Results tagged ‘ J.D. Martinez ’

My Texas League Postseason Ballot

The 2011 Texas League Postseason All-Star ballots are out to managers and media members, and both Aaron and I have a vote. Below, I have my picks along with a brief explanation why.

First off, here are a few notes. As a member of the RoughRiders organization, I cannot vote for a RoughRider. Still, I have included six ‘Riders who could be on this list. Also, anyone who has played in the TL this year is eligible. Finally, all of the ballots are due by tomorrow, so the last two weeks of the season do not factor into the decision.

Share your thoughts at the bottom in the comments section. Here we go.

Catcher: Wilin Rosario (Tulsa)

The Rockies’ number two prospect, Rosario has not had the best season offensively. But, he could get a September promotion to Colorado and he has put up the best numbers of any Texas League catcher (.254, 18 HR, 41 RBI).

First Baseman: Matt Adams (Springfield)

Triple Crown? Matt Adams has a chance in '11 (Photo courtesy of Mark Harrell/Springfield Cardinals).

With Tim Wheeler’s recent struggles and Jermaine Mitchell’s promotion to Triple-A Sacramento, Adams has an outside shot at a Triple Crown. Adams has a league-leading 30 homers (one better than Wheeler) and 94 RBIs, and he is sixth in the league in average at .313. However, the top three (Mitchell, J.D. Martinez and James Darnell) will not have enough plate appearances to qualify barring a return to the TL. His real target is Mike Trout (.326).

Second Baseman: Jose Altuve (Corpus Christi)

I like to steer away from players who did not spend much time in a league for postseason awards, but the second base spot is weak here in the Texas League and Altuve was incredible to watch. He hit .361 in his 35 games with Corpus Christi. During that short stint, Altuve drove in 25 runs and scored 21.

Shortstop: Darwin Perez (Arkansas)

Shortstop is a fairly weak position in the Texas League this season, as well, so Perez is my choice because of his on-base percentage (.378, 11th), stolen bases (22, 6th) and fielding percentage (.982, 1st among qualifiers). If I could vote for a RoughRider, Renny Osuna would be my choice here.

Third Baseman: James Darnell (San Antonio)

With apologies to Arkansas’ Luis Jimenez, Darnell was a machine in his 76 games with the Missions. Darnell hit .333, which still qualifies for third in the Texas League, and he had an OPS of 1.038. Darnell hit 17 homers and drove in 62 runs, and now his home is San Diego.

Outfielder: Mike Trout (Arkansas)

Trout was advertised as the number one or number two prospect in the minors at the start of the season, and he has not disappointed. Trout is hitting .326 with 33 stolen bases, and he earned a brief stint in the big leagues. He is incredibly fun to watch.

Outfielder: Jermaine Mitchell (Midland)

Mitchell still qualifies as the league’s leader in batting average (.355), on-base percentage (.453) and OPS (1.042). He didn’t have the gaudy home run (10) or RBI (50) totals, but he was a menace atop Midland’s order.

Outfielder: Tim Wheeler (Tulsa)

Wheeler has struggled in August, but he still boasts great numbers (Photo courtesy of Shawn E. Davis/MiLB.com).

Wheeler has struggled lately (.200, 0 HR, 2 RBIs in August), but you have to wonder if he is getting bored at the Double-A level. He is still second in homers (29) and tied for fourth in RBIs (79).  It was between Corpus Christi’s J.D. Martinez and Wheeler, and I went with Tulsa’s leadoff hitter, who is putting up middle-of-the-order stats. Don’t worry, Martinez fans…

Designated Hitter: J.D. Martinez (Corpus Christi)

The Hooks have the worst record in the Texas League, but they are one of three teams to have two offensive representatives on my list. Martinez, like Jose Altuve, is in the big leagues now, but he is fourth in the TL in OPS (.959) and seventh in RBIs (72) despite only playing in 88 games.

Three toughest offensive omissions:
1. Arkansas 3B Luis Jimenez (barely edged by Darnell and Martinez)
2. Springfield OF Alex Castellanos (gave Wheeler edge despite being in recent funk)
3. San Antonio OF Blake Tekotte (outfield was the most loaded position)

Three most likely RoughRiders on the list:
1. Renny Osuna (2B/SS)
2. Tommy Mendonca (3B)
3. Leonys Martin (OF)
_________
Pitchers:

1. Matt Shoemaker (Arkansas)

Matt Shoemaker has the best ERA in the TL, and it's not even that close (Photo courtesy of the Arkansas Travelers).

Shoemaker started the season in Triple-A, but he came down to the Texas League in early May and began his dominance. He leads the league, by a wide margin, in ERA (2.18) and WHIP (1.00) among qualifiers. He also paces all Texas Leaguers in strikeouts with 121 and is tied at the top with 12 wins.

2. Garrett Richards (Arkansas)

Richards is the man who is deadlocked with Shoemaker in wins. Both hurlers are 12-2, and Richards is the league leader in innings with 141. Richards, who is currently with the Angels, is 12-2 with an ERA of 3.06, which is second to Shoemaker among qualifiers.

3. Dallas Keuchel (Corpus Christi)

Don’t let his 9-7 record fool you—Keuchel has been a legitimate ace all season long. The lefty has worked through five innings in all but one of his 19 starts, and he has only surrendered more than three runs four times. He is not overpowering (76 strikeouts in 127 2/3 innings), but he is second among qualifiers in WHIP at 1.12.

Joe Wieland tossed a no-hitter with Frisco, and he is now dominating with San Antonio (Photo courtesy of James Garner).

4. Joe Wieland (San Antonio)

Casey Kelly is San Diego’s top prospect, and Jorge Reyes has the best numbers of any San Antonio starter who has been on the club all year. However, who has made a bigger impact in the Texas League this season than Wieland? Wieland tossed a no-hitter with the RoughRiders against San Antonio, and then he went to the Missions. Wieland’s ERA is 1.50 in Double-A, and he has a 1.85 overall this season.

5. Nick Vincent (San Antonio)

Vincent has made more appearances (58) than anyone else in the Texas League. The reliever is 7-1 with a 2.19 ERA in 70 innings, and he has 82 strikeouts to 14 walks. In the eighth inning, the righty owns a 1.91 ERA. In the ninth, that mark falls to 1.50. The Missions have been dominant all year long, and the bullpen is a big reason why.

6. Brad Brach (San Antonio)

Closers are not that common in the minors, but Brach was the man who dominated the ninth inning while in San Antonio. Brach had a 2.25 ERA and went 23 for 25 in save opportunities with the Missions before earning a promotion to Triple-A Tucson. When ahead in the count, the TL’s save leader held his opposition to an .097 average (7-for-72).

Three toughest pitching omissions:
1. Springfield’s Shelby Miller (good numbers, but not good enough to overcome small sample size)
2. Tulsa’s Juan Nicasio (better numbers than Miller, but fewer innings)
3. San Antonio’s Jorge Reyes (4th in ERA, but only worked more than five innings once)

Three most likely RoughRiders on the list:
1. LHP Martin Perez
2. RHP Justin Miller
3. RHP Tyler Tufts

PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Springfield’s Matt Adams

He is the most dangerous hitter in the Texas League right now, and he has a chance at the Triple Crown. He may not have the upside that some other players in this league possess, but he has been the best hitter on the best offense, by far, in the TL.

ON THE MEDAL STAND: 2. Arkansas’ Mike Trout; 3. San Antonio’s James Darnell.

PITCHER OF THE YEAR: Arkansas’ Matt Shoemaker

The Travelers earned a first-half title because of their pitching staff, and Shoemaker has been the go-to guy. Shoemaker stumbled a bit in Triple-A earlier this season, but he figures to do much better in his second go-around at that level after an incredible season at the Double-A level.

ON THE MEDAL STAND: 2. Arkansas’ Garrett Richards; 3. Corpus Christi’s Dallas Keuchel.

MANAGER OF THE YEAR: San Antonio’s Doug Dascenzo

The Missions have the best record in minor league baseball, and they have had many good players. However, Dascenzo has navigated his club through many promotions, and they haven’t slowed down at all. This San Antonio club is a dominant force that will go into the playoffs as the heavy favorites, and Dascenzo is a big reason why.

ON THE MEDAL STAND: 2. Frisco’s Steve Buechele; 3. Northwest Arkansas’ Brian Poldberg.

- Brian

Texas League Power Rankings

Only 28 games remain for the RoughRiders and the other seven teams in the Texas League. San Antonio and Arkansas already have their ticket punched to the postseason, and almost every other club in the league has a chance to get into the TL’s final four.

The ‘Riders dropped a place in the standings last night, but could they hold strong in this month’s Power Rankings? Those are below, and here are the Power Rankings from May, June and July.

POWER RANKINGS:

1. San Antonio (76-36, 27-15; Past Rankings: 1, 1, 1)
The Missions have the best record in all of full-season minor league baseball, with the San Jose Giants of the California League (74-38) the only team less than five games away from San Antonio. Not only has San Antonio been great this season, but they added Robbie Erlin and Joe Wieland, who had been with Frisco until the Mike Adams deal at the deadline.
KEY STAT (+200): That’s the Missions’ run differential this season, which leads the minors and is 160 runs better than the second-best mark in the TL (Frisco at +40). Thanks to Mike Saeger, the Missions play-by-play broadcaster for this stat.

2. Frisco (61-51, 21-21; Past Rankings: 6, 2, 3)
The ‘Riders have fallen into a bit of a slump, and Midland has climbed above them in the standings. However, the RockHounds will need to leap over San Antonio in order to make the playoffs and, as a result, deny the RoughRiders of a spot in the playoffs. Midland has been better than the ‘Riders over the last two weeks, but Frisco was clearly better for the season’s first 100 games. Thus, the ‘Riders are here.
KEY STAT (9-2, 3.09): The combined record and earned run average of Erlin and Wieland while they were with the RoughRiders. Now, they are on the team that Frisco would play in the first round of the postseason.

3. Northwest Arkansas (57-52, 22-20; Past Rankings: 4, 3, 6)
The Naturals won the league last year, and they have had plenty of big-time prospects on the roster. Finally, Northwest Arkansas has gone on a bit of a run to assume first place in both the overall and the second half standings. Still, last-place Arkansas is three games back, so this race will go down to the wire.
KEY STAT (2): The Naturals are only two losses away from matching their total from all of last year. Northwest went 86-54 en route to a pair of division crowns and a Texas League championship.

4. Midland (49-63, 22-20; Past Rankings: 3, 7, 5)
Talk about a team that has bounced up and down this season. Right now, Midland is one of the hottest teams in the Texas League and they have jumped into second place in the South. The RockHounds have won eight of ten, including their first series victory over Frisco this season Tuesday through Thursday of last week.
KEY STAT (4): Only four games remain for the RockHounds against the first-place Missions, and those aren’t until August 30-September 2 in San Antonio. Midland must win the second-half championship to go to the playoffs, and they are currently five games back.

5. Arkansas (55-54, 19-23; Past Rankings: 7, 6, 2)
The Travelers stunned many and took the first half North Division title by one game over Northwest Arkansas. Right now, Arkansas is in a bit of a rut after going 6-0 to start half two. Since that point, Arkansas is 13-23, but they still have their postseason berth locked up.
KEY STAT (.348): Mike Trout’s average since returning to the Travs August 1. The Angels’ top prospect, who spent almost a month in the bigs, has hit safely in six of his seven games and has scored seven times since arriving back in North Little Rock.

6. Springfield (52-59, 20-21; Past Rankings: 5, 4, 7)
The Cardinals have been hot lately, which pushes them ahead of Tulsa and Corpus Christi. Springfield has gotten great pitching out of top prospect Shelby Miller, and the squad is right there in second in the second half North standings, just one-and-a-half games back of the Naturals.
KEY STAT (8-2): The Cardinals’ record over the last ten games, which has propelled Springfield from last place in the North to second.

7. Tulsa (52-59, 19-22; Past Rankings: 2, 5, 4)
This is the lowest ranking for the Drillers this season, and it comes with the club still very much alive in the second half. Surprisingly, the Drillers have struggled at home this season. They have the worst home record in the TL at 24-30, including an 8-12 mark in the second half.
KEY STAT (20): The number of games that will remain when Drew Pomeranz, the key cog in Colorado’s trade with Cleveland for Ubaldo Jimenez, is eligible to officially join the Rockies’ system. If he joins the Drillers, Pomeranz would be able to make no more than four starts before the regular season ends.

8. Corpus Christi (42-70, 17-25; Past Rankings: 8, 8, 8)
I’ve tried to move these poor Hooks up in the rankings, but I just can’t do it. Corpus Christi’s roster is depleted now because many key pieces have moved up to Triple-A Oklahoma City or Houston.
KEY STAT (23%): The percentage of the Astros’ current position players that were with the Hooks a month ago. Jose Altuve, J.D. Martinez and Jimmy Paredes are the Hooks-turned-Astros.

Agree? Disagree? Let us know in the comments!

- Brian

More Power to the RoughRiders

The RoughRiders are making a jump in our second edition of the Texas League Power Rankings. Exactly how far they jump is available below. But first, here are a few Facts on Frisco’s great month of June.

FRISCO FACTS:

  • The RoughRiders have a six-game winning streak, which is the club’s longest since it won seven straight from June 22-28. All seven of those games, believe it or not, were also away from home.
  • Frisco swept a road trip for the first time since April 29-May 2, 2008 when the ‘Riders took all four at the Wolff against San Antonio.
  • Since May 1, the ‘Riders are 24-10. Unfortunately, during that span, the team has only gained ONE game on San Antonio for first place in the Texas League South. The deficit is six games with 14 to go, which sets up a huge four-game series against the Missions tomorrow through Saturday. We’ll preview that set tomorrow.
  • By the way, check out our new feature on the main site. It’s called the Dr Pepper Ballpark Planner, which previews the upcoming home stand on and off the field. If you are planning on coming out to a game this week/weekend, that is a must read.

The season is two-fifths of the way over. Time for our second installment of the Texas League Power Rankings. Like last month, we will include a high point and low point of the month plus a key stat.

1. San Antonio (38-18; April Ranking: 1): Despite a strong charge by Frisco, the Missions have basically held their ground since the last rankings. The offense is still strong (.290 batting average as a team) despite a ridiculously strong start. And the pitching is second in the league with a 3.81 earned run average.
HIGH POINT (June 5): The Missions defeated Springfield 4-3 with a two-run ninth. It was San Antonio’s fourth walk-off win in the previous five games. Because of that, the Missions are 5-1 in June.
LOW POINT (May 16): San Antonio dropped its third in four games at Corpus Christi on this night. But, the Missions responded with a six-game winning streak. The reality is that this club has had few “low points.” Their lead has never been truly threatened.
KEY STAT (9): San Antonio’s magic number with 14 games left. A split or better at Frisco in the next four games would pretty much clinch the first half for the Missions.

2. Frisco (32-24; April Ranking: 6): The RoughRiders were the biggest climbers from April to May. Without a late surge at the beginning of May before I compiled the rankings, the ‘Riders may have been in last in those rankings. Now, Steve Buechele’s squad is hanging around a race it had not business being in a month ago. With Robbie Erlin arriving in Double-A and other starters like Richard Bleier and Carlos Pimentel settling in, the ‘Riders may have the best rotation in the league. That is, unless Martin Perez gets that call up to Triple-A.
HIGH POINT (June 6): This one is easy. Frisco completed a sweep of a six-game, North Division road trip with a 9-4 win at Tulsa. The ‘Riders outscored the Naturals and Drillers on that trip by a combined 27 runs. Really, that run is the reason the North is so competitive now.
LOW POINT (May 21): San Antonio’s Kyle Blanks crushed a walk-off grand slam in the 11th inning. It was the second of three straight losses at San Antonio for the ‘Riders, who did manage to salvage the finale of that set. They will need more wins this week to stay alive.
KEY STAT (2.60): Martin Perez’s earned run average, which is second in the Texas League. He has won his last three starts.

3. Northwest Arkansas (26-25; April Ranking: 4): The next four teams are North Division teams, and they are all pretty even. I’ll bank on the Naturals because they just came off a six-game losing streak, and I expect them to take the North. But, I could just as easily see the Naturals in second, third, and fourth when all is set and done.
HIGH POINT (May 16): The Naturals rallied from a one-run deficit in the ninth at Tulsa to win 5-4 and claim their sixth straight win. Since then, it has been a jostling for first between Northwest Arkansas and Tulsa. Right now, the Naturals’ have a percentage-point lead on the Drillers.
LOW POINT (June 4): What a strange game. Christian Colon hit a solo shot on the first pitch of the bottom of the ninth to tie the game. Then, Midland scored seven times in the top of the 10th to win 16-9. That was the Naturals’ sixth loss in a row.
KEY STAT (12-18 months): The recovery time for Natural and highly-touted hurler John Lamb, who found out in late May that he needs Tommy John surgery. Tough break for a tremendous prospect.

4. Springfield (26-29; April Ranking: 5): Last month, I put the Cardinals above their standings because they were playing above their talent level, in my opinion. Now, I’m putting them here because they are my sleeper pick to take the North. The Cardinals have never had a share of first place, but they have some more talent now. St. Louis’ top two prospects–Shelby Miller and Zack Cox–are on the roster now. Watch out for these guys.
HIGH POINT (May 27): A 12-4 blowout of Corpus Christi completed a sweep and extended the Cardinals’ winning streak to a season-high five games.
LOW POINT (June 5): This loss snapped a three-game winning streak, which may seem a little harsh to name this as the “low point.” But, the Cardinals had a chance to clinch a series win at San Antonio, and they allowed two in the ninth to lose 4-3. The next day, Springfield lost 11-1.
KEY STAT (4): Games back of first-place Northwest Arkansas in the loss column. The Cardinals play four at Northwest June 16-19.

5. Tulsa (28-27; April Ranking: 2): The Drillers may be the most inconsistent club in the league. They got off to a great start, but the team has begun to struggle again. Once again, I would not be surprised if the Drillers won this division in the first half. But I don’t know if they have enough offense or enough in the bullpen.
HIGH POINT (May 9): It is tough to find a high point when a team hasn’t won more than two games in a row during a month. On this day, the Drillers clinched a two-out-of-three series take at Northwest Arkansas with a 6-4 win. The Drillers’ record at that point was 18-11.
LOW POINT (June 6): Jose Ruiz’s three-run homer in the ninth was the exclamation point on Frisco’s 9-4, sweep-clinching win over Tulsa.
KEY STAT (6-11): The Drillers’ record in the last 17 games. That’s why the North is so close.

6. Arkansas (25-26; April Ranking: 7): No disrespect to the Travelers, who enter play today just one game back of first place in the North. The Travs have been hanging around, and they have the pitching to compete down the stretch. Arkansas leads the Texas League with a 3.80 team earned run average. The offense just isn’t that strong.
HIGH POINT (May 28): A 5-4, ten-inning win against Corpus Christi pushed the Travelers back above .500 for the first time since April 27. It also capped off a 7-2 run over nine games.
LOW POINT (June 3): The Travelers outplayed the Missions through eight innings in all three games in San Antonio. However, the Missions walked off with three wins to earn the sweep. June 3 was the finale, a 6-5 San Antonio win.
KEY STAT (10): Ten games over the next eight days beginning tomorrow for the Travs, all at home. Arkansas and Northwest Arkansas will play two doubleheaders–Wednesday and Friday. These games will go a long way to deciding who wins the first half.

7. Midland (23-33; April Ranking: 3): The RockHounds fell further than anyone in the Texas League, and it is understandable why. Since our last rankings in early May, the club is 9-19. Midland has been eliminated in the first half chase, and they are nine games back of the ‘Riders for second.
HIGH POINT (May 8): On that day, the ‘Hounds defeated Frisco 2-1 to improve to 15-15. Midland hasn’t sniffed .500 since.
LOW POINT (May 22): The RockHounds lost their eighth straight game 3-2 at Corpus Christi. Since then, the team has not recovered.
KEY STAT (11-23): The RockHounds’ record since May 1, which is tied for the worst mark in the Texas League.

8. Corpus Christi (20-36; April Ranking: 8): No change for a Hooks team that, like Midland, is 11-23 since the start of May. During the month, the Hooks had to cope with the absence of stud outfielder J.D. Martinez for a significant time period.
HIGH POINT (May 22): The Hooks took their first three games against Midland, capped by a 3-2 win on that day. That matched a season-high in consecutive wins this year.
LOW POINT (May 14): An 11-2 loss at Frisco sent the Hooks to a Texas League-high ninth straight loss.
KEY STAT (3): The Hooks had three losing streaks in the month of May: a nine-game streak May 5-14, a three-game skid May 17-19 and a five-game streak May 23-28.

Agree? Disagree? Share your rankings!

A Bit of a Break

Unfortunately, this will probably be the last blog until Monday or so. The entire MLBlog universe will undergo a migration to a different server, so we will not be able to upload any new posts. The details are discussed here.

In fact, you won’t even be able to view this blog. When you type in our URL (or any MLBlog’s URL), you will be directed to the community blog. It’s really too bad they are doing this during the season, especially at an exciting time like this one for the RoughRiders.

But, we will try to bulk up our coverage to you on Twitter. We will give plenty of updates there, including some extra coverage to the newest RoughRider–Leonys Martin. If you missed yesterday’s blog, check it out for plenty on Martin’s introductory press conference yesterday in Arlington.

Here are some Facts before the opener of this four-game series.

FRISCO FACTS:

  • Leonys Martin is indeed in the lineup in center field tonight. He will hit first and wear number 20. Martin arrived early and is gearing up for the first affiliated game of his career.
  • To make room for Martin on the 24-man roster, starter Miguel De Los Santos has been placed on the disabled list with a shoulder injury. De Los Santos’ turn in the rotation was supposed to be tomorrow night. Carlos Pimentel will move up a day and start, which will be on normal rest because of the off day Wednesday. The “to be announced” label shifts to Saturday night’s game with regards to Frisco’s starter.
  • Scott Lucas of the Newberg Report came out with his monthly Minor League Players of the Month, and a few RoughRiders made the cut. On the offensive side, Jonathan Greene was fifth on the list, with Mike Bianucci one spot below him. Myrtle Beach’s Mike Olt topped the countdown. Olt also earned the Rangers’ minor league award for April.
  • Speaking of Bianucci, he has homered in consecutive ballgames for the second time this season. He has also gone deep in three of his last four games. Through 32 contests, Bianucci has 11 homers, which is tied with San
    Antonio’s Cody Decker for the Texas League lead. In other words, he has
    homered once every 11.4 at bats. He also sits fifth in the TL with 28
    runs batted in.
  • As for the pitchers, Martin Perez, the only ‘Rider on Lucas’ list, was fifth. Round Rock’s Neil Ramirez took home that honor along with the Rangers’ pitcher of the month award.
  • In his first Triple-A appearance, Mark Hamburger worked a scoreless seventh and eighth in Round Rock’s 7-5, 10-inning victory at Tucson last night. The former RoughRider whiffed two and scattered three hits. 
  • Here’s a key nugget for this weekend’s series with the Hooks–J.D. Martinez has been placed on the seven-day disabled list. The move was just made, but Martinez can return whenever he is healthy. He has not played in a game since May 5 (seven days ago). Martinez leads Corpus Christi with 30 RBIs, which puts him in a tie for second in the league. He is also fourth in the TL in batting average (.340).
  • Martinez’s replacement in left field has been Jake Goebbert. Since being promoted from high-A Lancaster, Goebbert has hit .294 (5-for-17) with two RBIs and two runs. This is Goebbert’s first crack at the Double-A level.

Again, this will likely be our last blog until Monday. Follow us on Twitter for the latest news and notes over the weekend. We’ll be back early next week.

- Brian

Texas League Rankings

As I mentioned earlier this week, the Texas League lasts almost exactly
five months. Since the season began on April 7th, I’ll go through my
unofficial rankings after a few Facts after last night’s game.

FRISCO FACTS:

  • The story of the game was Frisco starter Jake Brigham. Perfect
    through six and a third innings, Brigham allowed a one-out single to
    Jaff Decker that immediately preceded an RBI double from Kyle Blanks.
    After throwing only 69 pitches in the first six innings, Brigham
    couldn’t get through the seventh after 23 pitches, three runs and four
    hits.
  • Still, Brigham’s efforts should be applauded. For six innings,
    Brigham pitched as good, if not better, than any pitcher in the Texas
    League. Here’s a feature from the TL on Brigham’s outing
  • Offensively, the RoughRiders never got it going last night. The
    ‘Riders set a season low with only three base hits, and San Antonio’s
    pitching staff only faced three more than the minimum.
  • The bullpen continued its good work, working two and a third
    scoreless innings. The most notable effort was Fabio Castillo’s, who got
    out of a bases loaded situation in the eighth and tossed a scoreless
    ninth. Castillo’s ERA still sits at 12.79, but he has only worked six
    and a third frames. Believe it or not, Castillo has only given up runs
    in two of his five outings.

OK. Without further ado, here are the rankings.

1. San Antonio (18-10): The Missions almost lost their top spot
by dropping three of four to Frisco earlier this week, but San Antonio
was the class of the league through the first month. After starting the
season 1-3, the Missions ripped off 12 of 15 to seize first place in the
South.
HIGH POINT (April 23): The Missions crushed Midland 21-8 for their third
offensive output of 20 or more runs. It was the second of seven
victories over Midland in the season’s first month.
LOW POINT (May 5): San Antonio dropped its third straight to the
RoughRiders in Frisco. Coming into the series, the Missions had only
seven losses.
KEY STAT (.300): San Antonio’s batting average through 28 games, a Texas League high.

2. Tulsa (16-10): Before losing last night, the Drillers had
actually caught San Antonio for the TL’s best record. Tulsa limped
through the season’s first two weeks (6-7) before winning 10 of 13 to
seize a strong hold on the top spot in the North.
HIGH POINT (May 5): The Drillers won their fifth straight, 4-2 at
Springfield. After play that day, the Drillers had the best record in
the TL (16-9).
LOW POINT (April 11): At the time, no one knew about the vaunted San Antonio offense. Then, the Missions spanked Tulsa 23-10.
KEY STAT (1.88): Juan Nicasio’s earned run average over five starts. The
defending Texas League Pitcher of the Week, Nicasio is 4-1 with 40
strikeouts and only four walks.

3. Midland (14-14): Beyond the top two, the Texas League is a
mess. You could rank teams three through eight in any order, and no one
could accuse you of being totally wrong. I give this spot to the
RockHounds, though, because they are 13-7 against teams not named San
Antonio. Midland was the best team in the league during the first few
weeks.
HIGH POINT (April 26): Down by three to Corpus Christi in the ninth, the
RockHounds tied it with a pair of homers. In the tenth, Matt Sulentic’s
walk-off home run pushed Midland’s record to 12-7.
LOW POINT (May 2): The Missions swept Midland, capping it off with a
17-6 win. The RockHounds are 1-7 against San Antonio this year.
KEY STAT (77): The number of runs the RockHounds have allowed against
San Antonio. Against everyone else, Midland has surrendered only 101 in
20 games.

4. Northwest Arkansas (12-12): Even though I have the Naturals in
the top half of the league, they may be the coldest team right now.
However, the talent level remains high and Northwest got off to a great
start to earn this spot.
HIGH POINT (April 12): After four straight one-run wins, the Naturals
clubbed Corpus Christi 14-4 to start 5-1, which was best in the TL.
LOW POINT (April 15): San Antonio crushed Northwest Arkansas 26-5, which
started a rough run for the Naturals. Since April 14, Northwest is just
7-11.
KEY STAT (.282): That’s Jamie Romak’s batting average, which happens to
be the highest personal batting average of any Natural regular.

5. Springfield (12-15): Give the Cardinals some credit. In a
league that features four organizational number one prospects,
Springfield is hanging around without anyone from St. Louis’ top 20.
They certainly closed this period strongly, taking three of four from
Northwest Arkansas.
HIGH POINT (May 5): A 5-2 victory over the Naturals gave Springfield its first three-game winning streak this season.
LOW POINT (April 8): After dropping the opener, Springfield had a 6-2
lead over Frisco in the seventh. However, the ‘Riders sent the game to
extra innings and won on a throwing error in the tenth.
KEY STAT (.248): The team’s batting average, which is last in the league.

6. Frisco (12-16): Four days ago, the RoughRiders were a shoe-in
to finish last in these rankings. But, the ‘Riders took three of four
over San Antonio to jump back into the race for second place in the
South. Despite the poor record, the RoughRiders are third in the league
in hitting and fifth in ERA.
HIGH POINT (May 4): In game two of that series with the Missions, Frisco
walked off with a 3-2 victory after a Mike Bianucci sacrifice fly in
the tenth. So far this year, the ‘Riders are 4-4 against the Missions.
LOW POINT (April 26): Bianucci’s home run was overturned to a double,
Frisco went from up one to down one, and a post-game altercation cost
the RoughRiders their center fielder for ten days. It was a rough day in
San Antonio, that’s for sure.
KEY STAT (30): The number of runs the Missions have scored against the
‘Riders in eight games. In its other 20 games, San Antonio has scored
168.

7. Arkansas (10-13): The Travelers have been plagued by terrible
weather and spotty play. However, a positive sign is that the club is
10-9 after an 0-4 start. And hey, they get to watch Mike Trout,
baseball’s best prospect according to many experts.
HIGH POINT (April 18): The Travelers defeated Frisco 4-3 for their
fourth straight victory. The Travelers had recovered from that 0-4 start
to sit at 6-5.
LOW POINT (April 26): It was the Travs’ fourth straight postponement.
Arkansas has only played 23 games, which is five fewer than most teams
in the league.
KEY STAT (.310): Trout’s batting average through 23 games, which is second to Orlando Mercado on the club.

8. Corpus Christi (12-16): Houston’s farm system is down, and the
Hooks are currently tied with the RoughRiders for the league’s worst
record. Plus, Houston’s minor leaguer of the year, J.D. Martinez,
injured himself two nights ago. No word on his condition, but that’s
never good.
HIGH POINT (May 4): Corpus’ only three-game winning streak happened on this night, a 4-2 victory over the RockHounds.
LOW POINT (April 12): Believe it or not, the Hooks have only had one
three-game losing streak. The final loss came on this night at Northwest
Arkansas. At the time, the Hooks were 1-5.
KEY STAT (30): Martinez’s RBI total, which is second in the Texas League.

Thoughts? Comments? Feel free to shoot them our way. We kick off coverage tonight at 6:30 from Midland on the RBN. Enjoy!

- Brian

Wham With The Right Hand

For the first time since 2006, my favorite basketball team–the
Cleveland Cavaliers–is not involved in the postseason. They had this
LeBron James guy who helped them win a lot of games, and now his
“talents” are in South Beach. That may be the reason why.

The Cavaliers’ franchise will need to replace another key contributor
next season. This need comes on the broadcasting side, not the personnel
side. Joe Tait, the “Voice of the Cavaliers” for 39 seasons, called his
final game a few weeks ago. I had a chance to listen, and even though I
knew it was his last game, I didn’t totally comprehend it.

However, this official release
snapped me into reality. The team is now accepting applications. The
great broadcasters are the ones who you take for granted until they are
gone. Detroit had to cope with life without Ernie Harwell. Dodgers fans
are starting to realize that Vin Scully’s time behind the microphone
will be over soon. And one day, hopefully not for a while, men like the
Cowboys’ Brad Sham and the Rangers’ Eric Nadel will retire, too.

It is an honor to listen to some of these broadcasters, and I’ll miss hearing Joe Tait sign off with his “Have a good night, everybody.”

Now, onto a Tuesday, series-opening set of the Facts.

FRISCO FACTS:

  • The RoughRiders’ release in advance of “Rehab Day” at Dr Pepper
    Ballpark is online. In case you missed it, former ‘Riders and current
    Rangers Tommy Hunter and Neftali Feliz will be pitching for Frisco
    tomorrow night. For more information on the game or a contact number for tickets, you can click here.
  • There was a roster move by the ‘Riders this afternoon. Starter
    Wilfredo Boscan, who was 1-3 with a 6.95 ERA in five starts, has been
    sent down to high-A Myrtle Beach. Southpaw Richard Bleier has been added
    to the roster from extended spring training. Last year with Frisco,
    Bleier went 7-11 with a 5.04 ERA in 28 starts.
  • Also, Ramon Aguero has been activated from the disabled list. He is expected to pitch tonight.
  • Let’s tackle the good from last night’s loss before getting to the
    bad. Mike Bianucci continues to rake. He hit his eighth homer of the
    season, tying him for second in that category within the Texas League. Bianucci also became the eighth player in the TL to reach 20 runs batted in this year.
  • Bianucci started extremely hot and then cooled down. Now, he is
    back on a hot streak. He’s now on an 11-game hitting streak. During that
    time, Bianucci has hit .378 (17-for-45) with three homers and nine
    RBIs.
  • It was a rough go for Frisco starter Miguel De Los Santos, who
    allowed nine runs in two and a third innings yesterday. That run total
    was the highest by a Frisco arm this season. Michael Dammon of Chatter from the Pressbox told us that De Los Santos allowed the most runs by a Frisco pitcher since Omar Poveda also allowed 9 runs against San Antonio on August 10, 2009. 
  • The new opponent for the RoughRiders is San Antonio, the best team in this Texas League
    by three games. Frisco dropped three of four in San Antonio last week,
    but the ‘Riders held the Missions’ offense in check. San Antonio scored
    only 4.8 runs per game against the RoughRiders in those four games.
  • What about the rest of the Missions’ opponents this year? Well,
    here are the runs per game figures for the Missions against the other
    three teams they have played: 9.6 v. Midland, 8.8 v. Northwest Arkansas, and 6.3 v. Tulsa. The Missions had a 20-plus run output in a game against each one of those teams.
  • Overall, the Missions are scoring 7.8 runs per contest and hitting .318 as a team. It’s pretty scary that when you go to the “Team Batting Stats” page on the Texas League web site, the Missions are at the top of 14 of the 17 categories. The only categories that the Missions do not lead are at-bats (second), triples (tied for second), and stolen bases (fifth).
  • Finally, remember the J.D. Martinez grand slam in the third inning? Well, there are two promotions at Whataburger
    Field that were in effect. Not only did a fan win free tires for a grand
    slam being hit, but someone won a free in-ground pool. The promo in
    Corpus Christi says that if a home run is hit into the pool in the third
    inning, someone wins a pool. Crazy stuff.

Pre-game coverage along the RBN begins at 6:35. First pitch is set for 7:05. Enjoy!

- Brian

Have a Great Weekend

Don’t worry. We’re not going to abandon you for the weekend. Just need to get out my “Happy Easter” to all those who celebrate it.

I am one of those people. I’ve been lucky to be close to home (if not actually home) for many of the big holidays. Baseball prevents me from being home for this one, though. I hope all those who celebrate Easter are able to get home or at least get a little piece of home.

I fully expect a package filled with candy from my parents. We’ll see if they deliver.

We keep chugging along with the Facts on this Friday.

FRISCO FACTS:

  • The pitching staff has begun to turn things around. Over the last three games, the RoughRiders have surrendered only 10 runs. That doesn’t seem like a noteworthy number, but considering the fact that the ‘Riders had surrendered six runs or more in all but one of the previous seven games, that is a step forward.
  • Where has the biggest improvement come from? The bullpen. Since the ‘pen collapsed in a loss to Springfield April 14, here are the numbers for the relievers: 22.1 IP, 6 R, 6 ER, 18 H. That calculates to a 2.42 ERA. 
  • Yesterday, Mark Hamburger returned after a brief time away for a personal issue. The righty tossed a pair of scoreless innings. Same deal for fellow right-hander Mike Perconte, who has now thrown nine and a third frames and given up just one run on six hits. Opponents are hitting just .194 against the former Cubs farmhand. 
  • The other reliever to appear yesterday was Ramon Aguero, who had to leave after a pitch to Brian Esposito, the second batter he faced in the game. No word on his condition, but we’ll try to get an update sometime this weekend.
  • On the flip side, the offense has been limping lately. A popular way of examining a player or a team’s recent play is to look at the stats over the last five games. As a club, the ‘Riders are a .250 hitting unit in the last five contests, which isn’t totally out of the ordinary, but only two batters are hitting above the .261 mark–Tommy Mendonca and Jonathan Greene.
  • We’ve mentioned the hot stretches of Mendonca and Greene, a duo that is hitting a combined .447 with seven of the club’s 15 RBIs in the last five games. Yesterday, those two had four of the six Frisco hits. Everyone else in the lineup went a combined 2-for-25.
  • The most glaring stumble within the starting nine has been Mike Bianucci. It’s somewhat unfair that he is looked at like this because of his torrid start. Those types of numbers are flat out unsustainable over the course of a month, let alone a season. However, Bianucci has hit just .182 (6-for-33) over the last nine games, and he hasn’t driven in a run since Saturday.
  • Here’s what is amazing about Bianucci: the dude is still boasting a .949 OPS. Anything over .900 in this category is considered very good. Even with this lull, Bianucci’s numbers are still better than 90% of the players in this league so far.
  • Miguel De Los Santos gets the ball tonight for the RoughRiders. I’m pulling this directly from the blog post I had after his last start, but the numbers are too intriguing to mention only once: Through two starts, De Los Santos has gone 1-2-3 in some way in six
    of the ten innings he has begun. In those frames, here’s De Los Santos’
    line: 6.0 IP, 0 R, 1 H, 1 BB, 9 K. However, in the other
    four innings, here’s his line: 2.2 IP, 10 R, 7 H, 5 BB, 4 K. He finished
    two of those innings. In the other two, he left with a man at first and
    two away and he left with the bases loaded and nobody out.
  • I mentioned J.D. Martinez’s hot stretch in yesterday’s blog, and what does he do? 2-for-5 with a pair of doubles and an RBI. He has now driven in a run in nine consecutive games.
  • For what it’s worth, the Major League record for most consecutive games with an RBI belongs to Ray Grimes of the Chicago Cubs. Grimes drove in at least one run in 18 straight games from June 27-July 23 of 1922. 
  • For what it’s worth, part two: Corpus Christi play-by-play voice Matt Hicks said the Hooks played their best game of 2011 last night.
  • The Rangers’ farm system continues to shine. Round Rock won its tenth in 11 tries over Oklahoma City to improve to a PCL-best 11-4, and Hickory swept a double dip from Bryce Harper and the Hagerstown Suns to seize the South Atlantic League’s best mark. Also, Myrtle Beach is a half-game behind Salem for the best mark in the Carolina League despite losing to Kinston yesterday.

It’s a Fireworks Friday at Dr Pepper Ballpark, and our coverage along the RoughRiders Baseball Network begins at 6:35. First pitch is set for 7:05. Enjoy!

- Brian

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