Burg back on the upswing

It’s been a bit of a roller coaster season for Alex Burg, but his roller coaster is currently on the upswing. Burg homered again last night for the third time in the last four games. He’s 9-for-26 (.346) with a double, three homers, and four RBI in his last seven games. The veteran righty also has hits multi-hit performances in three of his last four games, including his third three-hit game of the year last night.

This isn’t the only impressive seven-game stretch for Burg, and it isn’t even his most impressive one this year. He had a seven-game hit streak from April 22-May 2 in which he hit .440 (11-for-25) with two doubles, three homers, and seven RBI. Like this current stretch, Burg also had three multi-hit games in that span.

The seven-game hit streak was part of a strong month of April in which Burg hit .353 and even spent a week with Triple-A Round Rock. However, the Seattle-native went through a rough patch in the following months, hitting just .172 (20-for-116) from May 3 through June 1 and only had a slightly better average in June (.212).

Burg is hitting .250 (9-for-36) in his first 10 games of July. Hopefully, this is something sustainable in the long run for the seventh-year pro out of Washington State University. Right now, he’s hitting .218 across two levels, which would be the lowest season average of his career (previously .245 in 2010). That said, if this roller coaster ride can keep moving upward, it’ll be exciting to see how 2016 finishes for him.

– Ryan

Baseball term of the day: Burger Blast – A home run. The term was made popular by Waite Hoyt, whose Cincinnati Reds broadcasts were sponsored by Burger Beer.

(term from The Dickson Baseball Dictionary

Saddle Up: Riders at Corpus Christi (7/13/16)

GAME #88 (2nd HALF GAME #19)

Frisco RoughRiders (44-43 overall, 6-12 2nd half) at Corpus Christi Hooks (57-31 overall, 10-8 second half)
Wednesday, July 13 – 7:05 p.m.
Whataburger Field – Corpus Christi, TX
—————————————–

Watch: MiLB.TV (Corpus Christi feed)
Listen: Streaming online and on the TuneIn Radio app (Nathan Barnett)
Live stats: Click here
—————————————–
This series: Game 1 of 4
This season: Game 21 of 32 (Hooks lead, 14-6)

FRISCO LINEUP

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

LHP Frank Lopez (4-3, 5.21 ERA)

RIDERS RECAP: Monday vs. Northwest Arkansas (W, 15-9)

Box Score
Recap
Postgame Notes

PREGAME INTERVIEW: Outfielder Lewis Brinson

SETTING THE STAGE (full game notes here)

 LAST TIME OUT:Hitting four homers and tallying 17 hits, the Riders scored a season-high 15 runs in a 15-9 win over the Northwest Arkansas Naturals, taking the series two games to one…LEWIS BRINSON homered for the third straight game and collected four base hits…RYAN CORDELL and PRESTON BECK both homered for the second straight game, and JOE JACKSON collected three hits…Frisco scored eight runs in the first inning, and the Naturals got as close as three runs (10-7), before the Riders scored five of the final seven runs.

BAYSIDE BATTLES:
Coming off 12 straight games against North Division opponents, the Riders and Hooks reacquaint themselves tonight at Whataburger field. Entering the day seven games out of first place, and four back of second-place Corpus Christi, the next run of 12 games could prove pivotal for the Riders’ chances in capturing a playoff berth. Frisco plays eight of its next 12 games at Corpus Christi’s Whataburger Field. Frisco trails the season series 6-14, has lost six of the last seven games, and 13 of the last 15, including five straight at Corpus Christi.

A SERIES WIN! A SERIES WIN!:
For the first time in nine series, the Riders captured a series win on Monday. Taking a rubber game for the first time this season, the Riders beat the Naturals two games to one, snapping an eight-series  winless streak (0-5-3). Frisco started the year winning six of the first nine series (6-1-2). The win in the set was the first for the Riders since 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), which they can do with a win today.

RIDING HIGH, SEASON-HIGHS THAT IS:
Frisco set numerous season-highs on Monday in the slugfest over the Northwest Arkansas Naturals. The club posted bests in runs (15), hits (17), runs in an inning (8, 1st), and tied the most home runs hit in a game (4). Frisco also drew a season-best five walks and brought a season-most 12 men to the plate in the first inning. LEWIS BRINSON matched a team-best four hits in one game for an individual, which included a home run. The 24 runs and 27 hits combined were also the most in a single game this year.

SOMEBODY PAID THE POWER BILL:
The RoughRiders recently went through a shortage of power hitting, but appear to be on the way back up. The RoughRiders hit four home runs Sunday and Monday, the first time they’ve done so since May 16 of last season vs. Corpus Christi. Frisco has 12 homers in the last four games after hitting just one in the previous 11. The 11 homers in the three-game series with Northwest Arkansas were the most in a series this year. Additionally, 20 of the Riders’ 45 hits the last four games are extra-base hits after just 14 XBHs out of 97 total during the previous 11 contests.

BRINSON IS BACK:
After spending the past few weeks on the disabled list, outfielder LEWIS BRINSON returned to the RoughRiders last Wednesday and has gone 11-for-26 (.423) in his first six games back. Brinson went 4-for-6 Monday afternoon and has homered each of the last three games. His 1.406 OPS since coming back is the third-highest in the league. 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 WAS SUNDAY:
Riders infielder RONALD GUZMAN participated in the 2016 SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game Sunday in San Diego. Guzman started at first base and went 0-for-1 with a walk and a flyout. 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 was one of two Rangers farmhands selected to the game, joining infielder Travis Demeritte (Class A-Advanced High Desert). On the inactive list Saturday through Monday, Guzman returns today.

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 11 straight games, a new season-long. He has hits in nine of those games and has reached safely in 19 of his 47 plate appearances (40%) in that span (12 hits, five walks, two HBP). Kiner-Falefa’s .359 on-base percentage is 6th-best in the Texas League and second on the team among qualified players (RONALD GUZMAN, .363).

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.

OPPOSING STARTER:
Right-hander Cy Sneed, named after the great Cy Young, came to the Astros from the Brewers organization during the offseason in a trade for Jonathan Villlar…Sneed was a third-round draft pick of the Brewers in 2014 out of Dallas Baptist University. His arsenal includes a fastball in the low-mid 90s, a changeup, curveball and splitter…Cy’s older brother Zeb preceded him to pro ball as the Royals’ 11th-round pick in 2011.

Riding Through the Farm: July 13

Riding Through the Farm v3

“Riding Through the Farm” is your weekly look at what’s going on in the Rangers organization outside of Frisco.

TEXAS RANGERS (54-36 – 1st, AL West)

The Rangers are slumping a bit at the All-Star Break, coming in with a four-game series loss vs. Minnesota last weekend. That said, they’re still leading the division and are expected to get Yu Darvish back Saturday in Chicago.

Cole Hamels and Ian Desmond represented the club in last night’s All-Star Game. Hamels worked a scoreless third inning, allowing two hits and striking out Kris Bryant to end the inning. Desmond came on as a defensive sub in the sixth and went 0-for-1, reaching on a fielder’s choice.

It’s on to Wrigley Field this weekend, where the Rangers start a three-game series against the Cubs on Friday

Next: Friday at Chicago Cubs, 1:20 p.m. (SP: LHP Martin Perez)

TRIPLE-A ROUND ROCK EXPRESS (46-45 – 3rd, PCL American Southern Division)

Like the Rangers, the Express are struggling coming into the All-Star Break. Round Rock lost five straight and six of seven before the off days. The lone win came Tuesday in New Orleans on the strength of five scoreless innings from Yohander Mendez in his Triple-A debut.

Remember, the PCL doesn’t have halves, so Round Rocks’ bid for a playoff spot will be a marathon, not a 72-game sprint. The Express only trail first-place Nashville by three games with 53 to go, so there’s plenty of time.

Brett Nicholas and Michael Roth were selected to the PCL All-Star Game, which takes place tonight in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Next: Tomorrow vs. Sacramento, 7:05 p.m. (SP: TBA)

Palmquist

Former Riders pitcher Cody Palmquist has been one of the top relievers in High Desert’s bullpen since joining the squad last month.

CLASS-A ADVANCED HIGH DESERT MAVERICKS (53-36 overall, 10-9 second half – T-2nd place, California League South Division)

The Mavericks come off a big series win over Rancho Cucamonga, taking three of the four games from the Quakes, who finished right behind the Mavs for the first half title. After an off day yesterday, the Mavericks head to Stockton to start a three-game series against the Athletics’ Class A-Advanced affiliate.

Travis Demeritte joined Ronald Guzman as the other Rangers representative in the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game Sunday. He posted the same line as Guzman, going 0-for-1 with a walk. Demeritte started at second base for the US team.

Remember Cody Palmquist? He’s been sensational for the Mavericks since leaving the RoughRiders June 4. Palmquist is 2-1 with a miniscule 0.55 ERA (1 ER in 16 1/3 innings) over his 11 outings and is 3-of-4 in save opportunities.

Tonight: at Stockton, 9:10 p.m. (SP: TBA)


CLASS-A HICKORY CRAWDADS (47-43 overall, 9-11 second half – 6th, South Atlantic League Northern Division)

The Crawdads are starting to ride the roller coaster, struggling to find consistency in the win column. After winning three of four against Rome over the weekend, the ‘Dads have dropped two straight to Lakewood.

Eduard Pinto is not struggling with consistency lately, hitting .559 (!) in his last eight games with two homers and eight RBI. Former RoughRiders pitcher Emerson Martinez is 0-2 in eight appearances with Hickory and took the loss earlier today.

Next: Tomorrow vs. Lakewood, 6:00 p.m. (SP: RHP Dillon Tate)

CLASS A-SHORT SEASON SPOKANE INDIANS (11-15, – 4th, Northwest League North Division)

Spokane is struggling a bit in the early going, with eight of the 15 losses coming by five or more runs. The Indians lost 14-2 last night to Salem-Keizer, getting no-hit until the ninth inning.

The Indians had to face Major League rehabber Felix Hernandez in Everett and fared pretty well, touching “King Felix” up for three runs on six hits in 3 2/3 innings.

Second baseman Blaine Prescott is coming around for Spokane, going 13-for-28 (.464) in his last seven games. His 12-game hit streak ended last night. It was tied for the longest in the NWL this year.

Tonight: vs. Salem-Keizer, 8:30 p.m. (SP: RHP Nick Green)

– Ryan

Baseball term of the day: Confrere – A teammate

(term from The Dickson Baseball Dictionary

 

Saddle Up: Riders vs. Northwest Arkansas (7/11/16)

GAME #87 (2nd HALF GAME #18)

Frisco RoughRiders (43-43 overall, 5-12 2nd half) vs. Northwest Arkansas Naturals (39-48, 10-7)
Monday, July 11, – 12:05 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 3 of 3 (Series tied, 1-1)
This season: Game 12 of 12 (Riders lead, 7-4)

FRISCO LINEUP

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

LHP Yohander Mendez (3-0, 2.73 ERA)

RIDERS RECAP: Sunday vs. Northwest Arkansas (L, 8-6 – 10 innings)

Box Score
Recap
Postgame Notes

PREGAME INTERVIEW: Rangers Assistant Pitching Coordinator Jeff Andrews

Archived interview coming soon. Listen live on the Dr Pepper Pregame Show around 11:45 a.m.

SETTING THE STAGE (full game notes here)

 LAST TIME OUT:Despite five good innings from Major League rehabber YU DARVISH and a season-high four home runs, the RoughRiders lost 8-6 to Northwest Arkansas in 10 innings on Sunday…Darvish allowed three runs on six hits in his five innings of work…The RoughRiders continued their recent power surge with home runs from PRESTON BECK, LEWIS BRINSON, ALEX BURG, and RYAN CORDELL…Leading 6-3 in the ninth, the Riders saw the lead slip away on a three-run homer from Logan Moon…The Naturals took an 8-6 lead in the 10th and held on for the win.

GOOD TO SEE YU AGAIN:
Rangers RHP YU DARVISH made his fifth start of the season with the RoughRiders on Sunday. It was Darvish’s fifth start with the Riders this season, covering two separate Major League rehabilitation assignments, and the righty is 1-1 with a 2.25 ERA in those starts.

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 today in the series finale. 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).

SOMEBODY PAID THE POWER BILL:
The RoughRiders recently went through a shortage of power hitting, but appear to be on the way back up. The RoughRiders hit four home runs Sunday, the first time they’ve done that since May 16 of last season vs. Corpus Christi. Frisco has eight homers in the last three games after hitting just one in the previous 11. Those home runs accounted for 12 straight Riders runs prior to LUIS MARTE’s RBI double last night.  Additionally, 13 of the Riders’ 28 hits the last three games are extra-base hits after just 14 XBHs out of 97 total during the previous 11 contests.

BRINSON IS BACK:
After spending the past few weeks on the disabled list, outfielder LEWIS BRINSON returned to the RoughRiders Wednesday and has gone 7-for-20 (.350) in his first five games back. Brinson went 3-for-4 with two triples and an RBI Thursday and has homered each of the last two nights. 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 WAS YESTERDAY:
Riders infielder RONALD GUZMAN participated in the 2016 SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game Sunday in San Diego. Guzman started at first base and went 0-for-1 with a walk and a flyout. 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 was one of two Rangers farmhands selected to the game, joining infielder Travis Demeritte (Class A-Advanced High Desert). He is currently on the temporary inactive list and is expected to rejoin the team for Wednesday’s game at Corpus Christi.

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 10 straight games, a new season-long. He has hits in eight of those games and has reached safely in 16 of his 42 plate appearances (38%) in that span (10 hits, five walks, one HBP). Kiner-Falefa’s .354 on-base percentage is 10th-bst 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 5-19 against Arkansas, Northwest Arkansas, Springfield, and Tulsa, and is being outscored 117-74 (4.9 to 3.1 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. Mendez returns to the Riders today and will make the start against the Naturals.

OPPOSING STARTER:
Fifth-year pro Ashton Goudeau faces the Riders for the first time this season in today’s series finale. The righty out of Newport, Arkansas earned a promotion to the Naturals from Class A-Advanced Wilmington on May 20 and has mostly worked as a starter since joining the club. Goudeau has worked at least six innings in four of his eight starts, with each of those counting for quality starts. The 23-year-old was 2-4 with a 5.14 ERA in seven outings with Wilmington and was named Carolina League Pitcher of the Week May 8 following eight shutout innings in a start against Myrtle Beach on May 5. Goudeau was taken in the 27th round of the 2012 draft by the Royals out of Maple Woods Community College in Kansas City,  the same school that produced Albert Pujols. Goudeau bypassed a scholarship at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette to turn pro. REPERTOIRE: Fastball, changeup, slider, curveball.

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.

26882944720_68955a971c_o (1)

“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

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