Results tagged ‘ Alexi Ogando ’
Opening Day for the Frisco RoughRiders is this Thursday, but former Riders players will have a presence in nearly every Opening Day contest at the start of the 2015 Major League Baseball season. There are 33 former RoughRiders on the Opening Day active rosters of 16 different MLB teams this season, highlighted by the big league debuts of 2014 Frisco players Keone Kela and Odubel Herrera.
The Texas Rangers have an MLB-high 12 former RoughRiders on their roster, with Kela making his first appearance on a major league roster. He is expected to be a member of the Texas bullpen for tonight’s season opener in Oakland. The 21-year-old right-handed pitcher was promoted to Frisco on May 3, 2014 and spent the remainder of the season as a RoughRider. Kela posted a 2-1 record with five saves and a 1.86 ERA in 36 Texas League appearances in 2014, registering a 55:27 strikeout-to-walk ratio and a .162 opponents’ batting average in 38.2 innings. He did not allow an earned run in 30 of his last 32 regular season outings and twice compiled streaks of 14 consecutive scoreless appearances. Kela was the Rangers’ 12th round selection in the 2012 First-Year Player Draft out of Everett (Wash.) Community College.
Herrera is expected to be the Philadelphia Phillies’ everyday centerfielder when the Phillies open the season this afternoon at home against Boston. A Rule 5 Draft selection by Philadelphia in the off-season, Herrera spent the bulk of the past two seasons as a second baseman with the RoughRiders.
He won the Texas League batting crown last year with a .321 average, 13 points higher than second place. In 96 games with the Riders, Herrera compiled 16 doubles, four triples, two home runs and 48 runs batted in. The left-handed batter was named a Texas League Postseason and Mid-Season All-Star last year; he was also a Mid-Season TL All-Star in 2013. A native of Zulia, Venezuela, Herrera was signed by the Rangers as a non-drafted free agent in 2008.
Twelve of the of the 15 Opening Day games scheduled for last night and today feature a former RoughRider on the 25-man roster of at least one team. Since 2003, Frisco has sent 128 former players to the big leagues (not including Major League rehabbers).
FULL LIST OF FORMER ROUGHRIDERS ON MLB OPENING DAY ACTIVE ROSTERS
Texas Rangers (12)
- SS Elvis Andrus
- RHP Neftali Feliz
- LHP Derek Holland
- RHP Keone Kela (MLB debut)
- RHP Phil Klein
- OF Leonys Martin
- RHP Nick Martinez
- RHP Roman Mendez
- 1B/OF Mitch Moreland
- 2B Rougned Odor
- OF Ryan Rua
- Jake Smolinski
Chicago Cubs (4)
- RHP Justin Grimm
- RHP Kyle Hendricks
- 3B Mike Olt
- RHP Neil Ramirez
Boston Red Sox (2)
- RHP Alexi Ogando
- LHP Robbie Ross, Jr.
Kansas City Royals (2)
- RHP Edinson Volquez
- RHP Chris Young
Oakland Athletics (2)
- RHP Jesse Chavez
- OF Craig Gentry
Baltimore Orioles (1)
- RHP Tommy Hunter
Cincinnati Reds (1)
- RHP Jumbo Diaz
Chicago White Sox (1)
- RHP John Danks
Detroit Tigers (1)
- Ian Kinsler
Houston Astros (1)
- RHP Scott Feldman
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (1)
- LHP C.J. Wilson
New York Mets (1)
- OF John Mayberry, Jr.
Philadelphia Phillies (1)
- OF Odubel Herrera (MLB debut)
San Francisco Giants (1)
- 3B Joakim Arias
Toronto Blue Jays (1)
- Justin Smoak
Washington Nationals (1)
- Tanner Roark
This article originally appeared in the March 21 edition of SportsPage Weekly, which is a free publication available throughout the Metroplex. To view the article in the online edition, click here.
There are very few “sure things” in life, but when it comes to local sports and entertainment options, the Frisco RoughRiders are just about as close to a sure thing as you can get. Year after year, Dr Pepper Ballpark hosts exciting baseball action, premium prospects and fun for the whole family. Ask anyone who has ever been to a RoughRiders game and they’ll tell you how memorable the experience is.
It’s almost hard to believe, but the RoughRiders will soon begin their 12th season on April 3 at home against the Northwest Arkansas Naturals (Kansas City Royals affiliate). In honor of a dozen years of Frisco baseball, we present the top 12 reasons to catch the RoughRiders in action this season at Dr Pepper Ballpark.
#12 – A winning tradition
Everybody loves a winner. And over the past decade the RoughRiders have been one of the most consistent winners in Minor League Baseball. In 2013, Frisco finished with a 70-70 record, its eighth consecutive season with a .500 or better mark on the ledger. The last time Frisco finished with a losing record was the only time in team history: back in 2005, when the team finished 58-82. The streak of non-losing seasons is by far the longest in the Texas League; every other team in the circuit has had at least one losing season in the last three years. The streak is the longest in Double-A and the third-longest among all 120 full-season minor league clubs, exceeded only by the Triple-A Sacramento River Cats (11 straight non-losing seasons) and the Advanced-A San Jose Giants (ten). Including teams that play in short-season leagues, Frisco’s streak is the sixth longest; the Elizabethton Twins (25), Brooklyn Cyclones (13) and AZL Giants (13) have the longest such streaks in stateside Minor League Baseball.
#11 – History in the making
Baseball fans appreciate the sport’s history and tradition, and the Texas League plays an important role in the lineage of the game. The RoughRiders and their fans belong to a storied Texas League pedigree that dates back to 1888 (the American League was founded in 1901). A game at Dr Pepper Ballpark is more than just a chance to contribute to baseball’s history; it affords fans the opportunity to witness history as it happens. Notable Texas League alumni span the generations and include Major League Hall of Famers Roberto Alomar, Dizzy Dean, Joe Morgan and Whitey Herzog. It is a legacy furthered by many stars in the game today who also enjoyed success in the Texas League. Current Rangers Shin-Soo Choo and Elvis Andrus had All-Star seasons in the Texas League in 2004 and 2008, respectively. Outside the organization, an impressive crop of recent alumni continue to cultivate the Texas League brand as their big league careers flourish. The Texas League footprint extends across the Major League map and features young stars Mike Trout, Matt Adams, Matt Carpenter, Lance Lynn, Jean Segura and numerous others.
#10 – Rehabbing Rangers
Players, coaches and fans dislike injuries, but they remain an inevitable component of any professional game. For a major league club, the inconvenience of an in-season malady is lessened—somewhat—when an affiliate team plays in the neighborhood. No one in Frisco hopes for a rehab assignment, but when a Rangers’ regular tweaks a calf or strains a wrist, Dr Pepper Ballpark provides a two-fold benefit for both the player and the fan. Players can stay in the Metroplex to nurse an injury and play in an atmosphere that approximates a big league ballgame. On the other hand, fans receive a unique opportunity to view their favorite Rangers in a more intimate setting and at an affordable cost. A total of 13 Rangers players donned a RoughRiders’ cap for a rehab assignment in 2013, including pitcher Matt Harrison, who unfortunately started as many games for Frisco (two) as he did for Texas. Rehab assignments rarely occur with much forewarning, but thanks to Derek Holland’s dog, Wrigley, the southpaw has likely already booked a stint with the RoughRiders in 2014. Make sure you’re in the stands when the Rangers’ rehabbers visit Dr Pepper Ballpark.
#9 – A new skipper
For the first time in five years, someone other than Steve Buechele will write out Frisco’s lineup card. With Buechele managing the Rangers’ Triple-A club this season, Jason Wood steps into the role for the RoughRiders in 2014. Wood, a five-year major leaguer and veteran of 18 professional seasons as a player, will begin his fourth season as a manager in the Texas farm system. The 44-year-old spent the previous three years as the skipper for Advanced-A Myrtle Beach. He led the Pelicans to the playoffs in all three campaigns and looks to get the ’Riders back to the postseason this year. While Wood is a fresh face in the dugout, the rest of his coaching staff will remain in place from the last two seasons. Jeff Andrews returns as the team’s pitching coach following a season in which Frisco’s hurlers collectively set numerous team records. This past offseason, Andrews was honored the co-recipient of the Rangers’ annual Bobby Jones Player Development Man of the Year award. Jason Hart will begin his third season as Frisco’s hitting coach and his instruction has been lauded for helping former RoughRiders Jurickson Profar, Mike Olt, Leury Garcia, Chris McGuiness and Engel Beltre all reach the major leagues over the past two seasons.
#8 – Affordability
One of the charms of Minor League Baseball is getting a big league experience without paying a premium price. RoughRiders games are no different because the team strives to make sure everyone can afford to watch games at Dr Pepper Ballpark. It can be a major strain on the wallet to attend other professional sporting events. The average cost for a family of four to attend a Major League Baseball game is approximately $208; for an NFL game that number is $444, with the NBA checking in at $442 and the NHL at $355. That figure for a Minor League Baseball game? Just $61. With RoughRiders tickets starting at just $7 (less than the cost of a movie theater ticket), attending a game at Dr Pepper Ballpark is very much accessible. But say you’re interested in getting even more value at the ballpark. The RoughRiders offer affordable ticket plans that include all-you-can-eat food and drink, and even packages that include alcohol. These value-based ticket plans make attending games in Frisco possible without denting your bank account.
#7 – The other guys aren’t too shabby either
Tomorrow’s stars play today in the Texas League and 2014 is no exception. The RoughRiders will welcome a host of talent from around the circuit to Dr Pepper Ballpark this season, many of whom are ranked on the MLB.com Top 100 Prospects list. The Tulsa Drillers figure to field a strong pitching rotation bolstered by top 50 prospects Jon Gray (#14) and Eddie Butler (#41). Both pitchers bring high-octane velocity to the Drillers’ staff and can touch the upper 90s on the radar gun. Catcher Austin Hedges (#24) of the San Antonio Missions is rated as the second-highest prospect at his position by MLB.com. His strong arm and good footwork behind the plate will give would-be base stealers second thoughts. Kyle Zimmer (#25), the number five overall pick in the 2012 amateur draft, is expected to start the season with the Northwest Arkansas. The Royals promoted Zimmer to Double-A late last season where he held a 1.93 ERA through four starts with the Naturals. Position players to watch for elsewhere in the Texas League include speedy leadoff hitter Delino DeShields (#66) of the Corpus Christi Hooks, Jorge Bonifacio (#91) of the Naturals and gifted batter Stephen Piscotty (#98) of the Springfield Cardinals. Every mentioned player has big league potential.
#6 – You won’t be the only one cheering
The vocal and expressive fan will find a home at Dr Pepper Ballpark. For nine consecutive seasons, the RoughRiders have led all 30 Double-A teams in total and average attendance. More than half-a-million fans routinely fill Dr Pepper Ballpark every season and the team averages better than 7,000 fans per game. Not only is that the best in Double-A, but it’s also higher than 17 Triple-A teams! On 21 occasions in 2013, the ’Riders drew crowds of more than 10,000. Frisco’s fan base is second to none and players say the crowds enhance the in-game environment more than anywhere else in the Texas League. Bring a sign, be loud and shout until your voice goes out. You won’t be cheering alone.
#5 – More than just peanuts and Cracker Jack
RoughRiders cuisine far outstrips traditional ballpark fare. Sure, fans can still fill up to the gills on foot-long hot dogs and brats from Smokie’s Sausage Shack, but Dr Pepper Ballpark serves something for any palate. The new Beer & Barbeque stand will cook in-house, smoked Texas barbeque favorites while Lone Star Pizza offers a wide range of personal style pies. Deep-fried Oreos grace the à la carte lineup for the first time this season, and for those in search of a healthy option, Greek yogurt is also available. Of course, many Frisco fan favorites will be back on the menu as well, from fresh-spun cotton candy and funnel cakes to snow cones and freshly squeezed lemonade. Of course, few things taste better on a hot Texas night than a cold serving of Dippin’ Dots. It’s never summer without great food, great drinks and RoughRiders baseball.
#4 – An arsenal of arms
For the best pitching this side of Yu Darvish and Arlington, Dr Pepper Ballpark is the place to be. The RoughRiders will rely on their mound men to bolster the franchise’s quest for an eighth playoff berth. Right-hander Luke Jackson is expected to lead the group in 2014. The fireballer started the previous season with Advanced-A Myrtle Beach and made his RoughRiders’ debut on August 4, 2013. He didn’t miss a beat in Double-A and finished the season with 134 combined strikeouts at both Myrtle Beach and Frisco and held the eighth-lowest ERA among all full season minor league pitchers (2.04). Those numbers were a big reason why the Rangers named Jackson the club’s 2013 Minor League Pitcher of the Year. Alex Claudio figures to take the reins from Jackson and the starters as a key piece in the RoughRiders’ bullpen in 2014. The deceptive Claudio fools batters with his changeup and was named the Rangers’ Minor League Reliever of the Year last season. Another burgeoning prospect, Alex Gonzalez, hopes to excite the Frisco faithful this year. Don’t call him Alex, though. Gonzalez prefers the nickname “Chi Chi,” given by a family member. Baseball America rates the 2013 first round draft pick as the number six prospect in the Rangers’ organization. Fans on the wild side will anticipate the return of eight-year veteran Kevin Pucetas as he unleashes his newly developed knuckleball pitch on the diamond this season. Other highly-ranked pitchers that are expected to see time in Frisco this season include Alec Asher, Nick Martinez and Jerad Eickhoff.
#3 – Rougned Odor
Because the makeup of minor league teams are up to the discretion of the parent club, you never know who will be on the Opening Day roster until very late in spring training. That is typically the case with the RoughRiders, but one player who looks very likely to be with the team on April 3 is second baseman Rougned Odor. The Venezuelan with the memorable name is the Rangers’ top-ranked prospect according to Baseball America and he showed why during a 30-game stint with Frisco at the end of the 2013 season. Odor was promoted to Double-A in early August and hit .306/.354/.530 with six home runs, eight doubles, two triples and 19 RBI. And he did all of that as just a 19-year-old, the youngest player in Double-A. (Projecting those numbers out over a 140-game season, he would have hit 28 homers with 37 doubles, nine triples and 89 RBI.) Now 20, Odor spent the first half of spring training in big league camp and hopes to use that experience to further propel his ascension to the major leagues. For the time being, however, the spunky infielder with the big bat is expected to ply his trade at Dr Pepper Ballpark.
#2 – Family-friendly entertainment
The RoughRiders are well-known for making trips to Dr Pepper Ballpark about more than just the game on the field. The atmosphere on game nights is a blast, even for folks who aren’t big baseball fans. The RoughRiders employ a full-time entertainment director whose sole job is to make sure that families have fun when visiting the ballpark. From spectacular fireworks shows following every Friday night home game to a collection of more than 180 hilarious on-field skits and promotions that rotate throughout the season, there is something fun for everyone who comes to a game. Dr Pepper Ballpark even features a pool in right field and two playgrounds (including one specifically designed for two-to-five-year-olds). And for a lot of fans, their favorite RoughRiders aren’t ones you might see in Arlington someday – they are Deuce and Daisy, the team’s loveable mascots.
#1 – The home of future Rangers
With Odor and a tremendous pitching staff leading the way, there should be another impressive assortment of talent on display at Dr Pepper Ballpark this season. This has been the norm in each of the RoughRiders’ first 11 seasons in Frisco, and with the Rangers’ relentless pursuit of building a winning organization from top-to-bottom, don’t look for that trend to change anytime soon. Since 2003, 107 former RoughRiders have reached the major leagues, almost one-third of all Frisco players. In 2013, ten former ’Riders made the big leagues, including Nick Tepesch, Beltre, Garcia and McGuiness. One look at the Rangers’ 40-man roster shows that half of its members played in Frisco. Elvis Andrus, Harrison, Alexi Ogando, Holland, Leonys Martin, Profar, Neftali Feliz, Mitch Moreland, Tanner Scheppers and Martin Perez are just a few of the Texas stalwarts who once wore a RoughRiders uniform. Outside of the Rangers organization, All-Stars such as Ian Kinsler, Chris Davis, Adrian Gonzalez and C.J. Wilson all spent time in Frisco as well.
With the RoughRiders, fans get winning baseball, exciting prospects, delicious food, affordable family fun and the future of the Texas Rangers on display. It all shows that the Frisco RoughRiders continue to be a sure thing for families and sports fans across the Metroplex.
The RoughRiders spent ten days in April in first place in the Texas League South Division. After a 14-11 first month, the ‘Riders entered May in second place and only one game back of Corpus Christi. The team improved in May, going 18-11, yet spent just one day in first (May 4, tied for first at 17-12) and finished the month two games behind the Hooks who went 19-10 during May. Two games into June, with 14 games to play in the first half, Frisco sits three games back now, tied for the furthest out of first the team has been all season long and the first time they have been this far behind since May 15.
Texas League Rankings for the Month of May
Record: 32-22 overall, 18-11 in May (2nd in Texas League), home: 10-5, road: 8-6, vs. division: 10-9
Runs: 125 (4th)
Average: .247 (6th)
On-base percentage: .306 (7th)
Stolen bases: 38 (2nd)
Home runs: 32 (T-2nd)
ERA: 4.12 (5th)*
Strikeouts for: 255 (1st)
Walks allowed: 114 (T-7th)
Avg attendance for the year: 7315 (1st)**
|RIDERS REVIEW||Record||Runs||AVG||OBP||SB||HR||ERA||K||BB||Avg. Att. TD|
|TL IN MAY||Record||Runs||AVG||OBP||SB||HR||ERA||K||BB||Avg. Att. TD|
*Frisco 4.121, Corpus 4.116
**Attendance numbers as of June 3, 2013 so are slightly in addition to May totals
Carlos Pimentel earned Texas League Pitcher of the Week this month, but two players stood out in front of him in May.
‘Riders Slugger of the Month
Brett Nicholas (.340/.410/.650, 22 R, 8 2B, 1 3B, 7 HR, 18 RBI, 9 BB, 0 SB)
The self-proclaimed non-home run hitter blasted a team-leading seven long balls in the month of May. In fact, no one else has seven all season (Teodoro Martinez, honorable mention for Slugger of the Month has six this season including five in May). Nicholas led the RoughRiders in batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, runs scored, home runs and tied for the most RBI (18 – w/ Chih-Hsien Chiang). His eight doubles trailed only Chiang who clubbed ten in May. Entering June, he trails just three Texas Leaguers in home runs and RBI and is third in runs scored. Nicholas scored at least one run in 13 of the 18 ‘Riders wins in May and drove in runs in ten of those 18.
‘Riders Hurler of the Month
Ben Rowen (1-0, 0.55 ERA, 4/4 SV/SVO, 16.1 IP, 13 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 0 HRA, 19 K, 4 BB, 0 HB, 1.04 WHIP, .220 BAA)
Had Carlos Pimentel not finished the month with his worst outing of the season, he might have been the selection, but it is hard to argue with honoring Rowen. Not only was Rowen dominant, but he was asked to throw more often than anyone else on the club and still did not falter. Rowen’s 15 appearances were most in the month of May not only by a RoughRiders pitcher, but all of the Texas League (Matt Stites and Kevin Quackenbush of San Antonio were second with 14). In fact, only Mitch Stetter of the Salt Lake Bees (Triple-A LAA) made more appearances in May (16) than Rowen among all affiliated minor leaguers (excludes the Triple-A Mexican League). Only a half-dozen Major Leaguers made more. Twice on the most recent homestand Rowen came into a bases-loaded jam in the ninth inning and got the job done. The only times he was scored upon came on May 1, when he allowed an unearned run on a single after San Antonio got a single, a stolen base, and a throwing error to put Anthony Contreras at third base. The other time came in a 7-1 ballgame on May 6 in the ninth. He finished May unscored upon in 12 straight outings and has run the streak to 13 in June with his scoreless outing this past Sunday.
Official Texas League Players of the Week:
Punching Bag of the Month
San Antonio SS Jeudy Valdez
Valdez put together a spectacular month of May, hitting .320 (9th in the TL), with 11 XBH, 13 RBI, and four stolen bases. His .320 batting clip is his best average for a month in his two seasons with the Missions (excluding a .364 effort in the three-game 2012 September). If it weren’t for the RoughRiders, the Dominican shortstop might have been the best player in the league in May. He went just 4-for-25 (.160) against Frisco in May. Two of those hits were doubles, but it hardly makes up for his lack of production against ‘Riders pitching. Valdez hit .375 against the rest of the Texas League. To add insult to injury, Valdez committed three of his six May errors against Frisco, two of which came in a 3-1 RoughRiders win on May 2. Those two blunders led to two unearned runs in the two-run contest.
Best Moment of the Month
Frisco hits six home runs vs Tulsa – May 31, 2013 – Just barely squeezing into the month of May, this game was, without a doubt, the most of headline-filled contest of the season to date. Alexi Ogando made his only rehab start for the Rangers, and it took him just 54 pitches to get 18 outs. He threw 12 pitches in the first two innings combined, but the offense stole the spotlight. First, Joe Benson hit a home run in his first at-bat of the ballgame, his fourth in six games with the RoughRiders. In the fourth, Chih-Hsien Chiang, Ryan Strausborger, and Odubel Herrera hit back-to-back-to-back home runs off Drillers starter Christian Bergman. In ten starts, Bergman had allowed six home runs this season and never more than one in any outing. He served up five in six innings against the ‘Riders on this day. Teodoro Martinez finished him off with his sixth home run, a fifth long ball of May, with a one-out solo blast in the fifth inning. Martinez’ career high in home runs is six, and he nearly eclipsed that mark in the month alone. For Herrera, it was his first home run on the season and first in 53 games. Then, off the bullpen, in his first game back from the disabled list, Mike Olt blasted a home run that landed in the seats so quickly he was probably still in the batter’s box when it left the yard.
Bonus award: The You-Say-This-is-a-Summer-Sport Award
On Thursday, May 2, the RoughRiders hosted the San Antonio Missions in 45 degrees. Well, that was the game-time temperature…officially. Some websites reported 41 or 42 degrees. Wind chill was in the 30s. Steve Buechele wore a jacket to coach third base for the first time in his career: “that was the coldest game, by far” since he joined the Texas League as a manager in 2009. Just as incredibly, Frisco won the game despite the fact that Ryan Rodebaugh was making his first career start. He pitched well enough but not long enough for the win, firing three scoreless, one-hit innings. Frisco surrendered just one hit in the 3-1 win.
How did the prospects do?
Frisco’s Opening Day Roster contained six prospects in the Baseball America Rangers Organization top 30: RHP Cody Buckel (8), RHP Roman Mendez (13), IF Hanser Alberto (15), RHP Wilmer Font (22), RHP Neil Ramirez (23) and RHP Randy Henry (29). Joe Benson, ranked 19th in the Minnesota Twins organization by Baseball America to open the season, joined the RoughRiders in late May.
Cody Buckel – Buckel made one appearance in May before leaving the club for extended spring training. The right-hander was moved to the bullpen after an 0-4 record with an 18.00 ERA in five starts. He made one outing out of the ‘pen that proved a relief role would not solve his 2013 issues (0.1 IP, 1 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 3 BB, 1 WP). He has been in Arizona since.
Roman Mendez – Mendez didn’t allow an earned run in April. He began May with four innings of perfect relief work before finally being touched up for his first blemish to his ERA on May 10 against Corpus Christi. After three more scoreless outings, he ran into his toughest appearance of the year. In the eighth inning of an already-out-of-hand contest in Springfield on May 22, the first three batters reached off the Dominican right-hander. He allowed four runs on three hits and two walks in the frame. On May 28, Mendez threw nine straight balls. After the ninth consecutive toss out of the zone, he bent over in pain and subsequently left the ball game. Days later, he had season-ending surgery to a stress-fracture in his right elbow, the same surgery that ended his 2012 season.
- Hanser Alberto – Hanser came streaking into the month of May in the midst of an eight-game stretch that took his average from .228 to .298 to finish April. On May 1, the ‘Riders shortstop was hitting .298. On June 1 he was hitting .224. It wasn’t a good month for Alberto (.162/.229/.232). Although he did hit his first two Double-A homers, he also committed six errors in the month.
Wilmer Font – Like most of the Frisco staff, May was not as kind as April for Font. Hard to improve upon his April though (0.83 ERA, 0.73 WHIP). Over nine appearances, Font collected four saves with a 2.45 ERA. Over his eleven innings, he allowed eight hits and walked 12 for a 1.81 WHIP, indicating that Wilmer was a bit lucky during May. The good news is that all three of his earned runs came in one outing (5/18 vs SA: 0.2 IP, 3 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 0 K). For the first time this season, however, Font his 100 mph on the radar gun, doing so to close the combined one-hit shutout against Springfield on May 23.
Neil Ramirez – Ramirez looked like the Arlington-bound, hard-throwing, hammer-curve hurling right-hander of 2011 this April. He looked mortal this past month, but there are still encouraging signs. Despite being hit much harder in May (.209 BAA May; .130 BAA April), Ramirez allowed just 6.4 H/9 innings in May, which is in-line with his fantastic 2011 stint with the ‘Riders. He walked fewer batters as well (14 BB in 33.2 IP May; 15 BB 24.1 IP April). The biggest difference was the home run ball. Nothing left the yard against Ramirez in April, while five of the 24 hits he allowed in May were homers. He is still allowing home runs at a respectable level this season, you just hope that May is not the beginning of a downward trend in that category. Looking his FanGraphs page, it seems Neil had trouble getting men out when had to pitch out of the stretch last season (50.9 % LOB). He is doing a better job of that this season, although the .240 BABIP seems unsustainable.
Randy Henry – Henry didn’t allow an earned run in April. He pitched twice in May and both times gave up an earned run. The more alarming part of that sentence is that he pitched just twice in May. He has been out with injury and was placed on the disabled list in mid-May. He seems far from returning as well. He has yet to begin throwing off a mound.
Joe Benson – Not officially on the top 30 list of Rangers prospects by Baseball America, he probably would be if on the Rangers 40-man roster to begin the season. Benson hit just .162 with four extra-base hits (0 HR) in May for the Rochester Red Wings (Triple-A MIN). Four days after he played his last game as a Twins farmhand, he homered in his first game as a Texas minor leaguer. Claimed off of waivers by Texas on May 25 and assigned to Frisco, Benson homered in his first three games as a RoughRider from May 26-28. In his first six games with Frisco, Benson went 7-for-18 (.389), clubbed four home runs, a triple, drove in six, and walked twice. The outfielder who is out of options is off to a great beginning in his fresh start. You can learn more about Joe’s story from our post on him last week.
Happy June and go RoughRiders!
Baseball term of the day: subway slinger – submariner; a pitcher who throws underhand or sidearm
(term from The Dickson Baseball Dictionary)
Rangers’ starter Alexi Ogando will make the start for the RoughRiders in tonight’s game against the Tulsa Drillers. The 29-year-old is currently on the Rangers 15-day disabled list with right biceps tendinitis.
In the past three years, Ogando has played a dominant role on the Rangers’ pitching staff. However, his path to Arlington has been unique and bizarre.
Ogando’s road to the Rangers:
In 2005, Alexi Ogando was selected by the Rangers from Oakland in the minor league phase of the 2005 Rule 5 Draft. He was an outfielder in the Oakland system, but was instantly converted to pitcher with the Rangers.
Caught up in a marriage-visa scam in the Dominican Republic with former Rangers right-hander Omar Beltre, guilty of gullible involvement before Texas acquired him, Ogando was essentially quarantined in the Dominican for five years after joining the organization. Around 30 Dominican players were involved in the scam, promised $5,000 by a Dominican crime syndicate to agree to a sham marriage to women they didn’t know. The women would then gain entry into the US with their newly acquired visas and obtain divorces shortly after arriving.
In his five years stuck in the Dominican, Alexi pitched for the Rangers’ Dominican Summer League clubs in 2006 and 2007. He didn’t pitch in 2008 but was back on a DSL mound in 2009, making 10 appearances in July and August.
In Februrary 2010, the U.S. State Department notified the Rangers that the Dominican right-handers had been provided waivers allowing them to apply for work visas. All immigration restraints to their entry into the United States were also removed. The two prospects reportedly spent their last year in the Dominican speaking publicly to educate citizens about these human trafficking scams.
Then-Rangers Assistant GM Thad Levine reportedly played a significant role in the process from the organization’s side. Ogando and Beltre were top-tier prospects, but at age 26 and 28 respectively, pitching dominantly for five years against largely overmatched Dominican Summer League competition, their ability to get outs against major league batters in the US could have been an issue in the MLB. Texas kept both on the restricted list for three years (adding Ogando to the 40-man roster before doing so in his case) rather than moving on, as all other clubs did with the other 30 Dominican players around the league caught up in the scandal.
Ogando’s Career with the Rangers:
Ogando is in his fourth season with the Rangers and second season as a member of the starting rotation. He has appeared in 142 major league games with 39 starts, with a record of 23-11 and a 3.12 ERA.
The Dominican right-hander made nine starts this season for Texas with a 4-2 record and a 3.08 ERA before heading to the disabled list on May 16 with right biceps tendonitis. In 50 innings this season, the converted outfielder has 37 strikeouts and 19 walks.
He was a member of the RoughRiders in 2010, a year he finished in Arlington making 44 appearances out of the bullpen for the Rangers in his rookie season. As a RoughRiders hurler, he made seven outings, including three starts.
In two years of post season play, Ogando has gone 2-0 with a 2.37 ERA in 19 innings pitched. He was particularly effective in the 2011 series against the Tigers, going 2-0 in four games pitching 7.2 innings allowing one run on three hits and striking out ten.
Baseball Term of the Day: rainmaker- a very high pop fly, usually in the infield
We interrupt today’s edition of “Nolan Ryan Talk” to bring you the latest development involving the guys who are actually on the field: last night the Rangers announced the signing of veteran pitcher Derek Lowe to a minor league deal. Lowe split last year between the rotation and bullpen for the Indians and Yankees, going 9-11 with a 5.11 ERA and one save in 38 games, 21 starts. The big sinkerballer has bounced around the last few seasons, but is best known for being one of the chief “idiots” on the 2004 World Series-winning Boston Red Sox, earning the clinching win in all three series that post-season.
While he’s not on the Rangers’ 40-man roster at the moment, you would have to think he’s a at least a decent bet to make the club out of spring training given his versatility, the team’s lack of experienced middle relievers, and the fact that the Rangers were facing the prospects of going into a season without a pitcher named “Lowe” for the first time in four years (Mark signed a minor league deal with the Dodgers last month).
As someone who grew up in the Boston area and remembers when Dan Duquette pulled off one of the greatest heists in big league history – trading Heathcliff Slocumb for Lowe and some guy named Jason Varitek – I have a special place in my heart for the Michigan native. I watched him go back-and-forth from the starting rotation to the closer spot and have success in both positions, pitch a no-hitter in 2002 against the Devil Rays, and put a lot of Boston nightclub owners’ kids through college.
It’s a smart, low-risk move for the Rangers, who could benefit tremendously if Lowe can locate his sinker and be effective for a couple innings at a time when called upon (or even fill in as a starter). If he doesn’t work out, he didn’t cost you much to begin with so there’s no obligation to keep him. He should be a strong clubhouse presence as a player who has succeeded on the biggest stages and is known to be a good teammate. And, at the very least, his acquisition has slowed down some of the Ryan talk that has become a distraction for the organization.
The Rangers won a 3-2 decision over the Cubs in Surprise yesterday and got some strong pitching from Robbie Ross (4 IP, 4 H, 1 R) and Alexi Ogando (3 IP, 6 K, 1 R). Lance Berkman also homered as the team won its second straight Cactus League contest.
Jon Daniels has the power; Nolan Ryan has the love – (Note: read around the “sign in” bubble to take in the article) Before we get to the on-the-field items, this Randy Galloway column is a must-read for fans interested in the Nolan Ryan story (i.e., pretty much all Rangers fans). Galloway has been all over this story from the start and says that Daniels was actually offered the full CEO job that belonged to Ryan, in addition to the president title, back in November but turned it down. More interesting stuff to chew on.
Berkman confident about health as Opening Day approaches – Jeff Wilson has the Big Puma feeling good about his ability to be ready to go come March 31.
Rapid Reaction from Texas win – Ron Matejko’s fast facts on yesterday’s victory.
Robbie Ross continues to impress – With Perez out until May, the former RoughRiders lefty may have cast himself as the new favorite to take the fifth starter spot after yesterday’s outing.
Alexi Ogando rewards Ron Washington’s faith – Given the way his first two spring outings went, Ogando’s strong performance was maybe the most encouraging thing about yesterday’s game.
Derek Lowe gives club versatility – Richard Durrett gives his thoughts on the Lowe acquisition.
Astros should woo Nolan Ryan – ESPN.com’s Johnette Howard argues that Jim Crane should be pulling out all the stops to swipe away the Rangers’ CEO.
Angels’ Hamilton primed for monster year — but holds no grudges – Some interesting nuggets on CBS.com’s Jon Heyman’s interview with former Rangers slugger Josh Hamilton, including Hamilton saying that Nolan Ryan wished that Texas hadn’t dragged its feet in the negotiations.
Rangers don’t plan to return Alexi Ogando – and maybe Robbie Ross – to bullpen (subscription only) – Gerry Fraley thinks that the starting rotation is the final destination for both Ogando and Ross.
Ogando, Ross giving Rangers confidence in rotation – T.R. Sullivan’s report on the two pitchers impressing Ron Washington yesterday.
Rangers press on despite Ryan’s uncertainty – Sullivan has plenty of quotes from Daniels on the Ryan story.
Olt, Martin pulled out of Rangers’ lineup – Sullivan’s notes column has injury updates on Mike Olt (tooth pain, not the Rory McIlroy type), Leonys Martin (hamstring), Kyle McClellan (shoulder), Tanner Scheppers (hamstring) and Yoshinori Tateyama (back).
I was cruising the MLB page on ESPN.com today and found an interesting article by senior writer David Schoenfield about the Rangers landing the Yu Darvish – the half Iranian, half Japanese right-hander currently considered the top pitcher in Japan.
The bidding process for Darvish ends tonight at 5:00 ET with teams submitting bids to negotiate with Darvish. The highest bidder then has 30 days to sign him.
According to Schoenfield:
“Those who have seen Darvish say he can be a No. 1 pitcher over here. Mets manager Terry Collins, who managed against Darvish in Japan, raved about him at the winter meetings. Davey Johnson has also managed against him and called him a ‘big, strong hard-thrower. Throws a lot like Americans. … That guy is going to be expensive,’ he said at the winter meetings. “
Schoenfield goes on to write that the signing of Darvish would allow former RoughRider Alexi Ogando to return to the bullpen where could be a dominant setup man for the newly acquired Joe Nathan.
Darvish would no doubt bring even more national media exposure to Arlington and has the potential to be a major asset to the rotation. However, teams need to be ready to pay. Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports estimates it will cost anywhere between $30 million – $70 million to just win the rights to talk with the righty.
Many remember the overall failed experiment that was Daisuke Matsuzaka. Following the 2006 season, the Red Sox donated $51.1 million to win the bid to speak with the Japanese pitcher, then signed him to a six-year, $52 million contract.
No matter what the figure turns out to be, time is almost up in the Yu Darvish sweepstakes.
The Rangers officially published their ALDS roster earlier this morning featuring 11 former RoughRider players that will be suiting up for Texas against Tampa Bay:
Scott Feldman (’05, ’08)
Neftali Feliz (’08)
Alexi Ogando (’10)
Matt Harrison (’08)
Derek Holland (’08)
C.J. Wilson (’03, ’05-’06)
Elvis Andrus (’08)
Ian Kinsler (’04)
Mitch Moreland (’09)
Endy Chavez (’10)
Craig Gentry (’08-’09)
The Texas Rangers are in first place in the American League West at 58-43 through 101 games. In those 101 games, the Rangers have used 37 different players.
Of those 37 players, 21 of them appeared at one point or another with the RoughRiders. That’s almost 57 percent of the roster!
Who are the former RoughRiders contributing to the Rangers’ push for consecutive playoff appearances? The list is pretty impressive.
Elvis Andrus: A RoughRider during the 2008 season, his first in the Rangers’ system, Andrus is batting .278 with three home runs and 35 RBIs. The shortstop was 19 years old for much of his time in Frisco, and he hit .295 while with the ‘Riders that year.
Julio Borbon: RoughRiders fans saw Borbon during a brief rehab stint earlier this season. Borbon, who is currently on the disabled list, also played 60 games in Frisco back in 2008, rolling through Texas League pitching with a .337 average.
Endy Chavez: Chavez had a brief four-game rehab stint with the RoughRiders last season, his first in the Rangers’ system. So far this year, Chavez has been a huge in-house addition to the Rangers (.328 average in 39 games).
Nelson Cruz: Cruz has been with the RoughRiders in back-to-back seasons for brief rehabs. He has gone 6-for-25 (.240) in those six games. In the bigs, Cruz has a team-leading 22 home runs to go along with 65 RBIs.
Chris Davis: Davis is back with the Rangers after Adrian Beltre was placed on the disabled list a few days ago. Davis played 76 games with the ‘Riders in 2007 and 2008. He hit .319 with 25 homers and 67 RBIs, which is just ridiculous.
Cody Eppley: Eppley, who made his big league debut a few months ago, boasted a 1.19 earned run average in 19 games with the ‘Riders in his only season in the Texas League last year.
Scott Feldman: Feldman made a few starts with the RoughRiders this season in a rehab assignment. The righty also made his way through Frisco on his journey to the big leagues, appearing in 46 games and posting a 2.36 ERA in ’05.
Neftali Feliz: Feliz joined the RoughRiders in 2008 for ten starts. The right-hander went 4-3 with a 2.98 ERA. Feliz returned to Dr Pepper Ballpark for a rehab outing earlier this year, and he struck out the side in his only inning.
Craig Gentry: A tenth-round pick in ’06, Gentry has been a valuable reserve for the Rangers in the outfield this year. He spent most of 2008 and all of 2009 with the ‘Riders. He is a lifetime .293 hitter in the Texas League, which is the league he has spent more of his time than any other league.
Josh Hamilton: Who can forget Hamilton’s rehab assignment earlier this year in Frisco? He homered in his second at-bat and helped the ‘Riders to a pair of wins over Midland. By the way, he is still really good in the big leagues.
Matt Harrison: A former Atlanta farmhand, Harrison made nine appearances with the ‘Riders in 2008. He also rehabbed in Frisco in 2010. Harrison has been a solid addition to the Rangers’ rotation (8-7, 3.05 ERA).
Derek Holland: During Holland’s fast track to the majors, he made a brief four-appearance pit stop in Frisco. In those four starts, Holland gave up only two earned runs in 26 innings.
Tommy Hunter: RoughRiders fans saw Hunter earlier this season for a rehab start. The ‘Riders also had Hunter in ’08 and ’09 when he went 5-2 with a ERA barely above 4. Hunter is currently in the Rangers’ bullpen.
Ian Kinsler: Kinsler has been a “normal” RoughRider and a “rehabbing” RoughRider in his time within the Rangers’ system. In his 79 games in the TL, Kinsler hit .290 with 52 RBIs.
Michael Kirkman: A RoughRider alum from 2009, Kirkman went 5-7 with a 4.19 ERA. Kirkman has bounced around from Round Rock and Arlington, and he is currently in Triple-A.
Mitch Moreland: Moreland, who has been a regular for the Rangers this season, spent 73 games with the ‘Riders in 2009. He hit .326 with eight home runs and 59 RBIs in Frisco.
Darren O’Day: O’Day, who has only made 11 appearances with the Rangers this year, has one career appearance with the ‘Riders, which came earlier this season. He allowed a run in an inning of work.
Alexi Ogando: Ogando only spent 2010 in stateside minor league baseball, and his quick journey to the bigs went through Frisco. In seven appearances, Ogando gave up two runs in almost 16 innings of work. He had a WHIP of 0.57.
Pedro Strop: Strop, who has made 11 appearances with the Rangers, spent much of his 2009 campaign in Frisco. The reliever went 5-5 with a 4.38 ERA in 36 appearances, all of the out of the ‘pen.
Taylor Teagarden: Teagarden was with the RoughRiders in 2007, 2008, and 2010, and he has been bounced between Triple-A Round Rock and Arlington this season. In 97 games with the ‘Riders, Teagarden hit .245 with 12 homers and 54 RBIs.
C.J. Wilson: Four of the five current Rangers’ starters were with the RoughRiders at some point in their career, and that group is headlined by Wilson. Wilson spent parts of his ’03, ’05 and ’06 minor league seasons with the RoughRiders. He is 7-13 with a 4.39 ERA in the Texas League.
Over the course of nine years, hundreds of players have donned the RoughRiders red. So, who are the best players by letter? We are going by the first letter of former RoughRiders’ last names. And yes, rehabs count.
The year(s) with the ‘Riders is/are in parentheses.
Elvis Andrus (2008): Currently with the Rangers, Andrus was second in the Rookie of the Year voting in 2009. He made the All-Star team in 2010 and was an integral part of Texas’ journey to the World Series. (honorable mention: Antonio Alfonseca, Joaquin Arias)
Hank Blalock (2008): Blalock, who originally came through the Rangers system before the RoughRiders existed, stopped by in 2008 for six rehab games. Blalock hit 153 home runs in his big league career, a total that does not include his game-winning blast in the ’03 All-Star Game. (honorable mention: Kris Benson, Jason Bourgeois)
Nelson Cruz (2010, 2011): Cruz rehabbed with the ‘Riders late in the 2010 season and early this year. Not much explanation needed here. He’s a candidate to hit in the Home Run Derby this year. (honorable mention: Frank Catalanotto, Endy Chavez)
John Danks (2005-06): This one is close between Danks and Chris Davis. Danks pitched in 31 games for the RoughRiders before ascending to Triple-A and eventually the bigs. The lefty is 49-52 with a 3.99 ERA in the big leagues (honorable mention: Davis)
Cody Eppley (2010): Eppley made it to the big leagues for the first time earlier this season. There have only been seven people with a last name that starts with “E” play with Frisco. Watch out for the current one listed here. (honorable mention: Robbie Erlin)
Neftali Feliz (2008): Last year’s American League Rookie of the Year, Feliz has struggled a bit as the Rangers’ closer this year. Still, he is an exciting young arm who figures to be in the majors for a long time. (honorable mention: Scott Feldman, Frank Francisco)
Adrian Gonzalez (2003): Little did we know that the inaugural RoughRiders unit had such a good player. Gonzalez is tearing it up in his first season in Boston. This letter is loaded, by the way. (honorable mention: Eric Gagne, Armando Galarraga, Craig Gentry, Doug Glanville, Cristian Guzman)
Josh Hamilton (2009, 2011): I’m just going to say this–sorry to the honorable mentions. This rehabbing Ranger takes it, easily. After all, he did homer for Frisco last month. (honorable mention: Jerry Hairston, Jr., Matt Harrison, Derek Holland, Tommy Hunter)
Jesse Ingram (2006-2007): A right-handed reliever, Ingram is the ONLY “I” to ever play for the ‘Riders. He never made it to Triple-A, but he’s at the top of this list!
Andruw Jones (2009): Another rehabber, Jones has played with five different teams over 16 seasons. His middle name is Rudolf, so that’s cool. (honorable mention: Brian Jordan)
Ian Kinsler (2004, 2009, 2010): Kinsler climbed the organizational ladder during the early days of the RoughRiders, and he liked Frisco so much that he returned for a brief visit in ’09 and ’10. He has manned second base for the Rangers for a while. (honorable mention: Steve Karsay, Michael Kirkman)
Josh Lueke (2010): Lueke emerges out of a group with 12 players in it. The hurler was a part of the Cliff Lee deal, and he made it to the big leagues for the first time earlier this year.
Gary Matthews (2005): Matthews went 2-for-5 in his one and only game as a RoughRider. He played in 1281 games at the big league level. There are plenty of M’s in Frisco history, but not many good ones. (honorable mention: Ron Mahay, Nick Masset)
Laynce Nix (2003-2004): Nix played in 94 games with the RoughRiders in their first two seasons of existence. He has appeared for four different major league teams, including suddenly above average Washington this year. (honorable mention: Jeff Nelson)
Alexi Ogando (2010): Ogando blew through Double-A while with the ‘Riders last season. He is 7-3 and an All-Star candidate in his first season in the bigs. Only five “Os” have been in RoughRiders uniforms (honorable mention: Darren O’Day).
Martin Perez (2009-2011): OK, so this may not be totally true yet, but I’m confident Perez can have a better big league career than the three guys I mention honorably. (honorable mention: Vicente Padilla, Chan Ho Park, Herbert Perry).
Daisy Q‘RuffRider (yea right): Of course there haven’t been any Q’s in Frisco. If you know of a RoughRider fan whose last name starts with Q, comment here and we can add him/her.
Nick Regilio (2003): Not a lot of substance with “R.” Regilio made 24 career appearances with the Rangers in ’04 and ’05. He last played professional baseball with Triple-A Toledo in the Detroit organization in ’09.
Justin Smoak (2009): Smoak was the cornerstone of the Rangers’ trade for Cliff Lee last year. So far in Seattle this year, Smoak is hitting .260 with 12 homers and 40 RBIs. (honorable mention: Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Pedro Strop)
Mark Teixeira (2004, 2007): He’s really, really good at baseball. My dad, a fantasy baseball player, would always call him “Mark Tex-e-air-uh.” (honorable mention: Taylor Teagarden, Chad Tracy)
U (2003-2011): All of you for being such great fans throughout nine seasons! Really, this is just a cop out because, surprisingly, there has not been a “U” in a ‘Rider uniform, but you can still enjoy it!
Edinson Volquez (2005, 2007): Volquez equaled Josh Hamilton. That’s good enough for me.
C.J. Wilson (2003, 2005, 2006): Brandon Webb has better overall numbers at this point in his career, but Wilson has more upside. (honorable mention: Webb).
X: I have nothing cute or witty about this. The letter is worth 8 points in Scrabble, though.
Chris Young (2004): There have only been three “Y’s” in RoughRiders history. This one is pretty good. His is 49-34 with a 3.74 ERA in his career in the majors.
Z: I need some Zs after this countdown. Hope you enjoyed.