May 15th, 2013
The Frisco roster once again sits at 25 players this week for the first time since the departure of Jake Brigham, Alex Buchholz and Ryan Feierabend. The addition of Richard Bleier, courtesy of the Round Rock Express, brings the roster back to the league limit and bloats the pitching staff to fourteen members.
Bleier is set to make his 2013 ‘Riders debut Thursday, toeing the rubber for Steve Buechele’s squad in the finale of the four-game set with the Midland RockHounds. Bleier, 26, suits up for the RoughRiders for the fourth consecutive season, spending his entire 2010, 2011 and 2012 with Frisco. A starting pitcher for his entire romp through the minors, the southpaw pitched exclusively out of the bullpen for the first time in his pro career at the end of last summer.
Rehabbing an elbow strain that kept him out of the early part of the 2012 campaign, Bleier was activated on June 21 of last season and went immediately into a relief role for the Double-A club, a position he became familiar with at the close of the 2011 season. The control artist didn’t possess quite the command he had previously in his career (2.0 BB/9, vs. 1.5 BB/9 for career coming into 2013), but he was still relatively sharp (for perspective, Frisco has walked 3.7 BB/9 as a team this season).
The sinkerballer pitched out of the bullpen this past winter in the World Baseball Classic qualifiers with Team Israel. Along with Texas Leaguers Cody Decker, Ben Orloff, Jeff Urlaub and Robbie Widlansky, of course not to mention former RockHound, now Oakland Athletic, Nate Freiman, Bleier and Team Israel went 2-1 in qualifying play but was beat out by Spain who, also 2-1, had a higher run differential. In two outings, Bleier held the opposition scoreless and hitless in an inning of work and walked two batters in international play.
Bleier spent his college days at Florida Gulf Coast University, the school pushed into the spotlight in March as “Dunk City” for its high-flying hardwood ways. Taken in the sixth round in 2008, the former Eagle was the highest draft pick in school history at the time. Chris Sale (Chicago White Sox) and Casey Coleman (Chicago Cubs) are the only Eagles to make the majors, and Sale is now the highest draft choice in school history, going 13th overall in the 2010 draft.
The Floridian Bleier opened 2013 getting the chance to pitch at the Triple-A level for the first time in his career. In a small sample, the walk-bug hit Bleier harder than it has in his career (7 BB in 19.0 IP — 3.3 BB/9), but he limited damage in his eight outings, including two starts, posting a 1-1 record with a 3.79 ERA.
|AA (3 seasons)||AA||14||21||5.11||82||41||297.2||367||186||169||21||51||154||1.404||1.5||4.7|
|A (1 season)||A||2||1||1.14||5||4||23.2||19||8||3||0||4||17||0.972||1.5||6.5|
|A- (1 season)||A-||4||5||4.02||14||11||62.2||61||41||28||4||14||44||1.197||2.0||6.3|
|AAA (1 season)||AAA||1||1||3.79||8||2||19.0||23||9||8||1||7||8||1.579||3.3||3.8|
|A+ (1 season)||A+||7||11||4.51||23||22||143.2||165||88||72||9||20||108||1.288||1.3||6.8|
It remains to be seen if Bleier will stick in the Frisco rotation, which at the moment, has just three starters from the Opening Day roster with Carlos Pimentel, Kevin Pucetas and Neil Ramirez, or if Bleier moves back into the relief role that has defined his career the last season and a half. Of course he could be back on the shuttle to Triple-A soon enough as well.
After two late morning affairs, first pitch from Dr Pepper Ballpark is scheduled Thursday for 7:00 pm.
Baseball term of the day: barbering – chatting, as one is likely to do in a barber’s shop