Rangers’ starter Alexi Ogando will make the start for the RoughRiders in tonight’s game against the Tulsa Drillers. The 29-year-old is currently on the Rangers 15-day disabled list with right biceps tendinitis.
In the past three years, Ogando has played a dominant role on the Rangers’ pitching staff. However, his path to Arlington has been unique and bizarre.
Ogando’s road to the Rangers:
In 2005, Alexi Ogando was selected by the Rangers from Oakland in the minor league phase of the 2005 Rule 5 Draft. He was an outfielder in the Oakland system, but was instantly converted to pitcher with the Rangers.
Caught up in a marriage-visa scam in the Dominican Republic with former Rangers right-hander Omar Beltre, guilty of gullible involvement before Texas acquired him, Ogando was essentially quarantined in the Dominican for five years after joining the organization. Around 30 Dominican players were involved in the scam, promised $5,000 by a Dominican crime syndicate to agree to a sham marriage to women they didn’t know. The women would then gain entry into the US with their newly acquired visas and obtain divorces shortly after arriving.
In his five years stuck in the Dominican, Alexi pitched for the Rangers’ Dominican Summer League clubs in 2006 and 2007. He didn’t pitch in 2008 but was back on a DSL mound in 2009, making 10 appearances in July and August.
In Februrary 2010, the U.S. State Department notified the Rangers that the Dominican right-handers had been provided waivers allowing them to apply for work visas. All immigration restraints to their entry into the United States were also removed. The two prospects reportedly spent their last year in the Dominican speaking publicly to educate citizens about these human trafficking scams.
Then-Rangers Assistant GM Thad Levine reportedly played a significant role in the process from the organization’s side. Ogando and Beltre were top-tier prospects, but at age 26 and 28 respectively, pitching dominantly for five years against largely overmatched Dominican Summer League competition, their ability to get outs against major league batters in the US could have been an issue in the MLB. Texas kept both on the restricted list for three years (adding Ogando to the 40-man roster before doing so in his case) rather than moving on, as all other clubs did with the other 30 Dominican players around the league caught up in the scandal.
Ogando’s Career with the Rangers:
Ogando is in his fourth season with the Rangers and second season as a member of the starting rotation. He has appeared in 142 major league games with 39 starts, with a record of 23-11 and a 3.12 ERA.
The Dominican right-hander made nine starts this season for Texas with a 4-2 record and a 3.08 ERA before heading to the disabled list on May 16 with right biceps tendonitis. In 50 innings this season, the converted outfielder has 37 strikeouts and 19 walks.
He was a member of the RoughRiders in 2010, a year he finished in Arlington making 44 appearances out of the bullpen for the Rangers in his rookie season. As a RoughRiders hurler, he made seven outings, including three starts.
In two years of post season play, Ogando has gone 2-0 with a 2.37 ERA in 19 innings pitched. He was particularly effective in the 2011 series against the Tigers, going 2-0 in four games pitching 7.2 innings allowing one run on three hits and striking out ten.
Baseball Term of the Day: rainmaker- a very high pop fly, usually in the infield
Say Hello to Joe Benson.
Drafted in the second round, 64th overall by the Minnesota Twins in 2006, Benson entered the Twins system out of Joliet Catholic Academy, signing for $575,000 in a decision to forgo playing college baseball (and maybe football as well) at Purdue University.
In 2006, Benson was a Gulf Coast League Twin (Rookie) for 52 games and then a Beloit Snapper (Class A) for eight more after signing to his professional deal on June 10, 2010–just days after the draft. 1914 days later, he made his Major League debut for the Twins against Jake Peavy and the White Sox.
Another 262 days later, Benson was a Ranger and was optioned to Frisco. The next day he hit his first home run as a Texas farmhand, with Frisco in Tulsa. The following day he hit his second. Last night (2179 days after he signed with Minnesota) he made his Dr Pepper Ballpark debut and hit another.
Before we go into the waiver process that brought Benson to Frisco, take another look at that journey around the bags by Benson (it might take few moments to load). ‘Riders manager Steve Buechele said it’s the fastest home run trot he’s ever seen, and it wasn’t a one-time performance. This is what he does.
As Joe himself explained it: “before 2010, I never had more than 5 home runs in a season. I started to hitting some balls to right-center, and right off the bat, I would think three. That’s pretty much been my philosophy. If I backspin a ball, and I think it’s getting over an outfielder’s head, I am thinking a triple. By then, if the ball goes over the fence, and the umpire signals home run, I think it looks obnoxious to break it down into a slow jog, so I just kind of keep the pace, touch home plate, and jog back into the dugout.”
On Saturday, May 25, 2013, the Rangers acquired Benson on waivers from Minnesota. The Twins needed to make room for P.J. Walters, and Benson was the roster casualty. From my best understanding of the rule (thanks to BP, Purple Row, and @NewbergReport), when a player is placed on waivers, every MLB team is notified and has up to 48 hours to place a claim on the player. If no team placed a claim, Benson could have been removed from the Twins 40-man roster and stayed in their system. If multiple claims were placed on the player, the priority would have gone to the team with the worst record (in either league) on the day the waiver window closed, which should have been Saturday, May 23 (he was claimed by Texas).
Going into Saturday, this is how the top of the MLB Standings looked:
1. St. Louis Cardinals 31-16
2. Texas Rangers 31-17
3. Cincinnati Reds 30-18
This means that 28 other teams passed on Benson (maybe St. Louis did as well, seems likely considering the depth at OF in their system). La Velle E. Neal III has a good piece on how the Twins front office viewed the deal and their interaction with Benson over the weekend.
Benson was once regarded very highly in the Twins system before injuries and issues at the Triple-A level dropped his stock a bit. A two sport start in high school, Benson was, and still is, a great athlete with good speed, a good throwing arm, and a projectable bat with power. Benson was ranked the 8th best prospect in Twins organization by Baseball America entering his first full season in 2007. He rose to second in the system in 2008 after he showed good speed (18 SB) and good patience (49 BB) despite contact issues (124 K) and a lack of power (5 HR) in the Midwest League with the Beloit Snappers. The power was very slow to come around, as he posted four home runs in 2008 and just five in 2009. His stock fell in the system, ranked 15th entering 2009 and then 13th to begin 2010.
But then 2010 happened. Benson exploded for 27 homers, the most in the entire Minnesota organization (Thome had 25 in the bigs). His 23 Double-A home runs ranked fourth in Eastern League tied for the most hit by a New Britain hitter since 2004 when now major leaguer Garrett Jones hit 30. He was still striking out quite a bit (136 in 123 games) but the patience was still there and the power was real.
|AA (4 seasons)||AA||253||926||152||238||54||13||45||141||31||21||109||269||.257||.350||.489||.839|
|Rk (4 seasons)||Rk||60||218||34||57||13||5||5||28||12||13||26||45||.261||.343||.436||.779|
|A (3 seasons)||A||199||705||114||178||34||11||9||66||36||27||73||203||.252||.338||.370||.708|
|A+ (3 seasons)||A+||109||381||69||110||24||4||10||50||23||7||59||104||.289||.404||.451||.855|
|AAA (2 seasons)||AAA||70||246||29||46||10||4||3||17||8||2||21||77||.187||.261||.297||.558|
Benson earned the Sherry Robertson Award, given to the Twins Minor League Player of the Year in 2010. Baseball America ranked him as a top 100 prospect before the 2011 season, and again he was in the top five in the Twins system, ranked fourth. In September of the year, Benson leapfrogged Triple-A and went straight to The Show. Things didn’t go great for Joe in the big leagues, however. He hit just .239 in 21 games with the Twinkies and did not homer in 74 plate appearances. The strikeouts were still a problem and he didn’t walk much against Major League pitching.
Benson went back to minors to open 2012 and had issues with Triple-A pitching. He was demoted back to Double-A and battled injuries including a left knee issue and a broken left hamate bone in his wrist. Joe says he feels like he is totally healthy this season and wasn’t quite right at the end of the 2012.
He has showed it in his three games with his new organization. Three games. Three home runs. A triple. Five RBI.
Who knows where Joe Benson goes from here. He is out of options and will be a free agent at the end of the season. For now, it’s nice to see him off to a good beginning in his fresh start, and he sure has been a nice addition to this Frisco lineup.
Below is the interview I conducted with Joe before Tuesday’s home debut for the outfielder.
The RoughRiders host the Springfield Cardinals once again tonight at 7:05 pm at Dr Pepper Ballpark. RHP Tyler Tufts opposes RHP Seth Blair, and you can read all about the ‘Riders in tonight’s edition of the game notes.
Baseball term of the day: Baseball rat – a player devoted to the game
The Frisco RoughRiders return home today on a five-game winning streak after two road series wins over the Springfield Cardinals and the Tulsa Drillers. The ‘Riders remain in second place in the Texas League South Division, one game behind the Corpus Christi Hooks.
Today, Frisco begins a three-game series with Springfield, the Double-A affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals. Springfield is on a five-game losing streak from the weekend after losing their series with Frisco 2-1 and then getting swept by Midland. The last time the Cardinals won was the last time Frisco lost. The Cardinals are in second place in the Texas League North Division, a half-game behind the Arkansas Travelers.
This is how the pitching matchups line up:
Tuesday: Carlos Pimentel (6-1, 2.55 ERA) vs. Tim Cooney (2-1, 2.00 ERA)
Thursday: Neil Ramirez (5-1, 2.83 ERA) vs.Nick Greenwood (0-2, 8.25 ERA)
Friday: Kevin Pucetas (6-4, 4.63 ERA) vs. Christian Bergman (3-3, 2.69 ERA)
Saturday: Nick McBride (0-0, 6.75 ERA) vs. Sean Gallagher (1-0, 1.86 ERA)
Sunday: Carlos Pimentel vs. Tim Gustafson (2-3, 5.56 ERA)
Home stand promotions and broadcast info:
- RoughRiders Horse Race presented by Whataburger
- Post-game fireworks
- Dollar Dog Night
- RoughRiders Horse Race presented by Whataburger
- $1 Dr Pepper Thursdays
- Friday Night Post-game fireworks
- Smashburger SMASH inning
- Free ‘Riders sunglasses
- Kids Run the Bases
- Raising Cane’s Grand Slam Sunday
- RoughRiders Horse Race presented by Whataburger
Baseball term of the day: Good Cheese - a blurring fastball
Colby Lewis made his first rehab start after being shutdown with triceps tendinitis on Monday in Frisco. Lewis makes his second rehab start tonight at 6:05 CT, but it will be with Triple-A Round Rock in Memphis.
Today seemed like a good day to reminiscence on what was a special day here at Dr Pepper Ballpark. The RoughRiders have been fortunate to see a number of rehabbers come through from the Rangers in their 10+ year history, but it is not too often that a man who started and won World Series games dons the ‘Riders uni. In fact, only once (I believe) has Frisco had a rehabber pitch for them who had started a game in the Fall Classic: Kevin Millwood rehabbed for Frisco in 2007 and 2008–and he lost (game two of the 1999 Series while a member of the Braves). Roy Oswalt started a game in the 2005 World Series in Houston, but he was technically not a rehabber during his time in Frisco in 2012.
Here are some photos to commemorate the day:
The results? A mixed bag. Not great. The rehabber went 2.1 innings and allowed two runs on four hits. Lewis set down the first six men he faced, three on strikes, before running into issues in the third inning.
After the start, Lewis was somewhat discouraged talking to the media. He was not pleased with his velocity, which sat 85-86 mph and topped out at 87. What was expected to be the first of three to four rehab starts, now seems was the first of a somewhat indefinite number, as Lewis said he would tell the Rangers when he was ready.
Lewis said that it felt like he has been on a roller coaster during this rehab from a torn flexor tendon which cost him the second half of 2012 and all of this season thus far.
Well, the next ride is tonight. Happy viewing, twitter following, and post-game reading to you all tonight, as we see if that roller coaster rides high tonight in Memphis.
Looking forward to tonight’s RoughRiders game at 7:05 pm? The game notes are here!
We also would like to wish a Happy Birthday to Neil Ramirez. The right-hander’s last start came on Sunday with Pierzynski behind the plate AND he is starting tonight! Fitting.
Bonus Photo (AJ catching Neal) on Sunday:
Baseball term of the day: home run in an elevator shaft – pop fly
Photo credits to: Grant Nelson, Nathan Barnett and Ryan Garrett
It is with excitement that we at ‘Riders Insider announce that our blog has been ranked in the Top 10 of all Minor League Pro blogs for the month of April.
Each month, MLB.com Blogs ranks the team and fan blogs based on popularity and page views. In previous years, all team blogs were compiled together, both Major League and Minor League. With that system, ‘Riders Insider consistently stayed in the Top 50, remaining near #40 for the past year. Our highest rank in 2012 was at #32 in November (with ten Minor League blogs above ‘Riders Insider).
This year, MLB.com Blogs added the category of MiLB Pro, and during the first month of the 2013 season, ‘Riders Insider earned the #10 spot, sixth among minor league teams.
We would like to congratulate the top MiLB Pro blog of the month of April, Ben’s Biz Blog. Above ‘Riders Insider, ranked at #9, is 45 Miles From Fenway, the blog for the Pawtucket Red Sox (Triple-A affiliate of the Boston Redsox). In the 11th spot is Porcupines in Pinstripes, the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Rail Riders blog (Triple-A affiliate of the New York Yankees).
In keeping up with this blog, we strive to provide quality posts that our readers will enjoy. We don’t always post about baseball; however, we like to provide you with the inside scoop on the Frisco RoughRiders as a team and individual players, the Texas Rangers and events at Dr Pepper Ballpark.
Thank you to our readers for viewing our blog and placing us in the Top 10. We are really excited about this ranking, so please help us maintain and move us up in the rankings. We would love to hear from you about posts you’ve particularly enjoyed, or if you have suggestions on what you’d like us to cover in future posts.
In ‘Riders News:
We would like to wish pitcher Wilmer Font a happy 23rd birthday.
Last night, Carlos Pimentel threw seven innings of one-hit baseball and allowed just three baserunners as the Frisco RoughRiders went on to beat the Springfield Cardinals 1-0, tying the series at one apiece. The RoughRiders conclude their series with the defending Texas League Champion Cardinals tonight at 7:09 at Hammons Field in Springfield, MO.
Frisco continues their road trip tomorrow as they face the Tulsa Drillers for the first time this season.
Baseball term of the day: Whiz chuck: a swiftly pitched ball
On May 10, we took a glance at some of the prospects from the Texas League South Division and their performances throughout this first part of the season.
The RoughRiders are on the road playing North Division opponents, therefore, today, we’re taking a look at the North Division and discussing prospects for each team.
Xavier Scruggs, 1B – Scruggs is ranked second of all first baseman by Baseball America in the St. Louis Cardinals system. Scruggs leads the Cardinals in home runs (12) and RBIs (38) and is second in the Texas League in HR (one behind Hooks’ slugger George Springer). Scruggs leads the Texas League in RBIs (just four above Frisco’s Brett Nicholas), slugging percentage (.624) and in best HR/AB ratio (1/10.42). He was named the Texas League Player of the Week April 29.
The RoughRiders are currently on the road with Springfield. In last night’s game, Scruggs hit 2 RBIs against Frisco.
C.J. Cron, 1B – Cron is ranked by Baseball America as the number 3 prospect and the top first baseman in the Los Angeles Angels system. Cron leads the Travelers in RBIs (21), doubles (14) and hits (51). As of today, he is fifth in batting in the Texas League, and number four in doubles and hits. In his last ten games, Cron has averaged .316 four runs on 12 hits with one home run.
Christian Bergman, RHP – Bergman is ranked number 28 and the fifth best right-hander in the Colorado Rockies system by Baseball America. He leads the Drillers in wins (3), strikeouts (40) and ERA (3.02). This year, Bergman is 3-2 in nine starts, with opponents hitting .234. Bergman has the 9th top ERA in the Texas League and is 2nd in innings pitched (53.2).
Northwest Arkansas Naturals:
Matt Fields, 1B – Fields is ranked as the third best first baseman in the Kansas City Royals system by Baseball America. He leads the Naturals in home runs (10), RBIs (29) and runs (20). In the Texas League, Matt is 5th in home runs. In his last ten games, Matt has had five runs on ten hits and 6 RBI, averaging .294 in 34 at bats.
Baseball Term of the Day: Glory time: A point late in a game during which a relief pitcher can earn a potential save.
Ross Wolf has made 502 appearances in his professional career. Over those 502 outings, he has tossed 748.1 innings. 18 of those outings were starts, 11 of which came during his first professional year in 2002 for the Jamestown Jammers of the New York Penn League (Short-Season A, at that time with the Florida Marlins) and six of which have come in the last six weeks with the Round Rock Express (Triple-A, Rangers). Before this season, the right-hander hadn’t started a ballgame since 2005.
Wednesday afternoon, Ross Wolf makes his 26th major league appearance. He will balloon his 25 innings pitched at the major league level, and the 30-year-old from Illinois will make his first big league start.
When he does, he will become the 99th RoughRiders player to make the big leagues after his time in Frisco (excluding rehabbers of course). He joins: Joeseph Ortiz (95 – Texas Rangers), Leury Garcia (96 – Texas Rangers), Nick Tepesch (97 – Texas Rangers) and Robbie Erlin (98 – San Diego Padres). He is the first member of the 2013 RoughRiders to appear in the majors.
Ross Wolf spent parts of two different seasons in the bigs: in 2007 he made 14 appearances out of the Florida Marlins bullpen and another 11 outings for the Oakland Athletics during the summer of 2010.
Signed as a minor league free agent after the beginning of the season on April 27, 2012 after being released the same week by Baltimore, Wolf spent the majority of the season in Frisco, with a brief stop in Round Rock.
After just one outing with the RoughRiders this season, Wolf was promoted to Round Rock on April 9, 2013 where he joined the Express rotation, posting just a 1-1 record in six starts despite a very impressive 1.85 ERA and 1.06 WHIP. He walked just nine batters over those six starts in 34 innings pitched.
It’s been 964 days since Wolf has toed the rubber of a big league mound, with his last appearance coming on October 1, 2010, when he pitched a scoreless ninth inning of a meaningless 9-0 Oakland victory over Seattle. Since that date, Wolf has made professional appearances in 113 games, spanning 171.2 innings, and thrown 2,634 pitches.
If you want to get to know the veteran a little bit more, broadcaster Alex Vispoli had a really interesting conversation with Wolf in November in which he discusses the change in his repertoire over the last year and why his first two big league stints didn’t go as well as he would have liked.
Wolf gets the nod in Arlington this afternoon for the series finale against the Oakland Athletics, as the Rangers look to avoid being swept for the first time this year. Wolf is the 8th different starting pitcher used by Texas this season and is taking the spot of another former RoughRiders hurler, Nick Tepesch, who is being skipped with a blister issue.
Adam Morris of LoneStarBall suggests that Wolf will be DFA’d after his start today, which means he could be claimed by another big league team, traded, sent back to the minors, or released, making his future very uncertain, but I am sure he is thrilled to get the chance to prove something today. We here in the ‘Riders media department are excited for him as well, and if he can get a victory, he will do what Yu Darvish couldn’t do last night, get the Rangers a win over the As–which would be a decent claim to fame if nothing else.
Baseball term of the day: wolf (of course) – a fan who constantly criticizes or heckles a player or team
Texas Rangers pitcher Colby Lewis will start for the RoughRiders this morning against the San Antonio Missions. Lewis is currently on the Rangers’ 15-day disabled list and is working to return to the major leagues after suffering a torn flexor tendon in his right elbow last season.
The Rangers’ 2012 Opening Day starting pitcher suffered a tear in his right elbow last July and attempted to pitch through the injury before exacerbating it in his final start of the season on July 18 in Oakland. The right-hander was 6-6 with a 3.43 ERA in 16 starts for Texas before going on the disabled list.
Lewis made one rehab start this season with the Round Rock Express on May 9, but suffered from triceps tendonitis after the outing and the Rangers temporarily shut down his assignment.
Rangers’ catcher A.J. Pierzynski will be the designated hitter today as he continues his rehab assignment with the RoughRiders suffering from a strained right oblique muscle. Though he won’t be catching for Lewis, it will be great to see two future Rangers battery mates in RoughRiders uniforms. This is the first time either player has appeared with the ‘Riders.
Pierzynski made an appearance in yesterday’s RoughRiders game against the Missions, playing through five innings. He threw out two attempted steals and was 0-3 at the plate. In his first season with the Rangers, the catcher has played in 26 games and is batting .263 with four home runs, a triple, 11 RBI and nine runs scored. The two-time All-Star is in his 16th Major League season and signed a one-year contract with Texas this past off-season following an eight-year stint with the White Sox.
Baseball Term of the Day: Screecher: A hard hit line drive
‘Riders on the Record is a weekly rundown of the pre-game interviews record by broadcasters Alex Vispoli and Nathan Barnett with RoughRiders players and coaches and occasionally a special guest. You can find all previous editions by clicking here.
From a road trip ending chat with the manager, to the stories of one of the longest-tenured RoughRiders employees, and a few things in between, this week provides a great variety of voices for ‘Riders on the Record. Highlights include Wilmer Font talking about his slider and changeup, John Clemens’ impressions of Cal Ripken Jr. as a minor league ballplayer, and Rangers Catching Instructor Hector Ortiz explaining the developmental ladder of catching in the Texas system.
Happy Sunday and enjoy!
Sunday, May 12, 2013 – Manager Steve Buechele
In their Sunday conversation, Alex asks ‘Riders manager Steve Buechele about the state of the rotation and the taxed bullpen. Fresh off a temporary stint as the Rangers first base coach while the team was in Houston, Buechele shares his experiences from the weekend and talks about his offseason interview with the Colorado Rockies for their managerial opening. (w/ Alex Vispoli)
Monday, May 13, 2013 – 1B Brett Nicholas
First baseman Brett Nicholas, carrying the team offensively the last few ballgames talks about his career high home run output. Struggling against lefties, Nicholas explains how he can get better in that department and how is he has been better over his career against lefties. (w/ Nathan Barnett)
Tuesday, May 14, 2013 – RHP Wilmer Font
Frisco flamethrower Wilmer Font joined us for the first time this season and talked about where he feels physically at this early point in the season. He explains his mix of pitches, how and when he uses them, and the plan moving forward with his secondary stuff. He also talks about his relationship with Martin Perez, who, at the time, was on the ‘Riders roster on his way back from a wrist injury sustained in Spring Training. (w/ Nathan)
Wednesday, May 15, 2013 – Public Address Announcer John Clemens
John Clemens is celebrating his tenth season as the Frisco RoughRiders public address announcer. A lifelong fan and student of the game, John is rich with stories and talks about his days in minor league baseball in the Northeast when he saw Cal Ripken Jr. as a young player. He explains how he got into the business and who inspired him. (w/ Nathan)
Thursday, May 16, 2013 – OF Teodoro Martinez
Teodoro Martinez, after a slow start, has emerged as one of the most consistent ‘Riders hitters. Coming off his first multi-homer game of his career, he talks about his improved approach over the last month. He talks about his relationship with his family, including his brother Jose who plays minor league baseball in the Braves system. (w/ Nathan)
Friday, May 17, 2013 – Rangers Catching Instructor Hector Ortiz
Rangers Catching Instructor Hector Ortiz was kind enough to join us for the pre-game show during the home stand to talk about the progression of Tomas Telis and the development of catchers in the Rangers system. He spoke briefly about top Rangers catching prospect Jorge Alfaro, playing in Hickory, as well as the general path of catchers in the system: how they move up and what plateaus they need to reach to go from level to level. He also explains the role of new special assistant Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez. (w/ Nathan)
Saturday, May 18, 2013 – MLB Rehabber, RHP Justin Miller
Justin Miller sits down with Nathan Barnett after his first professional inning since 2011, beginning his rehab appearances coming back from Tommy John surgery. A standout for Frisco in 2011, Miller missed the entire 2012 season after undergoing surgery in April of 2012. He talks about his rehab program, how each step went, and where he feels physically now that he is back out on a mound. (w/ Nathan)
Baseball term of the day: wing – throwing arm, usually used in reference to a pitcher’s arm