Back on the road again
After a partial day off and a seven-hour bus ride to Corpus Christi, the RoughRiders open South Division play against the Hooks Thursday at 7:05 p.m.
The team plays the first four games of the eight-game trip in Corpus Christi before traveling to San Antonio to take on the San Diego affiliate San Antonio Missions.
Both series should be good tests for Frisco, who opens the trip in first place in the entire Texas League. The RoughRiders are 8-4. That puts them a game ahead of 7-5 Corpus Christi and Midland and two games ahead of San Antonio.
The South Division dominated the first two weeks of the season, going 27-20 in cross-divisional play. The fourth place team San Antonio is tied with the first place teams in the North, Arkansas and Tulsa, at 6-6.
Now divisional plays opens, and the next few weeks should tell us a lot about the teams in the league.
Corpus Christi Hooks (7-5, Thursday-Saturday, 7:05, Sunday, 1:05)
The Hooks spent most of last week in first place before getting swept by Tulsa Sunday through Tuesday. An intigruing team to watch, the Hooks are a Houston Astros affiliate. Houston is employing a “piggybacking” or a “tandem” starting rotation at all of their minor league levels. Instead of having an ordinary five-man starting rotation, they have four pairs of starters. Each pair alternates who starts the game, and both go multiple innings. Chris Blake with the Hooks media department has a piece up explaining the pairing system if you want to find out more. Teams at lower levels have employed this system for years, but it is unheard of at the Double-A and Triple-A level.
Because of this rotation, Frisco will not “miss” any of the Corpus starters. The four-game series forces each of the eight “starting pitchers” to face the Frisco lineup at some point during the four-game set. Asher Wojciechowski has been the stalwart so far for the Hooks staff. He has posted 14 scoreless innings with 14 Ks and just four walks. He should relieve David Martinez Saturday night.
Intriguing offensive players on the roster are headlined by first baseman Jonathan Singleton, but he won’t play until May after violating minor league baseball’s drug policy in January; he is suspended for 50 games. Center fielder George Springer, who struggled in his brief stint in Corpus in 2012, is the highest ranked Astros farmhand currently active for the Hooks. He has performed better in the early going this year, hitting .273 with three home runs and is tied for second in the Texas League with 11 RBI. He hit 22 bombs and swiped 28 bags in the California League a year ago and has big time power and speed. Less ballyhooed outfield prospects Austin Wates and Domingo Santana are also off to good starts.
San Antonio Missions (6-6, Monday-Thursday, 7:05)
The farm team of another lowly MLB club, the Missions, like most of the San Diego farm system, is pitching-heavy in prospects. The Missions have six of the top-30 players in the Padres farm system according to Baseball America, and all six are on the pitching staff. Starters Donn Roach (19) and Matthew Andriese (20) are joined by bullpen arms Adys Portillo (9), Burch Smith (22), Matt Stites (27) and Kevin Quackenbush (29), although Portillo is currently on the DL. Andriese and Roach have been filthy thus far, and Quackenbush picked up the team’s only save ten days ago. The prospect-laden staff is producing; the Missions lead the Texas League in ERA (2.66) are tied for the fewest walks allowed (21).
No top-30 players in the Padres system fill the lineup for the Missions, but Tommy Medica has turned some heads. The C/1B/OF prospect was selected in the 14th round in 2010 and is already 25 years old, but he led all Padres farmhands in batting average (.330), on-base percentage (.406) and slugging (.623) a year ago. This is his first season at the Double-A level, and he is crushing the baseball. The career .297 minor league hitter leads the Missions in homers with four and has posted a .348 average. He is also first in the Texas League in total bases. Fringe prospect Jake Blackwood is off to a good start as well; he is tied with RoughRiders killer, Arkansas’ Matt Long, with 18 hits to lead the league.
- The best source of information on the RoughRiders players on a day-to-day basis are the game notes. You can check out today’s by clicking here.
- What a homestand for Frisco. Offensively, the team hit just .204 with two home runs in six road games. The six games at home produced 10 long balls and a .313 team average. Frisco is now second in batting average and homers in the league.
- Leading the way at home was Alejandro Selen (10-for-20, 8 R, 1 HR, 4 RBI, 1 SB), Ryan Strausborger (8-for-20, 4 R, 2 HR, 10 RBI, 2 SB) and Jared Hoying (8-for-23, 3 HR, 9 RBI, 1 SB). Alex Buchholz led the team with eight extra base hits. These were just four of the seven players who hit over .300 on the home stand.
- The pitching wasn’t too shabby either. Frisco posted 23 consecutive scoreless innings in the middle of the current five-game winning streak. After Matt Long‘s grand slam in the sixth inning on Thursday, the ‘Riders silenced the Travelers and then the Naturals until Carlos Pimentel allowed a pair of runs in the third inning Sunday. The RoughRiders won that game 9-2.
- Despite two rough outings from Cody Buckel on the home stand (2 GS, 3.1 IP, 8 R, 2 ER, 11 BB, 6 K), Frisco posted a 1.83 ERA in the six games.
- Randy Henry threw 7.1 scoreless innings in his two outings and is tied a top of the Texas League ERA leaderboard. He is one of only three qualifying players yet to give up a run.
- Kevin Pucetas (7.1 IP, 0 R, 5 H, 1 BB, 1 K) delivered the longest start of the season, and Neil Ramirez (5.2 IP, 2 H, 2 BB, 5 K) looked excellent in his second start.
- During the five-game winning streak Frisco is outscoring the opposition 48-12.
Some random thoughts and tidbits
- In not so random news, former ‘Riders lefty Joe Ortiz picked up his first and second big league victories for the Rangers during the time Frisco was home. He got his first in Seattle Thursday and another Saturday at Safeco.
- Nick Tepesch pitched okay but took the loss in his second start of his MLB career.
- In wouldn’t-it-be-neat-if-this-guy-made-it-here-this-year news, Joey Gallo hit his fifth and six home runs for the Rangers Class-A affiliate in Hickory. He got some love from MiLB.com this week as well. The power prospect trails only Ernesto Mejia (7) of the Atlanta Braves Triple-A team in Gwinnett for homers by a minor leaguer.
Today’s game begins at 7:05 p.m. The pregame show begins at 6:40 and can be heard here or if you are on an iPad or iPhone, click here. You can also watch the games with the audio feed simulcast by purchasing a subscription to MiLB.tv.
Baseball term of the day: petticoat ball – a strike at the knees in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League.
- Posted on April 18, 2013 at 1:48 pm
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- Tags: Alejandro Selen, Alex Buchholz, Arkansas Travelers, Austin Wates, Carlos Pimentel, Corpus Christi Hooks, Domingo Santana, Eric Springer, Frisco RoughRiders, Houston Astros, Jared Hoying, Joey Gallo, Kevin Pucetas, Nathan Barnett, Neil Ramirez, Nick Tepesch, Northwest Arkansas Naturals, Randy Henry, Ryan Strausborger, San Antonio Missions, San Diego Padres