Results tagged ‘ Justin Miller ’
‘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)
Baseball term of the day: wing – throwing arm, usually used in reference to a pitcher’s arm
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.
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.
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.
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.
- 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.
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.
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.
- 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.
- 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’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.
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)
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 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)
1. Matt Shoemaker (Arkansas)
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.
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.
The NFL is right around the corner, which means that fantasy football drafts are taking place all over the world. The RoughRiders’ front office had its draft Tuesday night. We all realized quickly that Aaron–the league’s commissioner–had the best draft by far. He may go undefeated. I’m in trouble.
So, let’s make some fantasy football comparisons with some of your RoughRiders. By the way, Aaron will have another fantasy football-related post tomorrow from Tulsa.
Tommy Mendonca = Arian Foster (RB, Houston): Mendonca (.285, 23 HR, 83 RBI) is finishing up a breakout season here in the Texas League, and Foster (1374 yards, 13 TDs) was the breakout star of the NFL last season. Foster is going in the first round in many drafts, and Mendonca would be near the top of most Texas League boards.
Mike Bianucci = Peyton Hillis (RB, Cleveland): Two tough, strong men who produce very well. Bianucci is third in the Texas League in home runs (27) while Hillis became the first Brown to don the cover of Madden. These two guys are beasts in their sports.
Engel Beltre = Santonio Holmes (WR, NY Jets): Both men have great speed and catch seemingly everything that comes their way, and they both do it with a little flair. Beltre is one of the best defenders in the Texas League, and Holmes is the top receiver on a contender.
Renny Osuna = Ray Rice (RB, Baltimore): Both Osuna and Rice are a bit undersized, but they both produce at a very high level. Rice is a first-round pick in fantasy football drafts, while Osuna is the RoughRiders’ all-time hits leader. If you have either on your team, you have a great chance to win.
Ben Snyder = Ben Roethlisberger (QB, Pittsburgh): These two guys are better real-life players than they are fantasy sports acquisitions. Snyder has been in the bullpen, starting rotation, and outfield this season, and Roethlisberger gets better as the game progresses.
Justin Miller = Tom Brady (QB, New England): Miller doesn’t have three rings or an undefeated regular season (although he is close at 9-1 this season), but he does shut the door on his opponents late in the game. Brady is the king of fourth-quarter wins, and Miller boasts a 2.03 ERA as a late-inning bullpen option.
Johan Yan = Mike Williams (WR, Tampa Bay): Both players made instant impacts out of nowhere. A converted infielder, Yan has an incredible 0.47 in his first 19 Double-A innings. Williams was a fourth-round pick in last year’s draft, and his 1,056 receiving yards and eight touchdowns helped the Buccaneers become one of the biggest 2010 surprises.
Matt Leeds = Andre Roberts (WR, Arizona): Two deep sleepers. Leeds is with the RoughRiders after spending the first two months of his professional career in the Arizona League, and Roberts is going to get some playing time alongside Larry Fitzgerald.
With the NFL lockout over and August underway, football is in the air. The ‘Riders have some solid athletes this season which prompted the question “who would play where if the RoughRiders were a football team”? Seems logical. After consulting with Frisco strength and conditioning coach Eric McMahon, here is the ‘Riders All-Gridiron Team. Feel free to leave comments with your opinions. -AG
Quarterback: Ben Snyder
Although he was a two-time All-State wide receiver in high school, Snyder like the logical fit as QB. He has good athleticism, is a veteran, and has the intelligence the position demands.
Wide Receiver/Flanker: Justin Miller
At 6’4″, Miller is the prototypical deep threat. He has nice leaping abilities and is will force matchup problems for opposing defensive backs. “Snyder to Miller” is something we’ll be saying a lot.
Wide Receiver: Carlos Pimentel
He might be the most athletic pitcher of the ‘Riders staff. Pimentel has a quick burst off the line and is the perfect over-the-middle compliment to Miller going deep.
Running Back: Davis Stoneburner
Although he’s not the prototypical pounding back some might desire, Stoneburner possesses the quickness and elusiveness to to run effectively. What he lacks in size he makes up for in determination and confidence. Stoney is a nice open field runner who also contributes in the passing game.
Wide Receiver/Running Back (Flex): Corey Young
His quick hips and burst make Young a versatile offensive weapon both in the backfield and in the slot. He can lineup in a split-back set with Stoneburner, or can run complimentary routes over the middle with Pimentel in-between the first and second layers of the defense. His run after the catch abilities can turn a five yard dump pass into a 15 yard pick up.
Tight End: Tanner Scheppers
This is a natural fit. At 6’4″ with a long wingspan, Scheppers is the perfect red zone target for Snyder. He’s great over the middle of the field and, as a former short stop in college, has more athleticism than anyone on the line.
Right Tackle: Adalberto Flores
Big, tall, and physical, Flores shoulders the responsibility of protecting Snyder’s blindside. He has the quick feet and powerful arms to move quickly and keep a clean pocket.
Right Guard: Robbie Ross
With a low center of gravity, Ross wards off the blitz well. He also has enough quickness to pull on running plays and open up holes for Stoneburner.
Center: Jose Felix
Another natural fit. “Chief” is the anchor of the offensive line.
Left Guard: Richard Bleier
Bleier has the intelligence to read the defense and the athleticism to pull.
Left Tackle: Fabio Castillo
Pound-for-pound the biggest guy on the line. Fabio is aggressive with string hands and a wide upper-half.
Defensive End: Mike Bianucci
Has the size to stay in on running downs, but the athleticism and burst to rush the passers. His low center of gravity helps keep him on his feet, and his motor will wear down offensive tackles by the fourth quarter.
Defensive Tackle: Jose Ruiz
As one RoughRider told me, if Jose joined a Division I football program today, in four years he’d be an All-American. Ruiz has elite lateral movement and a sharp burst. He’s a beast clogging up the middle and has the speed to rush the passer.
Defensive Tackle: Jake Brigham
Fear the beard. Brigham has the strength and aggressiveness to compliment Ruiz next to him. He also has the long arms to knock down passes when rushing. He brings the intensity and heart his position demands.
Defensive End: Johan Yan
Love this choice. His height and weight profiles as a rush defensive end. He runs well, has a long wingspan, and is big and strong enough to play the run.
Outside Linebacker: Elio Sarmiento
Thick and strong, Sarmiento can stuff the run but also has the quickness to cover a tight end who releases from the line. He can cover the flat and is disciplined enough to be trusted take down a running back in the open field.
Middle Linebacker: Jonathan Greene
His physical build and tools make Greene a nice choice here. He stuffs the run well and isn’t afraid of contact.
Middle Linebacker: Tommy Mendonca
Like Greene, Mendonca has the build to stuff the run. His strong forearms help him wrap up well and he has the quickness to move in a confined space well.
Outside Linebacker: Mitch Hilligoss
Aside from having a linebackers neck, Hilligoss can drop back like a safety, rush like a defensive end, and stop the run. Like Sarmiento, Hilli is a good fit here.
Cornerback: Engel Beltre
Beltre has big play, pick-six potential. His elite speed matches up with any wide receiver. He has all the makings up a shut-down corner.
Cornerback: Renny Osuna
While Renny may not have the speed of Beltre, he is ultra reliable and can cover the run as well. Has the athleticism to cover all types of receivers and has a nose for the ball.
Free Safety: Tyler Tufts
Perfect combination of size and speed to cover the entire third layer of the defense. Tufts has nice range and is a sound safety blanket for Renny and Osuna on the outer thirds. His big hits make receivers think twice before coming over the middle.
Houston Summers. Will Startup. Dusty Napoleon. Rowdy Hardy. What do these four guys have in common? Well, they are the previous four winners of the Minors Moniker Madness, a 64-person tournament designed to find the best name in Minor League Baseball.
This is not a game for the Justin Miller’s or Ben Snyder’s of the world. This is for names like Bubbie Buzachero, ZeErika McQueen, Riaan Spanjer-Furstenburg, and others. Those three did not make the field this year, but those are some of the awesome names that have appeared in previous years.
While a current member of the RoughRiders did not make the list (Davis Stoneburner HAD to be a tough omission), former ‘Rider Mark Hamburger is a four-seed as he tries to improve upon his Final Four showing in ’10. Also, Emerson Frostad is an eight-seed, and Rangers prospects Jurickson Profar and Rougned Odor are highly seeded, too.
It is absolutely an inexact science, as last year’s Final Four contained a pair of 2’s along with an 8 and a 15 (there are four brackets with 16 players in each pool).
I skipped the first two rounds in this breakdown, which means some great names like Tobi Stoner, Shooter Hunt, Jetsy Extrano, Taiwan Easterling, and Dock Doyle won’t get much love even though they have great names.
Below, I document my rationale for the best name in the minors. And yes, the rationale for some is just ridiculous and sometimes unfair.
#1 Seth Schwindenhammer over #12 Angelberth Montilla: The Sweet 16 with the most letters goes to the top seed with a 15-letter last name.
#15 Bradley Boxberger over #3 Ben Tottle: Boxberger, the Louisville Bat, takes advantage of a weak half of the bracket to continue his Cinderella run into the Elite Eight.
#4 Mark Hamburger over #8 Emerson Frostad: The battle of the former RoughRiders goes to the man who still plays in the Rangers’ system.
#3 Kevin Quackenbush over #2 Jurickson Profar: Profar is the Rangers’ number two prospect, but he fell to a better last name here. Good run for Jurickson, who should be a fixture in this competition for a few years as he progresses in Texas’ farm system.
#1 Beamer Weems over #4 Maverick Lasker: The Mavericks won the NBA Title, but Maverick couldn’t get past the best name in the Texas League, Beamer Weems of San Antonio.
#6 Skyler Stromsmoe over #7 Tuffy Gosewisch: One of the best matchups of the tournament goes to Skyler, who got the necessary push from his team’s name—the Richmond Flying Squirrels.
#1 Deik Scram over #5 Stetson Allie: Allie made it this far because he was in a weak area of the bracket. Why did he advance over the other three? Well, here’s where the rationale gets good: Allie is from Ohio, and I have a good friend named Allie from Ohio. But Deik takes the cake in this matchup.
#14 Billy Spottiswood over #15 Jerod Yakubik: Another great reason for Yakubik getting this far—he attended the greatest college in the history of the world (Ohio University). But Spottiswood is the man here.
#1 Seth Schwindenhammer over #15 Bradley Boxberger: In the most lopsided of the four Elite Eight showdowns, Schwindenhammer earns his second straight Final Four appearance.
#3 Kevin Quackenbush over #4 Mark Hamburger: This, on the flip side, was the toughest of the four matchups. I love Hamburger, and I enjoyed talking to and watching Mark, but Quackenbush is a stud rookie in this competition who is off to the Final Four.
#6 Skyler Stromsmoe over #1 Beamer Weems: Weems lasted a while, but Skyler has alliteration and the “msm” trio in the middle of his last name going for him. Stromsmoe knocks off a top seed.
#14 Billy Spottiswood over #1 Deik Scram: There is always a surprise story in the Moniker Madness, and this Mobile BayBear is off to the Final Four.
#3 Kevin Quackenbush over #1 Seth Schwindenhammer: The top two seeds left have to meet one round early, and it spells another Final Four heartbreak for Schwindenhammer, who lost in the final last year.
#14 Billy Spottiswood over #6 Skyler Stromsmoe: Quite a Cinderella story for Spottiswood, who has probably had the toughest road of anyone to get to this point (Xander Bogaerts, Dock Doyle, Yakubik, Scram). I hope to see Stromsmoe back in this next year. He has staying power.
#3 Kevin Quackenbush over #14 Billy Spottiswood: Quackenbush fulfilled the three things necessary to gaining votes in this competition: (1) a crazy word within his name (quack), (2) a weird letter in a noticeable spot (Q to start his name), and (3) a way to personally connect him to the voter (“Bush” is how you pronounce my last name). Everyone will vote differently, but Quackenbush comes out on top in this person’s mind.
Again, if you want to vote, check out this link. I strongly recommend it. The names are fantastic.
Congrats to Quackenbush!
The latest episode of the RoughRiders Roundtable Podcast is now yours to listen to and download on iTunes. As always, a big thanks to our producer Ted Price, Jason Cole of LoneStarDugout.com, and Brian.
The three of us discuss the trade deadline, Joe Wieland, Mike Bianucci, Tomym Mendonca, Johan Yan, Renny Osuna, Jake Brigham, Justin Miller, Tanner Scheppers … and even more.
We’ve been thrilled with the early response of the podcast. Episode 2 had over 1,300 downloads! Thanks to all who download and listen, and remember, feel free to leave a comment with a question or future topic you’d like us to discuss.
I hope you and your iPod enjoy. -AG