August 17th, 2011

Summa Cum Laude to Wall Street to Frisco

The story of Matt Leeds is an interesting one, and his journey has taken him to the RoughRiders’ roster. The Rangers’ 31st-round pick in this year’s MLB Draft, Leeds has joined the RoughRiders’ active roster.

The College of Charleston product was in Surprise, Ariz., with the Rangers’ rookie league club. Leeds, who primarily played at first base in Surprise, was hitting .264 with three home runs and 23 RBIs in 41 games in the AZL.

According to this in-depth feature in Beach Carolina Magazine, Leeds graduated from the College of Charleston summa cum laude with a 3.93 grade point average. Leeds, an accounting major, worked on Wall Street during an internship with Royal Bank of Canada while in college.

Leeds joins a RoughRiders’ roster that is in need of some depth offensively. The ‘Riders had only ten players on its active roster before Leeds’ promotion to Double-A, and Mike Bianucci is battling an eye infection. Bianucci is with the team in Northwest Arkansas, but he may have to miss a few more games.

Frisco starter Ben Snyder had to replace an ejected Engel Beltre Monday night because the ‘Riders did not have another position player available. Snyder went 1-for-2 and played in right field.

Jared Bolden, the newest RoughRider outside of Leeds, notched his first Double-A hit in that game, a walk-off single in Frisco’s 3-2, 12-inning victory.

The ‘Riders open up a three-game series with the Naturals tonight at 7:05.

Bolden’s Memorable Hit

Monday night was a strange, strange game. The RoughRiders were playing with nine position players because of Mike Bianucci’s eye infection that kept him out of the game. Following Engel Beltre’s ejection, pitcher Ben Snyder entered the game. All he did was single and break up a double play in the ninth to help the ‘Riders plate the tying run.

Despite all of this, the night belonged to Jared Bolden. Bolden made some dazzling plays at first base, but the newest RoughRider came up with the walk-off hit. Not only did his 12th-inning single clinch a series sweep and a 6-4 home stand, but it was also his first career Double-A hit.

Bolden made sure this first hit count, like Boston’s Daniel Nava did when he hit a grand slam on his first pitch in the big leagues or Cleveland’s Jason Kipnis did when he hit a walk-off single for his first hit in the majors.

No matter what, the first hit at any level is a special one. Let’s take a look back at the other RoughRiders’ first Double-A hit.

Engel Beltre: Beltre earned a very brief Double-A promotion at the end of the 2009 season, and the speedy outfielder recorded his first hit in Frisco September 2, 2009. It was a double in what was a RoughRiders’ 1-0, 11-inning win over Corpus Christi.

Mike Bianucci: Bianucci’s first at bat in Double-A was quite a powerful one. The slugger hit a two-run home run off Scott Schneider in the first inning of the season opener this year. This homer helped Frisco cruise past Springfield 6-2 and foreshadowed Bianucci’s place near the top of the home run standings throughout the season.

Jose Felix: Known for his defensive prowess, Felix made sure he provided a little offense in his first Double-A game. Felix singled in the bottom of the eighth for his first hit July 24, 2010, in the ‘Riders’ 6-1 win over Corpus Christi.

Jonathan Greene: Greene is having a career year at the Double-A level in 2011, his third season with the RoughRiders. Back in 2009, Greene had a huge day in his first game with the RoughRiders August 19, 2009. Greene’s first hit was a three-run home run in the fourth inning of Frisco’s 7-6 victory over Tulsa. He finished 2-for-3 with a homer and four RBIs.

Mitch Hilligoss: Hilligoss hit .304 during the 2010 season at the Double-A level, and he posted his first hit in the first at bat of his second game. It was a second-inning single that was a part of a 3-for-4 day in Frisco’s 10-9 loss against San Antonio June 10, 2010.

Tommy Mendonca: Mendonca has been one of the RoughRiders’ best performers all season long, and his first hit in Double-A came in the opener this season. In his fourth at bat April 7, Mendonca singled to right field. This hit began a season that has led to a Texas League Player of the Month honor and a spot among TL leaders in many offensive categories.

Renny Osuna: Osuna is the all-time leader in hits for a RoughRider, and that first hit came in his first ever at-bat with the RoughRiders May 29, 2009, at Tulsa. The infielder passed Steve Murphy’s record one week ago at Dr Pepper Ballpark against Northwest Arkansas with a first-inning single.

Elio Sarmiento: Sarmiento, like Greene, is having a career season here in the Texas League this season, and both men notched their first hit in the same game. It was a double in the fourth inning August 19, 2009, which was Sarmiento’s first game in Double-A.

Davis Stoneburner: Stoneburner played in ten games with Frisco last season, and he went 2-for-3 in his debut August 5, 2010. Stoneburner’s first hit was a second-inning single in the ‘Riders’ 7-3 victory over Midland.

And how about a bonus before we go. We mentioned Snyder’s appearance in Frisco’s win Monday night. Well, Snyder is a career .263 batter in 19 at bats in the minor leagues. His first hit came as a member of the Double-A Connecticut Defenders August 25, 2008. On that day, Snyder went 2-for-3.

- Brian

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