Aiming for a three-percent chance: Life of a minor league umpire

Ump1

(Left to right): Nestor Ceja, Cody Oakes, and Kyle McCrady make up one of the four Texas League umpiring crews this season.

The odds of a minor league baseball player making it to the big leagues aren’t all that favorable, but they pale in comparison to the odds minor league umpires have to face as they climb toward the top.

In 2013, Baseball America estimated that 17.2 percent of drafted players – about one in six – will make it to the Major League level. For umpires, it’s only a three percent chance.

Nonetheless, umpires such as Nestor Ceja, Cody Oakes, and Kyle McCrady continue along in their pursuit of making it to the big leagues. The three make up one of the four umpiring crews in the Texas League this year.

Over the course of the five-month season, they navigate the Texas League circuit together in a rented minivan. Their travels lead them to Frisco and the other seven cities in the league, where they work a series or two and move on to the next destination. In many ways, they’re going through a very similar experience as the players they share the field with.

Ump2“Just like the players, we’re in the minor leagues for development,” said Ceja. “We’re not born umpires. We go to umpire school, and we’re down here, and we develop.”

Ceja, a fifth-year minor league umpire, is the crew chief of the squad and is in his second year in the Texas League. Oakes (Carolina League) and McCrady (California League), both former college baseball players, are new to the circuit and are in their fifth and fourth years as professional umpires, respectively. All three are many miles away from their homes and families, spending five months out of their year transitioning from hotel room to hotel room as they navigate the eight cities that make up the Texas League.

“At times, it’s a lonely profession just because you’re away from home for so much,” said Ceja, who hails from Arleta, California. “Unlike the players, we don’t play home games.”

THE CHALLENGE OF MOVING UP THE RANKS AS AN UMPIRE (STATS SINCE 1998)

LEVEL PORTION OF UMPIRES WHO MAKE IT
Major League Baseball (full-time) 3%
Major League Baseball (on a call-up basis) 8%
Triple-A 31%
Double-A 50%
Class A-Advanced 71%
Class-A 84%
Class A-Short Season 98%

*Source: Dusty Dellinger (Director, MiLB Umpire Training Academy)

Much like it is for the players, if not more so, umpiring in the minor leagues can be a grind. Between the long drives, the constant time away from home, and the razor-thin margin for error when it comes to making calls on the field, there’s nothing easy about the life of a minor league umpire. To make it tougher, there’s hardly a guarantee that their hard work will be rewarded with a chance to suit up as a big league umpire.

“We’re doing this for that three-percent chance pretty much,” said Oakes. “As an umpire, you have to be ready for that day when you get released. It’s on the back of your mind. You just try to keep going forward and do the best you can and hope it doesn’t happen.”

The life of minor league umpires may be far from glamorous, but as it is for many people that work in the minor leagues, the love and passion for the job drives them to keep striving for the ultimate goal, even if the odds are stacked against them.

-Ryan

Baseball term of the day: Umpire-baiting – Consistent bickering with the umpires, perhaps with an eye to getting the benefit of close calls in the future.

(term from The Dickson Baseball Dictionary

Saddle Up: Riders at San Antonio (6/7/16)

GAME #55
Frisco RoughRiders (32-22) at San Antonio Missions (17-38)
Tuesday, June 7 – 7:05 p.m.
Nelson W. Wolff Municipal Stadium – San Antonio, TX
—————————————–

Watch: MiLB.TV (San Antonio 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 13 of 32 (Riders lead, 11-1)

FRISCO LINEUP

  1. Lewis Brinson – CF
  2. Preston Beck – RF
  3. Ronald Guzman – 1B
  4. Ryan Cordell – LF
  5. Evan Van Hoosier – 3B
  6. Joe Jackson – DH
  7. Alex Burg – C
  8. Andy Ibanez – 2B
  9. Luis Mendez – SS

RHP Connor Sadzeck (5-2, 3.56 ERA)

RIDERS RECAP: Sunday vs. Springfield (L, 5-0)

Box Score
Recap
Postgame Notes

 

SETTING THE STAGE (full game notes here)

LAST TIME OUT:
The RoughRiders enjoyed the last off day of the first half yesterday after dropping a 5-0 contest on Sunday…The loss marked the fourth shutout loss in the last 11 games for Frisco, who managed five hits in the loss…Springfield scored three runs in the third inning, knocking LUIS ORTIZ out of the game and added late runs in the eighth and ninth…Frisco did not manage a runner in scoring position until a double by KELLIN DEGLAN in the eighth, the lone man to reach second…Luke Weaver dominated the RoughRiders with a career-high 10 strikeouts in 7 1/3 innings…The RoughRiders still won the series two games to one.

LOOKING UP FOR THE FIRST TIME:
With Frisco’s recent eight-game losing streak and Corpus Christi’s four-game win streak, the Riders have been sitting in second place in the South Division for the first time all season over the past four six days. They shared the top spot with Corpus Christi and Midland on the first day of the year but held sole possession of first place for the next 54 days. The Riders still have a chance to control their own fate in the South Division though, with five remaining first-half matchups against the Hooks and six more against third-place Midland.

ALL KINDS OF CLOSE CALLS:
The RoughRiders have consistently found themselves in close games over the last few weeks. Eight of the last 11 games (2-9) have been decided by three runs or fewer, including three one-run games. On the season, 40 of Frisco’s 54 games have been decided by three or fewer, and the Riders have played in 18 one-run games (10-8), two behind league leading Corpus Christi (13-7) and Midland (12-8).

BRINSON GOES BOOM:
Rangers second-ranked prospect LEWIS BRINSON hasn’t had the best start to his season, but the Riders outfielder teed off on Cardinals pitching Saturday, going 2-for-5 with a triple, a home run, and a season-high five RBI. It marked the first time all year he’s had multiple extra-base hits in the same game. Brinson hit just .202 in May but is 4-for-16 in his last four games as he aims to return to old form.

BECK BUSTING OUT:
Riders outfielder PRESTON BECK has become a key contributor for the Riders over the last few weeks. Beck has reached base in 16 of his last 17 games and had his 14-game on-base streak snapped Wednesday vs. Tulsa. In that stretch, he had a six- and seven-game hit streak. Over his last 17 games, Beck is hitting .338 (sixth-best in the Texas League), with a double, two triples, two home runs, and nine RBI. He also sports a .377 on-base percentage and a slugging percentage of .508 in that span.

TRIO OF RIDERS EARN MONTHLY HONORS:
On May 19, three Riders were awarded monthly honors by the Rangers. RYAN CORDELL earned Player of the Month honors, while ISIAH KINER-FALEFA was named Defender of the Month. Left-hander RYNE SLACK garnered the Reliever of the Month award.

ROARING RONALD GUZMAN:
Riders first baseman RONALD GUZMAN has gotten off to a  torrid start this season, most recently accentuated by his 3-for-4 performance Friday vs. Springfield. The slugger put together the first two-homer game of his career last week in Springfield, and his season-high nine game hitting streak ended last Sunday. During the run, Guzman hit .400 (14-for-35) with five extra-base hits (2 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR) and 3 RBI. Guzman leads the team with 19 multi-hit games in 2016, his first year at the Double-A level.

VIEW FROM THE TOP:
Frisco outfielder RYAN CORDELL has been one of the best offensive players in the league thus far. In addition to an impressive league-best 37-game on-base streak earlier this year, he also leads the Texas League in numerous categories. The Riders outfielder tops the Texas League in RBI (41), runs (T-1st, 40), and extra-base hits (28). Cordell is also on the leaderboard in average (4th, .307), home runs (T-4th, 10), slugging percentage (3rd, .568), and doubles (3rd, 14).

RANGER DANGER:
The RoughRiders aren’t the only Rangers affiliate with a winning record. Overall, the Rangers farm system is 130-94 (.580), which is the third-best winning percentage among all Minor League systems behind Cleveland and New York (AL). Every full-season affiliate in the organization has a record above .500, as Class A-Advanced High Desert enters the day at 36-22, Class A Hickory is 32-24, and Triple-A Round Rock is 30-26. Round Rock was ranked the fifth-best Minor League team (any level) by MLB.com’s Jim Callis earlier this season.

TOP OF THE CLASS:
The RoughRiders roster includes nine players ranked on either the MLBPipeline.com and/or Baseball America Rangers Top 30 Prospects list. LEWIS BRINSON, the No. 2 prospect in the Texas farm system according to MLBPipeline.com and Baseball America, returns to Frisco. He appeared in 28 games for the Riders last season, hitting .291 with six home runs and 23 RBI before being promoted to Round Rock. LUIS ORTIZ (No. 4 in MLBPipeline.com, No. 4 in BA) is the highest-ranked pitching prospect on the squad. Aside from Brinson and Ortiz, YOHANDER MENDEZ (13, 24), RYAN CORDELL (14, 11),ANDY IBANEZ (15, 8), EVAN VAN HOOSIER (18, 23),RONALD GUZMAN (22, 29), SAM WOLFF (26, NR), and CONNOR SADZECK (27, 26) rank among Texas’ top 30 prospects.

OPPOSING STARTER:
The RoughRiders face Bryce Morrow for the third time this season. Morrow lost his first six starts this year, including both of his outings against the RoughRiders. The Central Michigan University product will make his 11th career start against the Riders tonight. He holds a career 4-6 record with an ERA over 7.00 in his first ten outings against the RoughRiders.

Maintaining a lawn like the pros: Part one

DSC_0349When you think summer activities, you think beautiful green lawns.  Baseball at Dr Pepper Ballpark is no exception, as the pristine condition of the field almost makes you want to invest in a new lawn mower. A beautiful field only enhances the experience on game day.

David Bicknell (or “Diamond Dave, as he’s affectionately known around the ballpark!) is the Head Groundskeeper responsible for the stunning sight that greets people as they arrive at Dr Pepper Ballpark. This field requires his attention to detail in order to be flawless or play might be affected. Infielders require a smooth, even playing surface that will give them clean hops on ground balls; that can sometimes mean the difference between a force out or an error late in a one-run ballgame.

Bicknell says that “Some players will have a desire to have their area a special way but a lot of players want it to be in a pretty standard condition. That allows them to make the plays confidently.”

The average home owner in DFW doesn’t have to consider as many details when caring for their lawn, but there are still many pain points in the spring and early summer season: Why is lawn care important? How do I maintain my lawn?  What will hurt my lawn?  Unless you’re a lawn care expert, those questions can be challenging to answer.  Fortunately, the RoughRiders very own lawn expert is here to help!

In this first of a two-part series, Bicknell provides us with some tips that any homeowner can use to service and care for their lawn, even in the north Texas heat.  Today we’ll focus on some of the techniques involved in lawn maintenance:

  1. To encourage good rooting and healthy turf, remember to water your lawn deeply and infrequently, preferably 1-2 long watering cycles each week during summer months.
  1. For a dense carpet like turf, be sure to mow your lawn with a sharp mulching blade at least once per week during the growing season, making sure not to remove more than 1/3 of the leaf blade per mowing.

In part two of our series, we’ll cover some of the key products to keep a healthy, green lawn.  In the meantime, if you just want to avoid the work and costs of lawn care altogether, The Home Depot and Scotts, proud partners of the Frisco RoughRiders, have the solution for you: free lawn care for life in the Mow ‘em Down Inning!

This season, the RoughRiders will pick one lucky contestant to be eligible to win free lawn care for life at a select RoughRiders home game.  At that game, one inning will be designated as the Mow ‘em Down Inning.  If a RoughRiders pitcher “mows down” three batters in a row by striking them all out to start the inning, the contestant will win free lawn care for life!

To enter, visit your nearest north Dallas area Home Depot, look for the Scotts Green Max display in the home and garden section, and sign-up for your chance to win free lawn care for life, along with other great RoughRiders prizes! Be sure to check out the list of participating locations and contest rules for your chance to enter.

Lawn_care_for_life_MW

Baseball term of the day: Grasser: A sharply hit ground ball

(term from The Dickson Baseball Dictionary)

Saddle Up: Riders vs. Springfield (6/5/16)

GAME #54
Frisco RoughRiders (32-21) vs. Springfield Cardinals (29-26)
Sunday, June 5 – 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 3 of 3 (Riders lead, 2-0)
This season: Game 6 of 12 (Cardinals lead, 3-2)

FRISCO LINEUP

  1. Shin-Soo Choo – DH
  2. Lewis Brinson – LF
  3. Ronald Guzman – 1B
  4. Ryan Cordell – CF
  5. Preston Beck – RF
  6. Evan Van Hoosier – 2B
  7. Luis Mendez – 3B
  8. Kellin Deglan – C
  9. Alberto Triunfel – SS

RHP Luis Ortiz (1-1, 3.27 ERA)

RIDERS RECAP: Saturday vs. Springfield (W, 11-6)

Box Score
Recap
Postgame Notes

PREGAME INTERVIEW: Manager Joe Mikulik

SETTING THE STAGE (full game notes here)

LAST TIME OUT:

After a quiet last few weeks at the plate, the Riders offense erupted for 11 runs in a 11-6 win over Springfield…LEWIS BRINSON finished the night 2-for-5 with a triple, a home run, and a season-high five RBI…JOE JACKSON got the Riders on the board with his first homer of the year in the second inning… Frisco did its damage in large bunches, scoring six runs in the fourth and four more in the eighth…The 11 runs tied a single-game high this season, while the six-run inning tied a single-inning high…The offensive outburst proved to be plenty of support for highly-touted prospect YOHANDER MENDEZ, who allowed three early runs, but settled in to turn in five strong innings of work.

THE CHOO TRAIN RETURNS TO FRISCO:

Rangers outfielder SHIN-SOO CHOO, who joined the RoughRiders on a Major League rehabilitation assignment Friday, is back with Frisco today for the series finale. Choo went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts in Friday’s win over the Cardinals. Choo was the latest in a long string of big leaguers that have rehabbed with the RoughRiders this season. Already, the Riders have welcomed right-handed pitcher YU DARVISH, outfielder JOSH HAMILTON, and catchers CHRIS GIMENEZ and ROBINSON CHIRINOS.

LOOKING UP FOR THE FIRST TIME:

With Frisco’s recent eight-game losing streak and Corpus Christi’s four-game win streak, the Riders are in second place in the South Division for the first time all season. They shared the top spot with Corpus Christi and Midland on the first day of the year but held sole possession of first place for the next 54 days. The Riders still have a chance to control their own fate in the South Division though, with five remaining first-half matchups against the Hooks and six more against third-place Midland.

ALL KINDS OF CLOSE CALLS:

The RoughRiders have consistently found themselves in close games over the last few weeks. Eight of the last 10 games (2-8) have been decided by three runs or fewer, including three one-run games. On the season, 40 of Frisco’s 53 games have been decided by three or fewer, and the Riders have played in 18 one-run games (10-8), one behind league leaders Midland and Corpus Christi.

BRINSON GOES BOOM:

Rangers second-ranked prospect LEWIS BRINSON hasn’t had the best start to his season, but the Riders outfielder teed off on Cardinals pitching Saturday, going 2-for-5 with a triple, a home run, and a season- high five RBI. It marked the first time all year he’s had multiple extra-base hits in the same game. Brinson hit just .202 in May but is 4-for-12 in his last three games as he aims to return to old form.

BECK BUSTING OUT:

Riders outfielder PRESTON BECK has become a key contributor for the Riders over the last few weeks. Beck has reached base in 15 of his last 16 games and had his 14-game on-base streak snapped Wednesday vs. Tulsa. In that stretch, he had a six- and seven-game hit streak. Over his last 16 games, Beck is hitting .344 (sixth-best in the Texas League), with a double, two triples, two home runs, and nine RBI. He also sports a .385 on-base percentage and a slugging percentage of .525 in that span.

STARTERS STAYING STRONG:

Riders starting pitching has consistently turned in strong performances over the last few weeks. Starters have lasted at least six innings in six of the last 18 games, including five quality starts. No starters have allowed more than four earned runs in the 18-game stretch. In total, starters have combined for an ERA of 3.35 (37 ER / 99.1 IP) in that span.

TRIO OF RIDERS EARN MONTHLY HONORS:

On May 19, three Riders were awarded monthly honors by the Rangers. RYAN CORDELL earned Player of the Month honors, while ISIAH KINER-FALEFA was named Defender of the Month. Left-hander RYNE SLACK garnered the Reliever of the Month award.

ROARING RONALD GUZMAN:

Riders first baseman RONALD GUZMAN has gotten off to a torrid start this season, most recently accentuated by his 3-for-4 performance Friday vs. Springfield. The slugger put together the first two-homer game of his career last week in Springfield, and his season-high nine game hitting streak ended last Sunday. During the run, Guzman hit .400 (14-for-35) with five extra-base hits (2 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR) and 3 RBI. Guzman leads the team with 19 multi-hit games in 2016, his first year at the Double-A level.

VIEW FROM THE TOP:

Frisco outfielder RYAN CORDELL has been one of the best offensive players in the league thus far. In addition to an impressive league-best 37-game on-base streak earlier this year, he also leads the Texas League in numerous categories. The Riders outfielder tops the Texas League in RBI (41), runs (40), doubles (T-1st, 14), and extra-base hits (28). Cordell is also on the leaderboard in average (4th, .313), home runs (T-4th, 10), slugging percentage (3rd, .579), and triples (T-2nd, 4).

MULTI-HIT MADNESS:

Multi-hit performances have become a consistent trend up and down the Riders lineup this year. There have been 115 multi-hit performances out of a possible 477 lineup spots (24.1%). 28 of the 115 multi-hit performances (24.3%) are with three or more hits. RONALD GUZMAN leads the Riders with 19 multi-hit games, including his 3-for-4 performance Friday vs. Springfield. Guzman is one of four players on the squad to have at least 10 multi-hit games this season.

RANGER DANGER:

The RoughRiders aren’t the only Rangers affiliate with a winning record. Overall, the Rangers farm system is 127-91 (.583), which is the third-best winning percentage among all Minor League systems behind Cleveland and New York (AL). Every full-season affiliate in the organization has a record above .500, as Class A-Advanced High Desert enters the day at 34-22, Class A Hickory is 32-23, and Triple-A Round Rock is 29-25. Round Rock was ranked the fifth-best Minor League team (any level) by MLB.com’s Jim Callis earlier this season.

TOP OF THE CLASS:
The RoughRiders roster includes eight players ranked on either the MLBPipeline.com and/or Baseball America Rangers Top 30 Prospects list. LEWIS BRINSON, the No. 2 prospect in the Texas farm system according to MLBPipeline.com and Baseball America, returns to Frisco. He appeared in 28 games for the Riders last season, hitting .291 with six home runs and 23 RBI before being promoted to Round Rock. LUIS ORTIZ (No. 4 in MLBPipeline.com, No. 4 in BA) is the highest-ranked pitching prospect on the squad. Aside from Brinson and Ortiz, YOHANDER MENDEZ (13, 24), RYAN CORDELL (14, 11),EVAN VAN HOOSIER (18, 23),RONALD GUZMAN (22, 29), SAM WOLFF (26, NR), and CONNOR SADZECK (27, 26) rank among Texas’ top 30 prospects.

OPPOSING STARTER:

One of the Cardinals’ highest-rated prospects, right-hander Luke Weaver makes his season and Double-A debut tonight at Dr Pepper Ballpark. Weaver, 22, missed the first two months of the season after fracturing his left wrist during a drill in Spring Training. The righty, ranked the third-best prospect in the St. Louis farm system, is in his third season as a pro and first with Springfield after being selected in the first round (27th overall) of the 2014 draft out of Florida State. Weaver had been selected out of high school by the Blue Jays in the 19th round of the 2011 draft, but attended FSU instead. The righty was a non-roster invitee to Spring Training this year. Coming out of FSU, one of the concerns was the decline in his fastball velocity, which dropped to the low 90s. However, his changeup with heavy sink has made him extremely tough on hitters…REPERTOIRE: Fastball (92- 93, T95), changeup (82-83), curveball, slider.

Frisco vs. Corpus Christi

Currently, the RoughRiders are just half of a game behind Corpus Christi in the Texas League South Division standings. However, Frisco had sole possession of first place with the best record in the division for 54 straight days before the Hooks leaped ahead.

These are two very competitive teams who have taken completely different routes to get to their current spots in the standings. With just a handful of games remaining in the first half, let’s take a look at how Frisco and Corpus Christi reached the positions they are in today.

Frisco-Corpus by Date

Despite recently slipping below Corpus Christi in the standings, the Riders still have a chance to control their own fate in the South Division with five remaining first-half matchups against the Hooks. The five-game series will take place at Dr Pepper Ballpark from June 15-18.

– Steve

Baseball term of the day: yodeler – The third base coach, especially a noisy one who may be trying to unnerve the pitcher or who shouts instructions to the runner on second base.

(term from The Dickson Baseball Dictionary)

Saddle Up: Riders vs. Springfield (6/4/16)

GAME #53
Frisco RoughRiders (31-21) vs. Springfield Cardinals (29-25)
Saturday, June 4 – 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 2 of 3 (Riders lead, 1-0)
This season: Game 5 of 12 (Cardinals lead, 3-1)

FRISCO LINEUP

  1. Luis Mendez – SS
  2. Lewis Brinson – CF
  3. Ronald Guzman – 1B
  4. Ryan Cordell – LF
  5. Evan Van Hoosier – 2B
  6. Joe Jackson – DH
  7. Alex Burg – C
  8. Zach Cone – RF
  9. Alberto Triunfel – 3B

LHP Yohander Mendez (1-0, 2.70 ERA)

RIDERS RECAP: Friday vs. Springfield (W, 6-5)

Box Score
Recap
Postgame Notes

PREGAME INTERVIEW: Rangers Minor League Infield Coordinator Kenny Holmberg (part two)

SETTING THE STAGE (full game notes here)

LAST TIME OUT:
The RoughRiders snapped an eight-game losing streak with a 6-5 win over Springfield at Dr Pepper Ballpark…RONALD GUZMAN led the way for the Riders, going 3-for-4 with a solo home run and the decisive RBI double in the seventh inning…After falling behind 1-0 in the first on a Harrison Bader home run, the RoughRiders lost leads of 2-1 and 5-2, but quickly regained the advantage both times…JOSE VALDESPINA picked up the win after working 1 2/3 innings out of the bullpen, and ADAM PARKS notched his fourth save of the year with a 1-2-3 ninth.

REHABBERS KEEP RIDING THROUGH FRISCO:
Rangers outfielder SHIN-SOO CHOO joined the RoughRiders on a Major League rehabilitation assignment Friday, going 0-for-4 with two strikeouts. Choo was the latest in a long string of big leaguers that have rehabbed with the RoughRiders this season.  Already, the Riders have welcomed right-handed pitcher YU DARVISH, outfielder JOSH HAMILTON, and catchersCHRIS GIMENEZ and ROBINSON CHIRINOS.

LOOKING UP FOR THE FIRST TIME:
With Frisco’s recent eight-game losing streak and Corpus Christi’s four-game win streak, the Riders are in second place in the South Division for the first time all season. They shared the top spot with Corpus Christi and Midland on the first day of the year but held sole possession of first place for the next 54 days. The Riders still have a chance to control their own fate in the South Division though, with five remaining first-half matchups against the Hooks and six more against third-place Midland.

NORTH DIVISION WOES:
Even with their win against Springfield Friday, the RoughRiders are still struggling against North Division foes, holding a 10-9 record against the four teams from up north. Six of the 10 wins are against Northwest Arkansas, while the Riders have struggled against the other three teams. In 13 games against Springfield, Tulsa, and Arkansas (4-9), the Riders are averaging just 2.9 runs per game. They only have two remaining first-half matchups against the North, both of which come against Springfield this weekend.

ALL KINDS OF CLOSE CALLS:
The RoughRiders have consistently found themselves in close games over the last few weeks. Eight of the last 10 games (2-8) have been decided by three runs or fewer, including three one-run games. On the season, 40 of Frisco’s 52 games have been decided by three or fewer, and the Riders have played in 18 one-run games (10-8), tied for the most in the Texas League.

BECK BUSTING OUT:
Riders outfielder PRESTON BECK has become a key contributor for the Riders over the last few weeks. Beck has reached base in 15 of his last 16 games and had his 14-game on-base streak snapped Wednesday vs. Tulsa. In that stretch, he had a six- and seven-game hit streak. Over the last 16 games, Beck his hitting .344 (4th best in the Texas League), with a double, two triples, two home runs, and nine RBI. He also sports a .385 on-base percentage and a slugging percentage of .525 in that span.

STARTERS STAYING STRONG:
SAM WOLFF’s 4.2 innings Friday marked the shortest start since in 17 games for the RoughRiders, but starting pitching continues to excel in that 17-game span. Starting pitchers have lasted at least six innings in six of those games, including five quality starts. No starters have allowed more than four earned runs in this recent stretch. In total, starters have combined for an ERA of 3.24 (34 ER / 94.1 IP) in that span.

TRIO OF RIDERS EARN MONTHLY HONORS:
On May 19, three Riders were awarded monthly honors by the Rangers. RYAN CORDELL earned Player of the Month honors, while ISIAH KINER-FALEFA was named Defender of the Month. Left-hander RYNE SLACK garnered the Reliever of the Month award.

ROARING RONALD GUZMAN:
Riders first baseman RONALD GUZMAN has gotten off to a  torrid start this season, most recently accentuated by his 3-for-4 performance Friday vs. Springfield. The slugger put together the first two-homer game of his career Saturday night, and his season-high nine game hitting streak ended Sunday. During the run, Guzman hit .400 (14-for-35) with five extra-base hits (2 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR) and 3 RBI. Guzman leads the team with 19 multi-hit games in 2016, his first year at the Double-A level.

VIEW FROM THE TOP:
Frisco outfielder RYAN CORDELL has been one of the best offensive players in the league thus far. In addition to an impressive league-best 37-game on-base streak earlier this year, he also leads the Texas League in numerous categories. The Riders outfielder tops the Texas League in RBI (41), runs (40), doubles (T-1st, 14), and extra-base hits (28). Cordell is also on the leaderboard in average (3rd, .319), home runs (T-4th, 10), slugging percentage (3rd, .592), and triples (T-2nd, 4).

MULTI-HIT MADNESS:
Multi-hit performances have become a consistent trend up and down the Riders lineup this year. There have been 111 multi-hit performances out of a possible 468 lineup spots (23.7%). 28 of the 111 multi-hit performances (25.2%) are with three or more hits. RONALD GUZMAN leads the Riders with 19 multi-hit games, including his 3-for-4 performance Friday vs. Springfield. Guzman is one of four players on the squad to have at least 10 multi-hit games this season.

RANGER DANGER:
The RoughRiders aren’t the only Rangers affiliate with a winning record. Overall, the Rangers farm system is 124-90 (.579), which is the third-best winning percentage among all Minor League systems behind Cleveland and New York (AL). Every full-season affiliate in the organization has a record above .500, as Class A-Advanced High Desert enters the day at 33-22, Class A Hickory is 31-23, and Triple-A Round Rock is 29-24. Round Rock was ranked the fifth-best Minor League team (any level) by MLB.com’s Jim Callis earlier this season.

TOP OF THE CLASS:
The RoughRiders roster includes eight players ranked on either the MLBPipeline.com and/or Baseball America Rangers Top 30 Prospects list. LEWIS BRINSON, the No. 2 prospect in the Texas farm system according to MLBPipeline.com and Baseball America, returns to Frisco. He appeared in 28 games for the Riders last season, hitting .291 with six home runs and 23 RBI before being promoted to Round Rock. LUIS ORTIZ (No. 4 in MLBPipeline.com, No. 4 in BA) is the highest-ranked pitching prospect on the squad. Aside from Brinson and Ortiz, YOHANDER MENDEZ (13, 24), RYAN CORDELL (14, 11),EVAN VAN HOOSIER (18, 23),RONALD GUZMAN (22, 29), SAM WOLFF (26, NR), and CONNOR SADZECK (27, 26) rank among Texas’ top 30 prospects.

OPPOSING STARTER:
26-year-old Corey Baker makes the start against the RoughRiders tonight. The righty, in his fourth season with Springfield, has spent a large majority of his career coming out of the bullpen (124 of 160 career appearances have come in relief). This season, all 10 outings have come in a starter’s role. Baker, whose final five appearances last year were also starts, started the year 2-0 with a 1.33 ERA over the course of his first five starts, but is 0-3 with a 8.41 ERA in his last five games. His most recent start lasted just 1/3 of an inning after surrendering five runs (three earned) in a loss Tuesday at Midland. He makes his sixth career appearance (third start) against the RoughRiders tonight. He holds a 1-1 record with a career 6.14 ERA against Frisco, and his ERA at Dr Pepper Ballpark is 7.27 (7 ER / 8.2 IP).

 

May by the numbers

1 – Player promoted directly from Frisco to the Major Leagues (Matt Bush)

2 – Series sweeps (at San Antonio and Midland)

3Yu Darvish rehabilitation starts with the Riders

4 – Luis Ortiz‘s MLBPipeline.com ranking (added to the Riders roster on May 20)

5 – Home runs for Cordell (team-high)

6 – Comeback wins

– Wins over San Antonio

8 – RBI against Midland’s Trey Cochran-Gill (he is 0-3 in three relief appearances vs. Frisco)

– One-run games

10 – Margin of victory in an 11-1 win over San Antonio on May 23 (team-high)

13 – Strikeouts for Victor Payano on May 3 at San Antonio

14 – Extra-base hits for Ronald Guzman (team-high)

15 – Longest game (innings), Riders beat Midland 11-8 on May 17

17 – Ryan Cordell‘s Texas League-best hit streak (ended May 2)

18 – RBI for Cordell (team-high)

19 – Runs scored by Cordell (team-high)

37 – Cordell’s MiLB-best on-base streak (ended May 19)

42,767 – Largest crowd over a four-day period in team history (May 20-23)

11,842 – Largest crowd at Dr Pepper Ballpark (May 1), also the fourth-largest crowd in team history

050116 Darvish, Yu (Photo Credit - Frisco RoughRiders)

– Steve

Baseball term of the day: second guesser – One who habitually criticizes the players and their manager for specific actions. “The second guessers can always make the best guess” (Ty CobbBusting ‘Em and Other Big League Stories, 1914; Peter Morris)

(term from The Dickson Baseball Dictionary)

Saddle Up: Riders vs. Springfield (6/3/16)

GAME #52
Frisco RoughRiders (30-21) vs. Springfield Cardinals (29-24)
Friday, June 3 – 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
—————————————–
This series: Game 1 of 3
This season: Game 4 of 12 (Cardinals lead, 3-0)

FRISCO LINEUP

  1. Lewis Brinson – CF
  2. Shin-Soo Choo – DH
  3. Ronald Guzman – 1B
  4. Ryan Cordell – LF
  5. Preston Beck – RF
  6. Evan Van Hoosier – 2B
  7. Luis Mendez – SS
  8. Kellin Deglan – C
  9. Alberto Triunfel – 3B

RHP Sam Wolff (4-3, 5.12 ERA)

RIDERS RECAP: Wednesday DH vs. Tulsa (L, 4-0; L, 3-1)

Game 1:

Box Score
Recap

Game 2:

Box Score
Recap
Postgame Notes

PREGAME INTERVIEW: Minor League Infield Coordinator Kenny Holmberg

SETTING THE STAGE (full game notes here)

LAST TIME OUT:

Frisco’s series finale with Tulsa Thursday was rained out. The game will not be made up…On Wednesday, the RoughRiders lost both games in a doubleheader against Tulsa, 4-0 and 3-1…GAME ONE: Riders starter CONNOR SADZECK worked four scoreless innings to begin the game, but allowed a pair of runs in the fifth, including a solo homer from Paul Hoenecke…His counterpart, Brock Stewart, was dominant, working six scoreless innings, while allowing just one hit… GAME TWO: Both teams scored an early run, with Tyler Ogle launching a solo homer in the second, and the Riders tying the game in the third on a RBI double from LEWIS BRINSON…The game remained tied until the seventh, when reliever JOE FILOMENO issued three consecutive walks, including two with the bases loaded, to break the tie…The losses moved Frisco’s losing streak to eight games.

THE CHOO TRAIN ARRIVES IN FRISCO:

Rangers outfielder SHIN-SOO CHOO joins the RoughRiders tonight, beginning a rehab assignment. Choo is recovering from a left hamstring injury suffered May 20 in Houston, his first game back from a strained right calf injury earlier in the season. Choo is a career .281 hitter over his 12 years in Major League Baseball. He is expected to play with the RoughRiders tonight, Sunday, and Wednesday at San Antonio.

LOOKING UP FOR THE FIRST TIME:

With Frisco’s losses Wednesday and Corpus Christi’s sweep at Arkansas, the Riders are in second place in the South Division for the first time all season. They shared the top spot with Corpus Christi and Midland on the first day of the year, but held sole possession of first place for the next 54 days. The Riders still have a chance to control their own fate in the South Division, though, with five remaining first-half matchups against the Hooks and six more against third-place Midland.

NORTH DIVISION WOES:

After a 9-1 start to the season against North Division opponents, the RoughRiders have been on a skid against teams from the Texas League’s other division. Frisco has lost ten consecutive games against the North, with the last win coming in the first game of a home series against Arkansas on April 18. The Riders play their next three games against the North Division, all against the Cardinals, who swept the Riders in a three-game set at Hammons Field last weekend.

A STREAK OF CLOSE CALLS:

Despite being stuck in an eight-game losing streak, the RoughRiders have been competitive in all eight losses. Their four-run loss to Tulsa in game one Wednesday was the most lopsided loss of the skid. In the other seven losses, Frisco fell twice by one run, three times by two runs, and twice in three-run games. The RoughRiders are only averaging 1.4 runs per game during the losing streak, but are only allowing 3.3 runs per contest in that span.

SCORING POSITION STRUGGLES:

A big component of Frisco’s issues scoring runs on the losing streak has been the club’s failure to hit with runners in scoring position. The Riders are just 5-for-42 (.119) hitting with runners in scoring position during the losing streak, and the club is 2-for-its-last-30 (.067) in such at-bats. Prior to this losing skid, the club was hitting .322 (125-for-388) in those spots and are now hitting .302 for the year.

STARTERS STAYING STRONG:

While the offense has struggled on the current eight- game losing streak, Riders pitching – especially the starters – has been very effective as of late. Starting pitchers have worked at least five innings in all eight games on the current skid, with three quality starts (Sadzeck, Wolff, and Payano). No starters have allowed more than four earned runs during the current skid. In the eight games, the combined starter’s ERA is 3.60 (18 ER/45.0 IP).

ROARING RONALD GUZMAN:

Riders first baseman RONALD GUZMAN has gotten off to a torrid start this season. The slugger put together the first two-homer game of his career Saturday night, and his season-high nine game hitting streak ended Sunday. During the run, Guzman hit .400 (14-for-35) with five extra-base hits (2 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR) and 3 RBI. Of the nine games during the streak, four were multi-hit games, including a three hit-game on May 23 against the San Antonio Missions.

TRIO OF RIDERS EARN MONTHLY HONORS:

On May 19, three Riders were awarded monthly honors by the Rangers. RYAN CORDELL earned Player of the Month honors, while ISIAH KINER-FALEFA was named Defender of the Month. Left-hander RYNE SLACK garnered the Reliever of the Month award.

VIEW FROM THE TOP:

Frisco outfielder RYAN CORDELL has been one of the best offensive players in the league thus far. In addition to an impressive, league-best 37-game on-base streak earlier this year, he also leads the Texas League in numerous categories. The Riders outfielder tops the Texas League in RBI (40), runs (39), doubles (T-1st, 14), and extra-base hits (28). Cordell is also on the leaderboard in average (4th, .316), home runs (T-4th, 10), slugging percentage (3rd, .594), and triples (2nd, 4).

MULTI-HIT MADNESS:

Multi-hit performances have become a consistent trend up and down the Riders lineup this year. There have already been 108 multi-hit performances out of a possible 459 lineup spots (23.5%). 27 of the 108 multi-hit performances (25.0%) are with three or more hits. RONALD GUZMAN leads the Riders with 18 multi-hit games and is one of four players to have at least 10 games with two or more hits.

RANGER DANGER:

The RoughRiders aren’t the only Rangers affiliate with a winning record. Overall, the Rangers farm system is 122-89 (.578), which is the third-best winning percentage among all Minor League systems behind Cleveland and New York (AL). Every full-season affiliate in the organization has a record above .500, as Class A-Advanced High Desert enters the day at 33- 21, Class A Hickory is 30-23, and Triple-A Round Rock is 29-24. Round Rock was recently ranked the fifth-best Minor League team (any level) by MLB.com’s Jim Callis.

TOP OF THE CLASS:

The RoughRiders roster includes eight players ranked on either the MLBPipeline.com and/or Baseball America Rangers Top 30 Prospects list. LEWIS BRINSON, the No. 2 prospect in Rangers’ farm system according to MLBPipeline.com and Baseball America, returns to Frisco. He appeared in 28 games for the Riders last season, hitting .291 with six home runs and 23 RBI before being promoted to Round Rock. LUIS ORTIZ (No. 4 in MLBPipeline.com, No. 4 in BA) is the highest-ranked pitching prospect on the squad. Aside from Brinson and Ortiz, YOHANDER MENDEZ (13, 24), RYAN CORDELL (14, 11), EVAN VAN HOOSIER (18, 23), RONALD GUZMAN (22, 29), SAM WOLFF (26, NR), and CONNOR SADZECK (27, 26) rank among Rangers top 30 prospects.

OPPOSING STARTER:

The Cardinals surprised some in 2014, making today’s starter Andrew Morales, who had gone undrafted every year from 2010-2013, their second- round selection out of UC Irvine as a senior in 2014. As a collegiate pitcher, he went 42-3 between Rio Hondo Community College and UC Irvine and was the DI leaded in strikeouts (141) before the start of the College World Series, helping the Anteaters to the series. Entering the season, Morales was ranked the 30th-best prospect in the Cardinals farm system by MLBPipeline.com. He faces the Riders for the second time in a week, after working seven impressive innings in a victory against the RoughRiders Sunday at Hammons Field…Repertoire: works with a 89-93 mph fastball, a 79-82 mph slider, and a changeup with a high arm slot and some deception.

Riding Through the Farm: June 3

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

TEXAS RANGERS (31-22, T-1st place, AL West)

The Rangers have won four consecutive series and seven of their last eight. The team returns home tonight after taking two of three from the Indians in Cleveland this week.

Yu Darvish is slated to make his second MLB start of the season against the Seattle Mariners. This is the beginning of a seven-game homestand for the Rangers, who host four contests against the Houston Astros next week after three against Seattle this weekend. The Rangers are currently tied with the Mariners for first place in the American League West.

Tonight: vs. Seattle, 7:05 p.m. CT (SP: RHP Yu Darvish)

TRIPLE-A ROUND ROCK EXPRESS (29-24, 2nd, PCL American Southern Division)

The Express trail Nashville by 3 1/2 games in the PCL American Southern Division but have a chance to make up some ground when they close out a four-game series tonight. Round Rock leads the series 2-1 heading into the series finale.

After tonight’s game, Round Rock returns home for a four-game set against Oklahoma City in the first of 14 home games this month.

Tonight: at Nashville, 7:05 p.m. CT (SP: RHP Chi Chi Gonzalez)

CLASS-A ADVANCED HIGH DESERT MAVERICKS (33-21, 1st, California League South Division)

The Mavericks have taken sole possession of first place from Rancho Cucamonga in the California League South Division. High Desert do not play the Quakes again in the first half. The Mavericks have one game against Modesto, four against Inland Empire and Stockton, and seven against Lake Elsinore remaining on the schedule.

Travis Demeritte still leads the circuit with 13 home runs and 43 runs scored. Outfielder Scott Heineman is the only player hitting above the .300 mark, with a .312 average in 52 games played.

Tonight: vs. Modesto, 9:05 p.m. CT (SP: RHP Adam Quintana)

CLASS-A HICKORY CRAWDADS (30-23, 3rd, South Atlantic League Northern Division)

Despite having the fourth-best record in the 14-team circuit, the Crawdads are in third place in the North Division, four games behind the first-place Hagerstown Suns.

After getting rained out two days in a row and then dropping both games in a June 1 doubleheader, Hickory bounced back with a road victory over Lakewood last night, thanks to Andy Ibanez‘s two-run homer in the fourth inning. The Crawdads trio of Erik Swanson, Wes Benjamin, and John Werner held the BlueClaws scoreless.

Tonight: at Lakewood, 6:05 p.m. CT (SP: RHP Dillon Tate)

– Steve

Baseball term of the day: choke sign – Grabbing or clutching the neck, or wrapping a towel around the throat, indicating that an umpire or player has lost his nerve or failed in a crucial situation.

(term from The Dickson Baseball Dictionary

2016 Texas League All-Star Game, featuring the best player names

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With the Texas League All-Star Game coming up on June 28 in Springfield, it is time to start considering who will be representing the North and South Division squads this year.

Surely, many players have put up All-Star Game-worthy numbers. However, we are completely disregarding statistics in this blog post and focusing solely on awesome names alone.

Here is a list of what I consider to be the best names by position in the Texas League from the North and South Divisions. (* = not on team’s active roster as of June 1)

From the North Division…

Catcher: *Anthony Bemboom (Arkansas)

First Baseman: Frank Schwindel (Northwest Arkansas)

Second baseman: Breyvic Valera (Springfield)

Third baseman: Brandon Trinkwon (Tulsa)

Shortstop: *Erisbel Arruebarrena (Tulsa)

Outfielder: Bo Way (Arkansas)

Outfielder: *Orlando Calixte (Northwest Arkansas)

Outfielder: Kyle Garlick (Tulsa)

Designated Hitter: Jacob Scavuzzo (Tulsa)

Pitcher: *Alan Busenitz (Arkansas)

Pitcher: Daniel Poncedeleon (Springfield)

Pitcher: Ralston Cash (Tulsa)

Pitcher: Tim Shibuya (Tulsa)

Pitcher: Ronnie Shaban (Springfield)

Pitcher: *Estarlin Cordero (Northwest Arkansas)

From the South Division…

Catcher: *Rocky Gale (San Antonio)

First Baseman: Conrad Gregor (Corpus Christi)

Second baseman: Evan Van Hoosier (Frisco)

Third baseman: *Isiah Kiner-Falefa (Frisco)

Shortstop: *River Stevens (San Antonio)

Outfielder: Teoscar Hernandez (Corpus Christi)

Outfielder: Danny Oh (Midland)

Outfielder: Brett Vertigan (Midland)

Designated Hitter: Chan-Jong Moon (Corpus Christi)

Pitcher: Keegan Yuhl (Corpus Christi)

Pitcher: Cy Sneed (Corpus Christi)

Pitcher: *Reymin Guduan (Corpus Christi)

Pitcher: Ryne Slack (Frisco)

Pitcher: Trey Cochran-Gill (Midland)

Pitcher: Jose Valdespina (Frisco)

– Steve

Baseball term of the day: jam sandwich – Throwing a pitch near the batter’s fists with a fastball.

(term from The Dickson Baseball Dictionary

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