94 + Joeseph Ortiz + Leury Garcia + Nick Tepesch + Robbie Erlin + Ross Wolf + Chris McGuiness = 100.
He has done it. Just moments ago, Chris McGuiness ran onto the field in the bottom of the first inning at the Rogers Centre in Toronto as a member of the Texas Rangers. He is batting eighth in the lineup and due up third in the top of the second. He is the 100th RoughRiders alumni to make the big leagues and sixth this season. In honor of tonight’s milestone for the RoughRiders, here is The List, in its entirety, in alphabetical order:
Name, year(s) as a RoughRider, (rehab assignment years, if applicable)
- Andrus, Elvis, 2008
- Arias, Joaquin, 2005, 2010
- Bankson, Wes, 2010
- Beavan, Blake, 2009-10
- Benson, Kris, 2009
- Bierbrodt, Nick, 2004
- Boggs, Brandon, 2007
- Borbon, Julio, 2008, (2011)
- Botts, Jason, 2003-2004, 2006
- Bourgeois, Jason, 2003-2004
- Carlson, Jesse, 2006
- Chavez, Endy, 2010
- Chavez, Jesse, 2005-2006
- Corey, Brian, 2006
- Danks, John, 2005-2006
- Davis, Chris, 2007-2008
- Diamond, Thomas, 2005-06, 2008-09
- Diaz, Jose, 2006
- Dominguez, Juan, 2003-2005
- Drese, Ryan, 2003
- Duran, German, 2007
- Eppley, Cody, 2010
- Erlin, Robert, 2011
- Esposito, Brian, 2004-2005
- Feldman, Scott, 2005, 2008, (2011)
- Feliz, Neftali, 2008, (2011-2012)
- Font, Wilmer, 2012
- Francisco, Frank, 2003-04, (2005-06, 09)
- Galarraga, Armando, 2006-2007
- Garcia, Leury, 2012
- Gentry, Craig, 2008-2009
- Gonzalez, Adrian, 2003
- Gordon, Brian, 2008
- Grimm, Justin, 2012
- Hamburger, Mark, 2010-2011
- Harrison, Matt, 2008, (2009-2010)
- Hart, Jason, 2005
- Holland, Derek, 2008
- Hulett, Tug, 2006
- Hunter, Tommy, 2008-2009, (2011)
- Hurley, Eric, 2006-2007, (2008)
- Jimenez, Kelvin, 2004-2005
- Karsay, Steve, 2005
- Keller, Kris, 2004
- Kinsler, Ian, 2004, (2009-2010)
- Kirkman, Michael, 2009
- Littleton, Wes, 2005-2006
- Loe, Kameron, 2004, (2006-2007)
- Lueke, Josh, 2010
- Madrigal, Warner, 2008, (2010)
- Mahar, Kevin, 2006-2007
- Mahay, Ron, 2005, 2007
- Martin, Leonys, 2011
- Masset, Nick, 2004-2006
- Mathis, Doug, 2006-2007
- Mayberry, John, 2007-08
- McDougall, Marshall, 2003-2004
- McGuiness, Chris, 2012
- Mendoza, Luis, 2006-2007, (2008)
- Metcalf, Travis, 2006-2007
- Montero, Agustin, 2005
- Moreland, Mitch, 2009, (2012)
- Moreno, Edwin 2003-2004
- Moscoso, Guillermo, 2009
- Mosquera, Julio, 2004
- Mounce, Tony, 2003
- Murray, A.J., 2003, 2005, 2009
- Narron, Sam, 2004
- Nickeas, Mike, 2005-2006
- Nivar, Ramon, 2003
- Nix, Laynce, 2003, (2004)
- Ogando, Alexi, 2010
- Olt, Mike, 2012
- Ortiz, Joe, 2012
- Oswalt, Roy, 2012
- Perez, Martin, 2009-2011
- Phillips, Zach, 2009-2010
- Pina, Manuel, 2008-2009
- Phillips, Zach, 2010
- Profar, Jurickson, 2012
- Ramirez, Erasmo, 2003
- Ramirez, Max, 2008
- Ramos, Mario, 2003
- Regilio, Nick, 2003
- Richardson, Kevin, 2005-2007, 2010
- Ross, Robert, 2011
- Rupe, Josh, 2004-2005 (2006)
- Scheppers, Tanner, 2010-2011
- Smoak, Justin, 2009
- Strop, Pedro, 2009
- Teagarden, Taylor, 2007-08, 2010
- Tepesch, Nick, 2012
- Thompson, Justin, 2004-2005
- Volquez, Edinson, 2005, 2007
- White, Bill, 2007
- Williams, Randy, 2007
- Wilson, C.J., 2003, 2005-2006
- Wolf, Ross, 2012-2013
- Wright, Jamey, 2007
- Young, Chris, 2004
Note: To make this list, the player could not have simply been on a rehab assignment. The player must have been on the active roster for at least one day. Furthermore, not all of the players on this list made their MLB debut following their time with Frisco. Ross Wolf, for example, pitched in the big leagues before pitching for the RoughRiders, but played in the big leagues after he was a RoughRiders pitcher as well. Any player who is a RoughRider and then goes onto the majors qualifies (Roy Oswalt is another good example of this scenario).
Baseball term of the day: callup - a player who has been promoted to the major leagues
The RoughRiders spent ten days in April in first place in the Texas League South Division. After a 14-11 first month, the ‘Riders entered May in second place and only one game back of Corpus Christi. The team improved in May, going 18-11, yet spent just one day in first (May 4, tied for first at 17-12) and finished the month two games behind the Hooks who went 19-10 during May. Two games into June, with 14 games to play in the first half, Frisco sits three games back now, tied for the furthest out of first the team has been all season long and the first time they have been this far behind since May 15.
Texas League Rankings for the Month of May
Record: 32-22 overall, 18-11 in May (2nd in Texas League), home: 10-5, road: 8-6, vs. division: 10-9
Runs: 125 (4th)
Average: .247 (6th)
On-base percentage: .306 (7th)
Stolen bases: 38 (2nd)
Home runs: 32 (T-2nd)
ERA: 4.12 (5th)*
Strikeouts for: 255 (1st)
Walks allowed: 114 (T-7th)
Avg attendance for the year: 7315 (1st)**
|RIDERS REVIEW||Record||Runs||AVG||OBP||SB||HR||ERA||K||BB||Avg. Att. TD|
|TL IN MAY||Record||Runs||AVG||OBP||SB||HR||ERA||K||BB||Avg. Att. TD|
*Frisco 4.121, Corpus 4.116
**Attendance numbers as of June 3, 2013 so are slightly in addition to May totals
Carlos Pimentel earned Texas League Pitcher of the Week this month, but two players stood out in front of him in May.
‘Riders Slugger of the Month
Brett Nicholas (.340/.410/.650, 22 R, 8 2B, 1 3B, 7 HR, 18 RBI, 9 BB, 0 SB)
The self-proclaimed non-home run hitter blasted a team-leading seven long balls in the month of May. In fact, no one else has seven all season (Teodoro Martinez, honorable mention for Slugger of the Month has six this season including five in May). Nicholas led the RoughRiders in batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, runs scored, home runs and tied for the most RBI (18 – w/ Chih-Hsien Chiang). His eight doubles trailed only Chiang who clubbed ten in May. Entering June, he trails just three Texas Leaguers in home runs and RBI and is third in runs scored. Nicholas scored at least one run in 13 of the 18 ‘Riders wins in May and drove in runs in ten of those 18.
‘Riders Hurler of the Month
Ben Rowen (1-0, 0.55 ERA, 4/4 SV/SVO, 16.1 IP, 13 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 0 HRA, 19 K, 4 BB, 0 HB, 1.04 WHIP, .220 BAA)
Had Carlos Pimentel not finished the month with his worst outing of the season, he might have been the selection, but it is hard to argue with honoring Rowen. Not only was Rowen dominant, but he was asked to throw more often than anyone else on the club and still did not falter. Rowen’s 15 appearances were most in the month of May not only by a RoughRiders pitcher, but all of the Texas League (Matt Stites and Kevin Quackenbush of San Antonio were second with 14). In fact, only Mitch Stetter of the Salt Lake Bees (Triple-A LAA) made more appearances in May (16) than Rowen among all affiliated minor leaguers (excludes the Triple-A Mexican League). Only a half-dozen Major Leaguers made more. Twice on the most recent homestand Rowen came into a bases-loaded jam in the ninth inning and got the job done. The only times he was scored upon came on May 1, when he allowed an unearned run on a single after San Antonio got a single, a stolen base, and a throwing error to put Anthony Contreras at third base. The other time came in a 7-1 ballgame on May 6 in the ninth. He finished May unscored upon in 12 straight outings and has run the streak to 13 in June with his scoreless outing this past Sunday.
Official Texas League Players of the Week:
Punching Bag of the Month
San Antonio SS Jeudy Valdez
Valdez put together a spectacular month of May, hitting .320 (9th in the TL), with 11 XBH, 13 RBI, and four stolen bases. His .320 batting clip is his best average for a month in his two seasons with the Missions (excluding a .364 effort in the three-game 2012 September). If it weren’t for the RoughRiders, the Dominican shortstop might have been the best player in the league in May. He went just 4-for-25 (.160) against Frisco in May. Two of those hits were doubles, but it hardly makes up for his lack of production against ‘Riders pitching. Valdez hit .375 against the rest of the Texas League. To add insult to injury, Valdez committed three of his six May errors against Frisco, two of which came in a 3-1 RoughRiders win on May 2. Those two blunders led to two unearned runs in the two-run contest.
Best Moment of the Month
Frisco hits six home runs vs Tulsa – May 31, 2013 - Just barely squeezing into the month of May, this game was, without a doubt, the most of headline-filled contest of the season to date. Alexi Ogando made his only rehab start for the Rangers, and it took him just 54 pitches to get 18 outs. He threw 12 pitches in the first two innings combined, but the offense stole the spotlight. First, Joe Benson hit a home run in his first at-bat of the ballgame, his fourth in six games with the RoughRiders. In the fourth, Chih-Hsien Chiang, Ryan Strausborger, and Odubel Herrera hit back-to-back-to-back home runs off Drillers starter Christian Bergman. In ten starts, Bergman had allowed six home runs this season and never more than one in any outing. He served up five in six innings against the ‘Riders on this day. Teodoro Martinez finished him off with his sixth home run, a fifth long ball of May, with a one-out solo blast in the fifth inning. Martinez’ career high in home runs is six, and he nearly eclipsed that mark in the month alone. For Herrera, it was his first home run on the season and first in 53 games. Then, off the bullpen, in his first game back from the disabled list, Mike Olt blasted a home run that landed in the seats so quickly he was probably still in the batter’s box when it left the yard.
Bonus award: The You-Say-This-is-a-Summer-Sport Award
On Thursday, May 2, the RoughRiders hosted the San Antonio Missions in 45 degrees. Well, that was the game-time temperature…officially. Some websites reported 41 or 42 degrees. Wind chill was in the 30s. Steve Buechele wore a jacket to coach third base for the first time in his career: “that was the coldest game, by far” since he joined the Texas League as a manager in 2009. Just as incredibly, Frisco won the game despite the fact that Ryan Rodebaugh was making his first career start. He pitched well enough but not long enough for the win, firing three scoreless, one-hit innings. Frisco surrendered just one hit in the 3-1 win.
How did the prospects do?
Frisco’s Opening Day Roster contained six prospects in the Baseball America Rangers Organization top 30: RHP Cody Buckel (8), RHP Roman Mendez (13), IF Hanser Alberto (15), RHP Wilmer Font (22), RHP Neil Ramirez (23) and RHP Randy Henry (29). Joe Benson, ranked 19th in the Minnesota Twins organization by Baseball America to open the season, joined the RoughRiders in late May.
Cody Buckel - Buckel made one appearance in May before leaving the club for extended spring training. The right-hander was moved to the bullpen after an 0-4 record with an 18.00 ERA in five starts. He made one outing out of the ‘pen that proved a relief role would not solve his 2013 issues (0.1 IP, 1 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 3 BB, 1 WP). He has been in Arizona since.
Roman Mendez - Mendez didn’t allow an earned run in April. He began May with four innings of perfect relief work before finally being touched up for his first blemish to his ERA on May 10 against Corpus Christi. After three more scoreless outings, he ran into his toughest appearance of the year. In the eighth inning of an already-out-of-hand contest in Springfield on May 22, the first three batters reached off the Dominican right-hander. He allowed four runs on three hits and two walks in the frame. On May 28, Mendez threw nine straight balls. After the ninth consecutive toss out of the zone, he bent over in pain and subsequently left the ball game. Days later, he had season-ending surgery to a stress-fracture in his right elbow, the same surgery that ended his 2012 season.
- Hanser Alberto - Hanser came streaking into the month of May in the midst of an eight-game stretch that took his average from .228 to .298 to finish April. On May 1, the ‘Riders shortstop was hitting .298. On June 1 he was hitting .224. It wasn’t a good month for Alberto (.162/.229/.232). Although he did hit his first two Double-A homers, he also committed six errors in the month.
Wilmer Font - Like most of the Frisco staff, May was not as kind as April for Font. Hard to improve upon his April though (0.83 ERA, 0.73 WHIP). Over nine appearances, Font collected four saves with a 2.45 ERA. Over his eleven innings, he allowed eight hits and walked 12 for a 1.81 WHIP, indicating that Wilmer was a bit lucky during May. The good news is that all three of his earned runs came in one outing (5/18 vs SA: 0.2 IP, 3 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 0 K). For the first time this season, however, Font his 100 mph on the radar gun, doing so to close the combined one-hit shutout against Springfield on May 23.
Neil Ramirez - Ramirez looked like the Arlington-bound, hard-throwing, hammer-curve hurling right-hander of 2011 this April. He looked mortal this past month, but there are still encouraging signs. Despite being hit much harder in May (.209 BAA May; .130 BAA April), Ramirez allowed just 6.4 H/9 innings in May, which is in-line with his fantastic 2011 stint with the ‘Riders. He walked fewer batters as well (14 BB in 33.2 IP May; 15 BB 24.1 IP April). The biggest difference was the home run ball. Nothing left the yard against Ramirez in April, while five of the 24 hits he allowed in May were homers. He is still allowing home runs at a respectable level this season, you just hope that May is not the beginning of a downward trend in that category. Looking his FanGraphs page, it seems Neil had trouble getting men out when had to pitch out of the stretch last season (50.9 % LOB). He is doing a better job of that this season, although the .240 BABIP seems unsustainable.
Randy Henry - Henry didn’t allow an earned run in April. He pitched twice in May and both times gave up an earned run. The more alarming part of that sentence is that he pitched just twice in May. He has been out with injury and was placed on the disabled list in mid-May. He seems far from returning as well. He has yet to begin throwing off a mound.
Joe Benson - Not officially on the top 30 list of Rangers prospects by Baseball America, he probably would be if on the Rangers 40-man roster to begin the season. Benson hit just .162 with four extra-base hits (0 HR) in May for the Rochester Red Wings (Triple-A MIN). Four days after he played his last game as a Twins farmhand, he homered in his first game as a Texas minor leaguer. Claimed off of waivers by Texas on May 25 and assigned to Frisco, Benson homered in his first three games as a RoughRider from May 26-28. In his first six games with Frisco, Benson went 7-for-18 (.389), clubbed four home runs, a triple, drove in six, and walked twice. The outfielder who is out of options is off to a great beginning in his fresh start. You can learn more about Joe’s story from our post on him last week.
Happy June and go RoughRiders!
Baseball term of the day: subway slinger - submariner; a pitcher who throws underhand or sidearm
(term from The Dickson Baseball Dictionary)
‘Riders on the Record: the first day of school, home runs over touchdowns and the return of Mike Olt
‘Riders on the Record is a weekly rundown of the pre-game interviews record by broadcasters Alex Vispoli and Nathan Barnett with RoughRiders players and coaches and occasionally a special guest. You can find all previous editions by clicking here.
Another busy week of player transactions, the RoughRiders saw the return of Alex Buchholz and Arlett Mavare from Triple-A, the departure of Barret Serrato (back to extended spring training), Roman Mendez sustain a season-ending injury, Mike Olt return from the DL and Alexi Ogando make a rehab start for the Rangers at Dr Pepper Ballpark.
Highlights from this week eight’s ‘Riders on the Record include Steve Buechele’s assessment of his two aces in Neil Ramirez and Carlos Pimentel, Dennis Higgins (The Voice of the Drillers) talking about former Clemson QB Kyle Parker’s focus on baseball, Joe Benson’s acclimation to the RoughRiders clubhouse, and Mike Olt on his lengthy journey back to health from a vision issue he dealt with in spring training and while at Triple-A Round Rock.
Happy Sunday and enjoy!
Sunday, May 26, 2013 – Manager Steve Buechele
In their weekly sit-down, ‘Riders Manager Steve Buechele speaks about the gritty outing of Neil Ramirez, the continued success of recently named Texas League Pitcher of the Week Carlos Pimentel, the return of Alex Buchholz from Triple-A, and the addition of Joe Benson from Minnesota. (w/ Alex Vispoli)
Monday, May 27, 2013 – Tulsa Broadcaster Dennis Higgins
Tulsa broadcaster Dennis Higgins joins Alex to give us a Drillers perspective. He talks about Kyle Parker‘s commitment to baseball after starring at Clemson as a QB in addition to playing baseball. They talk about the Rockies relationship with the Tulsa franchise and the new instructional program put in place by Colorado this offseason. (w/ Alex)
Tuesday, May 28, 2013 – OF Joe Benson
The Texas Rangers claimed Joe Benson off waivers from Minnesota on Saturday. He sat down with Nathan Barnett before his home debut at Dr Pepper Ballpark and discussed his whirlwind of a weekend. He explains his speedy home run trot and expresses his excitement for a fresh start in the Rangers organization. (w/ Nathan Barnett)
Wednesday, May 29, 2013 – Hanser Alberto
RoughRiders shortstop Hanser Alberto talks about his big three-run home run that lifted the ‘Riders over the Cardinals on Tuesday. He explains the origins of his nickname “Radio” as well. (w/ Nathan)
Friday, May 31, 2013 – 3B Alex Buchholz
In his first week back at Double-A, Alex Buchholz discusses his time with Triple-A Round Rock. In his ever stint at the highest minor league level, Buchholz excelled, and he explained the differences between Double-A and Triple-A pitching as well as the routine of the players around him. (w/ Nathan)
Saturday, June 1, 2013 – 3B Mike Olt
Mike Olt returned from the disabled list and played over the weekend for the RoughRiders. In his first game, he homered to left field, just his second of the season. He hit only one as a member of the Express in his 20 games, but with his vision issues resolved, Mike says he feels more like himself. He talked about his long road to recovery and the legions of doctor visits. (w/ Nathan)
Baseball term of the day: tobasco tap – a hard-hit ground ball
(term from The Dickson Baseball Dictionary)
Last night, Rangers pitcher Alexi Ogando pitched six solid innings for the RoughRiders in a rehab start, and allowed two runs, including a home run, on four hits while striking out four.
Mike Olt also made his return to Frisco last night against the Tulsa Drillers, though Ogando’s rehab assignment seemed to overshadow the third baseman’s return to the ‘Riders. Olt went 1-for-4, striking out swinging his first two at-bats. In the sixth, Mike flied out to the left warning track, just feet away from knocking it over the wall and then in his final at-bat in the eighth, Olt slammed a two-run home run over the left wall. Frisco beat the Drillers 7-4.
See Mike Olt’s two-run blast in his return to Frisco.
After hitting a Texas League- and RoughRiders-best 28 home runs last year, and despite getting called up to the big leagues in early August, Olt has struggled this year, opening this season at Triple-A Round Rock where he hit just .139 in 20 games with one home run with the Express before being placed on disabled list with vision problems.
MLB.com contributor Christian Corona spoke with Olt about his vision issues last night prior to the game.
Following Frisco’s victory, Josh Jackson, contributor for MiLB.com, talked with Olt about his return:
“It feels really good to finally be able to feel like myself again,” Olt said. “Obviously, when we couldn’t figure things out and I couldn’t see the ball, that was a frustrating time. Tonight it felt good to just work toward finding my normal timing and being able to see the ball.”
Jason Cole of LoneStarDugout.com caught up with Olt this week in Surprise, AZ at extended spring training during his rehab for an interview about the vision troubles. (Note: Subscription to Lone Star Dugout needed to view the article.)
Mike Olt was the 49th overall pick in the 2010 draft pick by the Texas Rangers. The Newberg Report recapped day one of the 2010 Rangers draft picks on June 8, 2010 with this scouting report on Olt coming out of UConn:
The 21-year-old has good hands and feet, solid range, and a strong arm from third. There are holes in his right-handed swing – he struck out 54 times in 264 at-bats this season – but the bat speed is there, and scouts believe in his approach at the plate and coachability. It’s been a long time since third base was so uniformly thin in the big leagues, and in Olt the Rangers see a player they obviously believe could give them an developmental asset, particularly if he can make more consistent contact and take advantage of his power potential while providing lockdown defense at third.
Baseball Term of the Day: Monster shot - a tremendous home run out of the ballpark
Rangers’ starter Alexi Ogando will make the start for the RoughRiders in tonight’s game against the Tulsa Drillers. The 29-year-old is currently on the Rangers 15-day disabled list with right biceps tendinitis.
In the past three years, Ogando has played a dominant role on the Rangers’ pitching staff. However, his path to Arlington has been unique and bizarre.
Ogando’s road to the Rangers:
In 2005, Alexi Ogando was selected by the Rangers from Oakland in the minor league phase of the 2005 Rule 5 Draft. He was an outfielder in the Oakland system, but was instantly converted to pitcher with the Rangers.
Caught up in a marriage-visa scam in the Dominican Republic with former Rangers right-hander Omar Beltre, guilty of gullible involvement before Texas acquired him, Ogando was essentially quarantined in the Dominican for five years after joining the organization. Around 30 Dominican players were involved in the scam, promised $5,000 by a Dominican crime syndicate to agree to a sham marriage to women they didn’t know. The women would then gain entry into the US with their newly acquired visas and obtain divorces shortly after arriving.
In his five years stuck in the Dominican, Alexi pitched for the Rangers’ Dominican Summer League clubs in 2006 and 2007. He didn’t pitch in 2008 but was back on a DSL mound in 2009, making 10 appearances in July and August.
In Februrary 2010, the U.S. State Department notified the Rangers that the Dominican right-handers had been provided waivers allowing them to apply for work visas. All immigration restraints to their entry into the United States were also removed. The two prospects reportedly spent their last year in the Dominican speaking publicly to educate citizens about these human trafficking scams.
Then-Rangers Assistant GM Thad Levine reportedly played a significant role in the process from the organization’s side. Ogando and Beltre were top-tier prospects, but at age 26 and 28 respectively, pitching dominantly for five years against largely overmatched Dominican Summer League competition, their ability to get outs against major league batters in the US could have been an issue in the MLB. Texas kept both on the restricted list for three years (adding Ogando to the 40-man roster before doing so in his case) rather than moving on, as all other clubs did with the other 30 Dominican players around the league caught up in the scandal.
Ogando’s Career with the Rangers:
Ogando is in his fourth season with the Rangers and second season as a member of the starting rotation. He has appeared in 142 major league games with 39 starts, with a record of 23-11 and a 3.12 ERA.
The Dominican right-hander made nine starts this season for Texas with a 4-2 record and a 3.08 ERA before heading to the disabled list on May 16 with right biceps tendonitis. In 50 innings this season, the converted outfielder has 37 strikeouts and 19 walks.
He was a member of the RoughRiders in 2010, a year he finished in Arlington making 44 appearances out of the bullpen for the Rangers in his rookie season. As a RoughRiders hurler, he made seven outings, including three starts.
In two years of post season play, Ogando has gone 2-0 with a 2.37 ERA in 19 innings pitched. He was particularly effective in the 2011 series against the Tigers, going 2-0 in four games pitching 7.2 innings allowing one run on three hits and striking out ten.
Baseball Term of the Day: rainmaker- a very high pop fly, usually in the infield
Say Hello to Joe Benson.
Drafted in the second round, 64th overall by the Minnesota Twins in 2006, Benson entered the Twins system out of Joliet Catholic Academy, signing for $575,000 in a decision to forgo playing college baseball (and maybe football as well) at Purdue University.
In 2006, Benson was a Gulf Coast League Twin (Rookie) for 52 games and then a Beloit Snapper (Class A) for eight more after signing to his professional deal on June 10, 2010–just days after the draft. 1914 days later, he made his Major League debut for the Twins against Jake Peavy and the White Sox.
Another 262 days later, Benson was a Ranger and was optioned to Frisco. The next day he hit his first home run as a Texas farmhand, with Frisco in Tulsa. The following day he hit his second. Last night (2179 days after he signed with Minnesota) he made his Dr Pepper Ballpark debut and hit another.
Before we go into the waiver process that brought Benson to Frisco, take another look at that journey around the bags by Benson (it might take few moments to load). ‘Riders manager Steve Buechele said it’s the fastest home run trot he’s ever seen, and it wasn’t a one-time performance. This is what he does.
As Joe himself explained it: “before 2010, I never had more than 5 home runs in a season. I started to hitting some balls to right-center, and right off the bat, I would think three. That’s pretty much been my philosophy. If I backspin a ball, and I think it’s getting over an outfielder’s head, I am thinking a triple. By then, if the ball goes over the fence, and the umpire signals home run, I think it looks obnoxious to break it down into a slow jog, so I just kind of keep the pace, touch home plate, and jog back into the dugout.”
On Saturday, May 25, 2013, the Rangers acquired Benson on waivers from Minnesota. The Twins needed to make room for P.J. Walters, and Benson was the roster casualty. From my best understanding of the rule (thanks to BP, Purple Row, and @NewbergReport), when a player is placed on waivers, every MLB team is notified and has up to 48 hours to place a claim on the player. If no team placed a claim, Benson could have been removed from the Twins 40-man roster and stayed in their system. If multiple claims were placed on the player, the priority would have gone to the team with the worst record (in either league) on the day the waiver window closed, which should have been Saturday, May 23 (he was claimed by Texas).
Going into Saturday, this is how the top of the MLB Standings looked:
1. St. Louis Cardinals 31-16
2. Texas Rangers 31-17
3. Cincinnati Reds 30-18
This means that 28 other teams passed on Benson (maybe St. Louis did as well, seems likely considering the depth at OF in their system). La Velle E. Neal III has a good piece on how the Twins front office viewed the deal and their interaction with Benson over the weekend.
Benson was once regarded very highly in the Twins system before injuries and issues at the Triple-A level dropped his stock a bit. A two sport start in high school, Benson was, and still is, a great athlete with good speed, a good throwing arm, and a projectable bat with power. Benson was ranked the 8th best prospect in Twins organization by Baseball America entering his first full season in 2007. He rose to second in the system in 2008 after he showed good speed (18 SB) and good patience (49 BB) despite contact issues (124 K) and a lack of power (5 HR) in the Midwest League with the Beloit Snappers. The power was very slow to come around, as he posted four home runs in 2008 and just five in 2009. His stock fell in the system, ranked 15th entering 2009 and then 13th to begin 2010.
But then 2010 happened. Benson exploded for 27 homers, the most in the entire Minnesota organization (Thome had 25 in the bigs). His 23 Double-A home runs ranked fourth in Eastern League tied for the most hit by a New Britain hitter since 2004 when now major leaguer Garrett Jones hit 30. He was still striking out quite a bit (136 in 123 games) but the patience was still there and the power was real.
|AA (4 seasons)||AA||253||926||152||238||54||13||45||141||31||21||109||269||.257||.350||.489||.839|
|Rk (4 seasons)||Rk||60||218||34||57||13||5||5||28||12||13||26||45||.261||.343||.436||.779|
|A (3 seasons)||A||199||705||114||178||34||11||9||66||36||27||73||203||.252||.338||.370||.708|
|A+ (3 seasons)||A+||109||381||69||110||24||4||10||50||23||7||59||104||.289||.404||.451||.855|
|AAA (2 seasons)||AAA||70||246||29||46||10||4||3||17||8||2||21||77||.187||.261||.297||.558|
Benson earned the Sherry Robertson Award, given to the Twins Minor League Player of the Year in 2010. Baseball America ranked him as a top 100 prospect before the 2011 season, and again he was in the top five in the Twins system, ranked fourth. In September of the year, Benson leapfrogged Triple-A and went straight to The Show. Things didn’t go great for Joe in the big leagues, however. He hit just .239 in 21 games with the Twinkies and did not homer in 74 plate appearances. The strikeouts were still a problem and he didn’t walk much against Major League pitching.
Benson went back to minors to open 2012 and had issues with Triple-A pitching. He was demoted back to Double-A and battled injuries including a left knee issue and a broken left hamate bone in his wrist. Joe says he feels like he is totally healthy this season and wasn’t quite right at the end of the 2012.
He has showed it in his three games with his new organization. Three games. Three home runs. A triple. Five RBI.
Who knows where Joe Benson goes from here. He is out of options and will be a free agent at the end of the season. For now, it’s nice to see him off to a good beginning in his fresh start, and he sure has been a nice addition to this Frisco lineup.
Below is the interview I conducted with Joe before Tuesday’s home debut for the outfielder.
The RoughRiders host the Springfield Cardinals once again tonight at 7:05 pm at Dr Pepper Ballpark. RHP Tyler Tufts opposes RHP Seth Blair, and you can read all about the ‘Riders in tonight’s edition of the game notes.
Baseball term of the day: Baseball rat – a player devoted to the game
The Frisco RoughRiders return home today on a five-game winning streak after two road series wins over the Springfield Cardinals and the Tulsa Drillers. The ‘Riders remain in second place in the Texas League South Division, one game behind the Corpus Christi Hooks.
Today, Frisco begins a three-game series with Springfield, the Double-A affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals. Springfield is on a five-game losing streak from the weekend after losing their series with Frisco 2-1 and then getting swept by Midland. The last time the Cardinals won was the last time Frisco lost. The Cardinals are in second place in the Texas League North Division, a half-game behind the Arkansas Travelers.
This is how the pitching matchups line up:
Tuesday: Carlos Pimentel (6-1, 2.55 ERA) vs. Tim Cooney (2-1, 2.00 ERA)
Thursday: Neil Ramirez (5-1, 2.83 ERA) vs.Nick Greenwood (0-2, 8.25 ERA)
Friday: Kevin Pucetas (6-4, 4.63 ERA) vs. Christian Bergman (3-3, 2.69 ERA)
Saturday: Nick McBride (0-0, 6.75 ERA) vs. Sean Gallagher (1-0, 1.86 ERA)
Sunday: Carlos Pimentel vs. Tim Gustafson (2-3, 5.56 ERA)
Home stand promotions and broadcast info:
- RoughRiders Horse Race presented by Whataburger
- Post-game fireworks
- Dollar Dog Night
- RoughRiders Horse Race presented by Whataburger
- $1 Dr Pepper Thursdays
- Friday Night Post-game fireworks
- Smashburger SMASH inning
- Free ‘Riders sunglasses
- Kids Run the Bases
- Raising Cane’s Grand Slam Sunday
- RoughRiders Horse Race presented by Whataburger
Baseball term of the day: Good Cheese - a blurring fastball
Colby Lewis made his first rehab start after being shutdown with triceps tendinitis on Monday in Frisco. Lewis makes his second rehab start tonight at 6:05 CT, but it will be with Triple-A Round Rock in Memphis.
Today seemed like a good day to reminiscence on what was a special day here at Dr Pepper Ballpark. The RoughRiders have been fortunate to see a number of rehabbers come through from the Rangers in their 10+ year history, but it is not too often that a man who started and won World Series games dons the ‘Riders uni. In fact, only once (I believe) has Frisco had a rehabber pitch for them who had started a game in the Fall Classic: Kevin Millwood rehabbed for Frisco in 2007 and 2008–and he lost (game two of the 1999 Series while a member of the Braves). Roy Oswalt started a game in the 2005 World Series in Houston, but he was technically not a rehabber during his time in Frisco in 2012.
Here are some photos to commemorate the day:
The results? A mixed bag. Not great. The rehabber went 2.1 innings and allowed two runs on four hits. Lewis set down the first six men he faced, three on strikes, before running into issues in the third inning.
After the start, Lewis was somewhat discouraged talking to the media. He was not pleased with his velocity, which sat 85-86 mph and topped out at 87. What was expected to be the first of three to four rehab starts, now seems was the first of a somewhat indefinite number, as Lewis said he would tell the Rangers when he was ready.
Lewis said that it felt like he has been on a roller coaster during this rehab from a torn flexor tendon which cost him the second half of 2012 and all of this season thus far.
Well, the next ride is tonight. Happy viewing, twitter following, and post-game reading to you all tonight, as we see if that roller coaster rides high tonight in Memphis.
Looking forward to tonight’s RoughRiders game at 7:05 pm? The game notes are here!
We also would like to wish a Happy Birthday to Neil Ramirez. The right-hander’s last start came on Sunday with Pierzynski behind the plate AND he is starting tonight! Fitting.
Bonus Photo (AJ catching Neal) on Sunday:
Baseball term of the day: home run in an elevator shaft – pop fly
Photo credits to: Grant Nelson, Nathan Barnett and Ryan Garrett