Results tagged ‘ Cody Buckel ’

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

Opening Day – Take Two

Okay so let’s try that again. Opening Day in North Little Rock was washed out yesterday. The other three games in the Texas League went off without a hitch, and the South Division dominated the action. All three games went the way of the south yesterday, so Frisco comes into Opening Day back a half-game of the other three members in the division. Midland, Corpus Christi and San Antonio all picked up Opening Day victories. Midland and Frisco begin the season on the road while the other two opened up their seasons at home last night.

The rotation is not expected to change today. Cody Buckel will start game one while former big leaguer Ryan Feierabend opposes the Travelers order in game two. Arkansas counters with Jarrett Grube and Mike Piazza. No, not that one.

Keep an eye on the ‘Riders twitter feed for the latest updates on action from North Little Rock, including the starting lineups for game two, but for now, here is the game one lineup. Just the same as yesterday:

ROUGHRIDERS

2B Odubel Herrera

CF Ryan Strausborger

RF Jared Hoying

1B Brett Nicholas

3B Alex Buchholz

LF Chih-Hsien Chiang

C Zach Zaneski

SS Hanser Alberto

RHP Cody Buckel

 

TRAVELERS

CF Travis Witherspoon

LF Matt Long

3B Kaleb Cowart

1B C.J. Cron

DH Robbie Widlansky

RF Randal Grichuk

2B Taylor Lindsey

C Jett Bandy

SS Rolando Gomez

RHP Jarrett Grube

News, notes, thoughts, and links:

  • The RoughRiders weren’t alone in having weather issues yesterday. Of the four active minor league teams in the Texas system (Spokane and the Rangers AZL and DSL teams pick up in June), only one of them got their opener in.
  • That was Round Rock. The Express topped Omaha 3-1 behind five shut-out innings from soon-to-be Texas Ranger’s 5th starter Nick Tepesch. The former ‘Rider scattered five singles in his five frames and struck out five Stormchasers on the way to the victory in his Triple-A debut. 
  • Hickory (Class-A) and Myrtle Beach (Class-A Advanced) were both rained out yesterday. Unlike Frisco, they will not make up their games today. Hickory will play a twin bill tomorrow beginning at 4:00 CT. Myrtle Beach won’t make up their postponed game until May 25th.
  • An extra long edition of the game notes today, complete with both starting pitchers is available at RidersBaseball.com
  • Tonight’s doubleheader can be heard here or if you are on an iPad or iPhone, click here. You can also watch the games with the audio feed simulcast by purchasing a subscription to MiLB.tv.
  • Frisco finishes the three game set with Arkansas in a full nine-inning contest tomorrow at 6:10 p.m. before getting back on the bus for the 194-mile trek to Springdale, Ark., home of the Northwest Arkansas Naturals. The RoughRiders round out the weekend Sunday with the first of a three game series against NW Arkansas at 2:00 p.m.

Enjoy day two of the season Opening Day! Go ‘Riders!

– Nathan

Opening Day Game Notes

Opening Day is upon us! Hot off the press is edition number one of this year’s game notes: click here for game notes (.pdf).

Cody Buckel gets the start for Frisco at Dickey-Stevens Park against the Arkansas Travelers. One of the top right-handed pitching prospects in the Rangers organization, Buckel enters the season as the highest ranked prospect in the Texas system on the RoughRiders Opening Day roster. Baseball America lists him 8th in the Texas system, Jonathan Mayo at MLB.com tabs him 4th (and 87th in all of baseball), Keith Law at ESPN.com puts him 3rd (and 90th overall), John Sickles considers Buckel 4th while Jason Parks at Baseball Prospectus has him missing the cut of the top ten prospects in the Rangers organization.

Tonight's starting pitcher Cody Buckel, just 20 years of age

Tonight’s starting pitcher Cody Buckel, just 20 years of age

Yu Never Know

Opening Day sure is exciting, but man Game Two can be entertaining.

We still have tomorrow’s RoughRiders Opening Day against the Travelers to hype (including the 2013 debut of Cody Buckel), but I couldn’t help but be excited for game two already. By then, the dust has settled. The Opening Day jitters have worn off, and yet it’s still baseball. Something amazing and historic can always happen, and strangely, it so often does. Or nearly does.

Frisco’s starting pitcher for game two of the season? Ryan Feierabend. Interestingly enough, the former big leaguer has pitched the same number of times at Minute Maid Park as Darvish–once (back in 2007). Neither allowed a run.

Well…we will see you Friday in North Little Rock. Thursday and Friday (well, and Saturday too I suppose).  Yu never know what will happen.

– Nathan

Baseball term of the day: Agate – another term for the baseball. 

Rangers Spring Training Links – 2/27/2013

Things haven't been too graceful for Geovanny Soto and the Rangers this spring. (Photo credit to Louis Deluca/Dallas Morning News)

Things haven’t been too graceful for Geovanny Soto and the Rangers this spring. (Photo credit to Louis Deluca/Dallas Morning News)

Yesterday the White Sox jumped out to a 12-0 lead and beat up the Rangers 14-8 to drop Texas to 0-4 in Cactus League play.  The good news?  These games (of course) don’t count for much of anything and, by all accounts, Yu Darvish looked fantastic in his two innings of work.  As for 2012 RoughRiders pitcher Cody Buckel?  He had a tough afternoon, throwing just 10 of his 31 pitches for strikes and yielding six runs (four earned) with five walks while retiring just one batter.  Here are today’s links:

Why veteran Jeff Baker could have edge on Mike Olt for spot on Texas Rangers’ benchEvan Grant says the journeyman’s experience riding the pine might end up getting him a big league job.

Texas Rangers roster predictions, V2.0From a couple days ago, but worth a look as Grant handicaps the 25-man roster.

Same old Josh? Ex-Ranger Hamilton swings at first pitch, goes 0-for-3 in Angels debutIf you’re interested, Josh Hamilton did not set the world on fire in his first game of the spring with Los Angels.

With year under his belt, Texas Rangers’ Darvish already looking like Yu 2.0For subscribers only, Gerry Fraley thought highly of the Japanese right-hander’s debut outing.

Cody Buckel survivesJeff Wilson reports that, despite yesterday’s flameout, Cody Buckel was not incinerated from planet Earth altogether.  He also notes that Engel Beltre might not be playing for Spain in the WBC after all.

Rangers catcher feels nothing (yet) vs. old teamWilson writes about A.J. Pierzynski facing the White Sox for the first time as a Ranger yesterday.

Yu Darvish impresses in spring debutAnother glowing report on Darvish, this time from Ron Matejko.

Darvish off to strong start in second springMatt Mosley writes that things are bit calmer this spring for the now more seasoned Darvish.

Plenty of arms to choose from for RangersNeeding to almost completely rebuilt their bullpen, Anthony Andros says that the Rangers have a diverse group of options available to fill out the open spots.

Rangers prepared to round out rotation in houseDon’t look for Kyle Lohse to come walking through that door, writes T.R. Sullivan.

Berkman may make Rangers debut ThursdaySullivan has injury updates on Lance Berkman, Colby Lewis and the two Beltres, Adrian and Engel.

 – Alex

Rangers Spring Training Links – 2/21/2013

Ricky Fowler snowball

Is that Rickie Fowler or Cody Buckel ready to unleash a heater?

The Rangers avoided the snow that did this to the Match Play Championship out in Arizona yesterday as “Team Jackie Moore,” comprised of mostly Rangers regulars, defeated “Team Bobby Jones” 10-4 in the second intrasquad scrimmage of spring training.  The Rangers media relations folks distributed a box score indicating that 2012 RoughRider Cody Buckel pitched an inning for the winning side, but I swear that’s him in the photo above instigating a snowball fight.  Anyway, here are today’s spring links (or “splinks,” if you will):

Martin Perez determined to win fifth spot – Richard Durrett has a feature on former ‘Riders pitcher Martin Perez, who’s been the Rangers’ young stud pitching prospect for about 15 years now.  Perez thinks that this will be the year he arrives for good after foundering with the big club in 2012.  He got off to a good start in Tuesday’s intrasquad game, throwing all nine of his pitches for strikes.

Relief candidates show off stuff Durrett also cleans out the notebook with a closer look at pitchers trying to make Texas’ bullpen, including 2012 ‘Rider Joseph Ortiz, who earned an Eddie Guardado comparison.

Rangers’ Berkman says calf strain is no issueFox Sports Southwest (via the AP) has Lance Berkman essentially saying, “nothing to see here,” regarding his right calf strain.  It has to be at least a little concerning for the Rangers considering they are paying him $11 million this season and he played just 32 games last year because of two knee surgeries and a left calf strain.

Lance Berkman lands on injury reportDrew Davison talks to Berkman about his injury but also notes that Leury Garcia may be a WBC candidate for the Dominican Republic because of his versatility.

Five candidates vying for last spot in Rangers rotationJeff Wilson breaks down the competition for the number five starting spot between Perez, Randy Wells, Kyle McClellan, Justin Grimm and Robbie Ross.

And, just for the sake of comparison:

Buckel warmups

Rickie Fowler doppelgänger Cody Buckel.

– Alex

Reviewing the MiLB.com Rangers All-Stars (part 2)

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.

OUTFIELD

 MiLB.com’s picks:

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)

My picks:

Butler

Beltre

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.

Butler

Joey Butler (pictured with the RoughRiders in 2011) had a great season in Triple-A. (Alex Yocum-Beeman/Frisco RoughRiders)

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)

Buckel

Buckel won “Texas League Pitcher of the Week” honors in early September. (Alex Yocum-Beeman/Frisco RoughRiders)

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

Bell

Bell made three stops in 2012, starting in Myrtle Beach before finishing the season in Round Rock. (Alex Yocum-Beeman/Frisco RoughRiders)

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.

RELIEVER

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)

Rowen

Rowen under-handed his way to a phenomenal season on the Grand Strand. (Dano Keeney/MiLB.com)

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.

Season in Review: September

For Rangers fans, this shot might elicit bad memories as the Springfield Cardinals celebrate a Texas League championship at Frisco’s expense. (Alex Yocum-Beeman/RoughRiders)

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.

SEPTEMBER

Record: 6-4 (2-1 in RS, 4-3 in playoffs)

Average: .263 (.265 in RS, .263 in playoffs)

Home Runs: 5 (1 in RS, 4 in playoffs)

ERA: 3.13 (3.54 in RS, 2.95 in playoffs)

Top Offensive Players: Jose Felix (.400-0-4, 2 2B, 3 R), Leury Garcia (.275-1-5, 2 2B, 5 R), Chris McGuiness (.278-1-8, 3 2B, 5 R, 6 BB), Tommy Mendonca (.278-1-6, 2B, 2 R)

Top Pitchers: Wilfredo Boscan (2 GS, 0-1, 2.61 ERA, 10.1 IP, 9 H, 3 ER, 6 BB, 8 K), Cody Buckel (2 GS, 0-1, 1.64 ERA, 11 IP, 11 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 14 K), Barret Loux (3 GS, 1-0, 2.77 ERA, 13 IP, 9 H, 4 ER, 5 BB, 13 K), Nick Tepesch (3 GS, 1-0, 2.45 ERA, 18.1 IP, 10 H, 5 ER, 6 BB, 15 K)

Nick Tepesch was the ‘Riders’ most impressive pitcher in the postseason, tossing 13.1 scoreless innings, giving up 4 hits with 9 strikeouts. (Alex Yocum-Beeman/RoughRiders)

After five months, 140 games, 12 off-days and approximately 201.5 hours on a bus, the regular season was in the record books and the playoffs were set to begin.  The RoughRiders clinched a spot back in June after finishing the first half of the season with the best record in the Texas League.  Their opponent in the South Division Championship Series was Corpus Christi, which clinched the second half division title and finished with the best overall mark in the TL (81-59, one game better than Frisco).

As was expected, given their tightly-contested regular season series in late August, the SDCS games were all competitive and full of drama.  But in each contest, the RoughRiders were the team that made the plays they needed to and caught most of the breaks.  The result was an unexpected three-game sweep by Frisco of a team that many anticipated would win the league championship.

The ’Riders were high on momentum from the sweep, but inactivity may have stunted their chances of getting off to a quick start in the Texas League Championship Series.  While Frisco wrapped up its business in short order, the team had to wait to find out their final opponent as Springfield and Tulsa went to a decisive Game 5 of their series in the North Division.  After the Cardinals vanquished the Drillers at home, the ’Riders made the seven-hour bus ride to southwest Missouri.

What followed was (for the most part) a pitching-dominated series that turned in the eighth inning of Game 2 when Frisco failed to hold a big lead and Springfield headed to Texas up in the series 2-0.  Not even a pair of impressive Frisco pitching performances could inspire the RoughRiders’ quiet bats and the Cardinals won the series in four games.

TIMELINE:

September 1: Barret Loux works out of a first inning jam against Midland in his final start of the season, an intentionally abbreviated one-inning outing designed to get him some work before the playoffs.  Jose Felix’ three-run double sparks a six-run second inning and Frisco blows away the RockHounds 10-3.

September 3: On the final day of the regular season, the ’Riders and ’Hounds play extra innings with Midland winning 2-1 in ten frames.  Frisco leaves 13 men on base and wave the white flag in the top of the tenth, putting outfielder Val Majewski on the mound to pitch.  He gives up a run on two hits in his second pitching appearance of the season.  The RoughRiders finish the regular season with an 80-60 record.

September 4: Cody Buckel is named the “Pitcher of the Week” for the Texas League in the final week of the regular season after a pair of terrific performances down the stretch: 2 GS, 10 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 16 K.

September 5 (SDCS Game 1): A matchup of Loux, the TL’s “Pitcher of the Year,” and Corpus Christi’s Paul Clemens (no relation to “The Rocket”) has little flow early, with both teams scoring single runs in the first and second innings.  [Side note: As a present to hitting coach Jason Hart on his 35th birthday, Engel Beltre promises a triple and a run scored to lead off the game; he would settle for a double and run in the first inning.]  The ’Riders gain the upper hand with three runs in the third with Jared Hoying and Guilder Rodriguez – starting at shortstop in the place of recently promoted Jurickson Profar – generating RBI hits.  In the middle innings, the Hooks creep back into the game with runs in the sixth, seventh and eighth innings.  Tied at five in the ninth, Leury Garcia singles and barely scores from first base on a double by Chris McGuiness to send Frisco to a 6-5 walk-off win.

Leury Garcia’s legs and bat were major factors in Frisco’s SDCS win over Corpus Christi. (Alex Yocum-Beeman/RoughRiders)

September 6 (SDCS Game 2): Corpus Christi’s Rob Rasmussen outduels Wilfredo Boscan over the first two-thirds of the ballgame and delivers a 2-0 lead to his bullpen in the eighth inning.  The Hooks’ terrific relief duo of Kevin Chapman and Jason Stoffel, however, fails to protect the precious advantage.  In a replay of the previous night, Garcia reaches on an error and scores on a McGuiness double.  After a strikeout and a walk, Stoffel enters the game with Majewski pinch running at second base and Ryan Strausborger batting.  Strausborger follows with a base hit to right field to bring home Majewski and the tying run, sending Stoffel to just his third blown save of the year.  In the ninth inning, Rodriguez walks and gets to second on a sacrifice, but makes an ill-advised steal attempt of third base and is thrown out, seemingly ending the Frisco rally.  But two pitches later, Garcia stuns everyone in attendance by yanking a solo home run out to right to give the RoughRiders a 3-2 walk-off win.  It’s on to Corpus with a 2-0 lead in the best-of-five game series for the ’Riders.

September 7 (SDCS Game 3): With a raucous crowd of over five-thousand fans on hand at Whataburger Field, starters Nick Tepesch and Ross Seaton proceed to carve through the other team’s lineup.  Tepesch (7 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 4 K on 83 pitches) is particularly dominant, retiring the first 14 men he faces and not allowing a ball to even leave the infield until a fly out in the fifth.  Frisco gets to Seaton in the sixth with McGuiness and Strausborger driving in Beltre and Garcia to put the ’Riders on top 2-0.  The Hooks’ chances with men on base in the sixth, seventh and eighth innings do not materialize into runs and Frisco salts it away with three more tallies in the ninth inning.  Ross Wolf records the final four outs for the save as the RoughRiders win the contest 5-0 and sweep the series in three games.  It’s on to the Texas League Championship Series with the opponent still not determined.

September 9: Springfield beats Tulsa 3-1 in Game 5 of the North Division Championship Series to earn the right to face Frisco for the Texas League’s top prize.  The Cardinals will host the first two games of the TLCS at Hammons Field in Missouri with Games 3 – 5 (if necessary) being played at Dr Pepper Ballpark.

September 11 (TLCS Game 1): Facing live pitching for the first time in four days, the RoughRiders’ bats look a little sluggish.  This problem is exacerbated by having to face hard-throwing Cardinals prospect Carlos Martinez for the first time in 2012.  Martinez (7 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 7 K) unleashes a dizzying supply of 100 mph fastballs – some as late as the seventh inning – and silences Frisco’s offense.  Meanwhile, Springfield scratches across a pair of runs against Buckel and then three more against the ’Riders bullpen to win 5-0.  Rangers catcher Mike Napoli (quad) joins Frisco on a rehab assignment and goes 0-for-2 with a strikeout and a hit-by-pitch.

September 12 (TLCS Game 2):Needing a win to avoid an 0-2 hole, the RoughRiders strike for two unearned runs against control artist Seth Maness and then double their lead on a two-run Napoli homer in the eighth.  After Tepesch (6.1 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 5 K) gives Frisco another impressive performance, the bullpen suffers a meltdown of epic proportions, changing the entire outlook of the series.  Pitching with a 4-0 lead in the eighth, Justin Grimm walks the leadoff man but sets down the next two batters to get the ’Riders to within four outs of a win.  But Grimm gives up a double and a walk to load the bases before the Wolf is summoned.  The normally rock steady closer also falters, giving up four consecutive base hits.  Adam Melker’s RBI single ties it and then Audry Perez’s two-run double gives the Cardinals a 6-4 lead.  Frisco goes on to lose by that score after Keith Butler strikes out the side in order in the ninth inning.  Springfield will head down to Frisco just one win away from a championship.

Barret Loux pitched a gem in Game 3 of the Texas League Championship Series to keep Frisco alive. (Alex Yocum-Beeman/RoughRiders)

September 14 (TLCS Game 3): During in the day, the RoughRiders and Rangers jointly announce that they have extended their Player Development Contract by four more years until 2018, meaning that the teams will remain affiliated for at least six more seasons.  Looking for an extension of the championship series, Frisco trots out Loux to the mound, needing a win to stave off elimination.  The former Texas A&M Aggie delivers a thunderous performance, yielding just one run on two hits with eight strikeouts over 6.1 innings.  The ’Riders efficiently put forth a run in the third inning, two in the fifth, one in the sixth and another in the seventh and win 5-1 to force a Game 4.  After starting the series 0-for-10, McGuiness drives home a run in the seventh inning with a double that is misplayed in the outfield and nearly scores; he is thrown out at home on the play.

September 15 (TLCS Game 4): The RoughRiders and Cardinals play a Saturday night thriller with situational pitching playing a major role.  Springfield blows a base loaded opportunity in the first inning against Boscan, but Frisco can’t take advantage of men in scoring position with no outs in the third or fifth with Scott Gorgen on the mound.  Gorgen, who lost a 1-0 decision to Grimm and the ’Riders on Opening Day of the regular season, strikes out seven batters over six scoreless innings before departing.  Meanwhile, the Cardinals score on a Greg Garcia RBI single after Boscan is chased in the fifth to take a 1-0 lead.  They tack on an important unearned run in the eighth inning after a steal and errors by McGuiness and Garcia get Mike O’Neill home from first base with two outs.  In the bottom of the frame, Garcia hits a slow grounder to third baseman Jermaine Curtis and appears to beat out the throw to first base but is called out by umpire Adam Schwarz.  After the ’Riders argue the botched call, McGuiness hits the very next pitch from Eric Fornataro over the wall in left field for a solo home run to cut the deficit to one.  Tommy Mendonca follows with a single and gets to second base on a fielder’s choice.  Hoying then singles to left and Mendonca, representing the tying run, is waved homeward but gets thrown out by Melker to keep Springfield in the lead.  Mendonca strains his hamstring while sprinting for the plate, ending his season.  In the ninth, Butler allows a two-out single but Beltre grounds out to end the game and the season.  The Cardinals take the game 2-1 and win their first-ever Texas League championship.  In an epilogue to the final chapter of a memorable season, Grimm and reliever Wilmer Font are promoted to the Rangers immediately following the game.  Four 2012 RoughRiders (Font, Grimm, Mike Olt & Profar) end up going to straight to the big leagues during the season, joining three other former Frisco players (Martin Perez, Robbie Ross and Joe Wieland) who made their Major League debuts this year.  In total, 108 players have donned RoughRiders uniforms and reached the highest level of professional baseball.

For everyone associated with the ’Riders, it was a memorable season filled with big-time prospects, tremendous performances and, above all, an excellent team.  To the players, coaches and fans, thanks for being part of a great ride.

–          Alex V.

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