You know a player is good when he plays two levels below the team you cover and there’s a steady buzz about him all season long. That’s the case with Hickory shortstop Jurickson Profar.
It was announced today that the 18-year-old was named the Low-A Player of the Year by Baseball America after hitting .286 with 12 home runs and 65 runs batted in. At such a young age, it’s impressive to note that Profar walked 65 times compared to striking out 63 times. If you take a look at the ‘Riders during the 2011 season, there wasn’t a single Frisco hitter with even 150 at-bats that had more walks than strikeouts. The only guy who came close was Leonys Martin who walked 15 times compared to eight K’s in 135 at bats.
Defensively, Profar impressed as well. In 114 games, all at shortstop, he committed just 22 errors giving him a .955 fielding percentage. If you take a look at Elvis Andrus when he was 18-year-old and playing in the minors, the now Rangers’ shortstop had a combined .949 fielding percentage at the High-A level (Myrtle Beach and Bakersfield).
Think about that for a second. We’re all impressed that Profar played as well as he did in Low-A at 18, but Andrus played at a level higher at the same age. To be completely fair about the comparison (not that this is a fool-proof form of judgement), Elvis managed a .938 fielding percentage in Low-A Rome in the Braves’ system at the young age of 17.
I’ve been surprised countless times, but I’d have to imagine that Profar opens up 2012 with High-A Myrtle Beach, which of course means that there’s a chance he makes his way to Frisco late in the season. I don’t think it would shock anyone if he stayed in the Carolina League for all of next year, but you never know what can happen.
No matter where he plays, it will be a long way from home. The switch-hitter is from Willemstad, Curacao - a tiny little island off the northern coast of Brazil. A population of slightly over 140,000, Curacao was put on the map during the 2004 Little League Baseball World Series by who else but Profar.
11-years-old at the time, Profar was the top statistical pitcher in the ’04 World Series when he went 2-0 with one save over 12.1 innings while striking out 19 studly kids. He batted .313 (5-for-16) with one double, five runs batted in, a run scored, and two strikeouts.
He also played in the 2005 Little League Baseball World Series and posted the third-highest tournament batting average of .389 (7-for-18) to go along with five runs scored and two runs batted in. On the mound he went 1-0, 1.85 ERA over 13 innings with 26 strikeouts.
And have I mentioned that he speaks four languages? Should be fun to watch Profar in Frisco … someday.
Photos provided by MiLB.com, ESPN.com, and Life.com
The 2011 season is over for the RoughRiders after San Antonio’s 11-3 victory in Game 4 Saturday night at Dr Pepper Ballpark. Here are a few thoughts a few minutes after Frisco’s tremendous season came to an end.
- With the pitching talent that both teams possessed, it felt like one big inning would ultimately decide this series. San Antonio’s seven-run first would certainly qualify as that big inning. The Missions sucked the life out of the RoughRiders in that frame and cruised from there to the franchise’s first Texas League Championship Series appearance since 2007.
- The ‘Riders did not reach their end goal, but they posted another fantastic season. Overall, Frisco went 80-64 and played the Missions, minor league baseball’s best team, extremely well. This organization once again churned out the top attendance number in the Texas League, and fan support has never been higher. 2011 was a good year for the RoughRiders.
- After their defeat of Northwest Arkansas in the North Division Series, the Arkansas Travelers will square off with the Missions in the TLCS. The Travs have had a solid season this year, but the Missions will, and should, go into that set as the heavy favorites.
- It has been a pleasure to cover the RoughRiders throughout the season. Thanks so much for making the ‘Riders Insider Blog a success during its first year. We look forward to keeping tabs on everything during the offseason, so be sure to stay tuned. Go RoughRiders!
Texas League South Division Series
San Antonio Missions at Frisco RoughRiders
Saturday, September 10 – 7:05 p.m.
Game 4 – San Antonio leads 2-1
GAME 4 BACKGROUND:
The RoughRiders face elimination tonight in Game 4 of this South Division Series after San Antonio’s 5-3 win Friday at Dr Pepper Ballpark. The ‘Riders battled back from three separate deficits in Game 3, but Cody Decker’s eighth-inning solo shot, his second homer of the game, proved to be the difference. Frisco used five pitchers in the loss, four of whom allowed at least one run. With a win tonight, the Missions would return to the Texas League Championship Series for the first time since winning the title in 2007. The RoughRiders are 1-4 all-time when facing elimination in the postseason.
Frisco – RHP Adalberto Flores (5-4, 3.32 ERA): Flores joined the rotation late in the regular season after Derek Hankins’ promotion to Triple-A Round Rock. Tonight will be Flores’ fourth career minor league start. In his two starts thus far this season, Flores has allowed eight runs (seven earned) in seven and two-thirds innings. Against the Missions, Flores is 1-1 with a 4.96 earned run average in eight appearances spanning 16 and a third frames. Flores was a midseason All-Star in the Texas League after going 2-1 with a 2.41 ERA in the first half.
San Antonio – LHP Robbie Erlin (1-0, 1.38 ERA): For the second time this series, the RoughRiders must square off with a former Frisco hurler. Erlin has shined in six starts with the Missions since the Rangers traded Erlin and Joe Wieland, who earned the Game 1 win for San Antonio, for San Diego reliever Mike Adams. The Padres’ front office has been cautious with Erlin’s pitch and inning count, which explains why he is averaging barely more than four innings per start with the Missions. This figures to change tonight, as it did with Wieland Wednesday. Overall this year, Erlin is 9-4 with a 2.99 ERA.
- San Antonio’s offense has forced Frisco’s pitching staff to work in this series. Through the first three games, the ‘Riders have had to throw 445 pitches, or 17.1 per inning. Compare that to San Antonio, a unit that has needed only 353 pitches. This calculates to 13.1 per frame.
- In particular, Frisco’s starters have labored through their outings. The trio of Robbie Ross (6IP, 1R, 107 pitches), Ben Snyder (6IP, 0R, 100 pitches) and Carlos Pimentel (4IP, 2R, 80 pitches) have ultimately been successful. They have a combined earned run average of 1.69. However, the bullpen has been taxed because the Missions have elevated the pitch counts quickly.
- Mitch Hilligoss has been the best hitter not only on the RoughRiders, but in the Texas League this postseason. Hilligoss paces all Texas Leaguers with a .385 batting average (5-for-13). The next highest batting average on the ‘Riders is Renny Osuna’s .250 mark.
- Offense has been tough to come by in both divisional series here in 2011. Hilligoss is one of only three men to hover above .300. San Antonio’s Cody Decker (.364) and Blake Tekotte (.333) are the others.
- The Arkansas-Northwest Arkansas series, which is now 2-1 in favor of the Travs after the Naturals stayed alive with a 3-1 win last night, has only featured eight runs. Through three games, Roberto Lopez’s .273 average is the best in that set.
- Low-A Hickory’s season is done after a 2-0 loss at home to Greensboro last night. The Grasshoppers swept the ‘Dads 2-0. High-A Myrtle Beach will face elimination tonight after losing at Kinston 7-0 Friday. Triple-A Round Rock barely avoided a sweep in a 9-8, 11-inning win over Omaha. The Storm Chasers still lead the set 2-1.
You can catch tonight’s game, along with every 2011 playoff game, on 1630 KKGM or online here. You will hear from Frisco skipper Steve Buechele in addition to former RoughRider Robbie Erlin on the pre-game show, which begins at 6:35.
San Antonio squeaked past the RoughRiders 5-3 in Game 3 of the Texas League South Division Series to take a 2-1 advantage. Here are some thoughts after a tremendous game, but an unfortunate loss, from Dr Pepper Ballpark.
- Credit the Missions–they never gave up the lead and scored in five different innings. The ‘Riders battled back three different times, but the Missions kept firing away. It is tough to continue to rally back from deficits, even if a team only trails by one in all of those instances.
- Cody Decker entered Game 3 with an average of .200 (10-for-50) against the ‘Riders this season, but he was the difference in the game. Decker barely cleared the boards with a solo homer in the fourth. Four innings later, his opposite-field blast proved to be the game-winning swing.
- The heroes of the game for Frisco were Renny Osuna and Mitch Hilligoss. Osuna went 2-for-3 with a run and an RBI. He also drew a walk and put down a sacrifice bunt which led to a seventh-inning tally. Hilligoss went 3-for-5 and drove in a pair of runs. Hilligoss is hitting .385 (5-for-13) in this series, which is the best mark on the squad.
- San Antonio will make pitchers work, and that’s exactly what happened to Carlos Pimentel. Like Robbie Ross and Ben Snyder did, Pimentel kept the ‘Riders in the game and avoided any big innings. However, he needed 80 pitches to get through four innings.
- The Missions’ bullpen is ridiculously good. Nick Vincent was machine-like during the eighth when he whiffed all three men he faced. Then, Miles Mikolas calmly worked around a leadoff single to post his second save in this series. We still have not seen solid arms like Pedro Hernandez, Craig Italiano and Eddie Kunz this week, so the Missions are loaded with talent for the final game or two.
- If the RoughRiders want to win this series, the bullpen will need to be awesome. Adalberto Flores, a reliever for much of the season, will start for Frisco tomorrow. This will be his third start in 2011. Game 5′s starter has yet to be announced. The bullpen has been solid this year, but this is probably the unit’s toughest assignment yet.
- Another key for the ‘Riders tomorrow night–the production of the heart of the order. As discussed yesterday, Tommy Mendonca, Mike Bianucci and Jonathan Greene need to produce for Frisco’s offense to really click. In Game 1 and 3, both losses for the ‘Riders, they went a combined 0-for-9. In Game 2, Frisco’s lone win in this series so far, they had five hits.
- It was another rough night for the Rangers’ farm system. Low-A Hickory’s season is done after a 2-0 loss at home to Greensboro. The Grasshoppers swept the ‘Dads 2-0. High-A Myrtle Beach will face elimination Saturday after losing at Kinston 7-0. Triple-A Round Rock barely avoided a sweep in a 9-8, 11-inning win over Omaha. The Storm Chasers still lead the set 2-1.
- No doubt, this was a tough loss for the ‘Riders. However, you know the saying–anything can happen in baseball. Frisco is still alive, but the RoughRiders must win. Tomorrow should be a nerve-racking but fun evening at Dr Pepper Ballpark. We hope you enjoy.
Texas League South Division Series
San Antonio Missions at Frisco RoughRiders
Friday, September 9 – 7:05 p.m.
Game 3 – Series tied 1-1
GAME 3 BACKGROUND:
The RoughRiders return home to Dr Pepper Ballpark for a crucial Game 3 after nipping the San Antonio Missions 2-1 Thursday night in Game 2 of this best-of-five series. The ‘Riders scored twice in the top of the fourth and upheld that lead behind the pitching of starter Ben Snyder and relievers Richard Bleier, Johan Yan and Justin Miller. This will be the RoughRiders’ 17th meeting at home against the Missions this year, and each team has won eight of the previous 16 contests.
Frisco – RHP Carlos Pimentel (7-9, 4.74 ERA): Pimentel was the only RoughRiders pitcher to remain in the starting rotation throughout the regular season. Pimentel led the ‘Riders in innings pitched (142 1/3) and quality starts (12), and he finished second in strikeouts (110). Since August 7, Pimentel is 2-1 with an earned run average at 1.60. The righty is 2-0 with a 2.97 ERA in seven starts against the Missions this year.
San Antonio – RHP Casey Kelly (11-6, 3.98 ERA): After a sluggish first half, Kelly boasts a 5-3 mark and a 3.21 earned run average since starting the Texas League All-Star Game June 29. One of the key prospects in the Padres’ deal with the Boston Red Sox for Adrian Gonzalez, Kelly went 1-1 with a 3.10 earned run average against Frisco this season. Over his last 13 innings of work, Kelly has allowed just one earned run and six hits.
- The RoughRiders are 1-3 all-time in Game 3 with the series tied at one game apiece. The lone victory came in the Texas League Championship Series against Round Rock in 2004, when the ‘Riders won their first and only league title.
- Frisco’s starting pitchers have worked 12 innings and given up just one run in this series. During those 12 frames, the Missions have stranded 13 base runners.
- Tommy Mendonca, Mike Bianucci and Jonathan Greene went a combined 0-for-9 in Frisco’s Game 1 loss. Last night, the trio went 5-for-12 and scored both of the ‘Riders’ runs. Each notched a hit in the RoughRiders’ two-run fourth.
- Want proof that this series has been pitching-heavy? The two teams have hit a combined .157 (19-for-121). Only five hitters have mustered two hits in the series.
- The RoughRiders’ Game 4 starter has not been officially announced yet, but whoever it is will square off with a former Frisco hurler. Robbie Erlin will take to the mound for the Missions in Game 4, either trying to keep San Antonio alive or hoping to eliminate his former team from the postseason.
- There have been only ten runs scored through two days of the Texas League playoffs. This series has featured six runs, while Arkansas’ battle with Northwest Arkansas has only brought with it four runs. The Travs lead the series 2-0 thanks to a pair of walk-off wins.
- Triple-A Round Rock faces elimination tonight at Omaha, trailing 2-0 in that best-of-five set. Low-A Hickory is also one loss away from elimination. The Crawdads host Greensboro in Game 2 of that three-game series. High-A Myrtle Beach spoiled a five-run lead in an 8-6, 11-inning loss to Kinston. That series is even at 1-1.
You can catch tonight’s game, along with every 2011 playoff game, on 1630 KKGM or online here. You will hear from Frisco skipper Steve Buechele in addition to a player or two on the pre-game show, which begins at 6:35.
Tonight’s game embodied everything that is exciting, fascinating, frustrating, and gratifying about playoff baseball. The ‘Riders edged San Antonio 2-1 to even this best-of-five South Division Series at one game apiece. Here are some thoughts.
- Knowing what we know now, San Antonio lost this game in the first three innings. The Missions stranded seven runners in those frames against Ben Snyder (I’ll get to him in a moment). After that, they only mustered five more runners. With Simon Castro on the bump and their awesome bullpen, the Missions could have made this series 2-0 with a few key hits in the early innings.
- Snyder did not have his best stuff, but he battled to post six scoreless innings. This outing was just as impressive as Robbie Ross’ effort last night in Game 1. Snyder has now posted six straight quality starts, and he has been one of the biggest reasons the ‘Riders succeeded in the regular season. His moxie in tough situations tonight kept the RoughRiders in the game and the series.
- Snyder’s escapes in the first three innings were impressive, but the biggest pitch of the game came in the seventh. Richard Bleier allowed a double and an RBI single to begin his relief appearance. Then, Bleier induced a double play to erase the possible tying run from the bases. The Missions did not get another hit the rest of the game.
- I know two runs may not seem like much, but getting a pair off Castro is tough. Frisco’s offense rolls when the heart of the order–Tommy Mendonca, Mike Bianucci and Jonathan Greene–is swinging well. In Game 1, the trio went 0-for-9. Tonight, they went 5-for-12 with both runs scored. Each notched a hit in the RoughRiders’ two-run fourth.
- Johan Yan has been incredible for the RoughRiders. If you include his work in Games 1 and 2, Yan has a 0.31 earned run average. That’s one earned run in 29 innings. Tonight, Yan zoomed through the heart of San Antonio’s order and retired all four he battled, two of those outs coming on strikes.
- He has been the ‘Riders’ best arm in the bullpen since his promotion in mid-July. However, this was the first time this year that Yan has worked in back-to-back games. The righty threw 20 pitches in Game 1 and another 15 this evening. I would be surprised to see him available for Game 3.
- Justin Miller’s efforts in the ninth inning always seem to get a bit interesting, but the right-hander always seems to get the job done. Miller has recorded 14 saves this year, and he has not blown a save since May 23. Tonight, the mid-season All-Star recorded another great showing out of the ‘pen.
- The theme of the Texas League playoffs through two days has been pitching. This series has featured six runs, while Arkansas’ battle with Northwest Arkansas has only brought with it four runs. The Travs lead the series 2-0 thanks to a pair of walk-off wins.
- Friday night’s Game 3 is the biggest contest at Dr Pepper Ballpark since September 15, 2008, which was Game 5 of the TL Championship Series. Hope you can come out to the yard for what should be a tremendous game. Tickets are still available, so join us for a pivotal Game 3.
Texas League South Division Series
Frisco RoughRiders at San Antonio Missions
Thursday, September 8 – 7:05 p.m.
Game 2 – San Antonio leads 1-0
GAME 2 BACKGROUND:
The RoughRiders look to even up this best-of-five series after mustering only two hits in a 3-0, Game 1 loss Wednesday night. Former Frisco hurler Joe Wieland held the ‘Riders off the scoreboard for seven innings. Nick Vincent and Miles Mikolas each posted a perfect inning out of the bullpen for a hold and a save, respectively. Frisco starter Robbie Ross struck out a career-high 12 Missions in six innings, but he suffered the loss. Frisco fell to 5-12 at Nelson Wolff Municipal Stadium this season.
Frisco – LHP Ben Snyder (11-5, 3.87 ERA): After 26 relief appearances, Snyder joined the RoughRiders’ starting rotation at the outset of the second half. Snyder has been steady for Frisco, posting a 4.15 ERA in his 14 starts. Entering the playoffs, Snyder has notched a quality start in five straight efforts, and he has worked through six frames in his last seven starts. In 12 appearances (three starts) against the Missions in 2011, the RoughRiders’ regular season wins leader is 1-2 with a 3.30 ERA.
San Antonio – RHP Simon Castro (5-6, 4.33 ERA): Castro has made 16 starts with the Missions this season. Since August 1, the righty is 2-1 with a 2.37 ERA. Against the RoughRiders, Castro has been pretty solid. He is only 1-2, but his ERA sits at 2.67. He has whiffed 25 in 27 innings of work over the course of four starts. The righty has posted a quality start in five of his last seven starts.
- During the franchise’s playoff history, the RoughRiders are 5-5 in a game following a loss. Frisco’s loss to the Missions last night dropped their all-time playoff record to 17-15.
- In Game 1, the ‘Riders were only one hit better than their season low of one, which came back on June 22 against Midland. San Antonio’s trio of Joe Wieland, Nick Vincent and Miles Mikolas only faced two more than the minimum.
- The RoughRiders’ 12 losses at San Antonio have come by a combined 27 runs, which comes out to only 2.25 runs per game. The Missions have held the ‘Riders to three runs or less six times during the two clubs’ battles at the Wolff.
- Cody Decker finished the regular season with a batting average of .186 (8-for-43) against the RoughRiders, yet he was the only Mission to get a base hit against Robbie Ross. It was the RBI double in the bottom of the sixth, a knock that proved to be the game winner.
- Wednesday was the RoughRiders’ sixth shutout loss this year. Frisco’s pitching staff has six shutouts to its credit, too.
- It was not a good day for the Rangers’ minor league system, as three other affiliates opened up their postseason journeys. Triple-A Round Rock lost at home to Omaha 4-0. Low-A Hickory spoiled three extra-inning leads in a 5-4, 15-inning loss at Greensboro. Only High-A Myrtle Beach picked up a victory, 4-1 over Kinston.
You can catch tonight’s game, along with every 2011 playoff game, on 1630 KKGM or online here. You will hear from Frisco skipper Steve Buechele on the pre-game show, which begins at 6:35.
The RoughRiders dropped Game 1 of this best-of-five Texas League South Division Series to San Antonio 3-0. You can check out the game recap here. Here are some post-game thoughts after Game 1:
- First off, this is what playoff baseball is all about. This was a pitching-heavy, nail-biting type of game that went to the team that took advantage of the few offensive opportunities that were available. Frisco fans have to tip their cap to the Missions.
- What an effort by Robbie Ross. The southpaw struck out 12 in his six innings of work. He did not surrender a hit until Cody Decker’s RBI double in the sixth, which proved to be the game-winning hit. It was the best start of Ross’ Double-A career, and he wasn’t too shabby (2.61 ERA) during the regular season.
- Joe Wieland was great, and RoughRiders’ fans aren’t surprised. Wieland posted minor league baseball’s fifth lowest ERA during the regular season (1.97). This effort was comparable to his no-hitter with the ‘Riders July 29. He wasn’t untouchable, but he was close, and the stakes were higher.
- There is no shame in losing at San Antonio. After all, the Missions are 56-15 at Nelson Wolff Municipal Stadium this year. However, the Missions have only lost three straight games three times this year (April 8-10, May 3-5 and August 12-14). Thus, Game 2 is critical, because a loss Thursday would mean that the ‘Riders would have to hand San Antonio its fourth three-game losing streak in order to advance.
- Don’t expect to see much change in the RoughRiders’ lineup Thursday. It is probably a safe bet that Elio Sarmiento will be behind the plate instead of Jose Felix because these two trade off at the catcher slot. Other than that, I would anticipate the same personnel.
- The RoughRiders are now 4-5 in playoff series openers. Frisco has never won a series when dropping Game 1, so history is not on the ‘Riders’ side.
- It wasn’t a good day for the Rangers’ affiliates. Triple-A Round Rock lost at home to Omaha 4-0. Low-A Hickory spoiled three extra-inning leads in a 5-4, 15-inning loss at Greensboro. Only High-A Myrtle Beach picked up a victory, 4-1 over Kinston.
- We had a tremendous “Extra Bases Chat” tonight. You can view that until Thursday afternoon here. Be sure to join us on the Chat beginning at 6:45 Thursday for Game 2. That Chat will be available at the above link as well.
- Thursday is another day, and a win in Game 2 makes things much better. Hope you enjoy!
It’s playoff time for the RoughRiders, which means it is time for the Insider Blog to bring its “A” game. Whether the ‘Riders’ run lasts through this weekend or all the way to the Texas League championship, we will have you covered in many ways.
Obviously, you’ll be able to follow the journey via game recaps on the ‘Riders’ website and the play-by-play action both online and on 1630 KKGM. Still, here are some other ways, some new and some enhanced, to connect with the ‘Riders.
Game Previews: For every game of the playoffs, we will post a game preview here on the Insider Blog. You will also be able to access the preview at ridersbaseball.com.
Playoff Perspective: Shortly after each game, we will break down the night’s showdown and talk about how it affects the RoughRiders’ series. More on this in a moment.
Extra Bases Chat: Aaron and I will be chatting with all you RoughRiders’ fans throughout the entire broadcast. Join us to discuss EVERY playoff game, both home and road. This is where your voice can be heard.
Twitter/Facebook: Your instant sources for RoughRiders’ information. Even more updates and links will be offered throughout the postseason.
Now, let’s give you an idea of our post-game feature. Here’s the “Playoff Perspective – Off Day Edition.”
- Carlos Pimentel will start Game 3 for the ‘Riders against San Antonio righty Casey Kelly. Pimentel doesn’t have awesome numbers overall, but he has had success against the Missions all year long. The right-hander is 2-0 with a 2.97 ERA against San Antonio.
- The RoughRiders were just 13-19 against San Antonio this year, but they did take three of four from minor league baseball’s best team August 23-26. It was the two clubs’ final regular season meeting, and it took place at Dr Pepper Ballpark.
- Proof that this series should be a low-scoring affair: Frisco’s team average against San Antonio is .240 and its ERA is 3.97. San Antonio’s marks are .237 and 3.14.
- Frisco will hope to reverse a recent trend. In both 2009 and 2010, the Texas League squad with the best regular season record went on to win the championship. Northwest Arkansas went 6-3 in its quest last season. Midland went 6-2 for the ’09 crown.
- Reason #29173 why minor league baseball is great: Robbie Ross and Joe Wieland, two very close friends who will be opponents on the mound in Game 1 of this series, had some fun with each other on Twitter. Ross on Wieland: “Dude that’s if Joe can keep it under control haha. No man it will be fun.” Wieland on Ross: “I’m gonna have to show him how its done.” If this were CC Sabathia and Justin Verlander going back and forth, people would be criticizing like crazy. Sports are supposed to be fun, and it will be a fun Game 1 matchup.
- For the first time in a long time, the ‘Riders and Missions are equal–at 0-0. It’s a race to 3. Enjoy the show.
Yesterday, we broke down the pitching matchups for Game 1 and Game 2 of the RoughRiders’ divisional round showdown with San Antonio beginning Wednesday night. Now, here is your chance to hear from both Robbie Ross and Ben Snyder, the two men who will try to lead the RoughRiders to victory at Nelson Wolff Municipal Stadium. Reid Copeland had a chance to chat with both during the ‘Riders’ most recent series against Midland. The videos are available below.
Game 1 starter – Robbie Ross
Game 2 starter – Ben Snyder