May 2012

It’s A RoughRiders World

Chad Bell- Knoxville, Tenessee

Knoxville is home to over 175,000 people. It’s the third largest city in Tennessee behind Memphis and Nashville.

Wilfredo Boscan- Maracaibo, Venezuela

Maracaibo is a city in northwestern Venezuela. It’s the second largest city behind the capital of Caracas. The city is nicknamed La Tierra del Sol Amada or The Beloved Land Of The Sun.

Jake Brigham- Winter Garden, Florida

Winter Garden is about 15 miles away from Orlando and has a population of about 30,000 people.

Fabio Castillo- Samana, Dominican Republic

Samana is in the northeast part of the Dominican Republic with a population of over 50,000. It’s a city almost on the coast and also has hills that form a small mountain range.

Miguel De Los Santos- La Romana, Dominican Republic

La Romana is the third largest city in the Dominican Republic with a population of around 230,000. It’s located in the southeastern part of the country.

Justin Grimm- Bristol, Virginia

Bristol is close to the state line with Tennessee and has a population close to 18,000. Bristol is also recognized for contributions to early country music. Grimm’s favorite things about his hometown are crab cakes and football.

Trevor Hurley- Tomball, Texas

Tomball is close to Houston with a population close to 10,000 people. The town was originally named Peck but it was changed to Tomball in 1907.

Barret Loux- Houston, Texas

Houston is the fourth largest city in the country behind New York City, Los Angeles, and Chicago with a population of over two million people. It’s the home of Texas Medical Center, the largest concentration of healthcare institutions in the world, and NASA’s Johnson Space Center. Loux’s favorite thing about his hometown is the traffic.

Tim Murphy- Vista, California

Vista is located in San Diego County is southern Californian with a population close to 94,000. It’s about seven miles away from the Pacific Ocean. Murphy’s favorite thing about his hometown is the beach.

Joe Ortiz- Caracas, Venezuela

Caracas is the capital city of Venezuela and has a population of close to six million. Caracas is in the north of the country close to the Caribbean Sea and the Cerro Avila mountain range.

Zach Osborne- Houston, Texas

Houston was founded in 1836 and named after Sam Houston. It attracts over seven million visitors to the Museum District. The area is known for its prominence in the energy business.

Carlos Pimentel- Santiago, Dominican Republic

Santiago was founded in 1495. It is located in the Cibao Valley in the northern part of the country with a population of almost two million.

Ryan Rodebaugh- Marietta, Georgia

Marietta is located in Cobb County and has a population of over 55,000 people. Parts of the 1995 movie Gordy was shot there. It is the third largest city in Georgia.

Ross Wolf- Effingham, Illinois

Effingham is a city with a population around 13,000. The city has been nicknamed The Crossroads of Opportunity due to being at the intersection of I-57 and I-70.

Corey Young- Shrewsbury, New Jersey

The borough of Shrewsbury is in Monmouth County and has a population of around 3,900 people. Fellow minor leaguer Ryan Kalish also calls Shrewsbury home.

Jose Felix- Guasave, Mexico

Guasave is a city in the Mexican state of Sinaloa which is on the western part of the country and has coastlines bordering the Gulf of California. Approximately 270,000 people live there.

Zach Zaneski- New London, Connecticut

New London is a seaport city located in southeastern Connecticut near the mouth of the Thames River. The city was founded in 1646 and has a population close to 26,000.

Alex Buchholz- Pasadena, Maryland

Pasadena has a population of around 12,000 people. Fellow minor leaguer Chorye Spoone calls Pasadena home. Buchholz says his favorite things about his hometown are all of his family and friends.

Leury Garcia- Santiago, Dominican Republic

The full name of the city is Santiago de los Caballeros meaning Saint James of the Knights. The Cibao Valley is formed by the Yaque del Norte river passing through the Cordillera Central and the Cordillera Septentrional.

Chris McGuiness- Charleston, South Carolina

Charleston is the second largest city in South Carolina behind Columbia and has a population of 120,000 people. It is on the East Coast bordering the Atlantic Ocean. McGuiness’ favorite things about his hometown are Melvin’s BBQ and Duke’s Buffet.

Mike Olt- New Haven, Connecticut

New Haven is the second largest city in Connecticut with a population of approximately 130,000. It was founded in 1638 and is the home of Yale University. Olt’s favorite thing about his hometown is that it’s a small town so everyone knows everybody.

Jurickson Profar- Willemstad, Curacao

Willemstad is the capital of the island nation in the southern Caribbean Sea. It was formerly the capital of the Netherlands Antilles. Approximately 140,000 people call Willemstad home.

Guilder Rodriguez- Lara, Venezuela

Lara is located in northern Venezuela and has a population of approximately 1.8 million people. It’s one of 23 Venezuelan states.

Engel Beltre- Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

Santo Domingo is the capital city of the Dominican Republic with a total population of approximately 1.4 million. The city was founded in 1496 and is located on the Caribbean Sea at the mouth of the Ozama River.

Brad Hawpe- Fort Worth, Texas

Fort Worth is the fifth largest city in the state of Texas. Fort Worth has a population of close to 750,000 people. The city was established in 1849 as an Army outpost.

Jared Prince- Poulsbo, Washington

Poulsbo is a city on Liberty Bay which is part of Puget Sound and has a population of more than 9,000 people. Pince’s favorite things about his hometown are the people, water, trees, and mountains.

Ryan Strausborger- Osceola, Indiana

About 2,500 people call Osceola home. The town is named after Osceola, a Seminole fighter.

Written by: Jarah Wright

Graphic by: Alex Yocum-Beeman

Tweeting On Twitter

The RoughRiders just returned from a six-game road trip and are opening up a six-game homestand tonight at Dr Pepper Ballpark. Many of our fans keep up with Frisco by following our Twitter account @RidersBaseball. Fans can also follow the guys on Twitter at the following accounts.

Engel Beltre= @EngelBeltre

Ross Wolf= @18RGW

Chad Bell= @ChadBell19

Barret Loux= @BarretLoux

Jake Brigham= @jbrigham49

Mike Olt= @molt2222

Jurickson Profar= @JURICKSONPROFAR

Zach Osborne= @Zach_oz

Ryan Strausborger= @Ryan_Straus

On The Road: Tulsa and Northwest Arkansas

Texas League travel is renowned in Minor League Baseball circles for the toll it takes on players, coaches, bus drivers and, yes, broadcasters.  With airfare too costly for Double-A teams, all of the trips in the TL are via chartered bus rides.  Google the route from Corpus Christi, Texas to Springfield, Missouri and you’ll get the idea of what sort of monstrosities take place for some teams in our eight-squad circuit.  Fortunately for the RoughRiders, Frisco’s central location makes our travel somewhat more advantageous than for some of our peer teams, notably those from the South Division.

As far as road trips go, the six-game Tulsa-Northwest Arkansas swing has been one of the more enjoyable of the season, with the travel being one of the reasons why.  For most road series, we will leave as a team the day before our first game in a particular city so that the players can salvage as much rest as possible prior to playing.  For example, we left at 3:30 p.m. for Corpus Christi (our longest trip at over seven hours) on a Wednesday with the first game of our series on Thursday night at Whataburger Field.

With Tulsa only about four hours north of the Metroplex, we were able to leave the day of the game last Wednesday.  However, the best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry, which proved to be the case when we arrived in “The 918.”  Our hotel did not have our rooms ready for the team to check in, meaning that we had to wait up to two hours in the lobby to head to our homes away from home (I drew the lucky straw for getting to his room last, leaving me 15 minutes to unpack, change clothes, gather equipment and catch our bus to the ballpark).

The hotel “in” Tulsa is barely in the city; it’s located near the southern edge of its borders, not far from the campus of Oral Roberts University.  Generally, we will have two scheduled bus times to take the team to the ballpark when we are on the road: one at 3 p.m. and another at 4 p.m.  Most of the team will get on the earlier bus, with that night’s starting pitcher taking the other, often by his lonesome self.

The first thing that sticks out about the Drillers’ ballpark is its location.  ONEOK Field (pronounced “one-oak”) is directly adjacent to downtown Tulsa, giving it a terrific view of the skyline over right field and a setting that feels urban, the way it should feel in my opinion.  There is a dearth of views like this in the Texas League (Arkansas’ vista with downtown Little Rock looming past the Arkansas River, is Tulsa’s closest competitor), so it’s a treat to look at the cityscape for three nights.

The second appealing aspect of the Tulsa trip is the ballpark itself.  Built in 2010, ONEOK Field, named after a natural gas utilities company, is the newest park in the TL and it is impressive.  Aside from views it possesses, it boasts a huge clubhouse, a terrific press box and plenty of fan amenities.  I thought the name of a group seating section – “The Oil Field” – was particularly clever, given the importance of the oil industry in Tulsa (hence, the nickname of the team).  The fans support the Drillers in droves, sending Tulsa to the second-highest average attendance in the league (Frisco leads the way by a large margin).  Our final game drew 8,207 fans, making it the largest crowd we have seen at an opposing ballpark this season.

After each game, the players will shower up, have dinner in the clubhouse (as prepared by the visiting clubhouse manager) and load back up onto the bus to head back to the ballpark, typically 45 minutes or an hour after the game ends.  This takes a bit longer on the last day of the series, as the team needs to bring all of its equipment and uniforms to whichever city is next on the travel log.

The trip from Tulsa to our next destination, Springdale, Arkansas – the home of the Northwest Arkansas Naturals – is the shortest route between any two cities in the Texas League.  After numerous seven-hour bus rides this season, the sub-two hour journey following Friday’s game was a welcome trip, especially so because we played a four-hour game against the Drillers in the series finale.  We arrived at our hotel at a reasonable 2:15 a.m. with game time less than 18 hours later.

When ONEOK Field opened, it replaced the Naturals’ Arvest Ballpark as the newest yard in the league (Arvest is a bank headquartered in nearby Bentonville).  Like Tulsa’s home park, Northwest Arkansas’ is quite nice, though the area around it could not be much different.  Instead of the bustling downtown atmosphere you get at the home of the Drillers, Arvest Ballpark is located in a very rural area in the southwest corner of Springdale, a city of close to 70,000 residents.  Grazing horses and cows are not an unusual sight when one looks out onto the rolling fields that surround the ballpark.

While this gives the sense that you are located in the middle of nowhere, people from the area don’t seem to have a hard time finding Arvest.  The park is not far from Interstate 540, the main thoroughfare in the area that runs north to south from Bentonville (the home of Wal-Mart) to Fayetteville (the home of the University of Arkansas).  The rationale for calling the team the “Northwest Arkansas Naturals” and not the “Springdale Naturals” is in part so that the other communities in the region feel a connection with the team that is not exclusive to one city (the Texas Rangers can relate).

While the setting couldn’t be described as exciting, the brand of baseball through two games in Springdale has been, with Frisco and Northwest Arkansas combining to score 29 runs.  The teams have split the first two contests and played a rubber game on Monday afternoon.  A RoughRiders win made the five-hour bus ride back to Frisco seem a lot shorter and truly made this a road trip we won’t mind experiencing again.

Written by: Alex Vispoli

Photos by: Alex Vispoli

Memorial Day

Memorial Day is a day for remembering fallen soldiers and men and women in the armed forces serving our country. Several baseball players have served in the military over the years. Two of them who were killed in action were Eddie Grant and Elmer Gedeon. Eddie Grant played for the Phillies, Reds, and Giants in the early 1910s. He enlisted in the Army and was killed in Friance in 1918. Elmer Gedeon played for the Washington Senators for five games in 1939 and was then drafted into the Army. He was killed in France in 1944.

Current RoughRiders first baseman Chris McGuiness went to college at The Citadel, a military school in South Carolina. While going to school there, he was a normal cadet. There is no service time required after graduation although some people go there for the military training.

Courtesy: Josh Frasier, Texas Rangers

Many teams plan special uniforms or special events in honor of Memorial Day. The Texas Rangers are wearing ball caps with camouflage inside the letter T for their game against the Seattle Mariners. The Myrtle Beach Pelicans will be wearing red, white, and blue jerseys with stars and stripes on them for their game against the Potomac Nationals.

Courtesy: Jimmy Reyes, Myrtle Beach Pelicans

Other Rangers’ affiliates playing today are the Hickory Crawdads that will take on the Delmarva Shorebirds and the Round Rock Express that will play the Nashville Sounds while the RoughRiders will play the Northwest Arkansas Naturals in the series finale today.

The RoughRiders would like to thank all of the servicemen and women and those who have made the ultimate sacrifice protecting our country.

Written by: Jarah Wright

May Madness

The minor league season may be in full swing, but for college baseball end of season tournament time is in full swing.

To get to the dance you need to win your league tourney or get an at-large berth. Obviously, every team would prefer the former, but let’s face it, it’s not easy. Just ask any number of ‘Riders, since many have played in these tournaments before.

Since some will be following their alma maters this weekend, we thought it would be fun to take a look back at the college careers of a couple of RoughRiders.

Courtesy of Texas A&M

Barret  Loux (Texas A&M)

Prior to giving Texas League hitters headaches, Loux tied up Big 12 hitters as a member of the Aggies. As a junior in College Station, Loux led the Big 12 in strikeouts (136) and was a finalist for the USA Golden Spikes Award (Given to the top amateur baseball player in the country).

Currently No. 8 in USA Today’s Top 25 poll, the Aggies were eliminated in two games at the Big 12 tournament, losing back-to-back games to Missouri and the University of Kansas. As a top 10 team, A&M doesn’t need to be concerned about their NCAA tournament chances. However the team’s less than stellar performance in Oklahoma City could affect who they see at regionals.

Justin Grimm (Georgia)

Grimm played his college baseball “between the hedges,” as a three year member of the Georgia Bulldogs. In 2008, Justin even had the chance to visit college baseball’s most hallowed grounds, when UGA advanced to the College World Series Finals, and ended the year with a number two national ranking.

This season has been a bit of a different story, as the ‘Dawgs were eliminated from the SEC Tournament Wednesday afternoon, falling to Auburn 3-2. The good news? The SEC is the premier baseball conference in all of Division I, where sweeping a conference series almost never happen. The bad news is that at (31-26), Georgia will need an at-large berth to qualify for the NCAA tourney.

Courtesy of Stephen Slade, University of Connecticut

Mike Olt (UConn)

While he gets plenty of attention as one of the Rangers top farmhands, it’s easy to forget that Mike is still the “Sultan of Stoors.” So where does the nickname come from?

Well, in three seasons, Mike set the all-time home record for the University of Connecticut (44 homers). He also hit .318 during his junior year. The Huskies could have used him Saturday, as Mike’s old club was knocked out of the Big East Tournament by South Florida. While this means UConn’s season is over, give the team credit for knocking off Louisville, considered the favorite to take the league crown.

Chris McGuiness (The Citadel)

If you’re a baseball purist, you might be spending the weekend down in Greenville, South Carolina where the Southern Conference baseball championships are taking place. If you’re not though, don’t worry we won’t think any less of you.

However, the next time you’re at Dr Pepper Ballpark you can impress your friends by telling them that ‘Riders first baseman Chris McGuiness played for a So-Con school. Over a three year career with the Citadel, McGuiness pitched and played first base, while at the plate, he led the nation in walks during his junior year. Sadly there will be no magical run to Omaha for this bunch of Bulldogs. After an opening round win, the Citadel lost an elimination game to Elon Friday night.

Written by: Geoff Arnold

Baseball And Bacon

Six degrees of Kevin Bacon is a popular party game where people try to link themselves to the Hollywood star. During a brainstorming session, the idea came up and all of us started laughing. We never realized that we would find not one, but four links to the Frisco RoughRiders. Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the Circle of Bacon.

The first chain begins with none other than Kevin Bacon. He was in A Few Good Men with Tom Cruise, which is a great movie by the way and it has a baseball tie-in because Cruise’s character loves playing baseball. Back to the chain, Tom Cruise was in Interview With A Vampire with Brad Pitt. Brad Pitt was in Moneyball with Brent Jennings who was portraying Ron Washington. Ron Washington is the manager of the Texas Rangers, which is the parent club of the Frisco RoughRiders completing chain one.

The second chain begins much like the first. Kevin Bacon was in A Few Good Men with Tom Cruise who was in Interview With A Vampire with Brad Pitt. The chain changes because Brad Pitt played Billy Beane. Billy Beane played for the Jackson Mets, the Double-A affiliate of the New York Mets that were part of the Texas League, from 1982 to 1984. The Jackson Mets moved to Binghamton and joined the Eastern League in 1991. The Houston Astros took over the Double-A franchise renaming it the Jackson Generals, where the team remained until 1999. Nolan Ryan and his group took over and moved the Generals to Round Rock eventually becoming the Round Rock Express where they claimed the Texas League title in 2000. The owners of the Round Rock Express acquired the Triple-A franchise in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada and moved that club to Round Rock. The Double-A version of the Round Rock Express moved to Corpus Christi eventually becoming the Corpus Christi Hooks who compete against the RoughRiders in the Texas League.

Through Corpus Christi we can complete the third chain all the way back to the original source, Kevin Bacon. Hooks’ broadcaster Matt Hicks was an extra in Major League which starred Charlie Sheen. Charlie Sheen was in The Three Musketeers with Kiefer Sutherland. Kiefer Sutherland was in Flatliners with Kevin Bacon completing the circle of bacon.

Lastly, we decided to have a little fun and make another connection to the RoughRiders family. Kevin Bacon was in A Few Good Men with Tom Cruise. Tom Cruise was in Rain Man with Dustin Hoffman. Dustin Hoffman was in American Buffalo directed by Michael Corrente who shot the movie in his hometown of Pawtucket, Rhode Island. Pawtucket is the home of the Pawtucket Red Sox. The lead broadcaster for the Red Sox is none other than former RoughRiders’ broadcaster Aaron Goldsmith.

These chains explain how everyone in the world quite possibly could be connected to Kevin Bacon. Are you?

Written by: Jarah Wright

Graphics by: Alex Yocum-Beeman

All-‘Riders Team: Right Field

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 right fielder

After being taken with the 19th overall pick of the 2005 draft out of Stanford, John Mayberry Jr. made his full season minor league debut in 2006 with the class-A Clinton Lumberkings. Mayberry hit .268 with 51 extra base hits and 77 RBI in 126 games. Mayberry moved up to the class-A advanced, Bakersfield Blaze, in 2007 where he hit .230 with 32 extra base hits in 63 games.

Mayberry was promoted then to Frisco, where he finished the season with a .241 average and 24 extra base hits in 69 games. In his first game with Frisco, Mayberry went 1 for 4 with a double and RBI. With Frisco, Mayberry batted .293 with runners in scoring position and .318 with runners in scoring position and 2 outs.

The 6 foot 6, 225 pound outfielder spent 21 games in Frisco to open up the 2008 season before being promoted to Triple-A Oklahoma City. He finished the minor league season by hitting a cumulative .264 with 38 doubles, 7 triples, and 20 home runs. Mayberry drove in 71 runs and scored 65.

Mayberry was traded during the offseason to the Philadelphia Phillies for outfielder Greg Golson. Mayberry spent the 2009 and 2010 seasons with the Phillies’ Triple-A club, the Lehigh Valley IronPigs.

On May 23, 2009, John made his major league debut with the Philadelphia Phillies. He went 2 for 3 with a double, home run, and 3 RBI in a 5-4 loss to the New York Yankees. Mayberry has been used mostly as a backup outfielder and platoon corner outfielder for the Philadelphia Phillies to date. For his major league career, Mayberry is a .294 career hitter with an .890 OPS against left handed pitching. Last season he had a career high 296 plate appearances. He hit .273 with 33 extra base hits and 49 RBI for the 102 win Philadelphia Phillies.

Next Up: Designated Hitter

A Record Breaking Start

With nine wins and no losses in nine consecutive starts, Barret Loux has started the season with a perfect record that leads all of professional baseball. Loux is the new RoughRiders record holder for most wins in as many starts. He is also currently tied with former RoughRiders  Justin Miller (2011) and Luis Mendoza (2007) for the most consecutive decisions. Loux said he’s been lucky so far to have so many wins.

“The guys have given us a chance to win with the run support and worked hard,” Loux said. “Sometimes there’s tons of runs and sometimes they drop out but that’s baseball.”

When asked if he feels any pressure pitching with such a good record, Loux laughed and said no. He added he does have goals when he steps on the mound but his main focus is pitching his best. Some ballplayers have superstitions when they have a run of good luck but Loux said it’s not for him.

“I do a little bit of the same thing,” Loux said. “I have a set routine that I stick to but I have no superstitions. No lucky socks.”

Breakdown of a 9-0 record

April 7 at Springfield: 5 innings pitched, 6 hits, 0 runs, 2 walks, 2 strikeouts   Frisco wins 6-1

April 13 vs Springfield: 5.2 innings pitched, 8 hits, 2 runs, 2 walks, 5 strikeouts   Frisco wins 8-6

April 19 at Corpus Christi: 5 innings pitched, 1 hit, 0 runs, 2 walks, 8 strikeouts   Frisco wins 10-0

April 24 vs San Antonio: 6 innings pitched, 6 hits, 1 run, 1 walk, 5 strikeouts   Frisco wins 7-2

April 29 vs Corpus Christi: 6 innings pitched, 6 hits, 2 runs, 1 walk, 8 strikeouts   Frisco wins 10-3

May 4 at San Antonio: 5 innings pitched, 4 hits, 3 runs, 1 walk, 5 strikeouts   Frisco wins 9-3

May 10 at Corpus Christi: 5.1 innings pitched, 4 hits, 2 runs, 2 walks, 6 strikeouts   Frisco wins 10-2

May 15 at Midland: 5.1 innings pitched, 6 hits, 3 runs, 3 walks, 3 strikeouts   Frisco wins 5-4

May 20 vs San Antonio: 7 innings pitched, 2 hits, 1 run, 1 walk, 6 strikeouts   Frisco wins 2-1

Written by Jarah Wright

Photo Credit: Alex Yocum-Beeman

Interview with Zach Zaneski

Zach Zaneski has been one of the ‘Riders best hitters in the month of May. Frisco’s radio broadcaster Alex Vispoli had a chance to talk with the catcher about everything from his recent hot hitting to his college major, Marine Affairs.

Alex: You look like you’re swinging the bat as well as you have all year, do you feel comfortable up there?

Zach: I’ve just been working with harty and have been trying to iron things out and get better. You know that’s the name of the game, it’s always a work in progress and I’m just trying to get better at everything I’m doing. Never be satisfied or ok with what’s going on. I’ve been swinging it better and hopefully I can just keep improving.

Alex: Is it just the process you credit with getting you where you’re at right now?

Zach: Yea, sticking to my routine and getting here and doing early work. Working on some mechanical issues that I had and really just getting back to basics and focusing on seeing the baseball.

Alex: You’re not playing every single day, but it seems like you’re playing a little more than you were over the first couple weeks of the season and I’m sure that has helped too, to get adjusted to the jump in pitching at this level.

Zach: The more at bats the better, but it’s always good to play more. I’m just trying to take advantage of every opportunity that I have.

Alex: It’s not a situation that you’re not used to because last year you and Vinny DiFazio split time. So that part of the adjustment is something that you haven’t had to make.

Zach: Right last year, me and Vinny went every other day, so we knew today we’re playing and tomorrow we’re not. We played a lot of games and got a pretty good amount of at bats. I’m used to that, and it’s really whatever Bue is throwing at me, I’m ready for.

Alex: As a catcher and being your first year at this level, do you try to pick the brain at all of Jose? He’s been here for a year, this is his second year of Double-A. He has the experience at this level. Is there anything that you can glean from him or that he can share regarding how you call a game, receive, or footwork, etc.?

Zach: We were taught by Hector Ortiz, our catching coordinator, a lot of the same things as far as our footwork, receiving, and blocking, so we work together on that. But, it’s more about our relationship with our pitchers and knowing their strengths and weaknesses, and personalities. Also establishing relationships with them, so that when we get into the game we know what is going on and know what their strengths are and can get the most out of them.

Alex: How daunting is it at the beginning of the season to know that over the course of the year you have to catch in the neighborhood of probably 25 to 30 different pitchers, some of whom you may have caught in Spring Training, last year, or possibly haven’t at all? While knowing that you have to know the ins and outs as quickly as you can.

Zach: Sometimes it’s tough, but I just relate it back to Spring Training when I played one game and Koji Uehara came in and I had never caught him, even in a bullpen before. He doesn’t speak much English, so just the communication piece was tough. But we worked through it, and it’s a learning experience. I learned something from that, so every guy is different and you just have to get to know every guy.

Alex: Fans always wonder, how do you even communicate with a guy who doesn’t speak much English?

Zach: Well there’s definitely some boundaries there and when you go out and talk with somebody like that. There isn’t much you can say outside of “it’s ok, calm down” and hope he understands. You just want to make sure he knows the signs and you’re both ok on the signs. When you’re catching someone new like that you don’t have the relationship with them and it can make it difficult to understand what their best pitch is and their out pitch. It’s difficult at times.

Alex: Yesterday’s ball game, there was a lot going on there in the ninth inning. You have runners on second and third with nobody out and a two run lead. It looks like the game is at least going to be tied. When you have the meeting out there with the entire infield and Bue, what is the manager saying in that situation? Is he laying out where the throws are going out and every scenario you have to worry about?

Zach: It was great, he came out and said “Ok, we’re going to walk this guy and we’re going to get a groundball from the next guy, double play in the middle.” And it just so happened, we walked the guy, and first pitch was a sinker, and we got the groundball and double play and that was it, so it was pretty fun!

Alex: Not saying it’s all luck there to call that, but Steve Buechele has been around a few ball games and when he says something like that, it probably hones in that our manager really knows his stuff.

Zach: Absolutely, we have confidence in him and we’re playing for him every day, as well as ourselves. We believe him, believe the things he says, and when he talks, everybody listens. He’s a natural leader and we’re having fun playing for him.

Alex: You went undrafted out ofRhode Island. A lot of catchers will get picked up after a draft to help out with a lot of the new pitchers and maybe keep them on for half a season. But, you have managed to not only stick around, but you were an all-star in the Carolina League last year and you’re getting significant playing time in Double-A. Do you ever take a step back and say “wow this has been an amazing ride that I’ve been given here?”

Zach: Yea, that’s natural and you know I would sit around a fire with my mom and dad and we’d talk about it. It is, it’s been a fun crazy ride. But at the same time, I’m always searching for more and expecting more for myself. Even when I didn’t get drafted, I always knew that I could play. I’ve always played with a chip on my shoulder because of that. I think that it’s only helped me keep getting better in this game and hopefully I can take that all the way to the big leagues.

Alex: Growing up in easternConnecticut, you were a Boston Red Sox fan as you were raised. I would imagine that one of your role models growing up was Jason Varitek. Is that one player that you grew up trying to emulate?

Zach: Oh absolutely, Varitek was unbelievable. Just the blue collar type of player he was.  He’s a grinder, he played every day. He didn’t care if he was hurt or got hurt, he was playing. He’s a mentally tough player and those are all of the attribute you want in a good catcher. Hopefully I can just have some of those attributes.

Alex: You’re one of the few players that has a college degree. Not every player has one at this point, sometimes they will go back after their playing career. But, you went to the University of Rhode Island and got a degree in Marine Affairs. That caught my eye because it’s not your typical degree. Explain a little bit about what that entailed.

Zach: Well, it’s like Ocean Management or Ocean Policy. Some people go into Marine Law. But it’s a pretty broad major and you can go into a lot of things from there. Some people go into Marine Biology, Aqua Culture, Coast Guard, or DEP, which is Department of Environmental Protection. I lived on the water my whole life in Waterford, had a boat and always went fishing and surfing. I love the ocean, so it caught my eye. It was cheaper tuition too, because none of the colleges in Connecticut offered that major, so it helped out as far as the money goes. It was a no-brainer to be honest with you.

Alex: Was there anything after your baseball career, whenever it’s going to be, that would keep you interested in and go in to something in that field?

Zach: Sure, I’d love to be a recreational fisherman the rest of my life and just go fishing with my dad all the time. But, I don’t know, I don’t think that I will ever go down that road. I may, but who knows when the time comes, that maybe that chapter will open.

Alex: So, you’re a bit of a fisherman, what is the most impressive catch that you’ve had in your fishing career as an amateur?

Zach: A couple of them actually. My dad and I went shark fishing on our boat a couple years ago and got a couple of big blue sharks. We actually had two of them on at once and next thing you know our 21 foot boat starts getting pulled by the sharks, so that was pretty crazy. Another one is we went 110 miles offshore and caught four yellow fin tuna and a couple albacore tuna.

Alex: Get you out on this, game three, tonight 76ers and Celtics, who you got?

Zach: Celtics all the way. I think they’re going to win the series and move on to the next round. But, you never know, the 76ers are good too.

Alex: That’s Boston homer and RoughRiders catcher Zach Zaneski. Congratulations on the game yesterday and thanks a lot for the time.

Zach: Thanks, a lot.

Myrtle Beach Throws No-Hitter, as Two Other Rangers’ Affiliates Flirt

What a span of four days it was for the Texas Rangers organization. In a matter of days, three different minor league teams for the Texas Rangers flirted with a no-hitter. Only one, however, came away with it. On Saturday, when the Frisco RoughRiders were four outs short of their first no-hitter of the season, the Myrtle Beach Pelicans completed theirs against the Wilmington Blue Rocks in a 3-0 victory.

If I had given you two pitching lines of their previous starts before the most recent one, the prediction for a no-hitter from Myrtle Beach probably would have been Cody Buckel (5 IP 2 H 1 R 4 BB 7 K) over Nick Tepesch (4.2 IP 13 H 7 R 2 BB 6 K). But baseball can be a funny game some times.

Tepesch (2-3 4.06 ERA) started the game for Myrtle Beach on the road in Wilmington and he was as good as he’s ever been. The right handed pitcher retired the first eleven batters he faced and later had a span of nine consecutive retired. In all, Tepesch pitched 7 1/3 innings with nine strikeouts and four walks. His nine strikeouts were a season high and one short of matching his career best, ten strikeouts.

The most trouble that Nick got himself into was in the 8th inning when he walked Roman Hernandez and Kevin David to open the inning. He got the third batter, Juan Graterol, to strikeout. Tepesch was then pulled and Jimmy Reyes was brought in to replace him. Reyes ended the threat by getting Alex McClure to ground into a double play.

Jimmy Reyes pitched the ninth inning as well. The southpaw got Whit Merrifield to pop out to shortstop Edwin Garcia and Geulin Beltre to strikeout. At which point the Wilmington Blue Rocks play-by-play announcer, John Sadak, had this call:

The Pelicans pitchers got all of the support they needed from Brett Nicholas, who went 1 for 2 with a double, two RBI, and two walks. Tomas Telis also went 3 for 4 in the game with two doubles and scored two of the three runs.

Frisco was attempting to become the second Ranger’s affiliate with a no-hitter on the day, but came up just short. Chad Bell made his first start of the year for Frisco and pitched four innings of no-hit ball. Carlos Pimentel came in for his fifth relief appearance of the season and pitched three effectively wild innings without allowing a hit. After retiring the first two hitters, reliever Corey Young gave up a double to Jeudy Valdez in the eighth inning. Young finished the inning and Joseph Ortiz came in to pitch the ninth in Frisco’s 13-0, 2-hit bruising of the San Antonio Missions.

Like Frisco, the Hickory Crawdads also came within four outs of a no-hitter on Monday as the team gave up one hit, a home run, in a 5-1 seven inning victory over the Kannapolis Intimidators in game one of a double header. Hickory had a no-hitter through 5 2/3 innings before Mark Haddow homered with two outs in the 6th inning. Luke Jackson started the game for Hickory and gave up the one hit over 6 2/3 innings with three walks and nine strikeouts.

Baseball players go through cycles and when things are clicking for them, special things can happen. This past weekend was almost a very special one for three affiliates of the Texas Rangers.

For Myrtle Beach, however, the very special moment happened.
Written By: Michael Damman