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From Honolulu to Frisco, Kiner-Falefa’s journey

Isiah Kiner-Falefa is one of Frisco’s brightest stars. He was one of seven Riders named a Mid-Season All-Star in the Texas league and provides the club with great flexibility, playing at least 15 games at four different positions this season. Yet, where he came from is what makes him so unique.

The 21-year-old was born and raised in Honolulu, Hawaii, joining Scott Feldman as the only Hawaiian-born player in the history of the Riders. He was originally drafted out of Mid Pacific Institute High School at 18 and spent the first three years of his career climbing the minor league ranks before cracking Frisco’s opening day roster this season. That’s come with a lot of challenges, but he said he’s feeling comfortable three months into his first Double-A season.

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“Coming up in the AZL, every year you progress and get better at your routine, what you do on a daily basis,” Kiner-Falefa said. “Once you get to Double-A, you have an idea, so this year’s been a lot easier for me compared to when I was drafted.”

On his way up, Kiner-Falefa’s met many other fellow Hawaiians, especially during the off months prior to the start of this season. He worked out with Kolten Wong of the St. Louis Cardinals and Shane Victorino of the Los Angeles Angels, also known as “The Flyin’ Hawaiian.” He even has the same agent as Minnesota Twins catcher Kurt Suzuki, who he met in person for the first time last winter. He said being able to pick their brains and build relationships with them has been a great help in his maturity as a player, but still holds his family closest to his heart.

Kiner-Falefa has two siblings, and one of them will be close by very soon. Lekaleka, Isiah’s younger sister, just committed to the University of North Texas to play volleyball, meaning the two will be just a 45-minute drive away from each other – purely by coincidence.

Isiah also has an older brother who he’s been very competitive with his entire life. He was a tri-sport athlete growing up and even got into Motocross and BMX before committing fully to baseball as a high school sophomore. With all things considered, he attributes his love to compete to his family’s culture.

“Me and my brother, we would play football in my backyard all the time,” Isiah said. “That helped us a lot with our athletic ability, just always being on the streets playing baseball, throwing a football around.”

He said he misses Hawaii dearly, but has enjoyed Frisco much more than he expected. His extended family came out to visit in June while he was still recovering from a knee infection and weren’t able to see him play, but they have plans to come back in August to see what both he and Lekaleka can accomplish in Texas.

“Them being around cheering and all their support – anybody growing up having their family behind them is huge,” Isiah said. “That’s pretty much what they did for me, and it’s helped me a lot.”

– Alex

Baseball term of the day: five-o’clock lightning  – The scoring of runs late in the game. The term was used when baseball was played exclusively during the day, with most games beginning around three o’clock.

(term from The Dickson Baseball Dictionary)

Saddle Up: Riders vs. Northwest Arkansas (7/10/16)

GAME #86 (2nd HALF GAME #17)

Frisco RoughRiders (43-42 overall, 5-11 2nd half) vs. Northwest Arkansas Naturals (38-48, 9-7)
Sunday, July 10 – 6:05 p.m.
Dr Pepper Ballpark – Frisco, TX
—————————————–

Watch: MiLB.TV (Nathan Barnett and Ryan Rouillard)
Listen: Streaming online and on the TuneIn Radio app (Barnett and Rouillard)
Live stats: Click here
—————————————–
This series: Game 2 of 3 (Riders lead, 1-0)
This season: Game 11 of 12 (Riders lead, 7-3)

FRISCO LINEUP

  1. Lewis Brinson – CF
  2. Andy Ibanez – 2B
  3. Ryan Cordell – DH
  4. Preston Beck – RF
  5. Isiah Kiner-Falefa – 3B
  6. Joe Jackson – LF
  7. Alex Burg – DH
  8. Luis Marte – SS
  9. Kellin Deglan – C

RHP Yu Darvish (1-1, 1.20 ERA)

RIDERS RECAP: Saturday vs. Northwest Arkansas (W, 5-4)

Box Score
Recap
Postgame Notes

PREGAME INTERVIEW: Manager Joe Mikulik

SETTING THE STAGE (full game notes here)

LAST TIME OUT:The Riders came from behind twice and knocked off the Naturals 5-4 on a walk-off, two-run home run from KELLIN DEGLANin the bottom of the ninth…LEWIS BRINSON and ALEX BURG also homered for the Riders, who had their first three-homer game since June 14…The RoughRiders trailed 2-0 in the sixth before taking a 3-2 lead in the seventh. The Naturals, however, tied the game in the eighth and took the lead in the ninth before Deglan’s walk-off…NICK MARTINEZ worked six innings, allowing two runs on four hits in his 2016 Riders debut…Major League rehabber KEONE KELA threw a scoreless seventh inning.

GOOD TO SEE YU AGAIN:
The Rangers announced Friday that RHP YU DARVISH will make another rehab start with Frisco tonight. The three-time American League All-Star will make his fifth rehab start with Frisco this year and the second of his current rehab assignment, as he recovers from right shoulder discomfort. Darvish started in Springdale on Monday, going two+ innings, allowing three runs, two earned, on two hits, while walking three and striking out five. Darvish is expected to throw about five innings or approximately 75 pitches.

SEEKING A SERIES WIN:
After winning six of the first nine series (6-1-2), Frisco has not won a series in its last eight tries (0-5-3) but can change that with a win in either of the remaining two games in this series. The last series win came June 3-5 vs. Springfield, when the Riders won the first two games of the three-game set. The Springfield series also marked the last time that the RoughRiders won consecutive games (6/3 and 6/4).

BRINSON IS BACK:
After spending the past few weeks on the disabled list, outfielder LEWIS BRINSON returned to the RoughRiders Wednesday and has gone 5-for-16 in his first four games back. Brinson went 3-for-4 with two triples and an RBI Thursday and homered last night. He was placed on the DL June 12 (retroactive to June 10) and missed a total of 21 games. The Riders went 7-14 in Brinson’s absence.

THE FUTURE IS TODAY:
Riders infielder RONALD GUZMAN will participate in tonight’s SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game, which takes place at 6:00 p.m. CT from San Diego’s Petco Park. The lefty slugger is hitting .298 (second in the Texas League) with 11 homers and 40 RBI in 81 games. The Texas League Mid-Season All-Star joins Travis Demeritte (Class-A Advanced High Desert) as the Rangers organization representatives at the Futures Game. He was placed on the temporary inactive list yesterday.

POWER RESTORED?:
The RoughRiders recently went through a shortage of power hitting, but appear to be on the way back up. Frisco has four homers in the last two games after hitting just one in the previous 11. Additionally, seven of the Riders’ 15 hits the last two games are extra-base hits after just 14 XBHs out of 97 total during the previous 11 contests.

KINER KEEPS GETTING ON:
Though he struggled in his first few games back from the disabled list, Riders utility man ISIAH KINER-FALEFA is back in the groove of where he was before landing on the DL in late May. He has reached base in nine straight games, tying a season-long streak. He has hits in seven of those games and has reached in 15 of his 37 plate appearances in that span (nine hits, five walks, one HBP). Kiner-Falefa’s .357 on-base percentage is seventh-best in the Texas League and second on the team among qualified players (RONALD GUZMAN, .360).

THINGS GOING SOUTH AGAINST THE NORTH:
Frisco has not fared well against North Division opponents after a red-hot start against the North this year. Over the first 10 games against Northern opponents, the Riders were 9-1, outscoring opponents 56-21 (5.6 to 2.1 average score). Since then, Frisco is just 5-18 against Arkansas, Northwest Arkansas, Springfield, and Tulsa, and is being outscored 109-68 (4.7 to 3.0 average score).

SLACK BACK ON TRACK:
Reliever RYNE SLACK is in the midst of a roller coaster season. He has worked four consecutive scoreless outings, covering 6 1/3 innings of work. The southpaw started the season with nine straight scoreless outings (14.1 IP), garnering Rangers Minor League Reliever of the Month in April for his work. However, Slack allowed 15 runs in his next 10 appearances (10.1 IP).

RANGERS RIDE TO FRISCO:
Already this season, nine Rangers have donned a RoughRiders uniform for at least one game. Seven of those have been rehabbers, including YU DARVISH and KEONE KELA, who are both currently with the squad. The Riders also welcomed rehabbers JOSH HAMILTON, SHIN-SOO CHOO, ROBINSON CHIRINOS, CHRIS GIMENEZ, and A.J. GRIFFIN earlier in the year. Currently, the Riders have two players (RHPs LUKE JACKSON and NICK MARTINEZ) who were optioned to Frisco directly from Texas. Additionally, two players who are currently with the Rangers (RHPs MATT BUSH and JOSE LECLERC) started the year on the Riders roster.

MENDEZ, GARRETT RIDE THE “E-TRAIN”:
A pair of former Riders pitchers, lefty YOHANDER MENDEZ and righty REED GARRETT, made their Triple-A debuts with the Round Rock Express earlier this week. Mendez made the start Tuesday and surrendered just three hits and three walks while striking out seven in five shutout innings for the Express. After striking out the side in the first, he only allowed two New Orleans baserunners to enter scoring position, both coming with two outs. Garrett made his debut Saturday, allowing four runs on eight hits during his five innings on the mound.

OPPOSING STARTER:
Matt Strahm makes the start tonight against the Riders. The southpaw works with much improved velocity from his high school days, now firing a 89-94 mph fastball, a slider from 78-84 and a rarely used changeup. Strahm pitched at Neosho County Community College in Kansas, leading his club to the JUCO World Series with a 9-3 record and a 1.91 ERA. This season is his fourth professional season after a 21st round selection in 2012. After beginning his pro start in the bullpen, the Royals moved the left-hander to the rotation in High-A Wilmington in the second half of last year. Strahm matches up with the Riders for the fourth time this season, having gone 1-1 with a 2.30 ERA in those starts. Twice, Strahm has not allowed an earned runal to the Riders, including his last time out against Frisco on Tuesday when he allowed just five hits in 5 1/3 innings.

Saddle Up: Riders vs. Northwest Arkansas (7/9/16)

GAME #85 (2nd HALF GAME #16)

Frisco RoughRiders (42-42 overall, 4-11 2nd half) vs. Northwest Arkansas Naturals (38-47, 9-6)
Saturday, July 9 – 7:05 p.m.
Dr Pepper Ballpark – Frisco, TX
—————————————–

Watch: MiLB.TV (Nathan Barnett and Ryan Rouillard)
Listen: Streaming online and on the TuneIn Radio app (Barnett and Rouillard)
Live stats: Click here
—————————————–
This series: Game 1 of 3
This season: Game 10 of 12 (Riders lead, 6-3)

FRISCO LINEUP

  1. Lewis Brinson – CF
  2. Andy Ibanez – 2B
  3. Ryan Cordell – LF
  4. Preston Beck – 1B
  5. Isiah Kiner-Falefa – 3B
  6. Joe Jackson – RF
  7. Alex Burg – DH
  8. Luis Marte – SS
  9. Kellin Deglan – C

RHP Nick Martinez (0-0, -.– ERA)

RIDERS RECAP: Friday vs. Arkansas (L, 10-5)

Box Score
Recap
Postgame Notes

PREGAME INTERVIEW: Northwest Arkansas IF Ryan O’Hearn (Frisco native)

Coming up shortly!

SETTING THE STAGE (full game notes here)

LAST TIME OUT:

The Riders were outslugged by the Arkansas Travelers, falling 10-5 in the series finale…Starter VICTOR PAYANO surrendered four runs in the first inning and the Riders struggled to get in the game from there…Arkansas added a run in the fourth, two in the fifth and capped the barrage off with three more runs in the sixth…LUIS MENDEZ drove in two with a two-run double in the second…Trailing 10-2 in the eighth, RONALD GUZMAN blasted his 11th homer of the year.

GOOD TO SEE YU AGAIN:

The Rangers announced Friday that RHP YU DARVISH will make another rehab start with Frisco on Sunday. The three-time American League All-Star will make his fifth rehab start with Frisco this year and the second of his current rehab assignment, as he recovers from right shoulder discomfort. Darvish started in Springdale on Monday, going two+ innings, allowing three runs, two earned, on two hits, while walking three and striking out five. Darvish is expected to throw about five innings or approximately 75 pitches.

SEEKING A SERIES WIN:

After winning six of the first nine series (6-1-2), Frisco has not won a series in its last eight tries (0-5-3). The last series win came June 3-5 vs. Springfield, when the Riders won the first two games of the three-game set. The Springfield series also marked the last time that the RoughRiders won consecutive games (6/3 and 6/4).

BRINSON IS BACK:

After spending the past few weeks on the disabled list, outfielder LEWIS BRINSON returned to the RoughRiders Wednesday and has gone 4-for-12 in his first three games back. Brinson went 3-for-4 with two triples and an RBI Thursday. He was placed on the DL June 12 (retroactive to June 10) and missed a total of 21 games. The Riders went 7-14 in Brinson’s absence.

THINGS GOING SOUTH AGAINST THE NORTH:

Frisco has not fared well against North Division opponents after a red-hot start against the North this year. Over the first 10 games against Northern opponents, the Riders were 9-1, outscoring opponents 56-21 (5.6 to 2.1 average score). Since then, Frisco is just 4-18 against Arkansas, Northwest Arkansas, Springfield, and Tulsa, and is being outscored 105-63 (4.9 to 2.9 average score).

GUZMAN GOES STREAKING TO THE FUTURE:

For the fourth time this year, RONALD GUZMAN is in the midst of a long hit streak. Guzman extended his season-long hit streak to 11 games last night with a three-run homer in the eight. During the streak, the Dominican slugger is batting .366 (15-for-41) with a homer run, double, and seven RBI. He has additional hit streaks of six, eight, and nine to go along with his current 11-game streak. Guzman was placed on the temporary inactive list today, as he is on his way to San Diego to participate in the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game, which will be played Sunday at 6:00 p.m. CT from Petco Park. Guzman joins Travis Demeritte (Class-A Advanced High Desert) as the Rangers organization representatives at the Futures Game.

IN THE NICK OF TIME:

RHP NICK MARTINEZ was optioned to the RoughRiders from the Texas Rangers and will make the start tonight. Martinez, 25, enters his third stint with the RoughRiders after brief stops at the end of 2013 and the beginning of 2014. The righty appeared in six games (four starts) with Texas this season, going 1-2 with a 6.45 ERA. Martinez also has made 11 starts for Triple-A Round Rock this season.

SLACK BACK ON TRACK:

Reliever RYNE SLACK is in the midst of a roller coaster season. He has worked four consecutive scoreless outings, covering 6 1/3 innings of work. The southpaw started the season with nine straight scoreless outings (14.1 IP), garnering Rangers Minor League Reliever of the Month in April for his work. However, Slack allowed 15 runs in his next 10 appearances (10.1 IP).

JOLTING JOE:

JOE JACKSON continues to be one of the bright spots for an otherwise struggling offense of late. The Riders outfielder saw his season-long nine- game hit streak broken last night. However, he is still hitting .297 in his last 10 games and has hits in 14 of his last 17 contests.

RANGERS RIDE TO FRISCO:

Already this season, nine Rangers have donned a RoughRiders uniform for at least one game. Seven of those have been rehabbers, including YU DARVISH and KEONE KELA, who are both currently with the squad. The Riders also welcomed rehabbers JOSH HAMILTON, SHIN-SOO CHOO, ROBINSON CHIRINOS, CHRIS GIMENEZ, and A.J. GRIFFIN earlier in the year. Currently, the Riders have two players (RHPs LUKE JACKSON and NICK MARTINEZ) who were optioned to Frisco directly from Texas. Additionally, the RoughRiders have two players currently with the Rangers (RHPs MATT BUSH and JOSE LECLERC) who started the year on the Riders roster.

YOHANDER TASTES TRIPLE-A:

On Tuesday, YOHANDER MENDEZ shined in his first start with Triple-A Round Rock. Mendez surrendered just three hits and three walks while striking out seven in five shutout innings for the Express. After striking out the side in the first, he only allowed two New Orleans baserunners to enter scoring position, both coming with two outs. Mendez joined the Riders from Class A-Advanced High Desert on May 20. In six starts with Frisco, the southpaw went 3-0 with a 2.73 ERA. Over his 29 2/3 innings, he allowed nine runs on 27 hits, striking out 28 hitters opposite 11 walks. Mendez, the 13th- ranked prospect in the Rangers farm system (MLBPipeline.com), is just 21 years old, making him the youngest player on the Round Rock roster by more than a year.

OPPOSING STARTER:

Left-handed pitcher Kyle Bartsch makes his second career start tonight against the RoughRiders. Bartsch, 25, joined the Naturals on May 20 after being released by the San Diego Padres on May 18. Bartsch played with the Padres-affiliated San Antonio Missions earlier this season, his first year at the Double-A level. Bartsch was originally drafted by the Royals in the 7th round of the 2013 draft and played two years in the Kansas City farm system before being traded to the Padres for OF Reymond Fuentes in November 2014. Bartsch has faced the RoughRiders four times this year, including once on Monday, when he worked three innings, allowing a run on two hits with one walk and three strikeouts to pick up the win. REPERTOIRE: Fastball (low 90s), curveball (70s), slider (low 80s), and changeup (79-81).

Guzman to represent Riders, Rangers in All-Star Futures Game

RoughRiders infielder Ronald Guzman has been selected to participate in the 2016 SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game, held Sunday at 6:00 p.m. CT at San Diego’s Petco Park. Today, he was placed on the temporary inactive list, leaving the RoughRiders to play in Sunday’s contest.

Steve Goldberg: You were selected to play in the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game on Sunday in San Diego. How special is that to you?

Ronald Guzman: I am really excited about it. It is a great opportunity and I am ready to go have fun. There are a lot of great guys that are going there, so I am looking forward to seeing them.

050116 Guzman, Ronald (Photo Credit - Frisco RoughRiders) copy

SG: Was playing in the Futures Game a goal for you coming into this season?

RG: Actually yeah, it was a goal in the back of my mind. It wasn’t a main goal, but I really wanted to make it there. I am really happy that I could achieve that goal.

SG: How did you find out you were going to be playing in the game?

RG: I saw it on Twitter. People were congratulating me, and then my agent texted me and told me I was going. I was obviously pumped. That was right before the Texas League All-Star Game.

SG: Travis Demeritte is going as well, another Rangers prospect who was a teammate of yours in Hickory last year. Are you excited to see him again?

RG: Yeah, he is a great guy and a great teammate. I am happy to see him again. I haven’t seen him in a little while since he has been in High Desert, so I am looking forward to seeing him.

SG: You get a chance to play at Petco Park right before the Major League All-Star Game. What is that feeling like for you?

RG: This is a great field right here in Frisco, but I know the big league stadiums are another level. I am really excited to play there and just have fun.

SG: Have you had any experience playing in Major League ballparks before?

RG: Yeah, I had a chance to play at Wrigley Field when I was 15 in the Under Armour All-America Game. I actually played in San Diego one time in instructional league. And I had a chance to play in Texas during Spring Training this year.

SG: There is obviously a big difference going from playing in a Minor League game to playing in an All-Star game like the Futures Game on Sunday. What is the adjustment like for you to prepare for it?

RG: I am not thinking about anything different. I am just going to do the same thing I’ve been doing for the last couple months. I am going to get ready like I am playing a normal game with the same routine. I am going to do my best and select good pitches to hit well.

Guzman will be one of two Rangers farmhands participating in Sunday’s Futures Game. Class A-Advanced High Desert infielder Travis Demeritte, who is tied for the fifth-most home runs in Minor League Baseball (20), will play for US Team, playing against Guzman and the World Team. Last year, the Rangers organization sent outfielders Nomar Mazara and Nick Williams to the game.

Sunday’s game will be broadcast live by MLB Network. For more information, and to find what channel MLB Network is on in your area, click here.

– Steve

Baseball term of the day: slapjack  – One of a series of base hits “stacked right on top of the other”

(term from The Dickson Baseball Dictionary)

Saddle Up: Riders vs. Arkansas (7/8/16)

GAME #84 (2nd HALF GAME #15)

Frisco RoughRiders (42-41 overall, 4-10 2nd half) vs. Arkansas Travelers (37-46, 5-8)
Friday, July 8 – 7:05 p.m.
Dr Pepper Ballpark – Frisco, TX
—————————————–

Watch: MiLB.TV (Nathan Barnett and Steve Goldberg)
Listen: Streaming online and on the TuneIn Radio app (Barnett and Goldberg)
Live stats: Click here
—————————————–
This series: Game 3 of 3 (Tied, 1-1)
This season: Game 12 of 12 (Travelers lead, 6-5)

FRISCO LINEUP

  1. Lewis Brinson – RF
  2. Andy Ibanez – 2B
  3. Ryan Cordell – CF
  4. Ronald Guzman – 1B
  5. Joe Jackson – LF
  6. Isiah Kiner-Falefa – DH
  7. Luis Mendez – 3B
  8. Kellin Deglan – C
  9. Luis Marte – SS

LHP Victor Payano (5-5, 3.55 ERA)

RIDERS RECAP: Thursday vs. Arkansas (W, 8-2)

Box Score
Recap
Postgame Notes

PREGAME INTERVIEW: IF Ronald Guzman

SETTING THE STAGE (full game notes here)

LAST TIME OUT:

The Riders bounced back from a 10-2 loss in the series opener, winning 8-2 Thursday night behind a pair of four- run innings…LEWIS BRINSON went 3-for-4 with two triples in his second game back from the disabled list…RONALD GUZMAN also had a multi-hit game, his team- high 27th, going 2-for-4 with an RBI single in the fourth…CONNOR SADZECK worked the first five innings, surrendering just one run…Major League rehabber KEONE KELA worked a scoreless sixth inning…RYAN LEDBETTER teamed up with JOE FILOMENO to close out the Travelers over the final three innings.

EYEING A SERIES WIN:

The Riders have a chance to capture a series win today, something the club has not done in quite some time. After winning six of the first nine series (one loss, two ties), Frisco is 3-5-3 in their last 11 series. The club hasn’t won a series in their last seven sets (0-4-3). Their last series win came June 3-5 vs. Springfield, when the Riders captured the first two games of the three-game set. Today is a rubber-game, and Frisco is 0-2 in such games, both coming against Arkansas.

BRINSON IS BACK:

After spending the past few weeks on the disabled list, outfielder LEWIS BRINSON returned to the RoughRiders Wednesday and has gone 4-for-8 in his first two games back. After a 1-for-4 game Wednesday, Brinson went 3-for-4 with two triples yesterday. He was placed on the DL June 12 (retroactive to June 10) and missed a total of 21 games. The Riders went 7-14 in Brinson’s absence. He made four rehab starts with the AZL Rangers starting July 1, going 3-for-13 with one double, one RBI, and three runs scored. The Fort Lauderdale, Florida native was selected by the Rangers in the first round (29th overall) of the 2012 draft, and he is currently ranked the No. 2 prospect in the organization, according to MLBPipeline.com.

THREE IS A MAGIC NUMBER:

In the past two games, the RoughRiders have scored more than three runs for the first two times in July. Prior to Wednesday, the previous occurrence was on June 24, in an 8-7 victory against Corpus Christi. Since the start of June, Frisco has topped the three-run mark in just nine of 34 games. The Riders plated a season-high 5.2 runs per game in April and 4.4 per game in May. However, the totals have fallen significantly to 2.8 runs per game in June and an average of 3.3 per game in the first week of July.

THE KINGS OF THE NORTH:

Frisco has not fared well against North Division opponents after a red-hot start against the North this year. Over the first 10 games against Northern opponents, the Riders were 9-1, outscoring opponents 56-21 (5.6 to 2.1 average score). Since then, Frisco is just 4-17 against Arkansas, Northwest Arkansas, Springfield, and Tulsa and is being outscored 95-58 (4.5 to 2.8 average score).

THE RETURN OF LUJAX:

Right-handed pitcher LUKE JACKSON was optioned by the Texas Rangers to Frisco on Sunday, and he joined the RoughRiders active roster Wednesday. It came as the corresponding move to Triple-A farmhand Michael Roth’s promotion to the big leagues. Jackson pitched retired all three batters he faced in the eighth inning Wednesday and struck out two. The 24-year-old split the first part of this season between the Rangers and Round Rock. The former first-rounder spent parts of the 2013 and 2014 seasons with the Riders, working primarily as a starter. Jackson was a Midseason All-Star with the RoughRiders in 2014 and earned Texas League Pitcher of the Week once that season as well.

RONALD’S GOING STREAKING:

For the fourth time this year, RONALD GUZMAN is in the midst of a long hit streak. With a multi-hit game last night, his team-high 27th, Guzman extended his hit streak to a season-long 10 games. Over the stretch, the Dominican slugger is batting .368 (14-for-38) with a double and three RBI. He has additional hit streaks of six, eight, and nine to go along with his current 10-game streak. Last Tuesday, Guzman was named to the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game, which will take place Sunday in San Diego.

JOLTING JOE:

JOE JACKSON continues to be one of the bright spots for an otherwise struggling offense of late. The Riders outfielder is 4-for-11 in the last three games and is currently on an nine-game hit streak, his longest of the season. Jackson has hits in 14 of his last 16 games and 12 RBI in his last 17 contests.

LECLERC FINISHES ROAD TO THE SHOW:

JOSE LECLERC was promoted to the Texas Rangers Tuesday and made his Major League debut Wednesday. He pitched 2 2/3 scoreless innings, only allowed one hit, and struck out four batters. Leclerc is the 145th RoughRiders player to make “The Show,” the sixth former Rider this year, and the second member of this year’s club (joining pitcher MATT BUSH). Leclerc, 22, was a member of the RoughRiders’ Opening Day roster and pitched in 10 games for Frisco. After making two starts in April, he transitioned to the bullpen and made eight relief appearances. Leclerc had an ERA of 7.88 in his two starts but allowed just two earned runs in 14.0 innings of relief, good for a 1.29 ERA. Opponents batted .135 against him in eight relief outings. Leclerc also pitched in 26 games for Frisco in 2015.

YOHANDER TASTES TRIPLE-A:

On Tuesday, YOHANDER MENDEZ shined in his first start with Triple-A Round Rock. Mendez surrendered just three hits and three walks while striking out seven in five shutout innings for the Express. After striking out the side in the first, he only allowed two New Orleans baserunners to enter scoring position, both coming with two outs. Mendez joined the Riders from Class A-Advanced High Desert on May 20. In six starts with Frisco, the southpaw went 3-0 with a 2.73 ERA. Over his 29 2/3 innings, he allowed nine runs on 27 hits, striking out 28 hitters opposite 11 walks. Mendez, the 13th-ranked prospect in the Rangers farm system (MLBPipeline.com), is just 21 years old, making him the youngest player on the Round Rock roster by more than a year.

OPPOSING STARTER:

Right-handed pitcher Alex Blackford takes the mound for Arkansas, making his second start of the year against Frisco…He pitched five scoreless, two-hit innings against the Riders on April 10, the first meeting of the season between the two teams…Blackford has only allowed more than three runs in two of his 11 starts this season…His best outing of the season came April 22 against Springfield, when he held the Cardinals to just one hit in 5 2/3 innings while striking out a season-high eight batters…Blackford was named Texas League Pitcher of the Week on April 24, following the performance… The Cenetennial, Colorado native was selected by the Angels in the 37th round of the 2013 draft out of Arizona State University…REPERTOIRE: Fastball (high 80s-low 90s), slider, curve

Behind the scenes: working out with Eric McMahon

Riders Strength and Conditioning Coach Eric McMahon was kind enough to give me a brief look at what goes into a workout for Riders players. Here’s a quick recap

Overall, it wasn’t too bad and I enjoyed getting a glimpse into what a workout is like. That said, this was just a sampler. I’m sure the full-on routine is a lot more for the body to handle (especially when the guys get to the weight room), but I appreciated getting a firsthand look at some of the things the players do to stay in shape off the field.

My thanks to Eric for taking the time and to David Kennedy for help putting the video together.

-Ryan

Baseball term of the day: Afterpiece – The second game of a doubleheader

(term from The Dickson Baseball Dictionary

Saddle Up: Riders vs. Arkansas (7/7/16)

GAME #83 (2nd HALF GAME #14)

Frisco RoughRiders (41-41 overall, 3-10 2nd half) vs. Arkansas Travelers (37-45, 5-7)
Thursday, July 7 – 7:05 p.m.
Dr Pepper Ballpark – Frisco, TX
—————————————–

Watch: MiLB.TV (Nathan Barnett and Steve Goldberg)
Listen: Streaming online and on the TuneIn Radio app (Barnett and Goldberg)
Live stats: Click here
—————————————–
This series: Game 2 of 3 (Travelers lead, 1-0)
This season: Game 11 of 12 (Travelers lead, 6-4)

FRISCO LINEUP

  1. Lewis Brinson – CF
  2. Joe Jackson – LF
  3. Ryan Cordell – RF
  4. Ronald Guzman – 1B
  5. Edwin Garcia – 3B
  6. Alex Burg – DH
  7. Luis Marte – SS
  8. Alberto Triunfel – 2B
  9. Isiah Kiner-Falefa – C

RHP Connor Sadzeck (7-2, 3.27 ERA)

RIDERS RECAP: Wednesday vs. Arkansas (L, 10-4)

Box Score
Recap
Postgame Notes

PREGAME INTERVIEW: RHP Luke Jackson

SETTING THE STAGE (full game notes here)

LAST TIME OUT:

The Riders lost the series opener to Arkansas 10-4 Wednesday night…LEWIS BRINSON returned to the Riders lineup after missing 21 games while on the disabled list. He went 1-for-4 with a ninth-inning single, a walk, and a strikeout…LUKE JACKSON made his 2016 Riders debut, working a perfect eighth inning and striking out the first two hitters he faced…However, the Travelers scored three runs in each of the first two frames, and Jabari Henry added to the early scoring barrage with his 12th home run of the year in the fourth…RONALD GUZMAN and JOE JACKSON extended their hitting streaks to nine and eight games, respectively, during the three-run sixth inning.

THREE IS A MAGIC NUMBER:

Yesterday, the RoughRiders scored more than three runs for the first time in July. The previous occurrence was on June 24, in an 8-7 victory against Corpus Christi. Since the start of June, Frisco has topped the three-run mark in just eight of 33 games. The Riders plated a season- high 5.2 runs per game in April and 4.4 per game in May. However, the totals have fallen significantly to 2.8 runs per game in June and an average of 2.5 per game in the first week of July.

THE RETURN OF LUJAX:

Right-handed pitcher LUKE JACKSON was optioned by the Texas Rangers to Frisco on Sunday, and he joined the RoughRiders active roster yesterday. It came as the corresponding move to Triple-A farmhand Michael Roth’s promotion to the big leagues. Jackson pitched retired all three batters he faced in the eighth inning yesterday and struck out two. The 24-year-old split the first part of this season between the Rangers and Round Rock. The former first-rounder spent parts of the 2013 and 2014 seasons with the Riders, working primarily as a starter. Jackson was a Midseason All-Star with the RoughRiders in 2014 and earned Texas League Pitcher of the Week once that season as well.

BRINSON IS BACK:

After spending the past few weeks on the disabled list, outfielder LEWIS BRINSON returned to the RoughRiders yesterday and went 1-for-4 with a walk in his first game back. Brinson was added to the DL on June 12 (retroactive to June 10) and missed a total of 21 games. The Riders went 7-14 in Brinson’s absence. He made four rehab starts with the AZL Rangers starting July 1, going 3-for-13 with one double, one RBI, and three runs scored. The Fort Lauderdale, Florida native was selected by the Rangers in the first round (29th overall) of the 2012 draft, and he is currently ranked the No. 2 prospect in the organization, according to MLBPipeline. com.

THE KINGS OF THE NORTH:

Frisco has not faired well against Northern division opponents after a red-hot start against the North this year. Over the first 10 games against Northern opponents, the Riders were 9-1, outscoring opponents 56-21 (5.6 to 2.1 average score). Since then, Frisco is just 3-17 against Arkansas, Northwest Arkansas, Springfield, and Tulsa and is being outscored 93-50 (4.7 to 2.5 average score).

JOLTING JOE:

JOE JACKSON continues to be one of the bright spots for an otherwise struggling offense of late. The Riders outfielder is 3-for-7 in the last two games and is currently on an eight-game hit streak, his longest of the season. Jackson has hits in 13 of his last 15 games and 11 RBI in his last 16 contests.

RONALD’S GOING STREAKING:

For the fourth time this year, RONALD GUZMAN is in the midst of a long hit streak. Picking up a single in the sixth inning last night, Guzman extended his hit streak to nine games. Over the stretch, the Dominican slugger is batting .353 (12-for-34) with a double and three RBI. He has additional hit streaks of six, eight, and nine to go along with his current nine-game streak. Last Tuesday, Guzman was named to the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game, which will take place Sunday in San Diego.

LECLERC FINISHES ROAD TO THE SHOW:

JOSE LECLERC was promoted to the Texas Rangers Tuesday and made his Major League debut yesterday. He pitched 2 2/3 scoreless innings, only allowed one hit, and struck out four batters. Leclerc is the 145th RoughRiders player to make “The Show,” the sixth former Rider this year, and the second member of this year’s club (joining pitcher MATT BUSH). Leclerc, 22, was a member of the RoughRiders’ Opening Day roster and pitched in 10 games for Frisco. After making two starts in April, he transitioned to the bullpen and made eight relief appearances. Leclerc had an ERA of 7.88 in his two starts but allowed just two earned runs in 14.0 innings of relief, good for a 1.29 ERA. Opponents batted .135 against him in eight relief outings. Leclerc also pitched in 26 games for Frisco in 2015.

YOHANDER TASTES TRIPLE-A:

On Tuesday, YOHANDER MENDEZ shined in his first start with Triple-A Round Rock. Mendez surrendered just three hits and three walks while striking out seven in five shutout innings for the Express. After striking out the side in the first, he only allowed two New Orleans baserunners to enter scoring position, both coming with two outs. Mendez joined the Riders from Class A-Advanced High Desert on May 20. In six starts with Frisco, the southpaw went 3-0 with a 2.73 ERA. Over his 29 2/3 innings, he allowed nine runs on 27 hits, striking out 28 hitters opposite 11 walks. Mendez, the 13th-ranked prospect in the Rangers farm system (MLBPipeline.com), is just 21 years old, making him the youngest player on the Round Rock roster by more than a year.

ANDY, YOU’RE A STAR!:

In his first 25 games with the RoughRiders, ANDY IBANEZ has already had hits in 18 games. Despite getting off to a slow start in Double-A (3-for-his-first-27 at-bats), Ibanez has been red hot of late. Ibanez just lost an 11-game hit streak, which included a home run, three RBI, and three multi-hit games. However, he has hits in 15 of his last 20 games played, with multiple hits in six of those games, including three of the last six.

OPPOSING STARTER:

Today’s starter Jordan Kipper is in his third professional season after being drafted for the third time in his career, the final of which came in the ninth round by the Angels out of TCU…The 23-year-old has been a fast-riser, spending all of 2014 with Class A-Short Season Orem, 2015 with High-A Inland Empire, and the entire 2016 season with the Travelers…This season, he’s thrown a nine-inning no-hitter (May 17 at NW Arkansas), eight shutout innings on April 26 at Tulsa, and seven shutout innings twice…The righty was named a Texas League Mid- season All-Star (pitched 1.2 IP, 3H, 2ER, 0BB, 2K) and won Pitcher of the Week May 22 following his no-hitter… Kipper hails from Mountain Pointe High School in Phoenix, Arizona, the same school as fellow Angel C.J. Cron and former St. Louis Cardinal Joe Mather… Kipper’s grandfather, Thornton Kipper, spent three seasons in the Major Leagues with the Phillies…Throwing from a high three-quarters arm slot, Kipper works with an 88-94 mph sinker, a mid 80s slider, a 78-84 mph changeup, and a curveball.

Saddle Up: Riders vs. Arkansas (7/6/16)

GAME #82 (2nd HALF GAME #13)

Frisco RoughRiders (41-40 overall, 3-9 2nd half) vs. Arkansas Travelers (36-45, 4-7)
Wednesday, July 6 – 7:05 p.m.
Dr Pepper Ballpark – Frisco, TX
—————————————–

Watch: MiLB.TV (Nathan Barnett and Steve Goldberg)
Listen: Streaming online and on the TuneIn Radio app (Barnett and Goldberg)
Live stats: Click here
—————————————–
This series: Game 1 of 3
This season: Game 10 of 12 (Travelers lead, 5-4)

FRISCO LINEUP

  1. Isiah Kiner-Falefa – 3B
  2. Andy Ibanez – 2B
  3. Lewis Brinson – CF
  4. Ronald Guzman – 1B
  5. Ryan Cordell – RF
  6. Joe Jackson – LF
  7. Edwin Garcia – DH
  8. Kellin Deglan – C
  9. Alberto Triunfel – SS

LHP Frank Lopez (4-2, 4.25 ERA)

RIDERS RECAP: Tuesday at Northwest Arkansas (L, 7-2)

Box Score
Recap
Postgame Notes

PREGAME INTERVIEW: LHP Ryne Slack

SETTING THE STAGE (full game notes here)

LAST TIME OUT:

The Riders scored twice in the top of the fifth but were defeated 7-2 by Northwest Arkansas in the series finale Tuesday evening…Both Frisco runs scored on an error in the fifth to make the score 5-2 Naturals…Mauricio Ramos drove in a season-high four runs to held lead Northwest Arkansas to victory…LUIS ORTIZ went five innings and tied career-highs in runs (five) and earned runs (four). He also gave up a career-high 10 hits, including a two-run homer by Ramos in the first inning…The Riders were swept by a North Division opponent for the fourth time this season.

LECLERC FINISHES ROAD TO THE SHOW:

The Texas Rangers announced yesterday that 2016 RoughRiders right-hander JOSE LECLERC was promoted to the Texas Rangers today. He is the 146th RoughRiders player to make “The Show,” the sixth former Rider this year, and second member of this year’s club (joining MATT BUSH). Leclerc, 22, was a member of the RoughRiders’ Opening Day roster and pitched in 10 games for Frisco. After making two starts in April, he transitioned to the bullpen and made eight relief appearances and two starts. Leclerc had an ERA of 7.88 in his two starts but allowed just two earned runs in 14.0 innings of relief, good for a 1.29 ERA. Opponents batted .135 against him in eight relief outings. Leclerc also started for Frisco in 2015.

YOHANDER TASTES TRIPLE-A:

The Rangers announced yesterday the promotion of lefty YOHANDER MENDEZ to Triple-A Round Rock, and he shined in his first start with the Express last night. Mendez surrendered just three hits and three walks while striking out seven in five shutout innings. After striking out the side in the first, he only allowed two New Orleans baserunners to enter scoring position, both coming with two outs. Mendez joined the Riders from Class A-Advanced High Desert on May 20. In six starts with Frisco, the southpaw went 3-0 with a 2.73 ERA. Over his 29 2/3 innings, he allowed nine runs on 27 hits, striking out 28 hitters opposite 11 walks. Mendez, the 13th-ranked prospect in the Rangers farm system (MLBPipeline.com), is just 21 years old, making him the youngest player on the Round Rock roster by more than a year.

THE RETURN OF LUJAX:

Right-handed pitcher LUKE JACKSON was optioned by the Texas Rangers to Frisco on Sunday, and he joins the RoughRiders active roster today. It came as the corresponding move to Triple-A farmhand Michael Roth’s promotion to the big leagues. Jackson, 24, split the first part of this season between the Rangers and Round Rock. The former first-rounder spent parts of the 2013 and 2014 seasons with the Riders, working primarily as a starter. He was a Midseason All-Star with the RoughRiders in 2014 and earned Texas League Pitcher of the Week once that season as well.

BRINSON IS BACK:

After spending the past few weeks on the disabled list, outfielder LEWIS BRINSON returns to the RoughRiders today. Brinson was placed added to the DL on June 12 (retroactive to June 10) and missed a total of 21 games. The Riders went 7-14 in Brinson’s absence. He made four rehab starts with the AZL Rangers starting July 1, going 3-for-13 with one double, one RBI, and three runs scored. The Fort Lauderdale, Florida native was selected by the Rangers in the first round (29th overall) of the 2012 draft, and he is currently ranked the No. 2 prospect in the organization, according to MLBPipeline. com.

JOLTING JOE:

JOE JACKSON continues to be one of the bright spots for an otherwise struggling offense of late. The Riders outfielder went 2-for-4 last night, has hits in 12 of his last 14 games, and 11 RBI in his last 15 contests. Jackson is currently on a seven-game hit streak as well, his longest of the season.

RONALD’S GOING STREAKING:

For the fourth time this year, RONALD GUZMAN is in the midst of a long hit streak. Picking up a single in his final at-bat last night, Guzman extended his hit streak to

OPPOSING STARTER:

Ranked as the No. 4 prospect in the Angels organization, Victor Alcantara takes the hill for the Travs in the series opener tonight… Alcantara pitched in the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game in 2014…The right- hander is in his first Double-A season after spending 2015 at Class A-Advanced Inland Empire…REPERTOIRE: Fastball (92-97), changeup (high 80s), slider (88-91)…His power stuff and inconsistent command have some talent evaluators expecting an eventual move to the bullpen.

Step into the cage: Riders hitters discuss their approach to BP

BP

Batting practice is so much more than stepping in the cage and swinging away. Each hitter takes his own approach to BP. I asked a few of the Riders what their focus is when they take batting practice.

Luis Mendez

The first round, I just try to hit the ball middle/oppo, find the barrel middle/oppo, see the ball and how it’s coming off the bat. Then the next round, I start using the middle of the field. And the third round is game speed, depending on how I feel. And the fourth round is depending on how I feel, too. [I’ll take] one swing, two swings, and if I feel good, I just get out and get ready for the game. I take ground balls and take that feeling into the game.

Isiah Kiner-Falefa

For me, I’m more of a ‘just feel good in BP’ guy. If I’m feeling really good, I’ll try hit it in the gap every swing. For me, it’s day-by-day. It’s all about feeling. Some days, you feel so good that you don’t even need to take BP because you don’t want to waste those swings. Over the course of the year, there are so many different feelings you get and you just kind of gage yourself. If you’re feeling bad, you take more swings. If you’re feeling good, you take less swings. It evens out so you don’t take too many swings over the course of the season.Guzman BP

Ronald Guzman

Every time I go into the cage, I just try to use my hands and stay together with my back part and try to just throw my hands. That’s all I think about in the cage. I do tee first, then front toss, then overhand. It’s a routine that I have but my approach is always the same.

Some days, I just go easy, do a little bit of front toss and refresh my mind. Sometimes, I feel like I have to work on something and I do something more drastic like go to the machine or something different. Normally, I keep the same routine.

Edwin Garcia

I always try to do the same thing. My first round, I work the other way and stay inside the ball using my hands. The second round, I just try to stay up the middle. After that, I hit the ball wherever the pitch is.

-Ryan

Baseball term of the day: Bingo Hitter – A hitter whose batting average is below .100.

(term from The Dickson Baseball Dictionary

Ballpark Bio: Arvest Ballpark (Springdale)

IMG_4078

Today marks part six of a seven-part series in which I’ll show you the different parks of the Texas League and give you an idea of the various places the Riders are playing, aside from Dr Pepper Ballpark. To read previous entries, click here.

Facts and Figures
Opened: April 10, 2008
Capacity: 7,500
Dimensions: LF – 327, CF – 400, RF – 325

Today marks our final day in Springdale and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my visit to Arvest Ballpark. As the home of the Naturals, it really embodies the idea of natural beauty.

IMG_4064

The gorgeous structure out front

The park is somewhat isolated on the edge of Springdale, but that’s not a bad thing. Out beyond the perimeter of the park are a few grass fields with lush green trees billowing in the wind. Even the batter’s eye is made up of trees and bushes, plus a gorgeous stone design of the Naturals logo. Out front, there’s a really cool structure combining natural elements, such as rocks and wood alongside the Naturals logo. Plus, there is plenty of grass in the outfield berms. As a native of “The Evergreen State” (Washington), I really appreciate the natural elements around the park.

IMG_4067

My favorite batter’s eye in the Texas League

The greenery isn’t the only thing that makes this park great, though. The seating bowl is very clean and well-maintained, and the rounded seating keeps everyone close to the action. The suite level wraps about 200 feet down each line and the glass front gives it a really nice touch.

Another neat feature here is the dugouts, which are very deep, allowing fans (and broadcasters) to see a lot of what goes on in the dugouts. The bullpens are also very transparent the left and right field corners.

There’s so much to like about Arvest Ballpark, a place that really embodies the idea of natural beauty. After all, when there’s beauty in your backyard, why not use it?

Thanks for touring the Texas League ballparks with me. I won’t be in San Antonio, but Nathan has a guest post coming later this summer to round out our tour of the Texas League.

IMG_4066

-Ryan

Baseball term of the day: Baton Swinger – A batter.

(term from The Dickson Baseball Dictionary

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