Results tagged ‘ Jake Brigham ’

Five Improving RoughRiders

Over the last few days, we have talked about the Rangers’ prospects from Round Rock to Surprise, and we have focused on ten ‘Riders who have improved their prospect stock in the last 12 months.

Today, let’s take a look at five new RoughRiders. These five men got off to slow starts, but they have turned things around and become factors on the second-best team in the Texas League.

Engel Beltre: Beltre’s struggles are well-documented this season, but the guy did enter 2011 as the Rangers’ fifth-best prospect according to Baseball America. The glove has been there all season long, and the bat is starting to come around.

Offensively, Beltre bottomed out in May when he hit .162 in 12 games after returning from a suspension. The outfielder began his upswing in June by hitting .252 and scoring 17 times in 26 games. So far in July, Beltre is thriving–.306 average, 12 runs, four stolen bases (he did not steal any in May or June), and a .729 OPS.

Beltre’s numbers overall don’t scream “top level prospect,” but he has gone through a great deal during the 2011 season. The fact that he has a chance, with a strong finish to the year, to get his stats close to his averages in the minors is impressive.

Jake Brigham: Brigham had his baseball world turned upside down late last month. The right-hander, who had made 14 starts with the ‘Riders, was sent to the bullpen. Prior to this year, Brigham had only acted as a reliever 13 times.

During his first four outings, Brigham allowed ten runs while adjusting to his new role. Since then, Brigham has been dominant. The righty has tossed eight and a third innings of scoreless baseball. He has allowed three hits, walked three hits, and struck out nine batters.

Brigham’s ERA as a bullpen arm is 6.08, but it is dropping quickly. If he continues this recent surge, he will add to an already-talented bullpen.

Justin Miller: Speaking of talented bullpen arms, how about the run of success Miller has had? The key for Miller was finding a role. He struggled a bit as the club’s closer in the first handful of weeks, but he has settled into a job that involves setting up around 75% of the time and closing about 25% of the time.

After a 3.76 ERA through May 31, Miller boasted an ERA of 0.00 in 13 and two-thirds innings in June. So far in July, Miller has surrendered one run in seven and two-thirds. And Miller is able to retire both lefties (.190) and righties (.217), which is a huge asset for an eighth/ninth-inning guy.

A few interesting splits for Miller: he loves night games (1.02 ERA) v. day games (5.84 ERA), and he loves home games (0.68 ERA) v. road games (4.22 ERA).

Elio Sarmiento: We’ve heard about Sarmiento’s excellent cooking abilities, but his performance on the field deserves some praise, too. Sarmiento had to bounce between the team’s second and third catcher during the first few weeks, but now he has a strong case for being Frisco’s best backstop.

Sarmiento’s batting average has gone up in every month this year (.091, .214, .326, .355). In his 21 appearances since June 3, Sarmiento has three home runs and 17 RBIs. Before this year, Sarmiento’s career high in home runs was two. The Venezuela native’s career high in RBIs (25 in ’09) is very much in danger, too.

Since the beginning of June, Sarmiento has played in 21 games, and Jose Felix has played in 19. As you can see, Sarmiento’s efforts have earned him more playing time.

Corey Young: April was not a kind month for the left-handed reliever. He went 0-2 with a 9.00 ERA in eight appearances, and he found himself on the disabled list with a back injury on April 28.

Once Young rejoined the RoughRiders’ active roster five weeks later, he became a force. The southpaw owns a 1.10 ERA in 16 and a third innings. In early June, Young appeared in a few mop-up situations. Since then, he has worked his way into many key situations. In the ninth inning and beyond, Young has allowed only one earned run in seven innings.

Young still needs to work on his efforts against lefties (.353 average), but that is pretty remarkable to see for a lefty who owns a 3.70 ERA. Thus, there is some room for improvement for a man who is already seeing plenty.

- Brian

“Dad, wanna play catch?”

Every Father’s Day I can’t help but think of that scene from Field of Dreams where Kevin Costner plays catch with his dad (once your done reading you can watch it here).

I’m not ashamed to say it makes me cry every time.  I wanted to ask some of the ‘Riders what some of their favorite baseball memories were with their dads, and I’m glad I can share their answers with you.

Manager, Steve Buechele: From playing in little league, to college baseball at Stanford, all the way to the major leagues, Boo’s dad supported him the entire way.

“To this day, I remember my dad, and my mom, always being there and watching every game my brothers and I played.

I then asked Boo about the first time his dad got to see him play in the major leagues.

“We were playing the Angles and I had a bunch of friends and family come out to the game.  I remember hugging my dad after the game and him telling me that he had tears in his eyes during the National Anthem.”

LHP, Robbie Erlin: Growing up in Santa Cruz, Calif., Erlin’s father probably never imagined that his son would be the Rangers’ No. 4 prospect at just 20-years-old.  But as Erlin’s coach in the Scotts Valley Little League, he greatly influenced his son’s future career.

“When I was 9-years-old my dad told me that before I could throw a curveball, I had to be able to locate my fastball.  He and I worked after practice on throwing a curve and finally one day during a game I was pitching he signaled to our catcher to call for a curveball.”

As we all know, Robbie’s curveball is now one of the best in the Rangers’ minor league system.  I then asked Robbie if 9-years-old was a bit early to be throwing a curve.

“Not if you know how to throw it.”  

3B, Tommy Mendonca: By now, we all know how well Tommy has been playing lately.  And we all know how hard he’s been working out.  Most are aware of the magical ride he went on when playing for Fresno State University in 2008 when the Bulldogs won the College World Series and Mendo was named the College World Series Most Outstanding Player as a sophomore.

“Both of my parents were at every game in Omaha during our playoff run.  My dad was my little league coach and it was great having him and my mom watching me and supporting me when we were playing in such big games.”

RHP, Jake Brigham: One of seven kids (four brothers, two sisters) , Jake grew up in Florida where his dad was a barber.  He had to cut a lot of hair to support all those hungry mouths and thus had one day off a week: Wednesday.

“Every Wednesday afternoon he’d take us seven kids to Barnett Park and we had practically enough players to field a team.  I remember him pitching to us … We all got a chance to field, catch, hit, and play the outfield.”

LF/DH, Mike Bianucci: “Nuch” had the big blast last night in the 13th inning to give the ‘Riders the win, but it was his dad who saw him hit has a kid.

“It was great having my dad coach me in Babe Ruth League.  Once I turned pro, he first had a chance to watch me play in Hickory.  My best memories are of him watching me in high school, though.  It was great then because I always had lots of family at the games.”


 

2B, Davis Stoneburner: His real name is Ralph, which, so conveniently for today’s article, is his father’s name.  After asking him a baseball memory he shared with his dad, Stoney gave me an answer in a way that only he could.

“The first time my dad saw me play as a professional was in Clinton, Ia. when I was playing for the LumberKings.  I was a shortstop at the time and he came out to watch me play a four-game series.  Bad part was I didn’t get a single hit.”

Fortunately, he’s now riding a nine-game hitting streak.  Looks like he’s recovered.

We’ll have more of a tribute to Father’s Day on the pre-game show tonight.  Along with Mother’s Day, it’s one of my favorite pre-game segments all season long.  First pitch tonight in the series finale in Corpus Christi crosses home plate at 6:05, pre-game coverage kicks off at 5:35.

If for some reason you miss the pre-game segment of all the ‘Riders wishing their dad’s a happy Father’s Day but would like to hear it, feel free to email me at agoldsmith@ridersbaseball.com and I’ll send you the .mp3 version.

Talk with you tonight,

AG

RoughRiders on the Green

I am not a golf fanatic. In fact, I haven’t golfed more than twice in a summer since high school, mainly because my skill level is just below awful. I don’t know what word describes “just below awful,” but it can’t be good.

However, I make sure to watch as much of pro golf’s four majors as possible. As I’m perched in my room watching the U.S. Open’s third round, let’s take a look at how some golfers compare to those who are down at Whataburger Field this weekend. It’s a special edition of the Facts.

FRISCO FACTS (U.S. Open style):

  • Rory McIlroy (-11; first place) = Tommy Mendonca: McIlroy has dominated the U.S. Open so far with a first-round 65 and a second-round 66. He heads into day three with a six-stroke lead. We have talked about Mendonca recently on this blog. Since that post, Mendonca has gone 3-for-7 with a homer and two RBIs. In June, the ‘Riders’ third baseman is hitting an absurd .433 with 21 RBIs. Both men are dominating their field right now.
  • Y.E. Yang (-5; second place) = Renny Osuna: Both men are undersized a bit (Yang: 5’9″, 190 lbs; Osuna: 6’0″, 180 lbs), yet both have had solid years and careers. Yang took down Tiger Woods (well get to him in a bit) in the ’09 PGA Championship, but he still is a surprise in this year’s event. Osuna continues to hit well, but other RoughRiders tend to get the attention. Osuna is hitting .304 with a career-high five home runs. He’ll have plenty of chances to blow that old career high in homers (four) out of the water.
  • Phil Mickelson (+1; T-26th place) = Mike Bianucci: Mickelson is very much on the outside looking in this weekend, but he is probably the most marketable golfer on tour right now with Woods on the shelf. Bianucci has struggled a bit lately, too. However, Bianucci still sits in a tie for third in homers (14) and a tie for fourth in RBIs (49). Fortunately for Bianucci, he has more than half the season left. Mickelson has 36 holes and a scorching up-and-comer 12 strokes ahead. Advantage: Bianucci.
  • Sergio Garcia (-2; T-third place) = Jake Brigham: Both Garcia and Brigham are not flashy, but they both tend to hang around and give themselves a chance to win at the end. Garcia posted a 69 in round one and followed it up with an even-par 71 yesterday. Brigham has gone at least five innings in all but one of his 13 starts this year. Tonight’s starter has allowed more than three runs only three times. These two won’t grab the headlines, but they get the job done.
  • Michael Barbosa (+24; last place) = Corpus Christi Hooks: This is not me unnecessarily ripping on the Hooks, I promise. Both Barbosa and the Hooks had rough starts to their week/season, and next week both will get a chance with clean slates. I’m sure they are thrilled.
  • Tiger Woods (DNP – injury) = Josh Hamilton: Woods has been in the PGA Tour this year. Hamilton has been with the RoughRiders this year. Thousands follow Woods around when he is on the course. Thousands waited for Hamilton to sign some autographs when he visited Dr Pepper Ballpark, and he rewarded many of them. Golf fans hope Woods returns soon. However, I think RoughRiders and Rangers fans alike would like Hamilton to stay right where he is for the rest of the season.
  • Other quick connections: Davis Love III (-1; T-eighth place) and Guilder Rodriguez = thriving veterans; Patrick Cantlay (highest-ranked amateur) and Robbie Erlin = future stars; Louis Oosthuizen and Davis Stoneburner = names that flow; Chubby Chandler (McIlroy’s manager) and Steve Buechele = successful managers.

Catch the pre-game coverage for tonight’s 6:05 showdown at 5:35 along the RoughRiders Baseball Network. Enjoy!

- Brian

Shaq Diesel

The career of center Shaquille O’Neal has come to an end, and he went out in style. Shaq invited the media to his house, and he treated them to lunch and a laugh-filled press conference.

O’Neal played for six franchises, and he was a winner everywhere he went. However, his lasting legacy will be the incredible personality that he had. It was awesome to watch him joke his way through a “goodbye” press conference.

Oh, and one more basketball note: Dirk Nowitzki is really, really good at basketball. And Miami is spinning with that reality right now.

Now, some baseball in today’s Facts.

FRISCO FACTS:

  • We talked about Renny Osuna in yesterday’s blog, and he came through yet again. But, Osuna would not have been the hero without Tommy Mendonca’s big blast in the ninth. Mendonca has been great in the late innings this year. He has hit five of his 12 homers in the eighth inning or later, and he has a .302 batting average in the “late innings.”
  • It looked very bleak for the ‘Riders going into that final inning. Frisco had mustered only a walk in four innings against the Northwest Arkansas bullpen. Both Mendonca and Mike Bianucci, who led off the ninth with a single, had been 0-for-3 prior to the frame. The single and homer extended both men’s road on-base streak to 23 games, which spans the entire season.
  • For what it is worth, Osuna was also hitless in three at bats when he gave the RoughRiders their first lead of the game in the tenth inning. His long ball was the catalyst to the club’s sixth extra-inning win and 11th comeback victory.
  • Jake Brigham had to labor through his outing yesterday, but the righty found a way to gut through five innings. Over his last three starts, Brigham has not had his best stuff (9.26 ERA), but he still has worked through five innings in ten of his 11 starts this season.
  • Jose Felix’s shoulder injury, which put him on the disabled list yesterday, will give Robbie Diaz and, likely to a slightly lesser extent, Elio Sarmiento a chance to shine. Diaz figures to get a few more starts that Sarmiento during the process, but that’s just my educated guess. Diaz has hit well while in Frisco, boasting a .308 average. During his month-plus in Triple-A Round Rock, Diaz hit .346 in 13 games.
  • The RoughRiders just cannot catch a break in the standings. Despite a pair of narrow victories in the first two games of this series, the ‘Riders have not gained any ground on San Antonio. The Missions have won back-to-back games in walk-off fashion at home against Arkansas. Frisco remains seven games back of San Antonio with 18 left in the first half. The Missions’ magic number is 12.
  • On the flip side, Tulsa leads the North by one game on Northwest, two on Arkansas and three on Springfield. If the ‘Riders were in the North, they would be in first place.
  • Programming note: Aaron Goldsmith will blog from Tulsa tomorrow here in the Insider Blog. He will chat about life on the road in the Texas League along with some news and notes.
  • Aaron has also begun to load some videos to our Twitter account, and I will do my best to link those to the blog. Here is his chat with strength and conditioning coach Eric McMahon from yesterday, and here is his talk with newly activated lefty Corey Young.

Pre-game coverage begins at 6:30 tonight. Enjoy!

- Brian

A Special Treat

When you live far from home, it is tough to live life in the way that you are used to living it. I’m originally from Cleveland, Ohio, so it is tough for me to keep track of my childhood club–the Indians.

Things sometimes work out, though. Tonight, the Indians play Boston (by the way, Aaron is a closet member of Red Sox nation), and it happens to be on national television. Somewhere, the Texas League gods were shining on me by making today’s RoughRiders game an 11:05 a.m. game.

Hopefully, the ‘Riders can carry some momentum into an off day (and a half). Here’s today’s version of the Facts.

FRISCO FACTS:

  • It was a rough start for Jake Brigham yesterday. He allowed more runs (5) in the second inning than he had in an entire game all season long. He also walked a season-high-tying four men, all in that frame. His earned run average rose to 4.53, which is still pretty solid. Brigham just ran into a red hot Missions offense, and he stumbled. No shame in that every once in a while, especially after he retired the first 19 San Antonio swingers he faced May 6 at Dr Pepper Ballpark.
  • Jose Ruiz continues to hack it for the ‘Riders since returning from the Temporary Inactive List. Ruiz, who went 2-for-3 yesterday to extend his hitting streak to seven games, is hitting .438 (14-32) since his return to Frisco. During that span, he has three homers and seven runs batted in.
  • Speaking of the Missions, here are some ridiculous numbers regarding their start to the season. San Antonio’s 18-3 record is the best in the minor leagues. They have won 11 straight at Nelson Wolff Municipal Stadium, which is the longest winning streak in the facility’s existence.
  • Offensively, the Missions reached home run number 60 as a team Saturday, which was the club’s 42nd game. Last season, San Antonio did not reach that plateau until July 26, which was game number 98. Also, the team has scored 294 runs, which was not reached until late June of last year by San Antonio.
  • I was asked this on the Extra Bases Blog yesterday: does San Diego’s Triple-A club need any players? Well, the Tucson Padres are 19-25 this year, and their offense is sixth in the Pacific Coast League in average and third in runs scored. The T-Padres need pitching help, as the club ranks 14th in the 16-team league with a 5.66 ERA.
  • This morning/afternoon’s game marks the 32nd straight game for the RoughRiders against South Division foes. Frisco has tomorrow off before meeting Northwest Arkansas for the first time this season. It’s the opening of a six-game home stand that features a pair of squads new to the ‘Riders–the Naturals and the Tulsa Drillers. Like at the beginning of the season, Frisco will head to those two teams’ homes after the six-game home stand before reentering South play to end the first half.
  • The rehab assignments were successful for Josh Hamilton and Nelson Cruz. The duo played three games at Triple-A Round Rock this weekend, and both are expected to be in uniform for the Rangers tonight when Texas opens a series with the White Sox in Arlington. During his five-game assignment, Hamilton went 4-for-18 (.222) with two homers and six RBIs. Cruz went 9-for-23 (.391) with three homers and five RBIs in six games.

Catch the pre-game show today at 10:35 a.m. For those listening on 1630 KKGM, please note that today’s game will be broadcast on tape delay. Coverage is slated to kick off at 6:35 p.m. Enjoy!

- Brian

We’re Back

It’s been almost a week since our last blog because of the MLBlogs renovation, but we are back in action. Kudos to MLBlogs for redesigning this format. It looks much improved.

Let’s get right into what is a very busy day with the long-awaited revival of the Facts.

FRISCO FACTS:

  • It is official: Josh Hamilton will begin a rehab assignment with the RoughRiders tonight. How long Hamilton will be with the ‘Riders, however, is unknown. Thus, enjoy him while he is here.
  • Hamilton will wear number 32 and hit third for Frisco tonight. He will be the designated hitter.
  • This will be Hamilton’s second rehab game with the RoughRiders in his career. Back in 2009, he went 1-for-4 with a run and an RBI in Frisco’s 5-4 victory over Corpus Christi June 29. Just to pique your interest a little bit, Mitch Moreland and Justin Smoak also drove in a run apiece for the ‘Riders in that game.
  • Hitting behind Hamilton is Nelson Cruz, who will play his third straight game at Dr Pepper Ballpark. So far, Cruz is 2-for-7 with an RBI. He was in the designated hitter spot the last two games, but he will shift out to right field this evening.
  • I did not think I would say this less than a week into Leonys Martin’s stint in Frisco: he is the third most compelling outfielder on the RoughRiders’ outfield roster. That will obviously change once Cruz and Hamilton depart, so let’s discuss the new member of the 40-man roster.
  • Martin is hitting .318 (7-for-22) with a homer and six RBIs. He has hit safely in four of his first five starts. Here’s an interesting split, though. Martin is hitting .500 (5-for-10) against right-handers but just .167 (2-for-12) against lefties.
  • Frisco starting pitchers have continued to thrive. The RoughRiders’ starter has gone five or more innings in 11 straight games dating back to May 5. That includes three starts from Jake Brigham, who has worked through the fifth inning in all eight of his starts. Over Brigham’s last four outings, he has tossed at least six innings. His ERA sits at 2.45 during that span.
  • Not sure if this is a one-start deal or if he is the new member of the rotation, but Chris Mobley will be Frisco’s starter tomorrow night. It will be Mobley’s seventh affiliated start and his first since his time in the New-York Penn League in 2004 with Jamestown.
  • During the blog’s hiatus, Frisco won five of its six games and pulled within five games of San Antonio for first place in the South. Maybe we should stop this thing, but I won’t.

Be sure to tune in tonight along the RoughRiders Baseball Network beginning at 6:35. Enjoy!

- 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

Everyone Struggles Sometimes

Yesterday was not a good one for the Frisco RoughRiders. However, the great thing about baseball is that chances at redemption come quickly.

Frisco has lost four straight and 11 of 14. However, I know of another team that lost 11 of 14 last year. The San Francisco Giants.

From June 18-July 2, the defending World Series champion fell to only one game above .500 at the halfway mark of the season. Look what happened after that.

Every team in baseball has a lull or two. The best teams bounce back from them well. We’ll see how the ‘Riders bounce back from this two-week valley.

We’re still peaking on the Facts. Let’s get a Wednesday edition underway.

FRISCO FACTS:

  • The RoughRiders have placed outfielder Engel Beltre on the temporary inactive list. He must sit out at least three days. Mark Hamburger was on this list a few weeks ago. (UPDATE: He is still active. There may be a move at some point soon, though.)
  • Apparently, the official ruling on the overturned home run off the bat of Mike Bianucci in the ninth inning yesterday was a ground-rule double. Aaron Goldsmith tells me that the rationale was that the ball hit Sawyer Carroll’s glove, then the wall, then his glove again, and then went over the fence. I wasn’t there, so I didn’t see it. Strange stuff.
  • Obviously, Bianucci and the ‘Riders were frustrated about that call. However, Frisco’s primary designated hitter is starting to heat up again. After a 3-for-19 slump without an RBI, Bianucci has four RBIs and a .400 (8-for-20) average over his last five games.
  • Another player who is heating up is outfielder David Paisano. The outfielder, one of only three listed on the Frisco roster currently, is hitting .444 (8-for-18) with three runs scored over the last five games. His average is up to .262, which is the highest he has been so far this season.
  • Getting off to quick starts is not something the RoughRiders have been known for so far this year. Frisco has led after five innings only six times this year, which is last in the Texas League. The RoughRiders are also seventh in this eight-team league with a 1-11 mark when either trailing or even after five frames. There have been 16 victories in those situations thus far this year throughout the TL, so the ‘Riders are well below average.
  • In these situations, one must look for the positives. One thing the RoughRiders can look at is their improved starting pitching. Six of the last eight starters have pitched through the fifth inning after only four starters reached that plateau in the rotation’s first two turns.
  • It appears that Jake Brigham is a specialist, in that he specializes in going five innings and giving up three earned runs. After all, he has done exactly that in all four of his starts this year–his first four outings at the Double-A level. Pretty crazy stuff for the Rangers’ 30th ranked prospect.
  • The ‘Riders have held the best hitter in the Texas League, James Darnell, relatively in check. Darnell is just 2-for-8 in the series, lowering his batting average from .482 to a still-healthy .453. Darnell remains the batting leader right now, and he is one of two (Corpus Christi’s Wladimir Sutil the other) who is hitting above .400. Frisco’s Jonathan Greene is on the outside looking in with a .396 mark, which is third.
  • It’s safe to say that Frisco manager Steve Buechele has settled on much of his lineup at this point. The 1-6 spots–Engel Beltre, Davis Stoneburner, Bianucci, Tommy Mendonca, Greene, and Jose Ruiz–in the order have remained the same for the last seven games. However, that will have to change with Beltre being on the Temporary Inactive List.
  • Former Frisco catcher Robbie Diaz has begun his stint with Triple-A Round Rock on a tear. Diaz is hitting .600 (6-for-10) in his first three games, including a 3-for-4 effort yesterday against Oklahoma City.
  • Texas’ number two prospect, shortstop Jurickson Profar, has returned from the disabled list with three hits in his first two games. Profar has reached base in five of his eight plate appearances for low-A Hickory.

Game three of this four-game series begins at 7:05. Pre-game coverage begins at 6:35 along the RoughRiders Baseball Network. Enjoy!

- Brian

Earning Runs

Thanks to “Chatter from the Pressbox” for this tidbit: the RoughRiders are one of two minor league baseball teams that have yet to allow an unearned run. Frisco has given up 51 runs in the first nine games of the season, and all have been earned.

The only other team to replicate this feat is the Jacksonville Suns, the Double-A Southern League affiliate for the Florida Marlins. The Suns have allowed 35 runs through nine contests.

Not only are the Suns tremendous at this, but they have the coolest man doing some video work for them. It’s tough not to like the Suns after watching this video from last year. Who wouldn’t want to ring that bell with him?

By the way, be sure to check out chatterfromthepressbox.blogspot.com for some more ‘Riders information. The guys do a great job with it!

Without further ado, let’s wrap up another series with a Sunday edition of the Facts.

FRISCO FACTS:

  • Fans got a chance to see how manager Steve Buechele would juggle his lineup without Renny Osuna available. The most noticeable change came in Osuna’s normal spot in the lineup–the leadoff spot. Buechele placed the Rangers’ number 5 prospect Engel Beltre in that slot, and he hit well. He went a combined 2-for-6 with a pair of walks and runs scored. He did get picked off in game one after a leadoff walk, but other than that, he was solid. 
  • By the way, Osuna went back to Frisco for tests on his broken nose. His nose broke in two places, but there was not any other structural damage. There is still no timetable set for his return.
  • We also saw how the ‘Riders would deal with one fewer outfield option after Joey Butler’s promotion to Triple-A. David Paisano was in right field for both games yesterday. Mike Bianucci and Jonathan Greene started in left field. With Greene sliding into that “fourth outfielder” role, Jose Ruiz will likely play more than he would if Butler (and even if Osuna) were in North Texas.
  • Frisco starter Miguel De Los Santos is an interesting prospect to discuss. 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.
  • On the flip side, Jake Brigham is extremely consistent. In both starts, he allowed three runs on five hits in five innings of work. Through those two starts, he has whiffed 11 batters.
  • The impact offensive guy for the RoughRiders has been Mike Bianucci, but Tommy Mendonca is not far behind. With his two home runs yesterday, Mendonca is now tied for third in the Texas League with four dingers, one off Bianucci and San Antonio’s Cody Decker’s pace. But Bianucci and Mendonca are one and two in HR/AB ratio (1/6.6 for Bianucci and 1/7.5 for Mendonca).
  • The only downside for Mendonca’s early start has been the strikeout numbers. Mendonca is tied for first in the TL with 11 Ks. In fact, Mendonca either reached base or struck out yesterday in the double dip at Springfield.
  • The RoughRiders’ bullpen was much better yesterday than it was Thursday night. However, the ‘pen is still letting a lot of men get on for free. In four innings of work yesterday, the bullpen gave up one run on two hits, but the relievers walked six and hit a batter.
  • Two guys who the ‘Riders are glad they won’t see again until June 30th: Matt Adams and Niko Vasquez. That duo went a combined 8-for-20 (.400) with a home run and 10 RBIs.
  • Another thing fans won’t see for a long time: bowling. The PBA Tour season is over, which makes me very sad. Dick Allen defeated Chris Barnes in the PBA Playoffs Final earlier today. NOW it is officially baseball season! For all of your off-season bowling news, be sure to check out PBA.com. I’m a huge fan of bowling, and you should be too.

I’m also a big fan of today’s broadcast of the RoughRiders and the Travelers. Check it out along the RRBN or online at 3:30. I will also be along for the Extra Bases Blog, so join me there beginning at 3:45! Enjoy!

- Brian

The Most Hectic 30 Minutes In Sports

For press box staffers during doubleheaders, the 30 minutes between the final pitch of game one and the first pitch of game two is indeed very hectic. Is today’s title entirely true? Maybe not, but to me it is.

Fortunately, it is much easier for the road crew (aka Aaron and I) during these double dips. So I guess we’ve avoided some of the intensity.

Anyways, here are a few Facts to lead you up to today’s two-for-one.

FRISCO FACTS:

  • Doubleheaders in the minor leagues consist of a pair of seven-inning games. There are no other differences to the games, unless you include the seventh-inning stretch as a part of the game. If so, please note that many stadiums do the “fifth-inning stretch.” No word on Hammons Field’s tendency.
  • Last year, the RoughRiders had three games postponed which brought about three doubleheaders. In those games, Frisco went 4-2. Two other interesting notes: two of the three twin bills came against Springfield, and all three took place between July 3-13.
  • No changes to the starting pitchers for today for the ‘Riders. Jake Brigham is slated to go in game one, while Miguel De Los Santos will be the hurler in the nightcap. Both men impressed at times in their first outings of the season. Brigham whiffed seven against these Cardinals one week ago, while De Los Santos rung up eight Travelers Sunday afternoon.
  • There is a tweak to the Springfield rotation. Deryk Hooker is still slated to go against Brigham in the opener. However, it will be Richard Castillo starting game two instead of Michael Blazek. If you have a great memory, you’ll recall that Castillo was the man who committed the throwing error April 8 that allowed Frisco’s winning run to score in the 10th inning. Castillo has had one other outing this year, and that was Tuesday at Midland. He worked three scoreless frames, scattering three hits.
  • The San Antonio offense was at it again last night. Three nights after clubbing Tulsa 23-10, the Missions pummeled Northwest Arkansas 26-5. Seriously. Through eight games, San Antonio is hitting .366 as a team (116-for-317), which is at least 89 points better than everyone in the Texas League. Plus, the team already has 20 home runs this year. That’s two and a half per game!

Our pre-game coverage begins at 1:37 from Springfield. Game one’s first pitch is set for 2:07. We will be along for the ride from 1:37 until the end of the game, so be sure to stay tuned for a pre-game/post-game combination to bridge both games this afternoon.

Also, be sure to check out http://ridersbaseball.com/extrabases during the game today. Today will be the debut of the “Extra Bases Question” to be answered during the post-game show. I’ll answer one question from that day’s blog live during our post-game show, so be sure to take part in our interactive gameday blog. Enjoy!

- Brian

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