’ll probably fall in and out of consciousness at least a half dozen times.  This time it’s for something somewhat rare.  Carlos has pulled the bus over at a rest stop and Boo and Brownie scamper off quickly to use the restroom.  The M’s/Halos game is long over.  No idea who won.  I wonder if people fall asleep like that when I’m broadcasting?  A question I fear asking.  I switch quickly to iTunes and am out again in a few minutes.

2:13 a.m.  Strangely, exactly an hour later I’m up for no particular reason and am thrilled to see that all the cabin lights along with season one of Las Vegas has been turned off.  Heaven.  Sometimes the lights and movie du jour stay on until as late as 4 a.m. making it harder to sleep.  I glance in front of me and see the silhouette of our Strength and Conditioning Coach, Eric McMahon.  He’s wearing a ballcap, sunglasses, and headphones.  Why the sunglasses when it’s dark?  A veteran move.  Especially for us guys who sit near the front of the bus, it helps to darken oncoming headlights, making it easier fall asleep.  Unfortunately I’m officially awake.  With five hours to go, it’s trail mix time.

3:51 a.m. Driving through downtown San Antonio.  Too bad we’re playing the Hooks.

By the time I get off the bus, there's not much left.

By the time I get off the bus, there's not much left.

4:19 a.m. Finally about to fall back asleep when … wedgie.

5:58 a.m. Our Athletic Trainer Carlos Olivas lovingly taps my leg which is stretched across the isle.  This, in the world of minor league bus rides, is a wakeup call.  We’re here.  He darts off the bus because someone has to be in charge of everyone’s room keys.  He’s off to the front desk to check everyone in while I try to wake up.

6:02 a.m. As the players rush pass me to get off the bus I pack up my bag and gather my stuff.  I walk off the bus to find that along with the RoughRiders, the humidity made the trip to Corpus as well.

6:07 a.m. I’m in my room on the 16th floor.  Radio guys always get the Penthouse.  Tonight is game one against the Hooks.  Time to get some sleep.  The bus leaves the hotel for the ballpark this afternoon 4:30.

A view from the Penthouse: Sunrise over the Gulf

A view from the Penthouse: Sunrise over the Gulf

Realignment Upon Us?

Baseball will get the sports stage largely to itself for a few months once the Canucks and Bruins finish up the Stanley Cup Finals tonight. Right now, the popular story is the possibility of realignment in Major League Baseball. There is talk about division-less American and National Leagues with Houston moving to the A.L. Even the popular site Deadspin facetiously talked about a second professional sports team going from Seattle to Oklahoma City.

This could also bring about an expanded postseason. I’m a fan of the current eight-team format because making the playoffs in this structure is truly special; however, more postseason chances would open up the doors for some smaller markets.

But think about it—last year, all eight teams had a special storyline going into the postseason: Texas (aiming for first playoff series win), New York (defending ’09 title), Tampa Bay (second ever playoff appearance), Minnesota (trying to finally beat the Yankees in the playoffs), Atlanta (last go-around for skipper Bobby Cox), Philadelphia (striving for third straight World Series appearance), Cincinnati (first playoff appearance since 1995), and San Francisco (looking for first title since 1954).

For now, I hope baseball stays the same. An eight-team playoff is fine with me.

Onto today’s Facts, with plenty of numbers on the RoughRiders’ recent offensive surge.

FRISCO FACTS:

  • Before we get into the offense, Brandon Webb tossed three scoreless innings for the RoughRiders in a rehab start yesterday. Here is the write-up from yesterday on the blog detailing a very positive showing from the former Cy Young Award winner.
  • The RoughRiders have scored 23 runs in the last two games, which is the second-highest number in consecutive days for the club this season. In those two games, Frisco has banged out 36 hits, including a season-high 20 Monday night in the 13-6 win.
  • As a club, the ‘Riders are hitting .290 in the month of June. In those 13 games, the RoughRiders are averaging 6.7 runs per game. The big performer during the month has been Tommy Mendonca, who is hitting .411 (23-for-56). In this series at Midland, Mendonca is 10-for-14 with five RBIs and five runs scored.
  • Against Midland, Frisco is 9-2, which is the best showing against a certain squad in 2011. The team’s batting average is .310, and eight “regulars” boast individual averages at .286 or better.
  • The RoughRiders have scored more runs in the last two games (23) than they have in an entire series against Midland since June 21-24, 2010. That period spans seven different series, including last year’s postseason set between the ‘Riders and ‘Hounds.
  • San Antonio’s season has been incredible. Today, the Missions can earn their fifth sweep of the season with a win at home over reeling Corpus Christi. Also, a win would push the Missions above the .700 mark in winning percentage, a plateau that is only surpassed by the San Jose Giants (high-A, San Francisco) in the California League and the Daytona Cubs (high-A, Chicago Cubs) in the Florida State League. San Jose enters play today with a minor league-high 47-17 mark (.734).
  • Time is running out for you to get your chance to watch world-class boxing at Dr Pepper Ballpark. Fight Night is this Friday, and you can get more information here.

Pre-game coverage begins at 6 p.m., with the ‘Riders hoping to notch another series win. Tune in along the RoughRiders Baseball Network. Enjoy!

- Brian

Brandon Webb’s Rehab Start

Right-hander Brandon Webb tossed three scoreless innings in a rehab start Tuesday night for the RoughRiders against the Midland RockHounds at Citibank Ballpark.

Webb set down the first seven he faced before giving up a single and a walk. He left those two runners on second and third.

In the outing, Webb induced six ground-ball outs, two fly-ball outs and a strikeout. He threw 42 pitches, and 27 of them were strikes. He left the game with the ‘Riders leading 6-0.

It was the second rehab start of the season for Webb, who suffered a loss May 30 against Tulsa. In that outing, Webb allowed five runs on eight hits in three and a third innings of work. He struck out two, walked two, and hit a batter.

Before these two outings, the former National League Cy Young Award winner had not made a competitive start since an Opening Day effort for Arizona in 2009.

Hello from Midland

After the ‘Riders and ‘Hounds played about as closely as two teams could in the first two series this season, the first couple of games in Midland have allowed fans to slouch back in their seats for the first time.  Frisco fell in game one 9-2, and then rocked the ‘Hounds 13-6 last night, clubbing a season-high 20 hits along the way.  No doubt the highlight was Mike Bianucci’s grand slam quickly followed by Jose Ruiz’s opposite field home run.

Elbow-to-elbow with others taking in the view.This is the second time the RoughRiders have made the trek to Midland this season.  And as you can tell by these pictures I took after elbowing some tourists out of the way for a better view, Midland is a lush setting with great nightlife.  Maybe that’s stretching the truth a bit, but in all seriousness, the RockHounds treat us well and run a good ship.  After hosting the Texas League All-Star game last year, the RockHounds celebrate the 40th year of the franchise this season.

In the  picture above you can see the long, horizontal building to the left.  That’s the ballpark.  In the picture below you can see the back of the team hotel.  One of the great things about the ballpark here is that it’s in walking distance of the hotel (one of the best in the league).  The only other park that can say the same thing is in Springfield.

Seems like when I take over the blog I tend to bring up the local eateries (you remember my Panera Bread kick in Tulsa).  Well, here in Midland the options are slim.  There are two restaurants in walking distance and one is a Japanese place.  I’m a big lover of Asian cuisine, but the idea of Japanese food in Midland pushes my comfort zone.  Maybe in the second half of the season I’ll give it a try (and of course a review would follow).

 

That leaves us with Clear Springs Cafe.  All the players really like it and I understand why.  They serve homemade classics and claim to have the best fried catfish around (although judging my the pictures above I’m not sure how much competition they have).  It’s a good spot where I eat lunch literally everyday we’re in town.  Below is a picture I took today in-between bites.

Tonight is game three from Citibank Ballpark at 6:30.  Brandon Webb makes his second rehab start for the ‘Riders since his lost 2009 season.  I interviewed him yesterday and that conversation will play today when Brian launches the pre-game show at 6:00 on the RoughRiders Baseball Network.

Talk to you then,

- AG

CLE to DFW

It was fitting. After a weekend back home for my college graduation, I boarded a flight from Cleveland’s airport to DFW. As a Cavaliers fan now living near Dallas, I decided to pony up some dough for a Mavs shirt (I’m pictured on the right with Reid Copeland, media relations assistant and Mavericks fanatic). I wore it yesterday, and I couldn’t have been happier about it.

The Mavericks have an unbalanced schedule next year. They will play 42 home games and 40 road games. Dirk and the Mavs WILL get a standing ovation at Quicken Loans Arena next year when the Mavs are in Ohio.

All of this being said, I hope the Mavs start to get more attention nationally. However, it seems that the “story” is the Heat losing. Regardless, this is the Mavericks’ time, and all of those guys deserve it.

Now that I’m back, here is an overdue edition of the Facts.

FRISCO FACTS:

  • The all-star rosters for this year’s game in San Antonio will be announced today around 2 p.m. The game takes place June 29 from the Wolff.
  • Speaking of San Antonio, the Missions’ victory paired with the RoughRiders’ loss yesterday clinched the first-half South Division title. The Missions certainly deserve it after starting the 2011 season at 42-19. What this means is that San Antonio clinched a playoff berth and games 1 and 2 of the first-round series at home.
  • So, what is at stake for the RoughRiders in the final nine games of the first half? It is very simple—second place. With the way San Antonio is playing, it is not out of the question to believe that the Missions could win the second-half title, too. If that is the case, then the club with the second best overall record in the South would get the chance to play San Antonio in round 1.
  • As it stands right now, the RoughRiders have an eight-game lead on Midland and a ten-game lead on Corpus Christi. That’s a great cushion to have if the Missions continue to roll.
  • If you could pick which half to win, the choice would be the second half because that guarantees games 3-5 at home. If, however, San Antonio wins both halves (like Northwest Arkansas did last year in the North), the team would gets games 1, 2 and 5 at home. That’s the lone perk left, playoff-wise, for the Missions to play for.
  • Since the RoughRiders entered the league in 2003, the team that had the best record in the Texas League after the first half of the season has won the overall championship three times—San Antonio in ’03, Corpus Christi in ’06 and Northwest Arkansas in ’10.
  • Before yesterday’s 9-2 loss to the RockHounds, Frisco had a 7-1 mark against Midland. However, the run differential was only ten in favor of the ‘Riders. Now, it sits at three.

Today’s game has a unique start time of 6:30. Join us on the RBN at 6. Enjoy!

- Brian

Terrelle Pryor to the Roughriders?

The Roughriders acquired the draft rights to Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor yesterday. That’s the Saskatchewan Roughriders of the Canadian Football League, not to be confused with the Frisco RoughRiders. Clearly, Saskatchewan hasn’t gotten the memo that capitalizing the second “R” just feels right.

However, those Roughriders will be Pryor-less, as reported by AP today. That means, I guess, that he’s available. I don’t know how good of a baseball player is, but he is great at getting tattooed. If he’s a pitcher, that’s not a good omen.

San Antonio had not tattooed the ‘Riders until yesterday. Let’s delve into the loss in today’s Facts.

FRISCO FACTS:

  • If you learned one thing from yesterday’s game, it is probably this—San Antonio is loaded offensively. Five runs came on two opposite-field home runs from Vince Belnome, who is not one of the “big bashers” on the club. Then, Anthony Contreras, the Missions’ eight-hole hitter, crushed a grand slam in the eighth inning. If you don’t limit Belnome and consistently retire Contreras, you will have a tough time outscoring San Antonio. Frisco found that out yesterday.
  • That Contreras bomb was the Missions’ seventh grand slam of the season. As a team, San Antonio is hitting .329 (28-for-85) with 84 RBIs in bases loaded situations this season. Two teams—Tulsa (.378) and Midland (.344)—are hitting better than San Antonio in those situations; however, the Drillers and RockHounds combine for only 109 at bats and 92 RBIs. The frequency is the alarming thing, as the Missions average 1.5 at-bats with the bases loaded per game.
  • Unfortunately, the RoughRiders’ “elimination number” fell to 7 with 13 games left. It is not insurmountable, but it will be a challenge. Still, Frisco is in great shape if the Missions keep playing well all season because of the struggles of Midland and Corpus Christi. The ‘Riders are nine and 11 games ahead of the RockHounds and Hooks, respectively.
  • The ‘Riders (24-11) have the second-best record in Double-A since May 1, yet they haven’t gained any ground in the division. That’s because the Missions have the exact same record over that span.
  • We’ve mentioned this on the broadcast a few times. If Frisco were in the North, the club would not only be in first place, but it would have a three-game lead on Arkansas, the current squad in first. Right now, the North’s best and worst are separated by only a game and a half.
  • The RoughRiders will turn to Carlos Pimentel to try to even up this series. After a rough April, Pimentel has really settled down. Since the beginning of May, Pimentel is 2-0 with a 3.99 earned run average. Against the Missions in three starts, Pimentel boasts a 2.16 ERA.
  • Props to the RoughRiders Director of Community Development Mike Davidow for being quoted in the newest issue of ESPN the Magazine. He was asked about the creation of uniforms for major league players when on a rehab assignment. Clearly, the Worldwide Leader has ALL the big time contacts.
  • Again, if you missed this yesterday, check out an awesome story from the Draft. The Rangers selected a player who was partially paralyzed.
  • Finally, I am off this weekend, but you should still expect some blogging over the weekend. I’ll be back Monday.

The ‘Riders and Missions get going at 7:05 p.m. First pitch on the RBN begins at 6:35. Enjoy!

- Brian

The Best Names in the Draft

Teams hope they find the best players in the MLB Draft, but we won’t know who were the “right” choices for years.

But we can look at some awesome names. Here is my top 10, in order of selection:

- Jeremy Gabryszwski (Round 2, Pick 78, Toronto)
– Kevin Quackenbush (Round 8, Pick 263, San Diego)
– Jo-El Bennett Lowe (Round 11, Pick 332, Pittsburgh)
– Ben Klafczynski (Round 20, Pick 609, Chicago Cubs)
– Chance Sossamon (Round 21, Pick 654, Texas)
– Michael Miedzianowski (Round 22, Pick 665, Baltimore)
– Jesse Wierzbicki (Round 24, Pick 730, Houston)
– Steven Snodgrass (Round 27, Pick 837, San Francisco)
– Yhoxian Medina (Round 38, Pick 1148, Cleveland)
– Chadwick Kaalekahi (Round 46, Pick 1400, St. Louis)

I don’t know if these guys will be good baseball players, but they will give broadcasters and uniform designers nightmares.

Anyways, on to today’s Facts in advance of a HUGE four-game series.

FRISCO FACTS:

  • With 14 games left in the first half of the season, the RoughRiders trail their opponent over the next four days by six games in the Texas League South. In baseball, anything can happen; however, considering that a split would mean that San Antonio’s magic number would fall to five, the ‘Riders really need to win the series, if not sweep it.
  • The Missions have the best batting average (.290) by a long shot in the league, but San Antonio has struggled against Frisco. The Missions have hit only .243 and averaged 4.75 runs per game against the ‘Riders.
  • Not only that, but the RoughRiders have minimized the damage from some of San Antonio’s big hitters. James Darnell (.227, 2 HRs, 7 RBIs), Cody Decker (.212, 2, 7) and Jaff Decker (.189, 1, 5) have been limited to say the least. The big threat has been Kyle Blanks (.286, 1, 13), who had that walk-off grand slam against the ‘Riders in San Antonio late last month.
  • San Antonio certainly has dominated the TL this year, but the ‘Riders have held their own. The Missions have outscored Frisco by less than one run per game, and the RoughRiders own the most wins (5) and the second best winning percentage (.417) against San Antonio.
  • But, as talked about yesterday, the RoughRiders are playing some of their best ball of the season. Winning six in a row and 24 of 34 is pretty impressive, but it still will take a very strong finish to get another first half title.
  • Not to jinx anything, but the RoughRiders have not had a roster move since Thursday. It is the second longest such streak this season, with the first coming right at the beginning of the year. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it seems to be a fitting cliché. So, I’ll use it.
  • Thanks to our great fans for helping us reach 4,000 Facebook “likes.” You can join the fun here.
  • Finally, DIRK FEVER.

The RoughRiders and Missions kick off this huge series tonight at 7:05. Join us along the RoughRiders Baseball Network at 6:35. Enjoy!

- Brian

Another Buechele In The Minors

With the 447th pick in the MLB Draft, the San Francisco Giants selected Garrett Buechele, the son of Frisco manager Steve Buechele. Garrett played third base for the Oklahoma Sooners.

He had been selected last year in the 18th round by the Rangers, but he did not sign. Another year in college earned Garrett a four-round increase in his stock.

A couple of other cool connections as the Draft continues today—Matt Skole, the brother of Texas’ first-round pick last year (Jake Skole), was the fifth-round pick (157th overall) by Washington.

Kansas City’s 15th-round pick (456th overall), Richard Espy, is the son of Tulsa manager Duane Espy.

Oh, and about a thousand players have been drafted out of the state of Texas. Sources tell me that number will continue to rise.

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