Cordell crushes his way into the record books

Ryan Cordell etched his name into the RoughRiders record books in the second inning of last night’s 5-2 victory over Corpus Christi.

Cordell blasted his second grand slam of the season, which is awfully impressive. But in addition, it was also his second one of the week. His first one was on Saturday against Northwest Arkansas.

With two grand slams already, Cordell became the only Minor Leaguer to reach that mark so far in 2016. He joins Washington Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper as the only other player in professional baseball to accomplish the feat this year.

Cordell has already surpassed Frisco’s total number of grand slams as a team last season. The Riders only hit one, coming off the bat of Pat Cantwell on June 24 against Midland. Frisco’s largest number of grand slams as a team in a single regular season is five, occurring in both 2009 and 2013.

Last year, Renato Nunez (Midland) hit grand slams on back-to-back days against Frisco on September 5 and 6. The RockHounds hit more grand slams in 2015 than any other team in Texas League with seven, while the RoughRiders were tagged for a league-high five.

Brett Nicholas was the last player to hit two grand slams for the Riders in 2013.

The last time the Riders hit grand slams in the same week as a team was in 2013. Ryan Rua knocked one out against Corpus Christi on August 28, and Teodoro Martinez followed with another on September 1 at Midland.

Prior to Cordell, Brett Nicholas was the most recent Rider to hit two grand slams. His were also in 2013, on April 28 against Corpus Christi and August 18 facing Tulsa.

Mike Olt and Chris McGuiness hit grand slams two days apart in 2012, on June 9 and 11 against San Antonio and Midland, respectively. McGuiness went on to slug another one later in the season on August 12 at Northwest Arkansas.

Jason Botts and Ian Kinsler were the only RoughRiders to hit grand slams in the same game on July 21, 2004. Botts’ grand slam came off San Antonio’s Felix Hernandez, just over a year before “King Felix” made his Major League debut with Seattle in August 2005.

Cordell joins Nicholas, McGuiness, and Chad Tracy as the only players to hit two grand slams in the same season for the Riders. Tracy’s two came in 2009 on July 10 against Springfield and August 7 against San Antonio. Adam Fox also had two grand slams for Frisco, one in 2005 and another in 2009.

33 different players have combined to hit 38 grand slams for the Riders in team history. However, nobody has ever hit more than two. But if the bases are loaded again for Cordell in his time with Frisco, he will have a chance to become the first.

Riders grand slams by year (regular season only):

2016:

Ryan Cordell (2)

 

 

 

2013:

Brett Nicholas (2)

Jared Hoying

Teodoro Martinez

Ryan Rua

 

2010:

Emerson Frostad

Matthew Lawson

 

 

 

2007:

Brandon Boggs

Salomon Manriquez

 

2004:

Jason Botts

Patrick Boyd

Ian Kinsler

G.J. Raymundo

2015:

Pat Cantwell

 

 

 

2012:

Chris McGuiness (2)

Engel Beltre

Mike Olt

 

 

2009:

Chad Tracy (2)

Adam Fox

Tim Smith

John Whittleman

 

2006:

Casey Benjamin

Kevin Mahar

 

2003:

Ryan Soules

Laynce Nix

 

 

2014:

Trever Adams

Joey Gallo

J.T. Wise

 

2011:

Michael Bianucci

Renny Osuna

 

 

 

2008:

Ben Harrison

Stephen Murphy

Corey Ragsdale

 

 

2005:

Adam Fox

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

– Steve

Baseball term of the day: apply the whitewash – To shut out; to keep the opponent from scoring.

(term from The Dickson Baseball Dictionary)

Saddle Up: Riders at Corpus Christi (4/21/16)

GAME #13
Frisco RoughRiders (9-3) at Corpus Christi Hooks (8-4)
Thursday, April 21 – 7:05 p.m.
Whataburger Field (Corpus Christi, TX)
—————————————–
Audio: Listen online or through the TuneIn Radio app (Nathan Barnett and Ryan Rouillard)
Watch: MiLB.TV (Corpus Christi feed)
Live stats: Click here
—————————————–
This series: Game 1 of 4
This season: Game 1 of 32

FRISCO LINEUP

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

RHP Connor Sadzeck (2-0, 0.82 ERA)

RIDERS RECAP: Tuesday vs. Arkansas (L, 8-7)

Box Score
Recap
Postgame Notes

SETTING THE STAGE (full game notes here)

LAST TIME OUT:

In a back-and-forth affair, the RoughRiders dropped a rubber game to the Arkansas Travelers by an 8-7 score…Frisco took a big lead early, erasing a 1-0 deficit and turning it into a 4-1 lead in the first inning behind RBI doubles from LEWIS BRINSON and RYAN CORDELL and a two-run homer courtesy of ZACH CONE…Arkansas, however, would plate the next seven runs, taking a 7-4 lead with a four-run fifth…FRANK LOPEZ lasted a season-low four-plus innings and allowed a season-high six runs and five hits….But the Riders rallied back to tie it with runs in the fifth, sixth, and seventh, including a second homer from Cone…The go-ahead run came in against MATT BUSH in the eighth, and the Riders failed to respond. 

RIDING HIGH:    

The RoughRiders won nine of their first 10 games this season, marking the best 10-game start in team history. At 9-3, the RoughRiders are tied with the 2008 squad for the best start in the 14-year history of the franchise. The 2008 RoughRiders finished with an 84-56 record and lost to Arkansas in the Texas League championship series.

EXTRA! EXTRA!:

RYAN CORDELL has been on a roll early in the season, leading the Texas League in doubles (7) and extra-base hits (9). In fact, he has more extra-base hits (9) than singles (7). His .644 slugging percentage ranks sixth in the Texas League.

DOUBLE TROUBLE:

Through the first two weeks of the season, the Riders lead the Texas League with 25 doubles. 10 of Frisco’s 13 hitters already have a double this year, and five of them have multiple two-baggers. 

CONE CRUSHES COMMENCING:

After starting the season 4-for-26, ZACH CONE has 4 hits in his last 6 at-bats, including 3 extra-base hits and 5 RBI. Cone went 3-for-4 with 2 home runs and 3 RBI in Tuesday’s loss to Arkansas. 

SCORING SOONER:

Early on, the RoughRiders had trouble scoring early in games. 25 of the 34 runs they scored over their first seven games came in the sixth inning or later. But in their last five games, 20 of their 24 runs have come within the first five innings. 

SEPARATION IN THE SIXTH:

The Riders have been strong late in games this season, especially in the sixth inning. Frisco has scored at least one run in the sixth in seven of the first 12 games and is outscoring opponents, 17-0, in the frame.

THE ‘PEN IS MIGHTIER:

While almost every facet of the RoughRiders team has been clicking early on, the bullpen has been especially strong for the Riders. Over the past eight games, the ‘pen has allowed just five runs in the last 37 1/3 innings (1.21 ERA). Over that stretch, relievers have allowed just 20 hits and 16 walks (0.96 WHIP), while striking out 28.

ONCE ISN’T ENOUGH: 

Early on, multi-hit games have been a trend throughout the Riders lineup. Nine different players have registered a multi-hit game in 2016, led by four from LEWIS  BRINSON, RONALD GUZMAN, and JOE JACKSON.

CRANKING UP CROOKED NUMBERS:

Early in the season, the RoughRiders have shown an ability to not only score in bunches but keep opponents from doing the same. The RoughRiders have tallied three four-run innings, two five-run frames and a six-spot (all against Northwest Arkansas). Meanwhile, the Riders have only allowed one run of more than two innings (4, 4/19/16 vs Arkansas).

RANGER DANGER:    

The RoughRiders aren’t the only Rangers affiliate off to a hot start. Overall, the Rangers farm system is 36-16 (.692), good for the best winning percentage among all minor-league systems. Class-A Hickory and Class A-Advanced High Desert each enter today at 10-4, and Triple-A Round Rock is 7-5. Round Rock was recently ranked the fifth-best Minor League team (any level) by MLB.com’s Jim Callis.

Sadzeck starting strong in 2016

For Connor Sadzeck, the road to Frisco and a spot on the Rangers 40-man roster was a unique one.

The Crystal Lake, Illinois native was selected by Texas in the 11th round of the 2011 MLB Draft after his freshman year at Howard College in Big Spring, Texas, located 45 miles northeast of Midland. After a year with short-season Single-A Spokane, Sadzeck shined in his first full season with Single-A Hickory.

Sadzeck won 12 games for Class A Hickory in 2013. (Photo by Tracy Proffitt - Hickory Crawdads)

Sadzeck won 12 games for Class A Hickory in 2013. (Photo by Tracy Proffitt – Hickory Crawdads)

The righty went 12-4 for the Crawdads and led the South Atlantic League with a 2.25 ERA. He was a candidate to start the 2014 season in either High-A Myrtle Beach or Frisco. However, things did not go according to that plan.

In the offseason, Sadzeck had “Tommy John” surgery and was unable to pitch in 2014. However, he came back even stronger than ever. His fastball was clocked as fast as 101 miles per hour, according to Baseball America.

On the road to recovery, Sadzeck and his newfound velocity made the journey out west the following year with High-A High Desert in the California League. Two years later and 3,000 miles away from his last stop in Hickory, he experienced many up and downs during 11 games and eight starts with the Mavericks.

“I was feeling it out and learning how to pitch again,” Sadzeck said. “I was throwing a lot harder than I had been, so I was just learning how to pitch with that newfound velocity.”

On the first day of August, Sadzeck received his promotion to the Riders. The highlight of his month with the Riders came on August 20 at Tulsa. Sadzeck pitched six no-hit innings against the Drillers in his only win of the season with Frisco. He threw 88 pitches in the outing before he was relieved, which was his highest pitch count since returning from the surgery.

“Last year, I felt pretty good coming back,” Sadzeck said. “I felt strong last year. I think I had a little stint two starts into the season where the shoulder flared up a little bit, which was normal. But I felt pretty strong throughout the year.”

During the offseason, while pitching with the Surprise Saguaros of the Arizona Fall League, Sadzeck received a call from the Texas Rangers sharing the news that he had been added to the 40-man roster.

“Our pitching coordinator gave me a call in the morning and let me know I was going to be added,” Sadzeck said. “But the toughest part was I couldn’t say anything until it was officially released. It didn’t feel real because I couldn’t share it with anyone for about five hours until it was released. But it was awesome and a great day.”

When the news of Sadzeck’s addition was finally released, the first people he called were his parents. The tight-lipped pitcher had managed to not say a word to anyone, even his mother and father, until it was official.

“I didn’t want to jeopardize anything, so I did not let them know right away,” Sadzeck said. “I know they would be excited and probably tell some people. So I didn’t share it. But I called them first after it was announced, and they were obviously ecstatic.”

Sadzeck was joined on the 40-man roster by many former Riders as well as current pitcher Jose Leclerc. This year, in his second season at the Double-A level, Sadzeck has been focusing on making several adjustments to help improve his skills on the mound.

“So far this year, I have been kind of dialing it back and learning how to stay within my mechanics,” Sadzeck said. “It has been helping me keep the ball in the zone. I am very excited about this year and seeing how I can bounce back a little better down the stretch this year.”

Sadzeck earned a spot on the Rangers 40-man roster and is one of 17 Riders returning from last season

Sadzeck earned a spot on the Rangers 40-man roster and is one of 17 Riders returning from last season.

If his first start was any indication, Sadzeck may be in for another milestone campaign like the one he had three years ago with Hickory. On April 8, Frisco’s second game of the season on the road against Northwest Arkansas, Sadzeck hurled six scoreless innings and only allowed two hits in a win.

Despite only striking out three batters, Sadzeck was extremely efficient on the mound in the start. He only needed 64 pitches to get through his six innings of work, and he also induced a pair of ground-ball double plays.

“I felt like I was just pitching to contact, throwing my fastball over the plate,” Sadzeck said. “The velocity was good and my breaking pitches were effective as well.”

He followed up the impressive first start with another win the following week in the RoughRiders’ second home game at Dr Pepper Ballpark. Sadzeck held the same Naturals to just one run and struck out five batters in his second straight victory.

Sadzeck is currently ranked the No. 27 prospect in the Rangers organization, according to MLB Pipeline. He is one of six players on the RoughRiders roster listed in either MLB Pipeline or Baseball America’s list of the Top 30 Rangers prospects. Although the expectations are even higher this year, Sadzeck believes he is prepared to succeed with the Riders this season.

“I think last year I just put a lot of pressure on myself because I was coming off ‘Tommy John’ surgery, and knew I had the possibility of being added to the 40-man roster,” Sadzeck said. “I added that stress to myself. But this year I can kind of rest easier, knowing that I’m healthy, and I can be a little more relaxed.”

Sadzeck is one of the 17 players returning to the Riders this season, including four of the five pitchers in the starting rotation. This year’s Frisco team begins with a whole lot of veteran experience, as the group continues their quest for a first-half division title, a berth in the Texas League playoffs, and their first league championship since 2004.

Sadzeck (2-0, 0.82 ERA) is scheduled to make his third start of the season tonight at 7:05 against Corpus Christi. Listen online or through the TuneIn Radio app (Nathan Barnett and Ryan Rouillard).

– Steve

Baseball term of the day: ancient mariner – A poor infielder.

The beginning of Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s poem, “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” (1798): “Like the Ancient Mariner, he stoppeth one of three. / By the long gray beard and glittering eye, / Now wherefore stopp’st thou me?”

The Mariner detained one of three young men going to a wedding feast and mesmerized him with the story of his youthful experiences at sea.

Bob Edwards (Fridays with Red, 1993, p.45) mentioned a letter from John Bunzel, who attributed the term to Red Barber: “One afternoon he described a game in which the shortstop kicked away two ground balls before making a good play on the third–at which Red declared, ‘Like the Ancient Mariner, he stoppeth one of three!”

(term from The Dickson Baseball Dictionary)

Saddle Up: Riders vs Arkansas (4/19/16)

GAME #12
Frisco RoughRiders (9-2) vs Arkansas Travelers (4-7)
Tuesday, April 19 – 11:05 a.m.
Dr Pepper Ballpark (Frisco, TX)
—————————————–
Audio: Listen online or through the TuneIn Radio app (Nathan Barnett and Steve Goldberg)
Watch: MiLB.TV (Barnett and Goldberg)
Live stats: Click here
—————————————–
This series: Game 3 of 3 (Series tied, 1-1)
This season: Game 6 of 12 (Riders lead, 3-2)

FRISCO LINEUP

  1. Isiah Kiner-Falefa – C
  2. Luis Mendez – 3B
  3. Lewis Brinson – CF
  4. Ryan Cordell – LF
  5. Ronald Guzman – 1B
  6. Zach Cone – RF
  7. Preston Beck – DH
  8. Luis Marte – SS
  9. Alberto Triunfel – 2B

LHP Frank Lopez (1-0, 0.79)

RIDERS RECAP: Monday vs. Arkansas (doubleheader split)

Box Score – Game 1 (W, 5-2)
Recap – Game 1
Box Score – Game 2 (L, 3-0)
Recap – Game 2
Postgame Notes

SETTING THE STAGE (full game notes here)

LAST TIME OUT:

The Riders split a doubleheader with the Arkansas Travelers on Monday, taking game one 5-3 and dropping the back-half 3-0…LEWIS BRINSON’s three-run homer in the third inning of game one put Frisco up for good…Kyle McGowin one-hit the Riders in the second game, taking a no-hitter into the seventh inning.

RIDING HIGH
:

The RoughRiders won nine of their first 10 games this season, setting a new team record, and they now sit at 9-2. The Riders passed the 2008 squad for most wins in the first 10 games, and both teams were 9-2 after 11 games. The 2008 RoughRiders finished with an 84-56 record and lost to Arkansas in the Texas League championship series.

MINOR LEAGUE MACHINES:

The Riders are not only the leaders in the Texas League, but they also have one of the best team ERAs in all of Minor League Baseball. The Riders are one of just three teams in the Minors with an ERA under 2.00. They are third with a 1.95 ERA behind Pensacola and West Virginia, who are tied for first at 1.85.

NEARLY NO-HIT:

After going hitless through the first six innings of the second game yesterday, RYAN CORDELL led off the seventh with a single to break up Kyle McGowin’s no-hit bid. If McGowin had been able to finish it out, it would have been the first no-hitter against the Riders in team history. There has not been a no-hitter in the Texas League since Brooks Pounders of Northwest Arkansas held Midland hitless on June 27, 2013.

ONE-HITTER? RARELY VS. RIDERS

Despite losing his no-hitter late, Kyle McGowin still accomplished a feat only two other pitchers have done before. It had been nearly 12 years since Justin Hampson of Tulsa threw the last one-hitter against Frisco on June 3, 2004. Rett Johnson of San Antonio also held the Riders to one hit on June 4, 2003.

DOUBLE THE BROOMS:

Saturday, the RoughRiders broke out the brooms against Northwest Arkansas for the second time this year. It marked the first time the Riders have swept the same team twice in the same half since the second half of 2009, when the RoughRiders swept Arkansas in both series.

MARTE MASHING:

Riders shortstop LUIS MARTE had a fantastic series against Northwest Arkansas. In three games, he went 6-for-10 with two doubles, a triple, a home run and five RBI. On the year, six of Marte’s nine hits are for extra bases, and he leads the team with a .692 slugging percentage.

THE ‘PEN IS MIGHTIER:

While almost every facet of the RoughRiders team is clicking right now, the bullpen is in the midst of a particularly impressive stretch. Over the past seven games, the pen has allowed just three runs in the last 31 1/3 innings (0.86 ERA). Over that stretch, relievers have allowed just 16 hits and 12 walks, while striking out 25.

ALL-TIME vs. ARKANSAS:

Frisco has fared well against Arkansas since beginning Texas League play in 2003. In 166 total meetings between the two teams, the Riders hold a favorable 103-62-1 record (.620 winning percentage).

ONCE ISN’T ENOUGH: 

Early on, multi-hit games have been a trend throughout the Riders lineup. Nine different players have registered a multi-hit game in 2016, led by four from LEWIS  BRINSONRONALD GUZMAN, and JOE JACKSON.

CRANKING UP CROOKED NUMBERS:

Early in the season, the RoughRiders have shown an ability to not only score in bunches but keep opponents from doing the same. The RoughRiders have tallied two four-run innings, two five-run frames and a six-spot (all against Northwest Arkansas). Meanwhile, opponents haven’t put up more than two runs in an inning yet this season.

RANGER DANGER:

The RoughRiders aren’t the only Rangers affiliate off to a hot start. Single-A Hickory enters the day at 9-3, High-A High Desert is 8-4, and Triple-A Round Rock is 6-4. Round Rock was recently ranked the fifth-best Minor League team by MLB.com’s Jim Callis.

Saddle Up: Riders vs Arkansas (4/18/16)

GAMES #10 and 11
Frisco RoughRiders (8-1) vs Arkansas Travelers (3-6)
Monday, April 18 – 5:35 p.m. (game 2 approximately 30 minutes after game 1 ends)
Dr Pepper Ballpark (Frisco, TX)
—————————————–
Audio: Listen online or through the TuneIn Radio app (Nathan Barnett and Steve Goldberg)
Watch: MiLB.TV (Barnett and Goldberg)
Live stats: Click here
—————————————–
This series: Games 1 and 2 of 3
This season: Games 4 and 5 of 12 (Riders lead, 2-1)

041516 Marte, Luis (Photo Credit - Frisco RoughRiders)

Luis Marte went 6-10 with 4 extra-base hits and 5 RBI in the 3 games against NW Arkansas

FRISCO LINEUP (Game 1)

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

LHP Victor Payano (0-0, 5.40 ERA)

RIDERS RECAP: Saturday vs. Northwest Arkansas (W, 5-1)

Box Score
Game Recap
Postgame Notes

SETTING THE STAGE (full game notes here)

LAST TIME OUT:
The RoughRiders were rained out on Sunday…The club finished off a sweep of Northwest Arkansas on Saturday night, scoring the final five runs of the game…After allowed a single marker in the second, Frisco tied things up on a RONALD GUZMAN homer in the bottom of the inning…The game remained tied until RYAN CORDELL blasted a grand slam to left field in the fifth…Neither team would score the rest of the way…SAM WOLFF turned in five innings of one run ball, while RICHELSON PENA (3.0 IP) and RYNE SLACK (1.0 IP) both worked scoreless relief.

RIDING HIGH:
The RoughRiders started the year 5-0 and now sit at an 8-1 record.  That mark is now the best start to a season in team history, passing the 2008 squad for most wins in the first nine games. That year, the squad dropped their ninth game after starting 7-1. The 2008 RoughRiders finished with a 84-56 record and lost to Arkansas in the Texas League championship series.

MINOR LEAGUE MACHINES:
The Riders are not only the leaders in the Texas League, but they also have the best record in all of Minor League Baseball after Saturday’s win over Northwest Arkansas. Frisco is the only team in MiLB to win eight of their first nine games to begin the 2016 season. In addition, the Riders are also one of just six teams in the Minors with an ERA under 2.00. They are tied with the Charlotte Stone Crabs for fourth with a 1.95 ERA behind Pensacola (1.64), West Virginia (1.69), and Syracuse (1.76).

DOUBLE THE BROOMS:
Saturday, the RoughRiders broke out the brooms against Northwest Arkansas for the second time this year. It marked the first time the Riders have swept the same team twice in the same half since the second half of 2009, when the RoughRiders swept Arkansas in both series.

MARTE MASHING:
Riders shortstop LUIS MARTE had a fantastic series against Northwest Arkansas. In three games, he went 6-for-10 with two doubles, a triple, a home run and five RBI. On the year, six of Marte’s nine hits are for extra bases, and he leads the team with a .692 slugging percentage.

THE ‘PEN IS MIGHTIER:
While almost every facet of the RoughRiders team is clicking right now, the bullpen is in the midst of a particularly impressive stretch. Over the past five games, the pen has allowed just three runs in the last 28 innings (0.96 ERA). Over that stretch, relievers have allowed just 15 hits and 10 walks, while striking out 19.

GROOVIN’ GUZMAN:
After a 0-for-6 start in the first two games of his Double-A career, Frisco first basemanRONALD GUZMAN has found a groove on his current six-game hit streak. He is 12-for-26 with two home runs, four RBI, and a double in that span. Four of the six games have been multi-hit games, including two three-hit performances.

ALL-TIME vs. ARKANSAS: Frisco has fared well against Arkansas since beginning Texas League play in 2003. In 164 total meetings between the two teams, the Riders hold a favorable 102-61-1 record (.622 winning percentage).

ONCE ISN’T ENOUGH: 
Early on, multi-hit games have been a trend throughout the Riders lineup. Nine different players have registered a multi-hit game in 2016, led by four from LEWIS  BRINSON,RONALD GUZMAN, and JOE JACKSON.

CRANKING UP CROOKED NUMBERS:
Early in the season, the RoughRiders have shown an ability to not only score in bunches but keep opponents from doing the same. The RoughRiders have tallied two four-run innings, two five-run frames and a six-spot (all against Northwest Arkansas). Meanwhile, opponents haven’t put up more than two runs in an inning yet this season.

RANGER DANGER:
The RoughRiders aren’t the only Rangers affiliate off to a hot start. Class-A Hickory enters the day at 9-2, Class A-Advanced High Desert is 7-4, and Triple-A Round Rock is 6-4. Round Rock was recently ranked the fifth-best Minor League team by MLB.com’s Jim Callis.

Kiner-Falefa trying to “open some doors” behind the plate

When the lineup card came out for Thursday’s home opener, it seemed like there was a typo at the top.

RR150332

Isiah Kiner-Falefa is catching for the first time in his career this season with the Riders

You see, next to Isiah Kiner-Falefa’s name was the letter “C.” But Kiner-Falefa had never played catcher before. Not in High Desert, nor Hickory, nor Spokane. Not even in high school. But it wasn’t a typo.

The 21-year-old made his first career start – high school or professional – at catcher during Frisco’s home opener on Thursday night. He went back behind the plate again on Saturday in a sweep-clinching victory over Northwest Arkansas.

“I felt comfortable,” said Kiner-Falefa Friday afternoon. “For it being my first professional catching start in a Double-A home opener, it was really exciting. I felt good.”

He looked comfortable, too, handling pitches cleanly and nearly throwing out the speedy Orlando Calixte on a stolen base attempt. In his first two career catching appearances, he did not incur any passed balls. After working with left-hander Frank Lopez in Thursday’s win, he teamed up with righty Sam Wolff on Saturday.

“You wouldn’t know that that’s his first time catching,” said Wolff. “Just his athleticism back behind the plate, you know, being able to block balls the way he does, receive balls the way he does. Even the pitch calling. It’s almost like it comes second-nature to him. It’s impressive. It was fun for me to throw to him.”

Kiner-Falefa, a native of Honolulu, Hawaii, was used as a bullpen catcher at times last year with Class A-Advanced High Desert, and continued working on his skills at Spring Training this year. He says a desire to be more well-versed on the diamond led him to strapping on the catcher’s gear.

“It was more from what I wanted to do to open some doors. I just saw it as a better opportunity for myself and to help our organization and our team.”

Now in his fourth professional season, Kiner-Falefa has already been a Swiss army knife of sorts at his various stops around the organization. Primarily a shortstop growing up, he has played short, second base, third base and left field as a member of the Rangers farm system, prior to adding catcher to the list. He’s just two games in, but he may have discovered a way to make his path to Arlington a little bit more manageable.RR150345

“Sky’s the limit for him,” said Wolff. “With that kind of athleticism, I mean, he’s 21 years old [and] starting to catch at the Double-A level. It’s fun to watch. It’s mind-blowing to see him compete like that.”

– Ryan

Baseball term of the day: Kiner’s Korner – The anem of the left-field area at Forbes Field in Pittsburgh from 1948 to 1953. Originally named Greenberg Gardens, it was created to increase home run production…Greenberg Gardens was renamed in 1948 for Ralph Kiner, Pittsburgh’s prodigious home run hitter.

(term from The Dickson Baseball Dictionary

Riders ‘Pen Big Factor in Historic Start

Unfortunately, no baseball today due to all the rain. I think RoughRiders General Manager Jason Dambach said it best:

While we wait for tomorrow’s doubleheader to start (5:35 p.m.), we have some time to reflect on an underappreciated aspect of this Riders team: the bullpen. Because realistically, this team probably wouldn’t be off to a record-setting start without the guys who have been dominant coming out of the ‘pen.

Overall, relievers have worked 35.0 innings in the first nine games and have allowed just 6 runs in that span (1.54 ERA). The bullpen has only allowed runs in three of nine games this year, and five of the eight relievers have yet to permit a run.

But beyond the stats, the ability to rise to the occasion in clutch situations is what has made the bullpen stand out early on. In five of the nine games, relievers have either taken over with the Riders trailing or up by one run, so there hasn’t been a large margin for error. Jose Valdespina set the tone opening night, stranding the bases loaded in the 8th with the Riders up 1-0. It all set up Matt Bush, who picked up his first save that night, and has continued to be a great anchor of the bullpen since then. Meanwhile, Reed Garrett and Richelson Pena have each allowed just two hits and no runs in relief this year.

041416 Valdespina, Jose (Photo Credit - Frisco RoughRiders) 3

Jose Valdespina has yet to allow a run, despite being in multiple jams (Aston Majors / Frisco RoughRiders)

I could keep listing relievers, but the point is that the bullpen has been a reliable anchor near the end of games. By contrast, opposing bullpens have a massive 5.13 ERA against Frisco this year. It goes to show you that a reliable bullpen is not a given in the game of baseball.

Let’s hope Mother Nature gives us a break tomorrow.

– Ryan

Baseball term of the day: Hootenanny Throw – an overthrown ball that sails over the head of the intended fielder and out of play.

(term from The Dickson Baseball Dictionary

Saddle Up: Riders vs. Northwest Arkansas (4/16/16)

GAME #9
Frisco RoughRiders (7-1) vs Northwest Arkansas Naturals (3-5)
Saturday, April 16 – 7:05 p.m.
Dr Pepper Ballpark (Frisco, TX)
—————————————–
Audio: Listen online or through the TuneIn Radio app (Nathan Barnett and Ryan Rouillard)
Watch: MiLB.TV (Barnett and Rouillard)
Live stats: Click here
—————————————–
This series: Game 3 of 3
This season: Game 6 of 12 (Riders lead, 5-0)

FRISCO LINEUP

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

RHP Sam Wolff (1-0, 1.50 ERA)

RIDERS RECAP: Friday vs. Northwest Arkansas (W, 7-1)

Box Score
Game Recap
Postgame Notes

SETTING THE STAGE (full game notes here)

LAST TIME OUT:

The RoughRiders picked up their seventh win in the team’s eighth game of the season, beating the Northwest Arkansas Naturals 7-1. The club posted three runs before the Naturals got on the board with a solo homer from Raul Mondesi in the fifth. It was the lone run that Northwest Arkansas would score and the lone blemish on the night for CONNOR SADZECK who looked sharp in his second start, allowing one run and scattering six hits and a walk in five innings. He fanned five. The Riders piled it on with a four-run fifth capped by a two-run triple by LUIS MARTE who went 3-for- 4 with three extra-base hits and three RBI. REED GARRETT and MATT BUSH each tossed a pair of scoreless innings to finish off the Naturals bats. Frisco is now 5-0 against Northwest Arkansas this season.

RIDING HIGH: The RoughRiders started the year 5-0, and now sit at a 7-1 record. That mark is tied with the 2008 squad for the best start in team history. That year, the RoughRiders finished with a 84-56 record and lost to Arkansas in the Texas League championship series. With a win tonight, the Riders would be off to the best nine-game start in team history. The 2008 squad dropped their ninth game after starting 7-1. In addition, the Riders are only one of six Minor-League teams to start 7-1 and enter the day tied for first with two other teams in the minors for the best winning percentage in MiLB (Visalia Rawhide and Akron RubberDucks).

DOUBLE THE BROOMS: The RoughRiders are aiming for the second sweep of Northwest Arkansas in as many weeks tonight. If they can break out the brooms, it will mark the first time the Riders have swept the same team twice in the same half since the second half of 2009, when the RoughRiders swept Arkansas in both series.

MARTE MASHING: Riders shortstop LUIS MARTE has had a fantastic series against Northwest Arkansas. After going 3-for-4 Friday with a trio of extra-base hits, he’s 5-for-7 with 2 doubles, 1 triple, 1 home run and 5 RBI over the first two games of the series. On the year, six of Marte’s eight hits are for extra bases, and he leads the team with a .739 slugging percentage.

THE ‘PEN IS MIGHTIER: While almost every facet of the RoughRiders team is clicking right now, the bullpen is in the midst of a particularly impressive stretch. Over the past four games, the pen has allowed just three runs (24.0 innings, 1.13 ERA). Over that stretch, relievers have allowed just 13 hits and 8 walks, while striking out 16.

GROOVIN’ GUZMAN: After an 0-for-6 start in the first two games of his Double-A career, Frisco first-baseman RONALD GUZMAN has found a groove on his current five-game hitting streak. He’s 11-for-23 with 1 double, 1 home run and 4 RBI in that span. Four of the five games have been multi-hit games, including two three-hit performances.

ONCE ISN’T ENOUGH: Early on, multi-hit games have been a trend throughout the Riders lineup. Nine different players have registered a multi-hit game in 2016, led by four from LEWIS BRINSON, RONALD GUZMAN, and JOE JACKSON.

WHEN OPPORTUNITY KNOCKS…: Through five meetings between the RoughRiders and Naturals in 2016, one of the key difference-makers has been the ability to cash in on opportunity. Frisco is hitting 22-49 (.449) with runners in scoring position this season against Northwest Arkansas, while the Naturals are just 2-32 (.063) in those situations. Overall, Frisco leads the Texas League with a .405 average when runners are in scoring position.

CRANKING UP CROOKED NUMBERS: Early in the season, the RoughRiders have shown an ability to not only score in bunches, but keep opponents from doing the same. The RoughRiders have tallied a four-run inning, two five-run frames and a six-spot (all against Northwest Arkansas). Meanwhile, opponents haven’t put up more than two runs in an inning.

HOW SWEEP IT IS: After taking all three games from Northwest Arkansas in the opening series, the Riders accomplished something that was done just once last year. Frisco only swept one series in 2015, and it was a rain-shortened two-game road set against Northwest Arkansas on July 10. The last time the Riders had swept a three-game series was August 15-17, 2014 at Tulsa.

RANGER DANGER: The RoughRiders aren’t the only Rangers affiliate off to a hot start. Class-A Hickory enters the day at 7-2, while the other two full-season affiliates (Triple-A Round Rock and Class-A Advanced High Desert) are 6-3. Round Rock was recently ranked the fifth-best team in the minor leagues by MLB.com’s Jim Callis.

 

2016 Riders vs. 2008 Riders

With another victory over Northwest Arkansas last night, the Riders continue to keep pace with the 2008 squad for the best start in team history at 7-1.

2008 RoughRiders:

Date:

4/3 at SPR

4/4 at SPR

4/5 at SPR

4/6 at ARK

4/7 at ARK

4/10 vs. SPR

4/11 vs. SPR

4/12 vs. SPR

Result:

W, 6-3

W, 2-1

W, 7-4 (11)

W, 5-3

W, 8-0

L, 12-5

W, 8-3

W, 4-2

Record:

1-0

2-0

3-0

4-0

5-0

5-1

6-1

7-1

2016 RoughRiders:

Date:

4/7 at NWA

4/8 at NWA

4/9 at NWA

4/10 at ARK

4/11 at ARK

4/12 at ARK

4/14 vs. NWA

4/15 vs. NWA

Result:

W, 2-0

W, 6-3

W, 9-1

W, 6-4 (12)

W, 1-0

L, 6-3

W, 7-3

W, 7-1

Record:

1-0

2-0

3-0

4-0

5-0

5-1

6-1

7-1

There are many similarities in the way the two teams started their season. They both lost their sixth game. They both won three of their first eight games by two runs or less. They both won a road game in extra innings.

Now, let’s take a look at some of the numbers through the first eight games and see how the two teams compare statistically.

Offense:

Batting Average

Runs scored

Home Runs

Extra-base hits

Pitching:

ERA

Strikeouts

Hits Allowed

Walks Issued

Defense:

Errors

Double Plays

2016 Riders:

.272

41

4

28

2016 Riders:

2.07

59

50

30

2016 Riders:

2

12

2008 Riders:

.271

45

8

26

2008 Riders:

3.04

51

61

23

2008 Riders:

4

9

Elvis Andrus was one of 27 players on the 2008 Riders to make it to the big leagues

Elvis Andrus was one of 27 players on the 2008 Riders to make it to the big leagues

Very similar, indeed.

27 of the 57 players who appeared in a game for the RoughRiders in 2008 ended up playing Major League Baseball at some point in their career. Frisco made it to the 2008 Texas League Championship Series but lost to Arkansas in a thrilling five-game series.

If this year’s team continues to follow in the footsteps of their fellow Riders from eight years ago, this will surely be another historic year of baseball at Dr Pepper Ballpark.

– Steve

Baseball term of the day: Greyhound squad – The daily list of players cut from a Major League club’s Spring Training roster, who then presumably leave for their Minor League assignments on Greyhound buses

(term from The Dickson Baseball Dictionary)

Saddle Up: Riders vs. Northwest Arkansas (4/15/16)

GAME #8
Frisco RoughRiders (6-1) vs Northwest Arkansas Naturals (3-4)
Friday, April 15 – 7:05 p.m.
Dr Pepper Ballpark (Frisco, TX)
—————————————–
Audio: Listen online or through the TuneIn Radio app (Nathan Barnett and Ryan Rouillard)
Watch: MiLB.TV (Barnett and Rouillard)
Live stats: Click here
—————————————–
This series: Game 2 of 3
This season: Game 5 of 12 (Riders lead, 4-0)

FRISCO LINEUP

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

RHP Connor Sadzeck (1-0, 0.00)

RIDERS RECAP: Thursday vs. Northwest Arkansas (W, 7-3)

Box Score
Game Recap
Postgame Notes

SETTING THE STAGE (full game notes here)

LAST TIME OUT:

Trailing 1-0 in the sixth, the Riders put together their largest inning of the year, scoring six times to set up a 7-3 victory. Frisco had mustered just four baserunners against Matt Strahm in the first frames, but put four of five aboard to chase the southpaw in the sixth. Against new reliever Sam Selman, the Riders PRESTON BECK smashed a three-run homer, and LUIS MARTE blasted a solo shot off of him as well. Frisco’s 7-1 lead was slimmed when ADAM PARKS allowed a two-run blast of his own. The Riders won despite being outhit 8-7, and the Naturals went just 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position.

RIDING HIGH: The RoughRiders started the year 5-0, and now sit at 6-1 record. That mark is tied with the 2008 squad for the best start in team history. That year, the RoughRiders finished with a 84-56 record and lost to Arkansas in the Texas League championship series.

THE ‘PEN IS MIGHTIER: While almost every facet of the RoughRiders team is clicking right now, the bullpen is in the midst of a particularly impressive stretch. Over the past four games, the pen has allowed just three runs (20 innings). Over that stretch, the relievers have allowed just 12 hits and seven walks, while striking out 13.

PREYING ON THE ‘PEN: While the Riders bullpen has been consistently effective, opponents haven’t enjoyed the same luxury once their starter leaves the game. Opposing bullpens have a 6.26 ERA against the Riders this season (19 ER/27.1 IP), while starters hold a 3.58 ERA (15 ER/37.2 IP). Furthermore, the RoughRiders have scored 27 of their 34 runs this year in the fifth inning or later.

ONCE ISN’T ENOUGH: Early on, multi-hit games have been a trend throughout the Riders lineup. Nine different players have registered a multi-hit game in 2016, led by four from LEWIS BRINSON. RYAN CORDELL, JOE JACKSON, and RONALD GUZMAN each have three multi-hit contests.

WHEN OPPORTUNITY KNOCKS…: Through four meetings between the RoughRiders and Naturals in 2016, one of the key difference-makers has been the ability to cash in on opportunity. Frisco is hitting 18-37 (.486) with runners in scoring position this season against Northwest Arkansas, while the Naturals are just 2-27 (.074) in those situations. Overall, Frisco leads the Texas League with a .419 average when runners are in scoring position.

CRANKING UP CROOKED NUMBERS: Early in the season, the RoughRiders have shown an ability to not only score in bunches, but keep opponents from doing the same. The RoughRiders have tallied two five-run innings and put up a six-spot Thursday night (all against Northwest Arkansas. Meanwhile, opponents haven’t put up more than two runs in an inning.

aMAZing DEBUT: NOMAR MAZARA (MLB Pipeline No. 3 prospect, Riders ’14-15) made history in his first start with the Rangers. The 20-year-old outfielder became the youngest player to ever record three hits in his Major League debut. Mazara singled in his first two at-bats before smacking a solo homer off 11-year veteran Jered Weaver.

BRETT TO THE BIGS: Mazara wasn’t the only former Rider to get called up to the Majors last week. The Rangers purchased the contract of BRETT NICHOLAS (Riders ’13). After playing in Frisco, Nicholas spent the past two seasons with Round Rock and began 2016 with the Express before being promoted Sunday.

HOW SWEEP IT IS: After taking all three games from Northwest Arkansas in the opening series, the Riders accomplished something that was done just once last year. Frisco only swept one series in 2015, and it was a rain-shortened two-game road set against Northwest Arkansas on July 10. The last time the Riders had swept a three-game series was August 15-17, 2014 at Tulsa.

RANGER DANGER: The RoughRiders aren’t the only Rangers affiliate off to a hot start. Class-A Hickory enters the day at 7-1, while the other two full-season affiliates (Triple-A Round Rock and Class-A Advanced High Desert) are 5-2. Of the other 116 full-season affiliates, only five teams outside the Rangers organization started 6-1.

 

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