Jose Ruiz, the RoughRiders’ everyday first baseman for much of the 2011 season, has been promoted to Triple-A Round Rock, the Rangers’ organization announced today.
Ruiz hit .275 with 12 home runs and 54 runs batted in during 106 games with the ‘Riders. The Texas League mid-season All-Star joined the Rangers system before this season after signing with Tampa Bay last year.
The Cuba native hit .293 in the first half before slowing down a bit in half number two, posting a .253 average. Ruiz spent most of his time batting fifth in the ‘Riders’ order.
Jared Bolden replaces Ruiz on the RoughRiders’ roster. Bolden hit .271 with six home runs and 47 RBIs for High-A Myrtle Beach. Bolden was the club’s primary first baseman and has not committed an error at the position this season.
Bolden can also play left or right field, and he hit in every spot in the order except for fifth during his 94 games with the Pelicans. More often than not, Bolden hit either second (37 games) or ninth (39 games).
With the move, the ‘Riders maintain a 23-man roster, which is one shy of the Texas League limit. Frisco still has only ten position players available.
We continue to receive tremendous support every day with the ‘Riders Insider Blog, and it is greatly appreciated. We have posted plenty of content about the RoughRiders both on and off the field, and we wanted to take a look back at ten of our most popular posts from the last few weeks.
Becoming Martin Perez (July 15): A look at how Martin Perez became the top prospect in the Rangers’ system during his two-year stint in Frisco.
The ‘Riders Driver (July 21): Carlos Coleman is the man behind the wheel for the RoughRiders on every road trip. Learn about him and his connection to coach Mike Tomlin and the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Former RoughRiders Thriving in Arlington (July 24): More than half of the Rangers have played with the ‘Riders at some point. Find out who right here.
Press Box Junkies (July 28): A look at the four men who make sure everything that happens at Dr Pepper Ballpark actually counts.
Wieland’s No-Hitter on Twitter (July 29): Fans’ real-time reaction to Joe Wieland’s no-hitter against San Antonio.
Erlin, Wieland, Buechele react to trade (August 1): Interviews with Robbie Erlin and Joe Wieland, who were shipped to San Diego’s system for big league reliever Mike Adams. Also, a chat with skipper Steve Buechele about the deal.
RoughRiders’ All-Gridiron Team (August 3): If the RoughRiders’ roster played football instead of baseball, this is what the depth chart would look like.
24 hours of the RoughRiders (August 8): A look at our lives before, during and after a home game.
Behind the scenes: Inside the clubhouse (August 9): A journey (with pictures) throughout the “off-limits” areas of Dr Pepper Ballpark.
Hanging with the RoughRiders’ Crew (August 12): An inside look at what it takes to become a member of the most exciting entertainment group in the Texas League.
If you have any ideas for stories, please feel free to leave a comment. We are always looking for more ideas!
Thanks for following along, everyone!
Yes, we’re talking about playoffs today on the ‘Riders Insider Blog. If the playoffs were to end today, the RoughRiders would be in the postseason for the fifth time in the franchise’s nine-year history.
However, it may be strange to read this, but fans in Frisco should be rooting for San Antonio when they aren’t cheering for the ‘Riders. The Texas League operates with two halves, and San Antonio dominated the field to win the first half title and one of the two playoff berths in the South Division.
The second half division champion also earns a postseason spot out of the South. But what happens if the first half champion wins the second half, too?
The team with the second-best record overall in the division would get that second spot. Right now, the RoughRiders (64-53) lead Midland (54-63) by ten games in that category. This fact, along with San Antonio’s spot at the top of the South, means the ‘Riders would get a chance against the Missions in the playoffs if things remain the same.
However, San Antonio doesn’t have a stranglehold on the top spot here in the second half. Those pesky RockHounds from Midland are peaking right now. The RockHounds own the best record in the Texas League here in August (10-1), and their doubleheader sweep of Tulsa yesterday pushed them within three games of San Antonio for first place.
There is a very good chance that the ‘Riders will not only finish with the second best record in the South, but also with the second best mark in the TL. However, they will need to hope the RockHounds do not steal the second half title and, thus, the ‘Riders’ postseason berth.
The RoughRiders and RockHounds play six more times this season, and all of those games come during the final ten games of the regular season. In other words, the push for the playoffs could come down to early September. We hope you are ready for a fun run.
The second round of the Minors Moniker Madness was not kind to the Rangers’ farm system. Former RoughRider Mark Hamburger, who made it to the semifinals last season, lost to Fort Myers’ Shooter Hunt in a 4-5 match-up.
Hickory’s Jurickson Profar, a two-seed entering the tournament, lost to seven-seed Callix Crabbe from New Hampshire.
The only Ranger farmhand to advance to the Madness’ Sweet 16 was Spokane’s Rougned Odor. The top seed in the “Farmer Works Bracket,” Odor bested Carolina’s Didi Gregorius to advance. Odor will square off with Hunt in a star-studded Sweet 16.
The Cinderella story belongs to 11-seed Zelous Wheeler. The Huntsville Star will take on seven-seeded Tuffy Gosewisch in the next round. All four one seeds have made it through the first two rounds.
To vote on the Minors Moniker Madness, check out this link.
The Director of Game Entertainment, Gabe Wilhelm, does a fantastic job orchestrating and delivering entertainment for fans on a nightly basis. His “Crew” is at the forefront of every spectacle and performance at Dr Pepper Ballpark in order to make games entertaining. So how does one become a part of the Crew? Reid Copeland finds out.
Who is in the Crew?
The 16-man roster consists of high school and college students 16-years-of-age and older. Each member has a unique style and talent they showcase in front of as many as 11,000 screaming fans.
The position of a Crew member requires that you wear many hats. “For instance, when you are at the front gate, you are a greeter exercising a customer service side. When you interact with the fans, you are a teacher. When the Cupid Shuffle is performed, you are a performer. During the game, you are a cheerleader, so there are many aspects to this job.”
Five-year veteran Becca McCoy, who was Gabe’s first hire to the Crew and is a hospitality major in college, is the longest tenured member and gushes with excitement about her job.
“It’s just not your typical summer job,” Becca said. “It’s not retail. You aren’t stuck folding clothes or anything. You are outside having fun, meeting new people, sweating, goofing around, and that’s what keeps me coming back.”
Last weekend, the Crew enjoyed a couple hours of sun and relaxation before a home game at the ‘Riders Pool Zone. Gabe and the Crew exchanged funny stories of mess-ups and crazy fans, while some shared personal revelations of the job that Gabe really takes to heart.
“It helps me gauge my performance as a boss to these guys,” Gabe said. “I get to see and hear how I can improve season to season and how they feel about their job as a part of this group.”
What does it take to be a member of the Game Crew?
“First of all, you need to have a great attitude and willingness to have fun,” Gabe said. “Humility is a must in order to succeed as an entertainer at the ballpark. Those who are teachable, have good verbal skills, and communicate well will, without a doubt, succeed.”
Gabe was adamant that Crew members didn’t have to have special talents to make the squad. “It helps to have a special talent, but it’s not necessary,” Gabe said. “Having a little bit of rhythm helps to learn the dances for each night, but most of all it’s how they interact with others and how well do they communicate with people.”
What specifically do you look for in candidates and what is required of each member?
“Instead of a look or type, really I hone in on context clues, something about someone that makes an impression,” Gabe said. “This past year for auditions we had 40 people, the most of any season since I’ve been here. It was about who stands out.”
Is there an age limit? Any experience needed?
This year’s Crew ranges from 16-28 years of age with the majority being high school seniors and college students. No experience is necessary. Simply put, most Crew members are young men and women looking to have a great time making money in a fun setting.
What, if any, prep is needed prior to each game?
Memorization and pre-game rehearsals will help all Crew members. Gabe hands out skit information and dance choreography information before each season for members to study.
“I like to rehearse the night’s performances prior to first pitch so everyone is on the same page since not everyone performs each dance nightly, or even weekly,” Gabe said.
For those interested in applying, how do they get more information?
Those interested in the Crew must stay up-to-date with the RoughRiders’ official website at ridersbaseball.com. For more information, you can email Gabe at firstname.lastname@example.org. Auditions vary in time and place.
The RoughRiders have made 82 different transactions this season, and many players have come and gone. Let’s update you on a few of the guys who are no longer with the RoughRiders and, in some cases, no longer even in the Rangers’ system.
Miguel De Los Santos: A member of the 40-man roster, De Los Santos is the reigning Carolina League Pitcher of the Week after tossing seven no-hit innings for Myrtle Beach against Potomac Saturday. The P-Nationals broke up the no-no bid in the ninth inning after De Los Santos left. The southpaw is 3-3 with a 2.95 earned run average in eight High-A appearances this season with the Pelicans.
Robbie Erlin: After the Rangers sent him to the San Diego farm system in the Mike Adams deal, Erlin joined up with the best team in minor league baseball–the San Antonio Missions. So far, Erlin has made two starts and he has thrived. Erlin has surrendered only one run on seven hits in 12 innings of work. However, the southpaw is without a decision with San Antonio. Overall this season, Erlin is 8-4 with a 3.11 ERA.
Tommy Hunter: The Rangers sent Hunter and former RoughRider Chris Davis for reliever Koji Uehara. So far with the Orioles, Hunter is 0-1 with a 6.94 ERA in three appearances (two starts). In 11 and two-thirds innings, Hunter has allowed nine runs on 17 hits.
Leonys Martin: In his 58 minor league games since signing as an amateur free agent with the Rangers in early May, Martin is hitting .306. However, the outfielder has a .269 batting average with Triple-A Round Rock. In his 25 games with the Express, Martin has driven in 13 runs and stolen four bases. In a strange split, Martin is batting .394 against fellow lefties but only .213 against righties in Triple-A.
Martin Perez: The Rangers’ top prospect is 3-2 with a 5.28 ERA in six starts with Triple-A Round Rock. Perez has had two great outings in a row, including last night’s no decision against Tacoma (5.2 IP, 2 ER, 4 H, 2 K). Opponents at Triple-A are hitting a pretty healthy .341 against Perez in his first six efforts for Round Rock.
Guilder Rodriguez: In Rodriguez’s second go-around at the Triple-A level, the infielder is batting .278 with nine RBIs in 22 games with the Express. For the most part, Rodriguez has batted ninth and played at shortstop. However, he is getting some time at second base with Nick Green now on the Round Rock roster.
Tanner Scheppers: Scheppers joined Triple-A Round Rock Saturday after a couple of months with the RoughRiders. The dynamic reliever has tossed five innings with the Express, and he has allowed nine hits but only one run. Last night against Tacoma, Scheppers tossed three shutout innings during extra frames.
Joe Wieland: Wieland accompanied Erlin to San Antonio in the deadline deal with the Padres, but not before the righty posted the fourth no-hitter in Frisco history. With the Missions, Wieland has made one start, during which he went six innings and gave up a run on three hits. Wieland will start for the Missions tonight at Springfield.
Renny Osuna will once again get a chance to break the RoughRiders’ all-time hits record when the RoughRiders kick off this three-game series with the league’s defending champions–the Northwest Arkansas Naturals.
Osuna went 0-for-4 Monday after posting two hits Sunday, which gave him 319 for his RoughRiders career. Frisco’s everyday shortstop is currently tied with Steve Murphy for the record.
In five games against the Naturals this season, Osuna is hitting .364 (8-for-22) with two home runs and seven RBIs.
As per usual, Osuna is leading off and playing at short for the ‘Riders tonight.
Osuna has faced Northwest Arkansas pitcher Jeremy Jeffress once in his minor league career, and it came back on August 8, 2006, when both players were in the Arizona League. Osuna grounded out to short against Jeffress, who was a Brewers farmhand at the time.
This season, Jeffress is 1-1 with a 4.60 ERA in four starts with Northwest Arkansas after posting a 7.13 ERA in 16 appearances with Triple-A Omaha.
ADDITION: Check out this video from the Round Rock Express promoting Mark Hamburger’s candidacy for the Moniker Madness title.
Former RoughRider Mark Hamburger and highly-touted Rangers prospect Jurickson Profar have advanced to round two of Minor League Baseball’s “Moniker Madness.”
Currently with the Round Rock Express, Hamburger advanced past 13-seed Matthew Szczur. The reliever, who made it to the Final Four last year, will battle Fort Myers’ Shooter Hunt in a 4-5 matchup in the second round.
Profar, the second-best prospect in the Rangers’ system according to Baseball America, earned a two-seed and cruised past Kurt Yacko in round one. The Hickory Crawdad’s next challenge is New Hampshire’s Callix Crabbe.
Rougned Odor, a member of short-season Spokane and a one-seed, also advanced to round two. Odor will square off with Didi Gregorius, who defeated former RoughRider Emerson Frostad in the first round.
Only five double-digit seeds advanced past the first round. There were two 12 over 5 upsets, which marked the most lopsided upset in the first round.
And a personal note–my pick to win it all (Kevin Quackenbush) took down Riley Hornback in the opening round. However, I lost two “Final Four” picks (Billy Spottiswood and Skyler Stromsmoe), so my bracket has been ripped to shreds.
Note: This is a running diary of a typical day in the life of the RoughRiders’ media department. The updates are available in chronological order, so scroll down for the latest updates.
10:45 p.m. Sunday (all of us): Well after the RoughRiders’ 6-5 victory over the San Antonio Missions, the media department departs Dr Pepper Ballpark. The game story is up, the information is distributed to local media, the equipment is packed, and the lights are off. We will be back here before we know it.
1:00 a.m. (Brian): I’m the night owl of the group, it seems. After a quick bite to eat following the game, I sit down and prepare the content for PlayBall! The text is already set to go for today’s edition, but I need to turn in the draft for Wednesday’s edition. In order to get the PlayBall! programs ready for each home game, much of the content is due 2-3 days in advance.
Once I sent that to Alex, our terrific graphic designer and an avid reader of the blog, I’m done for the night. Aaron will be with you early, and I’ll follow shortly after as we continue to give you an inside look at our day-to-day life. We’ll have pictures and everything, so enjoy!
10:30 a.m. (Aaron): After waking up around 9 a.m. and saying goodbye to my wife Heather who left earlier this morning for work, it’s time to start working on tonight’s game notes. This is a daily task that virtually every broadcaster in the minors deals with. These notes are used by both the home and road broadcaster along with visiting media, scouts, etc. It’s about 13 pages of news, stats, bios, and trends. The idea is that you can flip through the notes and have a pretty good idea what that team has been up to lately, even if you haven’t seen them play. We always post our notes to our website as well.
11:14 a.m. (Aaron): Notes are taking longer today because we have a new starter tonight, Derek Hankins. I’ve just finished looking up all his career stats and bio information. I use information to make a dedicated page in our games that focuses on the starting pitcher. It’s always exciting getting a new starter, but it means a longer day for the game notes to create and format the pitcher’s page.
11:30 a.m. (Brian): I woke up around 10 a.m., ate some breakfast, and caught up on e-mails for a bit. The first job every day for me is to update the web site. The best part about the “newsroom” that allows us to post, archive, update, etc., is the “cheetah.” While the site is in the process of generating, we are greeted to the running cheetah that you see to your left. Once I’m done with updating the story, the game story will be down, a few new exciting RoughRiders promos will be on the home page, and the “Extra Bases Chat” will be ready to go for tonight’s series finale.
12:27 p.m. (Aaron): Game notes are done. I sometimes stand up and wave pom-poms when this is completed. I mentally have a hard time moving on with my day until I know this is behind me. In addition to writing them, I’ve also emailed them out to our distribution list that includes media members from around Dallas-Fort Worth, the Rangers, and their affiliates. After I emailed the notes out in PDF form, I then posted them to our website. The cheetah must have had a light breakfast, he (she?) ran pretty fast for me.
12:45 p.m. (Brian): Everything online is updated, and a few new promotions are available for viewing at ridersbaseball.com. Now, the goal is to get ready for some possible history at Dr Pepper Ballpark tonight. With two hits yesterday, shortstop Renny Osuna is tied with Steve Murphy for the all-time hit lead in Frisco history.
This means that Osuna is one hit away from setting a very important record. As a result, we are preparing for it now. We already have a script for John Clemens, the “Voice of Dr Pepper Ballpark,” to read if/when Osuna breaks the record. Also, Alex has designed an image for us to put on the home page of our website. The sneak peak to that image is to the left. Now, time to get ready and head into the office for all of the tasks at the stadium. First pitch time is in about six hours!
2:00 p.m. (Brian): I am alone in the office right now, but Stephen came in here earlier today to print out rosters and stat packs. Stat packs are distributed to all managers, coaches and media members, and they contain overall stats, situational stats, the Texas League’s daily report, and much more. For a stat nerd like me, it is an important part of my preparation.
Now, it’s time to get the lineups set to go. We have already received Frisco’s lineup from skipper Steve Buechele. It looks pretty similar to what we’ve seen from him lately, especially because the club only has one extra player right now (Jose Felix is the odd man out today).
I remember when I first started covering baseball, I thought that the lineup card would be very formal and magical. Well, you can be the judge. And don’t get your hopes up.
2:30 p.m. (Brian): After enjoying some free pizza in our conference room (always a sign of a good day), it’s time to start getting our paperwork around to both teams and to the press box. We’ve nicknamed our printer “T.K.” and it is very busy during this part of the day. Once the printing is done, I’ll walk it up to the booth in the chilly North Texas weather. By that point, our whole force will be in here getting ready for tonight’s game!
2:33 p.m. (Aaron): Once the notes were done I got some lunch and did some work around the house. Trying to have a marriage and work in minor league baseball is a tough assignment. Like all of us, I’m at the ballpark eight nights a week and am out of town so often it’s hard to be very helpful at home. My wife Heather does so much for us in-season I try to help out when I can. Once I got caught up on some emails, I picked up the house (my messes, of course), emptied the dishwasher, paid some bills, and did some general husbandly duties that I (rarely) excel at.
3:15 p.m. (Brian): The RoughRiders’ media quartet is in the office to prepare for the game this evening, which is actually Frisco’s 26th straight day with a game. Reid is filing away with some “clippings,” which are used to document how much outside coverage the RoughRiders get. Stephen is working on a blog for tomorrow on a “behind the scenes” look at Dr Pepper Ballpark. I am doing this blog and writing a feature for Sports Page Dallas.
Aaron appears to have the most important job of all. It is easy to lose track of things during the grind of a minor league season, and one thing that slipped all of our minds was our “recycle box.” As you can see on the left, it was quite full today when Aaron decided to usher in the off day tomorrow with a clean recycle box. Admirable.
To be honest, I’m not sure if that bad will be able to hold all of the paper for the long term, but it is worth a shot. Three hours until the pre-game show. Plenty of work to do!
4:20 p.m. (Brian): By this time of the day, everyone is gearing up for the game in their own way. For me, as the pre- and post-game show host, I need to be prepared for the Texas League and Texas Rangers’ scoreboard. To do that, I keep some updated information on each game within the league. The sheet I used was featured back in this blog post.
I will also pre-record an intro for the top of the pre-game show, which features a highlight from the previous night. To record, I use a nifty-looking program called “Adobe Audition,” which you can see to your right. Plenty of green, which is my favorite color.
4:35 p.m. (Brian): We just found out about the pitching situation for tonight. Derek Hankins will pitch no more than four innings, and then Richard Bleier will work behind the newest ‘Rider. Hopefully this duo can give Frisco’s ‘pen a much-deserved night off this evening!
4:45 p.m. (Aaron): Each day I try to talk with some of the guys in the clubhouse and find out some information for the broadcast. Some days it’s nothing more than pointless chatter (like when I talk with our trainer, Carlos Olivas). Other times I get some good stuff. Along with Carlos, today I checked in with our pitching coach Jeff Andrews. He gave me the game plan for tonight that Brian mentioned about regarding how many innings Hankins will go. Normally this time of night I’m finding someone to interview for our pre-game show. However, I already recorded my interview with Robbie Erlin yesterday to play on tonight’s pre-game. Now all I have to worry about is getting dinner and filling out my scorebook.
5:20 p.m. (Brian): Speaking of dinner, everyone in the office was treated to some Sonny Bryan’s barbeque before the game. As we were eating, clubhouse manager CJ Allen came into our four-person office and offered up some of his delicious lasagna that was left over from the RoughRiders’ clubhouse. So, the ‘Riders’ baseball and media teams have been fueled by the same dinner tonight!
5:45 p.m. (Brian): Wonder what happens before the gates open? Well, after arriving in the press box a bit ago, we have been treated to some warmups by “The Crew” and some of San Antonio’s batting practice. Oftentimes, the evening’s national anthem singer will give it a whirl before fans enter the stadium.
Also, if you are looking to collect a baseball from a Double-A game, try to get to Dr Pepper Ballpark early. There are always a handful of baseballs in the outfield berm following batting practice. I saw a few bombs sail out of here this afternoon. Always a nice way to get a fun souvenir.
6:10 p.m. (Brian): Above is a view from our press box, the highest press box in the Texas League. First pitch is less than an hour away, and our pre-game begins in 25 minutes!
6:35 p.m. (Brian): The pre-game show has begun! You can listen live at this link. We will still update this periodically throughout the night. After all, we promised 24 hours of the RoughRiders!
7:13 p.m. (Brian): Renny Osuna’s first chance at history tonight resulted in a strikeout at the hands of Robbie Erlin, the former RoughRider and tonight’s starter for San Antonio. Osuna is still one hit away from the all-time record, so he’ll get a few more chances tonight.
8:00 p.m. (Brian): So far, the ‘Riders lead 1-0 in what has been a good game. Aaron calls the play-by-play in the first, second, fifth, sixth and ninth innings, while I take the rest. So, I’m off the air until our scoreboard update at the end of the fifth. Plenty of great action tonight in the Texas League and in the Rangers’ system.
8:46 p.m. (Aaron): Was really fun to watch Robbie pitch again tonight. Too bad for him he allowed the only run so far over 6.2 innings tonight. Brian has the play-by-play now until the ninth inning.
9:07 p.m. (Brian): What a change of events in this one tonight. The ‘Riders go from up one to down one in the top of the eighth. Now, Reid is scrambling to change up his game recap, and Aaron is cutting up the highlights. It is much more work here in the booth when the game is close, and that’s what we have tonight!
9:41 p.m. (Brian): A late rally propelled the Missions to a 3-1, series-clinching victory over the RoughRiders tonight at Dr Pepper Ballpark. Unfortunately, the loss did not bring with it any history. Renny Osuna finished 0-for-4, so his hits record will have to wait at least another game.
While the crowd leaves, our work continues. Aaron is busy cutting up the highlights while I prepare for the “Scoreboard Show” that follows every game. Reid is working on the game story for the website, and Stephen is wrapping up the Extra Bases Chat and getting a head start on game notes for Wednesday. The night is almost over for us after another busy Monday.
10:15 p.m. (Brian): My night is pretty much over, outside of overseeing the posting of the game story. I just signed off on the Scoreboard Show, and Reid is about done with the story. The end is most certainly near.
10:30 p.m. (Brian): The game story is posted. The booth is clean. The media are alerted. The night is over. Almost 24 hours after we left last night, and 2,229 words later, our day is over. Thanks so much for following along!
Only 28 games remain for the RoughRiders and the other seven teams in the Texas League. San Antonio and Arkansas already have their ticket punched to the postseason, and almost every other club in the league has a chance to get into the TL’s final four.
1. San Antonio (76-36, 27-15; Past Rankings: 1, 1, 1)
The Missions have the best record in all of full-season minor league baseball, with the San Jose Giants of the California League (74-38) the only team less than five games away from San Antonio. Not only has San Antonio been great this season, but they added Robbie Erlin and Joe Wieland, who had been with Frisco until the Mike Adams deal at the deadline.
KEY STAT (+200): That’s the Missions’ run differential this season, which leads the minors and is 160 runs better than the second-best mark in the TL (Frisco at +40). Thanks to Mike Saeger, the Missions play-by-play broadcaster for this stat.
2. Frisco (61-51, 21-21; Past Rankings: 6, 2, 3)
The ‘Riders have fallen into a bit of a slump, and Midland has climbed above them in the standings. However, the RockHounds will need to leap over San Antonio in order to make the playoffs and, as a result, deny the RoughRiders of a spot in the playoffs. Midland has been better than the ‘Riders over the last two weeks, but Frisco was clearly better for the season’s first 100 games. Thus, the ‘Riders are here.
KEY STAT (9-2, 3.09): The combined record and earned run average of Erlin and Wieland while they were with the RoughRiders. Now, they are on the team that Frisco would play in the first round of the postseason.
3. Northwest Arkansas (57-52, 22-20; Past Rankings: 4, 3, 6)
The Naturals won the league last year, and they have had plenty of big-time prospects on the roster. Finally, Northwest Arkansas has gone on a bit of a run to assume first place in both the overall and the second half standings. Still, last-place Arkansas is three games back, so this race will go down to the wire.
KEY STAT (2): The Naturals are only two losses away from matching their total from all of last year. Northwest went 86-54 en route to a pair of division crowns and a Texas League championship.
4. Midland (49-63, 22-20; Past Rankings: 3, 7, 5)
Talk about a team that has bounced up and down this season. Right now, Midland is one of the hottest teams in the Texas League and they have jumped into second place in the South. The RockHounds have won eight of ten, including their first series victory over Frisco this season Tuesday through Thursday of last week.
KEY STAT (4): Only four games remain for the RockHounds against the first-place Missions, and those aren’t until August 30-September 2 in San Antonio. Midland must win the second-half championship to go to the playoffs, and they are currently five games back.
5. Arkansas (55-54, 19-23; Past Rankings: 7, 6, 2)
The Travelers stunned many and took the first half North Division title by one game over Northwest Arkansas. Right now, Arkansas is in a bit of a rut after going 6-0 to start half two. Since that point, Arkansas is 13-23, but they still have their postseason berth locked up.
KEY STAT (.348): Mike Trout’s average since returning to the Travs August 1. The Angels’ top prospect, who spent almost a month in the bigs, has hit safely in six of his seven games and has scored seven times since arriving back in North Little Rock.
6. Springfield (52-59, 20-21; Past Rankings: 5, 4, 7)
The Cardinals have been hot lately, which pushes them ahead of Tulsa and Corpus Christi. Springfield has gotten great pitching out of top prospect Shelby Miller, and the squad is right there in second in the second half North standings, just one-and-a-half games back of the Naturals.
KEY STAT (8-2): The Cardinals’ record over the last ten games, which has propelled Springfield from last place in the North to second.
7. Tulsa (52-59, 19-22; Past Rankings: 2, 5, 4)
This is the lowest ranking for the Drillers this season, and it comes with the club still very much alive in the second half. Surprisingly, the Drillers have struggled at home this season. They have the worst home record in the TL at 24-30, including an 8-12 mark in the second half.
KEY STAT (20): The number of games that will remain when Drew Pomeranz, the key cog in Colorado’s trade with Cleveland for Ubaldo Jimenez, is eligible to officially join the Rockies’ system. If he joins the Drillers, Pomeranz would be able to make no more than four starts before the regular season ends.
8. Corpus Christi (42-70, 17-25; Past Rankings: 8, 8, 8)
I’ve tried to move these poor Hooks up in the rankings, but I just can’t do it. Corpus Christi’s roster is depleted now because many key pieces have moved up to Triple-A Oklahoma City or Houston.
KEY STAT (23%): The percentage of the Astros’ current position players that were with the Hooks a month ago. Jose Altuve, J.D. Martinez and Jimmy Paredes are the Hooks-turned-Astros.
Agree? Disagree? Let us know in the comments!