Results tagged ‘ Jason Cole ’

Day Three in Surprise: Chi-Chi, Cacti and Camelback Ranch

Tommy Hansen faces the White Sox at beautiful Camelback Ranch.

Tommy Hansen faces the White Sox at Camelback Ranch.

This week I’m taking in my first visit to Surprise, Arizona for Rangers Spring Training, and I’m bringing you with me. Click the links if you missed the earlier recaps of my trip: Day One ….  Day Two.  

As I’ve mentioned before in this space, I had never been to Arizona prior to this trip (29 states down, 21 to go).  I had an expectation as to what it would be like out here, but I was a little bit jarred seeing cacti and palm trees almost equally share this suburban landscape.  Sure, I was expecting the saguaro, prickly pear and barrel cacti; but I didn’t know about the palm tree prevalence here.  The sight of such disparate plants juxtaposed with each other makes for a strange sight, but I guess there were some people who also thought it bizarre to combine soft serve vanilla and chocolate ice cream into a magnificent swirl of tasty goodness.

I might argue that baseball in the state of Arizona presents a bit of a dichotomy. Here you have a place that is mostly desert with its capital city receiving just eight inches of rain per year.  When you fly over the area, the predominant color is some combination of beige/brown.  A baseball field’s most striking color is green.  When people walk into a stadium for the first time, they don’t often remark about the infield dirt; it’s the lush green grass that catches the eye.  And the grass gets that green because groundskeepers need to regularly douse it with tremendous amounts of water.

I’m not trying to make some sort of environmental case against baseball in Arizona.  I’m just saying it’s always interesting when you see two things put together that don’t naturally seem to belong.  That was the theme I kept coming back to as I took in my final full day in the Valley of the Sun.

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Alex Rios waits for his turn to hit during batting practice.

Alex Rios waits for his turn to hit during batting practice.

9:15 a.m. – I get to the complex a little later this morning, which is no worry because the back fields are still empty by the time I arrive.  Fields 1 & 2, however, are a different story.  The big league club is active with batting practice and Ron Washington is holding court in an otherwise empty dugout at Nolan Ryan Field with a larger media contingent than we’ve seen the last few days.  The reason is two-fold: the Round Rock Express front office has just gotten into town and arrive with several members of their local media, hungry for information on the 2014 squad.  Also, Matt Harrison is making his spring debut in the “B” game this morning against the Royals.  There’s a definite buzz in the air that I hadn’t felt the previous two days here in Surprise.

As I attempt to poke my head into the media scrum, my attention is drawn away by Rangers PR man John Blake, who asks if I can help him with a media request involving minor leaguer and longtime RoughRider Guilder Rodriguez.  One of the DFW TV stations wants to do a story on a veteran player in the minors who helps teach the younger guys how to play the game and Guilder (pronounced “WHEEL-dair”) is the perfect candidate.  I’m happy to help, but I’m also struck by the unusual request.  With all of the great players in camp, some of them brand new to the Rangers (Fielder, Choo), this station wants to report on a 30-year-old Venezuelan utility man with two home runs in 13 professional seasons.  It’s not an easy story to sell the average fan back home, who will likely never see G-Rod play in a game.  Impressed by the request (I’ve never known TV sports guys to be the most enterprising of reporters…), I head to the back fields to tell Guilder that he will be interviewed later in the day.

Matt Harrison delivers to Eric Hosmer in the "B" game on Tuesday.

Matt Harrison delivers to Eric Hosmer in the “B” game on Tuesday.

10 a.m. – They let the fans in a little early today so they could catch the “B” game and Harrison’s start.  The “B” game is played on one of the Rangers practice fields and not in the main stadium.  It looks very much like a minor league spring game, given the spartan surroundings.  But this is no quaint exercise in pitchers simply getting their work in.  It can’t be when the Royals bring over prized big leaguers Alcides Escobar, Eric Hosmer, Danny Valencia and Mike Moustakas to play in the contest.  Over on Field 2, batting practice with some of the big leaguers is still going on while Harrison unleashes a fastball for strike one to get the contest started.  He retires the first batter thanks to a superb sliding catch down the right field line by second baseman Rougned Odor, gives up a hit, but retires the next two batters to complete his work for the day.   Harrison says after his outing that he felt good and the recovery into Wednesday will be key to determining the next step for him as he comes back from three 2013 surgeries.

Harrison is the only “regular” playing for the Rangers in this game; most of the others will be suiting up later in the day against the White Sox. Odor ends up providing all of the offense in the “B” game, stroking an RBI triple and a two-run home run off lefty Everett Teaford.  I wasn’t there to see it, but Odor allegedly flipped his bat after going yard.  In an unrelated note, the RoughRiders open the season against the Royals-affiliated Northwest Arkansas Naturals on April 3.

Rougned Odor and Engel Beltre strike a similar pose in the "B" game.

Rougned Odor and Engel Beltre strike a similar pose in the “B” game.

Greg and Mike Maddux get a good look at the pitchers along with the Royals coaches.

Greg and Mike Maddux get a good look at the pitchers along with the Royals coaches.

10:30 a.m. – I spy Alex “Chi-Chi” Gonzalez nearby and chat with him for a bit about his first Spring Training.  Because I want you to learn a little more about the Rangers’ 2013 first round draft pick, I recorded the interview so I could post it here.  I’ll transcribe it when I’m back in Frisco, but here’s a link to the audio for now.

11 a.m. – I head to the back fields for the start of more intersquad games between the Rangers minor leaguers.  Just like yesterday, the teams are mixed up pretty significantly, with Triple-A guys playing alongside short-season guys in some cases.  After the final out of each half inning is recorded, the team on offense sends up a player to bunt so that both sides can work on bunt execution.  The players seem to forget that they’re doing this every inning, so most of them begin running off the field after the third out is recorded, only to have about eight people yell “BUNT PLAY!” at them so they stay in their positions.

Alec Asher, a prospective 2014 'Rider, pitches to Nomar Mazara. Asher sat 94-95 with his fastball and looked sharp.

Alec Asher, a prospective 2014 ‘Rider, pitches to Nomar Mazara. Asher sat 94-95 with his fastball and looked sharp.

Many of the players found themselves away from their natural positions.  Travis Demeritte, a shortstop by trade, played at second base.  Ryan Rua, an infielder, was in left field.  Catcher Jorge Alfaro was at first base, as was outfielder Jared Hoying (who also saw time at second base in a “B” game earlier in Spring Training; he reportedly impressed Ron Washington with his performance).  The reasons for moving players around like this include building up a player’s versatility, experimenting to determine if a new position might be a better fit or protecting a player from injury.

Jared Hoying plays in on the grass at first base.  Jairo Beras lingers off the bag.

Jared Hoying plays in on the grass at first base. Jairo Beras lingers off the bag.

11:45 a.m. – I get permission to watch some of the games from up in the tower that sits between all four of the minor league fields.  Many of the coaches will shuttle between the observation tower and field level to watch the action.  It’s a great way to keep an eye on as much of the games as possible.  Some of the coaches who are up there with me include Field Coordinator Jayce Tingler, Infield Coordinator Casey Candaele, Special Assignment Hitting Instructor Harry Spillman and some guy named Ivan Rodriguez.  Yeah, I’ve never heard of him either.

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It won't be framed anywhere, but here's a good look at the view from the observation tower.

It won’t be framed anywhere, but here’s a good look at the view from the observation tower. (Click to see a bigger image)

Once the intersquad games are complete, I make one last lap around the facility and say my goodbyes to folks.  I fly back to Texas on Wednesday morning and won’t be back at Rangers camp on this trip.

Pudge is still a pretty popular guy with Rangers fans.

Pudge is still a pretty popular guy with Rangers fans.

A scout's view at Camelback Ranch.

A scout’s view at Camelback Ranch.

2:30 p.m. – Following a quick lunch, I make my way to Camelback Ranch, the Spring Training complex in Glendale that is home to the Chicago White Sox and Los Angeles Dodgers.  The Rangers are playing the Pale Hose in another Cactus League matchup and by the time I arrive, it’s 5-0 Sox in the sixth inning.  I saunter over to the scout seats behind home plate and find my friend Jason Cole.  Known to many Rangers fans as the publisher of “Lone Star Dugout” and a contributor to Baseball Prospectus, Jason was also the color commentator for our RoughRiders TV broadcasts the last few years.  During the off-season, the Tampa Bay Rays recognized his talents as an evaluator and hired him to be a professional scout (read more about it here).  Sadly, Jason will no longer be able to join me on the air, but I’m very excited for him and his new path in baseball.  He’ll still make it to Frisco every now and then to scout the Rangers (maybe picking out the pieces in a future David Price trade?), so there will still be future opportunities to make him laugh at my awful jokes when he’s up in the press box, as he’s dutifully done in recent seasons.

2:45 p.m. – I take a lap around the ballpark to see the sights of one of the newer facilities in the Cactus League.  It is located just south of University of Phoenix Stadium (the home of the Arizona Cardinals) and the land around the ballpark is mostly desert scrub.  If you look at the surrounding area on Google Maps, you see what appears to be a large river flowing near the complex.  Sadly, the Agua Fria River is completely dry.  Check out the same map through the satellite view and you’ll see what I mean.  It is not a picturesque area near the park, however inside the complex it looks and feels like a resort.  Man-made ponds, winding pathways and an elaborate collection of trees make Camelback Ranch feel quite different from the land around it.  I will say, it is a very nice facility and it has the most unique design of the three complexes I have visited on this trip.

Resort, or baseball complex?

Resort, or baseball complex?

This is the view you get when you walk into the ballpark from the center field gate.  You wouldn't even know it's a baseball stadium.

This is the view you get when you walk into the ballpark from the center field gate. You wouldn’t even know it’s a baseball stadium.

Bring a hat to Camelback Ranch, because there is very little shade for a vast majority of the seats.

Bring a hat to Camelback Ranch, because there is very little shade for a vast majority of the seats.

Looking in from left field.

Looking in from left field.

The Dodgers' offices are located beyond left field while the White Sox have an identical building beyond right.

The Dodgers’ offices are located beyond left field while the White Sox have an identical building beyond right.

Brett Nicholas (bottom left) and Wilmer Font (upper right), both 2013 RoughRiders, help man the Texas bullpen.

Brett Nicholas (bottom left) and Wilmer Font (upper right), both 2013 RoughRiders, help man the Texas bullpen.

The park looks empty, but most fans have flocked to the shade, leaving the tan seats baking in the sun.

The park looks empty, but most fans have flocked to the shade, leaving the tan seats baking in the sun.

One of the reasons I especially wanted to come to this game was the fact that the White Sox were the Rangers’ opponent.  Prior to

My former skipper Joe McEwing waves home a White Sox player.

My former skipper Joe McEwing waves home a White Sox player.

joining the RoughRiders, I spent two seasons as the broadcaster for the Winston-Salem Dash, the High-A affiliate of Chicago.  In addition to seeing many familiar players suit up for the White Sox, I recognized a few coaches.  The Dash’s manager in 2010, Joe McEwing, is now the third base coach for Robin Ventura’s squad, while the bullpen coach is former Winston pitching coach Bobby Thigpen.

During my walk around the park, I spy “Thiggy” in the home bullpen and call down to him during a lull in the action.  He’s happy to see me and we have a short chat that is interrupted by an usher.  He tells me to not stand next to the bullpen railing or converse with the coaches during the game.  I sheepishly say goodbye to Thiggy and then make my way back to the concourse, feeling like an embarrassed third grader who was caught talking during class.

3:45 p.m. – After the Rangers rally to take the lead in the top of the eighth, Chicago ties it in the bottom of the inning and then wins it in the ninth to send Texas to a 7-6 loss.  Afterwards I grab dinner with the Rays’ newest pro scout and bid adieu to Arizona baseball.  In the natural scheme of things, it might not make a lot of sense, but watching so much baseball in the desert this week was a blast and I’m already looking forward to another trip next year (not to mention Opening Day in about three weeks).

Getting over my palm tree-cactus complex.

Getting over my palm tree-cactus complex.

I’ll have more from my trip to Arizona over the next few days, but it’s back to DFW for now.  As always, thanks for reading.

- Alex

‘Riders on the Record: Dunk City baseball and September call-ups

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‘Riders on the Record is a weekly rundown of the pre-game interviews record by broadcasters Alex Vispoli and Nathan Barnett with RoughRiders players and coaches and occasionally a special guest. You can find all previous editions by clicking here.

The second-to-last ‘Riders on the Record features Richard Bleier on the rise of his alma mater to “Dunk City,” the inaugural turn for Rougned Odor on the Record (via translator Arlett Mavare) and the always enlightening Jason Cole on the newest ‘Riders hurlers. Want to find out if Rougned Odor voted for himself in Moniker Madness? Be sure to listen in to Alex’s chat with him from Thursday.

It’s been a pleasure reliving these conversations with the players, coaches and special guests this season. We will put off next week’s Record until Monday and include the final eight days of interviews for the season. Thanks for continuing to tune in.

Happy Sunday and enjoy!

Sunday, August 18, 2013 – Manager Steve Buechele


Steve Buechele weighs in on the the previous night’s antics when Odor knocked a walk off single for the second straight night. He gives his take on late-game enthusiasm and how close the ‘Riders came to blows with the Drillers Saturday night. He tries to explain the late fielding blunders for the club and what he expects of Neil Ramirez, who would make his final appearance for the club that night.  (w/ Alex Vispoli)

Tuesday, August 20, 2013 – LHP Richard Bleier


Relief pitcher Richard Bleier joined the RoughRiders after a rocky start to his season in Triple-A. He talks about dealing with the adversity and disappointment of demotion back to Double-A and how he has rebounded to have a strong year out of the ‘Riders bullpen. He recalls the decision to shave his beard in the middle of the season and remembers his time at Florida Gulf Coast. (w/ Alex)

Wednesday, August 21, 2013 – Hitting Coach Jason Hart


Hitting coach Jason Hart joins the pregame show and talks about the newest RoughRiders like Ryan Rua and Kalian Sams as well as how he tries to improve as a hitting coach. Getting close to the end of the season, he explains how he keeps the hitters motivated and focused through the end of the season. (w/ Alex)

Thursday, August 22, 2013 – 2B Rougned Odor


Translated by Arlett Mavare, Rougned Odor explains to Alex about his adjustment to the Texas League and what it was like to have back-to-back nights in which he collects a walk off hit. He talks about the importance of staying with his double play partner Luis Sardinas and the stock he places in the Moniker Madness competition put on by Minor League baseball to crown the best name in the sport. (w/ Alex)

Friday, August 23, 2013 – Jason Cole of Baseball Prospectus


Jason Cole of Baseball Prospectus sits down before the ‘Riders’ last game in San Antonio to discuss the trio of new ‘Riders pitchers: Luke Jackson, Jerad Eickhoff and Nick Martinez. He breaks down the play of Luis Sardinas and speculates on potential September call-ups to the Rangers. (w/ Alex)

- Nathan

Baseball term of the day: baseballese – the overall language of baseball, comprising official terminology, slang, and jargon. 

(term from The Dickson Baseball Dictionary)

Alums 107 and 108: Joey Butler and Tanner Roark make their MLB debuts as told by Twitter

In the top of the ninth, well after midnight central time, in a 10-3 Rangers lead last night, Joey Butler made his Major League debut. Pinch-hitting for Leonys Martin, Butler lined out to second base and then played right field in the final inning of the Rangers win.

The former Frisco RoughRiders outfielder, who spent 2010 and the first part of 2011 in a ‘Riders uniform has hit, hit and then hit some more as a minor leaguer. The right-handed swinger has an OPS of near 1.000 against LHP this season, making him a good candidate to help patch up the gaping hole left by the suspension of Nelson Cruz.

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Joey Butler’s minor league numbers:

Year Age Tm Lev G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG
2008 22 Spokane A- 62 271 226 35 68 8 5 4 31 9 4 40 54 .301 .417 .434
2009 23 Bakersfield A+ 134 574 522 82 146 33 1 12 76 6 4 46 146 .280 .343 .416
2010 24 Frisco AA 132 573 516 67 143 26 6 10 58 8 6 47 120 .277 .340 .409
2011 25 2 Teams 126 529 470 84 147 28 5 14 61 15 5 50 154 .313 .388 .483
2011 25 Frisco AA 13 55 44 11 10 1 0 2 4 2 1 7 16 .227 .382 .386
2011 25 Round Rock AAA 113 474 426 73 137 27 5 12 57 13 4 43 138 .322 .388 .493
2012 26 Round Rock AAA 137 584 493 93 143 28 1 20 78 6 4 79 128 .290 .392 .473
2013 27 Round Rock AAA 97 401 348 54 101 21 0 10 44 1 2 45 94 .290 .375 .437
6 Seasons 688 2932 2575 415 748 144 18 70 348 45 25 307 696 .290 .372 .442
AAA (3 seasons) AAA 347 1459 1267 220 381 76 6 42 179 20 10 167 360 .301 .386 .470
AA (2 seasons) AA 145 628 560 78 153 27 6 12 62 10 7 54 136 .273 .344 .407
A- (1 season) A- 62 271 226 35 68 8 5 4 31 9 4 40 54 .301 .417 .434
A+ (1 season) A+ 134 574 522 82 146 33 1 12 76 6 4 46 146 .280 .343 .416
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 8/8/2013.

Six hours earlier, ‘Riders starting pitcher circa 2009 and 2010, Tanner Roark made his debut on a major league hill in the nation’s capital, with the Washington Nationals against the Atlanta Braves. Part of the Christian Guzman trade of 2010, Roark was arguably the most effective pitcher for either side last night. He faced the minimum in two innings and allowed just one baserunner, a single by B.J. Upton. It took Tanner just 15 pitches to record six outs.

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Tanner Roark’s minor league numbers:

Year Age Tm Lev Aff W L ERA G GS IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP BB/9 SO/9
2008 21 3 Teams TEX 3 6 6.23 22 5 52.0 59 44 36 10 25 59 1.61 4.3 10.2
2008 21 Rangers Rk TEX 2 1 0.73 7 0 12.1 9 2 1 0 3 11 0.97 2.2 8.0
2008 21 S. Illinois Ind 0 2 21.41 3 3 9.2 23 25 23 5 9 11 3.31 8.4 10.2
2008 21 Bakersfield A+ TEX 1 3 3.60 12 2 30.0 27 17 12 5 13 37 1.33 3.9 11.1
2009 22 2 Teams TEX 11 1 3.02 34 13 104.1 85 36 35 6 34 100 1.14 2.9 8.6
2009 22 Bakersfield A+ TEX 10 0 2.70 29 9 86.2 68 27 26 5 27 91 1.09 2.8 9.4
2009 22 Frisco AA TEX 1 1 4.58 5 4 17.2 17 9 9 1 7 9 1.35 3.6 4.6
2010 23 2 Teams 11 6 3.77 28 23 141.0 148 70 59 13 42 108 1.34 2.7 6.9
2010 23 Harrisburg AA WSN 1 1 2.50 6 6 36.0 35 13 10 5 9 33 1.22 2.2 8.2
2010 23 Frisco AA TEX 10 5 4.20 22 17 105.0 113 57 49 8 33 75 1.39 2.8 6.4
2011 24 Harrisburg AA WSN 9 9 4.69 21 21 117.0 125 64 61 10 39 92 1.40 3.0 7.1
2012 25 Syracuse AAA WSN 6 17 4.39 28 26 147.2 161 89 72 14 47 130 1.40 2.9 7.9
2013 26 Syracuse AAA WSN 9 3 3.15 33 11 105.2 85 43 37 6 20 84 0.99 1.7 7.2
6 Seasons 49 42 4.04 166 99 667.2 663 346 300 59 207 573 1.30 2.8 7.7
AA (3 seasons) AA 21 16 4.21 54 48 275.2 290 143 129 24 88 209 1.37 2.9 6.8
AAA (2 seasons) AAA 15 20 3.87 61 37 253.1 246 132 109 20 67 214 1.23 2.4 7.6
A+ (2 seasons) A+ 11 3 2.93 41 11 116.2 95 44 38 10 40 128 1.15 3.1 9.9
Rk (1 season) Rk 2 1 0.73 7 0 12.1 9 2 1 0 3 11 0.97 2.2 8.0
Ind (1 season) Ind 0 2 21.41 3 3 9.2 23 25 23 5 9 11 3.31 8.4 10.2
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 8/8/2013.

Roark became the 107th RoughRiders alum to make it to the big leagues, and Butler made it 108. That is 13 former RoughRiders who have done so this season. Eight of them have made it to the Rangers (Ortiz, Garcia, Tepesch, Wolf, McGuiness, McClellan, Beltre, Butler). Five have come with other teams (Evan Reed – DET, Scott Rice – NYM, Robbie Erlin – SD, Brad Hawpe – LAA, and Tanner Roark – WAS).

The debuts of both were entertaining follows on Twitter last night–Butler because of his long wait and great minor league track record, and Roark, due to his dominant first ever outing. Instead of some thoughtful analysis of the two debuts…which you can find out there for Roark at the very least…I rounded up my favorite tweets of the two stories, presented to you in chronological order.

This is the first tweet I found that he was getting loose…and his time would come.

I think we got in there within the statute of limitations.

Me too Seth. Me too.

Fast foward a few hours…props to Evan Grant for getting on the Twitterverse first:

Jeff Wilson, bested by just seconds. Either that, or deferred to the longer tenured beat writter:

Okay – “Nelson Cruz” replacement? A bit strong, although you aren’t the first to categorize it this way.

Great work by somebody in this department (I can’t take credit).

Well put Anthony. And they will stay undefeated in the “Joey Butler era” for at least another day.

- Nathan

Baseball term of the day: saturated curve – a spitball  

(term from The Dickson Baseball Dictionary)

Frisco RoughRiders Roundtable podcast: Mystery Meal

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Ted Price of DallasSportsNetwork.tv informed us this morning that he has posted the third RoughRiders Roundtable of the season (#12 overall).

You can find the podcast entry by clicking here. 

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

In this episode Alex, Nathan, and Jason Cole (of LoneStarDugout.com) talk about how the Major League trade deadline is affecting the ‘Riders. Hear Alex’s overly descriptive post-game meal story from San Antonio and the potential impact of Lisalverto Bonilla and Alex Claudio with the big league club in the years to come.

Enjoy!

- Nathan

Baseball term of the day – carry the mail – to steal a base

(term from The Dickson Baseball Dictionary)

The second RoughRiders Roundtable of the season is here!

The latest episode of RoughRiders Roundtable Podcast is now posted.  You can find the entry by clicking here.

Alex Vispoli, Nathan Barnett and Jason Cole of Lone Star Dugout –along with producer Ted Price – team up to discuss the ups and downs of the ‘Riders’ first half of the 2013 season.

In the season’s second episode of the podcast (#11 overall), the three talk about Frisco’s first baseman Brett Nicholas and outfielder Teodoro Martinez.  Nathan also speaks with newcomer outfielder Joe Benson on his start in the Rangers system.  The pitching of reliever Wilmer Font and the injury of Roman Mendez are also discussed.

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

-Ryan

Baseball term of the day: pound the pavement-To swing at and miss a pitched ball

Mike Olt’s Return to Frisco

Last night, Rangers pitcher Alexi Ogando pitched six solid innings for the RoughRiders in a rehab start, and allowed two runs, including a home run, on four hits while striking out four.

Mike Olt also made his return to Frisco last night against the Tulsa Drillers, though Ogando’s rehab assignment seemed to overshadow the third baseman’s return to the ‘Riders. Olt went 1-for-4, striking out swinging his first two at-bats. In the sixth, Mike flied out to the left warning track, just feet away from knocking it over the wall and then in his final at-bat in the eighth, Olt slammed a two-run home run over the left wall.  Frisco beat the Drillers 7-4.

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See Mike Olt’s two-run blast in his return to Frisco.

After hitting a Texas League- and RoughRiders-best 28 home runs last year, and despite getting called up to the big leagues in early August, Olt has struggled this year, opening this season at Triple-A Round Rock where he hit just .139 in 20 games with one home run with the Express before being placed on disabled list with vision problems.

Olt_BP1

Mike Olt at batting practice before Friday night’s game agains the Tulsa Drillers

Other links 

MLB.com contributor Christian Corona spoke with Olt about his vision issues last night prior to the game.

Following Frisco’s victory, Josh Jackson, contributor for MiLB.com, talked with Olt about his return:

“It feels really good to finally be able to feel like myself again,” Olt said. “Obviously, when we couldn’t figure things out and I couldn’t see the ball, that was a frustrating time. Tonight it felt good to just work toward finding my normal timing and being able to see the ball.”

Jason Cole of LoneStarDugout.com caught up with Olt this week in Surprise, AZ at extended spring training during his rehab for an interview about the vision troubles. (Note: Subscription to Lone Star Dugout needed to view the article.)

Mike Olt was the 49th overall pick in the 2010 draft pick by the Texas Rangers.  The Newberg Report recapped day one of the 2010 Rangers draft picks on June 8, 2010 with this scouting report on Olt coming out of UConn:

The 21-year-old has good hands and feet, solid range, and a strong arm from third. There are holes in his right-handed swing – he struck out 54 times in 264 at-bats this season – but the bat speed is there, and scouts believe in his approach at the plate and coachability. It’s been a long time since third base was so uniformly thin in the big leagues, and in Olt the Rangers see a player they obviously believe could give them an developmental asset, particularly if he can make more consistent contact and take advantage of his power potential while providing lockdown defense at third.

Baseball Term of the Day: Monster shot – a tremendous home run out of the ballpark

-Ryan

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

It’s Sunday.

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

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

April 21, 2013 – Manager Steve Buechele


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

April 22, 2013 – Hitting Coach Jason Hart


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

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


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

April 24, 2013 – LHP Jimmy Reyes

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

April 25, 2013 – Pitching Coach Jeff Andrews


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

April 26, 2013 – RHP Ben Rowen


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

April 27, 2013 – Catcher Tomas Telis

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

- Nathan

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

The 10 best ways to keep up on the Rangers and the farm system

In my digging to learn everything I can about the Rangers farm system, I have come across a number of great websites and writers that cover this system extremely well. The Rangers fanbase is blessed by its coverage, especially since DFW is not a baseball town. There are a number of very talented folks out there working hard to give you tidbits and insight on the big league team and the youngsters on the way.  I was hard pressed, but here is the list of the 10 Rangers minor league/major league must reads:

Top 10 Rangers major league and minor league resources

1. LoneStarDugout

A definitive source to the Rangers minor league system, especially at the lower levels. Jason Cole has a tremendous reach and connections within the organization and in the scouting circles  His work with Baseball Prospectus takes him away from his work with this site at times, but it is incredible stuff. Outside of the national scouts covering Rangers prospects on the rare occasion, you won’t find better scouting information on Rangers farmhands. He does a good minor league recap on a more-or-less-daily basis of all the affiliates, and I absolutely love his player Q&A’s. He talks to players in the system that no one else does. While everyone else is going gaga over Profar, Olt and Alfaro, Jason shows us why we need to pay attention to Nick Williams, Nomar Mazara and Joey Gallo. For you Rangers minor league junkies, this is a must read. Unfortunately some content is behind a pay-wall, but if you are a die-hard, it is worth the cost.

2. Baseball Time in Arlington (BBTiA)

Run by Joey Matschulat and Mike Hindman, BBTiA is a fun mish-mosh of Rangers coverage. Joey “Matches,” as he is known in the Rangers community, is the more prolific of the authors (they do have others that contribute sometimes as well), but Hindman’s posts are often longer, a bit more creative and on the opining side. Either that, or he is telling some good war stories. Matschulat’s puts up some great sabermetrics-y posts on occasion for the number-crunchers of you out there, which is the highlight of the site for me. Jason Parks used to write for this publication before he joined Baseball Prospectus, so you know they are doing the right thing over there.

3. The Newberg Report

Emotional, stream-of-conscious driven, passionate, yet also analytic and well-written and absolutely optimistic, the Newberg Report is one of the longer-standing Rangers blogs. Well, really it began as an e-mail list, which you can still sign up for. Jamey Newberg was ahead of his time, covering the Rangers farm system inside-and-out beginning in 1998, well before many saw the hunger of baseball fans for this kind of coverage. His brand has really exploded in recent years, as he has expanded to his own website and MLB-recognized blog, not to mention a brief stint making Rangers farm system videos that played at Rangers Ballpark during games a few years back. Since the team has turned things around at the big league level, Newberg writes more about the major league team now than he used to, but he still provides some juicy tidbits on the up-and-comers. I think Newberg is at his best when has the chance to go down to Spring Training and Fall Instructs. Newberg does an excellent job of painting the picture of the minor leaguers as people, not just baseball “tools.” He has a great eye for the intangibles. He wrote this about Elvis Andrus in 2007, just after the Mark Teixeira trade, and now we all know how spot-on he was:

For some players, the ball just sounds different coming off their bat.  Some can spin a breaking ball in such a way that you know the hitter has no chance before the pitch is halfway to the plate.  There are others . . . who you can tell are different simply by how they carry themselves.  

 I’m struggling as to how to explain it.  It’s not really a swagger that [he] has.  It’s more of a comfortable magnetism.  He reminds me of a feature tailback, or a really good cover corner, with that smile that says he knows he’s going to beat you more often than not.  He’s going to be a leader.

Another great component of the Newberg Report is the Rangers Farm Report, authored by Scott Lucas, who writes a daily recap of the Rangers action at all the minor league levels. It’s a convienent way to keep on the affiliates, especially since if you simply subscribe, it comes straight to your e-mail inbox.

4. Lone Star Ball

This is actually Adam Morris' twitter image. So you know he can't be boring.

This is actually Adam Morris’ twitter avatar, so you know he can’t be boring.

A very diverse set of commentary and quips, Lone Star Ball (LSB) is without a doubt one of my favorite Rangers reads, especially since there is so much Rangers content out there. LSB is unique. Adam Morris is the guru behind it, who I was first introduced to by Ted Price’s Rangers Podcast in Arlington. Morris can come off as surly at times, but that is an enjoying changeup in a pretty optimistic market. It makes for a great follow on twitter too (@LoneStarBall). Everything from newspaper-ish rundown of the day’s Ranger game to simply embedding offensive numbers from a Rangers affiliate from baseball reference to one of the more entertaining posts I’ve read this season, Lone Star Ball has a little something for everyone. 

5. Express Tracks

The blog of the Rangers Triple-A affiliate, the Round Rock Express, Express Tracks is a fun way to be in touch with the Round Rock community. Good especially for those living in the surrounding areas, they do some fun interactive things with the fans through their blog. Like us here at the Riders ‘Insider Blog, they are committed to covering their team as well with some nice analysis and feature stories on the guys on the farm.

6. Texas Rangers Report (ESPNDallas.com)

With an excellent team of reporters, ESPNDallas has put their full weight behind the Rangers since signing the Rangers broadcast to their radio lineup before the 2011 season. Richard Durrett, Todd Wills and Sahadev Sharma (among others) write multiple posts every day covering the Rangers. Probably the most exhaustive source out there, following the site on an RSS reader can be overwhelming, but they do a fantastic job. This is also home to my favorite weekly read on the Rangers, Wash’s Wisdom, which is now authored by Todd Wills.

7. Foul Territory (part of Star-Telegram.com)

Foul Territory is the Star-Telegram’s Rangers beat. Jeff Wilson and Drew Davison do a nice job and occasionally cover the minor league teams as well. Drew has made it out to a game here at Dr Pepper Ballpark this year and comes periodically to ‘Riders games. Good daily coverage for all things Rangers. Similar to ESPNDallas’ coverage and also to SportsDayDFW.

Awesome photo from Tepesch's debut this season (Kelley Gavin, Letters from Elysian Fields, 2013)

Awesome photo from Tepesch’s MLB debut this season (Kelly Gavin, Letters from Elysian Fields, 2013)

8. SportsDayDFW (powered by the Dallas Morning News)

Evan Grant. Enough said. Well, okay, I’m long-winded, so I won’t stop there. Grant is arguably the most respected Rangers beat-writer in the market and for good reason. The Dallas Morning News was smart to keep their Rangers coverage alive and get Evan Grant back on board after his brief stint with D Magazine’s Insider Corner blog. His work alone make this site worth a look, but the contributors are all solid. Like ESPN Dallas and Foul Territory, the DMN’s coverage will hit every issue and topic with the team. Reading all three can be repetitive, so find the writers you like the most.

9. The Sports Page Weekly

Home of a weekly piece on the RoughRiders, The Sports Page Weekly is your home to some exclusive content for your favorite DFW sports teams. They do some nice off-the-beaten path stories and their style is a refreshingly more in-your-face alternative in a pretty calm media market. Plus they even PRINT IT, which you know, is pretty rare these days, so bravo to the bastions of paper and ink!

10. Postcards from Elysian Fields

The blog of T.R. Sullivan. I think most of you know to go to TexasRangers.com to get news, so I didn’t include it. Sullivan is a writer for MLB.com covering the Rangers, and when he posts here, the blog has some good stuff. Plus it is my favorite named blog on the list, so it earned a spot. There are some incredible photos from Rangers’ photographer Kelly Gavin here as well…an enjoyable weekly scroll at the very least because of that.

Honorable Mention

Sweet Spot in Baseball – unique photos and commentary from Kaylan Eastepp, the Rangers Director of Interactive & Social Media. She has exclusive access to the Rangers players in non-baseball situations. Want to see Tanner Scheppers feeding birds or Elvis Andrus answering FSSW’s Emily Jones’ cell phone? This is the place for you.

Pitcher Josh Lindbloom feeding a chicken, not too many places have this kind of access (Courtesy of

Pitcher Josh Lindbloom feeding a chicken, not too many places have this kind of access (Kaylan Eastepp, Sweet Spot in Baseball, 2013)

DallasSportsNetwork – Home of the RoughRiders Roundtable, Ted Price puts together some of the most unique content of Dallas sports conversation out there. From the excellent Rangers Podcast in Arlington to the TCU “Frogs O’ War,” if its DFW sports, Ted has you covered, bringing a long-form discussion to the teams you love the most with the people qualified to talk about them. Great stuff for the morning commute.

Spokesman-Review – Indians Coverage – Just a local paper in Spokane, Washington. But they do a really nice job covering the Rangers Short-Season A team, the Spokane Indians. The Indians start their season in June.

MLB Trade Rumors – Texas Rangers Feed – A MUST read for any Rangers fan around the trading deadline and in the winter at the very least. This is not a Rangers-specific site, so I didn’t include it on the list, but they are THE source for trade rumors, many of which, of course, include some of our favorite RoughRiders and former ‘Riders, so it’s relevant stuff. I remember reading or hearing somewhere that many GMs even use this site to keep up on news because they are so good at what they do. I can’t find where I heard that though, so I might just be making that up. Even still, it could be true.

Minor League Ball – Another more general baseball site but a great follow for the minor-league aficionado. John Sickel’s “Minor League Ball Gameday” posts are great. Basically it points out the best minor league story lines from yesterday and what to look out for today. Some occasional college-ball content as well, which is nice if you miss the metal bat every now and then.

B3: Big, Bald and Beautiful – Jonanthan Mayo is a senior writer for MLB.com and is very respected in the baseball world. This is his prospect blog. He doesn’t write too often, but when he does, he usually focuses on the top prospects in the game. A good, simple, straightforward read. And he doesn’t write too much, which is nice because it’s never an overwhelming addition to your list.

MiLB.com’s PROSPECTive Blog – Similar to the last one but they post a bit more often. Plus they have pretty pictures. Some good stuff on Profar the last month or so on this site.

And a blog I wish would come back:

Beachbound & Down – Run by former Myrtle Beach Pelicans broadcaster Joel Godett, who is now the voice of Ball State men’s basketball and football, I am told this might be down for good. Hopefully we see something out of the Pelican’s blogosphere soon; I doubt the name will be this great though.

How do I keep track of all of this?

feedlyWell, if you don’t already have an RSS reader you use, I would recommend getting one. It makes life easier in the expansive interwebs. Google Reader is my favorite: the simplest and the most popular…but is also getting canned in July. Instead of waiting for the death-date, I ripped off the band-aid and moved on over to Feedly. I am a fan. A pretty big fan actually. But, don’t take my word for it, there are plenty of options out there. Happy Reading!

HEY!!! You forgot my favorite Rangers news source! 

Did I? Well, let us know! We are always looking for more resources, and your fellow readers are as well. Post a comment with other sources of Rangers news!

Oh, and game notes are here for tonight’s game! Broadcast hits the airwaves at 6:40 for the 7:05 start for Nelson W. Wolff Municipal in San Antonio.

- Nathan

Baseball Term of the day: huckleberry – a rookie

First RoughRiders Roundtable of the year is up!

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

You can find the podcast entry by clicking here. 

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

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

Enjoy!

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

More of a good thing

Your next-best option if you can't make it to Dr Pepper Ballpark this season.

Your next-best option if you can’t make it to Dr Pepper Ballpark this season.

In case you missed it yesterday, the ‘Riders announced that this season fans in the Metroplex will be able to watch 20 Frisco home games on television, up from ten games in 2012.  You can watch the games on KTXD-TV, the Addison-based station that airs local Texas news and Me-TV programming.  This is great news for ‘Riders fans because basically, if you have a TV and live in North Texas, you’ll be able to watch those games.

According to KTXD’s website, here’s how to find the station based on the different cable providers:

  • AT&T: Channel 47
  • Charter: Channel 22
  • Direct TV: Channel 47
  • DISH: Channel 47 & 8414
  • Grande: Channel 99
  • Time Warner: Channel 24 & 428
  • Verizon: Channels 18 & 518

For most of the games, I’ll be joined on the broadcast by my good friend Jason Cole of Lone Star Dugout and Baseball Prospectus.  Jason does a terrific job covering the entire Rangers farm system from top to bottom and knows the personnel better than anyone outside of Texas’ own front office.  He takes scouting trips to see all of the affiliates play during the season, even the lowest level stateside team out in the Arizona League, so very little escapes him when it comes to prospect (and non-prospect) knowledge.  Arguably, Jason’s greatest quality is the restraint he shows in not smacking me around after I make a terribly corny joke on the air.  We’ll be testing those limits with 20 TV games this year.

Here’s the full list of RoughRiders broadcasts in 2013:

  • Saturday, April 13 (7 p.m.) vs. Arkansas Travelers
  • Friday, April 26 (7 p.m.) vs. Corpus Christi Hooks
  • Saturday, April 27 (7 p.m.) vs. Corpus Christi Hooks
  • Sunday, April 28 (4 p.m.) vs. Corpus Christi Hooks
  • Friday, May 3 (7 p.m.) vs. San Antonio Missions
  • Saturday, May 18 (7 p.m.) vs. San Antonio Missions
  • Sunday, May 19 (4 p.m.) vs. San Antonio Missions
  • Saturday, June 1 (7 p.m.) vs. Tulsa Drillers
  • Saturday, June 15 (7 p.m.) vs. Corpus Christi Hooks
  • Sunday, June 16 (4 p.m.) vs. Midland RockHounds
  • Friday, June 21 (7 p.m.) vs. Corpus Christi Hooks
  • Saturday, June 22 (7 p.m.) vs. Corpus Christi Hooks
  • Friday, July 5 (7 p.m.) vs. Arkansas Travelers
  • Saturday July 6 (7 p.m.) vs. Northwest Arkansas Naturals
  • Sunday, July 14 (6 p.m.) vs. San Antonio Missions
  • Friday, August 2 (7 p.m.) vs. San Antonio Missions
  • Saturday, August 3 (7 p.m.) vs. San Antonio Missions
  • Saturday, August 17 (7 p.m.) vs. Tulsa Drillers
  • Saturday, August 24 (7 p.m.) vs. Midland RockHounds
  • Friday, August 30 (7 p.m.) vs. Corpus Christi Hooks

- Alex

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