RoughRiders Awards: First-Half

The Frisco RoughRiders played fantastic baseball over the course of the first half of the 2014 Texas League campaign, and their efforts earned them their eighth post-season berth in club history. The club’s 40-29 record was propelled by a combination of superb pitching, timely hitting and a cast of unlikely heroes. Let’s take a look at some of the individuals who propelled Frisco in the opening half.

Phil Klein pitching during one of his 22 first-half games.

Phil Klein pitching during one of his 22 first-half games.

Best Pitcher: RHP Phil Klein

Phil Klein proved to be a necessary function out of Jason Wood’s bullpen during the first-half and his pitching earned himself a trip to the 2014 Texas League All-star game. Klein posted a 3-0 record with a dominant 0.86 ERA in his 22 appearances. The tall right-hander was 8-for-8 in save opportunities and in 31.1 total innings pitched Klein allowed three earned runs on 15 base hits. The Columbus, Ohio, native struck out 44 hitters and walked 18, while opponents only managed to bat .147. His WHIP was a shade under one at 0.93.

Tomas Telis quickly became a threat in the middle of the Frisco order.

Tomas Telis quickly became a threat in the middle of the Frisco order.

Best Hitter: C Tomas Telis

The switch-hitting catcher utilized his ability to make contact frequently and smashed 63 hits with a .321 batting average in 51 games. He scratched across 22 runs for Frisco and popped 13 doubles with two triples and two homers, while assisting the team with 28 RBI. He gets the award for best hitter because it seemed like he was the guy to come up with timely hits game-to-game, and his efforts awarded him a trip to the 2014 Texas League All-Star game.

Odubel gets ready to fire over to first during warmups.

Odubel gets ready to fire over to first during warmups.

Best Defender: INF Odubel Herrera

Odubel began the season with Advanced-A Myrtle Beach and was called up May 12.  Since that time, Herrera has become a reliable infielder for the RoughRiders. He has not been charged with an error since returning to the Texas League in 2014, and his total statistics earned him a trip to the league’s All-Star game as a replacement for Rougned Odor. Herrera began to swing a hot bat towards the second portion of the first-half as he finished to hit .324 with 36 hits in 111 at bats with 17 RBI.

Guilder Rodriguez always shows up ready to play.

Guilder Rodriguez always shows up ready to play.

Team Leader: INF Guilder Rodriguez

Guilder Rodriguez was a critical factor in the team’s success during the first-half of the campaign due to his outstanding teamwork and work ethic. Rodriguez has spent time between Frisco and Round Rock during parts of his six-year stint in the Texas Rangers organization, including this season where he was promoted to Triple-A for a total of nine games. ‘G-Rod’ returned to the ‘Riders on May 15 and since then he’s continued to be a classy veteran that young guys can learn from. He’s done it with both his voice and his tools as Rodriguez batted .341 with 44 hits and 18 runs scored over the course of 34 games. Rodriguez’s work earned him his first Texas League All-Star game appearance.

Jake gets ahold of a pitch during a contest against the Springfield Cardinals.

Jake gets ahold of a pitch during a contest against the Springfield Cardinals.

MVP: OF Jake Smolinski 

It was difficult to encounter a game during the first-half in which Jake Smolinski’s name was not mentioned, whether it was for offensive or defensive efforts. ‘Smo’ crushed the competition by hitting .275 with 69 hits and 42 runs scored in 68 games for the RoughRiders. He put on an excellent display of power by pounding 14 doubles, three triples and ten home runs with 35 RBI. Jake also made incredible defensive plays in left field to keep his team either in the game or out in front when it mattered most.

We can’t go without giving respect to the other outstanding members of this club such as INF Ryan Rua, RHP Luke Jackson or OF Jake Skole. Baseball is a team sport and all 25 men in the Frisco RoughRiders’ clubhouse were needed to secure the franchises eighth post-season berth. Here’s to more terrific performances and to an awesome second-half!

-Cameron Varnau

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