Results tagged ‘ Cody Buckel ’

Back fields, bees and Buckel: Day Two in Surprise

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The all-seeing eye of the back fields, providing a prime view of four diamonds at once.

This week I’m taking in my first visit to Surprise, Arizona for Rangers Spring Training, and I’m bringing you with me. If you missed the recap of Day One of my trip, check it out right here.

From what I can gather, you go through a few different phases during Spring Training as a player,coach and executive.

1. There’s the initial burst of excitement over getting back to a baseball field and rediscovering your passion for the game you love.  This period is great – until you grow weary of the numerous of meetings, practices, simulated situations and other minutia that, while important, is not why anyone signed up to be a part of this game.  All during this time, you’re chomping at the bit to start playing something that at least resembles a game.

2. You eventually do move into this phase, but they’re not real games (granted, Spring Training games are not really like real games, but at least it’s somewhat close); they’re more like scrimmages that you play against the same people you’ve been practicing against for the last week or two.

3. Just when you get to the point where you’re mentally over the idea of facing the same opponent day after day, you start games against other organizations, which is a major refresher for the mind.

4. Then, you just get sick and tired of being in Arizona for up to two months and playing the role of “human sunny-side up egg” in the roasting desert sun.  You want to get the season underway and start playing games that count (with real stats too).

The big leaguers are in the midst of Phase 3, while the minor leaguers have just gotten to Phase 2, which I watched begin in earnest on Monday morning at the Rangers’ Spring Training complex in Surprise.  Along the way, I witnessed the start of a comeback, a rebirth, the long-term future and the bizarre before finishing the day with a Hall of Famer.

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Hypoderm Sunscreen & 99¢ Only Stores, two lifesavers.

7:45 a.m.  – As I alluded to at the end of yesterday’s post, I was not going to play the role of fool two days in a row (at least in this specific respect) and get microwaved by the southwest sun once again.  Upon the recommendation of the helpful hotel lobby person, I headed over the nearby “99 ¢ Only Store” (because dollar stores are considered too bourgeoisie here) to purchase some sunscreen.  Now, I was just as suspicious as you probably are reading this about buying 99-cent sunscreen.  “Wouldn’t splashing a layer of water on your skin be at least equally effective?”  Yeah, that ran through my head, but my faith in “Hypoderm Sunscreen” (Note to anyone who thought, “Why didn’t I think of an amazing name like that?”: it’s not a registered trademark, apparently) was rewarded. My burns from Sunday were reasonably contained and my skin did not start falling off at any point.  And I feel like a true bargain hunter after spotting this attempt on eBay to charge some poor sap $12.99+shipping for three of these babies. The whole episode felt a little like hitting a three-point bank shot that you didn’t call.

8:15 a.m. – Things are still fairly quiet by the time I reach the complex, probably due to the fact that fans won’t be let into the facility until 10 a.m.  There are a few hitters getting some early work in and some of the big leaguers are trickling in for the day.  The Rangers clubhouse is divided into two sides: one for the major leaguers and one for the minor leaguers.  The minor league clubhouse is a lot bigger, but more crowded because there are so many more players in that camp.  I am a bit surprised at how nice the minor league clubhouse is, however.  I wasn’t necessarily expecting Bull Durham or some high school level accommodations, but I wasn’t expecting it to be nearly equal in many respects to the big league side.  The lockers are made of wood (like the major leaguers) and are certainly an acceptable size, the flood is nicely carpeted and it has a welcoming tone to it.  It’s much better than many road stadium clubhouses (and some home ones too) I’ve seen in my baseball travels.

On this particular morning, I meet Alex “Chi-Chi” Gonzalez in the clubhouse and we talk about his outing in the big league “A” game the day before.  He allowed three of the four men he faced to reach base before being removed after hitting his 20-pitch limit.  A pair of meekly-hit grounders were able to sneak through for hits, so he isn’t overly negative about his performance even though all three men came home to score later in the inning.  As for his nickname (which he prefers to go by, by the way), Chi-Chi says it was given to him by his grandfather’s brother; he nicknamed Gonzalez’ two older sisters Nina and Nene, so Chi-Chi seemed to fit the bill for Alex.

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Uniform reinforcements are on standby outside the clubhouse.

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Lots of players in camp means lots of broken bats. There’s an overflowing cardboard box filled with them.

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Approximately one-sixteenth of the baseballs they’ve got in camp. These ones haven’t yet met a bat or blade of grass.

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It’s hard not to look forward to the future when you see a foursome like Joey Gallo, Nick Williams, Lewis Brinson and Nomar Mazara hitting together.

9 a.m. – Pockets of minor league hitters are taking batting practice out on the back fields (the big leaguers practice on the two fields closest to the stadium/clubhouse).  I stumble upon the BP group that folks who love prospects dream about: Joey Gallo, Nick Williams, Lewis Brinson and Nomar Mazara.  Like many, I’ve heard a lot about these players but have never seen them in person (Ronald Guzman and Jorge Alfaro are also among the super-prospects who are super-young and populated Hickory’s Avengers-like squad last season).  Like many, I am impressed at first glance.  I didn’t realize how big they all were.  At 6’3″, Brinson is the shrimp of the group.  The others are either 6’4″ or 6’5″ and aren’t just tall rods with pine tar on their batting gloves.  They’re built like stallions and we may see one or two gallop to Frisco by the end of 2014 if things go well.

I have a nice conversation about Cody Buckel with rehab pitching coordinator Keith Comstock, who says that Buckel is throwing the ball as well as he ever has.  Buckel, the Rangers’ 2012 Nolan Ryan Minor League Pitcher of the Year, suffered a bad case of the yips last season and spent most of the campaign rewiring himself mentally and mechanically.  I hadn’t heard much about Cody since the end of the season and am excited to see him pitch later in the day.

9:30 a.m. – The pitchers meet as a group with new farm director Mike Daly right next to the tall observation structure pictured at the start of the blog entry and it’s not long before Daly is about to give another talk to the hitters.  It’s recommended that I join the group if I want a cool history lesson.  Daly proceeds to educate the players about notable players from the 1966 MLB draft.  The first overall pick was Steve Chilcott by the Mets – a seven-year minor leaguer who never reached the show.  The second pick did slightly better.  His name is Reggie Jackson.  Daly tells the group about Reggie’s career and his epic performances in the World Series before finishing up by talking about the sixth overall pick from that draft: none other than Tom Grieve.  I later speak with Daly and we talk about his history lesson.  He’s concerned about the relative lack of knowledge many young players have about players who came before them, so he makes it a point to relay some history during camp through his own lessons and visits from legends like Pudge Rodriguez and others.  Hopefully Texas’ minor leaguers can avoid the fate of Josh Hart.

10 a.m. – After the meetings wrap up, it’s more practice time on the back fields. The four fields are filled with defensive drills, bunt plays and batting practice.  I’ll see infield work before games throughout the season, but never 20-30 minutes’ worth with every pitcher also taking part in these simulated situations.  These are the minor leagues, and the minors are all about development.  We see that over the course of the season, but the foundation is laid right here.

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Jason Wood hits grounders and calls out simulated scenarios for the fielders to respond to like they were in an actual game.

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Ryan Rua sizes up a Jason Wood pitch during BP.

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Greg Maddux about to hit a grounder back to Nick Tepesch as he joins Matt Harrison and Tommy Hanson for fielding work.

11:30 a.m. – Most of the big leaguers have left the practice fields to get ready for that afternoon’s game against the Reds, but not everyone has headed back to the clubhouse.  On the infield-only field, Greg Maddux is hitting ground balls back to Matt Harrison, Nick Tepesch and Tommy Hanson.  So not only the minor league guys work on fielding, and what better mound defender to learn from than Maddux, who only racked up a record 18 Gold Gloves during his Hall of Fame career.  With not a whole lot else going on, a crush of fans flock to get in prime autograph position for when the session is over (for Tepesch, obviously).

On my way back to the big league side, I have a short chat with Rangers manager Ron Washington who is about to drive his golf back to the clubhouse.  I wish him luck this season at the end of our conversation, to which he responds, “Well thank you baby!” and drives off.

12 noon - I meet Brandon Boyd, who is one of the Rangers’ clubhouse managers and also a former RoughRiders employee.  Brandon oversaw the ‘Riders clubhouse from 2005-09 before moving on to Arlington.  He takes me into the big league clubhouse, where I catch up with several familiar faces: Mitch Moreland, a RoughRider in 2009 and a rehabber in 2012 & ’13; Ryan Feierbend, a 2013 ‘Rider who would throw a scoreless inning in relief of Yu Darvish later in the day; and Brett Nicholas, Frisco’s best offensive player in 2013.  Nicholas has been with the big club for the spring, mostly as a catcher after spending nearly all of last year at first base. Most of the clubhouse is vacant, but that is probably because it is when media is allowed in for interviews (nobody likes the media, especially radio guys).

On my way back to the minor leaguers, I stop to talk to Harrison, who I met during his rehab stint with Frisco last summer.  Harrison will pitch for the first time in Tuesday’s game and says he feels completely healthy for the first time in a very long time.  He says 2013 was agonizing, but feels like he is in great shape and is ready to get back to what made him an All-Star in 2012.

12:15 p.m. – I return to the back fields to watch the three intersquad games being played (the start of Phase 2 of Spring Training).  Basically, all of the players in camp are mixed into random teams and pitted against one another for games that would last approximately five innings.  This is once of the coolest parts of the day.  On Field 5 I see Jorge Alfaro lace a Kevin Pucetas knuckleball to right-center for a triple.  Pucetas is reinventing himself as a knuckleball pitcher after toying with the pitch in Frisco last season.  Despite the Alfaro three-bagger, the knucklers dance enough that Pucetas does not allow another baserunner.

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Kevin Pucetas readies a knuckleball while warming up in the bullpen.

The lineups for one intersquad game.

The lineups for one intersquad game.

Wait a minute, let's get a better look at that Jason Wood baseball card.

Wait a minute, let’s get a better look at that Jason Wood baseball card.

When I turn to Field 4, I watch Alex Claudio end an inning with a pickoff at second base with Juremi Profar batting and later Jon Edwards hits 98 on the radar gun.  It is tough to keep up with all three games at once, so I miss some action but thoroughly enjoy what I did see.  And the players seem to enjoy playing in games for the first time since last season.  The minor league guys will play intersquad games on Tuesday and Wednesday before squaring off against other organizations beginning Thursday.

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Nomar Mazara attempts to square up a pitch during an intersquad game. That’s Jorge Alfaro behind the plate.

Soon enough, it’s Buckel’s turn to pitch and I am not disappointed.  Cody looks a lot like the 2012 Cody; the one who struck out 9.9 batters per nine innings and displayed impeccable control.  Buckel gets a strikeout and ultimately retires three of the four men he faces.  Afterwards, he tells me that it felt good to finally pitch in his first game action since a pair of early-August AZL contests.  He says he didn’t attack the strike zone the way he has in recent bullpens, but chalks that up to the long delay in facing live batters.

As an aside, I don’t want to make Buckel’s outing out to be more than it was.  It was a good step in the right direction after a nightmare 2013, not a guarantee that he will never struggle again on the mound in the minors.  I hope that he can string outings like this together and get his career back to where it was, and then beyond.  Monday was not a definitive answer to anything, but it certainly was encouraging to see.

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Cody Buckel looked completely different than the last time I saw him pitch in 2013, when he struggled to throw strikes.

2 p.m. – Following the intersquad games, I head back to Surprise Stadium, where the Rangers and Reds are well underway.  But before I can enter the stadium through the team offices, I encounter an obstacle I just am not expecting: bees.  Lots of them.  A stone column that sits between the office and the stadium concourse apparently gathered an enormous mass of bees over the span of an hour.  There was no hive there previously; they just all swarmed to that spot and just stayed.  I’m told it’s probably not safe to walk past them and that pest control is on its way.  I agree that missing an inning or so of a Spring Training game in exchange for avoiding hundreds of simultaneous bee stings is probably a fair trade.  It isn’t long before a group of close to a dozen people (including Rangers special assistant and former pitcher Darren Oliver) join me to watch the extermination.

A photo essay of the kill:

The swarm of bees were approximately the size of a basketball and it seemed to be growing.

The swarm of bees was approximately the size of a basketball and it seemed to be growing.

Nonchalant pest control showed up on a moment's notice.

Nonchalant pest control showed up on a moment’s notice.

You know it's memorable when even the exterminator is snapping photos. But he was crazy close without much face protection.

You know it’s memorable when even the exterminator is snapping photos. But he was crazy close without much face protection.

Getting to work. They put a tarp down to help collect the dead bees.

Getting to work. They put a tarp down to help collect the dead bees.

He's not spraying any sort of insecticide or poison; it's actually just soapy water, which apparently messes with the bees pretty badly.

He’s not spraying any sort of insecticide or poison; it’s actually just soapy water, which apparently messes with the bees pretty badly.

The whole group didn't fall at once.  The bees came out in fist-sized clumps.

The whole group didn’t fall at once. The bees came out in fist-sized clumps.

After about five minutes of spraying, the coast was clear and I dashed into the ballpark.

After about five minutes of spraying, the coast was clear and I dashed into the ballpark.

2:15 p.m. – The Rangers and Reds are in the fifth inning by the time I get past the bees and into the stadium.  Yu Darvish is finishing up his outing and both teams get ready to send in position players that 95% of the stadium has never heard of.  Now 11 years old, Billy Parker Field at Surprise Stadium holds up very well and seems to be an enjoyable place to watch a game.  There’s a big Monday crowd on hand; hopefully most of them do not leave with bee stings.

The second level view from right behind home plat.e

The second level view from right behind home plate.

A look from the third base concourse. The Rangers team offices are housed in the building in the back.

A look from the third base concourse. The Rangers team offices are housed in the building in the back.

Looking homeward from the outfield berm. That grass the fans are seated on is actually a plastic synthetic surface that feels and looks like real grass.  I had to pluck one from the ground to confirm it wasn't the real deal.

Looking homeward from the outfield berm. That grass the fans are seated on is actually a plastic synthetic surface that feels and looks like real grass. I had to pluck one from the ground to confirm it wasn’t the real deal.

Want to cool down after the game? There's a community aquatic center across the street from Surprise Stadium.

Want to cool down after the game? There’s a community aquatic center across the street from Surprise Stadium.

The Rangers bullpen is down the right field line. Under the screen you can see 2013 RoughRiders Randy Henry, Jimmy Reyes and Brett Nicholas.

The Rangers bullpen is down the right field line. Under the screen you can see 2013 RoughRiders Randy Henry, Jimmy Reyes and Brett Nicholas.

Kansas City's offices are located on the third base side of the park, exactly opposite (an equal, by all appearances) of the Rangers'. These kids must know that they could never be Royals.

Kansas City’s offices are located on the third base side of the park, exactly opposite the Rangers’. These kids must know that they could never be Royals.

New to me: a souvenir store in a ballpark tailored to women and children.

New to me: a souvenir store in a ballpark tailored to women and children.

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Team-themed coozies are among the specialty products for sale at the “women and kids” team store.

3:15 p.m. – Because I did not get the chance to see him on Sunday, I make a stop by the Rangers’ broadcast booth to see Eric

Eric Nadel (left) and Matt Hicks giving listeners every Josh Wilson detail they could ask for,

Eric Nadel (left) and Matt Hicks giving listeners every Josh Wilson detail they could ask for,

Nadel.  I’ve met Eric a few times at Rangers games and he has always been kind to me.  Rangers fans are lucky to have had him for so long and I wasn’t the only one who was very happy for his Hall of Fame election this past off-season.  I don’t want to take too much of his and Matt Hicks’ time during the game, but I congratulate Eric on the honor during an inning break and then scoot out of the booth.  In the radio booth right next door, fellow Hall of Fame broadcaster Marty Brennaman is broadcasting for the Reds’ radio network.  Eric calls Marty one of his career mentors.

3:40 p.m. – The Rangers wrap up an 8-2 win over Cincinnati as former RoughRiders Neftali Feliz and Nicholas form the game-ending battery.  It’s Texas’ first win since Thursday against San Diego and the last game I’ll see at Surprise Stadium during my stay in Arizona.  The team heads to Camelback Ranch in Glendale to play the White Sox on Tuesday and I’ll be there for at least some of it as I hit the home stretch of my stay in the desert.

The Rangers assume the victory formation after an 8-2 win over the Reds.

The Rangers assume the victory formation after an 8-2 win over the Reds.

As always thanks for reading,

Alex

‘Riders in Review: July 2013

Welcome to August. The ‘Riders had to have been happy to close the book on July. The 11-18 mark was the worst month for the team in terms of wins and losses this season and the worst since an 8-14 record posted in April 2011.

August 1 brought some new faces–five in fact. The promotion of Carlos Pimentel to Triple-A and the departure of Hanser Alberto, Odubel Herrera, Nick McBride and Kevin Pucetas to Advanced-A Myrtle Beach made room for the Pelicans to send five players to Frisco: pitchers Jon Edwards, Luke Jackson and Francisco Mendoza as well as infielders Rougned Odor and Luis Sardinas. (read more on the new guys here)

Frisco trailed the San Antonio Missions by eight games in the Texas League South Division at the month’s end. Dr Pepper Ballpark proved a tough venue for the ‘Riders in the month. The team won just 3 of 13 games here in Frisco. Still, remarkable performances were put together and some unforgettable moments made.

Texas League Rankings for the Month of July

Record: 55-55 overall, 11-18 in May (T-5th in Texas League), home: 3-10, road: 8-8, vs. division: 9-13

Runs: 110 (T-5th)

Average: .248 (6th)

On-base percentage: .294 (8th)

Stolen bases: 17 (6th)

Home runs: 20 (T-6th)

ERA: 3.78 (5th)

Strikeouts for: 197 (6th)

Walks allowed: 80 (8th)

Avg attendance for the year: 7,165 (6th fewest)

RIDERS REVIEW Record Runs AVG OBP SB HR ERA K BB Avg. Att. TD
April 14-11 107 .250 .297 19 17 2.87 208 84 7060
May 18-11 125 .247 .306 38 32 4.12 255 114 7315
June 12-15 96 .259 .299 23 18 4.10 210 99 7310
July 11-18 110 .248 .294 17 20 3.87 197 80 7165
Season 55-55 438 .251 .299 97 87 3.74 870 377 7165

TL IN MAY Record Runs AVG OBP SB HR ERA K BB Avg. Att. TD
San Anto. 19-10 105 .260 .310 32 20 3.01 225 90 4,349
Corpus 18-11 138 .254 .336 7 34 4.00 179 77 5,475
Arkansas 17-12 110 .258 .314 22 24 3.53 193 77 4,488
NW Ark. 14-15 140 .264 .326 30 31 4.59 233 107 4,756
Springfield 14-15 135 .249 .341 28 28 3.77 247 82 4,929
Tulsa 12-17 96 .243 .299 13 24 3.93 228 82 5,817
FRISCO 11-18 110 .248 .294 17 20 3.78 197 80 7,165
Midland 11-18 112 .234 .316 20 14 3.70 200 79 4,616

Awards

‘Riders Slugger of the Month

3B Alex Buchholz (.341/.412/.615), 15 R, 7 2B, 6 HR, 14 RBI, 9 K, 8 BB, 1 SB)

It’s amazing that four months into the season, this selection has been so easy each month. It’s hard to argue for anyone outside of Alex Buchholz. He very well could win the Texas Rangers Minor League Player of the Month with his torrid July. He added to his stellar July Double-A campaign with a couple of doubles and a ribbie in Triple-A action to close out the month.

No other Rangers minor leaguer posted an OPS of over 1.000. His six home runs represented the highest long ball total on the Rangers’ farm, and was only bested by the big leagues’ Adrian Beltre and his nine July home run in the entire Texas system. Buchholz earned Texas League Player of the Week for the week of June 10-17 when he began his week 7-for-7. Playing for the first time in his career at Triple-A, the former Reds farmhand is in the midst of a breakout season. He has posted a career high in games played (96), doubles (25) home runs (15), RBI (49).

Past winners: Telis (June), Nicholas (May), Hoying (April)

‘Riders Hurler of the Month

RHP Arlett Mavare (0-0, 2.19 ERA, 6 G, 3 GS, 24.2 IP, 20 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 2 HRA, 16 K, 2 BB, 2 HB, 0.89 WHIP, .222 BAA)

With apologies to a number of relievers who shined in July, most notably newcomers Alex Claudio (1.29 ERA/1.07 WHIP, 14.0 IP 16 K, 3 BB) and Lisalverto Bonilla (0.61 ERA/1.02 WHIP, 14.2 IP, 21 K, 5 BB), it was Arlett Mavare who, not only pitched the best in July but also surprised and saved a RoughRiders rotation in dire need of stability.

With Neil Ramirez on the disabled list and the recent departures of Carlos Pimentel (Round Rock) and Kevin Pucetas (Myrtle Beach), the five men from the Opening Day rotation are now all gone. Cody Buckel is in Arizona working out control issues in the Rangers spring training complex and Ryan Feierabend has spent most of the season in Triple-A with the Express.

Mavare stepped into Ramirez’s spot and has been brilliant. Before the move to the rotation, Mavare was 1-2 with a 6.91 ERA. Mavare made three starts in the month: in 16 innings pitched, he allowed four runs on 12 hits with eight Ks and one walk. One walk.

In his final start in July, Arlett tossed a career-high-tying seven innings pitched, something he hadn’t done since his first pro season in 2009.

Past winners: Tufts (June), Rowen (May), Henry (April)

Official Texas League Players of the Week:

July 1 – 7: P – Matt Wisler (San Antonio) ; B – Audry Perez (Springfield) 

July 8 – 14: P – Carlos Hernandez (Midland); B – Brett Eibner (NW Arkansas)

July 15 – 21: P – Keyvius Sampson (San Antonio); B – Max Stassi (Corpus Christi)

July 22 – 28: P – Aaron Brooks (NW Arkansas); B – Brian Fletcher (NW Arkansas)

Punching Bag of the Month

Corpus Christi Hooks RP Kenny Long

Overall it hasn’t been a great season for Long, but July was particularly brutal. The stock was rising for the former 22nd rounder when he was promoted to Double-A for the first time in his career after a good start in Lancaster (Advanced-A). His Hooks run began solid as well, firing four scoreless outings to begin his time in the Texas League.

It’s been shaky since then, so shaky that he is back down in the California League and likely in large part to the way the ‘Riders punished Long. In seven July outings lasting 7.2 innings before his demotion, Long was knocked around for 10 runs on 18 hits with four walks and two home runs allowed. Good for an 0-2 record and an 11.74 ERA. Both losses ad both homers came against Frisco. He matched up against the ‘Riders in his final three Double-A appearances. Here is the line: 3 G, 2.2 IP, 10 H, 7 R, 7 ER, 0 BB, 2 K, 2 HR allowed, .555 BAA (10-for-18). Ouch.

Best Moment of the Month

A second fan won a car at Dr Pepper Ballpark – July 7, 2013 - Remember when Tomas Telis won a fan a car by hitting a home run on the first swing for the ‘Riders in the fifth inning? I remember remarking to someone walking around the ballpark one day how cool it would be if someone actually won this promotion and pegged the odds as somewhere near one in a thousand or so. Shows what I know about chance.

It was only the third time the ‘Riders had run the Pat Lobb Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram Magic Swing Promotion this season, and the contestant went home with a brand new 2013 Jeep Wrangler. Good stuff. So we had that feather in the cap. Everyone who was here can say they saw a once-in-a-lifetime kind of promotional giveaway.

Except it happened again. On July 8, Odubel Herrera hit the third home run of the game for the ‘Riders and just his second of the season. In fact, both RoughRiders hitters to accomplish the feat did it on just their second home run of the year. Herrera hadn’t homered in 31 games and has not hit a long ball since. But that day: fate, destiny and minor league promotion at its finest.

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. Three of the new additions from August 1 are Top 30 Rangers prospects–we will get to them after their first month with the ‘Riders.

Cody Buckel - Nothing new here. Buckel last pitched for the ‘Riders in May. He has been in Arizona at extended Spring Training trying to sort out control issues ever since. Rangers Rehab Pitching Coordinator Keith Comstock updated us on Buckel about a month ago. You can hear my interview with him from ‘Riders on the Record.

Roman Mendez – Mendez is out for the season after undergoing surgery in May to repair a stress fracture in his elbow.

Wilmer Font – No longer with the RoughRiders, Font was promoted to the Round Rock Express on June 29.  The Venezuelan right-hander had a team-high ten saves and sported a career best 1.41 ERA with the RoughRiders in 26 appearances this season. Over his last four RoughRiders appearances he allowed just two hits and issued three walks in 4.1 innings with no runs scored against him and fanned eight. In ten June innings, he allowed one run on four hits and six walks, striking out seventeen. He went three-for-three in save chances and posted a 1-1 record over the month.

Hanser Alberto – In his final game as a RoughRiders swinger (for now), Alberto drove home his double-play partner Odubel Herrera to give the ‘Riders the go-ahead run in an eventual 2-1 win. That was on July 31. One of the roster causalities for the promoted Pelicans on August 1, Alberto really wasn’t able to dig himself out of the offensive hole he was in for most of the season. After hitting .298 in April, Alberto finished with a .213 batting average, the lowest it had been since April 15. Hanser hit just .194 with only four extra base hits. He went 3-for-3 in his return to the Advanced-A level. With a projected hit-tool better than average, expect to see the young shortstop (who is still the youngest player on his team) straighten things out against lower level pitching. 

Neil Ramirez – An overnight household name of sorts, Neil Ramirez went from a high-ceiling righthander that many hardcore Rangers knew about to a player some casual baseball fans, especially in Chicago, became frenzied over when there was wide speculation that Ramirez would be the player to named later in the Matt Garza trade that sent Justin Grimm, Mike Olt and C.J. Edwards to the Cubs. Neil faced a little adversity this month, including a DL stint that began on July 24. Ramirez made just two starts, separated by 14 days to try and allow a sore shoulder to heal. Neither outing showed the best that Neil can offer. He allowed fours runs over six frames against the Travelers on July 5 and lasted a season-low 3.1 innings on July 19 in Corpus Christi. He surrendered five runs on seven hits against the Hooks.

Randy Henry – Henry had his worst outing, statistically, as a RoughRiders pitcher in his last appearance of the month. Against Midland on July 30, he gave up multiple runs for the first time this season, allowing a pair to score on three hits in a low-leverage ninth inning with Frisco leading 11-4. Before that, he had surrendered just one run over eight innings, so the blemish to end July makes him a victim of the small monthly sample size of a reliever. In nine innings, Henry allowed three July runs on five hits. He walked only one and struck out four. He continued to fire strikes and pitch efficiently (117 pitches, 78 strikes).

Joe Benson – Not officially on the top 30 list of Rangers prospects by Baseball America, he probably would be if he was Rangers property to begin the season. After a torrid start to his RoughRiders career, Benson was hampered by a groin injury in June and remained on the disabled list until activation on July 25. After tearing up the Arizona League in a seven-game rehab (.417, 3 2B and a HR). Joe played in just six July contests, all on the road. He hit just .250 (5-for-20), but three of his five hits went for extra bases (2 2B, 1 3B). The important thing is that Joe is healthy and doesn’t feel any lingering affects from his groin tear that sidelined him for most of June and July. He has started all eight games since his activation from the disabled list.

Transactions of July:

7/3 RHP Joakim Soria (right elbow) received on Major League rehab assignment
7/5 RHP Joakim Soria (right elbow) departs from Frisco on his Major League rehab assignment
7/7 RHP Kyle McClellan accepts minor league assignment and reports to Frisco
7/10 RHP Justin Miller promoted to Triple-A Round Rock
7/10 IF Greg Miclat received from Triple-A Round Rock
7/14 IF Guilder Rodriguez (illness) placed on 7-day disabled list (retroactive to July 10)
7/14 RHP Joe Van Meter received from Advanced-A Myrtle Beach
7/14 OF Craig Gentry (non-displaced fracture in left hand) received on Major League rehab assignment
7/15 IF Greg Miclat promoted to Triple-A Round Rock
7/15 OF Jeff Baker (sprained right thumb) received on Major League rehab assignment
7/17 RHP Colby Lewis (torn right flexor tendon) received on Major League rehab assignment
7/18 OF Craig Gentry (non-displaced fracture in left hand) departs from Frisco on his Major League rehab assignment
7/18 OF Jeff Baker (sprained right thumb) departs from Frisco on his Major League rehab assignment
7/19 IF Guilder Rodriguez (illness) activated off 7-day disabled list
7/24 RHP Neil Ramirez (right shoulder) placed on 7-day disabled list, retroactive to Sunday, July 21
7/25 OF Joe Benson (groin) activated off 7-day disabled list
7/30 IF Alex Buchholz promoted to Triple-A Round Rock
7/31 LHP Matt Harrison (back surgery) received on Major League rehab assignment

Happy August and go RoughRiders!

- Nathan

Baseball term of the day: blow a tire pull a leg muscle

(term from The Dickson Baseball Dictionary)

‘Riders in Review: June 2013

Early first half struggles for Tulsa and Northwest Arkansas flipped upside down as the two teams became the two most dominant Texas League squads in the month of June. Led by retired-no-more Roy Oswalt and indy-ball right-hander Sean Gallagher, the Drillers posted an absurd 2.12 ERA in June and made up enough ground to capture the first-half title in the North Division. The Naturals played spoiler to their in-state rivals, beating the Arkansas Travelers in five of six meetings to close the first half and send the Travs tumbling out of the top spot in the North. Now the Naturals are tied for first place in the whole Texas League in the second half (8-5 entering Thursday).

The RoughRiders, on the other hand, experienced a tough month of June. Losing Roman Mendez in May didn’t help, neither did the promotions of Wilmer Font, Jared Hoying, Ryan Rodebaugh, and Ben Rowen, not to mention the continued injury issue for outfielder Joe Benson. Still, the RoughRiders completed the first half in second place and are competing in the early part of the second half.

Texas League Rankings for the Month of June

Record: 44-37 overall, 12-15 in May (T-5th in Texas League), home: 5-9, road: 7-6, vs. division: 10-10

Runs: 96 (7th)

Average: .259 (3rd)

On-base percentage: .299 (8th)

Stolen bases: 23 (T-3rd)

Home runs: 18 (5th)

ERA: 4.10 (7th)

Strikeouts for: 210 (1st)

Walks allowed: 99 (8th)

Avg attendance for the year: 7310 (1st)*

RIDERS REVIEW Record Runs AVG OBP SB HR ERA K BB Avg. Att. TD*
April 14-11 107 .250 .297 19 17 2.87 208 84 7060
May 18-11 125 .247 .306 38 32 4.12 255 114 7315
June 12-15 96 .259 .299 23 18 4.10 210 99 7310
Season 44-37 328 .252 .301 80 67 3.73 463 297 7310

TL IN MAY Record Runs AVG OBP SB HR ERA K BB Avg. Att. TD*
Tulsa 17-9 82 .230 .307 26 12 2.12 158 65 5,950
NW Ark. 17-12 137 .283 .330 25 29 4.01 209 95 4,794
Corpus 14-13 132 .252 .324 19 33 4.16 160 72 5,388
San Anto. 14-13 102 .257 .314 22 12 3.44 207 71 4,221
FRISCO 12-15 96 .259 .299 23 18 4.10 210 99 7,363
Springfield 12-15 104 .260 .323 13 24 3.97 200 72 4,611
Arkansas 12-16 111 .254 .320 23 22 3.66 195 80 4,499
Midland 11-16 132 .256 .347 16 17 3.97 193 72 4,641

*Attendance calculated through July 3 games, so June numbers include one game of July for each team

Awards

‘Riders Slugger of the Month

C Tomas Telis (.338/.365/.563, 9 R, 4 2B, 4 HR, 13 RBI, 2 BB, 1 SB)

8758264369_d98ac4587a_b

What a month for Tomas. The Texas League All-Star hit all four of his home runs in the month and lifted his average from .234 after June 1st’s 0-for-4 to .277 when the month completed. Telis was not only the best ‘Riders hitter in June but can make a case that he was the best hitter in the whole league. His .338 mark was the best in the league among qualifying hitters. He was tied for seventh in home runs. He accomplished what he did in just 18 games, splitting time with Brett Nicholas and Zach Zaneski at the catcher spot. He posted nine multi hit games in June (and has done so in all three July games already). He stole a base to boot and he won a fan a car. Not bad. Bravo Tomas!

Past winners: Nicholas (May), Hoying (April)

‘Riders Hurler of the Month

RHP Tyler Tufts (0-1, 1.82 ERA, 5 GS, 24.2 IP, 18 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 0 HRA, 9 K, 4 BB, 3 HB, 0.89 WHIP, .207 BAA)

8754968787_63e3b67d74_b

Like Telis, Tufts really had a breakout month in June. The career reliever made one spot start in 2012, his first in five seasons as a pro.  This year, he has made 12 starts with a 3.20 ERA as a starter. In five June starts, he allowed one or fewer earned runs in four of his five outings. On two occassions, Tufts fired five innings of shutout ball with two or fewer hits allowed, and in 24.2 innings over the month, he walked just four batters. Only Jimmy Reyes had a lower ERA during the month among pitchers with more than eight innings pitched (1.80 ERA).

Past winners: Rowen (May), Henry (April)

Official Texas League Players of the Week:

May 27 – June 2: P – Murphy Smith (Midland); B – George Springer (Corpus Christi)

June 3-9: P – Carlos Pimentel (Frisco) ; B – Brian Fletcher (NW Arkansas) 

June 10-16: P -Roy Oswalt (Tulsa); B – Alex Buchholz (Frisco)

June 17 – 23: P – Neil Ramirez (Frisco); B – Ruben Gotay (Springfield)

June 24 – 30: P – Brooks Pounders (NW Arkansas); B – Whit Merrifield (NW Arkansas)

Punching Bag of the Month

Corpus Christi Hooks SP Jake Buchanan

The award given out to the player most likely to be glad he isn’t facing Frisco anytime soon goes out of respect this month to Jake Buchanan. It’s not that Buchanan was the hardest-hit pitcher the RoughRiders faced, but considering his accomplishments before his meeting with the RoughRiders on June 12, his slip-ups to end June (and coincidentally his Texas League season, for now), made him a contender and the ultimate selection of the notorious honor.

In his final three Texas League starts, before promotion to Triple-A Oklahoma City, Buchanan allowed 13 runs, all earned. Before that three-start stint he had allowed six earned runs in 15 appearances, 10 starts. He faced the ‘Riders in two of those three starts, allowing nine runs over nine innings. Coming in to that stretch a perfect 7-0, Buchanan left the Texas League at 7-2, taking losses against the ‘Riders and San Antonio.

Best Moment of the Month

Frisco rallies from three down with seven-run ninth – June 29, 2013 - Again the ‘Riders waited until the end of the month to come up with the most memorable moment of the month. Last month it was the back-to-back-to-back home runs on May 31. This month was an easy selection. In the midst of a brutal offensive stretch, the RoughRiders plated seven runs to take a 10-6 lead in the top of the ninth in Springdale, Arkansas against the Northwest Arkansas.

Frisco fell behind 3-0 in the second, 4-0 after the third, and trailed 5-1 after seven innings. In the first seven innings, the ‘Riders offense managed six baserunners on two singles, three walks, and a hit batter. But the ‘Riders plated two in the eighth and trailed 6-3 going into the ninth.

In the wild top half of the ninth inning, the RoughRiders collected eight hits and a walk against relievers Scott Alexander and J.C. Sulbaran. They plated seven runs. Every RoughRiders hitter other than Odubel Herrera reached base in the inning, and nine consecutive ‘Riders reached safely. The big hit came ten batters into the inning when Ryan Strausborger hit a bases-clearing triple to put Frisco ahead 10-6.

The Naturals got the tying run to the plate in the ninth, but Frisco hung on for the 10-7 win.

The seven runs and eight hits put together in the ninth were the most by the team in any single frame this season.  The last time the ’Riders scored at least seven in an inning was in the seventh inning on July 22, 2011 in a 19-4 win versus Corpus Christi. The most ninth inning runs in known team history occurred on May 19, 2006, when the RoughRiders used an eight-run ninth inning to defeat Midland 10-5 at Citibank Ballpark.

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 last pitched for the ‘Riders in May. He has been in Arizona at extended Spring Training trying to sort out control issues ever since. Rangers Rehab Pitching Coordinator Keith Comstock updated us on Buckel last home stand. You can hear my interview with him from ‘Riders on the Record.

Roman Mendez – Mendez is out for the season after undergoing surgery in May to repair a stress fracture in his elbow.

Wilmer Font – No longer with the RoughRiders, Font was promoted to the Round Rock Express on June 29.  The Venezuelan right-hander has a team-high ten saves and sported a career best 1.41 ERA with the RoughRiders in 26 appearances this season. Over his last four RoughRiders appearances he allowed just two hits and issued three walks in 4.1 innings with no runs scored against him and fanned eight. In ten June innings, he allowed one run on four hits and six walks, striking out seventeen. He went three-for-three in save chances and posted a 1-1 record over the month.

Hanser Alberto – After a .162 hitting May, Hanser improved only slightly in June, hitting .213. He also committed another six errors. He walked only once in 83 plate appearances. He did club four of his ten extra-base hits on the season during the month with two doubles, a triple and a home run. 

Neil Ramirez – Neil was rocky in May but bounced back with a fantastic June. In five starts, he went 4-0 with a 2.25 ERA. In 28 innings, he fanned 35 and walked only eight. He is 7th in the Texas League in ERA, 2nd in wins (9), first in strikeouts (106), fourth in WHIP (1.08) and first in batting average against (.190). He also was the winning pitcher in the All-Star game, throwing a perfect first inning. He doesn’t have much more to prove in the Texas League. Ramirez pitches tonight, and if you are dead-set on seeing him here in Frisco, you should come out sooner than later; it seems hard to imagine him staying in Double-A much longer if he keeps pitching like he did in June.

Randy Henry – Henry was activated off the disabled list on June 13 from an ulnar nerve injury in his right elbow that caused him to miss over a month. This blog’s selection for ‘Riders Hurler of the Month in April was not quite as dominant when he first returned but the numbers are still excellent. In six outings, Henry tossed 5.1 innings, allowing five hits and one walk. He surrendered no runs, earned or otherwise, and struck out four. He also collected his first Texas League save of the season.

Joe Benson – Not officially on the top 30 list of Rangers prospects by Baseball America, he probably would be if he was Rangers property to begin the season. After a torrid start to his RoughRiders career, Benson was hampered by a groin injury in June and is still on the disabled list. He played in just three games during the month. On June 9, he pinch hit for Chih-Hsien Chiang in the ninth inning, knocking a triple in what was then a tie game against the Midland RockHounds. He later scored in the inning and served as the difference in a 4-3 win. Benson went 0-for-3 before a fifth inning ejection the following night and 0-for-2 the next evening before leaving with injury. He hasn’t seen the field since then (June 11).

Happy July and go RoughRiders!

- Nathan

Baseball term of the day: bill in addition to meaning the visor of a ballcap, “bill” refers to a game on the schedule (and why a “twin bill” is another term for a doubleheader)

(term from The Dickson Baseball Dictionary)

‘Riders in Review: May 2013

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
April 14-11 107 .250 .297 19 17 2.87 208 84 7060
May 18-11 125 .247 .306 38 32 4.12 255 114 7315
Season 32-22 232 .248 .302 57 49 3.54 463 198 7315

TL IN MAY Record Runs AVG OBP SB HR ERA K BB Avg. Att. TD
Corpus 19-10 180 .278 .353 23 36 4.12 185 85 5,449
FRISCO 18-11 125 .247 .306 38 32 4.12 255 114 7,315
San Anto. 16-12 124 .265 .344 39 25 3.70 212 72 4,002
Arkansas 15-12 109 .257 .318 21 24 3.79 185 81 4,478
Springfield 14-13 143 .263 .352 26 29 3.60 235 69 4,440
Midland 14-15 148 .273 .345 28 30 4.85 200 96 4,405
Tulsa 10-18 124 .236 .310 29 32 4.18 164 90 5,741
NW Ark. 6-21 85 .226 .286 14 22 4.55 207 114 4,787

*Frisco 4.121, Corpus 4.116

**Attendance numbers as of June 3, 2013 so are slightly in addition to May totals

Awards

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)

052713 Nicholas web article

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)

060413 blog rowen

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:

April 29 – May 5: P – Jake Buchanan (Corpus Christi); B – Xavier Scruggs (Springfield)

May 6-12: P – Yordano Ventura (Northwest Arkansas) ; B – Anthony Aliotti (Midland) 

May 13-19: P – Matt Oye (Arkansas); B – Kalian Sams (San Antonio)

May 20-26: P – Carlos Pimentel (Frisco); B – Angelys Nina (Tulsa)

May 27 – June 2: P – Murphy Smith (Midland); B – George Springer (Corpus Christi)

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.

MiLB.tv, courtesy of Scott Lucas

MiLB.tv, courtesy of Scott Lucas

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.

Year Tm Lev W L ERA GS IP H ER HR BB SO WHIP H/9 HR/9 BB/9 SO/9
2011 3 Teams 5 3 3.12 25 98.0 77 34 7 44 119 1.235 7.1 0.6 4.0 10.9
2011 Myrtle B. A+ 0 0 0.00 1 4.2 1 0 0 1 9 0.429 1.9 0.0 1.9 17.4
2011 Frisco AA 1 0 1.89 6 19.0 13 4 1 8 24 1.105 6.2 0.5 3.8 11.4
2011 Round R. AAA 4 3 3.63 18 74.1 63 30 6 35 86 1.318 7.6 0.7 4.2 10.4
2012 2 Teams 8 13 6.28 27 123.1 125 86 18 47 108 1.395 9.1 1.3 3.4 7.9
2012 Frisco AA 2 5 4.20 12 49.1 47 23 6 16 45 1.277 8.6 1.1 2.9 8.2
2012 Round R. AAA 6 8 7.66 15 74.0 78 63 12 31 63 1.473 9.5 1.5 3.8 7.7
2013 Frisco AA 5 2 3.57 11 58.0 34 23 5 29 71 1.086 5.3 0.8 4.5 11.0
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 6/4/2013.

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!

- Nathan

Baseball term of the day: subway slinger submariner; a pitcher who throws underhand or sidearm

(term from The Dickson Baseball Dictionary)

The 2013 (Nearly) Complete Twitter Guide…: Part Two – The Players

This post is a continuation of an earlier post compiling the essential Twitter handles to keep up with the Texas Rangers farm system and Texas League. You can find all entries here

A little over a week ago, I posted twitter handles for the teams in the Texas Rangers system and the Texas league, along with broadcasters and other key employees in the league and the Rangers’ farm. Today, I submit Part Two of “The 2013 (Nearly) Complete Twitter Guide to the Frisco RoughRiders, the Texas League and the Rangers Farm System,” or TNCTG. If you want to check Part One – go here.

Today: a list of the players. This is, to my knowledge, an exhaustive list of the Frisco RoughRiders in addition to as many twitter handles I could find of Texas Rangers at the MLB and MiLB levels. As always, comment below or tweet me (@NathanSBarnett) with additional follows. I will update this as I can as the season moves along. If you want to use a list to keep track of these players, the RoughRiders Twitter handle has a 2013 RoughRiders list and I have one compiling as many current Rangers MLB and MiLB players that I can find.

_________________________

TNCTG PART TWO – The Players

(as of 05/17/13)

2013 Frisco RoughRiders

Current RoughRiders:

Hanser Alberto ‏ @elpotroalberto (#15 ranked prospect in Texas system by Baseball America)

Cody Buckel ‏  @Cheatcode07 (#8)

Randy Henry ‏ @RandyHenry51 (#29)

Odubel Herrera ‏ @odubelherrera1frisco roughriders logo

Jared Hoying ‏ @jhoying3035

Teodoro Martinez ‏ @martinezteo

Brett Nicholas ‏ @bnicholas15

Kevin Pucetas ‏ @KPucetas

Jimmy Reyes ‏ @jimmymreyes

Ryan Rodebaugh ‏ @RRodey

Ben Rowen ‏ @B_Rowen

Ryan Strausborger ‏ @Ryan_Straus

Zach Zaneski ‏ @ZZaneski

RoughRiders to play in 2013, now off roster:

Jake Brigham ‏ @jbrigham49 (Triple-A)

Ross Wolf ‏ @18RGW (Triple-A)

Other players in the Texas Rangers System:

MLB:

Elvis Andrus ‏ @ElvisandrusSS1

Nelson Cruz ‏ @ncboomstick17

ダルビッシュ有(Yu Darvish) ‏ @faridyu

Neftali Feliz ‏ @NefFeliz

Josh Frasier ‏ @Frasier66 (bullpen catcher)

Leury Garcia ‏ @leurygarcia1 (#20)

Justin Grimm ‏ @GrimmReaper51 (#5)

Derek Holland ‏ @Dutch_Oven45texas_rangers-9679

Michael Kirkman ‏ @MikeKirkman50

Josh Lindblom  @JoshLindblom52 

Leonys Martin ‏ @leonys27martin (#4)

Joe Nathan ‏ @JoeNathan36

Martin Perez ‏ @MartinPerez33D (#3)

Jurickson Profar ‏ @JURICKSONPROFAR (#1 ranked prospect overall by Baseball America)

Robbie Ross ‏ @Ross_108

Joakim Soria ‏ @joakimsoria

Triple-A Round Rock:

Chad Bell ‏ @ChadBell19 (Injured just before beginning of the season, finished 2012 with Express)

Engel Beltre ‏ @engelbeltre07

Lisalverto Bonilla ‏ @propecto1

Jake Brigham ‏ @jbrigham49

Robinson Chirinos  @robinson28chrr_express_logo_detail

Michael Olt ‏ @molt2222 (#2)

Yangervis Solarte ‏ @yanyi26_12

Yoshinori Tateyama ‏ @tatetatetateyan

Ross Wolf ‏ @RGW

Advanced-A Myrtle Beach:

Alec Asher ‏ @Ash_Tag24

Kellin Deglan ‏ @keldegs

Royce Bolinger ‏ @roycebolinger

Zach Cone ‏ @ZachCone (#24)

Ryan Harvey ‏ @Hammer32jetlifepelicans

Luke Jackson ‏ @YaBoy77 (#6)

Will Lamb ‏ @LamboLeap30

Nick Martinez ‏ @nickmartinez10 (#27)

Rougned Odor ‏ @RougnedOdor (#11)

Drew Robinson ‏ @drewrobinsonnn

Jake Skole ‏ @JakeSkole15

Joe Van Meter ‏ @JVanMeter28

Class-A Hickory Crawdads:

Jorge Alfaro ‏ @_JorgeAlfaro11 (#9)

Ryan Bores ‏ @RyanBores

Lewis Brinson ‏ @LewisBrinson (#12)

Eric Brooks ‏ @itsEricBrooks

Coby Cowgill ‏ @CobyCowgill_RHP

C.J. Edwards ‏ @CEdwardsSBS (#14)

Joey Gallo ‏ @JoeyGallo24 (#10)

David Lyon ‏ @DLyonKSU36Hickory_Crawdads

Joe Maloney ‏ @JoeBoMalones

Nomar Mazara ‏ @NomarMzra26 (#16)

Luis Mendez ‏ @mendezluis932

Ryan Rua ‏ @Rua_Numba_2

Connor Sadzeck ‏ @connorsadzeck

Ryne Slack ‏ @Slack28

Nick Vickerson ‏ @Nick_Vickerson

Nick Williams ‏ @NW1superstar (#25)

Players yet to be assigned (either hurt or will be in either Rookie or Short-Season A)

Jairo Beras ‏ @jairoberas (#18)

Janluis Castro ‏ @Jaanluis

Guy Edmonds ‏ @EdmondsGuy

Brandon Garcia ‏ @BrandonGarcia_

Ronald Guzman ‏ @_ronaldguzman (#17)

Jamie Jarmon ‏ @jjarmon34

Kevin Matthews ‏ @kevmat1

Barrett Serrato ‏ @bserrato23

Nick Urbanus ‏ @NickUrb

Brett Weibley ‏ @wild_stallion5

Collin Wiles ‏ @cwiles11

_________________________

- Nathan

Baseball term of the day: fuzzy concreteartificial turf

‘Riders in Review: April 2013

A month into the books, and the ‘Riders are off to a solid start. As we began May yesterday, the RoughRiders sat at 14-11, tied for the best record in the Texas League with the Midland Rockhounds. As we settle in to the month of May (despite the temperatures in the 40s today!), it’s time to a quick look back at how we got to where we are are:

April Overview

Texas League Rankings

Record: 14-11 (T-1st), home: 8-3, road: 6-8, vs. division: 6-7

Runs: 107 (3rd)

Average: .250 (3rd)

Home runs: 17 (5th)

ERA: 2.87 (3rd)

Attendance: 7060 (1st)

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OF Jared Hoying‘s second season in Frisco is off to a great start

Awards

The ‘Riders were kept of out of the Player of the Week honors in the Texas League in April, but it doesn’t mean we can’t give out our own honors.

‘Riders Slugger of the Month: Jared Hoying (.293/.363/.543, 12 R, 7 2B, 2 3B, 4 HR, 15 RBI, 10 BB, 3-4 SB)

Hoying started a little slow, especially in the run production department, as he didn’t pick up his first RBI until the fifth game of the year, but Hoying was far and away the ‘Riders best overall hitter. Jared finished the month third on the team in hitting (behind Rodriguez, Alberto), second in OBP (Rodriguez) and first in SLG. His three steals also tied him for second most of the team.  His game of the month came on April 16, a 14-7 RoughRiders come-from-behind win at home. Hoying went 3-for-4 with a double, a walk and 5 RBI, tying a career high for him (he knocked in five in a game in 2010 as a member of the Spokane Indians).

‘Riders Hurler of the Month: Randy Henry (0-0, 0.00 ERA, 18.1 IP, 13 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 1 HRA, 20 K, 1 BB, 1 HB, 0.76 WHIP, .200 BAA)

Henry didn’t start a game for the ‘Riders in the month, but the way he pitched during April, he seems primed for a spot in rotation if the Rangers want to move him into that role. He was moved to the rotation in Myrtle last season and didn’t fair as well as he did in the ‘pen, so we will see. He dominated the Texas League in April coming in as a reliever. His low 90s fastball with cutting action ate up left-handed hitters who went just 3-for-25 against the right-handed pitcher with one double and nine strikeouts.

Randy Henry was a force in April, his month of his RoughRiders career

RHP Randy Henry was a force in April, his month of his RoughRiders career

In total, of the 13 hits allowed, only four went for extra bases, three doubles and the one home run, which, luckily for Henry came after a misplayed foul pop-up off the bat of Tommy Medica, thus the sterling ERA.

Like Hoying, Henry’s best outing came on April 16 against the Northwest Arkansas Naturals. Coming into a 10-7 ‘Riders lead in the fifth, Henry retired 12 of the 13 batters he faced. Only Naturals leadoff man Brett Eibner beat Henry, rapping a single to start his third inning of work.

Official Texas League Players of the week:

April 4-14: P – Burch Smith (San Antonio Missions); B – Matt Long (Arkansas Travelers)

April 15-21: P – Asher Wojciechowski (Corpus Christi Hooks); B – Brett Eibner (Northwest Arkansas)

April 22-28: P – Jarrett Grube (Arkansas Travelers); B – Mike O’Neill (Springfield Cardinals)

Punching Bag of the Month:

Northwest Arkansas’ J.C. Sulbaran – In two starts against Frisco, the Naturals’ starting pitcher went 0-2 with an 11.08 ERA. He didn’t make it past five innings in either start, and in 7.2 IP, he surrendered 10 hits, three of them long balls, on the way to 10 earned runs against his ledger. The rough start meant a role change, as Sulbaran was relegated to the bullpen after just two starts. Things have continued south for him since then as well.

Best Moment of the Month:

With honorable mentions to Guilder Rodriguez‘s win in the 17-inning contest, the six-game winning streak and the dramatic 9th inning finish Tuesday night, this month’s Moment of the Month comes from the bat of Brett Nicholas. The RoughRiders, in the midst of a four-game losing streak, the longest of April, had not led in the stretch of four games. They hadn’t scored in 15 innings. Down 3-0, with the bases loaded in the 7th inning of the April 28 tilt against the Corpus Christi Hooks, Nicholas launched his second career grand slam and fifth home run of the season, past the Kroger Pool Zone in right field. The blast gave Frisco a 4-3 lead, and they held on for the win. The ‘Riders won their next two games as well, to finish the month on a three-game winning streak.

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).

Cody Buckel - Cody had a month to forget in April. Entering the season as the top prospect in the system on the ‘Riders roster, Buckel went 0-4 with an ERA of 18.00 in five starts. His only no-decision came in the RoughRiders 14-7 come from behind win. The good: In nine innings, Buckel struck out nine batters. The bad: He walked 25, hit three batters and threw just 118 of his 270 pitches for strikes (44%). He had issues commanding any of six pitches, and the lack of fastball command put him behind most hitters in the count. At the end of the month, the Rangers made the decision to move Buckel to the Frisco bullpen.

Roman Mendez – Mendez was extremely sharp to begin the season, and like Henry, finished his April with a perfect ERA. Mendez completed the first month with a 1-0 record, an ERA of 0.00, and ten strikeouts in his 11.1 innings of work. The good: In three of his seven outings Mendez kept the opposition hitless, including a two-frame appearance in San Antonio April 23. In his first four outings, he didn’t walk a batter. The bad: The last two trips to the mound for Mendez were less encouraging. He gave his first run (unearned) his last time out in the month. In his last two outings combined, he issued four walks in four innings of work, hit a batter, and threw just 29 of his 63 pitches in the zone (46%).

At just 20 years of age, Alberto is dazzling with the glove.

At just 20 years of age, Hanser Alberto is dazzling with the glove.

Hanser Alberto – Alberto showed flashes of the offensive ability in the first two weeks, but it was few and far between. Through his first nine games, Hanser was hitting just .156 and after his first 15 games played, the batting average still left something to be desired at .228. Alberto finished the month well, (.298/.307/.357) scoring ten runs, driving in ten, with a double and two triples. He struck out just eight times and walked twice.  The good: Alberto found something to finish the month. He showed decent patience in the first part of 2012 playing for the Hickory Crawdads in Class-A (18 BB, 62 games), but that walk rate can be attributed as much or more to raw pitchers in the South Atlantic League, struggling with command than it does to a patient eye from Alberto. Stretching back to 2012, Alberto has gone 55 games and 239 plate appearances (props to Alex for the mad research skills) without a walk. On April 23, Alberto drew the walk to end that streak, and went 2-for-4 in the process, with a run and an RBI (his eighth). Alberto hit .455 in the seven games to end the month with two walks, three RBI and just one strikeout, raising his batting average from .228 to .298. He also got a hit in each game of that stretch. Alberto’s glove has also been excellent–he’s the best shortstop I’ve had the chance to see in the league so far. The bad: he still chases breaking balls, especially sliders away, and that accounts for most of eight April strikeouts. Although the eye is improving, it still has a ways to go (2.3% BB rate in April). It’s getting better though, and he’s the youngest player in the Texas League, second youngest in all of Double-AA baseball, older than only the Orioles top prospect Dylan Bundy.

Wilmer Font – The hard-throwing, hulking Venezuelan is up to his old tricks again in 2013. His first outing of May was probably his roughest of the year, but April was excellent. He posses a heavy mid to upper 90s fastball with sink, a slider and a developing changeup. He finished April with a record of 0-1, with a 0.82 ERA in eight appearances, and he notched three saves. He allowed just two hits in 11 innings, walking 6 and struck out 17. The good: Font has swing-and-miss stuff and we saw it in April. He strikeout rate (42.5%) was the best on the team and behind only Springfield’s Kevin Siegrist (51.2%) among pitchers with at least five innings of work. The bad: The second hit Font allowed this season was a home run. And it cost Frisco the game in a 2-1 loss in San Antonio on April 25.

Neil Ramirez – Arguably the most pleasant surprise of April was Ramirez. The former supplemental first round pick of the Rangers, Ramirez seemed on the fast track to the majors before a disappointing 2012. He pitched well in April, going 2-0 with a 2.22 ERA in five starts. He’s struck out 29 batters and walked 15 in 24.1 innings. The good: Ramirez didn’t allow much contact and he did he wasn’t hit hard. He led April in opponents’ batting average, as the opposition hit just .130 off him. Ramirez fired four straight starts of 5 innings or more, and he didn’t allow more than three hits in any of his five outings. The bad: you’d like to see Ramirez walk a few less hitters. He’s actually walking more batters per nine innings (5.5) than he has has in any year of his career; that tells you how unhittable the righty was in April.

Randy Henry – Discussed above. If you want to stretch for the bad: it’s that he allowed that one home run. No one is complaining with what the Arnett, Oklahoma native did in his first month of Double-A baseball, except maybe left-handed hitters that have had to face him.

Happy May and go RoughRiders!

- Nathan

Baseball term of the day: dewdropa slow curveball

‘Riders on the Record: The Bloodied Submariner and special guest Jason Cole

It’s Sunday.

That means it’s time to relax and unwind with “‘Riders on the Record,” the weekly entry of conversations with this year’s Frisco RoughRiders. Today is also a day to make blueberry pie apparently.

Week three brought us a jam packed lineup of guests for our pregame shows. This week’s ‘Riders on the Record includes conversations with Ben Rowen, the ‘Riders submarining reliever. A professed hockey fan, Rowen got to live the dream of the hockey player this week, getting a few stitches after taking a ball off the chin.  The lineup also includes conversations with the manger, hitting coach and pitching coach. Great stuff from Jason Cole as well, who discussed a few of the ‘Riders bigger pitching prospects.

April 21, 2013 – Manager Steve Buechele


Manager Steven Buechele talks about the longest game in ‘Riders history, a 17-inning game in Corpus Christi and the excellent start to the season from Carlos Pimentel. (w/ Alex Vispoli)

April 22, 2013 – Hitting Coach Jason Hart


We hear from hitting coach Jason Hart for the first time this year. He breaks down the approach of some of the ‘Riders best prospects including Hanser Alberto and Odubel Herrera and also the hot-hitting Ryan Strausborger and Jared Hoying. (w/ Alex)

April 23, 2013 – Jason Cole (of LoneStarDugout and Baseball Prospectus)


Alex had the chance to converse with special guest Jason Cole. Cole covers the Rangers farm system at LoneStarDugout.com and also contributes material for Baseball Prospectus. He breaks down the improvement for Cody Buckel and the origin of his issues in the early season, the emerging prospect status of Randy Henry, and the bounce back of Neil Ramirez. (w/ Alex)

April 24, 2013 – LHP Jimmy Reyes

Jimmy Reyes takes some time before the ‘Riders game in San Antonio to talk to Alex about his journey to Elon University. He discusses his future role in the big leagues and what it is like to be the lonely lefty in the bullpen. (w/ Alex)

April 25, 2013 – Pitching Coach Jeff Andrews


In the first sit down of the year with ‘Riders pitching Coach Jeff Andrews, Alex asks about the stellar bullpen and their heavy workload in the early part of the season. Andrews also allays concerns over Cody Buckel and the mental fortitude this season of Neil Ramirez. (w/ Alex)

April 26, 2013 – RHP Ben Rowen


Submarining right-hander Ben Rowen joined us on the pre game show Friday before the RoughRiders first game of an eight-game home stand. Rowen chronicled the evolution of his throwing mechanics and detailed his unique repertoire. He also talked about facing the Angels Mike Trout, Albert Pujols, and Josh Hamilton in Spring Training. (w/ Nathan Barnett)

April 27, 2013 – Catcher Tomas Telis

RoughRiders catcher Tomas Telis talks about the long road to becoming a professional catcher. A converted infielder, Telis explains what has been challenging about learning the position and who has taught him along the way — including Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez. He also sheds some light on how hard it is to catch a knuckleball. (w/ Nathan)

- Nathan

Baseball term of the day: swing hitter – a batter who holds the bat the bottom of the handle and takes a full cut. 

Day Trip to SeaWorld

Today a few members of the RoughRiders and I took advantage of an incredible opportunity while staying in San Antonio.  One of the three SeaWorld theme parks in the USA is located just a few Joey Gallo home runs away from our team hotel in San Antonio.  Thanks to a connection provided by team trainer Carlos Olivas, we got a private, behind-the-scenes tour of the park and spent some up-close time with a few of the incredible animals.  In addition to Carlos and me, the others who came along were Cody Buckel, Ben Rowen, Ryan Rodebaugh, Kevin Pucetas, Ryan Feierabend, Jake Brigham, Brett Nicholas, Jimmy Reyes, Tyler Tufts, strength & condition coach Eric McMahon and bus driver Paul Watkins.  Dave Yordi, SeaWorld’s Supervisor of Animal Care, was kind enough to take our group of 13 around the park and here are some of the sights of an awesome morning.

(click on the pictures to see bigger photos)

- Alex

Our tour started at the killer whale pools. They have five Icelandic killer whales at SeaWorld.

Our tour started at the killer whale pools. They have five Icelandic killer whales at SeaWorld.

Some of the players watching the whales and listening to the trainers.

Some of the players watching the whales and listening to the trainers.

Cody Buckel snaps a photo of a trainer giving the biggest killer whale a rubdown.

Cody Buckel snaps a photo of a trainer giving the biggest killer whale a rubdown.

SeaWorld buys the fish it feeds its whales from the same supplier that Red Lobster uses.

SeaWorld buys the fish it feeds its whales from the same supplier that Red Lobster uses.

It was in the upper-40s and windy, so everyone was bundled up walking around the park.

It was in the upper-40s and windy, so everyone was bundled up walking around the park.

A SeaWorld employee feeds a little otter.

A SeaWorld employee feeds a little otter.

The players loved those little guys

The players loved those little guys

Brett Nicholas poses with Dylan the sea lion in an area the public doesn't get to visit.

Brett Nicholas poses with Dylan the sea lion in an area the public doesn’t get to visit.

Trainer Carlos Olivas makes Dylan yell. One of the sea lions here was used as the "voice" of the T-Rex in the Jurassic Park movies.

Trainer Carlos Olivas makes Dylan yell. One of the sea lions here was used as the “voice” of the T-Rex in the Jurassic Park movies.

Cody Buckel dancing with Dylan.  Not sure where Cody learned that move.

Cody Buckel dancing with Dylan. Not sure where Cody learned that move.

An up-close look at the enormous male walrus.

An up-close look at the enormous male walrus.

They keep the two walruses in this pool.

They keep the two walruses in this pool.

A bit later, we hung out with the dolphins. Here, Kevin Pucetas gets his picture taken with "Brady."

A bit later, we hung out with the dolphins. Here, Kevin Pucetas gets his picture taken with “Brady.”

There was quite a line for the players to get their photos taken with the dolphins.

There was quite a line for the players to get their photos taken with the dolphins.

Jake Brigham pets one of the dolphins .

Jake Brigham pets one of the dolphins .

Brady "fin-walks" at the prompt of his trainer.

Brady “fin-walks” at the prompt of his trainer.

Our last destination was the stingray tank.

Our last destination was the stingray tank.

We all got the chance to feed the stingrays some shrimp.

We all got the chance to feed the stingrays some shrimp.

Here's the other half of the group feeding the stingrays.

Here’s the other half of the group feeding the stingrays.

Left side, from left to right: (standing) Paul Watkins, Jake Brigham, Carlos Olivas, Eric McMahon; (squatting) Jimmy Reyes & Ryan Feierabend. On the right, from left to right: (standing) Ryan Rodebaugh, Ben Rowen, Tyler Tufts and a partially obstructed Kevin Pucetas; (squatting) Cody Buckel, Alex Vispoli and Brett Nicholas.

Left side, from left to right: (standing) Paul Watkins, Jake Brigham, Carlos Olivas, Eric McMahon; (squatting) Jimmy Reyes & Ryan Feierabend. On the right, from left to right: (standing) Ryan Rodebaugh, Ben Rowen, Tyler Tufts and a partially obstructed Kevin Pucetas; (squatting) Cody Buckel, Alex Vispoli and Brett Nicholas.

First RoughRiders Roundtable of the year is up!

Ted Price of DallasSportsNetwork.tv informed us this morning that he has posted the first RoughRiders Roundtable of the season (#10 overall).

You can find the podcast entry by clicking here. 

We will post a link to each RoughRiders Roundtable here on the Insider Blog. You can also subscribe to the podcast on iTunes or by linking the RSS feed to your device or RSS reader.

In this episode Alex, Nathan, and Jason Cole (of LoneStarDugout.com) discuss middle infield prospects Hanser Alberto and Odubel Herrera as well as catcher Tomas Telis before diving into the divergent starts of right-handed starters Neil Ramirez and Cody Buckel . ‘Riders Manager Steve Buechele breaks down the opening day roster. Jason also weighs in on the slow start in Triple-A Round Rock of Rangers third base prospect Mike Olt. We toss around a little Nick Tepesch talk as well.

Enjoy!

Baseball term of the day – knocker – an early term for a batter 

‘Riders on the Record: Week One

You can’t always catch the RoughRiders live. We get it. You’ve got laundry, homework, cooking, meetings, and catching up on your DVR to do. Maybe you are even at Dr Pepper Ballpark (although, if so, you can listen to the game on RidersBaseball.com)! If so, you are missing out on the pregame interviews with a ‘Riders player or coach before the games.

Maybe you do listen to the game but tune in around first pitch and miss the pregame show.  Or even better yet, you did the hear the show, but want listen to the sitdown with one of your favorite players again or even share it with a friend.

So, we bring you “‘Riders on the Record,” a (hopefully) weekly entry each Sunday of the week’s pregame insights with the Frisco ballplayers and field staff. With a little more than a week since the season began, this week’s will be a slightly longer entry.

Hope you enjoy!

April 13, 2013 – RHP Neil Ramirez


Former Rangers supplemental first round pick Neil Ramirez pitched an excellent 5.2 innings in first home start. The right-hander talks about his focus for the season, the wild ride he has endured the last two seasons and how he needs to let his body rest from time to time. (w/ Nathan Barnett)

April 12, 2013 – RHP Randy Henry


Fresh off a stellar outing in the team’s home opener, reliever Randy Henry talks about his comfort level with the club in the early season. The Oklahoma native explains how he likes being close to home. He also talks about his routine, which includes a touching tribute to his late brother and a quirky obsession with the number three. (w/ Nathan)

April 11, 2013 – LHP Ryan Feierabend


On the home opening day for the RoughRiders we had a chance to catch up with Ryan Feierabend, one of just two ‘Riders with big league experience (on the roster at that time). Following his start on short rest, Ryan talked about how far away he is from being full stretched out. He also opened up about his role as a veteran on the team and what advice he has to the young pitchers on the staff looking to make their way to The Show. (w/ Nathan)

April 9, 2013 – 1B Brett Nicholas


Frisco first baseman Brett Nicholas discusses breaking out of his slump. He also touches on his experiences with Texas Rangers starting pitcher Nick Tepesch in their days together at the University of Missouri on the day Tepesch was set to make his MLB debut for the Rangers against the Tampa Bay Rays. (w/ Alex Vispoli)

April 8, 2013 – RHP Kevin Pucetas


Following his first start of the season, veteran starting pitcher Kevin Pucetas talks about his journey in professional baseball and how he landed with the Texas Rangers organization this offseason. He also asses the early start of the season for the team and how he can help set the tone for a young pitching staff. (w/ Alex)

April 7, 2013 – Manager Steve Buechele


Alex sits down again with Manager Steve Buechele. They talk about the early struggles offensively for the club, the heavily worked bullpen, and the up-and-down first start for pitcher Neil Ramirez. (w/ Alex)

April 6, 2013 – IF Guilder Rodriguez


RoughRiders middle infielder Guilder Rodriguez sits down with Alex after his second career home run, which came on Opening Night. A coach on the field, Rodriguez talks about his work last season with top prospects Leury Garcia and Jurickson Profar as well. (w/ Alex)

April 5, 2013 – Manager Steve Buechele


‘Riders manager Steve Buechele discusses his team at the beginning of the season. With plenty of new faces and a long spring training, the skipper talks about his eagerness to start the season and analyzes his team’s apparent strengths and weakness as the team begins play. (w/ Alex)

April 4, 2013 – RHP Cody Buckel

Rangers #8th ranked prospect (according to Baseball America) Cody Buckel talks about his offseason appearance in a Dick’s Sporting Goods commercial, the development of his shuuto pitch, and what he learned in Spring Training from the Texas Rangers pitchers. (w/ Nathan)

- Nathan

Baseball term of the day – dancer – a knuckleball

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