Results tagged ‘ Justin Miller ’

Battle of the Beards: Tufts vs. Bleier

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I will save you the suspense. Tufts won. At least in the battle of attrition. Richard shaved his beard on Saturday, so the fight is not a really a fair one here.

That said, this photo and graphic can forever keep his fantastic all-black (not dyed) beard living forever on the internet. We aren’t quite sure why he shaved it. He did admit that his significant other doesn’t like the beard, but that being the reason is pure speculation. For now, let’s live in the glory days, and remember what was: the best beard battle of the RoughRiders’ season.

To honor this great competition, we profiled the two beards. Now we need you to help us decide. Comment below or send us a tweet with “#BattleoftheBeards” and vote who you think has had the better beard.

RoughRider: Tyler Tufts Richard Bleier
Beard Name: Red Raider Dark Passenger
Beard Color: A little red, a little blonde, a little bit of brown — the Perfect Mixture Black
Beard Age: 3 months 3 months  Four Days
How long have you been growing beards? Since college–this is the most epic one I have ever grown though. Since I entered pro ball. We weren’t allowed to in college.
How often do you trim your beard? NEVER Often because of the curling cowlicks on the sides.
Is this a season-long beard you plan on growing? Nothing will stop it. I am not shaving it. Take it day-by-day. If it gets annoying enough I will probably shave it, but right now, I am trying to keep up with Tufts.
Beard Personality: Grouchy and angry. It would spend most of the day sleeping and playing Call of Duty. It would just be hot and sweaty all the time.
If your beard could eat one meal what would it be? Cheesy Gordita Crunch from Taco Bell Whatever I am eating that day.
Why is my beard better than the opposition? Because Richard trims his. It’s gotta be the color. When I have Mitch Moreland telling me that my beard is better than Tufts’…I mean, it’s just a full black beard. Tyler’s is a good beard though…
On a 1-10 scale, rank Tyler’s beard: 10 7
On a 1-10 scale, rank Richard’s beard: 8 7.5 – Jake [Brigham], Tyler and I have been growing these for years. Jake’s is like a 2.

You know, looking back at the answers, it’s not all that shocking that Richard shaved his beard first. Tyler was just with oozing confidence for  his mane.

So now, help us decide, who had the better beard? Vote #Tufts or #Bleier by tweeting at @RidersBaseball.

Want us to profile another beard this season? Let us via twitter or post in the comments section below. Here are a few beard and other facial hair photos from this season (click for larger view):

Bleier

Richard Bleier

Tyler Tufts

Joakim Soria

Kevin Pucetas

Carlos Pimentel

Jake Brigham

Coach James Vilade

Zach Zaneski

Herrera

Odubel Herrera

Chih-Hsien Chiang

ADDENDUM: As pointed out by Jan, we missed Jimmy. A inexcusable goof. As were excluding the other fellows listed below:

Jimmy Reyes

Jimmy Reyes

Kyle McClellan

Kyle McClellan

 

Joe Benson

Joe Benson

 

Randy Henry

Randy Henry

Justin Miller

Justin Miller

 

- Nathan

Baseball term of the day: belly whoppera headfirst slide

(term from The Dickson Baseball Dictionary)

Meet the new ‘Rider: Greg Miclat

Best wishes Justin Miller. As of Wednesday, Justin is a member of the Triple-A Round Rock Express, making his first career trip to Triple-A. Finding his form over the last six outings, Miller seemed ready for the next step, and now he will get the chance. From the ‘Riders press release:

Miller, 26, has played exclusively for the RoughRiders since 2011. The right-hander was recovering from “Tommy John” surgery at the start of the season, and began a MLB rehab assignment with the RoughRiders on May 17. On June 12, Miller was taken off his rehab assignment and was optioned to Frisco. In 16 appearances with the ‘Riders this season, Miller was 1-0 with a 6.19 ERA. He allowed 11 earned runs on 16 hits in 16 innings of work, striking out 21 and walking seven. Over his last six outings, the Bakersfield, California native allowed one unearned run in six innings of work. He did not walk a batter and surrendered just three hits over that stretch. Miller pitched for the ‘Riders in 2011 and missed all of 2012 after undergoing “Tommy John” surgery in April 2012.

In return, the RoughRiders are getting Greg Miclat from the Express, a middle infielder that has spent his first two years in the Rangers organization as a member of the Triple-A squad.

Miclat, 25, is in his second season with the Round Rock Express. Drafted by the Baltimore Orioles in the fifth round of the 2008 MLB June Amateur Draft, Miclat was traded to Texas by the Orioles in December 2011 as a player to be named later, along with Randy Henry, in exchange for former RoughRiders and Rangers catcher Taylor Teagarden. In 68 games this season, the Salisbury, North Carolina native is hitting .252 with no home runs and 24 RBI to go along with ten stolen bases, playing 30 games at shortstop and 39 at second base. The middle infielder stole a career-high 50 bases in 2011 with the Bowie Baysox in his final season as Orioles’ property. This will be his first stint with the RoughRiders.

RRSP0179

(Jamie Harms / American-Statesman)

Splitting his time between 2B and SS makes you think that he probably plays there for the ‘Riders as well. In fact, he has played only 2B and SS in his career.

Could that mean we see G-Rod in the outfield like 2012? Before Monday night, the ‘Riders had played the Teodoro Martinez / Ryan Strausborger / Chih-Hsien Chiang outfield trio for 20 straight games until Alejandro Selen spelled Chiang a couple days ago in right field. The addition of Miclat could allow Rodriguez to give that trio a bit more rest. In his career, Rodriguez has played three games in right field, 16 in center, and 23 in left field.

Bringing in Miclat also brings the ‘Riders back into a more conventional roster construction. Since Benson’s placement on the disabled list on May 19, the RoughRiders have functioned with just two bench players. Now they have three.

Miclat (25 years old) doesn’t hit for much power but provides an experienced middle infielder to bolster the youngsters Hanser Alberto (20) and Odubel Herrera (21). The 50 stolen base season for Miclat in 2011 provides some intrigue as well. The Express have been a pretty conservative baserunning team in his time in the Rangers system, ranking second to last in the PCL in 2012 in stolen bases with 70 in 104 attempts. This season they have been slightly below middle of the pack in both. Maybe this is why Miclat’s stolen base totals are down so significantly.

Perhaps with Steve Buechele‘s “green light” system, we could see Miclat return to his running ways. Scouted as having speed that grades as less than elite, Miclat clearly knows how to run the bases; his 50 steals in 2011 came on just 53 attempts.

File this away in the slightly interesting category: this is the first time that Henry and Miclat will be on the same team in their careers. They have been in the same major league organization since Henry was drafted in 2009, but Miclat has always been a level or two above the Oklahoman.

Miclat will be in uniform for the RoughRiders tonight when they begin a four-game series with the Corpus Christi Hooks. You can read more about the matchup in today’s game notes and be sure to tune in to the broadcast, which begins at 6:40 p.m. for the 7:05 scheduled first pitch.

- Nathan

Baseball term of the day: sodfather - the groundskeeper

‘Riders on the Record: a Cinderella run and a Gold Glover’s art

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‘Riders on the Record is a weekly rundown of the pre-game interviews record by broadcasters Alex Vispoli and Nathan Barnett with RoughRiders players and coaches and occasionally a special guest. You can find all previous editions by clicking here.

Another week has come and gone. The All-Star break sends us into the final 60+ games and the season, and once again we look back on another fine set of guests from this week’s ‘Riders on the Record. Highlights include Justin Miller’s College World Series storytelling and future Hall-of-Famer Omar Vizquel’s artistic inspiration.

Enjoy and Happy Sunday!

Sunday, June 23, 2013 – Manager Steve Buechele


Steve Buechele sits down for the Sunday interview for the last time before the All-Star break. He harps on the resiliency of his team but stresses the importance of this break. He highlights the nice contributions from Mitch Moreland and Joakim Soria in rehab stints during the home stand and touches on the departure of Ben Rowen and the arrival of Alex Claudio. He also shares his experiences with facing the knuckleball in light of Pucetas throwing one just a few days prior.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013 – C Zach Zaneksi


Coming off his home run before the All-Star break, Zach Zaneski talks about the current offensive groove he is in and how he is trying to make adjustments this season. He talks about catching MLB rehabber Joakim Soria and the quality of Kevin Pucetas‘ knuckleball.

Thursday, June 27, 2013 – RHP Justin Miller

Alex checked in with Justin Miller on the status of his stuff and his health on his road back from “Tommy John” surgery. He talks about his recent aggressiveness and how pitching coach Jeff Andrews has helped him along. He also reminisces on his collegiate days at Fresno State when his 2008 team made a Cinderella run through Omaha at the College World Series.

Friday, June 28, 2013 – Angels Infield Coordinator Omar Vizquel


Angels infield coordinator and Travelers Manager for the series, Omar Vizquel, sat down to speak about his first year as a coach and his long playing career. He zeroed in on the keys to his defensive successes and his delved into favorite hobby.

Saturday, June 29, 2013 – RHP Randy Henry


Randy Henry talks about his adjustment to short relief outings after his return from the disabled list. He explains his injury and the plans the Rangers have for him as far as how he will be used out of the bullpen. He also tells his story of when he was traded from the Orioles to the Rangers.

- Nathan

Baseball term of the day: Punch and Judy hitter - a singles hitter

MLB Draft Day: Frisco RoughRiders in the Draft

MLB First Year Player Draft

In honor of today’s draft, we decided to take a look back at the drafting of today’s Frisco RoughRiders, where they went in the draft and next to whom. Eleven RoughRiders were international non-drafted free agents, and therefore, not subjected to the MLB June Amateur draft. Zach Zaneski, went undrafted in 2008, the lone RoughRider from the US/Canada/Puerto Rico (subject to the draft) not to be drafted by a major league organization.

(Tonight’s draft coverage begins at 5:00 pm CT on MLB Network and at www.MLB.com, by the way)

Here goes the rest of the team, in chronological order:

2006 Draft

2006_MLB_Draft

2nd Round, 64nd overall: OF Joe Benson (Joliet Catholic Academy) selected by the Minnesota Twins

Selected directly after Thomas Hickson (Marlins), directly before Drew Carpenter (Phillies)

17th Round, 506th overall: RHP Kevin Pucetas (Limestone College) selected by the San Francisco Giants

Selected directly after Tony Watson (Orioles), directly before Brett Reynolds (Diamondbacks)

47th Round, 1392 overall: RHP Justin Miller (Bakersfield College) selected by Colorado Rockies (DID NOT SIGN)

Selected directly after Ryan Cisterna (Royals), directly before Brandon Brown (Devil Rays)

2007 Draft

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Supplemental 1st Round, 44th overall: RHP Neil Ramirez (Kempsville HS) selected by the Texas Rangers

Selected directly after Jackson Williams (Giants) and directly before Justin Jackson (Blue Jays)

2008 Draft

mlb-2008-draftlogo-450

6th Round, 179th overall: 2B Alex Buchholz (University of Delaware) selected by the Cincinnati Reds

Selected directly after Graham Johnson (Marlins) and directly before Kenneth Williams (White Sox)

6th Round, 183rd overall: LHP Richard Bleier (Florida Gulf Coast University) selected by the Texas Rangers

Selected directly after J.B Shuck (Astros) and directly before Tyreace House (Athletics)

16th Round, 483 overall: RHP Justin Miller (California State University Fresno) selected by the Texas Rangers

Selected directly after Josh Poytress (Astros) and directly before Matthew Fits (Athletics)

32nd Round, 963rd overall: RHP Tyler Tufts (Indiana University-Bloomington) selected by the Texas Rangers

Selected directly after B.A. Vollmuth (Astros) and directly before Ben Hornbeck (Athletics)

2009 Draft

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4th Round, 116th overall: RHP Randy Henry (South Mountain Community College) selected by the Baltimore Orioles

Selected directly after Zack Dodson (Pirates) and directly before Jason Stoffel (Giants)

5th Round, 154th overall: RHP Nick McBride (Ragsdale HS) selected by the Texas Rangers

Selected directly after Steven Parker (Pirates) and directly before Austin Adams (Indians)

2010 Draft

DraftLogo

6th Round, 196th overall: C Brett Nicholas (University of Missouri Columbia) selected by the Texas Rangers

Selected directly after Logan Darnell (Twins) and directly before Rett Varner (Marlins)

7th Round, 226th overall: LHP Jimmy Reyes (Elon University) selected by the Texas Rangers

Selected directly after Matt Hauser (Twins) and directly before Mark Canha (Marlins)

10th Round, 316th overall: SS Jared Hoying (University of Toledo) selected by the Texas Rangers

Selected directly after J.D. Williams (Twins) and directly before Aaron Senne (Marlins)

15th Round, 446th overall: RHP Ryan Rodebaugh (Kennesaw State University) selected by the Texas Rangers

Selected directly after Thomas Girdwood (Twins) and directly before Ryan Fisher (Marlins)

16th Round, 496th overall: CF Ryan Strausborger (Indiana State University) selected by the Texas Rangers

Selected directly after Clint Dempster (Twins) and directly before Randy LeBlanc (Marlins)

22nd Round, 676th overall: RHP Ben Rowen (Virginia Polytechnic Institue and State University) selected by the Texas Rangers

Selected directly after Dillon Moyer (Twins) and directly before Jeremy Heatley (Marlins)

2011 Draft

mlb-draft-20111

30th Round, 924th overall: RHP Phil Klein (Youngstown State University) selected by the Texas Rangers

Selected directly after Justin Miller (Padres) and directly before Joe Terry (Reds)

A few notes:

  • Neil Ramirez is the highest RoughRiders player drafted
  • The lowest drafted RoughRiders roster man was Justin Miller his first time, but he did not sign in 2006. The lowest drafted player to sign is Tyler Tufts.
  • The Frisco roster (as of 6/6/13) consists of:
    • (1) one high school hitter (Benson)
    • (2) two high school pitchers (McBride, Ramirez)
    • (9) nine college pitchers (Bleier, Henry, Klein, Miller, Pucetas, Reyes, Rodebaugh, Rowen, Tufts) — including two junior college pitchers (Henry, Pucetas)
    • (5) five college hitters (Buchholz, Hoying, Nicholas, Strausborger, Zaneski)
    • (4) four international pitchers (Font, Mavare, Mendez, Pimentel)
    • (7) seven international hitters (Alberto, Chiang, Herrera, Martinez, Rodriguez, Selen, Telis)
  • The players were drafted out of the following years:
    • 2006: 3 (if you include Justin Miller who didn’t sign)
    • 2007: 1
    • 2008: 4
    • 2009: 2
    • 2010: 6
    • 2011: 1
  • Of the 16 drafted players, 12 were selected by and signed with Texas.
    • Henry (Orioles) came over in the Teagarden trade on December 1, 2011.
    • Buchholz (Reds) was taken in the minor league phase of the Rule 5 draft on December 8, 2011.
    • Pucetas (Giants) played with three major league organizations before signing with Texas in the offseason.
    • Benson (Minnesota) was taken off of waivers by Texas on May 25, 2013.
  • Phil Klein, the lone 2011 draftee on the team, is one of just three players from his round that year to have played at Double-A or higher. Will Clinard also went in the 30th round in 2011 and was just promoted and made his Double-A debut for the Erie SeaWolves on Tuesday. Justin Miller, yes another one, has not only played at Double-A but also at Triple-A for the Padres. In fact, he played AGAINST Frisco twice this season as a member of the San Antonio Missions (0-for-3, R, BB in 2 G). He is back at Advanced-A, playing for Lake Elsinore right now.

Enjoy the draft and go ‘Riders!

______

The Frisco RoughRiders play at 7:05 tonight in San Antonio against the Missions. You can find other interesting tidbits, facts, news and notes in our daily game notes by clicking here.

And of course I would be remiss if I did not congratulate Chris McGuiness on getting his first call to the Show! Congrats to the author of one of the best season’s in recent ‘Riders history. Best of luck!

It’s also big news for us around here, as he is the 100th RoughRiders player to go onto MLB after his time in Frisco. We will have more on Chris here at the Insider Blog, and a look back at his time here, in the coming days.

- Nathan

Baseball term of the day: draftitisan affliction that hurts a player’s draft status in the period leading up to the draft whereby the player withers under scouts’ scruitiny and fails to display his skills

(term from The Dickson Baseball Dictionary)

‘Riders on the Record: a PA legend, the Art of Catching, and a Rangers rehabber

‘Riders on the Record is a weekly rundown of the pre-game interviews record by broadcasters Alex Vispoli and Nathan Barnett with RoughRiders players and coaches and occasionally a special guest. You can find all previous editions by clicking here.  

From a road trip ending chat with the manager, to the stories of one of the longest-tenured RoughRiders employees, and a few things in between, this week provides a great variety of voices for ‘Riders on the Record. Highlights include Wilmer Font talking about his slider and changeup, John Clemens’ impressions of Cal Ripken Jr. as a minor league ballplayer, and Rangers Catching Instructor Hector Ortiz explaining the developmental ladder of catching in the Texas system.

Happy Sunday and enjoy!

Sunday, May 12, 2013 – Manager Steve Buechele


In their Sunday conversation, Alex asks ‘Riders manager Steve Buechele about the state of the rotation and the taxed bullpen. Fresh off a temporary stint as the Rangers first base coach while the team was in Houston, Buechele shares his experiences from the weekend and talks about his offseason interview with the Colorado Rockies for their managerial opening. (w/ Alex Vispoli)

Monday, May 13, 2013 – 1B Brett Nicholas


First baseman Brett Nicholas, carrying the team offensively the last few ballgames talks about his career high home run output. Struggling against lefties, Nicholas explains how he can get better in that department and how is he has been better over his career against lefties. (w/ Nathan Barnett)

Tuesday, May 14, 2013 – RHP Wilmer Font


Frisco flamethrower Wilmer Font joined us for the first time this season and talked about where he feels physically at this early point in the season. He explains his mix of pitches, how and when he uses them, and the plan moving forward with his secondary stuff. He also talks about his relationship with Martin Perez, who, at the time, was on the ‘Riders roster on his way back from a wrist injury sustained in Spring Training. (w/ Nathan)

Wednesday, May 15, 2013 – Public Address Announcer John Clemens


John Clemens is celebrating his tenth season as the Frisco RoughRiders public address announcer. A lifelong fan and student of the game, John is rich with stories and talks about his days in minor league baseball in the Northeast when he saw Cal Ripken Jr. as a young player. He explains how he got into the business and who inspired him. (w/ Nathan)

Thursday, May 16, 2013 – OF Teodoro Martinez


Teodoro Martinez, after a slow start, has emerged as one of the most consistent ‘Riders hitters. Coming off his first multi-homer game of his career, he talks about his improved approach over the last month. He talks about his relationship with his family, including his brother Jose who plays minor league baseball in the Braves system. (w/ Nathan)

Friday, May 17, 2013 – Rangers Catching Instructor Hector Ortiz


Rangers Catching Instructor Hector Ortiz was kind enough to join us for the pre-game show during the home stand to talk about the progression of Tomas Telis and the development of catchers in the Rangers system. He spoke briefly about top Rangers catching prospect Jorge Alfaro, playing in Hickory, as well as the general path of catchers in the system: how they move up and what plateaus they need to reach to go from level to level. He also explains the role of new special assistant Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez. (w/ Nathan)

Saturday, May 18, 2013 – MLB Rehabber, RHP Justin Miller


Justin Miller sits down with Nathan Barnett after his first professional inning since 2011, beginning his rehab appearances coming back from Tommy John surgery. A standout for Frisco in 2011, Miller missed the entire 2012 season after undergoing surgery in April of 2012. He talks about his rehab program, how each step went, and where he feels physically now that he is back out on a mound. (w/ Nathan)

- Nathan

Baseball term of the day: wingthrowing arm, usually used in reference to a pitcher’s arm

Full From Thanksgiving

I hope you had a great Thanksgiving and had the chance to connect with family and friends. My wife Heather and I made it back to see my parents in St. Louis and had a great time.  We all have our favorites at Thanksgiving, mine is my mom’s sweet potato recipe.  It might be the only dish at any holiday celebration that I can’t live without!

Since we chatted last, there have been some developments affecting the RoughRiders:

  • Right-handers Jake Brigham, Neil Ramirez, and Justin Miller, along with lefty Martin Perez, were recently promoted to the Rangers 40-man roster.  Placing them on the roster not only signifies how Texas feels about their potential, but more importantly, protects them from being acquired by another team in the Rule 5 draft.  Interestingly enough, two players that are not being protect are two former ‘Riders: lefty Kasey Kiker and DH-first baseman Chad Tracy.  Both can be taken in the draft by another team and signed for $50,000.  The Rule 5 draft will be held this year on December 8 in Dallas.
  • Some news that I’m especially excited about, the Rangers have hired Greg Maddux as Special Assistant to the General Manager.  In his role with the Rangers, Greg, the brother of Rangers’ pitching coach Mike Maddux, will be in uniform during Spring Training as an extra instructor for both the major and minor league staffs, along with visiting the club’s farm affiliates during the regular season.  I’m really looking forward to (hopefully) meeting him and having him on the pre-game show.
  • The Rangers have announced their 2012 Spring Training schedule, beginning with the Kansas City Royals on March 4 at Surprise Stadium.  At the end of exhibition play, the Rangers will play against Triple-A Round Rock at the Dell Diamond on April 2, and will then play here at Dr Pepper Ballpark against the RoughRiders on April 4 at 2:05 p.m.

We’ll have more with the All-’Riders team tomorrow.

-AG

 

RoughRiders Around the Globe

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

Arizona Fall League

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

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

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

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

Mexican Winter League 

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

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

Dominican Winter League 

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

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

Venezuelan Winter League 

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

Pan American Games

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

-AG

Game 3 Preview – San Antonio at Frisco

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

GAME 3 BACKGROUND:

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

STARTING PITCHERS:

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

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

FRISCO FACTS:

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

BROADCAST INFORMATION:

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

Playoff Perspective – Game 2

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

PLAYOFF PERSPECTIVE:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

- Brian

My Texas League Postseason Ballot

The 2011 Texas League Postseason All-Star ballots are out to managers and media members, and both Aaron and I have a vote. Below, I have my picks along with a brief explanation why.

First off, here are a few notes. As a member of the RoughRiders organization, I cannot vote for a RoughRider. Still, I have included six ‘Riders who could be on this list. Also, anyone who has played in the TL this year is eligible. Finally, all of the ballots are due by tomorrow, so the last two weeks of the season do not factor into the decision.

Share your thoughts at the bottom in the comments section. Here we go.

Catcher: Wilin Rosario (Tulsa)

The Rockies’ number two prospect, Rosario has not had the best season offensively. But, he could get a September promotion to Colorado and he has put up the best numbers of any Texas League catcher (.254, 18 HR, 41 RBI).

First Baseman: Matt Adams (Springfield)

Triple Crown? Matt Adams has a chance in '11 (Photo courtesy of Mark Harrell/Springfield Cardinals).

With Tim Wheeler’s recent struggles and Jermaine Mitchell’s promotion to Triple-A Sacramento, Adams has an outside shot at a Triple Crown. Adams has a league-leading 30 homers (one better than Wheeler) and 94 RBIs, and he is sixth in the league in average at .313. However, the top three (Mitchell, J.D. Martinez and James Darnell) will not have enough plate appearances to qualify barring a return to the TL. His real target is Mike Trout (.326).

Second Baseman: Jose Altuve (Corpus Christi)

I like to steer away from players who did not spend much time in a league for postseason awards, but the second base spot is weak here in the Texas League and Altuve was incredible to watch. He hit .361 in his 35 games with Corpus Christi. During that short stint, Altuve drove in 25 runs and scored 21.

Shortstop: Darwin Perez (Arkansas)

Shortstop is a fairly weak position in the Texas League this season, as well, so Perez is my choice because of his on-base percentage (.378, 11th), stolen bases (22, 6th) and fielding percentage (.982, 1st among qualifiers). If I could vote for a RoughRider, Renny Osuna would be my choice here.

Third Baseman: James Darnell (San Antonio)

With apologies to Arkansas’ Luis Jimenez, Darnell was a machine in his 76 games with the Missions. Darnell hit .333, which still qualifies for third in the Texas League, and he had an OPS of 1.038. Darnell hit 17 homers and drove in 62 runs, and now his home is San Diego.

Outfielder: Mike Trout (Arkansas)

Trout was advertised as the number one or number two prospect in the minors at the start of the season, and he has not disappointed. Trout is hitting .326 with 33 stolen bases, and he earned a brief stint in the big leagues. He is incredibly fun to watch.

Outfielder: Jermaine Mitchell (Midland)

Mitchell still qualifies as the league’s leader in batting average (.355), on-base percentage (.453) and OPS (1.042). He didn’t have the gaudy home run (10) or RBI (50) totals, but he was a menace atop Midland’s order.

Outfielder: Tim Wheeler (Tulsa)

Wheeler has struggled in August, but he still boasts great numbers (Photo courtesy of Shawn E. Davis/MiLB.com).

Wheeler has struggled lately (.200, 0 HR, 2 RBIs in August), but you have to wonder if he is getting bored at the Double-A level. He is still second in homers (29) and tied for fourth in RBIs (79).  It was between Corpus Christi’s J.D. Martinez and Wheeler, and I went with Tulsa’s leadoff hitter, who is putting up middle-of-the-order stats. Don’t worry, Martinez fans…

Designated Hitter: J.D. Martinez (Corpus Christi)

The Hooks have the worst record in the Texas League, but they are one of three teams to have two offensive representatives on my list. Martinez, like Jose Altuve, is in the big leagues now, but he is fourth in the TL in OPS (.959) and seventh in RBIs (72) despite only playing in 88 games.

Three toughest offensive omissions:
1. Arkansas 3B Luis Jimenez (barely edged by Darnell and Martinez)
2. Springfield OF Alex Castellanos (gave Wheeler edge despite being in recent funk)
3. San Antonio OF Blake Tekotte (outfield was the most loaded position)

Three most likely RoughRiders on the list:
1. Renny Osuna (2B/SS)
2. Tommy Mendonca (3B)
3. Leonys Martin (OF)
_________
Pitchers:

1. Matt Shoemaker (Arkansas)

Matt Shoemaker has the best ERA in the TL, and it's not even that close (Photo courtesy of the Arkansas Travelers).

Shoemaker started the season in Triple-A, but he came down to the Texas League in early May and began his dominance. He leads the league, by a wide margin, in ERA (2.18) and WHIP (1.00) among qualifiers. He also paces all Texas Leaguers in strikeouts with 121 and is tied at the top with 12 wins.

2. Garrett Richards (Arkansas)

Richards is the man who is deadlocked with Shoemaker in wins. Both hurlers are 12-2, and Richards is the league leader in innings with 141. Richards, who is currently with the Angels, is 12-2 with an ERA of 3.06, which is second to Shoemaker among qualifiers.

3. Dallas Keuchel (Corpus Christi)

Don’t let his 9-7 record fool you—Keuchel has been a legitimate ace all season long. The lefty has worked through five innings in all but one of his 19 starts, and he has only surrendered more than three runs four times. He is not overpowering (76 strikeouts in 127 2/3 innings), but he is second among qualifiers in WHIP at 1.12.

Joe Wieland tossed a no-hitter with Frisco, and he is now dominating with San Antonio (Photo courtesy of James Garner).

4. Joe Wieland (San Antonio)

Casey Kelly is San Diego’s top prospect, and Jorge Reyes has the best numbers of any San Antonio starter who has been on the club all year. However, who has made a bigger impact in the Texas League this season than Wieland? Wieland tossed a no-hitter with the RoughRiders against San Antonio, and then he went to the Missions. Wieland’s ERA is 1.50 in Double-A, and he has a 1.85 overall this season.

5. Nick Vincent (San Antonio)

Vincent has made more appearances (58) than anyone else in the Texas League. The reliever is 7-1 with a 2.19 ERA in 70 innings, and he has 82 strikeouts to 14 walks. In the eighth inning, the righty owns a 1.91 ERA. In the ninth, that mark falls to 1.50. The Missions have been dominant all year long, and the bullpen is a big reason why.

6. Brad Brach (San Antonio)

Closers are not that common in the minors, but Brach was the man who dominated the ninth inning while in San Antonio. Brach had a 2.25 ERA and went 23 for 25 in save opportunities with the Missions before earning a promotion to Triple-A Tucson. When ahead in the count, the TL’s save leader held his opposition to an .097 average (7-for-72).

Three toughest pitching omissions:
1. Springfield’s Shelby Miller (good numbers, but not good enough to overcome small sample size)
2. Tulsa’s Juan Nicasio (better numbers than Miller, but fewer innings)
3. San Antonio’s Jorge Reyes (4th in ERA, but only worked more than five innings once)

Three most likely RoughRiders on the list:
1. LHP Martin Perez
2. RHP Justin Miller
3. RHP Tyler Tufts

PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Springfield’s Matt Adams

He is the most dangerous hitter in the Texas League right now, and he has a chance at the Triple Crown. He may not have the upside that some other players in this league possess, but he has been the best hitter on the best offense, by far, in the TL.

ON THE MEDAL STAND: 2. Arkansas’ Mike Trout; 3. San Antonio’s James Darnell.

PITCHER OF THE YEAR: Arkansas’ Matt Shoemaker

The Travelers earned a first-half title because of their pitching staff, and Shoemaker has been the go-to guy. Shoemaker stumbled a bit in Triple-A earlier this season, but he figures to do much better in his second go-around at that level after an incredible season at the Double-A level.

ON THE MEDAL STAND: 2. Arkansas’ Garrett Richards; 3. Corpus Christi’s Dallas Keuchel.

MANAGER OF THE YEAR: San Antonio’s Doug Dascenzo

The Missions have the best record in minor league baseball, and they have had many good players. However, Dascenzo has navigated his club through many promotions, and they haven’t slowed down at all. This San Antonio club is a dominant force that will go into the playoffs as the heavy favorites, and Dascenzo is a big reason why.

ON THE MEDAL STAND: 2. Frisco’s Steve Buechele; 3. Northwest Arkansas’ Brian Poldberg.

- Brian

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