‘Riders in Review: June 2013

Early first half struggles for Tulsa and Northwest Arkansas flipped upside down as the two teams became the two most dominant Texas League squads in the month of June. Led by retired-no-more Roy Oswalt and indy-ball right-hander Sean Gallagher, the Drillers posted an absurd 2.12 ERA in June and made up enough ground to capture the first-half title in the North Division. The Naturals played spoiler to their in-state rivals, beating the Arkansas Travelers in five of six meetings to close the first half and send the Travs tumbling out of the top spot in the North. Now the Naturals are tied for first place in the whole Texas League in the second half (8-5 entering Thursday).

The RoughRiders, on the other hand, experienced a tough month of June. Losing Roman Mendez in May didn’t help, neither did the promotions of Wilmer Font, Jared Hoying, Ryan Rodebaugh, and Ben Rowen, not to mention the continued injury issue for outfielder Joe Benson. Still, the RoughRiders completed the first half in second place and are competing in the early part of the second half.

Texas League Rankings for the Month of June

Record: 44-37 overall, 12-15 in May (T-5th in Texas League), home: 5-9, road: 7-6, vs. division: 10-10

Runs: 96 (7th)

Average: .259 (3rd)

On-base percentage: .299 (8th)

Stolen bases: 23 (T-3rd)

Home runs: 18 (5th)

ERA: 4.10 (7th)

Strikeouts for: 210 (1st)

Walks allowed: 99 (8th)

Avg attendance for the year: 7310 (1st)*

RIDERS REVIEW Record Runs AVG OBP SB HR ERA K BB Avg. Att. TD*
April 14-11 107 .250 .297 19 17 2.87 208 84 7060
May 18-11 125 .247 .306 38 32 4.12 255 114 7315
June 12-15 96 .259 .299 23 18 4.10 210 99 7310
Season 44-37 328 .252 .301 80 67 3.73 463 297 7310

TL IN MAY Record Runs AVG OBP SB HR ERA K BB Avg. Att. TD*
Tulsa 17-9 82 .230 .307 26 12 2.12 158 65 5,950
NW Ark. 17-12 137 .283 .330 25 29 4.01 209 95 4,794
Corpus 14-13 132 .252 .324 19 33 4.16 160 72 5,388
San Anto. 14-13 102 .257 .314 22 12 3.44 207 71 4,221
FRISCO 12-15 96 .259 .299 23 18 4.10 210 99 7,363
Springfield 12-15 104 .260 .323 13 24 3.97 200 72 4,611
Arkansas 12-16 111 .254 .320 23 22 3.66 195 80 4,499
Midland 11-16 132 .256 .347 16 17 3.97 193 72 4,641

*Attendance calculated through July 3 games, so June numbers include one game of July for each team

Awards

‘Riders Slugger of the Month

C Tomas Telis (.338/.365/.563, 9 R, 4 2B, 4 HR, 13 RBI, 2 BB, 1 SB)

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What a month for Tomas. The Texas League All-Star hit all four of his home runs in the month and lifted his average from .234 after June 1st’s 0-for-4 to .277 when the month completed. Telis was not only the best ‘Riders hitter in June but can make a case that he was the best hitter in the whole league. His .338 mark was the best in the league among qualifying hitters. He was tied for seventh in home runs. He accomplished what he did in just 18 games, splitting time with Brett Nicholas and Zach Zaneski at the catcher spot. He posted nine multi hit games in June (and has done so in all three July games already). He stole a base to boot and he won a fan a car. Not bad. Bravo Tomas!

Past winners: Nicholas (May), Hoying (April)

‘Riders Hurler of the Month

RHP Tyler Tufts (0-1, 1.82 ERA, 5 GS, 24.2 IP, 18 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 0 HRA, 9 K, 4 BB, 3 HB, 0.89 WHIP, .207 BAA)

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Like Telis, Tufts really had a breakout month in June. The career reliever made one spot start in 2012, his first in five seasons as a pro.  This year, he has made 12 starts with a 3.20 ERA as a starter. In five June starts, he allowed one or fewer earned runs in four of his five outings. On two occassions, Tufts fired five innings of shutout ball with two or fewer hits allowed, and in 24.2 innings over the month, he walked just four batters. Only Jimmy Reyes had a lower ERA during the month among pitchers with more than eight innings pitched (1.80 ERA).

Past winners: Rowen (May), Henry (April)

Official Texas League Players of the Week:

May 27 – June 2: P – Murphy Smith (Midland); B – George Springer (Corpus Christi)

June 3-9: P – Carlos Pimentel (Frisco) ; B – Brian Fletcher (NW Arkansas) 

June 10-16: P -Roy Oswalt (Tulsa); B – Alex Buchholz (Frisco)

June 17 – 23: P – Neil Ramirez (Frisco); B – Ruben Gotay (Springfield)

June 24 – 30: P – Brooks Pounders (NW Arkansas); B – Whit Merrifield (NW Arkansas)

Punching Bag of the Month

Corpus Christi Hooks SP Jake Buchanan

The award given out to the player most likely to be glad he isn’t facing Frisco anytime soon goes out of respect this month to Jake Buchanan. It’s not that Buchanan was the hardest-hit pitcher the RoughRiders faced, but considering his accomplishments before his meeting with the RoughRiders on June 12, his slip-ups to end June (and coincidentally his Texas League season, for now), made him a contender and the ultimate selection of the notorious honor.

In his final three Texas League starts, before promotion to Triple-A Oklahoma City, Buchanan allowed 13 runs, all earned. Before that three-start stint he had allowed six earned runs in 15 appearances, 10 starts. He faced the ‘Riders in two of those three starts, allowing nine runs over nine innings. Coming in to that stretch a perfect 7-0, Buchanan left the Texas League at 7-2, taking losses against the ‘Riders and San Antonio.

Best Moment of the Month

Frisco rallies from three down with seven-run ninth – June 29, 2013 - Again the ‘Riders waited until the end of the month to come up with the most memorable moment of the month. Last month it was the back-to-back-to-back home runs on May 31. This month was an easy selection. In the midst of a brutal offensive stretch, the RoughRiders plated seven runs to take a 10-6 lead in the top of the ninth in Springdale, Arkansas against the Northwest Arkansas.

Frisco fell behind 3-0 in the second, 4-0 after the third, and trailed 5-1 after seven innings. In the first seven innings, the ‘Riders offense managed six baserunners on two singles, three walks, and a hit batter. But the ‘Riders plated two in the eighth and trailed 6-3 going into the ninth.

In the wild top half of the ninth inning, the RoughRiders collected eight hits and a walk against relievers Scott Alexander and J.C. Sulbaran. They plated seven runs. Every RoughRiders hitter other than Odubel Herrera reached base in the inning, and nine consecutive ‘Riders reached safely. The big hit came ten batters into the inning when Ryan Strausborger hit a bases-clearing triple to put Frisco ahead 10-6.

The Naturals got the tying run to the plate in the ninth, but Frisco hung on for the 10-7 win.

The seven runs and eight hits put together in the ninth were the most by the team in any single frame this season.  The last time the ’Riders scored at least seven in an inning was in the seventh inning on July 22, 2011 in a 19-4 win versus Corpus Christi. The most ninth inning runs in known team history occurred on May 19, 2006, when the RoughRiders used an eight-run ninth inning to defeat Midland 10-5 at Citibank Ballpark.

How did the prospects do?

Frisco’s Opening Day Roster contained six prospects in the Baseball America Rangers Organization top 30:  RHP Cody Buckel (8), RHP Roman Mendez (13), IF Hanser Alberto (15), RHP Wilmer Font (22), RHP Neil Ramirez (23) and RHP Randy Henry (29). Joe Benson, ranked 19th in the Minnesota Twins organization by Baseball America to open the season, joined the RoughRiders in late May.

Cody Buckel - Buckel last pitched for the ‘Riders in May. He has been in Arizona at extended Spring Training trying to sort out control issues ever since. Rangers Rehab Pitching Coordinator Keith Comstock updated us on Buckel last home stand. You can hear my interview with him from ‘Riders on the Record.

Roman Mendez - Mendez is out for the season after undergoing surgery in May to repair a stress fracture in his elbow.

Wilmer Font - No longer with the RoughRiders, Font was promoted to the Round Rock Express on June 29.  The Venezuelan right-hander has a team-high ten saves and sported a career best 1.41 ERA with the RoughRiders in 26 appearances this season. Over his last four RoughRiders appearances he allowed just two hits and issued three walks in 4.1 innings with no runs scored against him and fanned eight. In ten June innings, he allowed one run on four hits and six walks, striking out seventeen. He went three-for-three in save chances and posted a 1-1 record over the month.

Hanser Alberto - After a .162 hitting May, Hanser improved only slightly in June, hitting .213. He also committed another six errors. He walked only once in 83 plate appearances. He did club four of his ten extra-base hits on the season during the month with two doubles, a triple and a home run. 

Neil Ramirez - Neil was rocky in May but bounced back with a fantastic June. In five starts, he went 4-0 with a 2.25 ERA. In 28 innings, he fanned 35 and walked only eight. He is 7th in the Texas League in ERA, 2nd in wins (9), first in strikeouts (106), fourth in WHIP (1.08) and first in batting average against (.190). He also was the winning pitcher in the All-Star game, throwing a perfect first inning. He doesn’t have much more to prove in the Texas League. Ramirez pitches tonight, and if you are dead-set on seeing him here in Frisco, you should come out sooner than later; it seems hard to imagine him staying in Double-A much longer if he keeps pitching like he did in June.

Randy Henry - Henry was activated off the disabled list on June 13 from an ulnar nerve injury in his right elbow that caused him to miss over a month. This blog’s selection for ‘Riders Hurler of the Month in April was not quite as dominant when he first returned but the numbers are still excellent. In six outings, Henry tossed 5.1 innings, allowing five hits and one walk. He surrendered no runs, earned or otherwise, and struck out four. He also collected his first Texas League save of the season.

Joe BensonNot officially on the top 30 list of Rangers prospects by Baseball America, he probably would be if he was Rangers property to begin the season. After a torrid start to his RoughRiders career, Benson was hampered by a groin injury in June and is still on the disabled list. He played in just three games during the month. On June 9, he pinch hit for Chih-Hsien Chiang in the ninth inning, knocking a triple in what was then a tie game against the Midland RockHounds. He later scored in the inning and served as the difference in a 4-3 win. Benson went 0-for-3 before a fifth inning ejection the following night and 0-for-2 the next evening before leaving with injury. He hasn’t seen the field since then (June 11).

Happy July and go RoughRiders!

- Nathan

Baseball term of the day: bill in addition to meaning the visor of a ballcap, “bill” refers to a game on the schedule (and why a “twin bill” is another term for a doubleheader)

(term from The Dickson Baseball Dictionary)

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