Results tagged ‘ Joe Wieland ’

The RoughRiders’ ghosts of trade deadlines passed

Blog_Trade

So Matt Garza pitched well for the Rangers on Wednesday. He tosses for the Rangers tonight. The newest addition to the organization was acquired on Tuesday from the Chicago Cubs for Rangers starting pitcher Justin Grimm (and 2012 RoughRiders hurler), Round Rock third baseman Mike Olt (and 2012 RoughRiders home run leader), Hickory Crawdads ace C.J. Edwards and….a player to be named later.

Not a ton is known about Edwards in the national media since he is a lower-level guy. It’s from a website with a fantasy baseball focus, but RotoGraphs has a good piece up on what he brings to the table if you are curious.

There is rather strong speculation that the player to be named later (PTBNL) could end up being RoughRiders starting pitcher, and recently placed on the disabled list man, Neil Ramirez:

060513 ram web article

Neil Ramirez, 2013

Search “Neil Ramirez” on Twitter and your browser might explode. OK, it won’t, but there is plenty of speculation out there on the subject. If you are looking for that, here you go.

As someone not on the beat of the Rangers or Cubs, someone who does not communicate on a daily basis with the front office of either side, weighing in on the subject seems meaningless and pointless. As would a look back at Neil Ramirez as a RoughRiders pitcher and Rangers prospect…because, at least for now, he still is a RoughRiders hurler and still could be in a day, a week, a month or a year. (tease: IF he is traded, we will probably do a post on his career as a RoughRiders player…stay tuned! No promises though.)

IF he is indeed traded, he joins a list of RoughRiders traded while on the roster, and looking at the old transactions, there is quite the interesting mix. With the July 31 Trade Deadline fast approaching (Wednesday!), it seemed as good a time as any to look back at the trades made by the Texas Rangers near the trading deadline that involved RoughRiders players.

To qualify for the list, the player had to be on the RoughRiders roster at some point during the same year they were traded, but I excluded some after that filter. Ideally, these are players that were on the ‘Riders roster at the time of the trade, or at least played significant time on the team. Mike Olt, for example, was on the RoughRiders roster for three days this season, but doesn’t seem to really fit the point of this list. He was on the roster in a pseudo-rehab role before returning to Triple-A.

There are also a handful of trades made by Texas in the months of April, May, November and December–I only included deals from June, July and August. If you are interested in this sort of thing, check out baseballreference.com for their trade history machine–it’s pretty neat. Additionally, each player is linked to their baseball reference page, so you can see what those players’ career shaped up like.

Anyway, enough digressing…here it is! An exhaustive list (barring the author’s mistakes and editorial omissions as always) of the Rangers deadline or near-deadline deals involving RoughRiders:

July 21, 2005: The Texas Rangers traded RoughRiders SP Matt Lorenzo to the Atlanta Braves for Kevin Gryboski.

Interestingly enough, Matt Lorenzo went from High-A Bakersfield, the Rangers affiliate at the time to High-A Myrtle Beach, the Rangers current High-A affiliate (then with the Braves). His time in Frisco was brief, making ten appearances, nine starts for the ‘Riders in April and May. He didn’t pitch very well (3-5, 7.14 ERA, 1.99 WHIP) and only reached Double-A one more time in his career. It came with the Pirates in 2006. His tenure in Atlanta’s system didn’t outlast the 2005 season, and his career wrapped up at the conclusion of 2007.

Gryboski on the other hand made 11 largely mediocre appearances for the Rangers in 2005 and signed with Washington the following offseason.

June 29, 2006: The Texas Rangers traded RoughRiders SP Fabio Castro to the Philadelphia Phillies for Daniel Haigwood and cash

Although not a RoughRiders pitcher for very long, his inclusion on the Rangers big league roster for some time made it impossible for me to filter this trade off the list. Yes, Fabio Castro was a Ranger.

For four appearances, the then 21-year-old pitched against the Tigers, Angels, Rays and Diamondbacks as a member of the Rangers. In five outings, four starts, for the RoughRiders Castro went 0-1 with a 1.98 ERA. He went on to pitch well for the Phills for the remainder of 2006, but didn’t have much of a big league career after that. This season, he is pitching in Cancun for Tigres de Quintana Roo in the AAA Mexican League.

July 30, 2006: The Texas Rangers traded RoughRiders RP Bryan Corey to the Boston Red Sox for Luis Mendoza

Bryan Corey made his comeback to the bigs through Frisco in 2006. He was dominant in 13 games for the ‘Riders, saving eight ballgames in 13 appearances with a 2.08 ERA. After 12 games at Triple-A, the Rangers promoted the righthander in June, and he went on to pitch 16 games for the club.

Texas designated him for assignment, however, and got Luis Mendoza in exchange before a team could nab him off the waiver wire. Mendoza would debut in the majors with Texas the following season and is still pitching at the highest level–now for the Royals.

July 31, 2006: The Texas Rangers traded RoughRiders RP Jose Diaz to the Kansas City Royals for Matt Stairs

Attempting a run at the 2006 AL West Crown, the Rangers went out and aquired 38-year-old Matt Stairs, who didn’t hit much for the Rangers (.210/.273/.370) in 26 games down the stretch. Amazingly, Stairs went on to play five more seasons in the big leagues, none of them for Texas.

The cost was Jose Diaz, who got a quick promotion to Triple-A after a stellar start for the ‘Riders in 2006. In eight games, four starts, Diaz posted a 2-0 record with a 1.29 ERA. He pitched in just four games in the majors for the Royals, all coming in 2006. The Rangers actually signed him again in 2008. He pitched for Frisco again, and made it up to Arlington for a single appearance with the big league club. He was last heard from in 2011, playing for the independent Long Island Ducks of the Atlantic League.

July 31, 2006: The Texas Rangers traded RoughRiders RP Jesse Chavez to the Pittsburgh Pirates for Kip Wells

As someone who grew up in Texas and was in high school at the time, I thought I would have remembered this deal. I forgot Kip Wells was a Ranger. That’s because he made two starts for the club and was then shutdown for the remainder of the season with a foot injury. Texas reportedly had some interest in resigning Kip Wells when he became a free agent at the end of the season but did not. Chavez has carved out a decent major league career for himself.

Almost the first man on the list to actual be on the ‘Riders roster when traded, Chavez made 38 appearances before his promotion to Triple-A in late July and was traded after one appearance for the Triple-A Oklahoma City Redhawks (then a Rangers affiliate). Seven years later, he is now in the Oakland bullpen and at age 29, is having the best year of his career.

August 30, 2006: The Texas Rangers traded Mike Nickeas to the New York Mets for Victor Diaz

Finally! We come the first RoughRiders player to be traded at the deadline. The previous men were all ‘Riders at some point during these respective seasons, but Mike Nickeas was an active member of the ‘Riders roster when traded in late August, just prior to the “second trade deadline” which takes place on August 31 (for more info on MLB Transactions rules, go here).

A .248 hitter in 2006 for the RoughRiders, Nickeas was the cost for outfielder Victor Diaz, who hit a little bit for the Rangers in the final month of the season…not enough for Texas to make postseason play, however. After six plus seasons as a Mets farmhand, playing in Major League action in three different seasons, Nickeas is now in the Toronto system, pitching at Triple-A.

Jose Vallejo, 2009

Jose Vallejo, 2009

August 18, 2009: The Texas Rangers traded a PTBNL and Matt Nevarez to the Houston Astros for Ivan RodriguezThe Texas Rangers sent RoughRiders 2B Jose Vallejo (August 20, 2009) to the Houston Astros to complete the trade.

Ah yes. The return of Pudge. Another August move for a push at the postseason, Pudge likely at least filled the seats a bit for the Rangers. Ivan became the primary catcher in a season filled by Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Taylor Teagarden and Kevin Richardson. Vallejo was off the ‘Riders roster and off to Triple-A in early May, never hit much for the Astros organization and never made the majors.

July 9, 2010: The Texas Rangers traded RoughRiders 2B/OF Matt Lawson, RoughRiders SP Blake Beavan, RoughRiders RP Josh Lueke and Justin Smoak to the Seattle Mariners for Cliff LeeMark Lowe and cash.

4536054370_0d31971dc6_z

Blake Beavan, 2010

The trade of the franchise. Right alongside the Josh Hamilton deal as arguably the most positively impactful acquisition in team history, I don’t really need to elaborate here. At least not on the big league side.

On the RoughRiders side, Matt Lawson was a productive RoughRiders hitter, batting .277 in 76 contests for the squad. Beavan was a high-floor Rangers pitching prospect who has since made over 40 starts for the Mariners. As a ‘Rider, the 6’7″ Irving, Texas native went 10-5 with a 2.78 ERA in 2010. He fired 12 quality starts in his total of 17 before the trade. Lueke flashed lights-out stuff for Frisco out of the bullpen, saving five ballgames with 26 Ks in just 18.2 innings as a Texas Leaguer. He has spent parts of the last three seasons in the Show, most recently with Tampa Bay. He is still striking a ton of guys out but with mixed results.

July 29, 2010: The Texas Rangers traded P Omar Poveda and RoughRiders RP Evan Reed to the Florida Marlins for Jorge Cantu.

Jorge Cantu…one of the vaunted additions (along with Guzman just below) that were supposed to help the Rangers get over the hump. Nothing compares to the addition of Cliff Lee this season (how could it!), but Cantu was quite the disappointment. After hitting .262/.310/.409 for the Marlins before the trade, the declining corner infielder hit .235/.279/.327 for the Rangers in 30 games and had a grand total of eight plate appearances in the postseason (going 0-for-8), including one measly at-bat in the World Series.

Poveda was hampered by injuries and never panned out, but Evan Reed, a stalwart of the 2010 RoughRiders bullpen, had an up-and-down minor league jaunt with the Marlins. This April, the Tigers took him off waivers, and he has spent significant time with Detroit’s major league club, making his debut in the majors on May 16 against his former club, allowing a run on two hits to the Rangers. He is currently on the roster getting big leaguers out.

July 30, 2010: The Texas Rangers traded RoughRiders SP/RPs Ryan Tatusko and Tanner Roark to the Washington Nationals for Cristian Guzman.

Guzman was pretty awful for the Rangers (.152/.204/.174) after posting very solid numbers for the Nationals over three plus seasons. In 2012 he was signed by the Indians but released before the start of the season. After not making the postseason roster for Texas in 2010, he never played in a professional game again.

To get him, the Rangers gave up Tatusko, of Newberg Report fame. A solid arm for the ‘Riders that season as well, the righthander went 9-2 with a 2.97, largely as a starter. His last outing as a RoughRiders pitcher was one of his better outings: six shutout innings in a no-decision against the Corpus Christi Hooks at home on July 26. Tatusko tossed a nine-inning complete game shutout on July 16 as well, in an efficient 94-pitch effort over the Hooks at Dr Pepper Ballpark. Tanner Roark was another member of the rotation primarily, splitting his time between the ‘Riders pen and starting quintet. The ‘Riders rotation took quite the hit from this trade…just like they did after the following trade:

July 31, 2011: The Texas Rangers traded RoughRiders SPs Robbie Erlin and Joe Wieland to the San Diego Padres for Mike Adams.

Joe Wieland, 2011

Joe Wieland, 2011

One of the bigger impact trades on the list, the Rangers gave up two very good starting pitching prospects to get one of the best relievers in the National League at the time. For a while it appeared the Rangers would acquire Padres closer Heath Bell, and out of seemingly nowhere, picked up Adams instead.

Erlin and Wieland were both staples of the 2011 ‘Riders rotation. Erlin was 5-2 with a 4.32 ERA in 11 appearances, 10 starts, after his late May promotion from Myrtle Beach. Wieland was not called up from the Pelicans’ squad until mid-June but adapted quickly to Texas League batters. The big righthander was 4-0 with a 1.23 ERA as a RoughRiders pitcher and pitched a nine-inning no-hitter in his final start as a Rangers farmhand on July 29, 2011. This elicited a series of blog posts on this site, including one of my favorite ‘Riders Insider Blog posts of all-time. Both have had big league time with the Padres and still are poised for solid careers.

- Nathan

Baseball term of the day: Ryanitisa mock disease causing faux symptoms that batters used to try and get out of the lineup rather than face Nolan Ryan

(term from The Dickson Baseball Dictionary)

Season in Review: September

For Rangers fans, this shot might elicit bad memories as the Springfield Cardinals celebrate a Texas League championship at Frisco’s expense. (Alex Yocum-Beeman/RoughRiders)

The 2012 Frisco RoughRiders season was an unquestioned success.  The ’Riders won the first half South Division title, finished with an 80-60 record (good for the second-best overall mark in the Texas League) and advanced to the Texas League Championship Series before losing to the Springfield Cardinals.  Along the way, there were standout performances from big-time prospects, thrilling games and terrific storylines.  Before looking ahead to the 2013 season, we look back at a special 2012 campaign that proved to be a memorable one for the ’Riders.

SEPTEMBER

Record: 6-4 (2-1 in RS, 4-3 in playoffs)

Average: .263 (.265 in RS, .263 in playoffs)

Home Runs: 5 (1 in RS, 4 in playoffs)

ERA: 3.13 (3.54 in RS, 2.95 in playoffs)

Top Offensive Players: Jose Felix (.400-0-4, 2 2B, 3 R), Leury Garcia (.275-1-5, 2 2B, 5 R), Chris McGuiness (.278-1-8, 3 2B, 5 R, 6 BB), Tommy Mendonca (.278-1-6, 2B, 2 R)

Top Pitchers: Wilfredo Boscan (2 GS, 0-1, 2.61 ERA, 10.1 IP, 9 H, 3 ER, 6 BB, 8 K), Cody Buckel (2 GS, 0-1, 1.64 ERA, 11 IP, 11 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 14 K), Barret Loux (3 GS, 1-0, 2.77 ERA, 13 IP, 9 H, 4 ER, 5 BB, 13 K), Nick Tepesch (3 GS, 1-0, 2.45 ERA, 18.1 IP, 10 H, 5 ER, 6 BB, 15 K)

Nick Tepesch was the ‘Riders’ most impressive pitcher in the postseason, tossing 13.1 scoreless innings, giving up 4 hits with 9 strikeouts. (Alex Yocum-Beeman/RoughRiders)

After five months, 140 games, 12 off-days and approximately 201.5 hours on a bus, the regular season was in the record books and the playoffs were set to begin.  The RoughRiders clinched a spot back in June after finishing the first half of the season with the best record in the Texas League.  Their opponent in the South Division Championship Series was Corpus Christi, which clinched the second half division title and finished with the best overall mark in the TL (81-59, one game better than Frisco).

As was expected, given their tightly-contested regular season series in late August, the SDCS games were all competitive and full of drama.  But in each contest, the RoughRiders were the team that made the plays they needed to and caught most of the breaks.  The result was an unexpected three-game sweep by Frisco of a team that many anticipated would win the league championship.

The ’Riders were high on momentum from the sweep, but inactivity may have stunted their chances of getting off to a quick start in the Texas League Championship Series.  While Frisco wrapped up its business in short order, the team had to wait to find out their final opponent as Springfield and Tulsa went to a decisive Game 5 of their series in the North Division.  After the Cardinals vanquished the Drillers at home, the ’Riders made the seven-hour bus ride to southwest Missouri.

What followed was (for the most part) a pitching-dominated series that turned in the eighth inning of Game 2 when Frisco failed to hold a big lead and Springfield headed to Texas up in the series 2-0.  Not even a pair of impressive Frisco pitching performances could inspire the RoughRiders’ quiet bats and the Cardinals won the series in four games.

TIMELINE:

September 1: Barret Loux works out of a first inning jam against Midland in his final start of the season, an intentionally abbreviated one-inning outing designed to get him some work before the playoffs.  Jose Felix’ three-run double sparks a six-run second inning and Frisco blows away the RockHounds 10-3.

September 3: On the final day of the regular season, the ’Riders and ’Hounds play extra innings with Midland winning 2-1 in ten frames.  Frisco leaves 13 men on base and wave the white flag in the top of the tenth, putting outfielder Val Majewski on the mound to pitch.  He gives up a run on two hits in his second pitching appearance of the season.  The RoughRiders finish the regular season with an 80-60 record.

September 4: Cody Buckel is named the “Pitcher of the Week” for the Texas League in the final week of the regular season after a pair of terrific performances down the stretch: 2 GS, 10 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 16 K.

September 5 (SDCS Game 1): A matchup of Loux, the TL’s “Pitcher of the Year,” and Corpus Christi’s Paul Clemens (no relation to “The Rocket”) has little flow early, with both teams scoring single runs in the first and second innings.  [Side note: As a present to hitting coach Jason Hart on his 35th birthday, Engel Beltre promises a triple and a run scored to lead off the game; he would settle for a double and run in the first inning.]  The ’Riders gain the upper hand with three runs in the third with Jared Hoying and Guilder Rodriguez – starting at shortstop in the place of recently promoted Jurickson Profar – generating RBI hits.  In the middle innings, the Hooks creep back into the game with runs in the sixth, seventh and eighth innings.  Tied at five in the ninth, Leury Garcia singles and barely scores from first base on a double by Chris McGuiness to send Frisco to a 6-5 walk-off win.

Leury Garcia’s legs and bat were major factors in Frisco’s SDCS win over Corpus Christi. (Alex Yocum-Beeman/RoughRiders)

September 6 (SDCS Game 2): Corpus Christi’s Rob Rasmussen outduels Wilfredo Boscan over the first two-thirds of the ballgame and delivers a 2-0 lead to his bullpen in the eighth inning.  The Hooks’ terrific relief duo of Kevin Chapman and Jason Stoffel, however, fails to protect the precious advantage.  In a replay of the previous night, Garcia reaches on an error and scores on a McGuiness double.  After a strikeout and a walk, Stoffel enters the game with Majewski pinch running at second base and Ryan Strausborger batting.  Strausborger follows with a base hit to right field to bring home Majewski and the tying run, sending Stoffel to just his third blown save of the year.  In the ninth inning, Rodriguez walks and gets to second on a sacrifice, but makes an ill-advised steal attempt of third base and is thrown out, seemingly ending the Frisco rally.  But two pitches later, Garcia stuns everyone in attendance by yanking a solo home run out to right to give the RoughRiders a 3-2 walk-off win.  It’s on to Corpus with a 2-0 lead in the best-of-five game series for the ’Riders.

September 7 (SDCS Game 3): With a raucous crowd of over five-thousand fans on hand at Whataburger Field, starters Nick Tepesch and Ross Seaton proceed to carve through the other team’s lineup.  Tepesch (7 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 4 K on 83 pitches) is particularly dominant, retiring the first 14 men he faces and not allowing a ball to even leave the infield until a fly out in the fifth.  Frisco gets to Seaton in the sixth with McGuiness and Strausborger driving in Beltre and Garcia to put the ’Riders on top 2-0.  The Hooks’ chances with men on base in the sixth, seventh and eighth innings do not materialize into runs and Frisco salts it away with three more tallies in the ninth inning.  Ross Wolf records the final four outs for the save as the RoughRiders win the contest 5-0 and sweep the series in three games.  It’s on to the Texas League Championship Series with the opponent still not determined.

September 9: Springfield beats Tulsa 3-1 in Game 5 of the North Division Championship Series to earn the right to face Frisco for the Texas League’s top prize.  The Cardinals will host the first two games of the TLCS at Hammons Field in Missouri with Games 3 – 5 (if necessary) being played at Dr Pepper Ballpark.

September 11 (TLCS Game 1): Facing live pitching for the first time in four days, the RoughRiders’ bats look a little sluggish.  This problem is exacerbated by having to face hard-throwing Cardinals prospect Carlos Martinez for the first time in 2012.  Martinez (7 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 7 K) unleashes a dizzying supply of 100 mph fastballs – some as late as the seventh inning – and silences Frisco’s offense.  Meanwhile, Springfield scratches across a pair of runs against Buckel and then three more against the ’Riders bullpen to win 5-0.  Rangers catcher Mike Napoli (quad) joins Frisco on a rehab assignment and goes 0-for-2 with a strikeout and a hit-by-pitch.

September 12 (TLCS Game 2):Needing a win to avoid an 0-2 hole, the RoughRiders strike for two unearned runs against control artist Seth Maness and then double their lead on a two-run Napoli homer in the eighth.  After Tepesch (6.1 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 5 K) gives Frisco another impressive performance, the bullpen suffers a meltdown of epic proportions, changing the entire outlook of the series.  Pitching with a 4-0 lead in the eighth, Justin Grimm walks the leadoff man but sets down the next two batters to get the ’Riders to within four outs of a win.  But Grimm gives up a double and a walk to load the bases before the Wolf is summoned.  The normally rock steady closer also falters, giving up four consecutive base hits.  Adam Melker’s RBI single ties it and then Audry Perez’s two-run double gives the Cardinals a 6-4 lead.  Frisco goes on to lose by that score after Keith Butler strikes out the side in order in the ninth inning.  Springfield will head down to Frisco just one win away from a championship.

Barret Loux pitched a gem in Game 3 of the Texas League Championship Series to keep Frisco alive. (Alex Yocum-Beeman/RoughRiders)

September 14 (TLCS Game 3): During in the day, the RoughRiders and Rangers jointly announce that they have extended their Player Development Contract by four more years until 2018, meaning that the teams will remain affiliated for at least six more seasons.  Looking for an extension of the championship series, Frisco trots out Loux to the mound, needing a win to stave off elimination.  The former Texas A&M Aggie delivers a thunderous performance, yielding just one run on two hits with eight strikeouts over 6.1 innings.  The ’Riders efficiently put forth a run in the third inning, two in the fifth, one in the sixth and another in the seventh and win 5-1 to force a Game 4.  After starting the series 0-for-10, McGuiness drives home a run in the seventh inning with a double that is misplayed in the outfield and nearly scores; he is thrown out at home on the play.

September 15 (TLCS Game 4): The RoughRiders and Cardinals play a Saturday night thriller with situational pitching playing a major role.  Springfield blows a base loaded opportunity in the first inning against Boscan, but Frisco can’t take advantage of men in scoring position with no outs in the third or fifth with Scott Gorgen on the mound.  Gorgen, who lost a 1-0 decision to Grimm and the ’Riders on Opening Day of the regular season, strikes out seven batters over six scoreless innings before departing.  Meanwhile, the Cardinals score on a Greg Garcia RBI single after Boscan is chased in the fifth to take a 1-0 lead.  They tack on an important unearned run in the eighth inning after a steal and errors by McGuiness and Garcia get Mike O’Neill home from first base with two outs.  In the bottom of the frame, Garcia hits a slow grounder to third baseman Jermaine Curtis and appears to beat out the throw to first base but is called out by umpire Adam Schwarz.  After the ’Riders argue the botched call, McGuiness hits the very next pitch from Eric Fornataro over the wall in left field for a solo home run to cut the deficit to one.  Tommy Mendonca follows with a single and gets to second base on a fielder’s choice.  Hoying then singles to left and Mendonca, representing the tying run, is waved homeward but gets thrown out by Melker to keep Springfield in the lead.  Mendonca strains his hamstring while sprinting for the plate, ending his season.  In the ninth, Butler allows a two-out single but Beltre grounds out to end the game and the season.  The Cardinals take the game 2-1 and win their first-ever Texas League championship.  In an epilogue to the final chapter of a memorable season, Grimm and reliever Wilmer Font are promoted to the Rangers immediately following the game.  Four 2012 RoughRiders (Font, Grimm, Mike Olt & Profar) end up going to straight to the big leagues during the season, joining three other former Frisco players (Martin Perez, Robbie Ross and Joe Wieland) who made their Major League debuts this year.  In total, 108 players have donned RoughRiders uniforms and reached the highest level of professional baseball.

For everyone associated with the ’Riders, it was a memorable season filled with big-time prospects, tremendous performances and, above all, an excellent team.  To the players, coaches and fans, thanks for being part of a great ride.

-          Alex V.

Former RoughRiders Make Major League Debuts

RoughRiders’ alum Robbie Ross recently won the distinction of having the favorite opening week photo as voted by the fans. On April 18, the Texas Rangers posted the photo poll on their Facebook page. Ross had some stiff competition. Fans could vote for Mitch Moreland talking to Michael Young in the dugout, Josh Hamilton sliding into home plate, Elvis Andrus making a catch over the shoulder, or Robbie Ross making his rookie trot out to the bullpen complete in cowboy gear riding a stick horse. Almost 2,000 votes were cast and Ross won with 35 percent of the vote followed by Hamilton, Andrus, and Moreland and Young.

The rookie has had a stellar season so far in the “Bigs.” He made his major league debut on April 8 this year after earning a spot in the Rangers bullpen during spring training. Ross has a record of four wins and no losses in six appearances, a new MLB record. The ninth-youngest player currently has the most wins and the best win-loss percentage in the American League.

Ross spent most of the 2011 season in High-A Myrtle Beach before making his Frisco debut last August against the Midland Rockhounds. He made six appearances for Frisco ending with a record of one win and one loss. Over the course of 38 innings, he had a 2.61 ERA striking out 36 batters. Ross performed well throughout 2012 Spring Training and earned a spot in the Rangers’ bullpen.

Former RoughRiders pitcher Joe Wieland, who also spent part of 2011 in Frisco, began the 2012 season in Tucson before being called up by the San Diego Padres. He made his major league debut on April 14, 2012 against the Los Angeles Dodgers. He continues to be a vital part of the Padres pitching staff.

Joe Wieland began the 2011 season with Ross in High-A Myrtle Beach and was promoted to Frisco in June. During his time with the RoughRiders Wieland posted a record of four wins and no losses, including a no hitter against the San Antonio Missions who would become his teammates after being sent to the San Diego Padres organization as part of the Mike Adams trade. Wieland spent the beginning of the 2012 season in Triple-A Tucson before getting the call to join the Padres in the Bigs.

The future looks bright for these former RoughRiders pitchers as they continue their quest for perfection.

Written by: Jarah Wright

Photo Credit: Robbie Ross (Texas): Texas Rangers

Robbie Ross (Frisco): Alex Yocum-Beeman

Joe Wieland (San Diego): San Diego Padres

Joe Wieland (Frisco): Alex Yocum-Beeman

Game 4 Preview – San Antonio at Frisco

Texas League South Division Series
San Antonio Missions at Frisco RoughRiders
Saturday, September 10 – 7:05 p.m.
Game 4 – San Antonio leads 2-1

GAME 4 BACKGROUND:

The RoughRiders face elimination tonight in Game 4 of this South Division Series after San Antonio’s 5-3 win Friday at Dr Pepper Ballpark. The ‘Riders battled back from three separate deficits in Game 3, but Cody Decker’s eighth-inning solo shot, his second homer of the game, proved to be the difference. Frisco used five pitchers in the loss, four of whom allowed at least one run. With a win tonight, the Missions would return to the Texas League Championship Series for the first time since winning the title in 2007. The RoughRiders are 1-4 all-time when facing elimination in the postseason.

STARTING PITCHERS:

Frisco – RHP Adalberto Flores (5-4, 3.32 ERA): Flores joined the rotation late in the regular season after Derek Hankins’ promotion to Triple-A Round Rock. Tonight will be Flores’ fourth career minor league start. In his two starts thus far this season, Flores has allowed eight runs (seven earned) in seven and two-thirds innings. Against the Missions, Flores is 1-1 with a 4.96 earned run average in eight appearances spanning 16 and a third frames. Flores was a midseason All-Star in the Texas League after going 2-1 with a 2.41 ERA in the first half.

San Antonio – LHP Robbie Erlin (1-0, 1.38 ERA): For the second time this series, the RoughRiders must square off with a former Frisco hurler. Erlin has shined in six starts with the Missions since the Rangers traded Erlin and Joe Wieland, who earned the Game 1 win for San Antonio, for San Diego reliever Mike Adams. The Padres’ front office has been cautious with Erlin’s pitch and inning count, which explains why he is averaging barely more than four innings per start with the Missions. This figures to change tonight, as it did with Wieland Wednesday. Overall this year, Erlin is 9-4 with a 2.99 ERA.

FRISCO FACTS:

  • San Antonio’s offense has forced Frisco’s pitching staff to work in this series. Through the first three games, the ‘Riders have had to throw 445 pitches, or 17.1 per inning. Compare that to San Antonio, a unit that has needed only 353 pitches. This calculates to 13.1 per frame.
  • In particular, Frisco’s starters have labored through their outings. The trio of Robbie Ross (6IP, 1R, 107 pitches), Ben Snyder (6IP, 0R, 100 pitches) and Carlos Pimentel (4IP, 2R, 80 pitches) have ultimately been successful. They have a combined earned run average of 1.69. However, the bullpen has been taxed because the Missions have elevated the pitch counts quickly.
  • Mitch Hilligoss has been the best hitter not only on the RoughRiders, but in the Texas League this postseason. Hilligoss paces all Texas Leaguers with a .385 batting average (5-for-13). The next highest batting average on the ‘Riders is Renny Osuna’s .250 mark.
  • Offense has been tough to come by in both divisional series here in 2011. Hilligoss is one of only three men to hover above .300. San Antonio’s Cody Decker (.364) and Blake Tekotte (.333) are the others.
  • The Arkansas-Northwest Arkansas series, which is now 2-1 in favor of the Travs after the Naturals stayed alive with a 3-1 win last night, has only featured eight runs. Through three games, Roberto Lopez’s .273 average is the best in that set.
  • Low-A Hickory’s season is done after a 2-0 loss at home to Greensboro last night. The Grasshoppers swept the ‘Dads 2-0. High-A Myrtle Beach will face elimination tonight after losing at Kinston 7-0 Friday. Triple-A Round Rock barely avoided a sweep in a 9-8, 11-inning win over Omaha. The Storm Chasers still lead the set 2-1.

BROADCAST INFORMATION:

You can catch tonight’s game, along with every 2011 playoff game, on 1630 KKGM or online here. You will hear from Frisco skipper Steve Buechele in addition to former RoughRider Robbie Erlin on the pre-game show, which begins at 6:35.

Game 2 Preview – Frisco at San Antonio

Texas League South Division Series
Frisco RoughRiders at San Antonio Missions
Thursday, September 8 – 7:05 p.m.
Game 2 – San Antonio leads 1-0

GAME 2 BACKGROUND:

The RoughRiders look to even up this best-of-five series after mustering only two hits in a 3-0, Game 1 loss Wednesday night. Former Frisco hurler Joe Wieland held the ‘Riders off the scoreboard for seven innings. Nick Vincent and Miles Mikolas each posted a perfect inning out of the bullpen for a hold and a save, respectively. Frisco starter Robbie Ross struck out a career-high 12 Missions in six innings, but he suffered the loss. Frisco fell to 5-12 at Nelson Wolff Municipal Stadium this season.

STARTING PITCHERS:

Frisco – LHP Ben Snyder (11-5, 3.87 ERA): After 26 relief appearances, Snyder joined the RoughRiders’ starting rotation at the outset of the second half. Snyder has been steady for Frisco, posting a 4.15 ERA in his 14 starts. Entering the playoffs, Snyder has notched a quality start in five straight efforts, and he has worked through six frames in his last seven starts. In 12 appearances (three starts) against the Missions in 2011, the RoughRiders’ regular season wins leader is 1-2 with a 3.30 ERA.

San Antonio – RHP Simon Castro (5-6, 4.33 ERA): Castro has made 16 starts with the Missions this season. Since August 1, the righty is 2-1 with a 2.37 ERA. Against the RoughRiders, Castro has been pretty solid. He is only 1-2, but his ERA sits at 2.67. He has whiffed 25 in 27 innings of work over the course of four starts. The righty has posted a quality start in five of his last seven starts.

FRISCO FACTS:

  • During the franchise’s playoff history, the RoughRiders are 5-5 in a game following a loss. Frisco’s loss to the Missions last night dropped their all-time playoff record to 17-15.
  • In Game 1, the ‘Riders were only one hit better than their season low of one, which came back on June 22 against Midland. San Antonio’s trio of Joe Wieland, Nick Vincent and Miles Mikolas only faced two more than the minimum.
  • The RoughRiders’ 12 losses at San Antonio have come by a combined 27 runs, which comes out to only 2.25 runs per game. The Missions have held the ‘Riders to three runs or less six times during the two clubs’ battles at the Wolff.
  • Cody Decker finished the regular season with a batting average of .186 (8-for-43) against the RoughRiders, yet he was the only Mission to get a base hit against Robbie Ross. It was the RBI double in the bottom of the sixth, a knock that proved to be the game winner.
  • Wednesday was the RoughRiders’ sixth shutout loss this year. Frisco’s pitching staff has six shutouts to its credit, too.
  • It was not a good day for the Rangers’ minor league system, as three other affiliates opened up their postseason journeys. Triple-A Round Rock lost at home to Omaha 4-0. Low-A Hickory spoiled three extra-inning leads in a 5-4, 15-inning loss at Greensboro. Only High-A Myrtle Beach picked up a victory, 4-1 over Kinston.

BROADCAST INFORMATION:

You can catch tonight’s game, along with every 2011 playoff game, on 1630 KKGM or online here. You will hear from Frisco skipper Steve Buechele on the pre-game show, which begins at 6:35.

Playoff Perspective – Game 1

The RoughRiders dropped Game 1 of this best-of-five Texas League South Division Series to San Antonio 3-0. You can check out the game recap here. Here are some post-game thoughts after Game 1:

PLAYOFF PERSPECTIVE:

- First off, this is what playoff baseball is all about. This was a pitching-heavy, nail-biting type of game that went to the team that took advantage of the few offensive opportunities that were available. Frisco fans have to tip their cap to the Missions.

Robbie Ross struck out a career-high 12 in Game 1 Wednesday (Alex Yocum-Beeman).

- What an effort by Robbie Ross. The southpaw struck out 12 in his six innings of work. He did not surrender a hit until Cody Decker’s RBI double in the sixth, which proved to be the game-winning hit. It was the best start of Ross’ Double-A career, and he wasn’t too shabby (2.61 ERA) during the regular season.

- Joe Wieland was great, and RoughRiders’ fans aren’t surprised. Wieland posted minor league baseball’s fifth lowest ERA during the regular season (1.97). This effort was comparable to his no-hitter with the ‘Riders July 29. He wasn’t untouchable, but he was close, and the stakes were higher.

- There is no shame in losing at San Antonio. After all, the Missions are 56-15 at Nelson Wolff Municipal Stadium this year. However, the Missions have only lost three straight games three times this year (April 8-10, May 3-5 and August 12-14). Thus, Game 2 is critical, because a loss Thursday would mean that the ‘Riders would have to hand San Antonio its fourth three-game losing streak in order to advance.

- Don’t expect to see much change in the RoughRiders’ lineup Thursday. It is probably a safe bet that Elio Sarmiento will be behind the plate instead of Jose Felix because these two trade off at the catcher slot. Other than that, I would anticipate the same personnel.

- The RoughRiders are now 4-5 in playoff series openers. Frisco has never won a series when dropping Game 1, so history is not on the ‘Riders’ side.

- It wasn’t a good day for the Rangers’ affiliates. Triple-A Round Rock lost at home to Omaha 4-0. Low-A Hickory spoiled three extra-inning leads in a 5-4, 15-inning loss at Greensboro. Only High-A Myrtle Beach picked up a victory, 4-1 over Kinston.

- We had a tremendous “Extra Bases Chat” tonight. You can view that until Thursday afternoon here. Be sure to join us on the Chat beginning at 6:45 Thursday for Game 2. That Chat will be available at the above link as well.

- Thursday is another day, and a win in Game 2 makes things much better. Hope you enjoy!

- Brian

Game 1 Preview – Frisco at San Antonio

Texas League South Division Series
Frisco RoughRiders at San Antonio Missions

Wednesday, September 7 – 7:05 p.m.
Game 1 – Series tied 0-0

GAME 1 BACKGROUND:

The RoughRiders begin their sixth postseason journey tonight in San Antonio against a Missions team that finished with minor league baseball’s best record (94-46). These two teams posted the top two records in the entire Texas League. San Antonio won the season series 19-13, which includes an 11-5 mark against the ‘Riders at Nelson Wolff Municipal Stadium. These two franchises have not met in the postseason since 2008 when the RoughRiders swept San Antonio 3-0.

STARTING PITCHERS:

Frisco – LHP Robbie Ross: Ross earned a promotion to Frisco in early August, and he has an ERA of 2.61 in his six starts with the ‘Riders. With High-A Myrtle Beach, Ross went 9-4 with a 2.61 ERA, which was enough to earn him the Carolina League’s Pitcher of the Year honor. The southpaw squared off with San Antonio August 26, and he worked seven innings and gave up three runs (two earned) on seven hits. Left-handed hitters are hitting just .143 against Ross.

San Antonio – RHP Joe Wieland: Wieland joined the Missions after Texas shipped the right-hander to San Diego, along with lefty Robbie Erlin, for big league reliever Mike Adams. Since joining San Antonio, Wieland is 3-1 with a 2.77 ERA in five starts. The Reno, Nevada, native earned a victory against the ‘Riders in his only start against his former club August 25. Overall this year with High-A Myrtle Beach, Frisco and San Antonio, Wieland is 13-4 with an ERA of 1.97, which is fifth in minor league baseball.

FRISCO FACTS:

  • The RoughRiders are 4-4 all-time in playoff series openers, which is also their record in playoff series. When the ‘Riders win Game 1 of a playoff series, they have always won the series. When they lose Game 1, they have always lost the set.
  • Robbie Ross’ Double-A debut came in Game 4 of the Texas League Division Series last year. He gave up seven runs in three-plus innings in a season-ending loss at Midland.
  • Renny Osuna has been the ‘Riders’ best hitter against the Missions this season. In 29 games, Osuna is hitting .328 with 13 RBIs. Frisco’s home run leader, Mike Bianucci, has also enjoyed some success against the Missions. Bianucci hit seven of his 30 homers against San Antonio pitching.
  • The RoughRiders enter the postseason without a player on the disabled list. San Antonio is missing only Beamer Weems, who has been out of action since July 5. The Missions did get an offensive boost with the return of Vince Belnome, who returned to the lineup August 30 after missing a month and a half. Belnome boasted a .327 average against the ‘Riders in 15 games.
  • Three other Rangers affiliates begin postseason play tonight. Triple-A Round Rock hosts Omaha in their first playoff game since 2006. High-A Myrtle Beach is in the playoffs in its first season as a Rangers farm club, and the Pelicans play Kinston. Low-A Hickory travels to Greensboro for the opener of a best-of-three semifinal.

BROADCAST INFORMATION:

You can catch tonight’s game, along with every 2011 playoff game, on 1630 KKGM or online here. You will hear from Frisco skipper Steve Buechele and LoneStarDugout.com’s Jason Cole on the pre-game show, which begins at 6:35.

In-Depth Playoff Coverage

It’s playoff time for the RoughRiders, which means it is time for the Insider Blog to bring its “A” game. Whether the ‘Riders’ run lasts through this weekend or all the way to the Texas League championship, we will have you covered in many ways.

Obviously, you’ll be able to follow the journey via game recaps on the ‘Riders’ website and the play-by-play action both online and on 1630 KKGM. Still, here are some other ways, some new and some enhanced, to connect with the ‘Riders.

Game Previews: For every game of the playoffs, we will post a game preview here on the Insider Blog. You will also be able to access the preview at ridersbaseball.com.

Playoff Perspective: Shortly after each game, we will break down the night’s showdown and talk about how it affects the RoughRiders’ series. More on this in a moment.

Extra Bases Chat: Aaron and I will be chatting with all you RoughRiders’ fans throughout the entire broadcast. Join us to discuss EVERY playoff game, both home and road. This is where your voice can be heard.

Twitter/Facebook: Your instant sources for RoughRiders’ information. Even more updates and links will be offered throughout the postseason.

Now, let’s give you an idea of our post-game feature. Here’s the “Playoff Perspective – Off Day Edition.”

- Carlos Pimentel will start Game 3 for the ‘Riders against San Antonio righty Casey Kelly. Pimentel doesn’t have awesome numbers overall, but he has had success against the Missions all year long. The right-hander is 2-0 with a 2.97 ERA against San Antonio.

- The RoughRiders were just 13-19 against San Antonio this year, but they did take three of four from minor league baseball’s best team August 23-26. It was the two clubs’ final regular season meeting, and it took place at Dr Pepper Ballpark.

- Proof that this series should be a low-scoring affair: Frisco’s team average against San Antonio is .240 and its ERA is 3.97. San Antonio’s marks are .237 and 3.14.

- Frisco will hope to reverse a recent trend. In both 2009 and 2010, the Texas League squad with the best regular season record went on to win the championship. Northwest Arkansas went 6-3 in its quest last season. Midland went 6-2 for the ’09 crown.

- Reason #29173 why minor league baseball is great: Robbie Ross and Joe Wieland, two very close friends who will be opponents on the mound in Game 1 of this series, had some fun with each other on Twitter. Ross on Wieland: “Dude that’s if Joe can keep it under control haha. No man it will be fun.” Wieland on Ross: “I’m gonna have to show him how its done.” If this were CC Sabathia and Justin Verlander going back and forth, people would be criticizing like crazy. Sports are supposed to be fun, and it will be a fun Game 1 matchup.

- For the first time in a long time, the ‘Riders and Missions are equal–at 0-0. It’s a race to 3. Enjoy the show.

- Brian

Playoff Pitching Matchups

The RoughRiders and Missions will begin their divisional round series Wednesday night in San Antonio. At this point, we know the probable pitchers for both Game 1 and Game 2. Let’s go inside the matchups.

Game 1 – Wednesday
Frisco at San Antonio
LHP Robbie Ross (1-1, 2.61 ERA) v. RHP Joe Wieland (3-1, 2.77 ERA)
These two hurlers led the Rangers’ High-A affiliate–the Myrtle Beach Pelicans–to a first-half division title earlier this season. Wieland earned a promotion to Frisco in late June. All the righty did with the RoughRiders was post a 1.23 ERA in seven starts. Two days after tossing a no-hitter in San Antonio, Wieland joined the Missions after the Rangers’ shipped him and Robbie Erlin to San Diego’s system for Mike Adams.

Robbie Ross gets the call for Game 1 Wednesday (Alex Yocum-Beeman).

With the Missions, Wieland still has great numbers. However, his final outing of the regular season was his shakiest at the Double-A level. Wieland surrendered four runs on ten hits in five innings Wednesday night against Midland. He needed more than 100 pitches to get through those five frames.

Ross remained with the Pelicans through July and earned the Carolina League Pitcher of the Year honor. Despite the tougher competition, Ross has had similar success with the RoughRiders. In 38 innings of work, Ross has struck out 36 and given up only 11 earned runs.

The southpaw faced San Antonio August 26 and lasted seven innings. He gave up three runs, two of which were earned, on seven hits. While Ross did not get the win, Frisco earned the victory that night.

Game 2 – Thursday
Frisco at San Antonio
LHP Ben Snyder (11-5, 3.87 ERA) v. RHP Simon Castro (5-6, 4.33 ERA)
After 26 relief appearances, Snyder joined the RoughRiders’ starting rotation at the outset of the second half. Snyder has been steady for Frisco, posting a 4.15 ERA in his 14 starts. Entering the playoffs, Snyder has notched a quality start in five straight efforts, and he has worked through six frames in his last seven starts. He leads the club in wins with 11.

Ben Snyder hopes to continue his success against lefties Thursday night (Alex Yocum-Beeman).

Snyder is dominant against fellow left-handers, who have just a .202 average against the Bellevue, Ohio native. This could be a huge asset against San Antonio. The Missions carry six lefties, including the likes of Jaff Decker, Sawyer Carroll and Blake Tekotte.

The Padres’ number three prospect according to Baseball America, Castro has made 16 starts with the Missions this season. Castro is a specimen at 6’5″, 210 pounds, and he has strong strikeout numbers (73 in 89 1/3 innings). Since August 1, the righty is 2-1 with a 2.37 ERA.

Against the RoughRiders, Castro has been pretty solid. He is only 1-2, but his ERA sits at 2.67. He has whiffed 25 in 27 innings of work over the course of four starts.

Beyond these two games, the RoughRiders’ starters have yet to be announced. For San Antonio, right-hander Casey Kelly will start Game 3. Game 4 and Game 5′s hurlers have not been set yet. Stay tuned for continuing playoff coverage, including an interview with Frisco’s Game 1 starter–Robbie Ross.

- Brian

PlayBall! Preview

We have been working on a special version of the PlayBall! game program for the playoffs, and you can get a sneak peak at the feature story here. It is a summary of the 2011 season, and it brings back some memories from a tremendous five-month.
__________

The RoughRiders’ Run to the Playoffs

For the sixth time in franchise history, the RoughRiders are in the Texas League playoffs. Find out how the ‘Riders reached this point in our season rewind.

A Texas League season is a grind, with long trips, steamy temperatures, and few breaks. It is a long journey with peaks and valleys. Here in the RoughRiders’ ninth season, there were enough peaks for Frisco to enjoy playoff baseball for the sixth time.

April was a struggle for second-year skipper Steve Buechele’s club. The ‘Riders finished the month in the South Division’s basement at 8-14. The signature moment of the rough April was quite a notable one, though. Martin Perez, the Rangers’ top prospect, tossed a rain-shortened perfect game at Arkansas April 19.

By May 13, the ‘Riders worked their way back to the .500 mark. Later in the month, Frisco staked its claim to second place with a four-game sweep of Midland at Dr Pepper Ballpark. From this point on, the ‘Riders spent more time in second place than any other team in the Texas League.

The RoughRiders received some temporary help in May. Last year’s American League Most Valuable Player Josh Hamilton hit a home run during his two-day rehab stint in Frisco. Nelson Cruz also graced the middle of the ‘Riders’ order for three games while battling back from an injury. Big name pitchers like Neftali Feliz, Tommy Hunter and Brandon Webb rehabbed in Frisco, too.

Leonys Martin's stateside career began in Frisco, and he is now in Arlington. (James Garner)

Also, outfielder Leonys Martin made his stateside debut with the RoughRiders after the Rangers inked Martin to a $15.5 million dollar contract. Martin hit .348 in 29 games with the ‘Riders before heading to Triple-A Round Rock.

Frisco finished the first half strongly, but a 40-30 mark was not good enough to notch a division championship after San Antonio’s 49-win showing. Individually, Tommy Mendonca was the star of the show in June. Mendonca was the Texas League’s Player of the Month after boasting a .375 batting average and driving in 30 runs.

July was a month for the record books in Frisco. The ‘Riders matched a franchise-high in runs in their 19-4 thumping of Corpus Christi July 22. Mendonca hit three of the RoughRiders’ record-setting eight home runs.

One week later, Joe Wieland became the first RoughRider to single-handedly throw a nine-inning no-hitter at San Antonio. Less than 48 hours after the no-no, the Rangers dealt Wieland and Robbie Erlin to San Diego for big league reliever Mike Adams. As a result, the former Frisco duo joined San Antonio’s loaded rotation.

The 'Riders begin their 2011 playoff journey Wednesday in San Antonio (Alex Yocum-Beeman).

The RoughRiders spent the month of August holding off Midland for a playoff berth. They officially clinched a spot in the season’s final week, a few days after the ‘Riders took three of four from their first round opponent—San Antonio.

Over the course of 140 games, the ‘Riders played well enough to earn a chance to vie for the Texas League’s richest prize. The club has been among the best in the league in most categories this season, and Frisco is well positioned to have a September to remember for the first time since 2004—the franchise’s first and only championship season.

The RoughRiders have won regularly here in 2011, and now only six playoff wins separate the ‘Riders from a title.

- Brian

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 56 other followers