Results tagged ‘ Jurickson Profar ’
Earlier today MiLB.com released its 2012 Rangers Organization All-Star Team and the RoughRiders were well-represented with six players named to the squad, more than any other team in the farm system (Round Rock, which ironically finished with the worst record of all the full-season teams, was second with five). So how did MiLB.com do with their picks? Let’s take a look at the catching and infield positions.
MiLB.com’s pick: Kellin Deglan, Hickory (92 G, .234-12-41, 25 2B, 2 3B, 46 R, .310 OBP, .438 SLG, .748 OPS, 7 E, 12 PB, 38% CS)
My pick: Deglan
Production-wise, it’s not a stellar crop to choose from but a case could be made for either one of Frisco’s catchers (Jose Felix and Zach Zaneski) and for Myrtle Beach’s Tomas Telis. Felix was arguably the best defensive catcher in the Texas League and made strides offensively while Zaneski’s batting average was over .300 for most of the year and got better behind the plate as the season went on. Telis’ offensive numbers, when observed through the hitter-unfriendly Carolina League prism, were actually fairly comparable to Deglan’s. For me, the difference came down to the numbers that were actually there, and the former first round pick Deglan swatted 12 home runs with 25 doubles, both impressive figures for a 20-year old catcher. It may all be a moot point in the long run, as Jorge Alfaro, who caught just 29 games, is probably the best prospect of the bunch. His lack of time behind the dish hurt him in this exercise, however.
MiLB.com’s pick: Chris McGuiness, Frisco (123 G, .268-23-77, 25 2B, 65 R, .366 OBP, .474 SLG, .840 OPS, 7 E)
My Pick: McGuiness
One of the newest members of the Indians organization, McGuiness had a terrific bounce back season with the ’Riders, giving Texas League hurlers a reason to throw hittable pitches to Mike Olt, who batted before the former Citadel star in Steve Buechele’s lineup. McGuiness established career-highs in home runs, doubles, runs batted in and runs scored while saving numerous throwing errors with excellent glove work at first base. Other fine seasons to consider for this spot belonged to the Round Rock combo of Mike Bianucci and Brad Nelson, Myrtle’s Brett Nicholas and the AZL Rangers’ Ronald Guzman.
MiLB.com’s pick: Yangervis Solarte, Round Rock (130 G, .288-11-54, 28 2B, 69 R, 3-4 SB, .340 OBP, .405 SLG, .745 OPS, 11 E at position)
My pick: Rougned Odor, Hickory (109 G, .259-10-47, 23 2B, 4 3B, 60 R, 19-29 SB, .313 OBP, .400 SLG, .714 OPS, 10 E at position)
My first disagreement with MiLB.com comes at the second base position. Solarte’s first season with the Rangers organization was also his first at the Triple-A level. It was his finest season to date in home runs, RBI and runs scored, but while I tend to give a little extra credit to offensive players in the Carolina League, I have to take some away from Pacific Coast Leaguers. Why? The circuit dramatically favors hitters in most years and 2012 was no exception. The PCL batting average and OPS for this past season were .278 and .775, respectively (the International League, by comparison, was .257 and .717). Solarte should certainly be congratulated for a fine season, but the 18-year-old Odor (he turns 19 this February) put up similar numbers in a less offensively-generous league while ranking among the best defensive second basemen in the South Atlantic League. His numbers did fall off in the second half of the year, but that is often the case for players in their first full season of professional ball. Added Frisco first name bonus: I’m looking forward to seeing Rougned playing for the RoughRiders, perhaps by the end of next season. Other second basemen whose seasons were worthy of note included Frisco’s Leury Garcia, Myrtle’s Odubel Herrera, Spokane’s Cam Schiller and the AZL Rangers’ Janluis Castro. So yeah, the Rangers are pretty well-stocked at this position.
MiLB.com’s pick: Mike Olt, Frisco/Texas (MiLB numbers: 95 G, .288-28-82, 17 2B, 3B, 65 R, 4-4 SB, .398 OBP, .579 SLG, .977 OPS, 11 E at position)
My pick: Olt
No brainer here, as a case could be made for Olt being the best third baseman in Minor League Baseball in 2012. After missing a good chunk of the previous season with a broken collarbone, the former UConn Husky was a one-man wrecking crew in Frisco. He looked capable of hitting the most home runs by a Texas Leaguer in more than a decade before the Rangers called him up to the big leagues in early August. He was slowed by a foot injury that he suffered just days into reaching Arlington, but that will likely become just a footnote in an otherwise solid big league career. While Olt was clearly the best at the hot corner for the Rangers, it would be remiss of me to not mention Joey Gallo, who spent time with both short-season clubs. The supplemental first rounder from this past June snapped Cody Decker’s AZL home run record with 18 long balls (he added four more with Spokane) while hitting .293 with a 1.169 OPS for the baby Rangers. Christian Villanueva, who spent most of 2012 with Myrtle before being traded to the Cubs, Hickory’s Drew Robinson and Spokane’s Ryan Rua also had noteworthy seasons.
MiLB.com’s pick: Jurickson Profar, Frisco/Texas (MiLB numbers: 126 G, .281-14-62, 26 2B, 7 3B, 76 R, 16-20 SB, .368 OBP, .452 SLG, .820 OPS, 22 E at position)
My pick: Profar
Again, you can’t shoot too many holes in picking Profar, hailed by many as the best prospect in the game at the moment. From his preternatural ability to work a count to his off-the-charts makeup, there isn’t much to say about the 19-year-old Curacaoian (my favorite learned word of 2012) that hasn’t already been said. So how about this observation, for kicks and giggles:
First game of full season ball: Home run in his first at bat of the year for Hickory vs. Asheville on April 7, 2011
First hit at Double-A: Home run at Arkansas to deepest part of the ballpark on April 8, 2012
First at bat in 2012 XM Futures All-Star Game: Home run off top pitching prospect Jake Odorizzi in first inning
First MLB at bat: Home run at Cleveland on September 2, 2012
The man knows how to make an entrance, doesn’t he? With apologies to Allen Iverson, not to be forgotten at the shortstop position is Hanser “The Answer” Alberto, who put together a strong campaign between the two Single-A stops on the Minor League ladder.
Coming tomorrow: My thoughts on the outfield and pitching All-Star choices.
- 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.
In part two of my discussion with RoughRiders manager Steve Buechele, we talk about Jurickson Profar, Chris McGuiness and his own future in the game.
Alex Vispoli: This past season you had the distinct pleasure of sending four guys directly to the big leagues, by passing Triple-A. In your opinion, taking a look at those four guys (Justin Grimm, Wilmer Font, Mike Olt and Jurickson Profar), what do you think their ceilings are, how good can they get?
Steve Buechele: I don’t know, but I think they can all become great players. To tab every one of them as a great player, well what happens down the road you just never know. [Profar], he’s had so much talk about him and hype put on his shoulders, and the same with Mike Olt; I think they’re both going to be absolutely great Major Leaguers for a long time. I think Wilmer Font has a chance to very very good. And I think Justin Grimm, getting a taste and seeing what it’s like, I think he’ll be very good. And I could say that about a lot of other guys who were on our team this year. I think the fans and people around the Metroplex are going to find out that a pretty good number of kids who were on that team this year are going to be wearing a Rangers uniform. If not a Rangers uniform, they’ll be wearing a big league uniform pretty soon.
AV: Chris McGuiness was named the co-Player of the Week – along with Houston’s Jon Singleton – for the first week of action in the Arizona Fall League. I was pretty surprised by McGuiness’ season in that he was so productive. He started off slowly but hit for a .268 average with 23 home runs and it seemed like he raised his game to another level when Olt – who had been hitting in front of him for most of the season – went up to the big leagues. Here he is carrying the label of an “elite prospect” by going out to Arizona and by having the season that he had. He is known for being a pretty good defensive player as well. Is he someone who surprised you a little bit considering that he missed most of 2011 with injury and when he did play the results were not great?
SB: I don’t think he surprised me. I think what was key for him was that it was one of the first seasons where he went the full season injury-free. He’s always had little nicks and knacks and injuries that have knocked him out here and there. This year, for the most part, he was injury-free and played every day. And he was a kid who you saw him just develop and grow into a much more confident run producer and a much more confident hitter. I think maybe when Mike [Olt] got brought up, and I think even before that, you saw him develop and become a much more confident hitter as the season went on, certainly after the first half. Early in the year he had so many opportunities to knock in runs and I think became frustrated with it. It was just nice to see a kid at the Double-A level understand what it takes and what kind of hitter he needs to become to be a run producer. It was just great to see him do that. And he’s a great kid; to see that he was named “Player of the Week,” that’s not a surprise to me at all.
AV: With Profar, there’s so much hype around him and he had such a good season at 19 years old in Double-A, the youngest player in Double-A this year. You probably don’t know the answer to this and Jon Daniels might not know the answer either, but how do the Rangers work him in to get a more regular role than what he had in the last month of the regular season, considering the two positions that he can play are pretty well spoken for at the moment?
SB: I don’t know, that’s not my call. Do I think he’s a great utility player at the big league level if in fact they go with [Elvis] Andrus and [Ian] Kinsler [at shortstop and second base]? Yeah, no doubt he is. He would serve that role perfectly. Could he play every day in the big leagues? And my answer to that is yes too. He’s only 19 years old and you can’t overlook that. With Pro, what makes him so good is that he adjusts so quickly for a 19-year-old kid. The adjustments he makes and as smart as he is, it’s well beyond his years. I’ve said this a hundred times and you’ve heard it: very often you find kids that are afraid to fail. And he’s one of the rare players that you see who is not afraid to be great. I would be shocked if the Rangers don’t find some kind of role for him starting next season.
AV: I know you follow the Rangers very closely, I’m sure you were watching after our season ended. But from your vantage point, what happened to that team over the last two weeks of the season and that one playoff game?
SB: You know what, I don’t know. I’m not there, I watch it obviously just like everybody else. I don’t know. You hear their excuses and if you want to make excuses, to me it is kind of the result of what’s gone on the last two years. The grind, the long years, players becoming tired, I don’t know. I don’t think anyone has a definitive answer as to what happened. I think at the end of the season it looked like a very sluggish team to me, the energy level wasn’t there. What are the reasons for it? I’m not going to sit here and try to make any kind of excuse for them, but if I had to give you an opinion I think it’s just a result of what’s gone on the last couple of years and I think they just ran out of gas.
AV: Yeah, an extra month of baseball for two straight years and I think almost everyone played in a career-high number of games which probably helped cause that.
AV:You have been mentioned as a guy that folks think has what it takes to be a Major League manager. Is that what you want eventually?
SB: Sure, I mean going back four years ago when I was asked to come back in the organization and be a part of it, managing was never on my radar screen. Coaching or getting back in some form was in my mind. But being a manager never was. I’ve enjoyed it and I love it. What other people say is what they say, I don’t care. I’m happy with what I’m doing and hopefully someday I’ll get a chance to be on a big league staff again.
AV: Is that something that you take an active role in trying to make it happen or is your philosophy “if it’s going to happen, just wait for it to happen”?
SB: I don’t know how active a role I can take in it. I think I’m pretty loyal to the Rangers. I’ve been a part of this organization for a long long long time going back to 1985 and always being a part of the organization, doing something for them in some extent and now I’m back in uniform. There are certain loyalties that I have to the Rangers and the hope on my end is that at some point, some time I’ll be able to wear that Rangers uniform again.
My thanks to Steve Buechele for taking the time to talk with us. Look out for more interviews with members of the 2012 RoughRiders throughout the off-season.
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 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)
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.
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.
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.
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.
Occasionally throughout the off-season we will spend some time catching up with former RoughRiders. In this edition, we hear from Rangers rookie Mike Olt, who spent most of the 2012 season in Frisco. A Mid-Season and Postseason Texas League All-Star, Olt played in 95 games for the RoughRiders, hitting .288 with 28 home runs and 82 RBI. He was called up directly to the Texas Rangers on August 2 but has been hampered by a foot injury in most of his time as a big leaguer. ‘Riders broadcaster Alex Vispoli caught up with Mike at a recent Rangers home game to reflect on making the Majors and his time with Frisco.
Alex Vispoli: When you found out you were going up, was that a surprise for you or were you expecting it?
Mike Olt: No, it was definitely a surprise. It was weird how in those last couple of days they were trying to do some [different] things with me, especially playing first base on back-to-back days. But really going into the office I thought they were going to talk to me about what my plan was because the trade deadline was over, what they wanted me to shoot for. I knew I was ready, and then when they were able to say I was getting the call up, it was quite the feeling.
AV: I know Frisco manager Steve Buechele has had creative ways of telling guys that they are being promoted, the one with Justin Grimm comes to mind. If I remember correctly, he was telling you the route to get down to Round Rock?
MO: Yeah, he said to pack my car up and try and head out early to go to Round Rock and he kept the story going the whole time, he probably talked about for five minutes just to stay focused and keep doing what I’m doing, don’t change anything. And then, just when I’m leaving he’s like “make sure you’re in Arlington in time for C.J. Wilson.” So that was good, that’s something I’ll never forget.
AV: What are the emotions you’re feeling at that point, where’s your heart at that moment?
MO: Oh, I couldn’t talk. And that’s the first time in my life I probably couldn’t talk. I was just really excited. You always hear stories about [getting promoted to the big leagues]; I have some buddies that got called up and they tell you what their feelings are and you can understand where they’re coming from, but when you feel that [yourself] then you really understand what it’s like, you just get goose bumps. It’s everything you’ve worked for.
AV: Just in terms of the roller coaster for you, I remember talking to you the week or so leading up to the trading deadline and we weren’t really sure what was going to happen. You were trusting whatever the plan was and I guess the plan all along was to get you right up there after the trade deadline. Looking back on it the whole range of emotions must have made it both a little fun and at the time a little stressful.
MO: It was, but I did my best to block it all out. And I always said I was definitely able to block it out but there were times when I just wanted to know what was going on. When it was all over with that was definitely relieving, but I definitely did know that I was in a good situation either way so that helped.
AV: You had a base hit in your first Major League at bat. What’s going through your head when you step into the batter’s box in a big league game for the first time and then you connect on that base hit? Hitter’s always talk about getting that first hit early in a game to take some stress off the rest of the way and that you got a hit in your first-ever at bat must have been a weight off of your shoulders.
MO: I was nervous during the day but when it got to game time and I got out there and walked into the box it really felt like just another at bat. I tried to make it as close to normal as I could. Obviously facing C.J. Wilson it’s tougher to stay within your approach against a guy like that. But I wasn’t nervous which helped me stay [within myself] and not try to do too much so that helped.
AV:Have you had a moment yet where you’ve taken a step back and said to yourself “Wow, I’m in the big leagues.”? Have you had a “welcome to the big leagues” type of moment that you can remember where all of a sudden you realize that you’re not in the Texas League any more?
MO: That happened the first day, even with just the crowd. It’s a totally different feeling when you have 45,000 fans cheering for you, that’s a great feeling. And then in my second at bat I hit a ball up in the hole and a guy makes a “Top Play” on it. I get back to the dugout and that was a time where it was like “welcome to the big leagues.” That usually doesn’t get caught in Double-A.
AV: Unless it’s [Jurickson] Profar, right?
MO: Right [laughs]. No, I would have taken care of him if he caught it.
AV: Has it been nice to see four guys [Wilmer Font, Justin Grimm, Jurickson Profar and Robbie Ross] that you played with in the Minors on the big league roster now with you? Guys that you came up playing with, to play alongside them has that been a fun experience for you?
MO: Yeah, definitely. It always helps to have guys that you’ve played with and that you’re comfortable with. Especially because it’s a good group of young guys mixed with the good group of older guys. The veteran guys really show us the way and they make it really easy for us up here. Some of the other guys from other teams that I talk to, for them it’s a little of a different atmosphere. Not once when you’re here do the veteran guys make you feel like a rookie, so that also helps.
AV: How tough has it been just with the fact that you haven’t been able to get on the field in being a rookie and also with the injuries? Unfortunately you’ve had plenty of practice overcoming the minor injuries, but it’s still an adjustment.
MO: No, this isn’t the way I want to start my career with something as small as plantar fasciitis. I don’t even know how I got it; I don’t know how it happened or why it had to happen in the first four days of my big league career. But I was still able to get a lot out of [the experience here] while I was hurt and on the bench. I’ve learned a ton and I’m excited to take what I’ve learned and incorporate it with how I go about my business and improve.
AV: How proud were you of your Frisco teammates, following them from afar and seeing what they accomplished without you and without Profar?
MO: I watched every step of the way and I kept in contact with a bunch of the guys. I knew they didn’t need Profar or myself to win it; they had a great team and great pitching, timely hitting and that’s what we were going to need and we got it for the most part but came up a little short. So that’s tough but it was a great year and I have a lot of good memories there.