December 2011

Additional Minor League Signings

Yesterday I wrote about the Rangers re-signing two RoughRiders from 2011: Fabio Castillo and Derek Hankins.  Here are the other names Texas has signed to minor league contracts that might be seen at Dr Pepper Ballpark in 2012.

LHP Kyle Fernandes

This six-foot southpaw was originally drafted by the Boston Red Sox in the 12th round of the 2005 draft.  Fernandes started seven games in 2005 but since then has been used exclusively out of the bullpen (over 240 appearances).

The lefty has spent parts of five seasons in Double-A and is looking for his first crack at Triple-A.  With the Double-A Portland Sea Dogs last year, Fernandes went 3-5, 3.73 ERA with 34 walks and 57 strikeouts.

According to www.soxprospects.com, the Westport, Mass. product was converted to a submariner in 2008. His fastball sits between 84-87 mph and tops out at 88 mph. Also throws a mid-70s slurve.

RHP Doug Salinas

Salinas, 23, has pitched in the Seattle, Tampa Bay, and Cincinnati organizations, going 5-2, 4.47 ERA in 47 relief appearances for High-A Bakersfield in 2011.   Originally from Venezuela, the right-hander has never pitched above High-A.

As a member of the Reds farm system, he not only pitched for the Rangers’ former High-A club in Bakersfield, but also played for the Dayton Dragons in 2010 in the Midwest League.  The Dragons are owned by Mandalay Baseball Properties, the same company that owns the RoughRiders.

Judging by the numbers, Salinas has displayed good command over the course of his five-year minor league career.  With 114 walks compared to 328 strikeouts, he was fanned nearly three times as many batters as he’s walked.

OF Orlando Sandoval

No relation to Pablo of the San Francisco Giants, this  25-year-old has spent his entire six-year minor league career with the Colorado Rockies organization where he topped out with High-A Modesto of the California League.  In 53 games with the Nuts last year (that’s honestly their name), Sandoval hit .233 with four home runs and 22 RBIs.

One of his homers never left the park:

 

We could possibly see all three of these players at Dr Pepper Ballpark in 2012.

-AG

Castillo, Hankins Re-Sign with Rangers

It was just a couple of days ago when I wrote about how the Rangers did not tender the contract of RoughRiders’ bullpen arm Fabio Castillo.  Well, the Rangers announced today at 3:05 p.m. that the club has re-signed the right-hander, along with catcher Chris Robinson, to a minor league contract with an invitation to major league spring training.

Robinson, 27, batted .316 with 15 doubles, one home run, and 29 RBIs in 66 games with the Triple-A Iowa Cubs in 2011.  The London, Ontario native was originally selected by Detroit in the third round of the 2005 draft out of the University of Illinois and played for Team Canada in the 2006 World Baseball Classic and the 2009 World Cup.

In other news potentially affecting the RoughRiders, the Rangers have also re-signed tall righty Derek Hankins to a minor league contract.  The 28-year-old pitched in five games for the ‘Riders in 2011 and might be one of the most pleasant minor leaguers I’ve ever been around.  Derek is a huge Chicago Bears fan and was a key contributor to the Insider Blog during our first annual fantasy football special (he nailed it when tabbing Jordy Nelson as his top sleeper for 2011).

Hank is such a crazy Bears fan that he bought the jerseys of Roy Williams and Marion Barber before the start of the season.

I wonder if he was wearing Barber’s jersey when he fumbled against the Broncos last Sunday?  Too soon.

-AG

 

Yu Darvish to Texas?

I was cruising the MLB page on ESPN.com today and found an interesting article by senior writer David Schoenfield about the Rangers landing the Yu Darvish – the half Iranian, half Japanese right-hander currently considered the top pitcher in Japan.

The bidding process for Darvish ends tonight at 5:00 ET with teams submitting bids to negotiate with Darvish. The highest bidder then has 30 days to sign him.

 

According to Schoenfield:

“Those who have seen Darvish say he can be a No. 1 pitcher over here. Mets manager Terry Collins, who managed against Darvish in Japan, raved about him at the winter meetings. Davey Johnson has also managed against him and called him a ‘big, strong hard-thrower. Throws a lot like Americans. … That guy is going to be expensive,’ he said at the winter meetings. “

Schoenfield goes on to write that the signing of Darvish would allow former RoughRider Alexi Ogando to return to the bullpen where could be a dominant setup man for the newly acquired Joe Nathan.

Darvish would no doubt bring even more national media exposure to Arlington and has the potential to be a major asset to the rotation.  However, teams need to be ready to pay.  Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports estimates it will cost anywhere between $30 million – $70 million to just win the rights to talk with the righty.

Many remember the overall failed experiment that was Daisuke Matsuzaka.  Following the  2006 season, the Red Sox donated $51.1 million to win the bid to speak with the Japanese pitcher, then signed him to a six-year, $52 million contract.

No matter what the figure turns out to be, time is almost up in the Yu Darvish sweepstakes.

-AG

Fabio a Free Agent

The Texas Rangers announced last night that the club will not tender a contract offer to RoughRiders’ reliever Fabio Castillo.  The Rangers tendered contract offers to all other players on the roster.

Castillo, 22, went 3-6 with nine saves and a 6.36 ERA (37 ER/52.1 IP) in 42 relief appearances with the ‘Riders last season.  He was added to the 40-man roster in November 2010 as protection from the Rule 5 Draft.  Castillo was originally signed by Texas as a non-drafted free agent on July 2, 2005.

Fabio’s 2010 season had its ups and downs for sure.  He began the season on the DL recovering from a broken foot. We’ll never know, but my guess is that his foot wasn’t 100% good-to-go when he pitched for the first time last year.  That unfortunate outing came on April 14th against Springfield during the club’s first roadtrip of the year. Fabio lasted just one-third of an inning and allowed six earned runs on five hits while walking two.

As ugly as that night was, Castillo settled down and, for a brief time after the departure of Mark Hamburger to Round Rock, was the ‘Riders lock-down closer.  From the end of May through the first week in June, the righty converted six-out-of-seven save appearances, including five in a row.

For whatever reason, Fabio pitched much better at home than on the road:

Home: 3-3-3, 4.15 ERA, 20 G, 10 BB, 24 K
Road: 0-3-6, 8.54 ERA, 22 G, 13 BB, 13 K

Castillo’s last save chance of the year came on July 15 versus Corpus Christi – a game unfortunately where the Hooks’ T.J. Steele connected on a walk-off homer to left field off of Castillo.

Fabio is now officially a free agent, but there is still a chance he resigns with Texas.

-AG

 

Pics from the Winter Meetings’ Gala

Last night I had the great privilege of attending the Winter Meetings’ Gala at the Ballpark in Arlington. Here are some pics I took throughout the night to share with you.

View from the Nolan Ryan Suite.

View from field-level with the Rangers' dugout behind me.

Closer look at the recent construction that will dramatically change the look in center field.

Where the Rangers' workout.

Ron Washington's office.

The locker of former RoughRider Ian Kinsler.

Thanks to the Rangers for putting on a great event.  The Meetings next year, in case you’re curious, will be held in Nashville.

-AG

Father of the Year

If you happened to be a follower of the blog over the summer during Father’s Day, then you know my love of the scene below from Field of Dreams.

Although Father’s Day is well in the rear view mirror, here at Dr Pepper Ballpark, the RoughRiders Foundation is gearing up for the Father of the Year Award.

This is a great new idea from our Director of Community Development, Mike Davidow (who, by the way, trails me by 32 points in our office fantasy football league, but has Vincent Jackson and Nick Novak going tonight).

While Mike is watching the Chargers vs. Jaguars game this evening, he’ll no doubt be shuffling through applications for Father of the Year. You can nominate a father, or father figure, by clicking here.

The deadline is February 10, 2012.  The winning father will receive a VIP experience at the RoughRiders’ game on Father’s Day, Sunday June 17, 2012. VIP experience includes a luxury suite with 16 tickets, a limited food and drink package, and 4 parking passes. Winner will also throw out the first pitch and receive special on-field recognition.

Who knows, maybe the lucky dad will even come on-air with us …

-AG

Former RoughRiders on the Move

It’s that time of year where major league teams are wheeling and dealing.  Here are three former ‘Riders who have recently packed their bags because of a major league trade or free agency:

1. Taylor Teagarden

Of the three, the Rangers’ trade of Taylor is the most recent and the most talked about in DFW.  The Rangers announced the trade yesterday afternoon, dealing the Dallas native, and former University of Texas star, to Baltimore for right-handed pitcher Randy Henry and a player to be named later. According to Richard Durrett of ESPNDallas.com, the PTBNL won’t be determined until after the Rule-5 draft next Thursday.

We’re now all familiar with what Mike  Napoli is capable of, and Yorvit Torrealba proved to be capable as well.  With both catchers  under contract for 2012, the odds of Taylor making the major league roster out of spring training wasn’t good. In Baltimore he’ll now be backing up Matt Wieters.

Meanwhile, Henry is a 21-year-old Arnett Ok. native.  Selected in the 4th round of 2009 by Baltimore, Henry has worked exclusively out of the bullpen in his brief two-year minor league career.  He spent 2011 in Low-A and High-A and combined to go 4-3 with a 2.22 ERA in 52 2/3 innings with eight walks and 40 strikeouts.

According to Durrett, “Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus tweeted that Henry has a plus fastball with command and good velocity and sink on his pitches. One scout said he throws between 90-93 mph with a nice slider and is a good athlete.”

Always a chance we’ll see him in Frisco in 2012.

2. Josh Lueke

The Seattle Mariners have sent former RoughRiders’ reliever Josh Lueke and a PTBNL (or cash considerations) to the Tampa Bay Rays for catcher John Jaso.

Josh only made 15 appearances with the ‘Riders in 2010 before being dealt with Matt Lawson, Blake Beavan, and Justin Smoak in the Cliff Lee deal.  Josh had an overpowering 96-98 mph fastball that he struggled to control at times against Texas League batters.

In 25 games with the M’s this year, the former 16th round pick went 1-1, 6.06 ERA in 25 games.  Now 26-years-old, Josh also pitched in 30 games with Triple-A Tacoma in 2011 and went 2-4, 2.76 ERA.

3. Brandon Boggs

The RoughRiders’ center fielder in 2007, Brandon Boggs recently signed a minor league contract with the Pittsburgh Pirates.  Originally from (my hometown of) St. Louis, Boggs was a 4th round pick of the Rangers in 2004.   On November 23, 2010, Boggs signed a major league contract with the Milwaukee Brewers, but was outrighted to Triple-A Nashville near the end of spring training 2011.  He declared for free agency on October 17, 2011.

In 104 games with Frisco in 2007, the switch hitter hit .266 with 19 home runs and 66 runs batted in.  Now 28-years-old, Boggs played in 94 games with Nashville in 2011 hitting .241 with 9 homers and 28 RBIs.

All the best to these three former ‘Riders in new homes.

-AG

All-’Riders Team: Second Base

2012 marks the RoughRiders’ 10th season as a franchise, all as the Rangers’ Double-A affiliate. Since 2003, there have been hundreds of talented players come through Dr Pepper Ballpark, but some have stood out more than others.  With the help of Michael Damman, the RoughRiders’ Director of Statistical Research, we’ve come up with the All-’Riders Team: the best player at each position in franchise history.  Today we continue with the RoughRiders’ all-time best second baseman.

Michael Damman’s Take:

One of the integral parts of Frisco’s 2007 Texas League-best 85 win team, German Duran had a superb season as the RoughRiders’ starting second baseman. Duran paced the team with a .300 average, 22 home runs, 84 runs driven in, 144 hits, 81 runs, and a .525 Slugging %. Only Brandon Boggs had a higher OPS than Duran’s .877 on the 2007 ‘Riders with at least 300 plate appearances.  Duran was also one of only four qualified players in the Texas League that season to hit .300 or better. He got off to a solid start in April that season and never let up until August. From May through July, Duran had three consecutive months with a .900 or better OPS. At the Texas League all-star break, Duran was batting .328 with a .960 OPS. Furthermore, few players have been as clutch as Duran, as the second baseman hit .347 with runners on and .366 with runners in scoring position.

The ultimate run producer, he had four different streaks of games where he drove in a run in 4 consecutive games, including a season-high of six straight from June 16th to June 23rd. Left-handed pitchers beaware, Duran faced southpaws 155 times in 2007 and he had 21 extra base hits, including 11 home runs. Duran’s 144 hits in 2007 were the 5th most in a single season by a RoughRider. German reached the major leagues in 2008 with the Rangers and hit just .231 with a .275 on base percentage and a .350 slugging percentage in 158 plate appearances. Since then, Duran has played in just 144 games over the last 3 seasons, including just 16 plate appearances in the Mexican League this season for the Leones de Yucaton.

My Take:

When Duran was having his terrific 2007 season, I was broadcasting for the Gateway Grizzlies of the Frontier League in Sauget, IL.  Needless to say, I never had the pleasure of watching him here at Dr Pepper Ballpark.  I’m sure lots of people probably think of Ian Kinsler as the club’s best second baseman, but in reality, he played all 71 of his games in Frisco as a shortstop.

I remember seeing Duran play in 2010 as a member of the Corpus Christi Hooks.  Although he played primarily at second base for the Hooks, he also spent time as third and short.  Overall he hit .284 in 64 games with four home runs and 28 RBIs.  Maybe most memorable for me about Duran in Corpus was the way the Hooks’ public address announcer used to pronounce his came, “Her-maaahn Dooo-raaahn.”

-AG

You can read more from Michael Damman on his Rangers’ minor league blog, Chatter From the Pressbox.  You can also follow him on twitter @pressboxchatter.

Up Next: Third Base

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