Results tagged ‘ Joseph Ortiz ’
As someone somewhere once said, “Let the games begin!” Today marks the start of Cactus League play as the Rangers and they won’t have to go far to play their opponent. In fact, neither will opponent. Texas will play the Kansas City Royals this afternoon in the stadium they share out in Surprise, Arizona. Derek Holland will get the start against Will Smith while Carlton and Uncle Phil might make an appearance as well. On to today’s Rangers links:
Pudge Rodriguez hired to front office – The big news yesterday was that Ivan Rodriguez was rejoining the organization as a special assistant to Jon Daniels as well as an instructor and ambassador. As a result, we might see Pudge in Frisco this summer like we did with Greg Maddux last year. Drew Davison gets Pudge’s thoughts on catching prospect Jorge Alfaro and also notes the Rangers players who will be competing in the World Baseball Classic.
Five Rangers to watch in spring training – Jeff Wilson says that the Rangers could greatly benefit from big springs from these five players.
Spring Break: New Rangers reliever Josh Lindblom embraces the cold -Davison talks cold weather baseball with Josh Lindblom, who played his college ball in the Big Ten.
Lighter Moreland has heavier role with Rangers – The AP writes that former ‘Rider Mitch Moreland is lighter this spring, both in weight and attitude.
Jim Bowden on Profar/Cano and Ron Washington’s Job Security – Former major league GM and ESPN Insider Jim Bowden appeared on the Ben & Skin Show on 103.3 ESPN Radio yesterday and had some interesting things to say, especially his hypothetical 2014 Rangers middle infield.
Small in stature, LHP Joe Ortiz making big impression - Richard Durrett profiles former RoughRider and dark horse relief candidate Joseph Ortiz (he told me he prefers Joseph, but the Rangers insist on using Joe on their rosters with him for some reason). Last season in his two months with the ‘Riders, former big league all-star Brad Hawpe said that Ortiz was one of the three toughest lefties in the Texas League along with Midland’s Sean Doolittle (who pitched with Oakland by mid-season) and Corpus Christi’s Kevin Chapman.
Rangers hire Pudge as special assistant – T.R. Sullivan has more on the Rangers’ hiring of Ivan Rodriguez.
Holland believes Classic will give him an edge - Sullivan talks with today’s starter, Derek Holland, about the upcoming WBC, in which he is excited to be participating. Some worry that the WBC is bad for pitchers, but don’t count the former RoughRiders lefty in that camp. On an editorial note, how great would it be to see Holland matched up against the Netherlands at some point?
The Rangers avoided the snow that did this to the Match Play Championship out in Arizona yesterday as “Team Jackie Moore,” comprised of mostly Rangers regulars, defeated “Team Bobby Jones” 10-4 in the second intrasquad scrimmage of spring training. The Rangers media relations folks distributed a box score indicating that 2012 RoughRider Cody Buckel pitched an inning for the winning side, but I swear that’s him in the photo above instigating a snowball fight. Anyway, here are today’s spring links (or “splinks,” if you will):
Martin Perez determined to win fifth spot – Richard Durrett has a feature on former ‘Riders pitcher Martin Perez, who’s been the Rangers’ young stud pitching prospect for about 15 years now. Perez thinks that this will be the year he arrives for good after foundering with the big club in 2012. He got off to a good start in Tuesday’s intrasquad game, throwing all nine of his pitches for strikes.
Relief candidates show off stuff - Durrett also cleans out the notebook with a closer look at pitchers trying to make Texas’ bullpen, including 2012 ‘Rider Joseph Ortiz, who earned an Eddie Guardado comparison.
Rangers’ Berkman says calf strain is no issue – Fox Sports Southwest (via the AP) has Lance Berkman essentially saying, “nothing to see here,” regarding his right calf strain. It has to be at least a little concerning for the Rangers considering they are paying him $11 million this season and he played just 32 games last year because of two knee surgeries and a left calf strain.
Lance Berkman lands on injury report – Drew Davison talks to Berkman about his injury but also notes that Leury Garcia may be a WBC candidate for the Dominican Republic because of his versatility.
Five candidates vying for last spot in Rangers rotation – Jeff Wilson breaks down the competition for the number five starting spot between Perez, Randy Wells, Kyle McClellan, Justin Grimm and Robbie Ross.
And, just for the sake of comparison:
With calendar year wrapping up, we’re taking one last look at the 2012 season, specifically the top performers in the Rangers organization. MiLB.com’s Rangers Organization All-Star Team provided a good jumping off point and yesterday we took a look at the infield with an eye upon the outfield and pitching today.
Joey Butler, Round Rock (137 G, .290-20-78, 28 2B, 3B, 93 R, 6-10 SB, .392 OBP, .473 SLG, .865 OPS)
Julio Borbon, Round Rock (126 G, .304-10-56, 23 2B, 8 3B, 78 R, 20-28 SB, .349 OBP, .433 SLG, .783 OPS)
Engel Beltre, Frisco (133 G, .261-13-55, 17 2B, 17 3B, 80 R, 36-46 SB, .307 OBP, .420 SLG, .727 OPS)
Lewis Brinson, AZL Rangers (54 G, .283-7-42, 22 2B, 7 3B, 54 R, 14-16 SB, .345 OBP, .523 SLG, .868 OPS)
The Rangers have a decent number of outfield prospects in their farm system and some very exciting ones who spent 2012 in the lower levels. Unfortunately, some of those exciting prospects did not have very good years offensively. The super-athletic Jordan Akins (Hickory) couldn’t crack the Mendoza Line in his first year with a full-season club while former first rounder Jake Skole struggled mightily in the Carolina League before serving a 50-game suspension for performance-enhancing drugs.
However, there were some notable seasons among outfielders down on the farm. While perhaps a little too old to wear the “prospect” label, Butler turned in a fine season for the Express, providing a consistent, middle-of-the-order threat. Whether or not he profiles to make a big league team at any point, he should have a long career in professional baseball given his ability to produce at the Triple-A level. I could have really included the entire Round Rock outfield on this list, as Borbon’s numbers were nearly as impressive Butler’s and Leonys Martin (55 G, .359-12-42, 1.033 OPS) was a stud in his limited time in Triple-A. While both certainly have credible cases to be made, ultimately I decided that there were other players who deserved the recognition maybe just a bit more.
My pick of Beltre was likely influenced by having the opportunity to see him everyday with the RoughRiders this past season. The former Red Sox signee entered this past season looking to wipe the slate clean from a disastrous 2011 campaign that tarnished his prospect status. The Dominican delivered, setting career-highs in home runs, triples and steals. His 17 three-baggers were the second-most in Minor League Baseball and he played an astonishingly good center field. Speaking from a purely defensive standpoint, I am convinced that he could step into the big leagues today and be a top 15 center fielder.
Based on his 2012 season, the Rangers certainly have to be happy with selecting Brinson with their first round draft pick this past June. The 18-year-old Floridian did not get the same level of attention that AZL Rangers teammate Joey Gallo received for his desert power surge, but that was through no fault of his own. Brinson led the AZL with 36 extra-base hits, 54 runs scored and 124 total bases while finishing one shy of the league lead in both hits and RBI. The potential of Brinson and many of his teammates from this past season should keep Rangers fans excited for the future.
RIGHT-HANDED STARTING PITCHER
MiLB.com’s pick: Barret Loux, Frisco (25 GS, 14-1, 3.47 ERA, 127 IP, 120 H, 100 K, 41 BB, 1.27 WHIP, .251 BAA)
My pick: Cody Buckel, Myrtle Beach/Frisco (26 G, 23 GS, 10-8, 2.49 ERA, 144.2 IP, 105 H, 159 K, 48 BB, 1.06 WHIP, .206 BAA)
Loux’s record is gaudy, but a closer look into his and Buckel’s numbers make the Californian the decisive choice from my perspective. Loux wowed everyone (the Diamondbacks included, methinks) by winning each of his first ten starts of the season before going 4-1 in his final 15 outings. His command of four pitches and ability to adjust from start-to-start and during starts were something to behold. Traded to the Cubs in November as Jake Brigham’s replacement in the Geovany Soto deal, Loux fits the profile of a 4 or 5 starter in a big league rotation. While Loux was very good at the start of the season for Frisco, Buckel was transcendent for the Pelicans. The undersized righty had more starts (13) than runs allowed (12) in the Carolina League and, after an adjustment period in Double-A, was at his best in the Texas League as the season wrapped up. Buckel learned to pound the strike zone with his zippy 92-94 mph fastball and then tortured hitters with his multitude of off-speed offerings (including a “shuuto,” or “reverse-slider”). Buckel should be a regular big league contributor (either with the Rangers or another team depending on how the trade winds are blowing) before the end of the 2014 season. Justin Grimm and C.J. Edwards also were worthy of consideration for this spot.
LEFT-HANDED STARTING PITCHER
MiLB.com’s pick: Chad Bell, Myrtle Beach/Frisco/Round Rock (31 G, 21 GS, 8-7, 3.48 ERA, 2 SV, 142.1 IP, 123 H, 110 K, 54 BB, 1.24 WHIP, .236 BAA)
My pick: Bell
The paucity of lefty starters in the Rangers’ system almost gives this award to Bell by default, but he is still a worthy recipient. He probably should have begun the year: a) in Frisco; and b) as a starter all along. But he started 2012 in a multi-inning relief role for Myrtle Beach before joining the RoughRiders at the end of April. He got off to a rocky start in the Texas League, allowing a home run in his first outing before settling down and going 23 straight innings over seven outings without allowing another earned run. By mid-May, he was starting and on June 11 he received the biggest boost of his season and perhaps his professional career. With Rangers Special Assistant and pitching legend Greg Maddux in attendance, Bell allowed just one hit and one walk with six strikeouts over 6.2 scoreless innings in a win over Midland. Maddux said after the game that it was one of the most impressive starts by a Minor Leaguer he had ever witnessed. Bell was in Round Rock by the end of the month and, though the PCL proved to be more treacherous, continued to string together solid performances.
MiLB.com’s pick: Ben Rowen, Myrtle Beach (38 G, 5-0, 1.57 ERA, 19-20 SV, 57.1 IP, 52 K, 3 BB, 0.77 WHIP, .201 BAA)
My pick: Rowen
Winner of a “MiLBY Award” for the best reliever in all of Minor League Baseball, the submariner Rowen is obviously the best choice here. The former 22nd round draft pick kept his pitches consistently down, inducing a 2.9 GO/AO ratio and allowing just two home runs all season. His ludicrously low number of walks (three) is perhaps his most impressive statistic, given the unpredictablility of submarine-style pitchers in general. Other excellent relievers from this past season included Phil Klein (Spokane/Myrtle Beach), Jimmy Reyes (Myrtle), Nicholas McBride (Spokane/Myrtle Beach), Zach Osborne (for his Myrtle work), Ross Wolf (Frisco/Round Rock), Joseph Ortiz (Frisco/Round Rock) and Yoshinori Tateyama (Round Rock).
– Alex V.
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.
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.
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.
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)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The 2012 RoughRiders Baseball Academy was held at Dr Pepper Ballpark on June 11th, 12th, and 14th. Eager young baseball players were able to get the chance to learn from current RoughRiders’ players and coaches.
Considered one of the most popular TV shows of the 21st century, Two and a Half Men has very little itself to do with baseball. In fact, maybe the most baseball related scene was Charlie Harper (Charlie Sheen) coming back from a softball game in one of the episodes. Sheen, however, is well known in popular culture. He starred in the movie Major League and Major League II, which is an extremely popular movie among baseball fans. It might be one of the most quotable movies that I can remember, especially sports wise. Charlie Harper’s nephew in the movie, Jake Harper, is played by Angus T. Jones as well. Jones played the son of Jim Morris (Dennis Quaid) in the Disney movie, The Rookie.
It was from Charlie Sheen that the word “#winning” became so popular in the social media world. Well, the ‘Riders have been #winning a lot this season and three pitchers are big reasons why the team is winning. Barret Loux (10-0 3.03 ERA) leads professional baseball in wins, Justin Grimm (8-3 1.86 ERA) leads the Texas League and ranks 14th overall in minor league baseball in ERA, and Joseph Ortiz, despite being five foot seven, has been Frisco’s most effective reliever this season with 19 appearances, a 2.05 ERA, and a 1.05 WHIP.
They came from different backgrounds, but there is no denying that the trio has been able to put together a special season. Barret Loux and Justin Grimm are a combined 18-3 for the season. Their win total is better than two minor league baseball teams (Louisville Bats and Rome Braves) and as good as another one (West Virginia Power).
“We have a little friendly competition but it’s not where it gets out of hand and we try to learn from each other, so I’d say we help each other out,” Grimm said when asked if him and Loux push each other, “Every time you’re on the mound, you want to do well and improve yourself and your team.”
Much like Two and a Half Men there are times where baseball players can feel like they are living with each other, especially when they are on the road. In the case of Justin Grimm and Barret Loux, they actually do live with each other. So, it’s a good thing that sometimes a player is rooming with somebody he would want to live with.
“We get along pretty well. We like to fish, golf, similar interests,” Loux said about Grimm, “He makes life interesting. You never know what he’s going to say.”
Sometimes though, it’s what you don’t say that can get you into trouble.
“I was standing out on the mound and we were sitting through the national anthem and I didn’t realize that I had my hat on until I got to the end and I had to take it off and I got so much crap for it once I got in the dugout for having my hat on through the national anthem just standing there,” Grimm said.
While Loux and Grimm deservedly get the accolades from the pitching side, there is little doubt that Joseph Ortiz has been a very valuable ‘Rider this season. Pitching in the late innings for Frisco, Ortiz has stabilized a bullpen that at times has been inconsistent.
In the 19 appearances, Ortiz has pitched 22 innings and struck out 23 batters. He has given up 19 hits and walked four batters. At one point this season he struck out the first batter he faced in six consecutive appearances. Who does Ortiz credit for his success?
“I was always looking forward to having good friends like I have now here in Frisco and I always wanted to come and play here,” Joseph Ortiz said. “That’s what’s making me do a good job on the mound because of the good people that surround me.”
Asked if he had any funny stories about Justin Grimm or Barret Loux, Joseph Ortiz smiled and responded: “The only funny thing is those guys are huge compared to me.”
Written By: Michael Damman
Original Image Courtesy of CBS
As reported by ESPN, and countless other news outlets, Washington Nationals’ catcher Wilson Ramos was abducted by gunmen Wednesday from his home in his native Venezuela.
As I wrote about on the Insider Blog on Tuesday, the following Rangers’ farm-hands are currently playing in the Venezuelan Winter League: Wilfredo Boscan, RHP (Zulia); Joey Butler, OF (Magallanes); Joseph Ortiz, LHP (La Guaira); Renny Osuna, INF (La Guaira); Guilder Rodriguez, INF (Lara); and Tanner Scheppers, RHP (Magallanes).
One other player currently participating in the Venezuelan Winter League is none other than former RoughRider, Ryan Tatusko. Tusk is one of my all-time favorite ‘Riders because he really is the best of both worlds: a great player and a great person. It was a sad day when we and fellow RoughRider Tanner Roark were traded in 2010 to (ironically) the Washington Nationals in exchange for Cristian Guzman.
Ryan keeps a great blog about life in the minors and appropriately wrote about the recent events in Venezuela:
“I hope that I can clear some things up for people and shed some light about what [Venezuela] is like off the field. I am only speaking from a vantage point being with the Margarita Bravos and what it is like for us on Margarita Island and traveling to the mainland when we have to go on the “road.”
“As far as what has transpired in Valencia, we play Aragua all the time during the year, and I have nothing but positive things to say about the city, stadium, and its fans. I have flown into Valencia to play in the minor league game when I was strengthening my arm for starts and I loved the airport as well. Whatever that is transpiring in Valencia is an extreme, isolated incident. I pray for [Wilson Ramos] and for his family, although I have never met him we are all family in this game, especially in the Nationals organization.”
To read the rest of Ryan’s great blog post, click here.
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).
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.