Results tagged ‘ Carlos Pimentel ’
70 down, 70 to go.
Frisco finished the first half with a 2-1 win over Midland last night. While we look ahead to what will come, including hopefully a ‘Riders second half title and a playoff berth, now is as good a time as ever to look back at what has been.
Remember when Odubel Herrera was the primary leadoff hitter? How about when Jared Hoying hit third every single one of his first 32 starts, a spot now clearly controlled by Brett Nicholas. Or how about the revolving door in the #2 spot in the order that saw Ryan Strausborger bat in eight times but only once since April 25.
The lineup has changed quite a bit over the course of the year, and I thought it might neat to take a closer look. Thus, I present the unofficial Steve Buechele RoughRiders Average First Half Lineup Card:
This was an inexact science, but the idea was to present the amalgamation of the most common occurrences in the lineup over the first 70 games. I started with the top nine position players in terms of games started. Jared Hoying played more often than Guilder Rodriguez when on the active roster but his injury and subsequent promotion but him a few starts behind Rogirguez, Chih-Hsien Chiang and Tomas Telis for total starts.
I could have gone with the player who has played the most at each position, but that would mean Selen would be the DH (with 21 starts at DH, Chiang was second with 10 starts at DH), but Selen only made 32 overall starts in the first half, which ranked 11th on the team in total starts, so that didn’t make as much sense.
From there, I tried to place the most common spot in the lineup for each of the nine players, but that led to a few problems as well. For example: of the nine players, Chiang made the most starts in the #5 spot (22) but he made more starts in the #6 spot (28), which was also the most among the nine players, so he was the obvious choice there. Odubel Herrera and Teodoro Martinez batted leadoff more than anywhere else, but as you will see, Odubel became the #7 hitter, which has been the most inconsistently filled spot in the lineup. It’s the only spot that hasn’t had at least one player with more than 20 starts in that position of the lineup card.
The good news is, filling out the defense was easy. Of the nine players, each player’s most common position did not overlap save for one situation. Both Rodriguez and Buchholz played 3B more than anywhere else. Buchholz played almost twice as many times at the hot corner than G-Rod, though, so Rodriguez became the DH by default.
1. #3 Teodoro Martinez LF – Cafe has led off 23 times, including 22 of his last 23 starts. The one aberration in that stretch was batting second behind Ian Kinsler when he rehabbed with the RoughRiders last week–not a shameful move into the #2 spot. That consistency, along with the fact that he has really only hit in the #9 spot consistently otherwise (which needed to go to Alberto as you will see) won him the choice over Odubel Herrera in this spot. The ‘Riders are 14-9 when Martinez bats in the top spot. He is hitting .270 as the #1 batter, which is actually his lowest average at any spot in the lineup with more than 4 at bats; his .731 OPS, however, is the second highest (.759 in the #9 spot). As far the position goes, Teo has been the left fielder on 47 of the 70 lineup cards, which only trails Ryan Strausborger among outfield starts at one position.
2. #6 Guilder Rodriguez DH – It’s ironic that the super-utility man Rodriguez is the DH. Or maybe it’s just stupidity on my part. G-Rod has actually only DH’d 3 times. Only Zach Zaneski and Hanser Alberto have DH’d less, but I had nowhere else to put him. If I could fill out the lineup card with him as the UTIL player, I would, but that’s just not allowed. The 29-year-old Venezuelan has played 12 games at 1B, 9 at 2B, 21 at 3B and 6 at SS. He leads the team in walks and on-base percentage (.0008 better than Brett Nicholas) and makes good contact, making him a good #2 hole hitter. He is hitting .309 in this spot this year and boasts a better than .400 OBP. He also has only one homer this year (and second of his career) in the spot in the order, which is good enough reason by itself. The fact that he has hit there more than anywhere else in the order, no one has any many starts in that spot as him, and no one else has primarily been the #2 hitter make G-Rod the obvious choice here.
3. #29 Brett Nicholas 1B – Brett Nicholas made 28 of his first 30 appearances in the cleanup spot. Since that point, Nicholas has been the consistent pencil-in at number three. Nicholas has hit third more than any other player has hit in a single spot in the lineup. It has changed much as far as his production. In 33 games in the three spot, he is hitting .314/.383/.529. His production in the cleanup spot was nearly identical .291/.364/.556. He has struck out 50% more in the three hole (33 Ks vs. 22 Ks). As far as first base goes, only Hanser Alberto and Odubel Herrera have made more starts at one position (64 at SS, 60 at 2B) than Nicholas has at 1B (57)–a no brainer.
4. #5 Alex Buchholz 3B – Buch has started 40 of the RoughRiders 70 games at the hot corner and only Brett Nicholas has more starts in the cleanup spot than him. This is all despite a three-week stint for the former Reds farmhand with the Rangers Triple-A club in Round Rock (where he hit eighth mostly and split time between DH and 3B, in case you were curious). He has 19 starts in the #5 spot but the cleanup spot really has suited him nicely. He is hitting .299 there with four of his six home runs. He is batting just .222 in the middle spot of the lineup.
5. #13 Tomas Telis C – Telis has been a shifting part of the middle to back-end of Buechele’s lineup. With 13 starts in the five and six spots of the lineup and 12 in the seven spot, he sort of defaulted into this position. Both Buchholz and Chiang have more starts than Telis at #5 but made more sense where they are at #4 and #6. He has received the bulk of the catching starts (38 of 70), 13 more than Zaneski. This has also been Telis’ best spot in the order as far as the batting average (.321), although all three of his home runs have come batting sixth, including the shot that won a fan a brand new Jeep.
6. #11 Chih-Hsien Chiang RF - This one was easy. The first ever Taiwanese-born RoughRider was the most often used player in right field this season as well as the number six spot in the order. The same was true of Chiang’s starts. He made 22 in the number five spot, six less than number six. His starts in left (14) and DH (10) were far outweighed by his playing time in right field (36). He hasn’t hit his best in the number six spot. In fact his .202 batting average hitting sixth is the worst of the five spots in the order that he has hit in.
7. #7 Odubel Herrera 2B – The hardest man to place, Herrera actually spent more time in the leadoff spot than any other player and hit second more often than seventh. He hasn’t hit leadoff since May 22 though. At least his position was easy to place. Outside of Alberto at SS, Herrera has made the most starts at one position with 60 at second base. He is hitting .304 in the #7 spot, his highest average of any spot in the lineup in which he has started more than one game, so that helps. I’ll run with that stat and leave it at that. Plus, he is hitting there tonight to begin the second half.
8. #4 Ryan Strausborger CF – With 63 starts in the outfield, Ryan Strausborger has been by far the most commonly placed player into the lineup as an outfielder. His 54 centerfield starts is most for any ‘Riders player at one spot in the outfield. His spot in the order has been less predictable. Ryan has hit second (8 starts), fifth (2), sixth (12), seventh (20), eighth (23), and ninth (1). His .247 average and .301 on-base percentage batting eighth is best of any spot he has hit in the order.
9. #2 Hanser Alberto SS – Alberto began and finished the first half in the last spot of the order. He did 26 other times in between, beating out the second spot in the order for most starts for him. The 64 out of 70 day shortstop was the most commonly started position player at one position and his 28 starts in the #9 spot trail only Brett Nicholas in the three and four spot (33,32), Hoying in the three spot (32), and Herrera in the leadoff spot (29) for most starts in one spot of the order. Hanser hit .222 in the first half in the last spot in the order while he hit .288 in the #2 spot, but that is more of a function of him hitting second while hitting well and not hitting well because he was batting second. The youngest player in the Texas League at season’s open finished behind only Brett Nicholas and Ryan Strausborger with 65 starts.
- The bench players are all of the position players who didn’t make the starting nine that have played for the ‘Riders this year.
- Neil Ramirez made it on the card as the most oft-used starting pitcher on the staff. He has made 14 starts. Carlos Pimentel checks in second with 13 games started.
- The #5 spot is the only one in the lineup in which every active member of the roster has made at least one start in. Even Joe Benson has a start there, and he has only made eight starts in total.
- Brett Nicholas and Jared Hoying were the most stable forces in the Frisco lineup in the first half. The two appeared in only three different spots (#3, #4, and #5). Every other RoughRider was placed in at least four different spots in the order in the first half.
Baseball term of the day: rabbit – a player with great speed
(term from The Baseball Thesaurus)
Odubel Herrera will serve as the starting second baseman, and Brett Nicholas is the starting DH for the South Division team. Tomas Telis and Guilder Rodriguez made the team as reserves. Starters Carlos Pimentel and Neil Ramirez made the team as did relief pitcher Ben Rowen.
More details, including bios on each player, can be found at RidersBaseball.com.
Here is the complete roster of both teams:
2013 South Division All-Star Team
2013 North Division All-Star Team
Baseball term of the day: all to the mustard – in good physical condition
(term from The Dickson Baseball Dictionary)
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)
‘Riders on the Record: the first day of school, home runs over touchdowns and the return of Mike Olt
‘Riders on the Record is a weekly rundown of the pre-game interviews record by broadcasters Alex Vispoli and Nathan Barnett with RoughRiders players and coaches and occasionally a special guest. You can find all previous editions by clicking here.
Another busy week of player transactions, the RoughRiders saw the return of Alex Buchholz and Arlett Mavare from Triple-A, the departure of Barret Serrato (back to extended spring training), Roman Mendez sustain a season-ending injury, Mike Olt return from the DL and Alexi Ogando make a rehab start for the Rangers at Dr Pepper Ballpark.
Highlights from this week eight’s ‘Riders on the Record include Steve Buechele’s assessment of his two aces in Neil Ramirez and Carlos Pimentel, Dennis Higgins (The Voice of the Drillers) talking about former Clemson QB Kyle Parker’s focus on baseball, Joe Benson’s acclimation to the RoughRiders clubhouse, and Mike Olt on his lengthy journey back to health from a vision issue he dealt with in spring training and while at Triple-A Round Rock.
Happy Sunday and enjoy!
Sunday, May 26, 2013 – Manager Steve Buechele
In their weekly sit-down, ‘Riders Manager Steve Buechele speaks about the gritty outing of Neil Ramirez, the continued success of recently named Texas League Pitcher of the Week Carlos Pimentel, the return of Alex Buchholz from Triple-A, and the addition of Joe Benson from Minnesota. (w/ Alex Vispoli)
Monday, May 27, 2013 – Tulsa Broadcaster Dennis Higgins
Tulsa broadcaster Dennis Higgins joins Alex to give us a Drillers perspective. He talks about Kyle Parker‘s commitment to baseball after starring at Clemson as a QB in addition to playing baseball. They talk about the Rockies relationship with the Tulsa franchise and the new instructional program put in place by Colorado this offseason. (w/ Alex)
Tuesday, May 28, 2013 – OF Joe Benson
The Texas Rangers claimed Joe Benson off waivers from Minnesota on Saturday. He sat down with Nathan Barnett before his home debut at Dr Pepper Ballpark and discussed his whirlwind of a weekend. He explains his speedy home run trot and expresses his excitement for a fresh start in the Rangers organization. (w/ Nathan Barnett)
Wednesday, May 29, 2013 – Hanser Alberto
RoughRiders shortstop Hanser Alberto talks about his big three-run home run that lifted the ‘Riders over the Cardinals on Tuesday. He explains the origins of his nickname “Radio” as well. (w/ Nathan)
Friday, May 31, 2013 – 3B Alex Buchholz
In his first week back at Double-A, Alex Buchholz discusses his time with Triple-A Round Rock. In his ever stint at the highest minor league level, Buchholz excelled, and he explained the differences between Double-A and Triple-A pitching as well as the routine of the players around him. (w/ Nathan)
Saturday, June 1, 2013 – 3B Mike Olt
Mike Olt returned from the disabled list and played over the weekend for the RoughRiders. In his first game, he homered to left field, just his second of the season. He hit only one as a member of the Express in his 20 games, but with his vision issues resolved, Mike says he feels more like himself. He talked about his long road to recovery and the legions of doctor visits. (w/ Nathan)
Baseball term of the day: tobasco tap – a hard-hit ground ball
(term from The Dickson Baseball Dictionary)
It is with excitement that we at ‘Riders Insider announce that our blog has been ranked in the Top 10 of all Minor League Pro blogs for the month of April.
Each month, MLB.com Blogs ranks the team and fan blogs based on popularity and page views. In previous years, all team blogs were compiled together, both Major League and Minor League. With that system, ‘Riders Insider consistently stayed in the Top 50, remaining near #40 for the past year. Our highest rank in 2012 was at #32 in November (with ten Minor League blogs above ‘Riders Insider).
This year, MLB.com Blogs added the category of MiLB Pro, and during the first month of the 2013 season, ‘Riders Insider earned the #10 spot, sixth among minor league teams.
We would like to congratulate the top MiLB Pro blog of the month of April, Ben’s Biz Blog. Above ‘Riders Insider, ranked at #9, is 45 Miles From Fenway, the blog for the Pawtucket Red Sox (Triple-A affiliate of the Boston Redsox). In the 11th spot is Porcupines in Pinstripes, the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Rail Riders blog (Triple-A affiliate of the New York Yankees).
In keeping up with this blog, we strive to provide quality posts that our readers will enjoy. We don’t always post about baseball; however, we like to provide you with the inside scoop on the Frisco RoughRiders as a team and individual players, the Texas Rangers and events at Dr Pepper Ballpark.
Thank you to our readers for viewing our blog and placing us in the Top 10. We are really excited about this ranking, so please help us maintain and move us up in the rankings. We would love to hear from you about posts you’ve particularly enjoyed, or if you have suggestions on what you’d like us to cover in future posts.
In ‘Riders News:
We would like to wish pitcher Wilmer Font a happy 23rd birthday.
Last night, Carlos Pimentel threw seven innings of one-hit baseball and allowed just three baserunners as the Frisco RoughRiders went on to beat the Springfield Cardinals 1-0, tying the series at one apiece. The RoughRiders conclude their series with the defending Texas League Champion Cardinals tonight at 7:09 at Hammons Field in Springfield, MO.
Frisco continues their road trip tomorrow as they face the Tulsa Drillers for the first time this season.
Baseball term of the day: Whiz chuck: a swiftly pitched ball
The Frisco roster once again sits at 25 players this week for the first time since the departure of Jake Brigham, Alex Buchholz and Ryan Feierabend. The addition of Richard Bleier, courtesy of the Round Rock Express, brings the roster back to the league limit and bloats the pitching staff to fourteen members.
Bleier is set to make his 2013 ‘Riders debut Thursday, toeing the rubber for Steve Buechele’s squad in the finale of the four-game set with the Midland RockHounds. Bleier, 26, suits up for the RoughRiders for the fourth consecutive season, spending his entire 2010, 2011 and 2012 with Frisco. A starting pitcher for his entire romp through the minors, the southpaw pitched exclusively out of the bullpen for the first time in his pro career at the end of last summer.
Rehabbing an elbow strain that kept him out of the early part of the 2012 campaign, Bleier was activated on June 21 of last season and went immediately into a relief role for the Double-A club, a position he became familiar with at the close of the 2011 season. The control artist didn’t possess quite the command he had previously in his career (2.0 BB/9, vs. 1.5 BB/9 for career coming into 2013), but he was still relatively sharp (for perspective, Frisco has walked 3.7 BB/9 as a team this season).
The sinkerballer pitched out of the bullpen this past winter in the World Baseball Classic qualifiers with Team Israel. Along with Texas Leaguers Cody Decker, Ben Orloff, Jeff Urlaub and Robbie Widlansky, of course not to mention former RockHound, now Oakland Athletic, Nate Freiman, Bleier and Team Israel went 2-1 in qualifying play but was beat out by Spain who, also 2-1, had a higher run differential. In two outings, Bleier held the opposition scoreless and hitless in an inning of work and walked two batters in international play.
Bleier spent his college days at Florida Gulf Coast University, the school pushed into the spotlight in March as “Dunk City” for its high-flying hardwood ways. Taken in the sixth round in 2008, the former Eagle was the highest draft pick in school history at the time. Chris Sale (Chicago White Sox) and Casey Coleman (Chicago Cubs) are the only Eagles to make the majors, and Sale is now the highest draft choice in school history, going 13th overall in the 2010 draft.
The Floridian Bleier opened 2013 getting the chance to pitch at the Triple-A level for the first time in his career. In a small sample, the walk-bug hit Bleier harder than it has in his career (7 BB in 19.0 IP — 3.3 BB/9), but he limited damage in his eight outings, including two starts, posting a 1-1 record with a 3.79 ERA.
|AA (3 seasons)||AA||14||21||5.11||82||41||297.2||367||186||169||21||51||154||1.404||1.5||4.7|
|A (1 season)||A||2||1||1.14||5||4||23.2||19||8||3||0||4||17||0.972||1.5||6.5|
|A- (1 season)||A-||4||5||4.02||14||11||62.2||61||41||28||4||14||44||1.197||2.0||6.3|
|AAA (1 season)||AAA||1||1||3.79||8||2||19.0||23||9||8||1||7||8||1.579||3.3||3.8|
|A+ (1 season)||A+||7||11||4.51||23||22||143.2||165||88||72||9||20||108||1.288||1.3||6.8|
It remains to be seen if Bleier will stick in the Frisco rotation, which at the moment, has just three starters from the Opening Day roster with Carlos Pimentel, Kevin Pucetas and Neil Ramirez, or if Bleier moves back into the relief role that has defined his career the last season and a half. Of course he could be back on the shuttle to Triple-A soon enough as well.
After two late morning affairs, first pitch from Dr Pepper Ballpark is scheduled Thursday for 7:00 pm.
Baseball term of the day: barbering – chatting, as one is likely to do in a barber’s shop
For the second straight game, the RoughRiders beat the Naturals by a run, or you know, as the LA Times refers to it, a “point.” Brett Nicholas hit a three-run homer in the first. The Naturals tied the game, but Frisco never trailed. A Jared Hoying RBI-triple in the fifth proved the difference, scoring Guilder Rodriguez, who was productive at the plate again (1-for-3, 2 R, 1 BB). That made it 4-3, and that was your final. Carlos Pimentel struck out nine in what was, by most accounts, the best RoughRiders start of the season. You can read the details and check the box scores here. Frisco wraps up the series from Springdale, Arkansas tonight at 7:00 p.m.
Power surge: For the first time this season, the ‘Riders played in a game with two home runs. Nicholas hit the one for Frisco. Brian Fletcher hit his second long ball of the season for the Naturals. Frisco has two home runs on the year now, with Nicholas joining Rodriguez as the only players with a deep fly.
Balking not running: Naturals starter J.C. Sulbaran was called for a balk last night. It was the second straight ‘Riders game with the rare play. Frisco starting pitcher Kevin Pucetas was called for the infraction in the third inning Sunday. The two teams have stolen one base combined in the two games. Not often you see more balks than steals in a series. Still a game to go Tuesday, though.
Let him catch!: Guilder Rodriguez played 3B last night for the ‘Riders. The super-utility man has played every position but catcher now for Frisco. It was the first time he has played at the hot corner in a RoughRiders uni. He has played third twice for the Rangers Triple-A affiliate Round Rock and has played there 21 times now in his pro career. Yes, he has pitched. Twice in fact. Both outings came last year for Frisco.
Gunnin’ em: Tomas Telis has been a force behind the plate with his arm. He gave up a steal in the fifth last night but one of the plays of the game came from his right arm in the bottom of the 8th. Orlando Calixte drew a seven-pitch leadoff walk. The next batter, Fletcher, hurt himself fouling off a Wilmer Font heater and was lifted from the game. There was a few minute delay while Fletcher was being attended to. Telis, relatively young for a catcher at this level (21), was ready to go out of the timeout. Trying to catch the ‘Riders napping, the Naturals sent Calixte on the first pitch after the pause in the action, and Telis was ready, gunning him down with a bullet to second baseman Odubel Herrera. The Frisco catcher is 4-for-6 catching attempting basestealers this season. In the early going, he has thrown out more runners than anyone else in the Texas League.
The Tale of Two Series: Frisco and Northwest Arkansas came into the series tied for the league-lead in walks allowed after the first three games (18). Neither walked a batter Sunday. Northwest Arkansas walked three last night. Frisco didn’t walk a batter until Calixte drew one on Font. Frisco had gone 22 innings without issuing a free pass.
A run! A run! My kingom for a run!: The ‘Riders have played three consecutive one-run games. The 4-3 extra-innings loss Saturday has been followed up by two one-run victories over the Naturals. Frisco won 3-2 on Sunday.
A swing and a miss: Royals prospect Brett Eibner went 0-for-4 last night and accounted for four of the thirteen strikeouts for Frisco pitching. The centerfielder is 0-for-8 in the series and now 0-for-20 on the season with ten strikeouts. He does have a lone walk.
Lucky sevens: The seventh inning proved pivotal again last night in the RoughRiders’ successful work to hang on to a one-run lead. Last night it was Roman Mendez who squeaked out of a jam. After surrendering a lead-off double to Whit Merrifield, he got the next three out in order to keep the lead intact. It was Randy Henry Sunday, who got out of a second-and-third no-out jam in the same frame of a one-run game as well.
From the Big Club:
#95: The 95th RoughRiders player to make the big leagues after his time in Frisco dazzled last night. Joe Ortiz came on for the Rangers in the toughest jam of the game, with two on in a 3-1 game and just one out in the sixth inning. He shined in the high-pressure spot getting two ground balls. He retired all five batters he faced, in fact, working a perfect seventh inning as well.
And soon to be #97: Nick Tepesch (pronounced TEP-ish, by the way) is expected to have his contract purchased by the Rangers today from Triple-A Round Rock. He will make the start against the Tampa Bay Rays in his big league debut. Tepesch went 6-3 with a 4.28 ERA for Frisco in 2012 and had a great spring with Texas. His appearance will put the ‘Riders three players shy of 100 major league alums. He will also be the third former ‘Rider to debut this season (Ortiz, Leury Garcia).
Baseball term of the day: solitaire – a single.
Solid win for the ‘Riders yesterday to improve to 2-2. A breakout performance from Brett Nicholas (3-for-4, 1 R, 2 2B, 1 RBI) led the way offensively, but it was Kevin Pucetas (5.0 IP, 2 ER, 5 H, 3 K, 0 BB) that gave Frisco a chance. The right-hander made the longest start of the season for the RoughRiders before handing it over to the lights out bullpen for four scoreless innings for the 3-2 win.
Today the ‘Riders go back to work against the Naturals who are now 0-4 on the year. First pitch scheduled for 7:00 p.m from a cloudy and gusty Springdale.
Carlos Pimentel (0-0, 0.00 ERA):
Pimentel spent a full season with Frisco, posting a 2-2 record and a 3.03 ERA in 32.2 innings as a starting pitcher. He faired better out the pen (6-1, 2.26 ERA in 55.2 innings).This will be his second appearance after a scoreless, one-hit frame Friday in rescheduled season opener in North Little Rock. This will be Pimentel’s third consecutive year starting the season at the Double-AA level and fourth straight season to play for Frisco. In each of the last three years he has been better. After a brief but rough stint for the RoughRiders in 2010, he followed up a 7-9 record and posted a 4.74 ERA in 2011 before his breakout year one season ago. This is Pimentel’s seventh season in the minors, but the Dominican right-hander is still only 23 years old. (read more in today’s game notes, linked below).
J.C. Sulbaran (- -, -.– ERA)
Sulbaran makes his 2013 season debut tonight against the RoughRiders. He came to the Royals system in a trade from the Reds with Donnie Joseph in exchange for reliever Jonathan Broxton. Sulbaran is repeating the Double-A level. He went 7-7 with a 4.04 ERA, posting 111 strikeouts and 22 walks in 19 starts (104.1 innings) in the Southern League as a member of the Reds organization. He didn’t fair near as well in his brief stint in the Texas League after the trade, going 0-4 with a 7.62 ERA, 24 strikeouts and 22 walks in six appearances (26 innings) for Northwest Arkansas. He throws a low-to-mid-90s fastball, a curveball and a changeup. (read more in today’s game notes, linked below).
Going the distance: ‘Riders starter Kevin Pucetas gave Frisco their longest start of the four-game season. His five innings topped the previous high coming from another of the elder statesmen on the roster, Ryan Feierabend, who threw 4.0 innings in the second-half of the doubleheader on Friday.
Pitching machines: Pucetas was really hitting his spots last night. He tossed 49 of his 72 pitches for strikes (68%). He paled in comparison to his mates out of the bullpen though. Randy Henry threw 22 of his 27 in the zone (81%), Ben Rowen missed only twice (6 of 8, 75%) and Ryan Rodebaugh, who closed the game, found the zone 8 out of 10 times (80%).
Getting off the schneid: Frisco is batting just .210 as a team through four games but there are few black holes in the lineup. 1-9 are producing in any given game. Teodoro Martinez (#9 spot in the order yesterday) and Zach Zaneski (#7) both tallied their first hits of the season on Sunday. That leaves only Alejandro Selen who has yet to record a hit (0-for-5). He also hasn’t played in the field. He will DH for the third time today. Guilder Rodriguez, a career .258 hitter, leads the team in hits (5), home runs (1) and batting average (.556).
Bringing the heat: Royals prospect Yordano Ventura was throwing gas against the ‘Riders last night. Ventura is the highest ranked player by Baseball America on the Naturals roster, 85th in all of baseball, fourth among Royals farmhands and second among their pitching prospects. Credit Frisco. They squared him up a number of times, turing around on upper 90s heat. He left with the game tied at 2-2 after five innings. Frisco tagged him for five hits but also struck out five times and didn’t walk against him.
Where in the world is Orlando Calixte?: The Royals most MLB-ready infield prospect got the day off yesterday. The shortstop will DH today. Orlando Calixte was ranked in the top ten prospects in the Carolina League last season and is in his first season of Double-AA ball. Adalberto Mondesi, son of former big leaguer Raul Mondesi, is considered to have a slightly higher ceiling than Calixte but is lower down in the Royals system. Mondesi is playing at Class-A this season after his first year in pro ball at the Rookie level and is only 17 years old. Calixte (21 years old) has decent gap power and a good eye. He is certainly a player to look out for tonight.
Or getting caught in the rain: Ok, this reference was a stretch. What do you want from me? Not quite yet in mid-season form. Anyway, cup-of-tea big leaguer Manny Pina reacquainted himself with his former organization last night. The backstop for the Naturals spent four years in the Texas system before being traded to KC in exchange for the erratic Daniel Gutierrez in 2009.
And some other news, notes, thoughts, and links:
Turn on the bright lights: Leury Garcia made his major league debut Saturday. He batted for Berkman in the 8th inning of an 8-4 deficit. The former RoughRider struck out in his only plate appearance, taking strike three from Angels reliever Kevin Jepsen. The Rangers utility infielder made the big league team out of camp after hitting .292 with 31 steals in Frisco in 2012.
Big League moves: On the day the Rangers open a series against the Rays, they made a trade with Tampa as well. Texas acquired Robinson Chirinos Monday and then DFA’d Jeff Beliveau, whom the Rangers had claimed from the Cubs in December. Chirinos had DFA’d the catcher at the end of Spring Training, so unless they traded him, he would either have been open to league-wide waivers or the Rays would have to release him. He came to the Rays via the Cubs, who dealt him, along with Hak-Ju Lee, Chris Archer, Sam Fuld and Brandon Guyer in exchange for Matt Garza, Zach Rosscup and Fernando Perez in January of 2011. Chirinos didn’t do much at the major league level in his debut in 2011 (.218/.283/.30 in 60 PA) and is coming off an injury that kept him out in 2012. The 28-year-old Venesulan has a decent minor league track record though. He has been assigned to AAA Round Rock; his last time at that level, in 2010, he mashed the ball for the Iowa Cubs, socking three home runs in 15 games.
Mute the TV, crank up your laptop speakers: I know the Rangers are on tonight, but it doesn’t mean you can’t baseball-multitask. Today’s game can be heard here or if you are on an iPad or iPhone, click here. You can also watch the games with the audio feed simulcast by purchasing a subscription to MiLB.tv. First pitch is scheduled for 7:00; broadcast airs at 6:40 with the pregame show.
Don’t miss out! Tickets are left…but not many for Thursday’s home opening contest at Dr Pepper Ballpark. Frisco looks for revenge against the Arkansas Naturals who took two of three from the ‘Riders to open the season. Top-ranked Frisco prospect Cody Buckel is expected to get the ball for the fighting Buecheles. He looks to bounce back from his Opening Night loss in North Little Rock.
Read ‘em and share ‘em: The first Monday edition of the game notes are here!
Baseball term of the day: tater - a home run.