Results tagged ‘ Johan Yan ’

Your Early November Fall Ball Update

Chris McGuiness has earned praise while playing for the Surprise Saguaros of the Arizona Fall League.

The regular season ended two months ago, but there is still baseball being played all over the world.  Many fall and winter leagues have been playing for several weeks, and plenty of former and future RoughRiders are in action.  Here’s an update on some familiar names and ones that will become familiar to ’Riders fans in just a few months.

Note: For a variety of reasons, many of these off-season leagues tend to dramatically favor strong offensive numbers, especially in the Arizona Fall League.  So you should take some of the impressive offensive numbers (and poor pitching stats, for that matter) with a grain of salt.

ARIZONA FALL LEAGUE (Surprise Saguaros)

1B Chris McGuiness: The former Citadel star, who enjoyed a productive 2012 in Frisco, has played in a team-high 19 games for the Saguaros, hitting .314 with a triple-slash of .410/.543/.952.  He’s tied for the AFL lead with four home runs and 20 RBI.  He’s hit four doubles and has as many walks (11) as he does strikeouts.  He was named the co-Player of the Week in the AFL in week one, sharing the honor with former Corpus Christi Hooks first baseman Jon Singleton.  He was also the only Rangers farmhand named to the AFL Rising Stars Game, going 0-for-2 with a pair of fly outs.

SS Hanser Alberto: The recently minted 20-year-old split 2012 between the Rangers’ two Single-A affiliates in Hickory and Myrtle Beach and could very easily break camp in spring training as a RoughRider.  He’s currently third in the AFL in batting average with a .360 clip in 14 games to go along with a double, two triples and six RBI.  While he has stolen three bases, he’s also been caught four times (he was 24-for-31 in steals during the regular season).

SS Luis Sardinas: Another young middle infielder, the 19-year-old Venezuelan is batting .316 with a home run, two doubles and four runs batted in through nine games.  He played this past season for Hickory and would seem to be a candidate to reach Frisco at some point in 2013 unless things bottom out for him in Myrtle Beach.

C Kellin Deglan:The former first round pick (22nd overall in 2010) out of Canada struggled at the plate for Hickory this past season and things have continued for him out in Arizona.  In eight games, he is batting .172 with no extra-base hits, one RBI and four runs scored.  He is only 20-years-old and has never played above Single-A, so don’t push the panic button just yet.

Ryan Rodebaugh is one member of the Rangers contingent playing for Surprise. (Alex Yocum-Beeman)

RHP Ryan Rodebaugh: After struggling with an oblique injury that sidelined him for more than a month early in the season, the former Kennesaw State Owl put together a very good campaign in his first season at the Double-A level.  In eight AFL games, “Rodey” is 0-1 with a 3.09 ERA, 11 strikeouts and four walks in 11.2 innings.  Since allowing four runs through his first three appearances, he has thrown seven straight scoreless frames.

RHP Joe Van Meter: It was a short stint in the AFL for Van Meter, who was shut down with a sore right shoulder after two starts.  He had given up four runs on nine hits and four walks with four strikeouts in six innings.  The former two-way star at VCU spent most of the season with Myrtle Beach but made three appearances in a RoughRiders uniform in the second half.

RHP Ben Henry: Henry replaced Van Meter on the Saguaros roster and has appeared in three games.  He owns a 10.50 ERA (7 ER in 6 IP) with four strikeouts and seven walks in six innings.  He spent most of this past season with Myrtle Beach, but missed the last month of the year due to injury.

RHP Ben Rowen: A likely closer candidate for the RoughRiders next season, Rowen won a MiLBY Award for the best reliever in Minor League Baseball this past season while pitching for the Pelicans.  In the AFL, he has thrown in 11 games and has posted a 4.22 ERA in 10.2 innings.  The submariner has eight strikeouts and four walks with a .195 opponents’ batting average.

LHP Jimmy Reyes: The former Elon Phoenix has been the most impressive Rangers pitcher in the AFL this year.  Reyes, who spent all of 2012 in Myrtle Beach and finished Nick Tepesch’s May no-hitter, has yielded just two unearned runs on six hits in seven appearances (10 IP) with no walks and seven strikeouts.  He also picked up a win in his first AFL game on October 10.

MEXICAN PACIFIC LEAGUE

C Jose Felix: The RoughRiders’ catcher in each of the past three seasons is playing for the Algodoneros de Guasave (or, the Guasave Cotton Growers for those who are a little rusty on their Español).  After showing solid improvement at the plate for the ’Riders in 2012, he has looked good with Guasave, hitting .407 with three doubles and seven RBI in ten games and a triple-slash line of .393/.519/.911.  And yes, Felix’s OBP is lower than his batting average, as he has not walked yet this off-season.  He walked a ludicrous five times in 306 plate appearances during the regular season.

OF Joey Butler: The former RoughRider (2010 & 2011) is suiting up for the Venados de Mazatlán (Mazatlán Deer; yes, teams in the Mexican Pacific League have silly names.  We should feature them on a blog post soon) after a very solid 2012 campaign with Triple-A Round Rock.  Butler has struggled, however, for Mazatlán, hitting .228 with four doubles, a homer and five RBI in 17 games.

DOMINICAN WINTER LEAGUE

TIGRES DEL LICEY (LICEY TIGERS)

LHP Chad Bell: The Knoxville lefty made Frisco the middle stop on his three-team climb this past season (starting in Myrtle and ending in Round Rock).  He has been hit hard by DWL opposition, going 0-1 with a 7.45 ERA in five games (three starts) with eight strikeouts and three walks in 9.2 innings.

3B Mike Olt: Frisco’s big-bopper in 2012 became a Ranger in early August when the big club called him up directly from the Texas League.  Although his two injury-plagued months in the big leagues were underwhelming, he is still considered a big-time corner infield prospect.  In ten games for Licey, Olt is hitting .286 with four doubles, one home run, five RBI and a triple-slash of .474/.536/1.009.  His fine DWL performance was interrupted when he was hit in the head by a pitch on November 3 and he has yet to play since.

SS Jurickson Profar: Über-prospect Profar recently joined Licey, but has yet to play in a game.  He spent nearly the entire 2012 season in Frisco until the Rangers called him up to the Major League squad when rosters expanded in September.

A ‘Rider in 2011, Leonys Martin has played well in the Dominican Republic this fall. (Alex Yocum-Beeman/RoughRiders)

OF Engel Beltre: When he is not promoting proper recycling techniques, Beltre has been lighting up the DWL just like he did the Texas League at times this past season.  The four-season RoughRiders centerfielder is batting .381 in 15 games for Licey with a double, five  triples, ten RBI, 13 runs scored and a triple-slash of .435/.643/1.078.  He leads the league in average, triples and OPS and is second in OBP and slugging.

OF Leonys Martin: The 2011 RoughRider split this past season

between Round Rock and the Rangers and, like Beltre, has been a solid performer in the DWL.  In 17 games, he is batting .288 with four doubles, a triple, two home runs, 14 RBI and 14 runs scored.

GIGANTES DEL CIBAO (CIBAO GIANTS)

IF LEURY GARCIA: The only Rangers farmhand on Ciboa, Garcia has looked pretty similar to the player he was in Frisco this past season.  In 16 games he is batting .273 with four doubles, a triple, two home runs (he had three for the ’Riders in 2012, including the playoffs), six RBI and seven runs scored.  Garcia is a strong candidate to begin next season with Round Rock.

ESTRELLAS DE ORIENTE (EASTERN STARS)

LHP Ben Snyder: After spending parts of 2010 and 2011 with Frisco, Snyder pitched for Round Rock during the 2012 season.  In five games (three starts) for Oriente, he is 2-1 with a 2.40 ERA, six strikeouts and ten walks in 15 innings.

AGUILAS CIBAENAS (EAGLES OF CIBAO)

RHP Johan Yan: Frisco’s closer for the first two months of 2012, Yan struggled after his promotion to Triple-A (5.03 ERA).  He has performed a bit better in winter ball, going 1-0 with a 4.26 ERA in eight games.  The submarine pitcher has posted an impressive 12-2 strikeout-to-walk ratio and 6:1 groundout/flyout ratio in 6.1 innings.

2009 RoughRiders pitcher Jose Diaz is pitching in La Romana, DR with 2011-12 ‘Rider Fabio Castillo. (James Garner/RoughRiders)

TOROS DEL ESTE (BULLS OF THE EAST)

RHP Fabio Castillo: Castillo split 2012 between Frisco and Round Rock after spending the previous two seasons as a RoughRider.  He has been good in limited action with los Toros, allowing just an unearned run on three hits in 4.1 innings over six appearances.  He has two walks and two strikeouts while pitching for his hometown (La Romana) club.

RHP Jose Diaz: The portly Diaz, who pitched for Frisco in 2009, spent 2012 with Indianapolis (Pittsburgh) of the Triple-A International League.  In ten games for los Toros, he is 1-1 with a 2.79 ERA, 12 strikeouts, one walk and seven hits allowed in 9.2 innings.

LEONES DEL ESCOGIDO (LIONS OF THE CHOSEN ONE)

RHP Carlos Pimentel: Pimentel seemed to be effectively wild or wildly effective at points this season for the ’Riders, but not so effective for los Leones.  In six games (one start), he owns a 10.57 ERA (9 ER, 7.2 IP) with a .343 opponents’ batting average.  Still, with his solid year in Frisco he would seem to be a good bet to begin next season with Round Rock.

PUERTO RICAN WINTER LEAGUE

LEONES DE PONCE (PONCE LIONS)

The Puerto Rican League just began play on November 8.  The Rangers farmhands on Ponce include OF Mike Bianucci (’Riders 2011), C Jorge Alfaro, C Kevin Torres, 1B/OF Brandon Snyder, LHP Tim Murphy (’Riders 2010, 2012), LHP Alexander Claudio, RHP Alex De La Cruz, RHP Jon Edwards (’Riders 2012) and RHP Angelo Leclerc.

VENEZUELAN WINTER LEAGUE

AGUILAS DE ZULIA (ZULIA EAGLES)

RHP Wilfredo Boscan: The RoughRiders’ 2011 Opening Day starter, Boscan spent the first half of 2012 pitching in relief for Frisco before performing very well as a starter in the second half of the season.  He has continued that success for Zulia, going 0-1 with a 0.81 ERA in five starts.  He has struck out 15 and walked six batters in 22.1 innings while opponents are hitting .228 off of him.  The 23-year-old will likely start next season as a RoughRider once again.

TIBURONES DE LA GUAIRA (LA GUAIRA SHARKS)

LHP Joseph Ortiz: Affectionately nicknamed “Mini-Me,” the 5’7” Ortiz put together a superb 2012 season between Frisco and Round Rock.  With La Guaira, he is 0-2 in 12 games with a 3.48 ERA, eight strikeouts and three walks in 10.1 innings and batters are hitting .200 against him.  He will challenge for a spot in the Rangers bullpen during spring training.

RHP Jose Mavare: The 22-year-old Barquisimeto native spent 2012 with Hickory pitching out of the bullpen and could be a candidate to reach Frisco in the second half of next season.  He has been hit hard in the VWL, allowing five runs on eight hits in six innings with five walks and six strikeouts.

NAVEGANTES DEL MAGALLANES (MAGELLAN’S NAVIGATORS)

RHP Randol Rojas: Rojas split 2012 between the Single-A affiliates, spending most of his time with Myrtle Beach.  He has yet to appear in a game for los Navegantes.

LEONES DEL CARACAS (CARACAS LIONS)

Guilder Rodriguez is playing in his native Venezuela in the off-season. (Alex Yocum-Beeman/RoughRiders)

RHP Wilmer Font: The hulking right-hander’s first season coming off Tommy John surgery was a resounding success.  Font spent most of the season with the Pelicans before joining the RoughRiders in August, dazzling the Texas League with a blazing fastball and then earning a promotion to the Rangers in mid-September.  He has not pitched yet for Caracas.

RHP Richard Alvarez: After pitching for Spokane for most the season, Alvarez made one appearance out of the bullpen for Hickory.  Like Font, he has not yet thrown for Caracas.

CARDENALES DE LARA (LARA CARDINALS)

IF Guilder Rodriguez: The longtime Minor League veteran Rodriguez was recently re-signed by the Rangers and may be back in Frisco for a fifth consecutive year in 2013.  In 15 games for Lara, G-Rod is batting .147 with two RBI and a pair of runs scored.

-          Alex V.

Season in Review: May

Carlos Pimentel and the RoughRiders wore Pink for a series in May to raise awareness for the fight against breast cancer. (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.

MAY

Record: 17-11 (T-1st of 8 TL teams)

Average: .268 (2nd)

Home Runs: 24 (3rd)

ERA: 3.27 (2nd)

Top Offensive Players: Mike Olt (.333-5-23, 7 2B, 16 R, .437/.556/.993, 3-3 SB), Jurickson Profar (.322-3-14, 9 2B, 2 3B, 21 R, .385/.513/.898, 3-5 SB), Zach Zaneski (.429-1-8), 3 2B, 7 R, .489/.571/1.061)

Top Pitchers: Chad Bell (7 G, 3 GS, 1-0, 0.69 ERA, 1-1 SV, 0.62 WHIP, .131 BAA), Justin Grimm (6 GS, 4-2, 2.08 ERA, 34.2 IP, 30 K, 6 BB), Joseph Ortiz (10 G, 0-1, 1.74 ERA, 2-3 SV, 10.1 IP, 8 H, 13 K ,3 BB, 1.06 WHIP, .211 BAA), Ross Wolf (9 G, 0-0, 0.00 ERA, 13.2 IP, 9 H, 0 R, 16 K, 3 BB, 3.75 GO/AO, 0.88 WHIP, .188 BAA)

After a solid opening month, the RoughRiders continued their steady ascent in the Texas League in May.  Frisco held at least a share of first place in the TL South for every day in April and claimed sole possession of the division lead for all of May as well.  The ’Riders began the month by winning seven of their first nine games and held a season-best five-game lead over Midland in the division by May 12.

It wasn’t until Frisco’s first trip to west Texas in the middle of the month that Steve Buechele’s squad lost a second series for the season.  The ’Riders first foray to Citibank Ballpark, home of the RockHounds, proved to be a frustrating experience.  Midland walked off with a win in the first game before Frisco rallied the next day to win by one run.  Big innings hurt the RoughRiders in each of the next two games, as the ’Hounds had six-run and five-run innings in the next two games respectively to win the series.  Frisco responded by winning eight of the final 12 games of the month to steady the ship and tie for the best record in the league during the month.

Jurickson Profar authored a 29-game hitting streak that ended in May. (Alex Yocum-Beeman/RoughRiders)

The team’s success coincided with a remarkable period of roster stability, a rarity in this age of baseball.  Frisco benefitted from the Rangers’ relative health and between April 29 and May 23, there were no roster moves made.  That changed later in the month when the ’Riders suffered their first true loss in the game of musical chairs that is in-season player movement.  Closer Johan Yan, who was leading the Texas League with ten saves, was promoted to Triple-A Round Rock on May 25 where he would remain for the rest of the season.  Yan’s worth was evident in that the team was 12-3 in games decided by one run while he was a RoughRider.

During May, the team continued to get excellent work from Justin Grimm, wins from Barret Loux (5-0, but his ERA in the month rose to 4.71), terrific relief from the likes of Joseph Ortiz, Fabio Castillo, Trevor Hurley and Yan, and solid production from newly converted reliever Chad Bell.  The lefty from Tennessee, who arrived in late April from Myrtle Beach, impressed in the bullpen enough to earn a starting role.  In both functions, he combined to post a 0.69 ERA and kept hitters off-guard by working all parts of the strike zone with his deceptive delivery.

Offensively, Mike Olt began to hit his stride offensively, raising his season batting average by 44 points and hitting five home runs with 23 RBI.  His teammate on the left side of the infield continued to improve as well.  Jurickson Profar continued a hit streak and on-base streak that began in April deep into May.  Profar ended up hitting in 29 straight games from April 19 – May 19, tied for the second-longest hit streak in either Major or Minor League Baseball this past season, and he reached base in every game he played over the month.  Meanwhile, backup catcher Zach Zaneski earned himself more playing time by continuing to produce offensively every time he was given the opportunity.

With a four-game lead in the division and just two more weeks left until the end of the season’s first half, another trip to the postseason was looking like a stronger possibility by the day for the RoughRiders.

TIMELINE:

May 1: Tim Murphy and two relievers combine on a 2-0 shutout effort at San Antonio.  The Frisco pitchers outduel former RoughRider Robbie Erlin, who allows two runs in eight innings.  Erlin was part of the Mike Adams trade in July of 2011and was a member of the ’Riders when the deal was made.

May 5: The ’Riders host the RockHounds on Cinco de Mayo in the first game between the top two teams in the South Division.  Trailing by a run in the seventh inning, Frisco strikes for two tallies in the bottom of the frame to win 3-2.  Joseph Ortiz tosses 1.2 perfect innings for the save while Jurickson Profar extends his hitting streak to 16 games with a third inning single.

May 7: In a matchup of two players that would soon be in the big leagues, Justin Grimm (6 IP, 3 H, R, BB, 5 K) tops A.J. Griffin (6 IP, 8 H, 4 R, 2 BB, 3 K) as the ’Riders beat Midland 4-2.  Frisco scores three runs in the decisive fifth inning, capped by Ryan Strausborger’s second home run of the season.

May 8: The RoughRiders beat up another future Major League hurler, Dan Straily (5.1 IP, 7 H, 5 R, BB, 6 K), in a 9-3 win to capture the series victory.  Later that day, Grimm is named the Rangers’ “Minor League Pitcher of the Month” for April.

May 10: Frisco wallops Corpus Christi 10-2 in the first game of a series in south Texas.  Profar runs his hit streak to 20 games with a 2-for-6 effort while Barret Loux (5.1 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 BB, 6 K) improves to 7-0 on the season.  The true star is Brad Hawpe, who goes 4 for 5 with a double, one run batted in and three runs scored in the game.  After the game Hawpe moves into second place in the Texas League in both batting average (.338) and on-base percentage (.455) but struggles moving forward.

May 14: After splitting their series in Corpus, the ’Riders pay their first visit to Midland and go on to lose in walk-off fashion for the first time in 2012.  After Chris McGuiness was robbed of an RBI single on a line drive back to the pitcher to end the top of the ninth inning, Shane Peterson wins it for the RockHounds with a bases-loaded RBI hit off Ortiz to give Midland a 6-5 victory.

Closer Johan Yan bedeviled Texas League hitters, converting ten saves in 11 chances before a promotion. (Alex Yocum-Beeman/RoughRiders)

May 15:Johan Yan enters the ninth inning with a 5-3 lead over Midland but commits an error, gives up a run and loads the bases with one out.  He gets out of the jam thanks to a spectacular stop and glove flip by second baseman Guilder Rodriguez that starts a game-ending 4-6-3 double play.  Frisco wins 5-4 as Loux becomes the Minors’ first eight-game winner.

May 18: On the heels of their second series defeat of the season, the ’Riders look worn down against former big leaguer and San Antonio Mission Josh Geer, who takes a no-hitter into the eighth inning.  Jared Prince breaks it up with a double to start off the frame, but Frisco goes on to lose 5-2.  Profar narrowly extends his hitting streak to 28 games by tripling in his final at bat in the ninth inning.

May 19: A night after nearly being no-hit, the ’Riders come close to no-hitting San Antonio in a 13-0 victory.  Chad Bell (4 IP), Carlos Pimentel (3 IP) and Corey Young (0.2 IP) combine to get to within four outs of the no-no but Young allows a double to Jeudy Valdez with two outs in the frame to spoil the bid.  Profar wastes no time in moving his hit streak to 29 games, the longest in the Minors at that point, with a first inning double.  Mike Olt closes the affair with a two-run home run in the eighth inning, his ninth of the season.

May 20: Profar fails to get a base hit in a game for the first time since April 17, ending his 29-game hitting streak in a 2-1 Frisco win over the Missions.  By the end of the season, the streak would be tied for the second-longest in Major or Minor League Baseball in 2012.  Profar does work a walk in the fourth inning to push his consecutive games on-base streak to 39.

May 21: Yan blows his first career save by giving up two runs in the ninth inning to San Antonio.  He had been 25-for-25 in save opportunities since he converted from playing infield before today.  His offense, with some help from a fortuitous Jonathan Galvez error, picks him up by scoring a pair of runs in the bottom of the ninth inning en route to a 6-5 win.

May 23 – 25: Division leaders Frisco and Tulsa play for the first time at the Drillers’ ONEOK Field.  Tulsa wins two of three games to claim the series victory, in part thanks to a walk-off wild pitch uncorked by Wilfredo Boscan in the series finale.

May 26: The ’Riders score five runs in the bottom of the first inning off Northwest Arkansas’ Chris Dwyer, but the lead is short-lived as Loux surrenders five runs as well in the bottom of the frame.  The big righty settles down to pitch six innings as the offense provides four more runs in a 9-6 win.  Loux improves to 10-0 in his first ten starts of the season, setting a new Frisco record for most consecutive victories.

May 27: Hawpe, mired in a slump, goes 0-for-4 with two strikeouts in what proves to be his last game of the season, one the ’Riders lose 9-5 to the Naturals.  Since his four-hit game on May 10, the former Major League All-Star has hit .130 (6-for-46) with no extra-base hits and one RBI.

May 28: Memorial Day becomes truly memorable for one RoughRider as Val Majewski and Alex Buchholz combine on back-to-back solo home runs off Northwest Arkansas’ Noel Arguelles in a game Frisco wins 9-6.  It was Majewski’s first and only home run of the season; he goes 3-for-5 with another RBI and run scored for the day.

May 31: Frisco closes out the month of May with a 10-4 win at home over Tulsa.  After a few days off, Hawpe goes on the disabled list with elbow fatigue (he had “Tommy John” surgery on his left elbow the previous August).  Three weeks later he is granted his release by the Rangers organization and does not play again in 2012.

 

Coming tomorrow: A look back at the month of June.

-          Alex V.

Season in Review: April

Jose Felix and an umpiring crew observe the singing of the National Anthem before a RoughRiders game.

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. (All photos by Alex Yocum-Beeman/Frisco RoughRiders)

APRIL

Record: 15-9 (2nd of 8 TL teams)

Average: .263 (3rd)

Home Runs: 26 (2nd)

ERA: 3.08 (2nd)

Top Offensive Players: Brad Hawpe (.321-3-8, .459/.554/1.013), Leury Garcia (.309-0-2, 2 2B, 3 3B)

Top Pitchers: Justin Grimm (5 GS, 4-1, 1.59 ERA, 28.1 IP, 27 K, 6 BB, .194 BAA), Barret Loux (5 GS, 5-0, 1.63 ERA, 27.2 IP, 28 K, 8 BB), Carlos Pimentel (6 G, 2 GS, 2-1, 1/1 SV, 1.35 ERA, 20 IP, 24 K, .174 BAA), Johan Yan (10 G, 0.87 ERA, 5/5 SV, .158 BAA)

High expectations can be a two-edged sword.  On one hand, they can elevate preexisting senses of hope and confidence.  A baseball team from which a lot is expected can thrive on the positive mojo and can achieve success.  Conversely, that hype has the ability to crush a team under the weight of those expectations and it underperforms.  Even if a team doesn’t collapse, the odds of it failing the live up to high expectations are much greater than actually meeting them.

Justin Grimm put himself on track for a breakout 2012 with a dominant April.

Enter the 2012 Frisco RoughRiders.  With Frisco previously fielding playoff teams in six of the nine previous seasons, the expectations were already there for another successful season.  But on top of that, Baseball America tabbed the RoughRiders as the third-most talented roster of players among all 120 full-season Minor League squads.  The respected industry publication cited the presence of big-time infield prospects Jurickson Profar (number one on BA’s list of top Texas Rangers prospects), Mike Olt (three) and Leury Garcia (11) as well as pitchers Justin Grimm (15), Barret Loux (20) and Miguel De Los Santos (29).  Throw in the toolsy, but mercurial Engel Beltre and 2011 Carolina League All-Stars Jared Prince, Ryan Strausborger and Zach Zaneski and it’s easy to see why Baseball America had its eye on the ’Riders.

But talented Minor League squads filled with prospects do not always translate into good teams.  More often than not, it seems that rosters made up of older players with years of experience in their respective leagues have the most success and win championships.

The RoughRiders bucked those odds and finished April with the second-best record in the Texas League through a balanced combination of fantastic pitching and steady offense.  From out of the gate, the team’s pitching staff was dominant.  Justin Grimm anchored a rotation that anchored five intriguing prospects while the bullpen featured hard throwers aplenty.  While the offense got off to a slow start (13 runs in the first five games), it rebounded nicely and proved to be the most dynamic in the TL.

TIMELINE:

Rangers infielders Ian Kinsler & Elvis Andrus returned to their old home ballpark for an exhibition game with the RoughRiders on April 4.

April 4: Before the regular season begins, the RoughRiders host the parent club Texas Rangers in an exhibition game.  Making the occasion even more interesting, prized Japanese import Yu Darvish makes the start for Ron Washington’s club in his first pitching appearance in his new home market.  Darvish does not disappoint, tossing four scoreless innings with two hits and two walks allowed to go along with five strikeouts as the Major Leaguers best the ’Riders 6-1.

April 5: The RoughRiders begin the regular season in Missouri with a 1-0 win over the Springfield Cardinals.  Frisco’s only run scores on a Jose Felix sacrifice fly while Justin Grimm (5.1 IP, 2 H, 0 R, BB, 10 K) is brilliant in his Double-A debut.

April 6: Frisco falls 4-1 to the Cardinals with the team’s only run coming on Mike Olt’s first home run of the season.  Earlier in the day the Rangers re-sign long-time big league outfielder and Westlake, Texas native Brad Hawpe and assign him to Frisco.  Hawpe underwent “Tommy John” surgery while playing for the Padres in August of 2011.

April 7: In what was the first of many, Barret Loux earns his first win of the season in a 6-1 victory over Springfield in the series finale.  Loux works out of trouble in nearly every inning (six hits and two walks) but does not allow a run over five frames.  Hawpe leads the way by going 3-for-4 with a home run in his first at bat.  He finishes a triple shy of the cycle with two runs scored and two RBI.

April 8: The ’Riders continue their season-opening road trip with an extra-innings 3-2 win on Easter Sunday at Arkansas.  Felix hits a soft single to left-center field in the 11th inning that scores Engel Beltre from second base to win it.  Jurickson Profar snaps his 0-for-13 start to the season by hitting a first pitch home run in the fifth inning to the deepest park of Dickey-Stephens Park.

April 14: In a showcase of two of the best position player prospects in the Minors, both Profar and Springfield’s Oscar Taveras hit first inning solo home runs in a game the RoughRiders eventually win 6-2.  Profar officially puts his first week struggles (2 for 26 to begin 2012) to bed with a 3-for-4 night at the plate.

April 16: Frisco beats Arkansas 2-1 behind another excellent performance by Grimm (6.1 IP, H, 0 R, BB, 5 K) for its fourth straight victory.  The win not only clinches the team’s fourth straight series victory to start the season, but it also moves Steve Buechele into the top spot for most wins ever by a Frisco manager.  Buechele’s 155th win as the ’Riders’ skipper gives him one more than Tim Ireland, who managed the team in its first two years of existence and in 2004 won Frisco’s only Texas League championship.

April 19 – 22: After winning 10-0 at Corpus Christi in their first divisional game of the season, the ’Riders see their pitching get torched for 22 runs over the next three games en route to losing their first series of the season.

April 24: Following trips to the disabled list by starter Miguel De Los Santos and reliever Ryan Rodebaugh, Chad Bell is promoted to Frisco from Advanced-A Myrtle Beach.  An under-the-radar prospect, Bell does not take long to impress, at first in relief and eventually as a starting pitcher.  That night Olt hits his fifth home run and Profar triples in a 7-2 Frisco win over San Antonio.

April 25:The ’Riders score three first inning runs off San Antonio’s Hayden Beard but cannot hold the advantage as the Missions come back to tie the game by the third.  After Bell surrenders a go-ahead home run in the top of the ninth inning, Frisco ties it on Hawpe’s two-out RBI double in the bottom of the inning to send the game to extra innings.  However in the 11th, Jeudy Valdez burns Corey Young for an RBI single to send San Antonio to a 6-5 win in three hours and 23 minutes.

Brad Hawpe’s comeback from elbow surgery got off to a great start as his bat provided the ‘Riders a big boost in the season’s first month.

April 26: After Fabio Castillo blows a ninth inning save, the ’Riders and Missions go to extras for the second straight night and take their time to settle things.  The game goes to the 13th inning when Guilder Rodriguez strokes a base hit to center field to score Chris McGuiness and send Frisco to a 6-5 win, its first walk-off victory of the year.  The game takes four hours and 26 minutes to complete.  Earlier in the contest, Leury Garcia pulls up lame at first base running out a bunt and is eventually placed on the disabled list where he will remain for nearly a month because of a right hip flexor.

April 27: Grimm (6 IP, 4 H, 0 R, BB, 9 K) rebounds from his first poor outing of the season to outclass the Hooks’ Jarred Cosart in a 12-0 ’Riders romp.  Chris McGuiness crushes a three-run home run – his fifth of the season – in a six-run fifth inning.  Bell throws three perfect innings (4 K) for the save.

April 29: Loux strikes out eight batters and allows two runs over six innings as the ’Riders blast Corpus 10-3.  The former Texas A&M Aggie ends May tied for the MiLB lead in wins at 5-0 with a 1.63 ERA.  Six Frisco players have multi-hit games, including Profar (2-for-5), who extends his hit streak to 11 games.

April 30: Despite allowing four runs over the first two innings, Jake Brigham gets bailed out by his offense in a 9-4 Frisco victory over the Hooks.  Zach Zaneski, who entered the game hitting .167 (116 points below his career average) with two extra-base hits, drilled two home runs while Alex Buchholz homered and tripled to pace the offense.  The triple was Frisco’s 17th of the year, the most by any professional team through the season’s first month.

Coming tomorrow: A look back at the month of May.

-          Alex V.

RoughRiders Around the Globe

Every September when the minor league season comes to an end and fall sets in, many think that it’s time for our RoughRiders to take a well earned vacation.  However, what many don’t realize is that minor leaguers around the country travel around the world to play winter and fall ball.  These leagues provide the players a chance for additional income and the opportunity to improve their game.  Here’s where some RoughRiders, and other Rangers’ farm-hands, will be sending post cards from this off-season:

Arizona Fall League

Players: Miguel De Los Santos, LHP; Leury Garcia, INF; Ryan Kelly, RHP; Leonys Martin, OF; Justin Miller, RHP; Mike Olt, INF; Neil Ramirez, RHP; Elio Sarmiento, C; Ryan Strausborger, OF; Johan Yan, RHP.  (All play for the Surprise Saguaros).

Mike Olt could possibly open up 2012 in Frisco (James Garner)

Rangers’ prospect Mike Olt was named the Arizona Fall League’s Player of the Week on Monday, batting .571 (8-14) with a double, 2 home runs, 8 RBI, and 5 walks the previous week.  The 23-year-old matched the Fall League’s single-game high with a 6 RBI effort on Friday and represented the Rangers and Saguaros in the AFL Rising Stars Game on Saturday. The 6 RBI performance gave the University of Connecticut product a share of the AFL RBI lead (30), while he also leads the league in both home runs (8) and slugging percentage (.705).

OF Leonys Martin has seen action with the Saguaros as a member of the club’s taxi squad and hit a home run in his Fall League debut on October 19…OF Ryan Strausborger has hit safely in 8 of his last 9 games, raising his season average to .327 (17-52). The Arizona Fall League regular season continues through November 17.

Mexican Winter League 

Players: Cody Eppley, RHP (Obregon); Jose Felix, C (Guasave)

RHP Cody Eppley has worked out of the bullpen for the Mexican Winter League’s Obregon, going 1-1 with a 3.60 ERA (6 ER/15.0 IP) over 14 appearances.

Dominican Winter League 

Players: Engel Beltre, OF (Licey); Julio Borbon, OF (Escogido); Fabio Castillo, RHP (La Romana); Andres James, INF (Licey); Carlos Pimentel, RHP (Escogido).

RHP Carlos Pimentel has posted a 0.82 ERA (1 ER/11.0 IP) with 15 strikeouts against 5 walks in 8 relief outings with Escogido.

Venezuelan Winter League 

Players: Wilfredo Boscan, RHP (Zulia); Joey  Butler, OF (Magallanes); Joseph Ortiz, LHP (La Guaira); Renny Osuna, INF (La Guaira); Guilder Rodriguez, INF (Lara); Tanner Scheppers, RHP (Magallanes).

Pan American Games

3B Tommy Mendonca and INF Chad Tracy each took home silver medals as part of Team USA in the Pan American Games hosted by Guadalajara, Mexico on October 19-25. Mendonca batted .333 (6-18) with one home run and a tournament-high 10 RBI in 5 games for Team USA, while Tracy hit .182 (2-11) with 2 RBI in 4 games. The Americans fell 2-1 to Canada in the Gold Medal Game and finished the tournament with a 3-2 record.

-AG

Game 3 Preview – San Antonio at Frisco

Texas League South Division Series
San Antonio Missions at Frisco RoughRiders
Friday, September 9 – 7:05 p.m.
Game 3 – Series tied 1-1

GAME 3 BACKGROUND:

The RoughRiders return home to Dr Pepper Ballpark for a crucial Game 3 after nipping the San Antonio Missions 2-1 Thursday night in Game 2 of this best-of-five series. The ‘Riders scored twice in the top of the fourth and upheld that lead behind the pitching of starter Ben Snyder and relievers Richard Bleier, Johan Yan and Justin Miller. This will be the RoughRiders’ 17th meeting at home against the Missions this year, and each team has won eight of the previous 16 contests.

STARTING PITCHERS:

Frisco – RHP Carlos Pimentel (7-9, 4.74 ERA): Pimentel was the only RoughRiders pitcher to remain in the starting rotation throughout the regular season. Pimentel led the ‘Riders in innings pitched (142 1/3) and quality starts (12), and he finished second in strikeouts (110). Since August 7, Pimentel is 2-1 with an earned run average at 1.60. The righty is 2-0 with a 2.97 ERA in seven starts against the Missions this year.

San Antonio – RHP Casey Kelly (11-6, 3.98 ERA): After a sluggish first half, Kelly boasts a 5-3 mark and a 3.21 earned run average since starting the Texas League All-Star Game June 29. One of the key prospects in the Padres’ deal with the Boston Red Sox for Adrian Gonzalez, Kelly went 1-1 with a 3.10 earned run average against Frisco this season. Over his last 13 innings of work, Kelly has allowed just one earned run and six hits.

FRISCO FACTS:

  • The RoughRiders are 1-3 all-time in Game 3 with the series tied at one game apiece. The lone victory came in the Texas League Championship Series against Round Rock in 2004, when the ‘Riders won their first and only league title.
  • Frisco’s starting pitchers have worked 12 innings and given up just one run in this series. During those 12 frames, the Missions have stranded 13 base runners.
  • Tommy Mendonca, Mike Bianucci and Jonathan Greene went a combined 0-for-9 in Frisco’s Game 1 loss. Last night, the trio went 5-for-12 and scored both of the ‘Riders’ runs. Each notched a hit in the RoughRiders’ two-run fourth.
  • Want proof that this series has been pitching-heavy? The two teams have hit a combined .157 (19-for-121). Only five hitters have mustered two hits in the series.
  • The RoughRiders’ Game 4 starter has not been officially announced yet, but whoever it is will square off with a former Frisco hurler. Robbie Erlin will take to the mound for the Missions in Game 4, either trying to keep San Antonio alive or hoping to eliminate his former team from the postseason.
  • There have been only ten runs scored through two days of the Texas League playoffs. This series has featured six runs, while Arkansas’ battle with Northwest Arkansas has only brought with it four runs. The Travs lead the series 2-0 thanks to a pair of walk-off wins.
  • Triple-A Round Rock faces elimination tonight at Omaha, trailing 2-0 in that best-of-five set. Low-A Hickory is also one loss away from elimination. The Crawdads host Greensboro in Game 2 of that three-game series. High-A Myrtle Beach spoiled a five-run lead in an 8-6, 11-inning loss to Kinston. That series is even at 1-1.

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 a player or two on the pre-game show, which begins at 6:35.

Playoff Perspective – Game 2

Tonight’s game embodied everything that is exciting, fascinating, frustrating, and gratifying about playoff baseball. The ‘Riders edged San Antonio 2-1 to even this best-of-five South Division Series at one game apiece. Here are some thoughts.

PLAYOFF PERSPECTIVE:

- Knowing what we know now, San Antonio lost this game in the first three innings. The Missions stranded seven runners in those frames against Ben Snyder (I’ll get to him in a moment). After that, they only mustered five more runners. With Simon Castro on the bump and their awesome bullpen, the Missions could have made this series 2-0 with a few key hits in the early innings.

- Snyder did not have his best stuff, but he battled to post six scoreless innings. This outing was just as impressive as Robbie Ross’ effort last night in Game 1. Snyder has now posted six straight quality starts, and he has been one of the biggest reasons the ‘Riders succeeded in the regular season. His moxie in tough situations tonight kept the RoughRiders in the game and the series.

- Snyder’s escapes in the first three innings were impressive, but the biggest pitch of the game came in the seventh. Richard Bleier allowed a double and an RBI single to begin his relief appearance. Then, Bleier induced a double play to erase the possible tying run from the bases. The Missions did not get another hit the rest of the game.

Johan Yan has a 0.31 ERA with the 'Riders this season (James Garner).

- I know two runs may not seem like much, but getting a pair off Castro is tough. Frisco’s offense rolls when the heart of the order–Tommy Mendonca, Mike Bianucci and Jonathan Greene–is swinging well. In Game 1, the trio went 0-for-9. Tonight, they went 5-for-12 with both runs scored. Each notched a hit in the RoughRiders’ two-run fourth.

- Johan Yan has been incredible for the RoughRiders. If you include his work in Games 1 and 2, Yan has a 0.31 earned run average. That’s one earned run in 29 innings. Tonight, Yan zoomed through the heart of San Antonio’s order and retired all four he battled, two of those outs coming on strikes.

- He has been the ‘Riders’ best arm in the bullpen since his promotion in mid-July. However, this was the first time this year that Yan has worked in back-to-back games. The righty threw 20 pitches in Game 1 and another 15 this evening. I would be surprised to see him available for Game 3.

Justin Miller earned the save in Game 2 Thursday (Alex Yocum-Beeman).

- Justin Miller’s efforts in the ninth inning always seem to get a bit interesting, but the right-hander always seems to get the job done. Miller has recorded 14 saves this year, and he has not blown a save since May 23. Tonight, the mid-season All-Star recorded another great showing out of the ‘pen.

- The theme of the Texas League playoffs through two days has been pitching. This series has featured six runs, while Arkansas’ battle with Northwest Arkansas has only brought with it four runs. The Travs lead the series 2-0 thanks to a pair of walk-off wins.

- Friday night’s Game 3 is the biggest contest at Dr Pepper Ballpark since September 15, 2008, which was Game 5 of the TL Championship Series. Hope you can come out to the yard for what should be a tremendous game. Tickets are still available, so join us for a pivotal Game 3.

- Brian

‘Riders in the Fall League

Once the playoffs end for the RoughRiders this year, Dr Pepper Ballpark will close its doors, the players will pack up their lockers, and everyone will deserve a long vacation. But what many don’t realize is that for a number of RoughRiders, the season doesn’t end. Many players travel to Venezuela, Puerto Rico, or Mexico to play in winter leagues to continue to get better and prepare for the next year.

A few select players, however, get the chance to remain stateside and play in the highly regarded Arizona Fall League. The 12-week, prospect driven league is entering its 20th season and is owned and operated by Major League Baseball.   Big league All-Stars such as Derek Jeter, Albert Pujols, and Ryan Braun have all spent time in the AFL.  This year, three current ‘Riders have been tabbed to play in the Fall League with the Surprise Rafters.

RHP, Neil Ramirez

The former 44th overall pick in the 2007 draft is 1-0 with a 1.89 ERA in Double-A this season through six starts.  The bulk of his season has been spent in Triple-A Round Rock where he made 17 starts and went 4-3 and had a 3.68 ERA.  The right-hander was placed on the disabled list in mid-July because of shoulder fatigue which has limited his innings in the Texas League.

When I talked with Neil following his start Thursday night in Corpus Christi he was excited to be selected for the Fall League.  “It’s a big honor, for sure.  It’s good competition and will great to see how you stack up.”  The righty wants to continue to hone his mechanics while he’s there.  “I plan on working on making good pitches and will focus on the backside of my delivery.  The Fall League will also give me a good idea what my off-season conditioning will look like.”

C, Elio Sarmiento

The ‘Riders switch-hitting catcher has had a terrific season in Frisco.  He hit .327 in 16 July games and has been a constant presence behind the plate for the ‘Riders.  He has always had a great rapport with the staff, but this has been his best offensive season in Double-A.  Elio is batting .378 with runners on base, and is hitting .356 with runners in scoring position.

His selection to the AFL is a great way to conclude his 2011 campaign and he’s clearly grateful.  “I feel blessed, it’s a great opportunity for me and I consider it a reward for all the hard work,”  His goals for the AFL season are pretty simple, “I want to finish healthy, do my best, and hope for even more opportunities with the Rangers.”

The Fall League works out well for Sarmiento because he makes his off-season home in Phoenix along with his wife and two children.  His mother-in-law is also in Phoenix and for just the second time, Elio’s mother will visit the U.S. from Venezuela and will be able to watch him play in Surprise.

RHP, Johan Yan

He was originally a shortstop then got too big for the position and moved to third base. Then his bat wasn’t cutting it so the Rangers’ moved him to the mound.  That didn’t work at first either.  The last ditch effort was to change Yan from the traditional over-the-top delivery to a side-arm approach.

Bingo.

The right-hander went from thinking his playing days were over to now being selected to the top off-season league in the country.  In 43 appearances combined between High-A Myrtle Beach and Frisco, Johan has allowed just eight earned runs in slightly over 66 innings of work and has a Double-A earned run average of 0.36.  On August 15th against Tulsa he gave up his first earned run since June 1 when he was pitching with the Pelicans.

Like Neil and Elio, Yan is a hard worker who has really made the most of his opportunities and will only get better in Arizona.

Former ‘Rider from early in the season Miguel de los Santos will also be going to Surprise to play in the AFL.  He’s pitched with Myrtle Beach after being placed on the DL with a shoulder injury after making six starts with Frisco.

The remaining prospects tabbed to play in Arizona who you have to imagine will be future RoughRiders are RHP Ryan Kelly, SS Leury Garcia, 3B Mike Olt, and OF Ryan Strausborger.

Congrats to Neil, Elio, Johan, and the rest of the group.  We’ll keep you posted on how their season goes here on the Insider Blog.

-AG

RoughRiders In The (Football) Draft

The NFL is right around the corner, which means that fantasy football drafts are taking place all over the world. The RoughRiders’ front office had its draft Tuesday night. We all realized quickly that Aaron–the league’s commissioner–had the best draft by far. He may go undefeated.  I’m in trouble.

So, let’s make some fantasy football comparisons with some of your RoughRiders. By the way, Aaron will have another fantasy football-related post tomorrow from Tulsa.

Tommy Mendonca = Arian Foster (RB, Houston): Mendonca (.285, 23 HR, 83 RBI) is finishing up a breakout season here in the Texas League, and Foster (1374 yards, 13 TDs) was the breakout star of the NFL last season. Foster is going in the first round in many drafts, and Mendonca would be near the top of most Texas League boards.

Mike Bianucci = Peyton Hillis (RB, Cleveland): Two tough, strong men who produce very well. Bianucci is third in the Texas League in home runs (27) while Hillis became the first Brown to don the cover of Madden. These two guys are beasts in their sports.

Engel Beltre = Santonio Holmes (WR, NY Jets): Both men have great speed and catch seemingly everything that comes their way, and they both do it with a little flair. Beltre is one of the best defenders in the Texas League, and Holmes is the top receiver on a contender.

Renny Osuna = Ray Rice (RB, Baltimore): Both Osuna and Rice are a bit undersized, but they both produce at a very high level. Rice is a first-round pick in fantasy football drafts, while Osuna is the RoughRiders’ all-time hits leader. If you have either on your team, you have a great chance to win.

Ben Snyder = Ben Roethlisberger (QB, Pittsburgh): These two guys are better real-life players than they are fantasy sports acquisitions. Snyder has been in the bullpen, starting rotation, and outfield this season, and Roethlisberger gets better as the game progresses.

Justin Miller = Tom Brady (QB, New England): Miller doesn’t have three rings or an undefeated regular season (although he is close at 9-1 this season), but he does shut the door on his opponents late in the game. Brady is the king of fourth-quarter wins, and Miller boasts a 2.03 ERA as a late-inning bullpen option.

Johan Yan = Mike Williams (WR, Tampa Bay): Both players made instant impacts out of nowhere. A converted infielder, Yan has an incredible 0.47 in his first 19 Double-A innings. Williams was a fourth-round pick in last year’s draft, and his 1,056 receiving yards and eight touchdowns helped the Buccaneers become one of the biggest 2010 surprises.

Matt Leeds = Andre Roberts (WR, Arizona): Two deep sleepers. Leeds is with the RoughRiders after spending the first two months of his professional career in the Arizona League, and Roberts is going to get some playing time alongside Larry Fitzgerald.

- Brian

RoughRiders’ All-Gridiron Team

With the NFL lockout over and August underway, football is in the air.  The ‘Riders have some solid athletes this season which prompted the question “who would play where if the RoughRiders were a football team”? Seems logical.  After consulting with Frisco strength and conditioning coach Eric McMahon, here is the ‘Riders All-Gridiron Team. Feel free to leave comments with your opinions.  -AG

Offense

Quarterback: Ben Snyder
Although he was a two-time All-State wide receiver in high school, Snyder like the logical fit as QB. He has good athleticism, is a veteran, and has the intelligence the position demands.

Wide Receiver/Flanker: Justin Miller
At 6’4″, Miller is the prototypical deep threat. He has nice leaping abilities and is will force matchup problems for opposing defensive backs. “Snyder to Miller” is something we’ll be saying a lot.

Wide Receiver: Carlos Pimentel
He might be the most athletic pitcher of the ‘Riders staff. Pimentel has a quick burst off the line and is the perfect over-the-middle compliment to Miller going deep.

Running Back: Davis Stoneburner
Although he’s not the prototypical pounding back some might desire, Stoneburner possesses the quickness and elusiveness to to run effectively. What he lacks in size he makes up for in determination and confidence. Stoney is a nice open field runner who also contributes in the passing game.

Wide Receiver/Running Back (Flex): Corey Young
His quick hips and burst make Young a versatile offensive weapon both in the backfield and in the slot. He can lineup in a split-back set with Stoneburner, or can run complimentary routes over the middle with Pimentel in-between the first and second layers of the defense. His run after the catch abilities can turn a five yard dump pass into a 15 yard pick up.

Tight End: Tanner Scheppers
This is a natural fit. At 6’4″ with a long wingspan, Scheppers is the perfect red zone target for Snyder. He’s great over the middle of the field and, as a former short stop in college, has more athleticism than anyone on the line.

Right Tackle: Adalberto Flores
Big, tall, and physical, Flores shoulders the responsibility of protecting Snyder’s blindside. He has the quick feet and powerful arms to move quickly and keep a clean pocket.

Right Guard: Robbie Ross
With a low center of gravity, Ross wards off the blitz well. He also has enough quickness to pull on running plays and open up holes for Stoneburner.

Center: Jose Felix
Another natural fit. “Chief” is the anchor of the offensive line.

Left Guard: Richard Bleier
Bleier has the intelligence to read the defense and the athleticism to pull.

Left Tackle: Fabio Castillo
Pound-for-pound the biggest guy on the line.  Fabio is aggressive with string hands and a wide upper-half.

Defense

Defensive End: Mike Bianucci
Has the size to stay in on running downs, but the athleticism and burst to rush the passers. His low center of gravity helps keep him on his feet, and his motor will wear down offensive tackles by the fourth quarter.

Defensive Tackle: Jose Ruiz
As one RoughRider told me, if Jose joined a Division I football program today, in four years he’d be an All-American. Ruiz has elite lateral movement and a sharp burst. He’s a beast clogging up the middle and has the speed to rush the passer.

Defensive Tackle: Jake Brigham
Fear the beard.  Brigham has the strength and aggressiveness to compliment Ruiz next to him. He also has the long arms to knock down passes when rushing.  He brings the intensity and heart his position demands.

Defensive End: Johan Yan
Love this choice. His height and weight profiles as a rush defensive end. He runs well, has a long wingspan, and is big and strong enough to play the run.

Outside Linebacker: Elio Sarmiento
Thick and strong, Sarmiento can stuff the run but also has the quickness to cover a tight end who releases from the line. He can cover the flat and is disciplined enough to be trusted take down a running back in the open field.

Middle Linebacker: Jonathan Greene
His physical build and tools make Greene a nice choice here. He stuffs the run well and isn’t afraid of contact.

Middle Linebacker: Tommy Mendonca
Like Greene, Mendonca has the build to stuff the run. His strong forearms help him wrap up well and he has the quickness to move in a confined space well.

Outside Linebacker: Mitch Hilligoss
Aside from having a linebackers neck, Hilligoss can drop back like a safety, rush like a defensive end, and stop the run. Like Sarmiento, Hilli is a good fit here.

Cornerback: Engel Beltre
Beltre has big play, pick-six potential. His elite speed matches up with any wide receiver. He has all the makings up a shut-down corner.

Cornerback: Renny Osuna
While Renny may not have the speed of Beltre, he is ultra reliable and can cover the run as well. Has the athleticism to cover all types of receivers and has a nose for the ball.

Free Safety: Tyler Tufts
Perfect combination of size and speed to cover the entire third layer of the defense. Tufts has nice range and is a sound safety blanket for Renny and Osuna on the outer thirds. His big hits make receivers think twice before coming over the middle.

RoughRiders Roundtable Podcast, Episode #3

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN

The latest episode of the RoughRiders Roundtable Podcast is now yours to listen to and download on iTunes.  As always, a big thanks to our producer Ted Price, Jason Cole of LoneStarDugout.com, and Brian.

The three of us discuss the trade deadline, Joe Wieland, Mike Bianucci, Tomym Mendonca, Johan Yan, Renny Osuna, Jake Brigham, Justin Miller, Tanner Scheppers … and even more.

We’ve been thrilled with the early response of the podcast.  Episode 2 had over 1,300 downloads!  Thanks to all who download and listen, and remember, feel free to leave a comment with a question or future topic you’d like us to discuss.

I hope you and your iPod enjoy.  -AG

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