July 8th, 2014
Even though 2014 has been a sore spot in the eyes of many who follow the Rangers’ organization, there are still plenty of things to highlight. An injury-ridden parent club has the team looking up in the standings but this is giving us the opportunity to examine and analyze the pieces that the Rangers have invested value in. So far, the 2014 campaign has seen seven former RoughRiders wear a major-league uniform:
-RHP Nick Martinez (TEX)
-RHP Ben Rowen (TEX)
-RHP Neil Ramirez (CHC)
-RHP Justin Miller (DET)
-RHP Jumbo Diaz (CIN)
-INF Luis Sardinas (TEX)
-INF Rougned Odor (TEX)
On July 7 that number increased to eight with the debut of OF Jake Smolinski as a pinch-hitter for Leonys Martin in the seventh inning, and it increased to nine the next day when RHP Roman Mendez pitched the final two innings of an 8-3 home loss to Houston. RHP Kyle Hendricks, another former ‘Riders player, is also projected to make his major-league debut soon for the Chicago Cubs. Let’s take a quick look at how these RoughRiders earned their shot at the big league level.
OF Jake Smolinski
Jake proved to be a key player in the middle of Jason Wood’s lineup by being a reliable hitter, outstanding defender and a versatile guy that could do just about anything that the skipper asked of him. He posted a .267 average in 72 games while scoring 43 runs with 71 hits, 15 doubles, 3 triples and 10 homers. He also notched 35 RBI, walked 32 times and swiped six bags on the base paths before being promoted to Triple-A RoundRock. The Rangers, playing with an all-hands-on-deck attitude, will look forward to seeing what Smolinski can do at the major-league level. In his debut with the club on July 7, Smolinski appeared as a pinch-hitter for Leonys Martin in the seventh inning and went 0-for-2 with one strikeout. The next day he earned his first major league hit and RBI on an RBI double ripped to left and finished his first full game 2-for-4.
RHP Roman Mendez
Roman appeared in 21 games for the ‘Riders over 2012 and 2013 and notched four wins and three saves for Frisco. He pitched 37 Double-A innings and began the 2014 season with Triple-A RoundRock before being called up to the Rangers on July 7, along with Smolinski. Mendez recorded 31.1 IP in 25 games for the Express and left with a 0-1 record (3 saves) and a 4.02 ERA. He gave up 39 hits and allowed 16 runs (14 earned) with four homers, while walking 12 and striking out 30. The addition of Mendez will boost a taxed bullpen in Arlington and will give Ron Washington the depth he deserves. In his major league debut he walked one and struck out one over the final two frames.
RHP Kyle Hendricks (CHC)
Kyle only made one start with the ‘Riders in 2011 after being drafted in the eighth round of the June draft. He pitched three innings and gave up one run on four hits with two walks and two strikeouts. He was then sent to Myrtle Beach and was later packaged in the Ryan Dempster trade during the summer of 2012. As a pitcher for the Iowa Cubs in the Pacific Coast League, Hendricks has a 10-5 record with a 3.59 ERA in 102.2 IP over 17 starts. He’s allowed 46 runs (41 earned) on 98 hits, given up 5 homers, and has walked 23 while striking out 97. Hendricks is expected to make his major-league debut with the Chicago Cubs at some point this season.
If there’s one thing that Ranger fans should remember it’s that there is always something to play for. Playoff hopes are dwindling quickly, but there are young guys who are ready to earn their keep, veterans willing to pass on their knowledge and coaches who are still there to do what they love. So, when ‘The Show’ calls again, let’s look forward to the guys who are willing to answer.