Results tagged ‘ Corpus Christi Hooks ’

The Case for Brett Nicholas, Texas League Player of the Year

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Odds are against ‘Riders first baseman Brett Nicholas, but he deserves consideration for the league’s Player of the Year Award

The ballots are in. The counters are at work, tabulating the totals. Hopefully it won’t come down to the definition and value of a hanging chad. (UPDATE: Corpus Christi’s George Springer has won the award)

Yesterday, Alex and I, along with others around the league, were asked to turn in our votes for the Texas League Postseason All-Star team, Player of the Year award winner, Pitcher of the Year selection and Manager of the Year candidate. The awards are expected to be announced today.

The only stipulation in the voting was that you could not vote for players on your team, so, neither Alex nor I could vote for RoughRiders players. The voting included a ballot filled with the following positions: 1B, 2B, 3B, SS, C, 3 OF and 6 pitchers. There were two columns: one for “1st Team” and another for “2nd team.” So that means we could vote for two 1B, two 2B (etc).

While it was time-consuming and thought-provoking, save for a few players, I thought selecting this season’s Texas League All-Stars was not too difficult. While there are a few deserving candidates, it didn’t take long to pen down David Martinez for Pitcher of the Year in the circuit. As for Manager of the Year, that one was rather easy for me as well.

Then we came to Player of the Year.

The Candidates

So, should I vote for Anthony Aliotti?

The Midland first baseman spent around two thirds of the season crushing Texas League pitching to the tune of a .350 average, .452 on-base percentage and .993 OPS–all league highs, and with enough plate appearances to qualify, Aliotti will finish first in all three of these categories. He has really struggled at Triple-A, but that should not matter. This is Texas League Player of the Year.

George Springer, MiLB.com

George Springer, MiLB.com

What about George Springer? He has to be the favorite for all-around Minor League Player of the Year. He is three home runs away for the elite 40 home run / 40 stolen base club, which has happened only four times in major league history (Jose Canseco 1988, Barry Bonds 1996, Alex Rodriguez 1998, Alfonso Soriano 2006–three former Texas Rangers coincidentally enough). It hasn’t happened in the minor leagues, where the season slate is fewer games (140) since 1956 when Len Tucker accomplished the feat. He is first in minor league baseball in home runs (37), tied for fourth in RBI (105), tied for 20th in steals (43) and fourth in OPS among players with 300+ ABs. He is also accomplishing these feats despite zero time above Advanced-A ball before this year.

Neither player spent even close to the entire season in the league. Springer played 73 games, while Aliotti notched 91. Neither player will finish in the top 5 in home runs or RBI, and depending on how the season finishes, Springer could drop out of the top 5 in stolen bases (23), while Aliotti could lose his spot at #5 in doubles (29).

I searched desperately for a candidate that played 100 or more games in the league (an arbitrary number, I know), that could live up to the play of these two fine ballplayers.

How about Matt Fields of Northwest Arkansas? He will likely capture the home run crown; he has 31 and a six home run edge of second place. But Fields is hitting just .227, plays a non-premium defensive position (first base), and leads the league with 175 strikeouts in 124 games.

Xavier Scruggs? The Springfield first baseman is second in home runs (25), just outside the top 5 in RBI (74), fourth in league in OPS (.853) and leads the league in walks (81). While the resume is an impressive one, a .246 average, more than a strikeout per game, and the opportunity to play lowly Northwest Arkansas 32 times really hurt his cause for me (he hit .313 with six of his 25 homers against the last place Naturals).

Anthony Aliotti, (Edyta Blaszczyk/Odessa American)

Anthony Aliotti, (Edyta Blaszczyk/Odessa American)

Then I got to Brett Nicholas. Of course, I couldn’t vote for Nicholas since he is a ‘Rider. The Frisco first baseman is going to finish the season with the most games played and likely have the highest RBI total (he is first today). His .299 average is fourth in the TL, and is first among active Texas League players. He is first in hits, third in slugging (second active), first in total bases, fourth in runs, and, in comparison to other power hitters in the league, does not strike out very often. Of course in many more games than Springer and Aliotti, he has more hits, runs, home runs and RBI than the leading two candidates. If I could have voted for Nicholas, I might have. It would have been a tough call.

Full disclosure here, I voted for Springer.

His dominance while in the Texas League as well his team’s capturing a playoff spot before his departure outweighed, in my opinion, his smaller gross totals in comparison to Scruggs, or Crumbliss, or Fields, and his speed and elite defense pushed him past Aliotti for me.

There are no criteria listed with this award; it is left up to the voter to decide what factors should go into Player of the Year. This is, in my opinion, a rather fruitless effort to argue over the number of games required for consideration, the value of defense and speed, ballpark factors (hitters’ park vs pitchers’ park), competition of the weighted divisional schedule, etc. Ultimately, when there are no rules, the voter must make these decisions themselves, and arguing over the value of each of these factors is often one without much movement. People’s minds are hard to change on topics like this.

What is important is that any voter at least consider these criteria when making their selection; how to balance them is up to the individual.

Assuming you are with me at this point, here are the raw numbers of the three players:

Tm Aff G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS TB
Nicholas - Frisco TEX 129 543 479 70 143 24 3 21 89 2 1 42 115 .299 .363 .493 .855 236
Aliotti - Midland OAK 91 409 340 49 119 29 0 12 51 3 2 66 83 .350 .452 .541 .993 184
Springer - Corpus Christi HOU 73 323 273 56 81 20 0 19 55 23 5 42 96 .297 .399 .579 .978 158

Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table

Generated 8/27/2013.

I will run through a few of the perhaps more overlooked factors that might shed some light on the worthiness of Nicholas for the league’s highest honor.

Nicholas is the only one with enough games/at bats

For the record, I also think Springer will win the award. Which is astounding.

Since the inception of the award in 1931, only two position players have ever won the award with less than 100 games played. Kila Kaʻaihue of the Northwest Arkansas Naturals won the award in 2008 when and he launched 26 homers and hit .314 over 91 games, and another Royals prospect, Mike Moustakas, took home the hardware in his 66 game season in 2010 when he left the circuit with an 1.100 OPS with 21 homers and a .347 average. He also plays a decent third base in the majors, so I imagine he was above average man at the hot corner in his time in the Texas League.

Five pitchers have won the award: Tim Leary (1980), Bob Muncrief (1940), Dizzy Trout (1938), Harold (Ash) Hillin (1937), Dizzy Dean (1931). Only Trout didn’t spend his entire award-winning season in the TL. He pitched 37 times in the Texas League and in five games for Double-A Toledo in the American Association. Proportionally speaking, he made 88% of his outings in the Texas League, which would be quite a bit more than 100 games by a position player standard.

Even if Aliotti wins the award it would be pretty remarkable. Granted the two players to break the mold have done so in the last 10 years, when seemingly voters might be a bit more prospect-conscious and mid-season promotions are more common, but history is still very much against it.

Nicholas is not in a great hitting environment

Comparing the three players, Alliotti, Nicholas and Springer, it seems that Nicholas is likely in the toughest spot to produce. Mark Eddy of BaseballAmerica.com looked at park factors at the start of this season, and Dr Pepper Ballpark ranked as the fifth best hitter’s park in the eight team league. Midland was third. Corpus Christi ranked fourth:

Citibank Ballpark - Midland, Texas

Citibank Ballpark – Midland, Texas

Rates Per Park, 2010-12
Team R/G H/G HR/G PF-R
Northwest Arkansas 10.86 19.00 1.90 1.132
Springfield 10.09 18.14 2.35 1.019
Midland 9.95 19.19 1.12 1.023
Corpus Christi 9.39 17.97 1.76 1.023
Frisco 8.98 17.20 1.77 0.994
Tulsa 8.75 16.98 2.01 0.995
San Antonio 8.29 16.70 1.21 0.928
Arkansas 7.67 15.64 1.00 0.902

Launching Pad: Springfield, 2.35 HR/G (No. 6)
Graveyard: Arkansas, 1.00 HR/G (No. 106)
Hit Parade: Midland, 19.19 H/G (No. 11)
Pitcher’s Park: Arkansas, 7.67 R/G (No. 4)

(table and statistics from BaseballAmerica.com)

The ‘Riders’ home park is also much harder on left-handed batters, where the power-alley to right-center field is much futher than left-center (383 ft vs. 364 ft) and the WinStar Diamond Deck in left creates a Home Run Porch of sorts in straightaway left field.

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Dr Pepper Ballpark – Frisco, Texas

Whataburger Field - Corpus Christi, Texas

Whataburger Field – Corpus Christi, Texas

Additionally, there is the concept of lineup protection. By all accounts, the Midland RockHounds and Corpus Christi Hooks have created more protection for Springer and Aliotti than the ‘Riders have for Nicholas this season. Here is how the offenses stack up:


Team R/gm HR AVG OBP OPS
Corpus 4.63 150 .254 .331 .745
Midland 4.88 94 .254 .336 .726
Frisco 4.16 108 .246 .297 .672

Here is a similar table, only taking account team performance while the player in question was on the team’s roster (Aliotti was promoted on July 18, Springer on June 26):


Team Games R/gm HR/gm AVG OBP OPS
Corpus 76 4.84 1.08 .255 .331 .745
Midland 95 4.83 0.76 .258 .340 .737
Frisco 133 4.16 0.81 .246 .297 .672

Now of course these players account for part of the production, but that is true across the board. Springer and Aliotti were more production on a daily basis than Nicholas, but not enough to account for the disparities between the offenses on a whole.

Nicholas doesn’t play a premium defensive position

Or does he? That ‘Riders everyday first baseman is not really that–an everyday first baseman. He has logged 12 games at catcher, and likely would have more if the ‘Riders had a bit more flexibility at first base.

Other than rehabbers, only Guilder Rodriguez has logged more than one game at first base outside of Nicholas (18 games), and Rodriguez has been needed to spell off days for other infielders as well. Because of this, Nicholas has not been able to log as much time at catcher as he might have otherwise. More starts at catcher would certainly make his candidacy a little stronger.

Springer plays elite defense in center field. Your eyes will tell you that. The scouts will tell you that, and I am sure, when he makes the majors, the sabermetricians will crunch numbers that tell us the same. It is part of the reason I voted for Springer over Aliotti.

Nicholas’ ability at catcher should not be overlooked. He still considers himself a catcher and, defensively, has been pretty darn good at the position. Here is how he stacks up in a few key categories with the two primary Frisco catchers, Tomas Telis and Zach Zaneski:


Name Games Catcher ERA Games/PB SB ATT/gm CS%
Nicholas 12 3.61 12 1.33 0.375
Telis 78 3.51 6.5 0.94 0.324
Zaneski 43 3.77 10.75 1.37 0.305

While this unlikely puts him ahead of Springer, I think it has to put him in front of Aliotti, and at least boost his candidacy. When considering MVP/POTY type awards, many will only focus on the offense of a first baseman, assuming that even an elite defensive first baseman is not adding a ton of value. I think that is an unfair determination in the case of Nicholas.

Conclusion

I would be shocked if Springer or Aliotti doesn’t win the award. In fact, I would be pretty astounded if Springer doesn’t win it, but if he is faulted for his 73 games played, it’s hard to imagine it won’t go to Aliotti.

I don’t even know if Brett Nicholas truly deserves the award, but I have a feeling many voters simply weighed the value of Aliotti’s 18 extra games against the incredible production of George Springer, decided how much that would count against Springer, and then called it a day.

Nicholas likely didn’t get the credit his season deserved. He has without question been the Player of the Year for the Frisco RoughRiders, and maybe even the Player of the Year in the Rangers minor league system, and he deserves at least a thoughtful discussion for Player of the Year in his circuit.

- Nathan

Baseball term of the day: cloud-hunter - a ball batted high in the air

(term from The Dickson Baseball Dictionary)

Another wild night in Corpus Christi

Earlier this season, on April 18, the Hooks and the RoughRiders played the longest-inning game in ‘Riders history with 17 innings.  Frisco won that game 4-2 as Guilder Rodriguez picked up his first career win in his third career mound appearance.

Last night, the ‘Riders rallied from down seven runs against the Corpus Christi Hooks at the end of the fourth and then began a comeback in the sixth, and tying the up in the ninth to take the game to extra innings.  Frisco wound up falling 8-7 in the 16th, but not before two ‘Riders position players took the mound.

The Game:

-Last night was the longest in recorded RoughRiders history.  Game time last night was 5 hours and 16 minutes, the longest of the season.  The last 5-hour game recorded for the RoughRiders was in 2006 with a 5:05 time (records aren’t available for the 2003 and 2004 seasons)

-Corpus Christi scored in the first with a solo home run by Erik Castro.  Castro also scored the winning run off a wild pitch by right-fielder Chih-Hsien Chiang in the 16th.

-’Riders starter Kevin Pucetas faced eight men in the fourth and only retired two and Phil Klein walked all four batters he faced.  Alex Claudio got Frisco out of the 12-batter bottom of the fourth trailing 7-0.

-Hooks starter Ross Seaton took a no-hitter through five before Hanser Alberto broke it up with a two-out double.

-In his final inning in the sixth, Seaton allowed an RBI double off the bat of Brett Nicholas, which put Frisco on the board at 7-1.  Off the Hooks bullpen, the RoughRiders scored a run in the seventh, two in the eighth and trailed by three runs to begin the ninth.

-Hanser Alberto singled to lead off the ninth. Odubel Herrera then doubled him home, and Ryan Strausborger launched his eighth home run of the season, a two-run blast to tie the game at 7-7.  The comeback tied the longest by the team this season.

-It took nearly an entire game for another score.  The Hooks’ bullpen combined to limit the ‘Riders to no runs on five hits and one walk over the final eight innings.  After the six-run fourth inning, Alex Claudio, Randy Henry, Lisalverto Bonilla, Jimmy Reyes, and then catcher Zach Zaneski put together 11 scoreless innings.

Position players on the mound

Frisco has only played two other games this season in which a position player has taken over on the mound, both times utility infielder Guilder Rodriguez was the go-to. Rodriguez  is 1-0 in his appearances this season.

Zach Zaneski

‘Riders catcher Zach Zaneski made his his first professional pitching appearance in last night’s battle.  He went three scoreless innings with two strikeouts and allowed just two hits and a walk.

Zach threw an impressive three frames which included the fastball and slider,  and the stadium radar gun topped at 91 mph.

Watch here as Zaneski records one of his first career strikeouts

Zaneski_1

Zaneski_2

Chih-Hsien Chiang

Right fielder Chih-Hsien Chiang came on for the 16th in his pitching debut as well. Chiang allowed one hit, two walks and gave up the winning run off a wild pitch with two outs, suffering the loss.

Chiang

-Ryan

Baseball term of the day: Leave the bench swinging - A batter who comes to the plate ready to swing at whatever pitch is delivered.

Pat Lobb Magic Swing promotion makes ‘Riders fan a winner

With one powerful swing of the bat, Pat Lobb Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram of Frisco gave away a brand new 2013 Jeep Wrangler to a lucky Frisco RoughRiders fan at Dr Pepper Ballpark on Friday night.  Jana Tucker, a Frisco resident, was the lucky winner of the Pat Lobb Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram Magic Swing Promotion.

“I heard the crack of the bat and then closed my eyes-I was so freaked out,” Jana said.  “My hands started shaking, my knees went out from beneath me.  I couldn’t believe it.”

Magic Swing 6.14_1

Mark and Jana after the winning magic swing

The promotion awards the contestant with a brand new Jeep Wrangler if the RoughRiders hit a home run on the first swing of the bat during the bottom of the fifth inning.  That is exactly what ‘Riders All-Star catcher Tomas Telis did with the first offering from Jorge De Leon in the bottom of the fifth.

“I didn’t think the ball would go over the fence,” said Mark McEachern, a representative from Pat Lobb.  “I didn’t see it go over.  I just saw the crowd’s reaction.  I turned and looked at Jana and she looked at me like, ‘That just happened!”

The Venezuelan backstop, who had clubbed just two home runs in 40 games played this season, launched the first pitch of the inning onto the grass berm over the left-center field fence. The home run gave Frisco a 2-0 lead in an eventual 3-2 extra-innings loss against the Corpus Christi Hooks.

Magic Swing 6.14_3

”What a night for that to happen; [Ian] Kinsler [rehabbing] at second, the big Friday night crowd, the post-game fireworks-the atmosphere was just electric,” Mark said.

Steven Nelson, Senior Director of Corporate Partnerships with the RoughRiders has been working in sports now for around ten years in the Frisco area and says this is the most exciting thing he’s ever seen.

“When the swing of the bat happened and I saw the ball go off, I thought ‘please have enough to just go over the wall,” said Steven.  “I almost felt like I won the Jeep.”

This is only the third game this season that Pat Lobb Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram has given a local fan the chance to take home a brand new Jeep Wrangler, and the Frisco RoughRiders hope for more winners to come in the future.

“Thank you to the family and thank you to Pat Lobb. We are really excited for the partnership and look forward to continuing it for years to come,” Nelson said.

Pat Lobb Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram of Frisco just opened their doors in May, 2013. A part of the Pat Lobb Auto Group, the nearly 60,000 square foot facility is the premier Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram dealership in North Texas.

“It’s been an exciting promotion for Pat Lobb all season long,” said Mark.  “We’re excited to have this promotion and to be a part of the Frisco community.  We look forward to carrying the relationship forward with Dr Pepper Ballpark and the Frisco RoughRiders.”

Jana Tucker and her family have been to a number of games, and have attended two this season. “Thank you to Pat Lobb and the RoughRiders. We will definitely be going to more ‘Riders games in the future.”

Magic Swing 6.14_2

You could be next! Click here for your chance to win!

-Ryan

Home Sweet Home: First-half stretch run

061213 Stadium

The Frisco RoughRiders return to Dr Pepper Ballpark tonight for the longest home stand of the year. In many ways, however, it is two home stands, as the first six games will end the first half, while the second set of six contests begins half number two.

With six games to play before crowning a first half champion from both division, the RoughRiders are only two game back of first place in the Texas League South Division. They trail Corpus Christi, their opponent for the next four days and for eight of the twelve games this home stand.

It is certainly possible that these two teams tie (gasp!) at the conclusion of the first half, and in that case, it is important to know how that tiebreaker will go:

Sec 22, c, i. In the event of a percentage tie in the first half season, the championship of that season will be broken by the outcome of the first scheduled game played between the two teams in the second half, with that game also being counted in the second half standings.

(Source)

That means that a week from tomorrow, Thursday, June 20 would be a winner-take-all game of the first half title.

The Astros affiliate, led by the MiLB home run leader George Springer, bring three All-Star pitchers to Frisco in Jake Buchanan, David Martinez and Michael Foltynewicz, two who will start, and one (Foltynewicz) we should expect to see in relief of Martinez on Saturday.

Tonight will be the first chance for DFW area fans to see the RoughRiders after their seven all-star selections were announced yesterday.

Here is how the first six games of the home stand line up as far as the pitching matchups go:

Wednesday: RHP Nick McBride (0-2, 11.70) vs. RHP Jake Buchanan (7-0, 0.80)

Thursday: RHP Carlos Pimentel (7-2, 2.96) vs. RHP Nick Tropeano (1-4, 3.71)

Friday: RHP Tyler Tufts (1-1, 3.79) vs. RHP Ruben Alaniz (2-6, 6.22)

Saturday: RHP Neil Ramirez (7-2, 3.39) vs. RHP David Martinez

Sunday: RHP Kevin Pucetas vs. RHP Sean Murphy (3-2, 4.88 ERA)

Monday: TBA (But if rotations stay the same should be:

RHP Nick McBride (0-2, 11.70) vs. Carlos Hernandez (2-5, 3.59 ERA)

Wednesday, June 12   |   7:05 p.m.   | RoughRiders vs. Corpus Christi Hooks (HOU)
Radio: RidersBaseball.com    Webstream: MiLB.tv 

Promotions (click here and also here for more details):

  • Dollar Dog Night
  • RoughRiders Horse Race presented by Whataburger

Thursday, June 13   |   7:05 p.m.   | RoughRiders vs. Corpus Christi Hooks (HOU)
Radio: RidersBaseball.com    Webstream: MiLB.tv 

Promotions (click here and also here for more details)

  • $1 Dr Pepper Thursdays
  • RoughRiders Horse Race presented by Whataburger

Friday, June 14   |   7:05 p.m.   | RoughRiders vs. Corpus Christi Hooks (HOU)
Radio: RidersBaseball.com    Webstream: MiLB.tv 

Promotions (click here and also here for more details):

  • Friday Night Post-game fireworks
  • Free Elvis Andrus Replica Jersey T-Shirts courtesy of Nationwide Insurance
  • Smashburger SMASH inning

Saturday, June 15   |   7:05 p.m.   | RoughRiders vs. Corpus Christi Hooks (HOU)
TV: KTXD    Radio: RidersBaseball.com    Webstream: MiLB.tv 

Promotions (click here and also here for more details):

  • Free Elvis Andrus Replica Jersey T-Shirts courtesy of Nationwide Insurance
  • Batter Up for Banking
  • Free ‘Riders Sunshade presented by Colony Air Conditioning & Heating and Carrier

COLONY_Carrier_FREE_SUNSHADE_RV_grx71uog

Sunday, June 16   |   4:05 p.m.   | RoughRiders vs. Midland RockHounds (OAK)
TV: KTXD    Radio: RidersBaseball.com    Webstream: MiLB.tv 

Promotions (click here and also here for more details):

  • Dairy Queen Triple Play
  • Kids Run the Bases
  • RoughRiders Horse Race presented by Whataburger

Monday, June 17   |   7:05 p.m.   | RoughRiders vs. Midland RockHounds (OAK)
Radio: RidersBaseball.com    Webstream: MiLB.tv 

Promotions (click here and also here for more details):

Tuesday, June 18   |   7:05 p.m.   | RoughRiders vs. Midland RockHounds (OAK)
Radio: RidersBaseball.com    Webstream: MiLB.tv 

Promotions (click here and also here for more details)

  • RoughRiders Horse Race presented by Whataburger

Wednesday, June 19   |  11:05 a.m.   | RoughRiders vs. Midland RockHounds (OAK)
Radio: RidersBaseball.com    Webstream: MiLB.tv 

Promotions (click here and also here for more details):

  • Dollar Dog Night
  • RoughRiders Horse Race presented by Whataburger

Thursday, June 20   |   7:05 p.m.   | RoughRiders vs. Corpus Christi Hooks (HOU)
Radio: RidersBaseball.com    Webstream: MiLB.tv 

Promotions (click here and also here for more details):

  • $1 Dr Pepper Thursdays

Friday, June 21   |   7:05 p.m.   | RoughRiders vs. Corpus Christi Hooks (HOU)
TV: KTXD    Radio: RidersBaseball.com    Webstream: MiLB.tv 

Promotions (click here and also here for more details):

  • Friday Night Post-game fireworks
  • Free Elvis Andrus Replica Jersey T-Shirts courtesy of Nationwide Insurance
  • Smashburger SMASH inning
  • Free ‘Riders Tumbler presented by Total Air and Heat and Carrier

TOTAL_AIR_HEAT_Carrier_FREE_TUMBLER_RV_copy_ojfo27z9

Saturday, June 22   |   7:05 p.m.   | RoughRiders vs. Corpus Christi Hooks (HOU)
TV: KTXD    Radio: RidersBaseball.com    Webstream: MiLB.tv 

Promotions (click here and also here for more details):

  • Free Elvis Andrus Replica Jersey T-Shirts courtesy of Nationwide Insurance
  • RoughRiders Horse Race presented by Whataburger

Sunday, June 23   |   4:05 p.m.   | RoughRiders vs. Corpus Christi Hooks (HOU)
Radio: RidersBaseball.com    Webstream: MiLB.tv 

Promotions (click here and also here for more details):

  • Dairy Queen Triple Play
  • Kids Run the Bases

- Nathan

Baseball term of the day: fandango - a strikeout

Texas League Prospects (South Division)

Today, we look at some of the prospects in the Texas League South Division and their performance this first month and a half of play.   The South Division has held the lead in the league, currently occupying the top four places in the rankings.

Corpus Christi Hooks:

George Springer, CF – Springer is ranked as the 3rd prospect by Baseball America in the Houston Astros system.  The 23-year-old is also the Astros’ top outfielder.  In his first year at the Double-A level, George leads the Hooks this season in runs (27), hits (35), doubles (9) home runs (11) and RBIs (27).  Springer also leads the Texas League in home runs, RBIs  and total bases (77).

Springer

Frisco RoughRiders:

Hanser Alberto, SS – Alberto is ranked as the 15th prospect in the Rangers’ system, and is the top ranked position player on the RoughRiders’ roster by Baseball America.  Hanser has hit .289 in his 30 games this season with 114 at-bats and has had 13 runs on 33 hits with an RBI of 14.  As of opening day, he was the youngest player in the Texas League and the second youngest at the Double-A level at the age of 20.

Alberto_2

San Antonio Missions:

Matt Andriese, RHP – Andriese is ranked by Baseball America as the Padres’ 20th prospect and the ninth top pitcher in the San Diego system.  The 23-year-old has gone 5-0 with an ERA of 2.19 this season with seven starts, opponents hitting .196.  Andriese leads the Missions and the Texas League in wins (5).

Andriese

Midland RockHounds:

Miles Head, 3B – At the age of 22, Head is ranked 7th and the top third baseman in the Oakland Athletics’ system by Baseball America.   Head’s swing is quick and compact, and he has cited as having excellent bat control.  Miles is hitting .206 in 28 games with 107 at-bats and has 11 runs off 22 hits.  He has hit two home runs this season.  In his three games against the RoughRiders, Miles had three runs with eight at-bats striking out twice and walking four times.

Head

___

In ‘Riders News:

Coming off a 6-4 win over the Hooks last night, Frisco continues their series in Corpus Christi tonight at 7.  Kevin Pucetas will start for the RoughRiders and faces Nick Tropeano.

The ‘Riders return to Dr Pepper Ballpark Monday night at 7 against the Midland RockHounds.

Baseball term of the day: Pull the trigger - to decide to swing at the pitch.

-Ryan

The 2013 (Nearly) Complete Twitter Guide to the Frisco RoughRiders, the Texas League and the Texas Rangers Farm System: Part One

A couple days ago I wrote a post here with the best resources for keeping up on the Texas Rangers and its minor league teams and prospects, and the entire time while writing it, I kept thinking about how I get as much or more information on Twitter these days.

I still hit the ‘ole feedly reader every day. Sometimes 140 characters just doesn’t really cut it for a topic. Yu know, like Darvish’s outing last night. (For more on that, read this, and this, and this and this. Oh and you have to watch that).

And while that is true, Twitter is still great, especially for breaking news. Want to be the first one to find out that Nelson Cruz’s home run last night actually came with a broken-bat swing? FSSW’s Emily Jones has you covered:

Did you see former RoughRiders pitcher Robbie Erlin got called yetserday? With Twitter, you could find great stuff on who is behind the numbers from excellent Rangers prospect guru Jason Cole:

And, yeah, you might have heard that 17-year-old Rangers prospect Nomar Mazara hit his second home run last night for Class-A Hickory, but how impressive was it? Crawdads’ broadcaster Aaron Cox does a very nice job tweeting in-game. See:

SO, without further ado, here it is: The 2013 (Nearly) Complete Guide to the Frisco RoughRiders, the Texas League, and the Texas Rangers Farm System.

Why “nearly” complete? Well. 1) this is not necessarily exhaustive. Plenty of people tweet about these topics, but this is a great starting point. And 2) of course we need your input! Let us know who we are missing by commenting below or tweeting at me (@NathanSBarnett) and 3) I am not done with the rest of the parts yet…

And, yes, this is just Part One of The 2013 (Nearly) Complete Twitter Guide (TNCTG). I will have a few entries over the next week or so and also update them, as I find new handles worthy of the all-important “follow” click.

Part One looks at the teams and key employee follows in the Texas League and Rangers system. Future entries will include key journalists, commentators, and bloggers to follow. And players! Yes, the exhaustive list of players as well. Stay tuned!

_________________________

TNCTG PART ONE:

Texas League Teams:

South Division:

Frisco RoughRiders: @RidersBaseball

Corpus Christi Hooks: @CCHooks

Midland Rockhounds: @RockHounds

San Antonio Missions: @MissionsMiLB

North Division:

Arkansas Travelers: @ARTravs

Northwest Arkansas Naturals: @NWANaturals

Springfield Cardinals: @Sgf_Cardinals

Tulsa Drillers: @TulsaDrillers

Teams in the Rangers System:

MLB – Texas Rangers: @Rangers

Triple-A – Round Rock Express: @RRExpress

Double-A – Frisco RoughRiders: @RidersBaseball

Advanced-A – Myrtle Beach Pelicans: @PelicanBaseball

Single-A – Hickory Crawdads: @HickoryCrawdads

Short-Season A – Spokane Indians: @SpokaneIndians

Rookie – AZL Rangers: No official Twitter handle, that I am aware of. There is @AZL_Rangers which was created by a fan. Decent follow.

Rookie – DSL Rangers: Ditto. Some do cover this team, however. More to come in future TNCTG entries.

The Voices:

Alex Vispoli, Frisco RoughRiders: @Vispoli 

Bob Hards, Midland Rockhounds: Unknown. 

Michael Coffin, Corpus Christi Hooks: No twitter account (see team Twitter handle) 

Mike Saeger, San Antonio Missions: @SAMissionsRadio

Phil Elson, Arkansas Travelers: @ElsonPhil

Steven Davis, Northwest Arkansas Naturals: Unknown. 

Andrew Buchbinder, Springfield Cardinals: Unknown. 

Dennis Higgins, Tulsa Drillers: Unknown. 

Eric Nadel, #1 MLB – Texas Rangers: @NadelEr

Matt Hicks, #2 MLB – Texas Rangers: @RadioHicksie

Mike Capps, Triple-A – Round Rock Express: @RRExpressRadio

Travis Lucian, Advanced-A – Myrtle Beach Pelicans: @TravisLucian

Aaron Cox, Class-A – Hickory Crawdads: @TheAaronCox

Mike Boyle, Short-A – Spokane Indians: @MrMBoyle

Other good employees and team-related follows:

Frisco RoughRiders:

Nathan Barnett, Media Relations & Broadcasting Assistant: @NathanSBarnett

Ryan Garrett, Media Relations Intern: @Garrett_RM

Corpus Christi Hooks:

Chris Blake, Media Relations Coordinator: @ChrisCBlake

Midland Rockhounds:

Greg Bergman, Assistant GM / Media Relations & Advertising: @GregBergman

Tulsa Drillers:

Brian Carroll, Director of Media / Public Relations: @BKC001 

Texas Rangers:

John Blake, Executive Vice President of Communications: @RangerBlake

Updates on Rangers Ballpark: Parking, Traffic, Valet, Gate Openings, Weather & Events: @RangersInfo

In-game Rangers Twitter handle: @theRangersGame

_________________________

For those of you out there wanting to keep up with every with a Twitter “list” — I have made one with most of these handles on there. Feel free to subscribe, I plan to keep it up to date this season.

- Nathan

Baseball term of the day: wand - baseball bat

‘Riders on the Record: Part Deuce

Welcome back to ‘Riders on the Record, your chance to catch up on the week’s pre-game interviews.

Frisco plays an early one today, 1:05 p.m. at Whataburger field in Corpus Christi. The Sunday sitdown with Steve Buechele will air a little after 12:45 today if  you want to tune in before the game gets going at www.RidersBaseball.com .

If you missed last week’s ‘Riders on the Record, you can find it here. Some good stuff this week–hope you enjoy!

April 14, 2013 – Steve Buechele


Manager Steven Buechele discusses the state of the team one week in and the solid second start of Neil Ramirez. (w/ Alex Vispoli)

April 15, 2013 – OF Ryan Strausborger


Coming off a big few games, Ryan talks about his game at the plate. He breaks down how he chooses to run and when. He wants to be more aggressive on the base paths the season as well. Off the diamond, Ryan enjoys golf, and tells us that the links are competitive with teammates as well, even if it is one of the ways they relax. (w/ Nathan Barnett)

April 16, 2013 – OF Jared Hoying


Jared made a big change to swing this offseason. He explains exactly what has changed and why he made the switch. He talks about playing more center field this season and his #3 spot in the ‘Riders lineup. (w/ Nathan)

April 18, 2013 – 3B Alex Buchholz


Alex explains his hot start this season. He notes that he came in with some extra motivation this season and is focused in his second season of Double-A ball. With a chance to play everyday at third base, Alex talks about the honor it is to be able to be able to wear the uniform on a daily basis. (w/ Alex)

April 19, 2013 – RHP Ryan Rodebaugh


After a four-inning outing in the longest game in ‘Riders history, Ryan sits down with Alex to discuss the night to remember. They talk about Ryan’s history pitching multiple innings and about Ryan’s start to the year. (w/ Alex)

April 20, 2013 – Rangers Field Coordinator Jayce Tingler


Alex had the chance to sit down with Jayce Tingler, the Rangers field coordinator in Corpus Christi. Tingler, a Missouri grad, discusses the Tigers in the Texas farm system Tingler talks about his role, where he looks to learn more in the business of baseball and the construction of the RoughRiders. (w/ Alex)

- Nathan

Baseball term of the Day: blazer – a fastball

Lineups: Rodriguez leading off, Selen in the IF

Here are Saturday’s lineups for game three of ‘Riders/Hooks. Frisco needs to win to stay alone in first place in the South Division and the Texas League.

ROUGHRIDERS

2B Guilder Rodriguez

LF Ryan Strausborger

CF Jared Hoying

1B Brett Nicholas

3B Alex Buchholz

RF Chih-Hsien Chiang

C Tomas Telis

3B Alejandro Selen

SS Hanser Alberto

***RHP Carlos Pimentel***

HOOKS

LF Austin Wates 

SS Ben Orloff

CF George Springer

DH Michael Burgess

Carlos Perez

2B Enrique Hernandez

1B Erik Castro

3B Jonathan Meyer

RF Drew Muren

***RHP David Martinez***

A few notes about the lineup:

  • Rodriguez makes his third start at 2B. He has made 3 starts at 1B, 2 at SS, and 2 at 3B. And of course, one appearance on the mound–when he collected the win for Frisco Thursday night. 
  • This is his second time in the leadoff spot. The last time also came with usual leadoff man Odubel Herrera out of the lineup. Frisco won the last game Rodriguez led off, a 6-0 win at home against Arkansas last week.
  • Alejandro Selen makes just his third start in the field and first in the infield. He has played just 16 games at third in his career but is not unaccustomed to playing in the infield. Selen has started 165 games at 2B and four at 1B — although none this year.
  • Chiang has played more left field than right field (6:3) this season, but his positioning in right should be expected with Hoying in center field. Strausborger has played just two games in right field (both in 2012) since his first professional season, when he manned the right garden 25 times for short-season Spokane.

Today’s game can be heard here or if you are on an iPad or iPhone, click here. You can also watch the games with the audio feed simulcast by purchasing a subscription to MiLB.tv. Pregame show will start up at 6:40 p.m.

And if you haven’t already seen this today. Enjoy. A well-worth it distraction of the day. 

- Nathan

Baseball term of the day: worm burner – a hard-hit ground ball 

Fun with numbers: 17-inning game edition

It’s hard to remember that Neil Ramirez even started that game last night. Even though he went five innings, he pitched less than a third of the game.

Seventeen innings in the books. First time in RoughRiders history. Most importantly, another win. The RoughRiders finished off the Hooks 4-2 in seventeen innings to improve to 9-4 on the season.

That’s six wins in-a-row now for the first-place RoughRiders. Frisco is a game ahead of Midland and 2.5 games better than the first place team in the North Division, the Arkansas Travelers (6-6).

The 9-4 mark is one of the best starts in team history. Last year the ‘Riders began 9-4 and finished just short of their second Texas League Championship. The 2012 ‘Riders lost the next three after going 9-4 to fall to 9-7.

The 9-4 start is also best start for the club since 2008 through 13 games. That team began 10-3 and ran their mark to 12-3 before losing. That 2008 squad put together the best record in the  Texas League in the first half (43-27) and won the South Division in both halves. Their overall record of 84-56 is the second best record in team history.

The best final record for Frisco came in 2007 under now Rangers First Base Coach Dave Anderson. That team went 85-55. They also began 9-4 but only won once more (10-4) before falling again to 10-5.

Two more wins and this year’s team will have the second best start in the eleven years of the franchise. Four more will be a new record for the best start to the season in the first seventeen games–a fitting number considering the length of last night’s extra innings contest.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. There is so much to relish about Thursday night’s contest:

The Game:

  • The game took 4 hours and 43 minutes.
  • The Hooks brought 63 batters to the plate. Seven times they got a hit. On five occasions they walked. Nineteen times they struck out (a new season high for Frisco). Once they reached on a hit-by-pitch.
  • The ‘Riders sent 67 batters to the plate. Thirteen collected hits, three walked, one was hit by a pitch and one reached on an error. They struck out just nine times in 17 innings.
  • The two teams combined for 480 pitches. Frisco threw 243 while Corpus Christi tossed 237–surprising, considering the ‘Riders outhit the Hooks 13 to 7.
  • The four innings thrown by Ryan Rodebaugh tied a career high for him. He also pitched four innings in an extra inning game in 2011. That came in a 1-0 Hickory win over Savannah. Rodebaugh relieved major leaguer Justin Grimm, tossing four scoreless innings after Grimm had gone seven strong. Like last night, Rodebaugh did not get the win. The two teams combined for 16 hits in that game, and only one went for extra bases: the fifth double of the season for Jurickson Profar.
  • The game was not ever close to the longest in the history of baseball, or even the Texas League. In fact it wasn’t even the longest game at Whataburger Field in recent memory. Corpus Christie hosted a 20-inning contest against the Wichita Wranglers (also a Hooks loss) on June 1, 2005. The game finished at 1:19 a.m. on June 2. Jackson and San Antonio played a 26-inning, 7 hour and 23 minute game over the course of three days in Texas League play July 14-16, 1988. 
  • The longest professional game in history was the famous clash between the Pawtucket Red Sox and the Rochester Red Wings. That one took 33 innings and spanned over two different days across multiple months in the summer of ’81. 
  • If you are interested in this kind of thing, I would highly recommend this book. It is fascinating. It also debunks the myths of multiple games that were once believed to last over 40 innings. The author writes that he has cataloged 540 games, at time of publication, that took more than 20 innings to complete, across all levels of baseball in all countries.

Guilder Rodriguez:

  • The 29-year-old utility infielder picked up his first career win on the mound last night after throwing a scoreless sixteenth inning. It was his third career pitching performance in his 914th professional game. 
  • His first career outing on the mound came in 2012, in his 11th professional season and 870 games into his pro career. Frisco pitched Rodriguez and Val Majewski in a 9-run 11th inning on the way to a 14-5 11-inning defeat, oddly enough, also against Corpus Christi, the team he collected the win against last night.
  • His first decision (a loss) and his first scoreless inning came during the same game (he pitched two innings), 901 games into his pro career, also last year. Frisco lost 2-1 against Midland in 13 innings.
  • When Rodriguez entered the game last night, he was playing in his 12th professional season, for his 10th different franchise, in his 9th year of Double-AA baseball, in his fifth different season with the RoughRiders and after 3325 plate appearances and 2882 at bats in affiliated baseball.
  • Rodriguez has more appearances as a pitcher (3) than home runs (2) and as many decisions (2) on the mound as he does long balls in his career. He hit his second career home run on Opening Night this season.
  • The utility man has played every position except catcher in his career. With one more pitching performance, right field will become his next least played position. He has played only three games in right. He played their once for Frisco in 2009 and twice last year.

Enough head spinning. Enjoy the game tonight. Another 7:05 start from Corpus Christi. What will we see next? In light of that thought: today’s distraction of the day.

Game notes are coming soon. We will post them here when they are ready to go. UPDATE: Game notes are here!

- Nathan

Baseball term of the day: snake jazz – a breaking ball

Back on the road again

After a partial day off and a seven-hour bus ride to Corpus Christi, the RoughRiders open South Division play against the Hooks Thursday at 7:05 p.m.

The team plays the first four games of the eight-game trip in Corpus Christi before traveling to San Antonio to take on the San Diego affiliate San Antonio Missions.

Both series should be good tests for Frisco, who opens the trip in first place in the entire Texas League. The RoughRiders are 8-4. That puts them a game ahead of 7-5 Corpus Christi and Midland and two games ahead of San Antonio.

The South Division dominated the first two weeks of the season, going 27-20 in cross-divisional play. The fourth place team San Antonio is tied with the first place teams in the North, Arkansas and Tulsa, at 6-6.

Now divisional plays opens, and the next few weeks should tell us a lot about the teams in the league.

The Opponents

Corpus Christi Hooks (7-5, Thursday-Saturday, 7:05, Sunday, 1:05)

The Hooks spent most of last week in first place before getting swept by Tulsa Sunday through Tuesday. An intigruing team to watch, the Hooks are a Houston Astros affiliate. Houston is employing a “piggybacking” or a “tandem” starting rotation at all of their minor league levels. Instead of having an ordinary five-man starting rotation, they have four pairs of starters. Each pair alternates who starts the game, and both go multiple innings. Chris Blake with the Hooks media department has a piece up explaining the pairing system if you want to find out more. Teams at lower levels have employed this system for years, but it is unheard of at the Double-A and Triple-A level.

Because of this rotation, Frisco will not “miss” any of the Corpus starters. The four-game series forces each of the eight “starting pitchers” to face the Frisco lineup at some point during the four-game set. Asher Wojciechowski has been the stalwart so far for the Hooks staff. He has posted 14 scoreless innings with 14 Ks and just four walks. He should relieve David Martinez Saturday night.

Intriguing offensive players on the roster are headlined by first baseman Jonathan Singleton, but he won’t play until May after violating minor league baseball’s drug policy in January; he is suspended for 50 games. Center fielder George Springer, who struggled in his brief stint in Corpus in 2012, is the highest ranked Astros farmhand currently active for the Hooks. He has performed better in the early going this year, hitting .273 with three home runs and is tied for second in the Texas League with 11 RBI. He hit 22 bombs and swiped 28 bags in the California League a year ago and has big time power and speed. Less ballyhooed outfield prospects Austin Wates and Domingo Santana are also off to good starts.

San Antonio Missions (6-6, Monday-Thursday, 7:05)

The farm team of another lowly MLB club, the Missions, like most of the San Diego farm system, is pitching-heavy in prospects. The Missions have six of the top-30 players in the Padres farm system according to Baseball America, and all six are on the pitching staff. Starters Donn Roach (19) and Matthew Andriese (20) are joined by bullpen arms Adys Portillo (9), Burch Smith (22), Matt Stites (27) and Kevin Quackenbush (29), although Portillo is currently on the DL. Andriese and Roach have been filthy thus far, and Quackenbush picked up the team’s only save ten days ago. The prospect-laden staff is producing; the Missions lead the Texas League in ERA (2.66) are tied for the fewest walks allowed (21).

No top-30 players in the Padres system fill the lineup for the Missions, but Tommy Medica has turned some heads. The C/1B/OF prospect was selected in the 14th round in 2010 and is already 25 years old, but he led all Padres farmhands in batting average (.330), on-base percentage (.406) and slugging (.623) a year ago. This is his first season at the Double-A level, and he is crushing the baseball. The career .297 minor league hitter leads the Missions in homers with four and has posted a .348 average. He is also first in the Texas League in total bases. Fringe prospect Jake Blackwood is off to a good start as well; he is tied with RoughRiders killer, Arkansas’ Matt Long, with 18 hits to lead the league.

‘Riders Notes

  • The best source of information on the RoughRiders players on a day-to-day basis are the game notes. You can check out today’s by clicking here.
  • What a homestand for Frisco. Offensively, the team hit just .204 with two home runs in six road games. The six games at home produced 10 long balls and a .313 team average. Frisco is now second in batting average and homers in the league.
  • Leading the way at home was Alejandro Selen (10-for-20, 8 R, 1 HR, 4 RBI, 1 SB), Ryan Strausborger (8-for-20, 4 R, 2 HR, 10 RBI, 2 SB) and Jared Hoying (8-for-23, 3 HR, 9 RBI, 1 SB). Alex Buchholz led the team with eight extra base hits. These were just four of the seven players who hit over .300 on the home stand.
  • The pitching wasn’t too shabby either. Frisco posted 23 consecutive scoreless innings in the middle of the current five-game winning streak. After Matt Long‘s grand slam in the sixth inning on Thursday, the ‘Riders silenced the Travelers and then the Naturals until Carlos Pimentel allowed a pair of runs in the third inning Sunday. The RoughRiders won that game 9-2.
  • Despite two rough outings from Cody Buckel on the home stand (2 GS, 3.1 IP, 8 R, 2 ER, 11 BB, 6 K), Frisco posted a 1.83 ERA in the six games.
  • Randy Henry threw 7.1 scoreless innings in his two outings and is tied a top of the Texas League ERA leaderboard. He is one of only three qualifying players yet to give up a run.
  • Kevin Pucetas (7.1 IP, 0 R, 5 H, 1 BB, 1 K) delivered the longest start of the season, and Neil Ramirez (5.2 IP, 2 H, 2 BB, 5 K)  looked excellent in his second start.
  • During the five-game winning streak Frisco is outscoring the opposition 48-12.

Some random thoughts and tidbits

  • In not so random news, former ‘Riders lefty Joe Ortiz picked up his first and second big league victories for the Rangers during the time Frisco was home. He got his first in Seattle Thursday and another Saturday at Safeco. 
  • Nick Tepesch pitched okay but took the loss in his second start of his MLB career.
  • In wouldn’t-it-be-neat-if-this-guy-made-it-here-this-year news, Joey Gallo hit his fifth and six home runs for the Rangers Class-A affiliate in Hickory. He got some love from MiLB.com this week as well. The power prospect trails only Ernesto Mejia (7) of the Atlanta Braves Triple-A team in Gwinnett for homers by a minor leaguer.

Today’s game begins at 7:05 p.m. The pregame show begins at 6:40 and 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.

- Nathan

Baseball term of the day: petticoat ball – a strike at the knees in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League. 

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