July 2012

Man vs. Boomstick

On Sunday July 8, the Frisco RoughRiders will be holding their first “Dollar Hotdog Night”. With that coming up soon, we decided to check out one of the newest additions to Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, which is also the newest addition to Dr Pepper Ballpark.

The “Boomstick” as it is called is a two-foot-long hot dog that comes in at approximately one pound. It is covered with chili, cheese, and topped off with onions and jalapenos. It costs $26 and is located in the first base concourse at a stand-alone wagon stand. Since the Boomstick came to Frisco, I wanted to attempt to eat it.

A couple of Rangers fans a row ahead of us had “The Boomstick”.

After making a trip to Arlington last week, Jarah and I came up with parameters on what the challenge was. We saw two people ahead of us in the stands get one and it took the two of them about two and a half innings to finish the Boomstick. With that in mind, the parameters were set. I was going to have six innings to try to finish it which would allow for a little extra time given my in game duties of DakStats.

I was definitely looking forward to attempting this challenge… that was until it actually came time to get it. It’s one thing to think about what a two-foot-long/one pound hot dog looks like. It’s another to see the challenge ahead.

When I went to get it and bring it back up to the press box, it was very interesting to see the reactions on some of the fans faces and the comments made. One group said out loud, “Is he crazy?” I simply responded, “yes”.

Once back up in the press box, it was there that I realized just what I was getting myself into. It began with the comments from my friends that I work with and extended into the first bite of the Boomstick.

I began into the giant hot dog (and that is an understatement) a little before game time. Once the game began, I took the strategy of having a bite after every out made. I figured that if I paced myself that way I might be able to do it.

A comparison of the Boomstick to a normal jumbo hot dog at Dr Pepper Ballpark.

By the end of the first couple innings, I was in solid shape. I had eaten over half the hot dog and still had four innings to go. Even the people around me were impressed by what I was able to do early on.

But as each out went by and each bite went by, the quantity of the meat being taken in got smaller and it felt like there was much less room in my stomach for the hot dog. I began to feel the pain of each bite and the pressure to finish the hot dog.

As we came down to the final inning, I started to see the end getting closer and the hot dog not getting any smaller. An inch of the hot dog began to feel like a foot-long hot dog and the bread began to be pushed aside simply because of how much bread there was.

It was during the middle of the sixth inning that I began to feel like I wouldn’t finish it and with a couple outs remaining in the sixth inning I essentially threw up the white flag, although it wouldn’t be official until I made a sign and got a picture of it after the sixth inning was over.

The white flag was thrown after the sixth inning.

I did do better than I thought I would, but I wanted to finish the challenge. In the end, I still ended up sleeping terribly last night and I attribute most of that to the Boomstick.

Boomstick 1, Me 0.
Written By: Michael Damman
Photos Credit: Jarah Wright

A Player’s Look Into The Winter Leagues

Every year players from across Major League and Minor League baseball will travel to Venezuela and the Caribbean for Winter League baseball. It is a way for some of the younger players to keep playing and develop their game, and a chance for the major league players to do the same while also helping the younger guys. It’s also a chance for many of the players that go, to go back home and still play baseball.

We have a couple players that were willing to share their own insights into the life that they lived this past offseason in Venezuela and the Dominican Republic.

Venezuelan Winter League

Wilfredo Boscan played in the Venezulan Winter League this past off-season pitching for Aguilas del Zulia. The team is based out of Boscan’s hometown of Maracaibo, Venezuela. Last year was the first year Boscan played in the league and he said he enjoyed it.

“I got a lot of experience because there’s a lot of good players over there,” Boscan said. “In Venezuela, I worked a lot on my pitches. I know the hitters were good hitters so I worked on keeping the ball down and throwing good pitches.”

Boscan said the camaraderie between the players is the same, but the ballpark atmosphere is different, mainly due to noise level.

“I like it because there are a lot of fans and everyone is talking. It’s different because there is so much noise over there,” Boscan said.

Washington Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos was also playing the Venezuelan Winter League when he was abducted from his home worrying others in the baseball world about the safety of the players. However, Boscan said it was never a concern.

“Whenever the game was over or we needed to travel to another city, we always had security,” Boscan said.

Despite all the ups and downs, Boscan said he would like to play in the league again next off-season.

Dominican Winter League

Carlos Pimentel played in a different league, but similar situations. He played for the Leones del Escogido of the Dominican League. The team is based out of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic and has been the third most successful Dominican Winter League team since being established in 1921. It could be the success that has been a draw for some familiar names.

“Julio Borbon, Jorge Sosa, Jose Cabrera pitched, and Craig Gentry was over there too,” Pimentel said when asked about some of the players that he played with.

There were others such as the current American League saves leader, Fernando Rodney, and San Francisco Giant’s first baseman Brandon Belt.

It’s experienced players like that, that can help out the players who are making their ways through the minor leagues still and Pimentel agreed.

“Well there are more experienced players over there like big players who hit harder and I have to pitch better.”

The experience doesn’t come without it’s differences, for example the fan bases are one difference.

“Fans over there are crazy fans. There is usually a big crowd at every game. It’s a lot different,” Pimentel said when asked about the fans.

With the crazy fans and all, Carlos Pimentel still hopes to go back to the Winter League during this coming offseason.

“I had lots of fun. Everything over there was fun.”

We will keep you updated later this season as to which players from the Frisco RoughRiders will go to which leagues during the offseason. From the Arizona Fall League to the Winter Leagues, even the offseason can be a hectic time for some of the players.

 

Written By: Michael Damman and Jarah Wright

Catching Up With the Top Prospects

The Texas Rangers entered the 2012 season with some of the best minor league baseball talent of all of the organizations. As we get into July, let’s take a look at how some of the top prospects in the organization have done on the field during the season.

Top Ten Prospects in the Organization According to Baseball America:

1.) SS Jurickson Profar, Frisco RoughRiders

Stats: 76 games .291/.369/.482/.851 18 2B 6 3B 9 HR 38 RBI 38 BB-48 K 9 SB

Viewed as one of the elite prospects in the game entering 2012, Jurickson Profar has done nothing to dissuade people from that opinion. Despite being the youngest player in the Texas League, Profar has put up steady play from literately day one and earned himself a spot in the Texas League All-Star game. He has steadily shown better plate discipline and has proven to be able to withstand long droughts since the beginning of the year, which were highlighted by a 29 game hitting streak and 50 game on base streak.

2.) LHP Martin Perez, Texas Rangers

Stats: 16 starts 6-5 4.58 ERA 90.1 IP 86 H 40 BB 55 K 1.39 WHIP

A Frisco RoughRider over the last two plus seasons, Martin Perez began the season in Triple-A Round Rock before getting a promotion to the big league club on June 27. In 15 starts with the Round Rock Express, Perez went 5-5 with a 4.59 ERA. His 1.38 WHIP, however, would represent his lowest WHIP since 2009. Perez was also stronger over his last starts with the Express, including a complete game in his last start where he gave up 3 hits and 2 runs. Perez got his first appearance in the big leagues on June 27 and made his first big league start three days later. The southpaw gave up 6 hits and 2 runs over 5.1 innings against the Oakland Athletics and became the third Texas Rangers rookie to get a win in his first start this season, joining Yu Darvish and Justin Grimm.

3.) 3B Mike Olt, Frisco RoughRiders

Stats: 73 games .302/.408/.600/1.008 14 2B 1 3B 22 HR 62 RBI 47 BB-79 K 4 SB

If you asked people who the best left side of the infield in minor league baseball was entering 2012, most would probably have said Jurickson Profar and Mike Olt, and while Profar was already talked about above, Mike Olt has been as advertised, if not better than advertised as well. The only player that could make a case against Mike Olt being the Texas League Player of the Year so far would be Springfield’s Oscar Taveras, but even then it’s hard to argue against Olt. Currently leading the Texas League in home runs, Mike Olt is a run producer that can play good defense at third base. In the month of June, Olt hit a torrid .325 with 10 home runs and 24 RBI in 22 games. He had a spree of three straight two home run games in the beginning of June. The only thing that stopped Olt from crushing opponents was a hamstring injury that caused him to miss some games before the All-Star break.

4.) OF Leonys Martin, Texas Rangers

Stats: 39 games .327/.399/.542/.941 12 2B 3 3B 5 HR 27 RBI 18 BB-27 K 9 SB

Like Martin Perez, Leonys Martin began the season in Triple-A Round Rock and earned a promotion to the Texas Rangers. One of the big international signings last season, Martin hit .344 with 15 extra base hits in 31 games for the Express en route to a .961 OPS in 146 plate appearances. Since getting the call up to the big leagues, Martin has hit .240 with 5 extra base hits in 8 games (28 plate appearances). He has started sporadically over the half month that he has been up with the big league club.

5.) RHP Neil Ramirez, Frisco RoughRiders

Stats: 17 starts 7-9 7.09 ERA 85 IP 84 H 36 BB 77 K 1.41 WHIP

A breakthrough season in 2011 saw Neil Ramirez jump from High-A Myrtle Beach to Triple-A Round Rock during the campaign. While Ramirez spent most of the end of the season with Frisco, Ramirez began the 2012 season back where he finished it, in Round Rock. The former first round pick, however, struggled with the long ball this season and got off to a rough start. After going 6-8 with a 7.66 ERA in 15 starts for the Express, Ramirez was demoted to Frisco. With the RoughRiders, Ramirez has made two starts and has given up six hits and five walks over eleven innings with a 3.27 ERA.

6.) RHP Cody Buckel, Frisco RoughRiders

Stats: 15 starts 5-5 1.88 ERA 86 IP 61 H 30 BB 99 K 1.06 WHIP

Cody Buckel took a Robbie Erlin/Joe Wieland like surge through Myrtle Beach during the early stages of the 2012 season and earned a promotion to Frisco on June 21. In 13 starts for the Pelicans, Buckel made Carolina League hitters look silly as he gave up just 49 hits and 25 walks over 75.2 innings with 91 strikeouts. Viewed as one of the top pitching prospects in the organization, Buckel has furthered his reputation with the season so far. Despite a couple of rough starts in Frisco, it’s only a matter of time before Buckel starts Buckeling hitters.

7.) C Jorge Alfaro, Hickory Crawdads

Stats: 24 games .253/.337/.414/.751 4 2B 2 3B 2 HR 14 RBI 8 BB-30 K 1 SB

One of the highest ceiling position prospects in the organization, Jorge Alfaro has had an interesting beginning to the 2012 season. The catcher missed nearly two months with a hamstring injury. Alfaro returned on June 10 and hit .271 with an .854 OPS, including 5 extra base hits in 14 games. The 19 year old catcher is at this point still very raw and looks to be a few years away from making an impact in Arlington.

8.) 3B Christian Villanueva, Myrtle Beach Pelicans

Stats: 75 games .270/.328/.411/.739 17 2B 1 3B 7 HR 44 RBI 16 BB-65 K 8 SB

Not the flashiest player out there, the 21 year old Christian Villanueva has handled his promotion to Myrtle Beach and the Carolina League, a tough league on hitters, without a ton of struggle. Villanueva has been solid from day one, as he leads the Pelicans in home runs, RBI, and slugging percentage. His .739 OPS is the third best on the team behind current RoughRider Jared Hoying (.756) Brett Nicholas (.750). Villanueva has struggled with plate discipline, however, as he has walked just 16 times and struck out 65 times in 75 games.

9.) 2B Rougned Odor, Hickory Crawdads

Stats: 59 games .294/.350/.489/.840 17 2B 2 3B 8 HR 33 RBI 14 BB-34 K 11 SB

For the second straight year, the Hickory Crawdads are getting premium production from an 18 year old middle infielder. Last season it was Jurickson Profar that put up MVP numbers in the South Atlantic League. This season, Rougned Odor has taken over, providing similar numbers. The 18 year old, who doesn’t turn 19 until next February, has hit .294 with 17 doubles, 2 triples, and 8 home runs in 59 games. His .840 OPS is among the leaders on the Crawdads team. With runners on this season, Odor is batting .375, including a 1.035 OPS.

10.) RHP Matt West, Myrtle Beach Pelicans

Stats: 4 games 0-0 1.80 ERA, 5 IP 2 H 3 BB 4 K 1.00 WHIP

Matt West began the 2012 season with some difficult news as he was faced with trying to avoid Tommy John Surgery. He suffered a sprained ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow during Spring Training. West came back pitching in June and has appeared in four games for the Myrtle Beach Pelicans this season. A former hitter turned pitcher, West has high upside as a reliever going forward and was expected to move quickly once he made the transition to pitching.

Written By: Michael Damman

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