June 2012

All-Star Game Recap

Last night was the 76th Texas League All-Star Game and seven RoughRiders were involved in the festivities at ONEOK Field in Tulsa. The festivities began with the Home Run Derby. San Antonio Missions’ first baseman Nate Freiman took home the crown defeating Corpus Christi Hooks’ first baseman Jonathan Singleton.

That set the stage for the All-Star game to begin. The balls for first pitch were delivered by two skydivers to the mound. Mike Olt delived the South’s lineup to the umpires at the home plate meeting. Olt didn’t play in the All-Star game because he is still recovering from a pulled hamstring. After the first pitches were thrown the starting lineups and reserves were announced. There were three RoughRiders in the starting lineup. Jurickson Profar was the leadoff batter and played shortstop, Engel Beltre batted ninth and was in center field, and pitcher Barret Loux was named the starting pitcher for the South All-Stars. A stirring rendition of the national anthem was then sung by Hanson, who are Oklahoma natives.

Barret Loux threw a scoreless first inning. He walked Josh Rutledge, struck out Kolten Wong, and then induced a double play from Nolan Arenado to end the half.

Frisco starter Jake Brigham was brought in to pitch in the second. He allowed a single to Oscar Taveras but Taveras tried to stretch it out to a double and was tagged out at second. Brigham then induced ground outs to Jean Segura and former ‘Riders player Johnny Whittleman.

The game remained scoreless until the North All-Stars scored three runs in the fourth inning off of Corpus Christi Hooks’ pitcher Ross Seaton. Kolten Wong led off the inning hitting a single and then advancing to second on a wild pitch. Nolan Arenado then doubled scoring Wong. That set the stage for Oscar Taveras who hit a home run putting the North on top 3-0.

Engel Beltre led the charge for the South in the sixth inning. He led off the inning hitting at triple to right field. A sac fly by Dean Anna brought Beltre in to score the only run of the game for the South. In the bottom of the inning, there were several substitutions for the South. Frisco catcher Zach Zaneski replaced Ali Solis and put in three innings of work behind the plate.

‘Riders reliever Carlos Pimentel split the eighth inning with Kevin Chapman who got the first out of the inning. Pimentel got the last two outs of the inning by inducing a flyout to third base and a line drive to second base.

The South fell to the North 3-1. Oscar Taveras was unanimously named the MVP. The all-star festivities were then wrapped up with a fireworks display before all of the players went their separate ways to catch up with their teams for games tonight. Frisco plays the Springfield Cardinals tonight at 7 p.m. Fans can listen to the game online at ridersbaseball.com.

Story by Jarah Wright

Eric McMahon’s Workout Plan Part 2

Eric McMahon’s Workout Plan Part 1

Shot by Jarah Wright

A Fan’s Perspective

Two weeks ago, we were talking to Justin Grimm at Dr Pepper Ballpark interviewing him for a ‘Riders blog post. Last night, we were at the Ballpark in Arlington watching him make his second start with the Texas Rangers.

This was a whole new thing for us, being a fan.

Usually, we are at the ballpark around noon to start pre-game preparations. During the game, we work on statistics and rarely get to actually experience the game and see our guys play.

Our seats gave us a prime view of the field.

Last night we were able to go to Arlington after a few hours of work. After some pre-game preparations before our night off began, me, Michael and Alex, our graphic design coordinator & photographer, were able to leave and started the 36-mile journey to Arlington. We got to the ballpark and began the arduous task that every fan faces, parking. We found a good lot by the convention center and walked to first base. We quickly found our seats and stayed put to watch former RoughRiders pitcher Justin Grimm take the mound.

It was pretty cool to see Grimm on the big board at the Ballpark in Arlington.

That was definitely a different experience for Michael and I to see someone we got to know as a player and a person now pitching in a major league ballpark.

We had predicted before the game that a bat might be thrown.

As the Rangers headed into the bottom of the first, we headed out into the concourse to grab some grub. There are lots of choices at the ballpark but we went with some fan favorites — a hamburger, hot dog and cheese fries. We settled back in our seats just as left fielder Josh Hamilton was up to bat and we were not disappointed. There were two thrown bats and one of them landed about ten rows in front of us. We were quickly distracted from Hamilton’s at-bat as two guys sat down in front of us with the now legendary “Boomstick” two-foot-long hot dog. Over the course of three innings, that hot dog was gone.

Another fun feature is the fact that the ballpark is close to the airport. So like people in the Superman movies, we looked up at the sky not to find a bird, but a plane. The game progressed as the Rangers took on the Detroit Tigers. We talked about Prince Fielder and then Alex and Michael decided to hunt down some ice cream.

They came back and it turns out they got ice cream and decided to add some things into it to come up with a tasty ice cream concoction. I passed, and waited to snag a Lemon Chill in the sixth inning. It’s always fun to watch the vendors. I have to give kudos to the water guy whose strap broke while he was carrying it up the stairs. He did a graceful bow, fixed it, and continued on his merry way.

We spied a friend up above in the press box.

We discovered another Frisco friend around the seventh inning. We used our camera to zoom in on the press box and saw Larry Bump who works with Michael and I in the press box at Dr Pepper Ballpark. He is also a freelance writer which is why he was at the game. We texted him telling him we could see him. He then picked up a pair of binoculars and looked for us while we waved as hard as we could. It was funny because a foul ball was hit in our direction in the eighth inning and he texted us saying we should have caught the ball that landed two rows behind us.

Grimm focuses on the plate as Prince Fielder steps into the box.

The Rangers ended up losing to the Tigers 8-2. However, watching someone we got to know in Frisco pitch in his second Major League start while not having to work made the night special.

Photos and story by Jarah Wright

A Look Into Another Texas Rangers Affiliate: Spokane Indians

By the time mid to late June rolls around in Frisco, the season is in full action. The season is almost half way over and half of the playoff spots are usually decided. It’s the same way with Round Rock, Myrtle Beach, and Hickory and every other full season minor league affiliate. For those in short-season, however, the season is just beginning.

The Spokane Indians began their season on June 15 and so far have struggled to an opening 2-8 start. While Frisco has players that are far more experienced in professional baseball, with some even having major league experience, Spokane and short season ball are where a number of players make their professional debuts and begin their journey towards the dream of playing in the major leagues.

This year’s team for Spokane features one prospect in the top 30 in the Texas Ranger’s organization according to Baseball America. Right handed pitcher David Perez entered 2011 as the 11th best prospect in the organization, but fell to 26th entering 2012 after suffering through command issues (29 walks in 30 innings) in Spokane. Still just 19 years old, Perez has a big arm, as he can reach mid 90s, and has a big ceiling still.

The Indian’s roster also includes 13 players selected by the Texas Rangers in the draft earlier this month. Included in those are six of the Ranger’s first nine picks, including University of Texas-Arlington outfielder Preston Beck (5th round).

Here is a look at Spokane’s roster and how they were acquired:

POS Pitchers Acquired
RHP Richard Alvarez NDFA- 2008
RHP Alec Asher Drafted- 4th round (2012)
RHP Shawn Blackwell Drafted- 24th round (2009)
RHP Eric Brooks Drafted- 11th round (2012)
LHP Joseph Burns Drafted- 28th round (2012)
RHP Coby Cowgill Drafted- 23rd round (2012)
RHP Abel De Los Santos Unknown
RHP Taylor Dennis Drafted- 34th round (2011)
RHP Ryan Harvey Drafted- 18th round (2012)
RHP Cody Kendall Drafted- 8th round (2012)
RHP John Kukuruda Drafted- 28th round (2010)
RHP Josh McElwee Drafted- 20th round (2012)
RHP Carlos Melo Trade w/ Detroit
RHP Jose Monegro NDFA- 2009
RHP David Perez NDFA- 2009
RHP Connor Sadzeck Drafted- 11th round (2011)
RHP Jose Valdespina Unknown
POS Catchers Acquired
C Patrick Cantwell Drafted- 3rd round (2012)
C Guy Edmonds NDFA- 2010
C Joe Maloney Drafted- 10th round (2011)
POS Infielders Acquired
SS Smerling Lantigua NDFA- 2010
SS Gabriel Roa Drafted- 25th round (2012)
1B Ryan Rua Drafted- 17th round (2011)
2B Cam Schiller Drafted- 7th round (2012)
1B Barrett Serrato Drafted- 30th round (2012)
2B Nick Vickerson Drafted- 20th round (2011)
POS Outfielders Acquired
OF Preston Beck Drafted- 5th round (2012)
OF Royce Bolinger Drafted- 6th round (2012)
OF Brandon Garcia NDFA- 2012
OF Christopher Garia NDFA- 2009
OF Saquan Johnson Drafted- 28th round (2011)
OF Hirotoshi Onaka NDFA- 2010

They might not be Frisco RoughRiders yet, but it’s very likely that a number of those players will reach Frisco and possibly Texas in the coming years.

Written By: Michael Damman

Buckel’s Big Debut

Like Justin Grimm gave the Texas Rangers a lift with his promotion from Frisco to Texas, the Frisco RoughRiders hope that right handed pitcher Cody Buckel can give them a lift after his promotion from Myrtle Beach. The just turned 20 year old (June 18) makes his Double-A debut this evening at Dr Pepper Ballpark against the Corpus Christi Hooks.

Buckel, taken in the 2nd round of the 2010 draft, has taken a bit of the fast track to Frisco. In his first full professional season he went 8-3 with a 2.61 ERA and 1.14 WHIP for the low-A Hickory Crawdads. He posted an 11.2 strikeout per nine ratio (120 strikeouts) and walked just 25 batters in 96.2 innings. Among starters with at least 15 starts, his 4.44 K/BB ratio was 5th in the South Atlantic League.

The Simi Valley, California native has improved his prospect status even more in 2012, however, as he had a break through first half with the Myrtle Beach Pelicans. Buckel went 5-3 with a miniscule 1.31 ERA and 0.98 WHIP in 13 starts. It took five starts before Buckel gave up more than two hits in a start and overall he gave up three or less hits in nine of the starts. He struck out at least eight batters in six starts, including a season high eleven batters on May 17 against the Winston-Salem Dash. That was arguably his best start of the season as he gave up just three hits and one walk over eight shutout innings. Buckel was named to the Carolina League All-Star team and was named the Carolina League pitcher of the week three different times this season.

Drafted out of high school, Cody Buckel doesn’t have a big frame, but it’s hard to argue with the results that come out of it. Rated the #6 prospect in the Texas Ranger’s organization entering 2012, Baseball America’s scouting report of Cody Buckel read as:

“The Rangers haven’t been afraid of taking undersized pitchers in recent drafts, including the 6-foot Buckel. He opted to forego a Pepperdine commitment to sign for $590,000 as a second-round pick in 2010. He opened his first full season in extended spring training and then the Hickory bullpen before going 7-2, 2.04 with a 104-19 K-BB ratio in 17 starts. Buckel’s intelligence, mechanics, and quirkiness are reminiscent of those of his best friend—Trevor Bauer, the No. 3 overall choice in the 2011 draft and his offseason workout partner. As with Bauer, Buckel’s unorthodox and torque-heavy delivery creates deception. While he doesn’t have overpowering stuff, he has a deep four-pitch mix, outstanding pitchability and a fiercely competitive nature. Buckel’s fastball sits at 88-92 mph and touches 94 with armside run. He also throws a plus changeup, an average curveball with big break that he learned from Barry Zito and a short cutter/slider that induces grounders. Some scouts still worry about his size and durability, though his athleticism should help him. Buckel doesn’t have incredible upside, but he has a low floor and could become a solid No. 3 starter. He’ll headline Myrtle Beach’s 2012 rotation and may move quickly because of his advanced feel for pitching.”

In the process he becomes the highest rated pitching prospect in the Ranger’s organization to pitch to date for the RoughRiders. He will be opposed tonight by the Corpus Christi Hooks (and Houston Astros) own top pitching prospect in Jarred Cosart. Here’s a sneak peek at Buckel’s pre-game bullpen session.


Erick Abreu Interview, June 15, 2012

We caught up with Hooks’ reliever Erick Abreu to find out about what he likes to do in the off-season and his unique role on the team.

-JWand MD

Jonathan Singleton Interview, June 16, 2012

During the last home stand, we talked to Corpus Christi Hooks’ first baseman Jonathan Singleton about being traded with Jarred Cosart and their relationship on and off the field.

-MD and JW

All-‘Riders Team: Designated Hitter

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 designated hitter.

Drafted in the tenth round out of Gonzaga University in the 2002 draft by the Texas Rangers, Nate Gold put up some big numbers in the minor leagues throughout his professional career. After spending the 2003 season in Low-A Clinton, Gold hit .242 with 20 home runs in 2004 for High-A Stockton. Gold repeated High-A in 2005 and hit .272 and 21 home runs for the Bakersfield Blaze. He made his Double-A debut at the end of the season, playing in 23 games for Frisco. However, his big season was still on the horizon.

In his first full year with the Frisco RoughRiders in 2006, Nate Gold hit a franchise best 34 home runs and drove in 103 runs in 120 games. He hit .292 with a career best .958 OPS. On July 13, the Bountiful, Utah native went 4 for 6 with three home runs and six RBI. He also scored four runs in the game. It was one of three multi home run games during the season. Gold set a season best seven RBI on August 3 when he went 3 for 5 with two home runs.

After Frisco, Gold spent the next two seasons playing for the Oklahoma City Redhawks. After just 25 games in 2009, Gold was released by the Texas Rangers. He finished his professional career with 829 hits, 204 doubles, 148 home runs, and 607 RBI over eight seasons. He had five consecutive 20+ home runs seasons from 2004-2008. He drove in 100 or more runs twice and finished with 90+ RBI four times in total. He also hit 30+ doubles in three different seasons and finished with 50 or more extra base hits during six consecutive years from 2003-2008.

Next Up: Starting Pitcher #1

Raising Money For A Good Cause

A chance meeting with a little boy named Grayson Hughes inspired Jake and Taylor Brigham to help organize an event to raise money for families in need. When Grayson was 6-years-old, he was diagnosed with leukemia. The Brighams knew instantly they wanted to help. The Brighams partnered with the RoughRiders Foundation as well as the local non-profit organization Kenna’s Kids to raise money for three families whose children are going through medical hardships.

On June 22 and 23, three events will take place in order to raise money for these families. The events include a mystery ball fundraiser, a raffle, and player baskets that will be auctioned off with all of the proceeds going to Kenna’s Kids.

In the mystery ball fundraiser, fans can pay $15 and will receive a bag with an autographed ball inside. Signed balls include current RoughRiders’ players.

Raffle tickets will be sold for the chance to win one of seven balls signed by the RoughRiders team as well as a mystery ball signed by a Texas Rangers’ player.

Baskets full of autographed gear as well as some of the player’s favorite things, like candy and golf tees, will be auctioned off during the games on Friday and Saturday. Some of the gear includes autographed bats, batting gloves, gloves, and cleats.

The lineup for Friday night includes baskets from third baseman Mike Olt, pitcher Barret Loux, first baseman Chris McGuiness, pitcher Time Murphy, shortstop Jurickson Profar, outfielder Jared Prince, athletic trainer Carlos Olivas, infielder Alex Buchholz, pitcher Tyler Tufts, infielder Guilder Rodriguez, and catchers Zach Zaneski and Jose Felix. Autographed balls from Rangers’ players Mike Adams, Joe Nathan, Michael Young, Robbie Ross, Michael Kirkman, Colby Lewis, Yu Darvish, and Derek Holland will also be auctioned off.

Baskets that will be auctioned off on Saturday include pitcher Jake Brigham, outfielder Ryan Strausborger, pitcher Ryan Rodebaugh, pitcher Chad Bell, outfielder Val Majewski, infielder Leury Garcia, pitcher Carlos Pimentel, pitcher Fabio Castillo, and ‘Riders manager Steve Buechele. Autographed balls from Adrian Beltre, Scott Feldman, Craig Gentry, Ian Kinsler, Ben Snyder, Tanner Scheppers, Michael Kirkman, and Robbie Ross will also be auctioned off.

Fans must be present at the game to place bids on player baskets. Tickets are still available to the games.

For fans who can’t be at the games, we are placing five autographed baseballs up for auction at http://roughriders.milbauctions.com/gallery.cfm?Cat_ID=1. The balls inlude autos from Greg Maddux, Roy Oswalt, Yu Darvish, Michael Young, and one baseball is autographed by the Texas Rangers team. The auctions will open up on Friday at 5:30 CT and close at midnight CT on Sunday.

To purchase tickets to the game, fans can go to www.ridersbaseball.com

To learn more about Kenna’s Kids or make a donation, visit http://www.kennaskids.org/donate.html