April 2013

Lineups: Rodriguez leading off, Selen in the IF

Here are Saturday’s lineups for game three of ‘Riders/Hooks. Frisco needs to win to stay alone in first place in the South Division and the Texas League.

ROUGHRIDERS

2B Guilder Rodriguez

LF Ryan Strausborger

CF Jared Hoying

1B Brett Nicholas

3B Alex Buchholz

RF Chih-Hsien Chiang

C Tomas Telis

3B Alejandro Selen

SS Hanser Alberto

***RHP Carlos Pimentel***

HOOKS

LF Austin Wates 

SS Ben Orloff

CF George Springer

DH Michael Burgess

Carlos Perez

2B Enrique Hernandez

1B Erik Castro

3B Jonathan Meyer

RF Drew Muren

***RHP David Martinez***

A few notes about the lineup:

  • Rodriguez makes his third start at 2B. He has made 3 starts at 1B, 2 at SS, and 2 at 3B. And of course, one appearance on the mound–when he collected the win for Frisco Thursday night. 
  • This is his second time in the leadoff spot. The last time also came with usual leadoff man Odubel Herrera out of the lineup. Frisco won the last game Rodriguez led off, a 6-0 win at home against Arkansas last week.
  • Alejandro Selen makes just his third start in the field and first in the infield. He has played just 16 games at third in his career but is not unaccustomed to playing in the infield. Selen has started 165 games at 2B and four at 1B — although none this year.
  • Chiang has played more left field than right field (6:3) this season, but his positioning in right should be expected with Hoying in center field. Strausborger has played just two games in right field (both in 2012) since his first professional season, when he manned the right garden 25 times for short-season Spokane.

Today’s game 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. Pregame show will start up at 6:40 p.m.

And if you haven’t already seen this today. Enjoy. A well-worth it distraction of the day. 

- Nathan

Baseball term of the day: worm burner – a hard-hit ground ball 

Fun with numbers: 17-inning game edition

It’s hard to remember that Neil Ramirez even started that game last night. Even though he went five innings, he pitched less than a third of the game.

Seventeen innings in the books. First time in RoughRiders history. Most importantly, another win. The RoughRiders finished off the Hooks 4-2 in seventeen innings to improve to 9-4 on the season.

That’s six wins in-a-row now for the first-place RoughRiders. Frisco is a game ahead of Midland and 2.5 games better than the first place team in the North Division, the Arkansas Travelers (6-6).

The 9-4 mark is one of the best starts in team history. Last year the ‘Riders began 9-4 and finished just short of their second Texas League Championship. The 2012 ‘Riders lost the next three after going 9-4 to fall to 9-7.

The 9-4 start is also best start for the club since 2008 through 13 games. That team began 10-3 and ran their mark to 12-3 before losing. That 2008 squad put together the best record in the  Texas League in the first half (43-27) and won the South Division in both halves. Their overall record of 84-56 is the second best record in team history.

The best final record for Frisco came in 2007 under now Rangers First Base Coach Dave Anderson. That team went 85-55. They also began 9-4 but only won once more (10-4) before falling again to 10-5.

Two more wins and this year’s team will have the second best start in the eleven years of the franchise. Four more will be a new record for the best start to the season in the first seventeen games–a fitting number considering the length of last night’s extra innings contest.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. There is so much to relish about Thursday night’s contest:

The Game:

  • The game took 4 hours and 43 minutes.
  • The Hooks brought 63 batters to the plate. Seven times they got a hit. On five occasions they walked. Nineteen times they struck out (a new season high for Frisco). Once they reached on a hit-by-pitch.
  • The ‘Riders sent 67 batters to the plate. Thirteen collected hits, three walked, one was hit by a pitch and one reached on an error. They struck out just nine times in 17 innings.
  • The two teams combined for 480 pitches. Frisco threw 243 while Corpus Christi tossed 237–surprising, considering the ‘Riders outhit the Hooks 13 to 7.
  • The four innings thrown by Ryan Rodebaugh tied a career high for him. He also pitched four innings in an extra inning game in 2011. That came in a 1-0 Hickory win over Savannah. Rodebaugh relieved major leaguer Justin Grimm, tossing four scoreless innings after Grimm had gone seven strong. Like last night, Rodebaugh did not get the win. The two teams combined for 16 hits in that game, and only one went for extra bases: the fifth double of the season for Jurickson Profar.
  • The game was not ever close to the longest in the history of baseball, or even the Texas League. In fact it wasn’t even the longest game at Whataburger Field in recent memory. Corpus Christie hosted a 20-inning contest against the Wichita Wranglers (also a Hooks loss) on June 1, 2005. The game finished at 1:19 a.m. on June 2. Jackson and San Antonio played a 26-inning, 7 hour and 23 minute game over the course of three days in Texas League play July 14-16, 1988. 
  • The longest professional game in history was the famous clash between the Pawtucket Red Sox and the Rochester Red Wings. That one took 33 innings and spanned over two different days across multiple months in the summer of ’81. 
  • If you are interested in this kind of thing, I would highly recommend this book. It is fascinating. It also debunks the myths of multiple games that were once believed to last over 40 innings. The author writes that he has cataloged 540 games, at time of publication, that took more than 20 innings to complete, across all levels of baseball in all countries.

Guilder Rodriguez:

  • The 29-year-old utility infielder picked up his first career win on the mound last night after throwing a scoreless sixteenth inning. It was his third career pitching performance in his 914th professional game. 
  • His first career outing on the mound came in 2012, in his 11th professional season and 870 games into his pro career. Frisco pitched Rodriguez and Val Majewski in a 9-run 11th inning on the way to a 14-5 11-inning defeat, oddly enough, also against Corpus Christi, the team he collected the win against last night.
  • His first decision (a loss) and his first scoreless inning came during the same game (he pitched two innings), 901 games into his pro career, also last year. Frisco lost 2-1 against Midland in 13 innings.
  • When Rodriguez entered the game last night, he was playing in his 12th professional season, for his 10th different franchise, in his 9th year of Double-AA baseball, in his fifth different season with the RoughRiders and after 3325 plate appearances and 2882 at bats in affiliated baseball.
  • Rodriguez has more appearances as a pitcher (3) than home runs (2) and as many decisions (2) on the mound as he does long balls in his career. He hit his second career home run on Opening Night this season.
  • The utility man has played every position except catcher in his career. With one more pitching performance, right field will become his next least played position. He has played only three games in right. He played their once for Frisco in 2009 and twice last year.

Enough head spinning. Enjoy the game tonight. Another 7:05 start from Corpus Christi. What will we see next? In light of that thought: today’s distraction of the day.

Game notes are coming soon. We will post them here when they are ready to go. UPDATE: Game notes are here!

- Nathan

Baseball term of the day: snake jazz – a breaking ball

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.

The Opponents

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.

‘Riders Notes

  • 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.

- Nathan

Baseball term of the day: petticoat ball – a strike at the knees in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League. 

First RoughRiders Roundtable of the year is up!

Ted Price of DallasSportsNetwork.tv informed us this morning that he has posted the first RoughRiders Roundtable of the season (#10 overall).

You can find the podcast entry by clicking here. 

We will post a link to each RoughRiders Roundtable here on the Insider Blog. You can also subscribe to the podcast on iTunes or by linking the RSS feed to your device or RSS reader.

In this episode Alex, Nathan, and Jason Cole (of LoneStarDugout.com) discuss middle infield prospects Hanser Alberto and Odubel Herrera as well as catcher Tomas Telis before diving into the divergent starts of right-handed starters Neil Ramirez and Cody Buckel . ‘Riders Manager Steve Buechele breaks down the opening day roster. Jason also weighs in on the slow start in Triple-A Round Rock of Rangers third base prospect Mike Olt. We toss around a little Nick Tepesch talk as well.

Enjoy!

Baseball term of the day – knocker – an early term for a batter 

‘Riders on the Record: Week One

You can’t always catch the RoughRiders live. We get it. You’ve got laundry, homework, cooking, meetings, and catching up on your DVR to do. Maybe you are even at Dr Pepper Ballpark (although, if so, you can listen to the game on RidersBaseball.com)! If so, you are missing out on the pregame interviews with a ‘Riders player or coach before the games.

Maybe you do listen to the game but tune in around first pitch and miss the pregame show.  Or even better yet, you did the hear the show, but want listen to the sitdown with one of your favorite players again or even share it with a friend.

So, we bring you “‘Riders on the Record,” a (hopefully) weekly entry each Sunday of the week’s pregame insights with the Frisco ballplayers and field staff. With a little more than a week since the season began, this week’s will be a slightly longer entry.

Hope you enjoy!

April 13, 2013 – RHP Neil Ramirez


Former Rangers supplemental first round pick Neil Ramirez pitched an excellent 5.2 innings in first home start. The right-hander talks about his focus for the season, the wild ride he has endured the last two seasons and how he needs to let his body rest from time to time. (w/ Nathan Barnett)

April 12, 2013 – RHP Randy Henry


Fresh off a stellar outing in the team’s home opener, reliever Randy Henry talks about his comfort level with the club in the early season. The Oklahoma native explains how he likes being close to home. He also talks about his routine, which includes a touching tribute to his late brother and a quirky obsession with the number three. (w/ Nathan)

April 11, 2013 – LHP Ryan Feierabend


On the home opening day for the RoughRiders we had a chance to catch up with Ryan Feierabend, one of just two ‘Riders with big league experience (on the roster at that time). Following his start on short rest, Ryan talked about how far away he is from being full stretched out. He also opened up about his role as a veteran on the team and what advice he has to the young pitchers on the staff looking to make their way to The Show. (w/ Nathan)

April 9, 2013 – 1B Brett Nicholas


Frisco first baseman Brett Nicholas discusses breaking out of his slump. He also touches on his experiences with Texas Rangers starting pitcher Nick Tepesch in their days together at the University of Missouri on the day Tepesch was set to make his MLB debut for the Rangers against the Tampa Bay Rays. (w/ Alex Vispoli)

April 8, 2013 – RHP Kevin Pucetas


Following his first start of the season, veteran starting pitcher Kevin Pucetas talks about his journey in professional baseball and how he landed with the Texas Rangers organization this offseason. He also asses the early start of the season for the team and how he can help set the tone for a young pitching staff. (w/ Alex)

April 7, 2013 – Manager Steve Buechele


Alex sits down again with Manager Steve Buechele. They talk about the early struggles offensively for the club, the heavily worked bullpen, and the up-and-down first start for pitcher Neil Ramirez. (w/ Alex)

April 6, 2013 – IF Guilder Rodriguez


RoughRiders middle infielder Guilder Rodriguez sits down with Alex after his second career home run, which came on Opening Night. A coach on the field, Rodriguez talks about his work last season with top prospects Leury Garcia and Jurickson Profar as well. (w/ Alex)

April 5, 2013 – Manager Steve Buechele


‘Riders manager Steve Buechele discusses his team at the beginning of the season. With plenty of new faces and a long spring training, the skipper talks about his eagerness to start the season and analyzes his team’s apparent strengths and weakness as the team begins play. (w/ Alex)

April 4, 2013 – RHP Cody Buckel

Rangers #8th ranked prospect (according to Baseball America) Cody Buckel talks about his offseason appearance in a Dick’s Sporting Goods commercial, the development of his shuuto pitch, and what he learned in Spring Training from the Texas Rangers pitchers. (w/ Nathan)

- Nathan

Baseball term of the day – dancer – a knuckleball

A glance back at the last ten years

This time ten years ago, the Frisco RoughRiders Inaugural season was just getting under way.  2012 was the 10th season of ‘Riders baseball, but 2013 marks ten full years in Frisco.  As we continue Opening Weekend at Dr Pepper Ballpark, we’d like to  take a small look at the past ten years.

Recently, while cleaning a storage area in the press box, we came across an April 1, 2003 Special Edition issue of The Dallas Morning News featuring Opening Day of the Frisco RoughRiders at Dr Pepper/Seven Up Ballpark.

RiderFrontPage

Front page of the April 1, 2003 Dallas Morning News, Frisco RoughRiders Opening Day special edition

Much can change in ten years.  This time ten years ago, the US had been at war in Iraq for a little more than a month, occupying the majority of news coverage. In sports, A-Rod was playing his last season with the Rangers, and Don Nelson was still in Dallas as coach of the Mavs.

DallasNewsFrontPage

The Dallas Morning News cover, April 1, 2003

In their ten-year history, the RoughRiders organization and Dr Pepper Ballpark have had a number of changes and improvements added.  However, it is neat to take a look at the ballpark and at the team as they were ten years ago.  In 2003, Tim Ireland was the manager of the ‘Riders.  Since then, others have taken the role, including Darryl Kennedy (’05-’06) Dave Anderson (‘07), Scott Little (‘08), Mike Miccuci (’09) and our current manager, former Rangers’ third baseman Steve Buchele, who made his Frisco debut in 2010.

Dr Pepper /Seven Up Ballpark was renamed Dr Pepper Ballpark on March 31, 2006, and has held the name since.  Since 2003, many changes have been made to the ballpark itself with the addition and renovation of the concessions, scoreboard and lighting systems and other aspects.  Just prior to the 2013 season, the ballpark underwent a major improvement process on new concessions and playground areas.  Since its opening, Dr Pepper Ballpark has earned numerous recognition for its unique design, feel and fan amenities.

2003 Schedule

The ‘Riders 2003 pocket schedule

There have been 324 players to have played in the ‘Riders uniform, with 97 former RoughRiders making it to the big leagues.  Many big-name players have starred in Frisco in these ten years, and the RoughRiders have had many successful season and memorable highlights.    We look forward to another ten years of Frisco RoughRiders baseball.

-Ryan

Baseball term of the day: Through the Slot- A pitch that passes directly over home plate.

Preview: Game 6 of 140

Lineups

ROUGHRIDERS

2B Odubel Herrera

1B Guilder Rodriguez

3B Alex Buchholz

DH Brett Nicholas

RF Alejandro Selen

CF Ryan Strausborger

C Tomas Telis

SS Hanser Alberto

LF Teodoro Martinez

*LHP Ryan Feierabend

NATURALS

3B Angel Franco

SS Orlando Calixte

DH Rey Navarro

LF Mitch Canham

CF Yem Prades

1B Matt Fields

RF Whit Merrifield

2B Alex McClure

Juan Graterol

*LHP Noel Arguelles 

Some thoughts on the lineups:

  • First game for Selen in the field. He plays RF after three games as the DH. He is still looking for his first hit. 
  • No Chiang again. He hasn’t played since coming out of the lineup Sunday for a pinch hitter.
  • First day off for Jared Hoying. Odubel Herrera, Ryan Strausborger and Brett Nicholas are the only ‘Riders who have played every game. Strausborger came on as a pinch hitter on Sunday, thought.
  • Brett Nicholas is the DH — his first game out of first base.
  • Another new position for Guilder Rodriguez. He has played in all four infield spots now after playing the hot corner last night.
  • Telis gets the early nod as the more regular catcher. He and Zach Zaneski split the first four games. Telis though started yesterday and is going again today.

A few notes:

  • Ross Wolf has been promoted from Frisco to Triple-A Round Rock.
  • When the Travelers come to town Thursday, they will be without Jeremy Berg. He pitched in two of the three games against Frisco over the weekend was promoted the Triple-A Salt Lake.
  • Edition #6 of the game notes have been published and has great tidbits on the starters and players on the ‘Riders roster.
  • Former ‘Rider Nick Tepesch makes his debut for the Texas Rangers tonight. He will be the 97th ‘Rider to play in the majors after his time here.
  • Today’s game 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.

- Nathan

‘Riders have a winning record: Frisco 4 – Northwest Arkansas 3

For the second straight game, the RoughRiders beat the Naturals by a run, or you know, as the LA Times refers to it, a “point.” Brett Nicholas hit a three-run homer in the first. The Naturals tied the game, but Frisco never trailed. A Jared Hoying RBI-triple in the fifth proved the difference, scoring Guilder Rodriguez, who was productive at the plate again (1-for-3, 2 R, 1 BB). That made it 4-3, and that was your final. Carlos Pimentel struck out nine in what was, by most accounts, the best RoughRiders start of the season. You can read the details and check the box scores here. Frisco wraps up the series from Springdale, Arkansas tonight at 7:00 p.m.

Power surge: For the first time this season, the ‘Riders played in a game with two home runs. Nicholas hit the one for Frisco. Brian Fletcher hit his second long ball of the season for the Naturals. Frisco has two home runs on the year now, with Nicholas joining Rodriguez as the only players with a deep fly.

Balking not running: Naturals starter J.C. Sulbaran was called for a balk last night. It was the second straight ‘Riders game with the rare play. Frisco starting pitcher Kevin Pucetas was called for the infraction in the third inning Sunday. The two teams have stolen one base combined in the two games. Not often you see more balks than steals in a series. Still a game to go Tuesday, though.

Let him catch!: Guilder Rodriguez played 3B last night for the ‘Riders. The super-utility man has played every position but catcher now for Frisco. It was the first time he has played at the hot corner in a RoughRiders uni. He has played third twice for the Rangers Triple-A affiliate Round Rock and has played  there 21 times now in his pro career. Yes, he has pitched. Twice in fact. Both outings came last year for Frisco.

Gunnin’ em: Tomas Telis has been a force behind the plate with his arm. He gave up a steal in the fifth last night but one of the plays of the game came from his right arm in the bottom of the 8th. Orlando Calixte drew a seven-pitch leadoff walk. The next batter, Fletcher, hurt himself fouling off a Wilmer Font heater and was lifted from the game. There was a few minute delay while Fletcher was being attended to. Telis, relatively young for a catcher at this level (21), was ready to go out of the timeout. Trying to catch the ‘Riders napping, the Naturals sent Calixte on the first pitch after the pause in the action, and Telis was ready, gunning him down with a bullet to second baseman Odubel Herrera. The Frisco catcher is 4-for-6 catching attempting basestealers this season. In the early going, he has thrown out more runners than anyone else in the Texas League.

The Tale of Two Series: Frisco and Northwest Arkansas came into the series tied for the league-lead in walks allowed after the first three games (18). Neither walked a batter Sunday. Northwest Arkansas walked three last night. Frisco didn’t walk a batter until Calixte drew one on Font. Frisco had gone 22 innings without issuing a free pass.

A run!  A run! My kingom for a run!: The ‘Riders have played three consecutive one-run games. The 4-3 extra-innings loss Saturday has been followed up by two one-run victories over the Naturals. Frisco won 3-2 on Sunday.

A swing and a miss: Royals prospect Brett Eibner went 0-for-4 last night and accounted for four of the thirteen strikeouts for Frisco pitching. The centerfielder is 0-for-8 in the series and now 0-for-20 on the season with ten strikeouts. He does have a lone walk.

Lucky sevens: The seventh inning proved pivotal again last night in the RoughRiders’ successful work to hang on to a one-run lead. Last night it was Roman Mendez who squeaked out of a jam. After surrendering a lead-off double to Whit Merrifield, he got the next three out in order to keep the lead intact. It was Randy Henry Sunday, who got out of a second-and-third no-out jam in the same frame of a one-run game as well.

From the Big Club:

#95: The 95th RoughRiders player to make the big leagues after his time in Frisco dazzled last night. Joe Ortiz came on for the Rangers in the toughest jam of the game, with two on in a 3-1 game and just one out in the sixth inning. He shined in the high-pressure spot getting two ground balls. He retired all five batters he faced, in fact, working a perfect seventh inning as well.

And soon to be #97: Nick Tepesch (pronounced TEP-ish, by the way) is expected to have his contract purchased by the Rangers today from Triple-A Round Rock. He will make the start against the Tampa Bay Rays in his big league debut. Tepesch went 6-3 with a 4.28 ERA for Frisco in 2012 and had a great spring with Texas. His appearance will put the ‘Riders three players shy of 100 major league alums. He will also be the third former ‘Rider to debut this season (Ortiz, Leury Garcia).

- Nathan

Baseball term of the day: solitaire – a single.

The ‘Riders are 2-2, eyeing a winning record

Solid win for the ‘Riders yesterday to improve to 2-2. A breakout performance from Brett Nicholas (3-for-4, 1 R, 2 2B, 1 RBI) led the way offensively, but it was Kevin Pucetas (5.0 IP, 2 ER, 5 H, 3 K, 0 BB) that gave Frisco a chance. The right-hander made the longest start of the season for the RoughRiders before handing it over to the lights out bullpen for four scoreless innings for the 3-2 win.

Today the ‘Riders go back to work against the Naturals who are now 0-4 on the year. First pitch scheduled for 7:00 p.m from a cloudy and gusty Springdale.

Matchup:

Carlos Pimentel (0-0, 0.00 ERA):

Pimentel spent a full season with Frisco, posting a 2-2 record and a 3.03 ERA in 32.2 innings as a starting pitcher. He faired better out the pen (6-1, 2.26 ERA in 55.2 innings).This will be his second appearance after a scoreless, one-hit frame Friday in rescheduled season opener in North Little Rock. This will be Pimentel’s third consecutive year starting the season at the Double-AA level and fourth straight season to play for Frisco. In each of the last three years he has been better. After a brief but rough stint for the RoughRiders in 2010, he followed up a 7-9 record and posted a 4.74 ERA in 2011 before his breakout year one season ago. This is Pimentel’s seventh season in the minors, but the Dominican right-hander is still only 23 years old. (read more in today’s game notes, linked below).

J.C. Sulbaran (- -,  -.– ERA)

Sulbaran makes his 2013 season debut tonight against the RoughRiders. He came to the Royals system in a trade from the Reds with Donnie Joseph in exchange for reliever Jonathan Broxton. Sulbaran is repeating the Double-A level. He went 7-7 with a 4.04 ERA, posting 111 strikeouts and 22 walks in 19 starts (104.1 innings) in the Southern League as a member of the Reds organization. He didn’t fair near as well in his brief stint in the Texas League after the trade, going 0-4 with a 7.62 ERA, 24 strikeouts and 22 walks in six appearances (26 innings) for Northwest Arkansas. He throws a low-to-mid-90s fastball, a curveball and a changeup. (read more in today’s game notes, linked below).

Sunday’s Highlights:

Going the distance: ‘Riders starter Kevin Pucetas gave Frisco their longest start of the four-game season. His five innings topped the previous high coming from another of the elder statesmen on the roster, Ryan Feierabend, who threw 4.0 innings in the second-half of the doubleheader on Friday.

Pitching machines: Pucetas was really hitting his spots last night. He tossed 49 of his 72 pitches for strikes (68%). He paled in comparison to his mates out of the bullpen though. Randy Henry threw 22 of his 27 in the zone (81%), Ben Rowen missed only twice (6 of 8, 75%) and Ryan Rodebaugh, who closed the game, found the zone 8 out of 10 times (80%).

Getting off the schneid: Frisco is batting just .210 as a team through four games but there are few black holes in the lineup. 1-9 are producing in any given game. Teodoro Martinez (#9 spot in the order yesterday) and Zach Zaneski (#7) both tallied their first hits of the season on Sunday. That leaves only Alejandro Selen who has yet to record a hit (0-for-5). He also hasn’t played in the field. He will DH for the third time today. Guilder Rodriguez, a career .258 hitter, leads the team in hits (5), home runs (1) and batting average (.556).

Bringing the heat: Royals prospect Yordano Ventura was throwing gas against the ‘Riders last night. Ventura is the highest ranked player by Baseball America on the Naturals roster, 85th in all of baseball, fourth among Royals farmhands and second among their pitching prospects. Credit Frisco. They squared him up a number of times, turing around on upper 90s heat. He left with the game tied at 2-2 after five innings. Frisco tagged him for five hits but also struck out five times and didn’t walk against him.

Where in the world is Orlando Calixte?: The Royals most MLB-ready infield prospect got the day off yesterday. The shortstop will DH today. Orlando Calixte was ranked in the top ten prospects in the Carolina League last season and is in his first season of Double-AA ball. Adalberto Mondesi, son of former big leaguer Raul Mondesi, is considered to have a slightly higher ceiling than Calixte but is lower down in the Royals system. Mondesi is playing at Class-A this season after his first year in pro ball at the Rookie level and is only 17 years old. Calixte (21 years old) has decent gap power and a good eye. He is certainly a player to look out for tonight.

Or getting caught in the rain: Ok, this reference was a stretch. What do you want from me? Not quite yet in mid-season form. Anyway, cup-of-tea big leaguer Manny Pina reacquainted himself with his former organization last night. The backstop for the Naturals spent four years in the Texas system before being traded to KC in exchange for the erratic Daniel Gutierrez in 2009.

And some other news, notes, thoughts, and links:

Turn on the bright lights: Leury Garcia made his major league debut Saturday. He batted for Berkman in the 8th inning of an 8-4 deficit. The former RoughRider struck out in his only plate appearance, taking strike three from Angels reliever Kevin Jepsen.  The Rangers utility infielder made the big league team out of camp after hitting .292 with 31 steals in Frisco in 2012.

Big League moves: On the day the Rangers open a series against the Rays, they made a trade with Tampa as well. Texas acquired Robinson Chirinos Monday and then DFA’d Jeff Beliveau, whom the Rangers had claimed from the Cubs in December. Chirinos had DFA’d the catcher at the end of Spring Training, so unless they traded him, he would either have been open to league-wide waivers or the Rays would have to release him. He came to the Rays via the Cubs, who dealt him, along with Hak-Ju LeeChris ArcherSam Fuld and Brandon Guyer in exchange for Matt Garza, Zach Rosscup and Fernando Perez in January of 2011. Chirinos didn’t do much at the major league level in his debut in 2011 (.218/.283/.30 in 60 PA) and is coming off an injury that kept him out in 2012. The 28-year-old Venesulan has a decent minor league track record though. He has been assigned to AAA Round Rock; his last time at that level, in 2010, he mashed the ball for the Iowa Cubs, socking three home runs in 15 games. 

Mute the TV, crank up your laptop speakers: I know the Rangers are on tonight, but it doesn’t mean you can’t baseball-multitask. Today’s game 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. First pitch is scheduled for 7:00; broadcast airs at 6:40 with the pregame show.

Don’t miss out! Tickets are left…but not many for Thursday’s home opening contest at Dr Pepper Ballpark. Frisco looks for revenge against the Arkansas Naturals who took two of three from the ‘Riders to open the season. Top-ranked Frisco prospect Cody Buckel is expected to get the ball for the fighting Buecheles. He looks to bounce back from his Opening Night loss in North Little Rock.

Read ‘em and share ‘em: The first Monday edition of the game notes are here! 

- Nathan

Baseball term of the day: tater - a home run.

Lineups are in: Monday, April 8, 2013

Here are the lineups for tonight.  First pitch for RoughRiders and Naturals from Springdale, Arkansas is at 7:00 p.m.
 
ROUGHRIDERS

2B Odubel Herrera

SS Guilder Rodriguez

RF Jared Hoying

1B Brett Nicholas

DH Alejandro Selen

Tomas Telis

CF Ryan Strausborger

SS Hanser Alberto

LF Teodoro Martinez
 
*RHP Carlos Pimentel
 
NATURALS

CF Brett Eibner

DH Orlando Calixte

LF Brian Fletcher

1B Matt Fields

2B Rey Navarro

C Manuel Pina

RF Whit Merrifield

SS Alex McClure

3B Angel Franco
 
*RHP J.C. Sulbaran
 

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