June 2014

Remembering Richard Durrett

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“A measure of a life is it’s service.”- General Sam Houston

This is the motto at Sam Houston State University, which is the first college I attended after graduating from Plano Senior High School in 2010 and staying home for a year of basic courses at Collin College. I was a typical kid just trying to figure out his place in the world. The Texas Rangers were nearly atop the baseball world, the SuperBowl made it’s way to Arlington, the Dallas Mavericks were preparing for what would be the biggest ride in the history of the franchise. The times were pleasant ones in DFW.

This story, however, begins in 2008. It begins far away from the depths of the American Airlines Center or the press box at Globe Life Park in Arlington. First, I’d like to get something straight, and that’s that this story is not about me, or my life, or about the local teams that have propelled me to thousands of cheers and plenty of tears. It’s about Richard Durrett.

My father passed away in January of 2008 and my world was rocked. A sophomore in high school at the time, I had no idea of what to turn to. Faith was one of those things and sports was the other. I focussed nearly all of my time and attention to what was going on with the Rangers and the Stars. Josh Hamilton busted onto the scene, Mike Modano and Marty Turco were fueling a deep run into the Western Conference Finals, and the Cowboys were just coming off of a thrilling 13-3 season so there was plenty to talk about.

Richard was one of the guys that I listened to. Richard was one of the voices that I needed to hear. Richard was a guy that helped me day-to-day, and he didn’t even know it.

I developed a passion for the games that I spent hours and hours watching rather than doing my homework. Richard’s insight and love for his career made a lasting impact on me. I’ve told countless people, “I want to be just like Richard Durrett one day.”

Let me just say that it takes an outstanding person to be close to the man the Richard was, and in the wake of his death I find myself coming back to this quote.

“A measure of a life is it’s service.”

The first time I met Richard was at a Dallas Stars practice. I played the role of ‘rookie reporter’ as I was a one-man-band trying to get solid content for a news package, and Richard played the same role that he always had, which was the all-around good guy. I always found joy in reading his articles, but getting a chance to meet him was a whole new ballgame for this young kid. I can’t remember exactly what I said to get the conversation started, but nonetheless, we spoke for around five minutes and he encouraged me to email him with any questions I had for him in regards to getting a career started in the business. I emailed him a few weeks later asking if he had some time to meet up over lunch and no reply came. About two weeks passed and I figured he was too busy to meet up, which I completely understood. After all, I’m just a college kid. He probably doesn’t have time for me anyways, right?

Wrong.

I remember getting an email back from him during one of my shifts at the Academy Sports and Outdoors in Lewisville, Texas. After quickly checking my phone, and knowing I could be fired for being on it while at work, I pretended to organize the baseball gloves, but instead read his email and replied back promptly. Happiest moment I ever had during my time at Academy.

He agreed to meet up before one of his radio shows, ‘Turf Talk with Morris Claiborne’, which was recorded at a local restaurant in Frisco, Texas. We planned to meet around 5:00 p.m. because I wanted to make sure he had enough time to get his stuff ready for the show, but I was too excited and showed up at 4:15. I guess I needed enough time to get myself ready to meet with one of my heroes.

5:00 p.m. finally came and the anticipation began to grow. 5:15? No Richard. 5:30? Nope. 5:45? Nada.

I was bummed, man. His show started in fifteen minutes and I had a feeling I wasn’t going to get to meet with him. Surely enough, however, Richard arrived in time for his show. Fully-prepared to go on the air with Morris for a full hour, he assured me that he had time after the show to hang around and chat as long as I still could. Hmmm.

“You got it, dude. See you later and have a good show,” I said.

I never had the pleasure to work with Richard day-to-day so I can’t say that I’m as familiar with him as the other writers in the DFW area are, but the 45 minute talk we had after that show told me all that I needed to know about the man that he was.

He was dedicated to his craft and he was one of the best at it. He was a caring father and a loving husband. He lit up the rooms he entered just by walking through the door, as opposed to providing light by simply exiting.

The last time I saw Richard was at the ballpark in Frisco. He was pleased to see that my hard work led to a Media Relations Internship with the Frisco RoughRiders. I guess his advice really did pay off for me, and words can’t describe how thankful I am for that.

“I want to be just like Richard Durrett one day.”

I’ll leave you with this. Every single day we are given the opportunity to make a difference. Should I hold the door for this person? They’re pretty far away. I guess I’ll pass. That person looks like they really need help, but man, I’m in a hurry. These are small things that don’t seem like they make a huge difference but they were so easy for Richard to do. What happens when you put them all together? The way I look at it eight small cracks in a wall add up to one big crack.

The passing of Richard Durrett will leave a very large crack in the hearts of many. I’d like to extend my thoughts and prayers to Richard’s family, his wife Kelly, and his two children, Owen and Alice. The same goes for all of his co-workers and to anyone that he made an impact on. Richard was a gift to everyone that knew him and he will be dearly missed.

What happened to Richard and his family is not fair. I encourage all of us to remember Richard and the things he did for us, the things he taught us, and for us to be thankful and happy for the times we had with him.  Even though at times we see Angels in the outfield at the ballpark, we now have our own angel in the press box.

-Cameron Varnau

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

‘Riders Rewind – June 17

Miss the last RoughRiders game? Catch up on the action or relive the highlights with ‘Riders Rewind, a daily capsule of yesterday’s big moments. Listen to previous editions of ‘Riders Rewind here.

The second half began in the same way the first half ended for the RoughRiders. Click here to read the full game recap.

The RoughRiders have lost three in a row for the third time this season. They dropped a trio April 5-7 and lost three consecutive to the Missions at Wolff Stadium May 17-19.  Frisco has not been swept in a series this year, an instrumental factor in its standing atop the Texas League. The ‘Riders thus far have been able to avoid the long losing skid.

Of course, last night’s results and indeed, baseball as a whole, seem shallow in the face of Richard Durrett’s passing yesterday afternoon. His presence is already missed. Be sure to read Alex’s eulogy to Richard on the ‘Riders Insider Blog.

Star of the Game: 2B Odubel Herrera – 2/4, RBI

Odubel’s run-scoring single in the sixth inning broke an stretch of 18 scoreless frames for the ‘Riders. He also reached on an infield base knock in the eighth inning to load the bases as Frisco attempted to piece together a rally. Through 59 games played in 2014 (29 with Myrtle Beach and 30 with Frisco), the Venezuelan is batting .314 with 40 runs scored and 29 driven in.

In case you missed it:

-The opponent has scored first in all seven games of the road trip thus far.

-Midland’s Anthony Aliotti continued his romp against the RoughRiders with a double, a home run and two RBI. For the series, Aliotti is 7-for-11 with four runs, three doubles, two home runs, four RBI, a walk and three strikeouts.

-Gallo watch: 1-for-3, 2BB, K; Gallo has drawn six walks in the series (two per game) and now has nine free trips with the RoughRiders alongside 13 strikeouts.

-LHP Will Lamb made his RoughRiders debut and pitched one scoreless inning. The 6-foot-6 180 pound hurler allowed one hit, one walk and tossed (surprise!) one strikeout.

-The RoughRiders outhit Midland 9-8, but left 13 men on base.

Our pregame interview with outfielder Teodoro Martinez details Teo’s approach at the plate (as evidenced by his .310 batting average) and his rooting interests in the World Cup. His answer may surprise you:

Thanks for tuning in,

-Chris V.

 

Remembering Richard Durrett

Last night I received a text message in the last segment of our postgame show out here in Midland.  We were playing a highlight at that particular moment so I had time to look at the preview of the text before going back on the air.  In the limited space given to a partial message, it read, “Richard Durrett collapsed and died…”  I didn’t have time to really take that in until I went off the air a couple minutes later.  I’m not sure if I can still synthesize that news 16 hours later.

Yesterday we lost a friend.  I say that as an individual and for the Frisco RoughRiders organization.  Yes, Richard came to our games to cover Rangers rehabbers and interview big prospects that passed through Dr Pepper Ballpark.  He was out at the park just last week to interview Joey Gallo. He was one of the television color partners for me and my predecessor Aaron Goldsmith over the past few years.

But he also was a regular as a fan.  I helped him with tickets for his wife and kids regularly, and also when he had extended family in town and was looking for something to do with him.  Whenever he was at our games as a fan, he’d come up to the booth and do an inning with me to talk about the Rangers.  He never had to do that and I never asked, as I respected the time he wanted to spend with his family.  But that helps sum up what knowing Richard was all about.  He was selfless and committed, and he is already sorely missed.

When he joined me the on the television broadcasts, he did his homework, which was impressive for someone who covers a team of much greater importance in the grand scheme of things.  He made sure to talk to our manager and whichever roving instructor was in town to learn the latest about the better-known players and prospects on the team.  But he also took the time to learn more about journeyman players like Kevin Pucetas and got the inside scoop that he was going to debut his knuckleball in a game we did on TV last summer.  Wouldn’t you know, in the fourth inning we saw the knuckler for the first time all season and because of Richard’s diligence, we were prepared to talk about it.  I would imagine that is just a small example of his tenacity as a reporter.

I really enjoyed calling games with him.  He truly got into the game situations and would do an outstanding job breaking down the action we watched unfold.  I think this was because, in addition to his baseball expertise, he was just a sports fan who loved the on-field competition.  That’s something Richard and I have in common.

We were going over our TV schedule just a few weeks ago and trying to map out which games he would join me in the booth over the remainder of the season.  We scheduled him more for two more games in July, but he was disappointed he couldn’t do more because of conflicts with his Rangers schedule.  Selfless and committed.

In addition to his devotion to his family, I will remember the small moments among our many interactions over the last two and a half years.  Having lunch with him at Rudy’s in Frisco and randomly spotting Craig James at a table across the room.  Him asking about my family and girlfriend and my plans for the future.  Introducing him to my interns and assistants over the years, with whom he would freely dispense career advice or simply talk sports.

Maybe we shared a connection as current and former minor league baseball play-by-play broadcasters (Richard did a stint in short-season ball after graduating from college).  Maybe it’s because he was just a good and decent person and that’s the way his relationships were with everyone he interacted with in life.  Regardless, I’m going to miss him terribly and already do.  I am sick that he is no longer with us in this world, playing catch with his young son or spending time with the rest of his family.

This is not an easy day for any of us that knew Richard or even took in his work online, in print, on the radio or on television.  If there is anything to be taken from his sudden and shocking passing it may be for all of us to try our best to be like more him; to try to be as devoted to our family, and to try to be selfless and committed, like Richard was.

For now, we offer our prayers, thoughts and condolences to the Durrett family.  We miss you, Richard.

************************************************

Today the Texas Rangers announced the establishment of the “Richard Durrett Family Fund.”  From the Rangers’ press release:

Donations can be made at texasrangers.com/foundation or through the mail at Richard Durrett Family Fund, Texas Rangers Baseball Foundation, 1000 Ballpark Way, Suite 400, Arlington, TX 76011.  Donations made through the Rangers Foundation in his memory will be directed to the Richard Durrett Family Fund.

Donations can also be made to the Richard Durrett Family Fund, c/o Liberty Bank, 3880 Hulen Street, suite 100, Fort Worth, TX 76107 or at any of their five metroplex locations.

 

-          Alex

‘Riders Rewind – June 16

Miss the last RoughRiders game? Catch up on the action or relive the highlights with ‘Riders Rewind, a daily capsule of yesterday’s big moments. Listen to previous editions of ‘Riders Rewind here.

Frisco ends the first half on a two-game losing streak and with its second shutout in past six days courtesy of a 3-0 defeat at the paws of the Midland RockHounds. Click here to read the full game recap.

The RoughRiders’ offense is officially in a slump. Its two hits on Monday set a season low, and they have just seven hits through the first two games of the series. With the exception of two big innings in the Corpus Christi series, the ‘Riders have scored in six of the past 54 innings.

Slumps are far from uncommon, as any baseball fan knows, especially at this juncture in the season. Fans have been spoiled by a RoughRiders unit that has generated hits and runs at a consistent clip since a sleepy first week of the season.

At this point, it’s important not to mistake the downturn in run production with “coasting.” Jason Wood and his staff are too competitive and care too much about winning to allow this team to mentally check itself out of the second half, postseason berth already in hand. On the other hand, Wood & co. also understand the season is a marathon, not a sprint, and the ability to maintain over the long haul is more important than implementing anything radical to jolt the offense in the short term. They will get back on track.

Star of the Game: RF Teodoro Martinez – 1/3, 2B

The baseball flu has yet to inflict Teo, who doubled in his third straight game last night. He tallied the only extra-base hit and was one of only two runners to reach scoring position for the RoughRiders. Over his last ten games, “Cafe” bats .361, which isn’t too far removed from his season average of .314 through 39 games.

In case you missed it:

-The opponent has scored first in all six games of the road trip thus far.

-Midland’s Anthony Aliotti has given the ‘Riders fits through the first two games of the series. The left-handed hitter posted a .179 through the ten games prior to Frisco’s arrival, but has since gone 5-for-7 with three runs, a home run, two doubles, two RBI, one walk and two strikeouts.

-Gallo watch: 0-for-1, 2BB, K; Gallo has drawn four walks in the series.

-RHP Kyle Lotzkar landed on the disabled list with a strained left quad. The ‘Riders currently have a season-high four players on the DL, three of whom are pitchers (Rodebaugh, Kela).

-Lotzkar to the DL opens up room for lefty reliever Will Lamb, a 2011 second round draft choice out of Clemson. Lamb is the rare southpaw who can touch the mid-90s with his fastball. Tall and willowy at 6-foot-6 180 pounds, Lamb arrived in Midland late yesterday afternoon and joined the team in the dugout with the game already in progress. He becomes the eighth player sent up from Advanced-A Myrtle Beach this season.

Also, new this week, we will begin to incorporate the previous day’s pregame interview into “‘Riders Rewind.” These interviews are typically posted every Sunday in “‘Riders on the Record,” but for the sake of immediacy, we want to present them to you a bit sooner in the week. Enjoy a two-for-one special today:

Jason Wood and Alex Vispoli look back on the season’s first half in this Father’s Day edition of “Sunday with the Skipper:”

 

RHP Jon Edwards overcame a rocky start to the season and has not allowed a run in his last seven outings. He discusses how he navigated through the rough patch and emerged a better player and person. Jon also pitched at nearby Keller High School, which has produced multiple professional baseball athletes in recent years:

 

Thanks for tuning in,

-Chris V.

 

‘Riders Rewind – Father’s Day

Miss the last RoughRiders game? Catch up on the action or relive the highlights with ‘Riders Rewind, a daily capsule of yesterday’s big moments. Listen to previous editions of ‘Riders Rewind here.

The ‘Riders won on Mother’s Day (May 11) but lost on Father’s Day by an 8-3 decision to the Midland RockHounds. Click here to read the full game recap.

It was a tough night for Kyle Lotzkar, who entered the game with a handlebar mustache and two down in the third inning after an abbreviated outing from Alex Gonzalez. Lotzkar could not get the out he needed before an inherited runner and two of his own scored to put Midland up 4-0. After Frisco trimmed the lead to one, Lotzkar gave all three runs back on an RBI double to Dusty Coleman, the Texas League leader in strikeouts.

The RoughRiders will try and even the series tonight with Alec Asher on the mound. Asher pitched well in his last outing (season-high eight strikeouts) but received no run support and took the loss. Big Cat is 6-5 with a 3.14 ERA.

Star of the Game: 2B Odubel Herrera – 3/4, R, SB

Odubel was the only man in the order with multiple hits on Sunday. His third hit rang in the ninth inning off left-handed pitcher Frank Gailey, which is significant because Odubel has struggled against southpaws this season. After one hit in his first 24 at-bats against lefty pitching, the Venezuelan now has two in his last three games.

Through 28 games with the RoughRiders, Odubel is batting .333 with seven extra-base hits, 14 runs, 17 RBI and three stolen bases.

In case you missed it:

-The opponent has scored first in all five games of the road trip thus far.

-Teodoro Martinez has been feast or famine as of late. The righty has hit into a double play in each of his last four games, but has driven in six runs over the last two.

-Randy Henry made his 2014 RoughRiders debut and gave up one run on three hits with no walks and two strikeouts over 2 1/3 innings.

-Gallo watch: 0-for-2, 2BB, K…Gallo now has five walks and 11 strikeouts with the RoughRiders.

-With Patrick Cantwell on the DL with a wrist contusion, Carlos Garay made his first start of the season behind home plate. Garay’s previous Double-A experience could be encompassed in one at-bat in the ninth inning on May 17 against San Antonio. The 19-year-old from Venezuela was not on the active roster for much of his time with team and served as the bullpen catcher. He finished the game 0-for-3 with three strikeouts.

Enjoy the highlights, and thanks for tuning in,

-Chris V.

 

‘Riders on the Record – Happy Father’s Day!

‘Riders on the Record is a weekly rundown of the pregame interviews recorded by broadcasters Alex Vispoli and Chris Vosters with RoughRiders players and coaches and occasionally a special guest. You can find all previous editions by clicking here.

Frisco finished the final full week of the first half with a 4-3 record and clinched their franchise’s eighth playoff berth. In six of the RoughRiders’ eight playoff seasons, the team secured their postseason plans in the first half. It’s also the sixth time the ‘Riders have reached the 40-win mark in the first half of the season.

After a Father’s Day contest against Midland, one game remains before the midway point of the season. Back on May 11, Mother’s Day marked the quarter point in the season. The ‘Riders were 22-13 at that point and have gone 18-14 in the interim between parental homage days. Perhaps not as blistering of a pace (we said on Mother’s Day 88 wins would be tough to reach), but still on track to reach 80 wins in 2014.

Let’s take a look at this week’s rundown:

“Sunday with the Skipper” conversation between Alex Vispoli and Jason Wood:

 

Guilder Rodriguez continues to put up career numbers with five multi-hit games in his last ten. The two-time Texas League Midseason All-Star has stayed in touch with former RoughRiders Rougned Odor and Luis Sardinas:

 

Scott Coolbaugh, first-year hitting coordinator of the Rangers farm system, returns to Dr Pepper Ballpark and shares his impressions of Joey Gallo. Coolbaugh served as hitting coach of the RoughRiders in 2007-08 and offers some interesting comparisons between those teams and the 2014 version:

 

Ryan Bores endured a turbulent start to the season and is settling into his role out of the RoughRiders bullpen. Ryan pitched for Kent State University when the Golden Flashes advanced to the College World Series in 2012 and did not carry strong aspirations to play professionally until shortly before the draft:

 

Phil Klein discusses his emergence as the RoughRiders’ closer in 2014 and his place on the 2014 Texas League Midseason All-Star roster:

 

Drew Robinson provides a midseason update on his approach at the plate and his ongoing adjustment to Double-A baseball:

 

Jerad Eickhoff’s 6-foot-4, 225-pound frame casts an imposing shadow on the mound. For Eickhoff, it’s been a diligent work in progress to develop his body into that of a professional baseball pitcher:

 

As always, thanks for tuning in.

-Chris V.

‘Riders Rewind – June 14

Miss the last RoughRiders game? Catch up on the action or relive the highlights with ‘Riders Rewind, a daily capsule of yesterday’s big moments. Listen to previous editions of ‘Riders Rewind here.

The RoughRiders left Corpus Christi with the sweet taste of victory on their tongues, having licked the Hooks by a 10-2 margin. Anything left behind in the visiting team’s clubhouse or at the hotel can be collected in a mere four days’ time when the ‘Riders boomerang right back to south Texas for their second four-game series with the Hooks in 12 games. Only in the Texas League!  Click here to read the full game recap.

It’s the most lopsided win of the season series for Frisco, who now leads 10-6 over Corpus Christi in 2014. However, the Hooks own the most decisive victory this year by way of an 11-2 blowout on April 28.

Star of the Game: RHP Jon Edwards – 3.0IP, 0H, 0R, 1BB, 6K

Edwards ferried the ‘Riders from the sixth through the eighth innings on Saturday in perhaps his finest performance of the season. His efforts were part of a collectively splendid night by Frisco’s pitching, which held Corpus Christi to just one hit in the game. The right-hander allowed only one baserunner when he walked Nolan Fontana in the sixth. One batter later, Andrew Aplin grounded back to the mound and Edwards triggered the double play to end the inning. He faced just nine batters over his trio of innings and sat down the side in order on strikes in the eighth.

After a rocky start to the season, Edwards kept a cool head on his shoulders and has allowed one run in his last seven appearances (11 1/3 innings pitched). Now that his high-octane fastball is landing for strikes on a more consistent basis, Edwards’ slider has emerged as a pitch with which to be reckoned.  At least of his six strikeouts on Saturday came via the slider.

In case you missed it:

-The RoughRiders now have 40 wins with two games to play in the first half of the season. Frisco has attained 40 or more wins by the midway point in six of its 12 seasons as an organization.

-For the first time this season, field manager Jason Wood left Jake Smolinski off his lineup card. Smolinski was in a three-way tie with Rymer Liriano (San Antonio) and Alex Yarbrough (Arkansas) for most games played in the Texas League this season (66). He is now tied with Yeison Asencio (San Antonio) and Lane Adams (Northwest Arkansas) for second place.

-Luke Jackson won his eighth game on the mound last night, the most in the Texas League. Conversely, Brady Rodgers suffered his ninth loss, also tops in the league.

-Gallo watch: 1/5, 2K…he now has 87 singles and 87 home runs in his professional career (all in the Rangers organization).

-Trever Adams’ two-run home run in the fifth was his seventh of the season and broke an 0-for-12 slump at the plate.

-Drew Robinson’s two-run home run in the ninth was his sixth of the season and first since May 22.

-Ryan Rua’s on-base streak ended at 21 games as the designated hitter went 0-for-5 with a pair of strikeouts. Another impressive run for Rua, who now has multiple on-base streaks of 20 or more games.

-Rua was the only batter in the ‘Riders lineup without a hit on Saturday.

-The RoughRiders ripped off five straight base hits at one point in their active fifth inning. During that run, three hits deflected off either the glove or the person of starting pitcher Brady Rodgers.

-Jake Skole’s RBI single in the fifth broke a ten-game RBI drought.

Enjoy the highlights, and thanks for tuning in,

-Chris V.

 

One Shining [May] Moment

March Madness 2015 is nine months away. Regardless of how your team fared in the tourney this year, it’s never out of season to relive the highlights with the “One Shining Moment” montage produced by CBS every year since 1987. For 11 of the past 12 years, the video has featured the dulcet tones of Luther Vandross (the lone exception being 2010 when Jennifer Hudson voiced the lyrics). Vandross would have plenty of shining moments to sing about if he voiced the soundtrack to the RoughRiders season thus far (alas, Vandross passed away all too soon in 2005 at the age of 54).

The many acmes of the past month, both on an individual and team level, manifest themselves this past week when the Texas Rangers announced their Minor League Player of the Month awards for May. Every month, the Rangers scan the farm and anoint the top player, pitcher, reliever and defender. All four recipients in May play for the ‘Riders, although to be fair, Joey Gallo and Alex “Chi Chi” Gonzalez earned recognition for their performance with Advanced-A Myrtle Beach. Still, that doesn’t stop us from throwing out our collective chests a little bit here in Frisco, especially given the initial returns from Gallo and Gonzalez in Double-A.

In a salutary gesture to these top performers, we spotlight their one (of many) shining moments in the month of May:


  • RHP Phil Klein – Minor League Reliever of the Month

Shining Moment: Sunday, May 25 vs. Springfield – 2.0IP, 0H, 0R, 0BB, 2K, 6BF, SV

Klein shined throughout the month of May and in nine appearances, recorded six saves in as many chances (he had zero saves in the first month of the season). The 25-year-old allowed one run on five hits and three walks over 12 2/3 innings pitched (0.71 ERA) and produced. Several performances stand out, such as Klein’s four strikeouts in two innings against the San Antonio Missions on May 2. In another game against the Missions on May 16, the native of Gahanna, Ohio posted a nearly identical line as the highlighted game above with two strikeouts over two innings of shutout baseball.

Although his four strikeout performance tied a season high, it occurred late in an 8-3 loss to San Antonio with the game already out of reach. While Klein earned the save for his work on the 16th, the ‘Riders won by three runs.

Against Springfield, however, Jason Wood asked the 6-foot-7, 260-pounder to protect a one-run lead with the playoff race in full swing. Klein threw 17 of his 26 pitches for strikes en route to the six-out save and retired the final batter in both innings on strikes.

The 30th round draft choice has continued his roll into June and he has not allowed a run in 13 2/3 innings. Klein’s ERA stands at 0.89 and his eight saves rank fourth in the Texas League.


 

Shining Moment: Thursday, May 8 vs. Corpus Christi – 2/4, R, HR, 3RBI, 2CS, PO

Let’s be honest: defense isn’t the only component that goes into the Defender of the Month Award. Let’s be honest about something else: the Rangers could not give Player of the Month honors to anyone other than Joey Gallo. That being said, Telis posted some of the best offensive numbers on the farm by someone not named Gallo, and also showed flashes of defensive merit.

As May closed, Telis paced the Texas League in batting average with a .347 mark. The switch-hitter’s high water mark came on May 18 when his average hit .356 after a 3-for-4 performance at the plate with a double and a stolen base.

The shining moment of the month for the 23-year-old (as of June 18) showcases Telis’s versatility on both offense and defense. His three-run home run in the third inning helped propel the RoughRiders to a 5-3 win and his three RBI tied a season single-game high.

Scouts love Telis for his lightning quick jump time from the crouch behind home plate to the throwing position. This helps give Telis a faster jump on would-be basestealers. His pop behind the dish cost the Hooks on the 8th when the Venezuelan threw out two runners at second base. In addition, he caught Matt Duffy napping with a lead off second and doubled him off to end the fifth.


 

  • 3B Joey Gallo – Minor League Player of the Month

Shining Moment: Friday, May 30 vs. Carolina – 2/4, 3R, 2HR (GS), 7RBI, BB

Boy, this was tough. Gallo, now the three-time defending Player of the Month (dating back to last season) posted video game numbers on more than one occasion in May. Against the Potomac Nationals on May 16, the 20-year-old went a perfect 4-for-4 with four runs, three home runs and five RBI. It was Gallo’s second three-home run game of the season (April 23)

Special thanks to Pelicans’ broadcaster Nathan Barnett for helping us break the tie on this one. True, Gallo hit fewer home runs on the 30th (amazing we are even using multiple home runs as a metric here), but his seven RBI against the Carolina Mudcats tied a Pelicans franchise record.

Also, consider the timeliness of Gallo’s two homers against Carolina. His three-run home run left the park in the fifth inning and brought Myrtle Beach back from a 6-3 deficit. Two innings with the later, with the score tied at six, Gallo ripped a grand slam to put the Birds in front 10-6.


 

Shining Moment: Tuesday, May 20 at Frederick – 7.0IP, H, R, 3BB, 4K, W

Gonzalez did not lose a decision in five starts with the Pelicans in May. After losing his first two decisions of the season, the 22-year-old allowed six runs over his 34 innings pitched last month, good for a 1.59 ERA. He began the month strong with an eight-inning shutout performance on May 3 against Frederick, and keyed in against the Keys later on the 20th.

Frederick will not be sad to see Gonzalez in the Texas League as the first round draft choice in 2013 took a no-hit bid into the seventh inning. He did not allow a walk until the fifth and turned in the longest outing without a hit by a Pelicans’ starting pitcher this season.

 

Here’s to a second half (and a postseason) full of more shining moments. Thanks for reading!

-Chris V.

 

‘Riders Rewind – June 13

Miss the last RoughRiders game? Catch up on the action or relive the highlights with ‘Riders Rewind, a daily capsule of yesterday’s big moments. Listen to previous editions of ‘Riders Rewind here.

Magic Number: 0

For the eighth time in franchise history, the Frisco RoughRiders are playoff bound. Click here to read the full game recap.

Yes, the ‘Riders lost to Corpus Christi 4-3 in extra innings and now sit 0-3 in long games this season. But thanks to San Antonio’s 9-1 victory over Midland on Friday, Frisco maintains its 3 1/2 game hold on first place with three to play. You do the math.

Frisco will send Luke Jackson to the hill in the series finale on Saturday to face Brady Rodgers, a native of Richmond, Texas with a 1-8 record and a 4.45 ERA. Jackson’s presence on the mound may spur the ‘Riders to victory and a series split, but it will be interesting to see if the squad stages the customarily flat performance associated with the game after a postseason berth.

Star of the Game: 3B Joey Gallo – 2/5, R, HR, 3RBI

Admittedly, Gallo’s fourth home run in five Double-A games received a boost from the 21-mph jet stream blowing out to left field. It was still an opposite field blast for Gallo and a ball that for most hitters, even with the wind, lands in the glove of the left fielder for a fly out.

However you slice it, the left-handed hitter continues to pace the minors with 25 home runs this season. Through 19 at-bats with the ‘Riders, Gallo has seven hits, six runs, one double, four home runs, ten RBI, three walks and eight strikeouts. The Rangers have named him their Minor League Player of the Month three straight times dating back to last season. Improbably, Gallo is on track to hit over 50 home runs this season (three games remain in the first half), which would shatter the Rangers’ farm system record and surpass the 40 he belted in a single season last year.

In case you missed it:

-The RoughRiders’ offense set a season-high with 18 strikeouts in the game. Let’s hope that mark stands for the rest of the season.

-Gallo has 86 career singles and 87 career home runs.

-The runs that scored on Gallo’s home runs were unearned. With two outs and nobody on, Jake Smolinski reached on a throwing error by Corpus Christi third baseman Jonathan Meyer. The inning should have been over at that point, so the subsequent runs did not count as earned on pitcher Tommy Shirley’s final line.

-In addition, Gallo’s glove has been mostly sturdy at third base. In the sixth inning, he hustled down a fly ball in foul territory and made a tough grab in the Corpus Christi on-deck circle.

-Ryan Rua extended his on-base streak to 21 straight games on Friday with a walk in the 11th inning. It’s unlikely the streak means much to Rua, but still, that was close.

-Odubel Herrera finished 3-for-4 with a stolen base and a sacrifice bunt. His third base hit of the game came in the ninth inning off Shirley, a lefty. It was just the second base hit for Herrera off a left-handed pitcher since his RoughRiders’ tenure began on May 13.

-The RoughRiders finished 1-or-10 with runners in scoring position and left nine men on base.

-Francisco Mendoza was charged with both a blown save and a loss.

Enjoy the highlights, and thanks for tuning in,

-Chris V.

 

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