August 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

RoughRiders vs. Big Leaguers

The Texas League is two steps away from the Major Leagues, but many Texas Leaguers have made the jump this season. The RoughRiders have squared off with 16 players who have also been in “The Show.” Stephen Harmon is here to tell you about all 16.

Corpus Christi (Astros):

Jose Altuve: After starting the year in High-A, Altuve rapidly advanced through the Astros’ system, bypassing AAA before reaching the bigs. The 5’7″ second baseman has hit well at every minor league level and is now batting second in Houston’s line-up. On August 1, Altuve hit a walk-off fielder’s choice to give the Astros a win over Cincinnati.

Jason Bourgeois:  The former Rangers second round draft pick and Frisco RoughRider is having his best offensive season, batting .312 with Houston. The ‘Riders saw Bourgeois in August while he was rehabbing with Corpus Christi.

Jeff Keppinger: Another rehabber, the former Astros second baseman appeared in four games with the Hooks and homered against the ‘Riders on May 14. A career .283 hitter over seven seasons, Keppinger was traded to the Giants on July 19.

JD Martinez: Through 15 games with Houston, Martinez already has four home runs. The slugging left fielder spent a year and a half in Corpus Christi and had a Double-A average of .338 at the time of his call up.

Jimmy Paredes: Paredes was the last of the everyday Corpus trio to be promoted in August. In his first career at bat, the Dominican Republic native hit a two-run triple to center field.

San Antonio (Padres):

James Darnell: Darnell began the year in San Antonio and played against the ‘Riders in 16 games. Before advancing to Triple-A Tucson, the third baseman earned the Texas League All-Star Game MVP. The University of South Carolina alum is batting .267 through five games with the Padres.

Nick Hundley: The four-year Padre catcher played four of his seven rehab games in Frisco. Despite batting just .174 for the Mission, Hundley went deep in his first game back with the Padres on August 12th.

Kyle Phillips: Phillips, another Padres catcher, found his way into the San Diego’s line up after hitting .316 with San Antonio. Phillips only struck out once in 76 at bats while playing with the Missions.

Blake Tekotte: The University of Miami product has been back and forth between San Diego and San Antonio since late May. We have been lucky enough to see him play in 22 games against Frisco this year. In his last visit to Dr Pepper Ballpark, Brian caught a Tekotte foul ball in the radio booth. The speedy outfielder is also Aaron’s favorite player in all of minor league baseball.

Arkansas (Angels):

Garrett Richards: The Travelers ace made his big league debut at Yankee Stadium earlier this month. In that game, the Oklahoma product lasted five innings, surrendering six runs against a potent Yankee lineup. Richards’ first career strikeout came against Derek Jeter. In three games against the ‘Riders, Richards is 1-0 with a 3.98 ERA.

Mike Trout: Trout, the number two overall prospect in baseball, is hitting .350 with three home runs in nine games against Frisco this year. The 20-year-old center fielder appeared in 14 games in July for the Angels while Peter Bourjos was on the DL. Trout may be the most exciting player in the minors, as he has 13 triples and 33 stolen bases on the season.

Northwest Arkansas (Royals):

Salvador Perez: Perez caught two of the three games while the Naturals were in Frisco, and caught all three games against the ‘Riders in Northwest Arkansas. The 21-year-old catcher singled in his first big league game on August 10th.

Manny Pina: The Venezuelan backstop appeared in three games with the Naturals in 2011 before catching for the Royals in early August. Pina joins former 2010 Naturals Aaron Crow, Mike Moustakas and Eric Hosmer on the Royals roster. By late August, Pina was back with Triple-A Omaha.

Springfield (Cardinals):

Maikel Cleto: Although Cleto has only thrown three and a third innings for St. Louis, he still makes our list. The Dominican Republic native started six games for Springfield before being promoted to Triple-A Memphis.

Eduardo Sanchez: Sanchez pitched three innings during his rehab stint with Springfield. The ‘Riders jumped all over Sanchez as he surrender three runs while pitching two and a third innings in Frisco.

Tulsa (Rockies):

Alex White: The former 2009 first round draft pick shut down the ‘Riders offense August 13. In his third rehab outing, White surrendered only two hits over four scoreless innings in Frisco. The former Tar Heel made his big league debut with Cleveland in late April before going on the disabled list with a finger injury. White was a key part of the Ubaldo Jimenez deal late last month.

Midland (Athletics):

Since the ‘Riders have not seen any 2011 big leaguers on a RockHound roster we will give Jemile Weeks an honorable mention. Weeks played in 67 games with Midland last year before making his major league debut June 7, 2011.

VIDEO: Christian Friedrich, Frisco vs. Tulsa

The RoughRiders took on the Tulsa Drillers in the final game of the three game series. Tulsa pitcher, Christian Friedrich yielded one hit over six scoreless innings. Here is a video of the 4th top prospect in the Rockies organization (Baseball America ).

- Stephen

‘Riders Fans Bombard Twitter

Over the weekend, our Twitter page reached 3,000 followers, which is an awesome accomplishment that is very worthy of a big thank you. By the way, lucky follower #3,000 is @tex198.

Still, this is an opportunity for us to reach out and acknowledge some of our Twitter followers in a few different categories. First, how about some of the ones who mention us a lot on Twitter?

@VisitFrisco: They almost always mention upcoming home stands at Dr Pepper Ballpark.

@BLAKIEJ_BAM: A visitor to Dr Pepper Ballpark and a viewer of the ‘Riders on TXA 21.

@tiffanytilyard: Pretty much the same.

@armenontheair: He was the star of this show, that’s for sure.

@andylonghorn: Tweets and pictures to us, which is a great behind-the-scenes look.

@TexasRangers_HQ: We are a consistent “Follow Friday” account from this Twitter-er.

But hey, this is a thank you to every RoughRiders follower, not just the most vocal ones. How about we go through and see some of the most unique followers. These made the cut:

@DrAwesomeberry: A guy with this Twitter handle needs more than 14 followers, that’s for sure.

@DallasCowShirts: His mission: “We steal shirts from cows for YOU!” Obviously.

@LauraHiccups: That’s not her last name, according to her account. Still, a great account name.

@DrCrankinstein: We have plenty of well-qualified doctors following the RoughRiders.

@waxo1: The best bio of our followers: “A nice guy.” And that only takes 11 characters.

@KitKat_Fanatic: They are delicious, after all.

@rottenredneck17: Fair enough.

@Beercycler: “Trying to combine running, cycling, and great beers from around the world.” Sounds like a challenge, but I wish him well.

@JCUStreaks10: He has “giggidy” in his description. That’s enough for me.

@Biggios_Helmet: Craig Biggio’s helmet was quite memorable, so why not get a Twitter account for it?

@CanadianWaffles: I’ve never had one. Sounds delicious.

@ihatesaladforks: Who doesn’t?

@octopusfan: Unfortunately, this diehard octopus fan has only come up with two tweets so far.

@abusedsquirrel: On this note, we better stop.

Thanks to everyone who is a part of our Twitter feed. We hope you enjoy all of our content. Looking forward to getting to 4,000 soon!

- Brian

GAME PHOTOS: August 14 vs. Tulsa

The ‘Riders were back in action Sunday night in the second of three games against the Tulsa Drillers. Here are some photos of the game courtesy of Alex Yocum-Beeman.

 
Frisco starter, Derek Hankins was on the mound making his second career start for the ‘Riders.


Tommy Mendonca connects for his 23rd home run of the season during the first inning.


Elio Sarmiento singles in the third inning before coming around to score on a Jonathan Greene single.

- Stephen

Top Pictures of 2011

There have been plenty of great moments this season, and those moments can be captured in photography. Our team of photographers–James Garner, Alex Yocum-Beeman and others–have done a great job of getting those photos. Here is a look at some of the best ones as the 2011 season winds down.
____________________

A few RoughRiders mob Travis Adair after his walk-off single against San Antonio June 10.

Guilder Rodriguez avoids Jonathan Greene and makes a catch earlier this year at Dr Pepper Ballpark.

Nelson Cruz rehabbed with the ‘Riders back in May.

So did Josh Hamilton.

Leonys Martin made his stateside debut with the RoughRiders earlier this season, and he was an instant hit in Frisco.

Renny Osuna, the new hits king in RoughRiders history, is all smiles, too.

Great focus here by Davis Stoneburner in the camo jersey.

Tommy Mendonca avoids the net and makes a great play in foul ground.

Jose Ruiz painfully slides home during a game with Northwest Arkansas here in Frisco.

Now, how about some fun. The Phillie Phanatic dancing with a RoughRider fan.

BirdZerk visited Dr Pepper Ballpark as well.

And who can forget when the RoughRiders’ game was snowed out earlier this season? Wait–scratch that. Instead, it’s been 100+ degrees almost every day in the second half. Hopefully this image gives you a much-needed chill.


Feel free to send us your pictures during games here at Dr Pepper Ballpark! Tweet us at twitter.com/ridersbaseball!

- Brian

Ruiz Promoted to Triple-A Round Rock

Jose Ruiz, the RoughRiders’ everyday first baseman for much of the 2011 season, has been promoted to Triple-A Round Rock, the Rangers’ organization announced today.

Jose Ruiz joins first-place Round Rock in Triple-A (Photo: James Garner).

Ruiz hit .275 with 12 home runs and 54 runs batted in during 106 games with the ‘Riders. The Texas League mid-season All-Star joined the Rangers system before this season after signing with Tampa Bay last year.

The Cuba native hit .293 in the first half before slowing down a bit in half number two, posting a .253 average. Ruiz spent most of his time batting fifth in the ‘Riders’ order.

Jared Bolden replaces Ruiz on the RoughRiders’ roster. Bolden hit .271 with six home runs and 47 RBIs for High-A Myrtle Beach. Bolden was the club’s primary first baseman and has not committed an error at the position this season.

Bolden can also play left or right field, and he hit in every spot in the order except for fifth during his 94 games with the Pelicans. More often than not, Bolden hit either second (37 games) or ninth (39 games).

With the move, the ‘Riders maintain a 23-man roster, which is one shy of the Texas League limit. Frisco still has only ten position players available.

- Brian

VIDEO & GAME PHOTOS: August 13 vs. Tulsa

The RoughRiders beat the Tulsa Drillers in the first game of a three game series at Dr Pepper Ballpark. Drillers pitcher, Alex White shut down the ‘Riders offense as he went four scoreless innings in his third rehab outing with Tulsa. Here is a video of the Rockies top pitching prospect. Before being traded to the Rockies in the Ubaldo Jimenez deal, White was the 2nd ranked prospect for the Indians according to Baseball America. (Photos courtesy of Alex Yocum-Beeman)

Frisco starter, Carlos Pimentel went three innings, surrendering only one hit while striking out four.

Catcher, Jose Felix makes the catch in foul territory during the second inning.

Davis Stoneburner singles in the fifth inning before coming around to score on a Jose Felix single. The ‘Riders went on to win 2-1.

-Stephen

Insider Blog Rewind

We continue to receive tremendous support every day with the ‘Riders Insider Blog, and it is greatly appreciated. We have posted plenty of content about the RoughRiders both on and off the field, and we wanted to take a look back at ten of our most popular posts from the last few weeks.

Becoming Martin Perez (July 15): A look at how Martin Perez became the top prospect in the Rangers’ system during his two-year stint in Frisco.

The ‘Riders Driver (July 21): Carlos Coleman is the man behind the wheel for the RoughRiders on every road trip. Learn about him and his connection to coach Mike Tomlin and the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Former RoughRiders Thriving in Arlington (July 24): More than half of the Rangers have played with the ‘Riders at some point. Find out who right here.

Press Box Junkies (July 28): A look at the four men who make sure everything that happens at Dr Pepper Ballpark actually counts.

Wieland’s No-Hitter on Twitter (July 29): Fans’ real-time reaction to Joe Wieland’s no-hitter against San Antonio.

Erlin, Wieland, Buechele react to trade (August 1): Interviews with Robbie Erlin and Joe Wieland, who were shipped to San Diego’s system for big league reliever Mike Adams. Also, a chat with skipper Steve Buechele about the deal.

RoughRiders’ All-Gridiron Team (August 3): If the RoughRiders’ roster played football instead of baseball, this is what the depth chart would look like.

24 hours of the RoughRiders (August 8): A look at our lives before, during and after a home game.

Behind the scenes: Inside the clubhouse (August 9): A journey (with pictures) throughout the “off-limits” areas of Dr Pepper Ballpark.

Hanging with the RoughRiders’ Crew (August 12): An inside look at what it takes to become a member of the most exciting entertainment group in the Texas League.

If you have any ideas for stories, please feel free to leave a comment. We are always looking for more ideas!

Thanks for following along, everyone!

- Brian

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 56 other followers