August 2011

Talking About Playoffs?!?!

Yes, we’re talking about playoffs today on the ‘Riders Insider Blog. If the playoffs were to end today, the RoughRiders would be in the postseason for the fifth time in the franchise’s nine-year history.

However, it may be strange to read this, but fans in Frisco should be rooting for San Antonio when they aren’t cheering for the ‘Riders. The Texas League operates with two halves, and San Antonio dominated the field to win the first half title and one of the two playoff berths in the South Division.

The second half division champion also earns a postseason spot out of the South. But what happens if the first half champion wins the second half, too?

The team with the second-best record overall in the division would get that second spot. Right now, the RoughRiders (64-53) lead Midland (54-63) by ten games in that category. This fact, along with San Antonio’s spot at the top of the South, means the ‘Riders would get a chance against the Missions in the playoffs if things remain the same.

However, San Antonio doesn’t have a stranglehold on the top spot here in the second half. Those pesky RockHounds from Midland are peaking right now. The RockHounds own the best record in the Texas League here in August (10-1), and their doubleheader sweep of Tulsa yesterday pushed them within three games of San Antonio for first place.

There is a very good chance that the ‘Riders will not only finish with the second best record in the South, but also with the second best mark in the TL. However, they will need to hope the RockHounds do not steal the second half title and, thus, the ‘Riders’ postseason berth.

The RoughRiders and RockHounds play six more times this season, and all of those games come during the final ten games of the regular season. In other words, the push for the playoffs could come down to early September. We hope you are ready for a fun run.

- Brian

VIDEO: Jake Odorizzi, Frisco vs. Northwest Arkansas, August 12

The RoughRiders took on the Northwest Arkansas Naturals in the final game of the three game series. Natural’s pitcher, Jake Odorizzi silenced ‘Riders hitters as he went 6.1 scoreless innings. Here is a video of the Royals top pitching prospect (Odorizzi ranked 23 on the Baseball America Midseason Top 50 Prospect List).

-Stephen

Odor Advances; Hamburger, Profar Ousted

The second round of the Minors Moniker Madness was not kind to the Rangers’ farm system. Former RoughRider Mark Hamburger, who made it to the semifinals last season, lost to Fort Myers’ Shooter Hunt in a 4-5 match-up.

Hickory’s Jurickson Profar, a two-seed entering the tournament, lost to seven-seed Callix Crabbe from New Hampshire.

The only Ranger farmhand to advance to the Madness’ Sweet 16 was Spokane’s Rougned Odor. The top seed in the “Farmer Works Bracket,” Odor bested Carolina’s Didi Gregorius to advance. Odor will square off with Hunt in a star-studded Sweet 16.

The Cinderella story belongs to 11-seed Zelous Wheeler. The Huntsville Star will take on seven-seeded Tuffy Gosewisch in the next round. All four one seeds have made it through the first two rounds.

To vote on the Minors Moniker Madness, check out this link.

Hanging with the RoughRiders’ Crew

The Director of Game Entertainment, Gabe Wilhelm, does a fantastic job orchestrating and delivering entertainment for fans on a nightly basis. His “Crew” is at the forefront of every spectacle and performance at Dr Pepper Ballpark in order to make games entertaining. So how does one become a part of the Crew? Reid Copeland finds out.

Who is in the Crew?

This year's RoughRiders Crew (Photo: Alex Yocum-Beeman)

The 16-man roster consists of high school and college students 16-years-of-age and older.  Each member has a unique style and talent they showcase in front of as many as 11,000 screaming fans.

The position of a Crew member requires that you wear many hats. “For instance, when you are at the front gate, you are a greeter exercising a customer service side. When you interact with the fans, you are a teacher.  When the Cupid Shuffle is performed, you are a performer.  During the game, you are a cheerleader, so there are many aspects to this job.”

Five-year veteran Becca McCoy, who was Gabe’s first hire to the Crew and is a hospitality major in college, is the longest tenured member and gushes with excitement about her job.

“It’s just not your typical summer job,” Becca said. “It’s not retail. You aren’t stuck folding clothes or anything. You are outside having fun, meeting new people, sweating, goofing around, and that’s what keeps me coming back.”

Last weekend, the Crew enjoyed a couple hours of sun and relaxation before a home game at the ‘Riders Pool Zone.  Gabe and the Crew exchanged funny stories of mess-ups and crazy fans, while some shared personal revelations of the job that Gabe really takes to heart.

“It helps me gauge my performance as a boss to these guys,” Gabe said.  “I get to see and hear how I can improve season to season and how they feel about their job as a part of this group.”

What does it take to be a member of the Game Crew?

“First of all, you need to have a great attitude and willingness to have fun,” Gabe said.  “Humility is a must in order to succeed as an entertainer at the ballpark.  Those who are teachable, have good verbal skills, and communicate well will, without a doubt, succeed.”

Gabe was adamant that Crew members didn’t have to have special talents to make the squad. “It helps to have a special talent, but it’s not necessary,” Gabe said. “Having a little bit of rhythm helps to learn the dances for each night, but most of all it’s how they interact with others and how well do they communicate with people.”

What specifically do you look for in candidates and what is required of each member?

“Instead of a look or type, really I hone in on context clues, something about someone that makes an impression,” Gabe said. “This past year for auditions we had 40 people, the most of any season since I’ve been here.  It was about who stands out.”

Is there an age limit? Any experience needed?

This year’s Crew ranges from 16-28 years of age with the majority being high school seniors and college students. No experience is necessary. Simply put, most Crew members are young men and women looking to have a great time making money in a fun setting.

What, if any, prep is needed prior to each game?

Memorization and pre-game rehearsals will help all Crew members. Gabe hands out skit information and dance choreography information before each season for members to study.

“I like to rehearse the night’s performances prior to first pitch so everyone is on the same page since not everyone performs each dance nightly, or even weekly,” Gabe said.

For those interested in applying, how do they get more information?

Those interested in the Crew must stay up-to-date with the RoughRiders’ official website at ridersbaseball.com. For more information, you can email Gabe at gwilhelm@ridersbaseball.com. Auditions vary in time and place.

VIDEO & GAME PHOTOS: August 11 vs. Northwest Arkansas

The RoughRiders were in action again tonight at Dr Pepper Ballpark. Here is a video of Neil Ramirez warming in the bullpen, and photos from the game courtesy of Alex Yocum-Beeman.

Here is a look at Neil Ramirez warming up before the game.


Neil Ramirez went three scoreless innings while collecting five strike outs in his second start for Frisco.


Renny Osuna gets the out at second base.


Mike Bianucci connects for a double during the first inning.

-Stephen

Alumni Report

The RoughRiders have made 82 different transactions this season, and many players have come and gone. Let’s update you on a few of the guys who are no longer with the RoughRiders and, in some cases, no longer even in the Rangers’ system.

Miguel De Los Santos: A member of the 40-man roster, De Los Santos is the reigning Carolina League Pitcher of the Week after tossing seven no-hit innings for Myrtle Beach against Potomac Saturday. The P-Nationals broke up the no-no bid in the ninth inning after De Los Santos left. The southpaw is 3-3 with a 2.95 earned run average in eight High-A appearances this season with the Pelicans.

Robbie Erlin: After the Rangers sent him to the San Diego farm system in the Mike Adams deal, Erlin joined up with the best team in minor league baseball–the San Antonio Missions. So far, Erlin has made two starts and he has thrived. Erlin has surrendered only one run on seven hits in 12 innings of work. However, the southpaw is without a decision with San Antonio. Overall this season, Erlin is 8-4 with a 3.11 ERA.

Tommy Hunter: The Rangers sent Hunter and former RoughRider Chris Davis for reliever Koji Uehara. So far with the Orioles, Hunter is 0-1 with a 6.94 ERA in three appearances (two starts). In 11 and two-thirds innings, Hunter has allowed nine runs on 17 hits.

Leonys Martin: In his 58 minor league games since signing as an amateur free agent with the Rangers in early May, Martin is hitting .306. However, the outfielder has a .269 batting average with Triple-A Round Rock. In his 25 games with the Express, Martin has driven in 13 runs and stolen four bases. In a strange split, Martin is batting .394 against fellow lefties but only .213 against righties in Triple-A.

Martin Perez: The Rangers’ top prospect is 3-2 with a 5.28 ERA in six starts with Triple-A Round Rock. Perez has had two great outings in a row, including last night’s no decision against Tacoma (5.2 IP, 2 ER, 4 H, 2 K). Opponents at Triple-A are hitting a pretty healthy .341 against Perez in his first six efforts for Round Rock.

Guilder Rodriguez: In Rodriguez’s second go-around at the Triple-A level, the infielder is batting .278 with nine RBIs in 22 games with the Express. For the most part, Rodriguez has batted ninth and played at shortstop. However, he is getting some time at second base with Nick Green now on the Round Rock roster.

Tanner Scheppers: Scheppers joined Triple-A Round Rock Saturday after a couple of months with the RoughRiders. The dynamic reliever has tossed five innings with the Express, and he has allowed nine hits but only one run. Last night against Tacoma, Scheppers tossed three shutout innings during extra frames.

Joe Wieland: Wieland accompanied Erlin to San Antonio in the deadline deal with the Padres, but not before the righty posted the fourth no-hitter in Frisco history. With the Missions, Wieland has made one start, during which he went six innings and gave up a run on three hits. Wieland will start for the Missions tonight at Springfield.

- Brian

VIDEO & GAME PHOTOS: August 10 vs. Northwest Arkansas

The RoughRiders were in action against the Northwest Arkansas Naturals tonight. Here is a video of Robbie Ross warming in the bullpen, and photos from the game courtesy of Alex Yocum-Beeman.

Here is a look at Robbie Ross warming up before tonight’s game vs. Northwest Arkansas.

Renny Osuna connects on his record breaking 320th career hit in Frisco.

Starter, Robbie Ross deals in his Dr Pepper Ballpark debut.

Renny Osuna slides safely into second base.

-Stephen

Osuna Becomes All-Time Hits Leader

Renny Osuna became the all-time hits leader in RoughRiders history Wednesday night at Dr Pepper Ballpark when he singled up the middle in the first inning against Northwest Arkansas’ Jeremy Jeffress.

Renny Osuna is the new hit king in RoughRiders history (Photo: James Garner).

Osuna now has 320 hits, which is one better than Steve Murphy. The everyday shortstop has played in 288 games with the RoughRiders over the last three seasons, which is 43 fewer than Murphy appeared in during his time in Frisco.

Entering play tonight, Osuna was second in the Texas League with 125 hits and ninth in batting average at .299. He has a career-high eight home runs to go along with 49 RBIs.

Hit number one in Osuna’s Double-A career came in his first ever at-bat with the RoughRiders May 29, 2009, at Tulsa.

When Osuna broke the record, the ‘Riders and Naturals were scoreless in the opener of their three-game series.

Osuna’s Second Chance at History

Renny Osuna will once again get a chance to break the RoughRiders’ all-time hits record when the RoughRiders kick off this three-game series with the league’s defending champions–the Northwest Arkansas Naturals.

Osuna went 0-for-4 Monday after posting two hits Sunday, which gave him 319 for his RoughRiders career. Frisco’s everyday shortstop is currently tied with Steve Murphy for the record.

In five games against the Naturals this season, Osuna is hitting .364 (8-for-22) with two home runs and seven RBIs.

As per usual, Osuna is leading off and playing at short for the ‘Riders tonight.

Osuna has faced Northwest Arkansas pitcher Jeremy Jeffress once in his minor league career, and it came back on August 8, 2006, when both players were in the Arizona League. Osuna grounded out to short against Jeffress, who was a Brewers farmhand at the time.

This season, Jeffress is 1-1 with a 4.60 ERA in four starts with Northwest Arkansas after posting a 7.13 ERA in 16 appearances with Triple-A Omaha.

- Brian

Hamburger, Profar Advance

ADDITION: Check out this video from the Round Rock Express promoting Mark Hamburger’s candidacy for the Moniker Madness title.

_________________

Former RoughRider Mark Hamburger and highly-touted Rangers prospect Jurickson Profar have advanced to round two of Minor League Baseball’s “Moniker Madness.”

Currently with the Round Rock Express, Hamburger advanced past 13-seed Matthew Szczur. The reliever, who made it to the Final Four last year, will battle Fort Myers’ Shooter Hunt in a 4-5 matchup in the second round.

Profar, the second-best prospect in the Rangers’ system according to Baseball America, earned a two-seed and cruised past Kurt Yacko in round one. The Hickory Crawdad’s next challenge is New Hampshire’s Callix Crabbe.

Rougned Odor, a member of short-season Spokane and a one-seed, also advanced to round two. Odor will square off with Didi Gregorius, who defeated former RoughRider Emerson Frostad in the first round.

Only five double-digit seeds advanced past the first round. There were two 12 over 5 upsets, which marked the most lopsided upset in the first round.

And a personal note–my pick to win it all (Kevin Quackenbush) took down Riley Hornback in the opening round. However, I lost two “Final Four” picks (Billy Spottiswood and Skyler Stromsmoe), so my bracket has been ripped to shreds.

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