Results tagged ‘ Chad Bell ’
To our loyal blog readers,
It’s been awhile since our last post. Apologies on that.
You can expect to see consistent content here moving forward. Since last we wrote, much has changed. I, Nathan Barnett, have returned to the organization, filling the role as the leader of the Media Relations department here in Frisco, taking over after a well-lead four-year effort by my former mentor Alex Vispoli. Some fans may remember me from the 2013 season, when I served as a Media Relations Assistant under Alex.
But enough about me. I am thrilled that I will be joined by two excellent up-and-coming stars in the business that are sure to entertain our fans here on this space and on the air as well.
So, without further ado, Steve Goldberg and Ryan Rouillard, in their own words.
Ray Bradbury, the author of Fahrenheit 451, once said, “Love. Fall in love and stay in love. Write only what you love, and love what you write. The key word is love. You have to get up in the morning and write something you love, something to live for.”
This holds true not just about writing, but also about everything in life. No matter how grueling your schedule may be on a given day, it is a thrill to have a job that you love. For many people, that may love may stem from things like art, history, and literature. Or architecture! (Seinfeld fans, anyone?)
But the love and inspiration for my career comes from baseball. It always has been, and it always will be. Every time I broadcast a game or write a feature story, I recall the experience of the first baseball game I attended and the emotions I felt that day.
I was born a few blocks from Fenway Park in Boston, so baseball naturally slipped into my blood. But my first game was not in Boston. My family moved to Houston in the summer of 1998, and my father took me to the Astrodome the following year.
It was a rainy Sunday afternoon in May, but the rain outside was not an issue since the Astros played indoors. The Astroturf field was very bizarre, certainly not like the grass fields I played tee-ball on. I could not stop looking at the roof high over the diamond and the giant American and Texas flags hanging above the wall in deep center field.
The game began, and I was amazed with how much better it was to be there in person instead of just watching it on television. The roar of the crowd, the crack of the bat, and the smell of fresh hot dogs created the perfect atmosphere to enjoy America’s pastime.
I stared up at the press box and envied the broadcasters, who I heard (and imitated) nearly every day from home. They truly lived the dream, sitting in the catbird seat at a baseball stadium every single day.
Later in the game, I asked my father if we could leave our seats for a few minutes to get an ice cream.
“Let’s watch this next batter,” he replied. “Then we can go.”
The mighty, right-handed hitter for St. Louis stepped into the box moments later. Two red birds sat perched on a yellow baseball bat atop the word ‘Cardinals’ in script on the front of his grey jersey. On the back of the uniform, he donned the number 25 with the last name ‘McGwire’ printed in red letters above.
This Mark McGwire fella had just set a new single-season record by hitting 70 home runs the previous year. But I had no idea, at the time. I was just a five-year old, starry-eyed boy awaiting the upcoming events in the game but battling with an ever-present craving for ice cream.
My father was keen about watching this one particular player bat, so I made sure I paid close attention too. Sure enough, McGwire connected with the baseball, and it soared far beyond the outfield wall. As he rounded the bases triumphantly, Dad turned to me with a grin below the moustache on his face.
“Let’s go get some ice cream.”
I returned to my seat with a Chipwich, an ice cream sandwich nestled between two chocolate chip cookies. I still vividly recall how delicious it tasted. Every time I have seen a home run since, I think back to that Chipwich and remember my feelings after McGwire hit that monstrous home run. I knew from that day forward, I wanted to be a part of the ‘larger than life’ game of baseball forever.
Nobody can recall every single pitch, but there should always be key points that stand out to viewers. As a broadcaster and a writer, I keep this in mind when considering the defining moments of a game. You never know what five-year-old, starry-eyed kid in the crowd may be gazing up at the press box envying your job. While eating a Chipwich, of course.
It has been almost 17 years since I first realized my passion for this sport. My first year working in professional baseball took me from my alma mater, the University of Missouri, to Charleston, S.C., and then all the way to Melbourne, Australia.
Now, I am ready to begin the 2016 season as a Media Relations and Broadcasting Assistant for the RoughRiders. Just a four-hour drive from my childhood home in Houston. Back in the Lone Star State.
I hit my growth spurt in 6th grade, well before most of my friends. As a result, I grew up hearing people tell me I had the bulk to play football, or the height to play basketball. Despite all the outside noise, baseball has always been the clear number one in my life.
Growing up just a few miles east of Seattle, Safeco Field was my home away from home in the summers. I couldn’t get enough of venturing into the Emerald City with my dad and taking in the unique buzz running throughout a baseball stadium.
I grew up idolizing local stars, such as Edgar Martinez and Ichiro Suzuki (I missed Griffey’s first stint in Seattle by a few years). My desire to be like them someday led me to start playing baseball at a young age. But over time, I found a new member of the team to idolize: legendary Mariners broadcaster Dave Niehaus.
Niehaus, a Hall-of-Famer, was my companion through the airwaves whenever I wasn’t at the ballpark. His unbridled passion and love for baseball only furthered my love for America’s pastime. He would commonly say he never worked a day in his life because he was having so much fun behind the mic, and it was obvious to me listening at home. He became so special to me that I felt like I had lost a family member when he died in 2010.
With Dave as an inspiration, I was the kid who muted the “Backyard Baseball” broadcasters and did it myself. Even sometimes at Safeco Field, I would sit in section 330, just above Dave, and try and call my own game. My dream of broadcasting withered for a few years in high school, but in my senior year, I had a chance to resurrect it when I called Mercer Island High School basketball games on the school’s station. Even though it wasn’t baseball, I had so much fun behind the mic, further understanding why Dave sounded as giddy as he did every night.
When I got to the University of Oregon in 2012, there was no question in my mind that this is what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I got actively involved with the campus radio station, KWVA, during the school year. That place has been – and still is – a great influence on my career. In the summers, I broadcast collegiate summer wood-bat baseball in the West Coast League. I was in Victoria, BC in 2013, before returning stateside to work in Yakima, WA the last two summers. My time in the WCL, where I was calling baseball almost every day for two months, only strengthened my love for baseball and being around such a special sport.
Now, here I am, just a few weeks from graduating and beginning what I know will be a fantastic journey with the RoughRiders. Maybe I could have made it work had I tried football or basketball, like everyone suggested, but I’m not sure either of those would have made me as happy as I am now. Baseball is, and will always be, where my heart lies. I can’t wait to spend another season behind the mic, where I hope my love of the game radiates through the airwaves, just like it did for me with Dave.
As for me, I introduced myself to our readers back in 2013, and, to borrow an old cliche, the more things change, the more they stay the same.
Since my time in Frisco, I had the privledge of working with the mighty Myrtle Beach Pelicans in the Carolina League during the 2014 and 2015 seasons, the first as a member of the Rangers farm system and last year as a Cubs affiliate.
We made the finals in 2014 with a handful of past and future RoughRiders: Lewis Brinson, Ryan Cordell, Chris Garia, Preston Beck, Royce Bolinger, Kellin Deglan, Jose Leclerc, Cody Ege, Cody Buckel, Chad Bell, Chad James, Luis Parra–the list goes on. That was a special team, a special group of guys that had put together an absurd 2013 season with the Hickory Crawdads (we had Joey Gallo, and Jorge Alfaro, and Nick Williams, and Chi Chi Gonzalez all earlier that year). The club came up just short of a title, skippered by Joe Mikulik by the way, falling three games to one in the Mills Cup Finals.
The team captured the crown in year one of the Cubs era in 2015. It was a joyous ride, and I was incredibly proud of those players too.
I cannot wait to get going in the 2016 season (okay–there is still a lot to do before then, so I CAN wait, but still excited!).
Fortunately for all three of us, we don’t have to wait until April 7 when the team plays the season opener in Springdale against the Northwest Arkansas Naturals. We will be headed to Spring Training in Surprise, Arizona next weekend and will be sure to share our thoughts from the desert!
Baseball term of the day: hamfatter – a vociferous baseball fan
(term from The Baseball Thesaurus)
Following a long 2014 season and an off-season light on major roster developments, spring training is well underway for the Rangers out in Surprise, Arizona. And, despite camp starting under the dark cloud of serious injuries (see Darvish, Yu and Profar, Jurickson) for the second straight year, the promise of a new season and better results on the horizon are enough to encourage any baseball fan back here in the Metroplex. The big league club has already played nearly two handfuls of Cactus League games and, as expected, Texas has used a plentiful number of players in those contests, including several players we can expect to see in Frisco this season.
It’s never wise to put too much stock into spring training numbers, because it’s difficult to decipher between what’s reality and versus a desert mirage. That said it’s hard not to get excited over things like Rougned Odor’s torrid start (6 for 13 with two doubles) and good early reports on Elvis Andrus. Knowing that spring results should be taken with a heavy grain of salt, let’s take a look at what some like 2015 RoughRiders have done while moonlighting in big league games through March 10. (The minor league games for the players in camp will begin on March 16, and that is when we’ll begin to get a better idea of the roster makeup for each affiliate).
The Rangers’ 2014 Tom Grieve Minor League Player of the Year will look to take another big step toward the big leagues and may not be a long term resident in Frisco this season (assuming he starts there). Gallo, a non-roster invitee to spring training, has played in five of Texas’ eight games and is 3 for 10 with two walks, two strikeouts and a homer on March 8 against Cubs roster hopeful Eric Jokisch.
Gallo’s fellow “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle” (the collective nickname given to teen wonders – Gallo, Alfaro, Mazara, Williams, Guzman and Brinson – that populated the 2013 Hickory Crawdads) has gotten into seven games, going 2 for 9 with a pair of runs scored and an RBI. Look for Alfaro to get the lion’s share of the time behind the plate for Frisco this season.
The 21-year-old from Galveston has played in one spring training game, going 1 for 2. Williams did not have the smoothest entry into Double-A last season (.226/.250/.290), but he showed flashes of his powerful hit tool and figures to be one of the more scrutinized prospects on the RoughRiders this season.
Alberto could be ticketed for a level higher in the farm system at the start of the season based on position need and there is no doubt he has an advanced defensive tool. The Dominican, who was added to the Rangers’ 40-man roster in the off-season, won the Minor League Gold Glove Award for 2014. In six spring games with the big club, he is 4 for 12 with a double and a steal.
The Nebraska native could be in line to begin 2015 in Frisco despite being named a Texas League Postseason All-Star last year. He has swung the bat well in limited spring action, going 2 for 3 over two games.
Some of the big names (Jake Thompson, Andrew Faulkner) that figure to come to Frisco haven’t yet pitched in any big league games this spring, but several other hurlers have. Prospective Riders that have pitched scoreless baseball to date include Cody Kendall, Jose Leclerc and Kohsuke Tomita. Chad Bell, a Rider in 2012, may be with Frisco to begin 2015 as he continues his journey back from Tommy John surgery. He has allowed one run (on a solo homer) in his lone inning of action while Jesus Pirela (one run, 1.1 innings), Josh McElwee (two runs, 0.2 innings) and Efrain Nieves (two runs, 0.2 innings) have also been touched for runs.
With calendar year wrapping up, we’re taking one last look at the 2012 season, specifically the top performers in the Rangers organization. MiLB.com’s Rangers Organization All-Star Team provided a good jumping off point and yesterday we took a look at the infield with an eye upon the outfield and pitching today.
Joey Butler, Round Rock (137 G, .290-20-78, 28 2B, 3B, 93 R, 6-10 SB, .392 OBP, .473 SLG, .865 OPS)
Julio Borbon, Round Rock (126 G, .304-10-56, 23 2B, 8 3B, 78 R, 20-28 SB, .349 OBP, .433 SLG, .783 OPS)
Engel Beltre, Frisco (133 G, .261-13-55, 17 2B, 17 3B, 80 R, 36-46 SB, .307 OBP, .420 SLG, .727 OPS)
Lewis Brinson, AZL Rangers (54 G, .283-7-42, 22 2B, 7 3B, 54 R, 14-16 SB, .345 OBP, .523 SLG, .868 OPS)
The Rangers have a decent number of outfield prospects in their farm system and some very exciting ones who spent 2012 in the lower levels. Unfortunately, some of those exciting prospects did not have very good years offensively. The super-athletic Jordan Akins (Hickory) couldn’t crack the Mendoza Line in his first year with a full-season club while former first rounder Jake Skole struggled mightily in the Carolina League before serving a 50-game suspension for performance-enhancing drugs.
However, there were some notable seasons among outfielders down on the farm. While perhaps a little too old to wear the “prospect” label, Butler turned in a fine season for the Express, providing a consistent, middle-of-the-order threat. Whether or not he profiles to make a big league team at any point, he should have a long career in professional baseball given his ability to produce at the Triple-A level. I could have really included the entire Round Rock outfield on this list, as Borbon’s numbers were nearly as impressive Butler’s and Leonys Martin (55 G, .359-12-42, 1.033 OPS) was a stud in his limited time in Triple-A. While both certainly have credible cases to be made, ultimately I decided that there were other players who deserved the recognition maybe just a bit more.
My pick of Beltre was likely influenced by having the opportunity to see him everyday with the RoughRiders this past season. The former Red Sox signee entered this past season looking to wipe the slate clean from a disastrous 2011 campaign that tarnished his prospect status. The Dominican delivered, setting career-highs in home runs, triples and steals. His 17 three-baggers were the second-most in Minor League Baseball and he played an astonishingly good center field. Speaking from a purely defensive standpoint, I am convinced that he could step into the big leagues today and be a top 15 center fielder.
Based on his 2012 season, the Rangers certainly have to be happy with selecting Brinson with their first round draft pick this past June. The 18-year-old Floridian did not get the same level of attention that AZL Rangers teammate Joey Gallo received for his desert power surge, but that was through no fault of his own. Brinson led the AZL with 36 extra-base hits, 54 runs scored and 124 total bases while finishing one shy of the league lead in both hits and RBI. The potential of Brinson and many of his teammates from this past season should keep Rangers fans excited for the future.
RIGHT-HANDED STARTING PITCHER
MiLB.com’s pick: Barret Loux, Frisco (25 GS, 14-1, 3.47 ERA, 127 IP, 120 H, 100 K, 41 BB, 1.27 WHIP, .251 BAA)
My pick: Cody Buckel, Myrtle Beach/Frisco (26 G, 23 GS, 10-8, 2.49 ERA, 144.2 IP, 105 H, 159 K, 48 BB, 1.06 WHIP, .206 BAA)
Loux’s record is gaudy, but a closer look into his and Buckel’s numbers make the Californian the decisive choice from my perspective. Loux wowed everyone (the Diamondbacks included, methinks) by winning each of his first ten starts of the season before going 4-1 in his final 15 outings. His command of four pitches and ability to adjust from start-to-start and during starts were something to behold. Traded to the Cubs in November as Jake Brigham’s replacement in the Geovany Soto deal, Loux fits the profile of a 4 or 5 starter in a big league rotation. While Loux was very good at the start of the season for Frisco, Buckel was transcendent for the Pelicans. The undersized righty had more starts (13) than runs allowed (12) in the Carolina League and, after an adjustment period in Double-A, was at his best in the Texas League as the season wrapped up. Buckel learned to pound the strike zone with his zippy 92-94 mph fastball and then tortured hitters with his multitude of off-speed offerings (including a “shuuto,” or “reverse-slider”). Buckel should be a regular big league contributor (either with the Rangers or another team depending on how the trade winds are blowing) before the end of the 2014 season. Justin Grimm and C.J. Edwards also were worthy of consideration for this spot.
LEFT-HANDED STARTING PITCHER
MiLB.com’s pick: Chad Bell, Myrtle Beach/Frisco/Round Rock (31 G, 21 GS, 8-7, 3.48 ERA, 2 SV, 142.1 IP, 123 H, 110 K, 54 BB, 1.24 WHIP, .236 BAA)
My pick: Bell
The paucity of lefty starters in the Rangers’ system almost gives this award to Bell by default, but he is still a worthy recipient. He probably should have begun the year: a) in Frisco; and b) as a starter all along. But he started 2012 in a multi-inning relief role for Myrtle Beach before joining the RoughRiders at the end of April. He got off to a rocky start in the Texas League, allowing a home run in his first outing before settling down and going 23 straight innings over seven outings without allowing another earned run. By mid-May, he was starting and on June 11 he received the biggest boost of his season and perhaps his professional career. With Rangers Special Assistant and pitching legend Greg Maddux in attendance, Bell allowed just one hit and one walk with six strikeouts over 6.2 scoreless innings in a win over Midland. Maddux said after the game that it was one of the most impressive starts by a Minor Leaguer he had ever witnessed. Bell was in Round Rock by the end of the month and, though the PCL proved to be more treacherous, continued to string together solid performances.
MiLB.com’s pick: Ben Rowen, Myrtle Beach (38 G, 5-0, 1.57 ERA, 19-20 SV, 57.1 IP, 52 K, 3 BB, 0.77 WHIP, .201 BAA)
My pick: Rowen
Winner of a “MiLBY Award” for the best reliever in all of Minor League Baseball, the submariner Rowen is obviously the best choice here. The former 22nd round draft pick kept his pitches consistently down, inducing a 2.9 GO/AO ratio and allowing just two home runs all season. His ludicrously low number of walks (three) is perhaps his most impressive statistic, given the unpredictablility of submarine-style pitchers in general. Other excellent relievers from this past season included Phil Klein (Spokane/Myrtle Beach), Jimmy Reyes (Myrtle), Nicholas McBride (Spokane/Myrtle Beach), Zach Osborne (for his Myrtle work), Ross Wolf (Frisco/Round Rock), Joseph Ortiz (Frisco/Round Rock) and Yoshinori Tateyama (Round Rock).
– Alex V.
The regular season ended two months ago, but there is still baseball being played all over the world. Many fall and winter leagues have been playing for several weeks, and plenty of former and future RoughRiders are in action. Here’s an update on some familiar names and ones that will become familiar to ’Riders fans in just a few months.
Note: For a variety of reasons, many of these off-season leagues tend to dramatically favor strong offensive numbers, especially in the Arizona Fall League. So you should take some of the impressive offensive numbers (and poor pitching stats, for that matter) with a grain of salt.
ARIZONA FALL LEAGUE (Surprise Saguaros)
1B Chris McGuiness: The former Citadel star, who enjoyed a productive 2012 in Frisco, has played in a team-high 19 games for the Saguaros, hitting .314 with a triple-slash of .410/.543/.952. He’s tied for the AFL lead with four home runs and 20 RBI. He’s hit four doubles and has as many walks (11) as he does strikeouts. He was named the co-Player of the Week in the AFL in week one, sharing the honor with former Corpus Christi Hooks first baseman Jon Singleton. He was also the only Rangers farmhand named to the AFL Rising Stars Game, going 0-for-2 with a pair of fly outs.
SS Hanser Alberto: The recently minted 20-year-old split 2012 between the Rangers’ two Single-A affiliates in Hickory and Myrtle Beach and could very easily break camp in spring training as a RoughRider. He’s currently third in the AFL in batting average with a .360 clip in 14 games to go along with a double, two triples and six RBI. While he has stolen three bases, he’s also been caught four times (he was 24-for-31 in steals during the regular season).
SS Luis Sardinas: Another young middle infielder, the 19-year-old Venezuelan is batting .316 with a home run, two doubles and four runs batted in through nine games. He played this past season for Hickory and would seem to be a candidate to reach Frisco at some point in 2013 unless things bottom out for him in Myrtle Beach.
C Kellin Deglan:The former first round pick (22nd overall in 2010) out of Canada struggled at the plate for Hickory this past season and things have continued for him out in Arizona. In eight games, he is batting .172 with no extra-base hits, one RBI and four runs scored. He is only 20-years-old and has never played above Single-A, so don’t push the panic button just yet.
RHP Ryan Rodebaugh: After struggling with an oblique injury that sidelined him for more than a month early in the season, the former Kennesaw State Owl put together a very good campaign in his first season at the Double-A level. In eight AFL games, “Rodey” is 0-1 with a 3.09 ERA, 11 strikeouts and four walks in 11.2 innings. Since allowing four runs through his first three appearances, he has thrown seven straight scoreless frames.
RHP Joe Van Meter: It was a short stint in the AFL for Van Meter, who was shut down with a sore right shoulder after two starts. He had given up four runs on nine hits and four walks with four strikeouts in six innings. The former two-way star at VCU spent most of the season with Myrtle Beach but made three appearances in a RoughRiders uniform in the second half.
RHP Ben Henry: Henry replaced Van Meter on the Saguaros roster and has appeared in three games. He owns a 10.50 ERA (7 ER in 6 IP) with four strikeouts and seven walks in six innings. He spent most of this past season with Myrtle Beach, but missed the last month of the year due to injury.
RHP Ben Rowen: A likely closer candidate for the RoughRiders next season, Rowen won a MiLBY Award for the best reliever in Minor League Baseball this past season while pitching for the Pelicans. In the AFL, he has thrown in 11 games and has posted a 4.22 ERA in 10.2 innings. The submariner has eight strikeouts and four walks with a .195 opponents’ batting average.
LHP Jimmy Reyes: The former Elon Phoenix has been the most impressive Rangers pitcher in the AFL this year. Reyes, who spent all of 2012 in Myrtle Beach and finished Nick Tepesch’s May no-hitter, has yielded just two unearned runs on six hits in seven appearances (10 IP) with no walks and seven strikeouts. He also picked up a win in his first AFL game on October 10.
MEXICAN PACIFIC LEAGUE
C Jose Felix: The RoughRiders’ catcher in each of the past three seasons is playing for the Algodoneros de Guasave (or, the Guasave Cotton Growers for those who are a little rusty on their Español). After showing solid improvement at the plate for the ’Riders in 2012, he has looked good with Guasave, hitting .407 with three doubles and seven RBI in ten games and a triple-slash line of .393/.519/.911. And yes, Felix’s OBP is lower than his batting average, as he has not walked yet this off-season. He walked a ludicrous five times in 306 plate appearances during the regular season.
OF Joey Butler: The former RoughRider (2010 & 2011) is suiting up for the Venados de Mazatlán (Mazatlán Deer; yes, teams in the Mexican Pacific League have silly names. We should feature them on a blog post soon) after a very solid 2012 campaign with Triple-A Round Rock. Butler has struggled, however, for Mazatlán, hitting .228 with four doubles, a homer and five RBI in 17 games.
DOMINICAN WINTER LEAGUE
TIGRES DEL LICEY (LICEY TIGERS)
LHP Chad Bell: The Knoxville lefty made Frisco the middle stop on his three-team climb this past season (starting in Myrtle and ending in Round Rock). He has been hit hard by DWL opposition, going 0-1 with a 7.45 ERA in five games (three starts) with eight strikeouts and three walks in 9.2 innings.
3B Mike Olt: Frisco’s big-bopper in 2012 became a Ranger in early August when the big club called him up directly from the Texas League. Although his two injury-plagued months in the big leagues were underwhelming, he is still considered a big-time corner infield prospect. In ten games for Licey, Olt is hitting .286 with four doubles, one home run, five RBI and a triple-slash of .474/.536/1.009. His fine DWL performance was interrupted when he was hit in the head by a pitch on November 3 and he has yet to play since.
SS Jurickson Profar: Über-prospect Profar recently joined Licey, but has yet to play in a game. He spent nearly the entire 2012 season in Frisco until the Rangers called him up to the Major League squad when rosters expanded in September.
OF Engel Beltre: When he is not promoting proper recycling techniques, Beltre has been lighting up the DWL just like he did the Texas League at times this past season. The four-season RoughRiders centerfielder is batting .381 in 15 games for Licey with a double, five triples, ten RBI, 13 runs scored and a triple-slash of .435/.643/1.078. He leads the league in average, triples and OPS and is second in OBP and slugging.
OF Leonys Martin: The 2011 RoughRider split this past season
between Round Rock and the Rangers and, like Beltre, has been a solid performer in the DWL. In 17 games, he is batting .288 with four doubles, a triple, two home runs, 14 RBI and 14 runs scored.
GIGANTES DEL CIBAO (CIBAO GIANTS)
IF LEURY GARCIA: The only Rangers farmhand on Ciboa, Garcia has looked pretty similar to the player he was in Frisco this past season. In 16 games he is batting .273 with four doubles, a triple, two home runs (he had three for the ’Riders in 2012, including the playoffs), six RBI and seven runs scored. Garcia is a strong candidate to begin next season with Round Rock.
ESTRELLAS DE ORIENTE (EASTERN STARS)
LHP Ben Snyder: After spending parts of 2010 and 2011 with Frisco, Snyder pitched for Round Rock during the 2012 season. In five games (three starts) for Oriente, he is 2-1 with a 2.40 ERA, six strikeouts and ten walks in 15 innings.
AGUILAS CIBAENAS (EAGLES OF CIBAO)
RHP Johan Yan: Frisco’s closer for the first two months of 2012, Yan struggled after his promotion to Triple-A (5.03 ERA). He has performed a bit better in winter ball, going 1-0 with a 4.26 ERA in eight games. The submarine pitcher has posted an impressive 12-2 strikeout-to-walk ratio and 6:1 groundout/flyout ratio in 6.1 innings.
TOROS DEL ESTE (BULLS OF THE EAST)
RHP Fabio Castillo: Castillo split 2012 between Frisco and Round Rock after spending the previous two seasons as a RoughRider. He has been good in limited action with los Toros, allowing just an unearned run on three hits in 4.1 innings over six appearances. He has two walks and two strikeouts while pitching for his hometown (La Romana) club.
RHP Jose Diaz: The portly Diaz, who pitched for Frisco in 2009, spent 2012 with Indianapolis (Pittsburgh) of the Triple-A International League. In ten games for los Toros, he is 1-1 with a 2.79 ERA, 12 strikeouts, one walk and seven hits allowed in 9.2 innings.
LEONES DEL ESCOGIDO (LIONS OF THE CHOSEN ONE)
RHP Carlos Pimentel: Pimentel seemed to be effectively wild or wildly effective at points this season for the ’Riders, but not so effective for los Leones. In six games (one start), he owns a 10.57 ERA (9 ER, 7.2 IP) with a .343 opponents’ batting average. Still, with his solid year in Frisco he would seem to be a good bet to begin next season with Round Rock.
PUERTO RICAN WINTER LEAGUE
LEONES DE PONCE (PONCE LIONS)
The Puerto Rican League just began play on November 8. The Rangers farmhands on Ponce include OF Mike Bianucci (’Riders 2011), C Jorge Alfaro, C Kevin Torres, 1B/OF Brandon Snyder, LHP Tim Murphy (’Riders 2010, 2012), LHP Alexander Claudio, RHP Alex De La Cruz, RHP Jon Edwards (’Riders 2012) and RHP Angelo Leclerc.
VENEZUELAN WINTER LEAGUE
AGUILAS DE ZULIA (ZULIA EAGLES)
RHP Wilfredo Boscan: The RoughRiders’ 2011 Opening Day starter, Boscan spent the first half of 2012 pitching in relief for Frisco before performing very well as a starter in the second half of the season. He has continued that success for Zulia, going 0-1 with a 0.81 ERA in five starts. He has struck out 15 and walked six batters in 22.1 innings while opponents are hitting .228 off of him. The 23-year-old will likely start next season as a RoughRider once again.
TIBURONES DE LA GUAIRA (LA GUAIRA SHARKS)
LHP Joseph Ortiz: Affectionately nicknamed “Mini-Me,” the 5’7” Ortiz put together a superb 2012 season between Frisco and Round Rock. With La Guaira, he is 0-2 in 12 games with a 3.48 ERA, eight strikeouts and three walks in 10.1 innings and batters are hitting .200 against him. He will challenge for a spot in the Rangers bullpen during spring training.
RHP Jose Mavare: The 22-year-old Barquisimeto native spent 2012 with Hickory pitching out of the bullpen and could be a candidate to reach Frisco in the second half of next season. He has been hit hard in the VWL, allowing five runs on eight hits in six innings with five walks and six strikeouts.
NAVEGANTES DEL MAGALLANES (MAGELLAN’S NAVIGATORS)
RHP Randol Rojas: Rojas split 2012 between the Single-A affiliates, spending most of his time with Myrtle Beach. He has yet to appear in a game for los Navegantes.
LEONES DEL CARACAS (CARACAS LIONS)
RHP Wilmer Font: The hulking right-hander’s first season coming off Tommy John surgery was a resounding success. Font spent most of the season with the Pelicans before joining the RoughRiders in August, dazzling the Texas League with a blazing fastball and then earning a promotion to the Rangers in mid-September. He has not pitched yet for Caracas.
RHP Richard Alvarez: After pitching for Spokane for most the season, Alvarez made one appearance out of the bullpen for Hickory. Like Font, he has not yet thrown for Caracas.
CARDENALES DE LARA (LARA CARDINALS)
IF Guilder Rodriguez: The longtime Minor League veteran Rodriguez was recently re-signed by the Rangers and may be back in Frisco for a fifth consecutive year in 2013. In 15 games for Lara, G-Rod is batting .147 with two RBI and a pair of runs scored.
– Alex V.
The 2012 Frisco RoughRiders season was an unquestioned success. The ’Riders won the first half South Division title, finished with an 80-60 record (good for the second-best overall mark in the Texas League) and advanced to the Texas League Championship Series before losing to the Springfield Cardinals. Along the way, there were standout performances from big-time prospects, thrilling games and terrific storylines. Before looking ahead to the 2013 season, we look back at a special 2012 campaign that proved to be a memorable one for the ’Riders.
Record: 17-11 (T-1st of 8 TL teams)
Average: .268 (2nd)
Home Runs: 24 (3rd)
ERA: 3.27 (2nd)
Top Offensive Players: Mike Olt (.333-5-23, 7 2B, 16 R, .437/.556/.993, 3-3 SB), Jurickson Profar (.322-3-14, 9 2B, 2 3B, 21 R, .385/.513/.898, 3-5 SB), Zach Zaneski (.429-1-8), 3 2B, 7 R, .489/.571/1.061)
Top Pitchers: Chad Bell (7 G, 3 GS, 1-0, 0.69 ERA, 1-1 SV, 0.62 WHIP, .131 BAA), Justin Grimm (6 GS, 4-2, 2.08 ERA, 34.2 IP, 30 K, 6 BB), Joseph Ortiz (10 G, 0-1, 1.74 ERA, 2-3 SV, 10.1 IP, 8 H, 13 K ,3 BB, 1.06 WHIP, .211 BAA), Ross Wolf (9 G, 0-0, 0.00 ERA, 13.2 IP, 9 H, 0 R, 16 K, 3 BB, 3.75 GO/AO, 0.88 WHIP, .188 BAA)
After a solid opening month, the RoughRiders continued their steady ascent in the Texas League in May. Frisco held at least a share of first place in the TL South for every day in April and claimed sole possession of the division lead for all of May as well. The ’Riders began the month by winning seven of their first nine games and held a season-best five-game lead over Midland in the division by May 12.
It wasn’t until Frisco’s first trip to west Texas in the middle of the month that Steve Buechele’s squad lost a second series for the season. The ’Riders first foray to Citibank Ballpark, home of the RockHounds, proved to be a frustrating experience. Midland walked off with a win in the first game before Frisco rallied the next day to win by one run. Big innings hurt the RoughRiders in each of the next two games, as the ’Hounds had six-run and five-run innings in the next two games respectively to win the series. Frisco responded by winning eight of the final 12 games of the month to steady the ship and tie for the best record in the league during the month.
The team’s success coincided with a remarkable period of roster stability, a rarity in this age of baseball. Frisco benefitted from the Rangers’ relative health and between April 29 and May 23, there were no roster moves made. That changed later in the month when the ’Riders suffered their first true loss in the game of musical chairs that is in-season player movement. Closer Johan Yan, who was leading the Texas League with ten saves, was promoted to Triple-A Round Rock on May 25 where he would remain for the rest of the season. Yan’s worth was evident in that the team was 12-3 in games decided by one run while he was a RoughRider.
During May, the team continued to get excellent work from Justin Grimm, wins from Barret Loux (5-0, but his ERA in the month rose to 4.71), terrific relief from the likes of Joseph Ortiz, Fabio Castillo, Trevor Hurley and Yan, and solid production from newly converted reliever Chad Bell. The lefty from Tennessee, who arrived in late April from Myrtle Beach, impressed in the bullpen enough to earn a starting role. In both functions, he combined to post a 0.69 ERA and kept hitters off-guard by working all parts of the strike zone with his deceptive delivery.
Offensively, Mike Olt began to hit his stride offensively, raising his season batting average by 44 points and hitting five home runs with 23 RBI. His teammate on the left side of the infield continued to improve as well. Jurickson Profar continued a hit streak and on-base streak that began in April deep into May. Profar ended up hitting in 29 straight games from April 19 – May 19, tied for the second-longest hit streak in either Major or Minor League Baseball this past season, and he reached base in every game he played over the month. Meanwhile, backup catcher Zach Zaneski earned himself more playing time by continuing to produce offensively every time he was given the opportunity.
With a four-game lead in the division and just two more weeks left until the end of the season’s first half, another trip to the postseason was looking like a stronger possibility by the day for the RoughRiders.
May 1: Tim Murphy and two relievers combine on a 2-0 shutout effort at San Antonio. The Frisco pitchers outduel former RoughRider Robbie Erlin, who allows two runs in eight innings. Erlin was part of the Mike Adams trade in July of 2011and was a member of the ’Riders when the deal was made.
May 5: The ’Riders host the RockHounds on Cinco de Mayo in the first game between the top two teams in the South Division. Trailing by a run in the seventh inning, Frisco strikes for two tallies in the bottom of the frame to win 3-2. Joseph Ortiz tosses 1.2 perfect innings for the save while Jurickson Profar extends his hitting streak to 16 games with a third inning single.
May 7: In a matchup of two players that would soon be in the big leagues, Justin Grimm (6 IP, 3 H, R, BB, 5 K) tops A.J. Griffin (6 IP, 8 H, 4 R, 2 BB, 3 K) as the ’Riders beat Midland 4-2. Frisco scores three runs in the decisive fifth inning, capped by Ryan Strausborger’s second home run of the season.
May 8: The RoughRiders beat up another future Major League hurler, Dan Straily (5.1 IP, 7 H, 5 R, BB, 6 K), in a 9-3 win to capture the series victory. Later that day, Grimm is named the Rangers’ “Minor League Pitcher of the Month” for April.
May 10: Frisco wallops Corpus Christi 10-2 in the first game of a series in south Texas. Profar runs his hit streak to 20 games with a 2-for-6 effort while Barret Loux (5.1 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 BB, 6 K) improves to 7-0 on the season. The true star is Brad Hawpe, who goes 4 for 5 with a double, one run batted in and three runs scored in the game. After the game Hawpe moves into second place in the Texas League in both batting average (.338) and on-base percentage (.455) but struggles moving forward.
May 14: After splitting their series in Corpus, the ’Riders pay their first visit to Midland and go on to lose in walk-off fashion for the first time in 2012. After Chris McGuiness was robbed of an RBI single on a line drive back to the pitcher to end the top of the ninth inning, Shane Peterson wins it for the RockHounds with a bases-loaded RBI hit off Ortiz to give Midland a 6-5 victory.
May 15:Johan Yan enters the ninth inning with a 5-3 lead over Midland but commits an error, gives up a run and loads the bases with one out. He gets out of the jam thanks to a spectacular stop and glove flip by second baseman Guilder Rodriguez that starts a game-ending 4-6-3 double play. Frisco wins 5-4 as Loux becomes the Minors’ first eight-game winner.
May 18: On the heels of their second series defeat of the season, the ’Riders look worn down against former big leaguer and San Antonio Mission Josh Geer, who takes a no-hitter into the eighth inning. Jared Prince breaks it up with a double to start off the frame, but Frisco goes on to lose 5-2. Profar narrowly extends his hitting streak to 28 games by tripling in his final at bat in the ninth inning.
May 19: A night after nearly being no-hit, the ’Riders come close to no-hitting San Antonio in a 13-0 victory. Chad Bell (4 IP), Carlos Pimentel (3 IP) and Corey Young (0.2 IP) combine to get to within four outs of the no-no but Young allows a double to Jeudy Valdez with two outs in the frame to spoil the bid. Profar wastes no time in moving his hit streak to 29 games, the longest in the Minors at that point, with a first inning double. Mike Olt closes the affair with a two-run home run in the eighth inning, his ninth of the season.
May 20: Profar fails to get a base hit in a game for the first time since April 17, ending his 29-game hitting streak in a 2-1 Frisco win over the Missions. By the end of the season, the streak would be tied for the second-longest in Major or Minor League Baseball in 2012. Profar does work a walk in the fourth inning to push his consecutive games on-base streak to 39.
May 21: Yan blows his first career save by giving up two runs in the ninth inning to San Antonio. He had been 25-for-25 in save opportunities since he converted from playing infield before today. His offense, with some help from a fortuitous Jonathan Galvez error, picks him up by scoring a pair of runs in the bottom of the ninth inning en route to a 6-5 win.
May 23 – 25: Division leaders Frisco and Tulsa play for the first time at the Drillers’ ONEOK Field. Tulsa wins two of three games to claim the series victory, in part thanks to a walk-off wild pitch uncorked by Wilfredo Boscan in the series finale.
May 26: The ’Riders score five runs in the bottom of the first inning off Northwest Arkansas’ Chris Dwyer, but the lead is short-lived as Loux surrenders five runs as well in the bottom of the frame. The big righty settles down to pitch six innings as the offense provides four more runs in a 9-6 win. Loux improves to 10-0 in his first ten starts of the season, setting a new Frisco record for most consecutive victories.
May 27: Hawpe, mired in a slump, goes 0-for-4 with two strikeouts in what proves to be his last game of the season, one the ’Riders lose 9-5 to the Naturals. Since his four-hit game on May 10, the former Major League All-Star has hit .130 (6-for-46) with no extra-base hits and one RBI.
May 28: Memorial Day becomes truly memorable for one RoughRider as Val Majewski and Alex Buchholz combine on back-to-back solo home runs off Northwest Arkansas’ Noel Arguelles in a game Frisco wins 9-6. It was Majewski’s first and only home run of the season; he goes 3-for-5 with another RBI and run scored for the day.
May 31: Frisco closes out the month of May with a 10-4 win at home over Tulsa. After a few days off, Hawpe goes on the disabled list with elbow fatigue (he had “Tommy John” surgery on his left elbow the previous August). Three weeks later he is granted his release by the Rangers organization and does not play again in 2012.
Coming tomorrow: A look back at the month of June.
– Alex V.
The 2012 Frisco RoughRiders season was an unquestioned success. The ’Riders won the first half South Division title, finished with an 80-60 record (good for the second-best overall mark in the Texas League) and advanced to the Texas League Championship Series before losing to the Springfield Cardinals. Along the way, there were standout performances from big-time prospects, thrilling games and terrific storylines. Before looking ahead to the 2013 season, we look back at a special 2012 campaign that proved to be a memorable one for the ’Riders. (All photos by Alex Yocum-Beeman/Frisco RoughRiders)
Record: 15-9 (2nd of 8 TL teams)
Average: .263 (3rd)
Home Runs: 26 (2nd)
ERA: 3.08 (2nd)
Top Offensive Players: Brad Hawpe (.321-3-8, .459/.554/1.013), Leury Garcia (.309-0-2, 2 2B, 3 3B)
Top Pitchers: Justin Grimm (5 GS, 4-1, 1.59 ERA, 28.1 IP, 27 K, 6 BB, .194 BAA), Barret Loux (5 GS, 5-0, 1.63 ERA, 27.2 IP, 28 K, 8 BB), Carlos Pimentel (6 G, 2 GS, 2-1, 1/1 SV, 1.35 ERA, 20 IP, 24 K, .174 BAA), Johan Yan (10 G, 0.87 ERA, 5/5 SV, .158 BAA)
High expectations can be a two-edged sword. On one hand, they can elevate preexisting senses of hope and confidence. A baseball team from which a lot is expected can thrive on the positive mojo and can achieve success. Conversely, that hype has the ability to crush a team under the weight of those expectations and it underperforms. Even if a team doesn’t collapse, the odds of it failing the live up to high expectations are much greater than actually meeting them.
Enter the 2012 Frisco RoughRiders. With Frisco previously fielding playoff teams in six of the nine previous seasons, the expectations were already there for another successful season. But on top of that, Baseball America tabbed the RoughRiders as the third-most talented roster of players among all 120 full-season Minor League squads. The respected industry publication cited the presence of big-time infield prospects Jurickson Profar (number one on BA’s list of top Texas Rangers prospects), Mike Olt (three) and Leury Garcia (11) as well as pitchers Justin Grimm (15), Barret Loux (20) and Miguel De Los Santos (29). Throw in the toolsy, but mercurial Engel Beltre and 2011 Carolina League All-Stars Jared Prince, Ryan Strausborger and Zach Zaneski and it’s easy to see why Baseball America had its eye on the ’Riders.
But talented Minor League squads filled with prospects do not always translate into good teams. More often than not, it seems that rosters made up of older players with years of experience in their respective leagues have the most success and win championships.
The RoughRiders bucked those odds and finished April with the second-best record in the Texas League through a balanced combination of fantastic pitching and steady offense. From out of the gate, the team’s pitching staff was dominant. Justin Grimm anchored a rotation that anchored five intriguing prospects while the bullpen featured hard throwers aplenty. While the offense got off to a slow start (13 runs in the first five games), it rebounded nicely and proved to be the most dynamic in the TL.
April 4: Before the regular season begins, the RoughRiders host the parent club Texas Rangers in an exhibition game. Making the occasion even more interesting, prized Japanese import Yu Darvish makes the start for Ron Washington’s club in his first pitching appearance in his new home market. Darvish does not disappoint, tossing four scoreless innings with two hits and two walks allowed to go along with five strikeouts as the Major Leaguers best the ’Riders 6-1.
April 5: The RoughRiders begin the regular season in Missouri with a 1-0 win over the Springfield Cardinals. Frisco’s only run scores on a Jose Felix sacrifice fly while Justin Grimm (5.1 IP, 2 H, 0 R, BB, 10 K) is brilliant in his Double-A debut.
April 6: Frisco falls 4-1 to the Cardinals with the team’s only run coming on Mike Olt’s first home run of the season. Earlier in the day the Rangers re-sign long-time big league outfielder and Westlake, Texas native Brad Hawpe and assign him to Frisco. Hawpe underwent “Tommy John” surgery while playing for the Padres in August of 2011.
April 7: In what was the first of many, Barret Loux earns his first win of the season in a 6-1 victory over Springfield in the series finale. Loux works out of trouble in nearly every inning (six hits and two walks) but does not allow a run over five frames. Hawpe leads the way by going 3-for-4 with a home run in his first at bat. He finishes a triple shy of the cycle with two runs scored and two RBI.
April 8: The ’Riders continue their season-opening road trip with an extra-innings 3-2 win on Easter Sunday at Arkansas. Felix hits a soft single to left-center field in the 11th inning that scores Engel Beltre from second base to win it. Jurickson Profar snaps his 0-for-13 start to the season by hitting a first pitch home run in the fifth inning to the deepest park of Dickey-Stephens Park.
April 14: In a showcase of two of the best position player prospects in the Minors, both Profar and Springfield’s Oscar Taveras hit first inning solo home runs in a game the RoughRiders eventually win 6-2. Profar officially puts his first week struggles (2 for 26 to begin 2012) to bed with a 3-for-4 night at the plate.
April 16: Frisco beats Arkansas 2-1 behind another excellent performance by Grimm (6.1 IP, H, 0 R, BB, 5 K) for its fourth straight victory. The win not only clinches the team’s fourth straight series victory to start the season, but it also moves Steve Buechele into the top spot for most wins ever by a Frisco manager. Buechele’s 155th win as the ’Riders’ skipper gives him one more than Tim Ireland, who managed the team in its first two years of existence and in 2004 won Frisco’s only Texas League championship.
April 19 – 22: After winning 10-0 at Corpus Christi in their first divisional game of the season, the ’Riders see their pitching get torched for 22 runs over the next three games en route to losing their first series of the season.
April 24: Following trips to the disabled list by starter Miguel De Los Santos and reliever Ryan Rodebaugh, Chad Bell is promoted to Frisco from Advanced-A Myrtle Beach. An under-the-radar prospect, Bell does not take long to impress, at first in relief and eventually as a starting pitcher. That night Olt hits his fifth home run and Profar triples in a 7-2 Frisco win over San Antonio.
April 25:The ’Riders score three first inning runs off San Antonio’s Hayden Beard but cannot hold the advantage as the Missions come back to tie the game by the third. After Bell surrenders a go-ahead home run in the top of the ninth inning, Frisco ties it on Hawpe’s two-out RBI double in the bottom of the inning to send the game to extra innings. However in the 11th, Jeudy Valdez burns Corey Young for an RBI single to send San Antonio to a 6-5 win in three hours and 23 minutes.
April 26: After Fabio Castillo blows a ninth inning save, the ’Riders and Missions go to extras for the second straight night and take their time to settle things. The game goes to the 13th inning when Guilder Rodriguez strokes a base hit to center field to score Chris McGuiness and send Frisco to a 6-5 win, its first walk-off victory of the year. The game takes four hours and 26 minutes to complete. Earlier in the contest, Leury Garcia pulls up lame at first base running out a bunt and is eventually placed on the disabled list where he will remain for nearly a month because of a right hip flexor.
April 27: Grimm (6 IP, 4 H, 0 R, BB, 9 K) rebounds from his first poor outing of the season to outclass the Hooks’ Jarred Cosart in a 12-0 ’Riders romp. Chris McGuiness crushes a three-run home run – his fifth of the season – in a six-run fifth inning. Bell throws three perfect innings (4 K) for the save.
April 29: Loux strikes out eight batters and allows two runs over six innings as the ’Riders blast Corpus 10-3. The former Texas A&M Aggie ends May tied for the MiLB lead in wins at 5-0 with a 1.63 ERA. Six Frisco players have multi-hit games, including Profar (2-for-5), who extends his hit streak to 11 games.
April 30: Despite allowing four runs over the first two innings, Jake Brigham gets bailed out by his offense in a 9-4 Frisco victory over the Hooks. Zach Zaneski, who entered the game hitting .167 (116 points below his career average) with two extra-base hits, drilled two home runs while Alex Buchholz homered and tripled to pace the offense. The triple was Frisco’s 17th of the year, the most by any professional team through the season’s first month.
Coming tomorrow: A look back at the month of May.
– Alex V.
The RoughRiders have many talents on and off the field. Earlier this season we talked to outfielder Jared Prince, infielder Alex Buchholz, and pitcher Chad Bell to see if they would let us film their musical talents. Here is their rendition of Kenny Chesney’s You and Tequila. The guys also take requests which can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Video shot by Alex Yocum-Beeman
What a span of four days it was for the Texas Rangers organization. In a matter of days, three different minor league teams for the Texas Rangers flirted with a no-hitter. Only one, however, came away with it. On Saturday, when the Frisco RoughRiders were four outs short of their first no-hitter of the season, the Myrtle Beach Pelicans completed theirs against the Wilmington Blue Rocks in a 3-0 victory.
If I had given you two pitching lines of their previous starts before the most recent one, the prediction for a no-hitter from Myrtle Beach probably would have been Cody Buckel (5 IP 2 H 1 R 4 BB 7 K) over Nick Tepesch (4.2 IP 13 H 7 R 2 BB 6 K). But baseball can be a funny game some times.
Tepesch (2-3 4.06 ERA) started the game for Myrtle Beach on the road in Wilmington and he was as good as he’s ever been. The right handed pitcher retired the first eleven batters he faced and later had a span of nine consecutive retired. In all, Tepesch pitched 7 1/3 innings with nine strikeouts and four walks. His nine strikeouts were a season high and one short of matching his career best, ten strikeouts.
The most trouble that Nick got himself into was in the 8th inning when he walked Roman Hernandez and Kevin David to open the inning. He got the third batter, Juan Graterol, to strikeout. Tepesch was then pulled and Jimmy Reyes was brought in to replace him. Reyes ended the threat by getting Alex McClure to ground into a double play.
Jimmy Reyes pitched the ninth inning as well. The southpaw got Whit Merrifield to pop out to shortstop Edwin Garcia and Geulin Beltre to strikeout. At which point the Wilmington Blue Rocks play-by-play announcer, John Sadak, had this call:
The Pelicans pitchers got all of the support they needed from Brett Nicholas, who went 1 for 2 with a double, two RBI, and two walks. Tomas Telis also went 3 for 4 in the game with two doubles and scored two of the three runs.
Frisco was attempting to become the second Ranger’s affiliate with a no-hitter on the day, but came up just short. Chad Bell made his first start of the year for Frisco and pitched four innings of no-hit ball. Carlos Pimentel came in for his fifth relief appearance of the season and pitched three effectively wild innings without allowing a hit. After retiring the first two hitters, reliever Corey Young gave up a double to Jeudy Valdez in the eighth inning. Young finished the inning and Joseph Ortiz came in to pitch the ninth in Frisco’s 13-0, 2-hit bruising of the San Antonio Missions.
Like Frisco, the Hickory Crawdads also came within four outs of a no-hitter on Monday as the team gave up one hit, a home run, in a 5-1 seven inning victory over the Kannapolis Intimidators in game one of a double header. Hickory had a no-hitter through 5 2/3 innings before Mark Haddow homered with two outs in the 6th inning. Luke Jackson started the game for Hickory and gave up the one hit over 6 2/3 innings with three walks and nine strikeouts.
Baseball players go through cycles and when things are clicking for them, special things can happen. This past weekend was almost a very special one for three affiliates of the Texas Rangers.
For Myrtle Beach, however, the very special moment happened.
Written By: Michael Damman