Results tagged ‘ Jeff Andrews ’

‘Riders on the Record: Final Words

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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.

An extra long edition this week with a double-dose of the skipper and a season finale chat with Jeff Andrews is here! It’s been a pleasure posting these each week. Thank you for your support of the Insider Blog and ‘Riders on the Record this season. We hope you enjoyed getting to hear from everyone this season. Highlights for the final edition include Phil Klein on his position on a football field, Nick Tepesch on being named the Rangers’ fifth starter and Randy Henry on how he can improve upon his stellar season.

Happy Monday and enjoy!

Sunday, August 25, 2013 – Manager Steve Buechele


After a tumultuous weekend in which the bullpen has been severely taxed, the manager Steve Buechele assesses the state of the ‘pen and who could have been on the mound among the position players. He discusses why Luke Jackson was removed in the midst of a no-hitter and explains the quick success of Nick Martinez in Double-A. (w/ Alex Vispoli)

Monday, August 26, 2013 – Catcher Zach Zaneksi


The RoughRiders catcher Zach Zaneski comes on to talk about his offseason plans and the end of the RoughRiders season. With Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez in town, Zach tells us what kind of wisdom the future Hall-of-Famer has shared with the ‘Riders backstops. (w/ Nathan Barnett)

Tuesday, August 27, 2013 – RHP Phil Klein


For the first time in his pro career, Phil Klein was the starting pitcher. He talks about keeping his routine consistent and how excited he was to get the nod. In preparation for our fantasy football post on the RoughRiders Insider Blog, I also asked Klein where he would play on a football team. (w/ Nathan)

Wednesday, August 28, 2013 – 1B/C Brett Nicholas


Brett Nicholas put together a career year in 2013. He was named to the Texas League Post-season All-Star Team and a member of the Arizona Fall League the previous day, and he talks about the significance of both in the larger picture of his career. Hovering around a .300 batting average, Brett weighs in on the importance of that number to him as well. (w/ Nathan)

Thursday, August 29, 2013 – 3B Ryan Rua


Fresh off his walk-off grand slam, Ryan Rua reflects on the best moments of his career. He looks back at his breakout season and assess the progress that he has made this year as well as his adjustment to Double-A pitching. (w/ Nathan)

Friday, August 30, 2013 – Rangers Rehabber Nick Tepesch


Rangers rehabber Nick Tepesch talks about his first ever rehab. He shares his story from Spring Training that ended in the nod as the Rangers #5 starter and the development of his slider that has helped him make the leap. He also explains how quick teams and players are to adjust at the big league level. (w/ Nathan)

Saturday, August 31, 2013 – RHP Randy Henry


RoughRiders reliever Randy Henry is putting the finishing touches on a spectacular season in his year at Double-A. Battling an elbow injury, Henry was one of the more dominant pitchers in the Texas League this season. He evaluates his year and pinpoints places for future improvement. (w/ Alex)

Sunday, September 1, 2013 – Manager Steve Buechele


For the final time, the ‘Riders skipper joins our own Alex Vispoli on the pregame show to discuss the end of the season. He gives his take on the significance of a .500 record and shares his plans for the offseason. (w/ Alex)

Monday, September 2, 2013 – Pitching Coach Jeff Andrews


On the final day of the season, Pitching Coach Jeff Andrews sits down to assess his pitching staff at season’s end. He talks about the development of Luke Jackson and Nick Martinez, including the significance of his Jackson’s unconventional mechanics and Martinez’s baseball smarts. A big league coach in 2008 with the Pirates, he explains the value of coaching in the majors and what he learned in his season in Pittsburgh.

- Nathan

Baseball term of the day: sky piece – baseball cap

(term from The Baseball Thesaurus)

‘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. 

Catching up with… Ross Wolf

Ross Wolf appeared in 11 games for the Oakland Athletics in 2010, posting a 4.26 ERA in 12.2 innings. (Angel_Blue)

Right-handed relief pitcher Ross Wolf spent most of 2012 with the RoughRiders after signing with the Rangers organization in late April.  The recently-minted 30-year-old appeared in 36 games for Frisco and went 3-1 with a 2.09 ERA and nine saves.  He was an 18th round draft pick of the Marlins in 2002 and made his Major League debut for Florida in 2007; Wolf also pitched for the Oakland Athletics in 2010.  He recently re-signed with Texas and took the time to talk with me about the off-season, his disappointing playoff performance in September and his path back to the big leagues.

Alex Vispoli: It’s been a busy off-season for you with the birth of your daughter, Emery Shea Wolf, born on 10-11-12.  She must be keeping you busy.

Ross Wolf: I know [laughs].  Her due date actually wasn’t until the 18th of October, which is my birthday, which is kind of weird because our son was born a week early too.  She’s a blessing, just like our son is.  She’s healthy, that’s number one.  And my wife is doing good too, so that’s number two.  And right now we’re both getting along good.  I mean, [both of our kids], they’re going to keep me busy.

AV: Are you getting much sleep?

RW: She’s actually letting us sleep at night which is what our son did.  As of right now she’s not any different that the way our son was.

AV: From a timing standpoint, it probably couldn’t work out any better for a baseball player than to have your baby born in October.  You’ve got a few months where you can just completely devote yourself to family time before getting into the swing of the season.

RW: Alex, you said it.  I’ve played with guys that were only home for about two or three days and then they had to leave to get back into the season.  You know, that would hard for the wife and the family.  I’m grateful and blessed enough to have a baby in the offseason so that I can be here for her and them for four or five months before we have to leave.

AV: I know it’s still early in the offseason but have you had a chance to start your preparations for the next season at all?  Or is that in the planning phases; when do you get into that?

RW: I’m getting ready to start working out next week.  I usually take about four or five weeks off after the season and just don’t do anything.  I let my body just relax and mellow out before I start it up again.  When I start it up it will take probably a good four weeks before I hit it hard.  The first four weeks really ain’t tough; it’s just getting back into the groove of things and going from there.

AV: Is that just experience for you as to know what to do with your body or is it something you’ve learned?

Wolf allowed just two runs while with the ‘Riders from May to August. (Alex Yocum-Beeman)

RW: I would say yes.  I think this is my 12th year playing and … I’ve finally found a program that lasts for me during the whole grind of the summer.  It took maybe three or four workout plans to find the right one you like.  I think it comes with experience, I think you’re right.

AV: Congratulations as well on re-signing with the Rangers.  How did that process go for you?

RW: It went good, thank you.  It went really good.  I’m still trying to get a big league invite so hopefully they can give me one.  I know how the Rangers are; they’ve got a ton of prospects.  I mean, you know that too.  They want to see what their young guys can do, but maybe I’ll go over there and pitch a lot and maybe they’ll give me one.  If not, I’m just glad it’s done and they wanted me back pretty badly.  So it’s done and out of the way.  Last year I was stressed out, I mean I couldn’t find a team until a week before Christmas, when teams started calling.

AV: So do you know exactly what your role is?  When would you figure out what your role would be come spring training?  Do you feel like you can make a push at being a guy that they would consider for the big league roster?  It’s looking like there’s going to be a decent amount of turnover with regard to players that were on the team this year.

RW: It’s just hard telling.  Being in the free agency market for six, seven years now, you just never know who they’re going to sign, who they’re going to trade for.  It all comes down to that and going to spring training and showing them that you can pitch for them during the season.  And then going into the season and putting up numbers like we did this summer.  Just go out there and throw strikes and the main thing is have fun.  This team, when I was in Frisco, was probably the most fun that I’ve had in recent years that I can remember.

AV: Yeah, this year it was a great group to be around.  But your role in particular, you had a great year in your time with the RoughRiders.

RW: Thank you.

AV: Did you feel any better this year than you may have in years past?  Was your stuff any better or was it things just coming together for you?

RW: That’s a tough question to answer.  Physically, I felt great, probably the best I’ve felt in the last two or three years.  Stuff-wise, I felt awesome.  I never had a slider, or whatever you want to call it.  Some people call it a hard slider or a big slider or a curveball.  I’ve never had that; usually I have been a fastball-changeup guy, and I really didn’t start throwing my changeup until the middle of August.  Mentally, the guys on the team were so much fun to be with.  You felt relaxed because they went out there and had fun.  They weren’t stressed out because they struck out four times in a row, they would still make a play behind you when you’re on the mound pitching.  I know that they’re young and I hope that they continue to do that down the road, just go out there and have fun.  I was telling my wife it just brought back the joy of the game, just what it’s all about.  Just go out there and have fun and whatever happens, happens.

AV:So that really makes a difference?  For those of us who have not played the game at a terribly high level, it’s easy to look at it all like a video game with guys having certain physical capabilities.  But the fact that it was a good group to be around and that positive mental atmosphere actually – in your case at least – made things easier or helped your performance?

Wolf made his Major League debut for the Florida Marlins in 2007 and went 0-1 with an 11.68 in 14 games, but was used so infrequently that he never could develop a rhythm. (Denis Bancroft/Florida Marlins)

RW: Oh without a doubt.  All the way down to the little things.  We had fun on the bus trips; we had fun in the clubhouse, before and after games.  It helped having Brad Hawpe there too for a little bit for a lot of the guys, and Val [Majewski] of course.  The thing that made it good was that the guys wanted to work.  They wanted to work, they wanted to have fun and they wanted to win.  And, like I said, they hardly hanged their heads when they had a bad day.  You couldn’t tell when they had a good day and when they had a bad day, which is awesome.

AV: When you signed with the Rangers organization I remember that you told me that you heard a lot of great things.  Guys texted you that you were in a good spot.  Was it everything that you heard it was going to be when you signed; was it pretty much that those expectations were fulfilled?

RW: Yes.  I had a bunch of guys text me when I signed with [the Rangers].  Old Triple-A veterans like Ryan Rowland-Smith and the Andy Van Hekkens; the guys that have been around for a while, they texted me and told me congrats.  I would reply with a “thanks” and then they’d always come back and say, “I’ve always heard that Texas treats their players right and they do it the right way.”  After this year, you sit down and think, yeah, they do it the right way, even down to the small things.  Frisco’s a great place to play.  Guys in Double-A for the first time ever are lucky enough to play in a city like that and in a stadium like that.  And then if you get called up to Triple-A [Round Rock], you still have the luxury of playing in a nice stadium in a nice city.  They do it the right way.

AV: You spent parts of two seasons in the big leagues.  Do you view your goal – to get back to the Major Leagues – the same way as you did when you were trying get there for the first time?  Is there any difference, or do take your experiences and try and use them to get you back?

RW: I think both.  Alex, you’ve been around the game too.  Of course players know this as well.  The older you get, the harder it is to get back there.  But, just to have the experience, maybe a team will give you a call up and say, “Let’s see what he can do.”  If [that doesn’t happen, it doesn’t happen].  I sat and had a long conversation about this with [’Riders manager Steve Buechele] one time after a game.  I still haven’t had a chance to prove myself whether I can pitch or not pitch in the big leagues.  I wish a manager would have enough faith in me – I have faith in myself that I can still pitch.  It’s just not how managers in the past have treated me.  When I was with Oakland, I sat for 24 straight days and didn’t pitch in one big league game.  And when was with the Marlins, I pitched once, sat for seven-to-nine days, and then pitched.  If a manager would treat me like they do in the Minor Leagues and pitch me once every day or two, I think I’d be pretty successful in the big leagues.  You always try to get to the big leagues, but if you know you can’t – and that’s not what the case is with me – being back in Double-A with these guys this year, they look to you.  They look to you for questions that need to be answered.  They just look up to you, like, “What should we do in this situation?” or “How should we handle this?” and just little things like that.

AV:So for you, it was probably a no-brainer to return to Texas in the sense that you’ve got a year of capital built up with some people within the organization and people have seen you perform.  So you’re in a better spot to potentially get yourself back up to the big leagues than if you were to start completely anew with an organization that really didn’t know you very well.

The Newton, Illinois native doesn’t look much different from his days as a rookie.

RW: You hit the nail on the head.  That’s one thing about being a free agent, you go in blind, no one knows you.  You’ve got to build this relationship up.  I had a conversation with [Rangers Director of Minor League Operations] Jake Krug and we said that that was probably number one.  Guys in the organization like me.  I wouldn’t have to repeat it again by going to a new team.  I’ll just go into spring training knowing the staff, players, etc.

AV: Going back to the end of this season in the postseason series against Springfield.  How disappointed were you with the way things ended for you, specifically in Game 2?

RW: Oh man, I was very disappointed.  I told Bue after that last game in Frisco, “It’s my bad for Game 2, that was all me.”  And he just smiled and said, “Whatever happens, happens.  You’re the one who helped get us here.  You’ve done as much as you could, you had one bad game.”  I said the same thing to [’Riders pitching coach] Jeff [Andrews] and he said, “Hey man, that’s pitching.  You gave up two, maybe three bush-league hits.  That’s the way baseball goes.  You gave up a bloop flare to center and a ground ball to second base that barely got through.  All those had to do was go to somebody and we’re out of the inning and we win Game 2.”  You know, it’s disappointing, heck yeah.  You go all that way and then lose Game 2 when we needed a “W” for sure.  It’s one of those things where you try not to think about it, but it’s baseball.  You get over it.  I was ready to pitch Game 4, I was ready to go.  I don’t know, that’s just the way it goes.

AV: I think the encouraging thing is, when I recently talked to Bue, I asked him about that series and just the momentum in Game 2.  He said if he could go back and do it again, he’d still probably be ecstatic knowing that he had Justin Grimm and Ross Wolf ready to go with a four-run lead in that situation.  So I definitely don’t think you hurt yourself in the eyes of your manager if he had to make the same choice again.

RW: Oh yeah, for sure.  He told me that too.  It’s just baseball.  You can look at the World Series this year, look at Verlander.  Who would have ever thought that he would get rocked in Game 1?  It’s just how it goes.

AV: So the Colts are your team, right?

RW: Yes.

AV: So tell me, Andrew Luck seems to be pretty legit.

RW: I love watching him play.  I’ve said it for the last two years when he was at Stanford.  And if he didn’t even go to the Colts I’d still be an Andrew Luck fan.  He’s fun to watch.  To me, he’s very competitive, he’s very smart and every Sunday I love watching him play.  And now I’ve got my son, every time a Colts logo comes on TV he’ll say, “Colts!  Andrew Luck!”  It’s very fun and it’s going to be fun watching him play as he develops into a mature player in the NFL, for sure.

AV: That’s awesome.  I’m glad you’re enjoying your time in the offseason.  Congratulations again on Emery Shea Wolf and hopefully she gets the chance to see you pitch for the Rangers in not too long.

RW: Thank you, I appreciate that.

-          Alex V.

Interview with Jeff Andrews

Pitching is a key ingredient to a team’s success. Alex Vispoli interviewed pitching coach Jeff Andrews on May 10 to talk about the early success of the RoughRiders pitching staff this season.

Vispoli: We join you from Whatburger Field with the pitching coach of the RoughRiders Jeff Andrews. Jeff, the first month of so of the season, the numbers would seem to indicate the pitching staff is doing a terrific job but I know you have a more critical eye as to what you’re looking for from these guys so give me an idea what you think of the first month, the way your pitchers have performed and what would you like to see more out of them?

Andrews: I think in the first month, like you said, performed. I think they’ve performed very well. As far as the results and their responsibility to the team and getting outs, not walking guys and doing that thing, I think they’ve done a nice job. Yeah, there are areas where you always want to get better and I think recognizing hitter’s swings and recognizing game situations and where we’re at in the game and who’s up and what part of the lineup is up. I think those are some of the things that these guys kind of need to get a grasp on as the season goes.

Vispoli: An example of that might be the other day where first two men are retired and number eight or nine batter is coming up and a walk to the number eight or nine batter starts to bring up the top of the order. Are those the sort of situations that you’re referring to?

Andrews: Yeah absolutely and knowing what part of the lineup is coming up next inning and pitching around a guy as opposed to, you know, pitching to a guy, understanding, you know, who has power on the other team, who doesn’t have power and all those little nuances that go on when you have to think and especially think on your feet while you’re playing the game. I think we can improve on that.

Vispoli: Now when we spoke to you last on the air, you talked about how you really haven’t worked with some of the guys that were on this team breaking camp, just the way spring training is. Now that you’ve had a month with these guys and maybe with some of the newer guys a little bit less than that, but now that you’re built up a certain amount of time, do you know how you can reach them because everyone’s a little bit different in terms of their personality, who responds to what or what is your method is terms of teaching and getting a guy’s attention when he’s out there on the mound?

Andrews: Well I think paying attention to him is the biggest key. If you can give him evidence and give him examples, for example when you pitched to the third guy last inning this is what happened or when you’re long-tossing this is what happened and you’re not bouncing back maybe because this is what happened or your breaking ball, you’re not being able to get it down and away because you’re over throwing it with two strikes. You’re too excited. Things that you just get while you’re watching the guys and be able to quote certain instances and be able to tell them this is what happened and this is the reason why and that kind of gets their attention. It kind of lets them know that you are watching and you are paying attention and you can bring up certain things and it’s always kind of a double-edged sword in the fact that, you know, you can kind of lead them down the path that you want them to go by giving them the examples that you want them to see and want them to feel.

Vispoli: Tonight’s starter Barret Loux is trying to make it seven wins in seven starts here to begin the season. On the whole, you look at his numbers 6-0, 2.20 ERA but some of his starts have been dramatically better than others. He’s gotten a good amount of run support in some of the outings that he has not been as sharp. What have you seen from Barret when things are going well and when things are not going well? What are the key differences between those two?

Andrews: Obviously when things are going well you’ll have a tendency to work quicker. You’ll have a tendency to take less time between pitches which results in good defense. He’s had great defense behind him, great run support and the relievers that have come in behind him have obviously held every lead that he’s left with. I think he understands that he can pitch better. I think he understands that he can execute better. I think he understands a lot of little, marginal things that he could probably do better. As far as when you get done with the game and just evaluate how he threw the ball and did he throw it where he wanted to and did he change speeds enough, you know, all those things that you’re looking at from a pitching standpoint rather than just the scoreboard, I think he realizes there’s room for improvement. He’s been fortunate to be where he’s at.

Vispoli: Justin Grimm, who also has six wins, obviously off to a tremendous start. It was fun watching him and Griffin go at it the other day, one versus two in ERA, but one thing that I know Justin is trying to work on a little bit is developing a two-seam fastball. Explain the thought process behind that and where he is in terms of his development.

Andrews: His pitch repertoire right now and his arsenal right now is kind of a group of fastball, changeup, curveball, that all kind of stays on the plate. We’re looking for something that can either run to the hands of the hitter or run off the end of the bat and we’re just kind of starting with the sinker to give him that option, to be able to take it to the end of the left-hander’s bat or run it in on a righty. He’s going to need it somewhere down the line and he’s going to need to add some other things as we go but he’s got such a wonderful base right now: the size, the arm strength, the delivery. He’s got such wonderful attributes that it’s fairly simple as far as adding something. You know that you kind of have an idea that it’s going to work before you even ask him to try something.

Vispoli: A few of the relief pitchers, I want to ask you about. Johan Yan, he’s got eight saves this season. He ran into a little bit of trouble in his last outing but Johan, again, he’s one of those pitchers where the numbers would indicate that he’s lights out but he’s gotten into a few situations this year that have been pretty sticky ones. You think back at San Antonio, loading up the bases in a two-run ballgame before eventually working out of it. For Johan, is it purely about making batters swing and miss at his stuff or at least develop little contact because he’s not a hard-throwing guy, a guy who really relies on movement, and it seems like if he is not at least displaying his pitches for strikes then batters are going to wait on him until he does throw something that’s a little bit more hittable.

Andrews: Yeah, that’s pretty good Alex. He’s going to be a guy, it’s just how serious and ready he is to pitch. If he’s ready to pitch and he’s ready to locate the ball, he’s going to have no problem. If he goes out there and he’s not fully locked in and he falls behind in counts and he walks guys and he’s not paying attention to what he’s doing, he’s going to struggle just like any other pitcher but you’re right, he has been what I call lucky in the last few outings and I hope that he takes that to heart and understands why it is and not the fact that he just looks at his numbers.

Vispoli: One pitcher who has not necessarily been lucky, he’s just been good ever since he gave up a home run in his first appearance with us is Chad Bell. I think he’s been terrific over multi-inning stints. He’s put up good numbers throughout his career. What have you seen in what Chad has shown in his first few appearances with Frisco?

Andrews: I think the thing that stands out with me with Chad is he’s been very aggressive with his fastball. That’s kind of the thing, through the grapevine and through the organization, he hasn’t been as aggressive as he needs to be and that’s always been the pushing point to him is to throw the ball over the plate earlier, throw it over the plate more often and he’s done that. He’s been very efficient and he’s throwing two innings in 23 pitches and striking out two or three guys so he’s been very efficient and he is being aggressive. He’s just going to see how he’s going to do when somebody bites back, when somebody, you know, starts to hit him, what’s he going to do. Those are all things that they’re here for, we’re here for in the minor leagues is to see how they react and then be able to use that as a teaching point.

Vispoli: You look at your experience and it doesn’t just include the minor leagues. You were up with Pittsburgh in the big leagues for a bit. I know from talking to the pitchers on the staff that they highly respect everything that you say. Talking to Trevor Hurley, he called you a genius with some of the things that you were telling him but do you think that you’ve just built up so much experience here over the last couple of decades, everywhere you have been, that that helps you connect with guys.

Andrews: I think in a sense yeah. I mean I’ve been doing it for a long time and it’s just like any other business, any other thing you do for a living, the amount of years that I’ve done this. You see you have a tendency to be able to put things into perspective quicker than you used to and put things in perspective as far as what these guys need to advance, what they need to do to become better pitchers, what they need to do to survive at whatever level they’re at talent-wise and those are nice words by Trevor but I don’t know if they’re completely accurate. Maybe old guy would be better than genius but it’s nice to hear that the guys will listen and that they want to get better.

Vispoli: Well as long as you’re at the top of the Texas League in ERA and runs allowed, maybe the tag can apply for you.

Andrews: Well they’re doing that. I mean they’re pitching out of jams and they’re doing a wonderful job of attacking hitters and pitching out of jams and doing all those things. They really are. Bue does a wonderful job of getting them in in the right spots and getting them innings against the right type of hitters that we think these guys can, you know, gain a little confidence and gain some success that’ll lead to, you know, better things down the road.

Vispoli: Jeff, a terrific first month for the pitching staff. Hopefully we see four more months just like the first. Thanks a lot for the time.

Andrews: My pleasure Alex.

RoughRiders Trade Talk

Last week Stephen Harmon examined some prospects in the Rangers system that have tremendously improved their stock since the start of the season.  Now, with the trading deadline approaching this afternoon at 4 p.m. ET, he looks at the Rangers’ top tier prospects who have been linked with trade rumors across MLB.  

For starters, the Rangers’ trade yesterday with Baltimore for Koji Uehara has changed things for Texas entering today. Here is what Richard Durrett of ESPN Dallas says following the deal:

“Instead of having to make a deal at any cost for Heath Bell, for instance, they can continue to negotiate with the Padres and see if San Diego comes off its high price for Bell. If they don’t, then the Rangers can pass. If they do, then Texas can try to strike a deal. The Rangers are still considered one of the favorites for Bell, so we’ll see what happens there.”

With that as a launching point, here are what people are saying about some future, current, and former RoughRider players.

Robbie Erlin

This 20-year-old lefty has generated a lot of interest in the trade market in the past week. Scouts from the Padres, Mets, and White Sox organizations as well as Rangers’ President Nolan Ryan and GM John Daniels were all on hand at Dr Pepper Ballpark last Tuesday night for Erlin’s start against Midland.

According to Durrent, and as tweeted by Jim Bowden of ESPN.com, the Padres and Rangers were, and possibly still are, close on agreeing to a deal that would send All-Star closer Heath Bell to Texas. The centerpiece in the Rangers package of players that would be shipped to San Diego is rumored to beErlin and/or Joe Wieland who just pitched a no-hitter Friday night.  However, the Rangers are hesitant to part with their prospects and believe the Padres’ asking price is too high. On the other hand, Bell is the preeminent closer on the market, and the Rangers have been the most aggressive team pursuing him.

Here in Frisco, Erlin has impressed with his focus and mature composure. Through Erlin’s first eleven games in Frisco, the California native has posted a 5-2 record and a 4.32 ERA. Additionally, he has struck out 61 batters while walking only seven. More amazingly is that the lefty has issued only one free pass through his five starts in July.  Listen to Frisco pitching coach Jeff Andrews talk about Erlin  and Wieland with Bryan Dolgin of 103.3 FM ESPN.

Joe Wieland

At 21-years-old, Wieland has made a impressed through hist first seven starts – even without his no-hitter.

Robbie Erlin may be grabbing the headlines as the Rangers’ most sought after pitching prospect, but Wieland appears to be equally talented. Both players started the season in Myrtle Beach and have, at times, dominated Texas League hitters.

Said Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus, “I talked to a team early this week that told me the Rangers were very high on Wieland and very reluctant to talk about him in deals.”

Martin Perez

Martin Perez, the Rangers number one pre-season prospect according to Baseball America, has also been getting a lot of attention around the rumor mills. However, the Rangers seem unwilling to deal the young left-hander who Keith Law predicts will emerge as a number one or number two starter within five years.

Simply put, Perez appears to be off the market.  Keith Law talks with Bryan Dolgin about Perez and Leonys Martin (not on the market).

Tanner Scheppers

The hard throwing right-hander has impressed with his mid to upper 90’s fastball. According to Jayson Stark of ESPN, Scheppers name has come up in a package presented to the Padres for Heath Bell.

For the most part, we haven’t really heard Scheppers’ name tossed around too much in the last couple of weeks.  The Rangers’ No. 3 overall prospect (Baseball America) has now made 15 appearances out of the Frisco bullpen and with six walks and 24 strikeouts after spending two separate stints on the disabled list this year.

Jurickson Profar

At 18-years-old, Profar may not be ready for the big leagues for a while, but he is worth waiting for. The Rangers have rejected the Padres offer of a Profar/Derrick Holland package for Heath Bell, reports Baseball Time In Arlington.  Similar to Perez, it appears as though Profar is clearly off the market.

The Sunday trade deadline is an exciting time of year in baseball. Thanks to a farm system that is packed with talent from Short-Season Spokane to Triple-A Round Rock, the Rangers have become very active in the rumor mill, as many teams are lured to the Rangers young pitching prospects.

The countdown has been on for a while, but it all comes to an end this afternoon.

Frisco “Bus” ‘Riders

The RoughRiders are about as centrally located as it comes in the Texas League.  However, that doesn’t mean that the bus rides are always short.  Frisco radio broadcaster Aaron Goldsmith lets you ride shotgun on the RoughRiders’ journey Wednesday night from Midland to Corpus Christi.  Before you begin reading, a quick bathroom break is of course recommended. 

9:50 p.m. Thanks to a 6:30 p.m. first pitch, I’m off the air now and can quickly wrap up my

Post-game clubhouse dinner never looked so good.

Post-game clubhouse dinner never looked so good.

post-game work and pack my radio gear to load on the bus.

10:14 p.m. Before every bus ride you have to fuel up – and not just with gas.  After you’ve played for three hours – or in my case talked for three hours – food is a must.  Here’s what was put out for us in the clubhouse in Midland.  I get some BBQ chicken thighs, mac and cheese, and a few small bags of trail mix to take on the bus.  All the players pay “dues” to the “clubbie” who provides the pre- and post-game spread.  Since I don’t pay daily dues, I gave the clubbie $7 for my share of food (I’m that wealthy).

10:33 p.m. After quickly chowing down, it’s time to load up.  Most of the players are already on the bus and, as you can see below, cards is a favorite way to pass the time.  Hitting Coach Brant “Brownie” Brown has already put season one of Las Vegas into the DVD player on the bus for some entertainment.  Brownie is a major movie buff (his favorite is the Matrix)He always brings a good selection of movies each trip.

L to R: Tommy Mendonca's arm, Richard Bleier, Jake Brigham, Mike Bianucci.

L to R: Tommy Mendonca's arm, Richard Bleier, Jake Brigham, Mike Bianucci.

10:40 p.m. Carlos, the best bus driver in the Texas League – and it’s not even close – puts the gearshift in drive and we pull away from the clubhouse and hit the road for Corpus Christi.  Steve Buechele, the ‘Riders manager, is on his laptop, as is Pitching Coach Jeff Andrews.  They’re both working on their post-game player reports that they usually do from the clubhouse.  On get-away-days, however, they’re forced to type from the bus.

11:07 p.m. I’m surprised it took this long, but I finally break out my noise canceling headphones.  A pricy investment, but worth every penny.  Between the movie, the air conditioning, and the noise from the road, the bus is very loud – even if no one is talking.  The one thing giving the noise a run for its money is the temperature.  The bus tends to get incredibly cold.  Even though it was 99 degrees outside when we boarded, I have a pair of grey sweat pants pulled up over my kaki shorts.  (I sense a wedgie mounting an attack within the next few hours).

11:40 p.m. Love my iPhone.  With the MLB At Bat app, I’m listening to the final innings of the Mariners vs. Angles game (the only game in progress at this hour).  I’m not a fan of either team, but after calling four games solo in Midland, it’s nice to hear a voice other than my own (I’m sure others would agree).

1:13 a.m. My first “wakeup” of the trip.  Something you get used to.  On an eight hour trip I’ll probably fall in and out of consciousness at least a half dozen times.  This time it’s for something somewhat rare.  Carlos has pulled the bus over at a rest stop and Boo and Brownie scamper off quickly to use the restroom.  The M’s/Halos game is long over.  No idea who won.  I wonder if people fall asleep like that when I’m broadcasting?  A question I fear asking.  I switch quickly to iTunes and am out again in a few minutes.

2:13 a.m.  Strangely, exactly an hour later I’m up for no particular reason and am thrilled to see that all the cabin lights along with season one of Las Vegas has been turned off.  Heaven.  Sometimes the lights and movie du jour stay on until as late as 4 a.m. making it harder to sleep.  I glance in front of me and see the silhouette of our Strength and Conditioning Coach, Eric McMahon.  He’s wearing a ballcap, sunglasses, and headphones.  Why the sunglasses when it’s dark?  A veteran move.  Especially for us guys who sit near the front of the bus, it helps to darken oncoming headlights, making it easier fall asleep.  Unfortunately I’m officially awake.  With five hours to go, it’s trail mix time.

3:51 a.m. Driving through downtown San Antonio.  Too bad we’re playing the Hooks.

By the time I get off the bus, there's not much left.

By the time I get off the bus, there's not much left.

4:19 a.m. Finally about to fall back asleep when … wedgie.

5:58 a.m. Our Athletic Trainer Carlos Olivas lovingly taps my leg which is stretched across the isle.  This, in the world of minor league bus rides, is a wakeup call.  We’re here.  He darts off the bus because someone has to be in charge of everyone’s room keys.  He’s off to the front desk to check everyone in while I try to wake up.

6:02 a.m. As the players rush pass me to get off the bus I pack up my bag and gather my stuff.  I walk off the bus to find that along with the RoughRiders, the humidity made the trip to Corpus as well.

6:07 a.m. I’m in my room on the 16th floor.  Radio guys always get the Penthouse.  Tonight is game one against the Hooks.  Time to get some sleep.  The bus leaves the hotel for the ballpark this afternoon 4:30.

A view from the Penthouse: Sunrise over the Gulf

A view from the Penthouse: Sunrise over the Gulf

15 Minutes Means Much More

One of the many lessons I have picked up during my time broadcasting baseball is that, ultimately, professional baseball players are just like you and me. They just happen to have a special talent that interests a large group of people.

Josh Hamilton, believe it or not, is just a normal person. I must admit, though, that having him in Frisco is quite an experience. People will look at the home run (spoiler: we will do that here in a moment) as the most memorable moment of an awesome Wednesday night at Dr Pepper Ballpark, but I want to recognize something that happened after the game.

With the lights dimmed and the team in the clubhouse, Hamilton signed autographs for almost 15 minutes for the hundreds of fans who stuck around after the game. It was a classy way to leave by a classy guy, and it capped off a fantastic evening.

Now, more on Hamilton and the RoughRiders in today’s Facts.

FRISCO FACTS:

  • After being off the field for more than a month, Hamilton went to the plate willing to swing and swing early. In his four at bats, he saw only seven total pitches. His home run came on the first pitch of his second at bat.
  • Speaking of that Hamilton homer, you can view it here. By the way, we will be adding some video and audio to that player in the coming days and weeks, so keep an eye out for that. Aaron, Reid and I will all contribute to it. Once we really get it going, I’ll promote it even more on the blog. Don’t claim you didn’t get fair warning about our shameless self-promotion.
  • Hamilton is back in the order batting third and acting as the ‘Riders’ designated hitter. However, Hamilton is the only big leaguer in the lineup. Nelson Cruz will not play for the RoughRiders tonight. He is scheduled to continue his rehab in Triple-A Round Rock this weekend. Ruiz spent three games with Frisco and went 2-for-11, including a hitless effort in four at bats last night. Cruz, like Hamilton, was a blast to have in Frisco.
  • For the second straight day, Jose Ruiz was the hero for the RoughRiders. His third home run in the last five days pushed the ‘Riders ahead 8-6 in the eighth inning. Ruiz is now 8-for-16 with five RBIs and five runs scored in the five games since returning from the temporary inactive list.
  • That Ruiz home run lifted the ‘Riders to their sixth win in seven tries against Midland, and five of those victories have come in Frisco’s last at bat. In fact, in the seven games against the RockHounds, Frisco has scored 12 times in their final offensive inning.
  • Carlos Pimentel struggled yesterday, only lasting into the fourth inning and failing to record an out in that frame. It was the first time since May 5 that a Frisco starter did not last at least five innings. For Pimentel, it was his second shortest outing of the year. He had worked at least five and two-thirds in four of his previous five starts.
  • Today, Chris Mobley will get the call as the ‘Riders’ starter, which is a rare occurrence in his career. Mobley has only made six starts in 304 career outings in affiliated baseball. All six of those game with the Jamestown Jammers, the short-season, New York-Penn League affiliate for the Florida Marlins. By the way, the Jammers’ logo is pretty awesome.
  • Mobley will throw about 60 pitches, or four innings, if all goes to plan. Pitching coach Jeff Andrews likes his ability to get out of jams and his presence as a veteran.
  • Finally, thanks to all of our readers for making us a Top 50 Pro Blog for the month of April based on readership. It is great to crack this list after only a few months of existence, so we thank everyone who makes the ‘Riders Insider Blog a part of their day.

The ‘Riders and ‘Hounds wrap up this four-game series tonight at 7:05. Pre-game begins at 6:35 on the RBN. Enjoy!

- Brian

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