Results tagged ‘ Lewis Brinson ’

Riders Reflections, part two: Best single-game performance by an individual

As we near the conclusion of the 2016 season, we wanted to take some time to reflect on the year that’s been. From now until Monday, we’ll look back on different elements of the season and some of the people and moments that stand out. Click here to read previous posts.

Today, we look at the best single-game performance by an individual from the 2016 season.

NATHAN: Isiah Kiner-Falefa (April 14 vs. Northwest Arkansas)

At first, I almost thought it was a joke. Leading off, catching: Isiah Kiner-Falefa. The RoughRiders everyday third baseman was going to catch, and he was going to do it, in a game, for the first time in his life.

The date: April 14, 2016.

We, of course, had to find out more. What is going on? Is Deglan hurt? Can Burg not catch? Is it, maybe, just a joke?

Sure enough it was serious. And this wasn’t your run-of-the-mill “let’s get this guy some more versatility,” either. This was and is a serious project.

As we would later find out, a certain member of the Rangers player development staff (the name now escapes me) started working Kiner out behind the plate during instructs and then again in Spring Training. All of that makes Kiner’s debut behind the dish on April 14, slightly less dazzling, but, still, the 21-year-old had never caught more than four or five innings at a time, and on this day, he caught all nine. And caught rather well, I might add.

He was the talk of the ballpark the next day. Staff, fans, players, coaches: you name it. Everyone was talking about Kiner’s catching debut. He put down the signs for a brilliant Frank Lopez outing and 7-3 RoughRiders win. He threw out Raul Mondesi trying to swipe a bag (he had come into the game 4-for-4 stealing bases), his first professional caught stealing but not the last.

Offensively, he added a single, a walk, and a run scored.

It’s been a fun year watching the 5’10”, 180 lbs Hawaiian-born natural middle infielder squat behind the plate. He’s done better back there than anyone could have expected, and it all started on April 14.

STEVE: Victor Payano (May 3 at San Antonio)

In one of the best individual performances of the 2016 season, Victor Payano struck out a career-high 13 batters in a dominating May 3 win over the San Antonio Missions. The southpaw struck out the side in the fifth and recorded two strikeouts in five different frames.

Payano held the Missions scoreless in 6 2/3 innings, did not issue a walk, and surrendered just four hits. The RoughRiders went on to win the road game 3-0.

In addition to being a career-high, Payano’s 13 strikeouts were also the most by a Riders pitcher since Robbie Erlin fanned 14 batters against Corpus Christi on June 26, 2011.

Later in the series, Connor Sadzeck struck out nine batters en route to a 6-1 victory. Frisco swept the series, its second straight sweep against San Antonio, and struck a total of 41 batters in the four-game set.

RYAN: Lewis Brinson (July 11 vs. Northwest Arkansas)

Let me start by saying I weighed a lot of options among the best hitting performances of the year. There have been a handful of two-homer games and four+ RBI contests, but I ultimately went with Lewis Brinson’s performance in the series finale against the Naturals.

On that Monday afternoon at Dr Pepper Ballpark, a 15-9 win for the Riders, Brinson went 4-for-6 with a homer and two runs scored. As it stands, the performance was pretty impressive. However, I think one of the reasons this one ultimately got my vote over some of the other candidates is because it capped off a wildly impressive series for the former Riders outfielder. In the three games against the Naturals, he combined to go 7-for-14 (.500), homering in all three games and scoring five times. He is the only Riders hitter to homer in three consecutive games this season.

As you probably know by now, Brinson is tearing it up with Triple-A Colorado Springs, now hitting .425 with the Sky Sox after going 4-for-5 last night. In 19 games, he’s already hit four homers and driven in 20 runs.

———–

“Riders Reflections”

PART ONE (Wednesday): Breakout player

PART TWO (Thursday): Best single-game performance by an individual

PART THREE (Friday): Favorite pregame interview

PART FOUR (Saturday): Favorite promo night / giveaway at Dr Pepper Ballpark

PART FIVE (Sunday): Favorite game

PART SIX (Monday): Our final thoughts on the 2016 season

———–

Baseball term of the day: Keystone hit – A synonym for a double

(term from The Dickson Baseball Dictionary

Brinson reflects on trade, hot start with Sky Sox

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Lewis Brinson is hitting .397 in his first 18 games with Triple-A Colorado Springs of the Milwaukee organization (Paat Kelly / Colorado Springs Sky Sox)

Imagine that you’re watching the nightly news and see that you’ve been assigned to a new job. In some ways, that’s what Lewis Brinson went through on August 1.

Brinson, the former Riders outfielder, was in the training room at Dr Pepper Ballpark getting ready for a game against Midland. In the final minutes of the trade deadline, Brinson saw his name pop up on TV as part of the deal that brought Jonathan Lucroy to Texas and sent him to the Milwaukee organization, alongside former Riders pitcher Luis Ortiz.

“It was very shocking. It didn’t hit me until I actually got to [Triple-A] Colorado Springs and I wasn’t going to see all my teammates from before and knowing that you’re in a different organization. It was pretty wild.”

Since moving past the initial shock, Brinson has been brilliant for the Sky Sox. In 18 games, Brinson is hitting .397 with six doubles, four home runs and 17 RBI. His .397 average ranks second in the Pacific Coast League in that span.

052016 Brinson, Lewis (Photo Credit - Frisco RoughRiders)He opened his time in Colorado Springs on an eight-game hitting streak, including a 4-for-4 performance in his debut on August 2.

“You couldn’t ask for a better debut,” said Brinson. “With a new team, trying to show them that they made the right deal and you’re their guy. Going 4-for-4, that really sealed it for me and I haven’t really looked back since. So that was a good night, good start for me.”

The only thing that could slow him down was a strained left hamstring, which put him on the disabled list for a week. Additionally, it caused him to miss the first three games of a four-game series in Round Rock against his former club. He was cleared to play in the series finale, and made a prominent return to Dell Diamond by crushing the second pitch of the game over the left field fence.

“It was great,” said Brinson. “First at-bat, going deep there, rounding first, and seeing Joey [Gallo]’s reaction and seeing everybody react to it. Being there on the opposing side was pretty cool. It was a little weird at first coming out of the visitor’s locker room, but it was very cool to have that experience that last day.”

As he rounds out his first month with the Brewers, the 22-year-old outfielder fondly remembers his time with Texas, but is excited by what lies ahead with Milwaukee.

“Those guys (Rangers teammates) will stick with me for a long time, and hopefully, I play against them [in the big leagues] someday,” said Brinson. “It was a lot of fun. I’m with a new organization now, and I’m going to make the best of it. I think it’s meant to be for me, so I’m going to make the best of it here. I wish all those guys over there the best of luck.”

-Ryan

Baseball term of the day: Breezer – A fastball

(term from The Dickson Baseball Dictionary

Moving parts: checking in on the new and former Riders from the last week

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Lewis Brinson is off to a great with the Colorado Springs Sky Sox since being traded last Monday. (Paat Kelly / Colorado Springs Sky Sox)

In the last week, the RoughRiders roster has experienced some heavy turnover. With seven guys joining the squad, five going to Triple-A, two to the DL, and two getting traded, the roster looks very different than it did at this time last week.

Here’s an update on how everyone is doing with their new teams:

THE NEW RIDERS (stats reflect results since joining the team last week)

CARLOS ARROYO: 5 G, 3-for-15, 2B, 2 RBI
Arroyo singled in his first at-bat with Frisco but has struggled a bit since then. Sunday, he drove in a pair of runs and picked up an outfield assist in center field.

CARSON BLAIR: 2 G, 1-for-7, HR, RBI
Blair didn’t waste much time making a splash with his new organization, hitting a solo homer Sunday in just his second game as a Rangers farmhand.

SCOTT CARROLL: 1 GS, 5.0 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 4 K
Carroll turned in another strong start for the Riders Sunday, allowing two runs on five hits in five innings.

EDWIN GARCIA: 4 G, 4-for-14, 2B, RBI, SB
Now in his second stint playing with Frisco this season, Garcia has helped fill the void at first base. He also notched three hits Sunday at San Antonio.

JUAN GRULLON: 1 G, 2.0 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 2 K
Grullon pitched well out of the bullpen on Saturday in his first relief outing since rejoining the squad, but took the loss in a 1-0 game at San Antonio.

EDUARD PINTO: 4 G, 6-for-14, 2B, RBI
Pinto picked up four hits Sunday at San Antonio, and he has hits in three of his first four games with the Riders.

JACK SNODGRASS: 1 GS, 6.0 IP, 2 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 7 K
The southpaw made an impressive debut with the Riders, allowing two runs on two hits across six innings of work on Thursday in San Antonio.

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Jack Snodgrass earned the win in his Riders debut Thursday. (Dave Michael / San Antonio Missions)

PROMOTED TO TRIPLE-A (stats reflect results since joining the team last week)

JOHN FASOLA: 3 G, 3.2 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 3 K
Fasola has already appeared in three games since joining the Express for the second time this season. Like he was in Frisco, he’s continued to be tough on opposing hitters.

RONALD GUZMAN: 6 G, 4-for-21, 2B, HR, 3 RBI, 12 K
Guzman got off to a great start in Triple-A, homering and doubling in his first two-at-bats. However, he has since struck out in 12 of his last 19 at-bats.

YOHANDER MENDEZ: 1 GS, 5.0 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 3 K
Mendez turned in a nearly identical line to his Triple-A debut on July 5. He has yet to allow a run as a Triple-A pitcher this season across 10 innings. His combined 2.51 ERA this season would lead Rangers full-season starters if he qualified.

VICTOR PAYANO: 1 G, 1.1 IP, 2 H, 5 ER, 4 BB, 1 K
Payano got rocked in his Triple-A debut Friday, keyed by four walks. One of the things that helped him have a strong year with the Riders was limiting walks. If he can do that moving forward, the Express will hopefully see the pitcher that did so well in Frisco.

JOSE VALDESPINA: 2 G, 3.0 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 3 K
Now in his second stint with Round Rock this season, Valdespina has already come out of the bullpen twice this week and has yet to allow a run.

THE NEW BREWERS (stats reflect results since joining the team last week)

LEWIS BRINSON: 7 G, 13-for-29 (.448), 4 2B, 1 HR, 8 RBI, 3-4 SB
We probably shouldn’t be too surprised that Brinson is tearing it up with his new club, but it’s still pretty impressive that he has burst right on to the scene and been a consistent contributor for the Sky Sox. He has hits in all seven games with his new club, including a four-hit night in his debut and a grand slam the next game. If you factor what he did with Round Rock at the end of last year, he’s a career .441 hitter (26-for-59) in Triple-A.LOLBTrade640x360.jpg

LUIS ORTIZ: 1 GS, 3.0 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 3 K
Ortiz debuted with Double-A Biloxi Saturday night, working another short outing as he recovers from his time on the DL. Ortiz also had an at-bat (he’ll have more to come, too) and struck out in his only AB of the night.

– Ryan

Baseball term of the day: Nellie hitter – A hitter who hits to left center and to right center.

(term from The Dickson Baseball Dictionary

Deadline deals involving RoughRiders

Today is a big day in professional baseball. Because of the leap year, August 1 at 3 p.m. CT was deemed the 2016 non-waiver trade deadline (one day later than the usual July 31 deadline).

Although many trades happen throughout the season, including some in the days leading up to the deadline, there is nothing more thrilling than working out a last-minute deal. The moves end up impacting the parent club’s farm system, whether directly or indirectly. Some years, the RoughRiders have been affected more than others.

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This year was one of those years that directly affected the RoughRiders. It was recently announced that outfielder Lewis Brinson and right-handed pitcher Luis Ortiz were included in a trade with the Milwaukee Brewers for All-Star catcher Jonathan Lucroy and relief pitcher Jeremy Jeffress.

This is not the only time the RoughRiders lost a player on the day of the deadline. Let’s have a look back at a few major deadline deals that involved RoughRiders players from that season.

July 31, 2015: The Texas Rangers traded RoughRiders LHP Cody Ege and former Riders catcher Tomas Telis to the Miami Marlins for pitcher Sam Dyson.

Ege left the Riders on a stretch of 13 straight relief appearances without allowing an earned run. He was assigned to Double-A Jacksonville and quickly made his way up to Triple-A New Orleans by mid-August. Ege made his Major League debut for the Marlins earlier this year on April 23 and pitched in five games for Miami.

Telis, who made his Major League debut in 2014 for the Rangers, finished the 2015 season on the Marlins 25-man roster. He has played in two games for the big-league club this year, with the majority of his 2016 action coming in Triple-A New Orleans.

July 31, 2011: The Texas Rangers traded RoughRiders SPs Robbie Erlin and Joe Wieland to the San Diego Padres for Mike Adams.

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Joe Wieland, 2011

 

One of the bigger impact trades on the list, the Rangers gave up two very good starting pitching prospects to get one of the best relievers in the National League at the time. For a while it appeared the Rangers would acquire Padres closer Heath Bell, and out of seemingly nowhere, picked up Adams instead.

Erlin and Wieland were both staples of the 2011 ‘Riders rotation. Erlin was 5-2 with a 4.32 ERA in 11 appearances, 10 starts, after his late May promotion from Myrtle Beach. Wieland was not called up from the Pelicans’ squad until mid-June but adapted quickly to Texas League batters. The big righthander was 4-0 with a 1.23 ERA as a RoughRiders pitcher and pitched a nine-inning no-hitter in his final start as a Rangers farmhand on July 29, 2011.

July 31, 2006: The Texas Rangers traded RoughRiders RP Jose Diaz to the Kansas City Royals for Matt Stairs

Attempting a run at the 2006 AL West Crown, the Rangers went out and aquired 38-year-old Matt Stairs, who didn’t hit much for the Rangers (.210/.273/.370) in 26 games down the stretch. Amazingly, Stairs went on to play five more seasons in the big leagues, none of them for Texas.

The cost was Jose Diaz, who got a quick promotion to Triple-A after a stellar start for the Riders in 2006. In eight games, four starts, Diaz posted a 2-0 record with a 1.29 ERA. He pitched in just four games in the majors for the Royals, all coming in 2006. The Rangers actually signed him again in 2008. He pitched for Frisco again, and made it up to Arlington for a single appearance with the big league club.

July 31, 2006: The Texas Rangers traded RoughRiders RP Jesse Chavez to the Pittsburgh Pirates for Kip Wells

Chavez made 38 appearances with the Riders before his promotion to Triple-A in late July and was traded after one appearance for the Triple-A Oklahoma City Redhawks (then a Rangers affiliate). Chavez has played with five different Major League clubs and was just involved in another deadline deal today. He was shipped from the Toronto Blue Jays to the Los Angeles Dodgers.

– Steve

Baseball term of the day: Brew Crew – Nickname for the Milwaukee Brewers, so named after its 13-game winning streak at the beginning of the 1987 season.

A missed opportunity (with some silver linings)

050116 Brinson, Lewis (Photo Credit - Frisco RoughRiders)

Consider last night a missed opportunity.

The RoughRiders, taking on first-place Midland, got a great pitching performance from Ariel Jurado in his Double-A debut (6.0 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 1 K), but managed just one run in a 2-1 loss. Frisco had at least one runner on in every inning except the second, but left 13 men on and went just 1-for-12 with runners in scoring position.

It doesn’t help that Ryan Cordell and Andy Ibanez had deep fly balls come up just shy of home runs, or that Midland got three of its four hits against Jurado in succession.

However, with 39 games left in the season and the RoughRiders back to seven games behind the RockHounds in the second half standings, we’re getting to the point where every game is gaining importance, especially the head-to-head battles with Midland.

There are some silver linings to all of this, though:

  • The RoughRiders are that close to breaking through. All five games on the road trip have been one-run affairs, as have the last six meetings with Midland. We saw the bats bust loose on a couple different occasions in the last series at Corpus Christi, so consider last night an outlier in terms of struggles at the plate.
  • Lewis Brinson put together his fourth three-hit game of the year last night after coming in just 9-for-his-last-55. We continue to see flashes from Brinson, including that monster homestand against Arkansas and Northwest Arkansas at the beginning of the month. If he can keep providing reliable and consistent production out of the leadoff spot, that should help the four guys that typically hit behind him in the order (Andy Ibanez, Ronald Guzman, Ryan Cordell, and Joe Jackson) keep the lineup churning out baserunners, and eventually, runs.
  • Luis Marte is still on a tear, now at 12-for-23 (.522) on the road trip with multiple hits in each of his last six games. He gives the order some depth near the bottom. If his bat can keep swinging at a clip anywhere near where he’s been lately for a while, that’ll be a big boost for the RoughRiders.

Last night may have been a missed opportunity, but there’s still time to bounce back. The Riders face Midland 11 more times in the final 39 games, including the final three games of the season. Will it be easy to win the second half? No. Can it be done? Absolutely.

– Ryan

Baseball term of the day: Fuzzy concrete – Artificial turf

(term from The Dickson Baseball Dictionary

Diving into the record books: a look at Frisco’s historic home run surge

Before I get into all the Riders home run history you could ever want to know, let me set the stage.

After the RoughRiders hit their fourth homer in Monday’s 15-9 win over Northwest Arkansas – their second straight day with four homers – Nathan Barnett posed the question: Had the RoughRiders ever had back-to-back games with four homers before? (You can hear our exchange below)

At the time, I truly didn’t expect to dive into the archives, but the temptation bug got me a couple days later.

(This is pretty much how it went down)

Let’s look at how different elements of the current power surge stack up in the team history books.

THE VOLUME: The Riders have set the team record for most home runs in a five-game span with 15. They have also tied the team record for most homers in a six-game span (16). The only other team to knock 16 balls out of the yard in six games was the 2011 squad, which did it July 17-22. That squad, however, got half of those homers in one game as part of a Riders single-game record eight home runs on July 22.

On that note, the four homers in a game put the Riders in an 19-way tie for seventh place on the single-game home run list. As mentioned above, the single-game team record is eight. The others are below.

Blog - single game homers

The RoughRiders finished with 11 home runs in the three-game series against the Naturals, which is tops in team history for a three-game series. Frisco’s four-game series home run record is also 11 (July 22-25, 2011 vs. Corpus Christi – also helped significantly by the eight-homer game). The all-time Riders record for home runs in a series is 12, but it took five games to do it (June 9-12, 2007 vs. Midland).

THE FREQUENCY: Frisco has homered in each of the last six games, which is impressive, but isn’t on the list of top-five home run streaks in team history. In fact, the streak isn’t even the longest of the year for the RoughRiders, who homered in eight straight games April 19 through April 28. If they go yard again tonight, it’ll be tied for the fifth-longest streak in team history.

Blog - homer streaks

What makes this all the more odd is that Frisco had just gone seven games without a homer a week earlier, which was tied for the fifth on the list of longest home run droughts in team history.

Homerless streaks - team

THE STREAKS: Part of what’s made this current stretch so fun is the fact that four different players have homered in consecutive games. Lewis Brinson homered in all three games of the Northwest Arkansas series, while Alex Burg, Preston Beck, and Ryan Cordell each homered in two straight games.

Homering in back-to-back games isn’t as uncommon as you might think. It’s now happened 113 times in team history. For Burg, it’s the second time he’s done it this year (also April 27-28). Michael Bianucci homered in back-to-back games five different times in 2011, which is the most in team history.

As for Brinson’s feat, it’s a little rarer. The righty slugger became the 19th player in RoughRiders history to homer in three straight games. Had he homered in a fourth straight game, he would have been just the fifth player in team history to do it, joining J.T. Wise (2014), Adam Fox (2009), Max Ramirez (2008), and Kevin Richardson (2006).

THE BEST OF THE BEST: Here are some of the most notable homer-related feats in Riders history that I encountered in my research.

  • My favorite has to be Mike Olt (now with San Antonio), who not only homered in three straight games (June 1-3, 2012) but he had two dingers in ALL THREE GAMES.
  • Chad Tracy had two multi-homer games in 2009, but he had to share the spotlight both times, as one of his teammates also had a two-homer game in each case. John Whittleman did it with him the first time (July 4) and Adam Fox did it alongside him a month later (August 13).
  • In 2006, Kevin Richardson homered in back-to-back games twice, three straight games once, and became the first Riders hitter to homer in four straight games. Those are four separate streaks. He had 17 homers that year and 12 of them were part of one of those streaks.

PUTTING IT IN PERSPECTIVE: In case you were wondering by the way, even with this recent surge, the Riders are nowhere near the single-season record for homers as a team. The 2007 squad (176 homers) may be hard to top.

Blog - single season homers

Now, back to the question that got this whole thing started. Yes, the 2016 Riders are the first team in the 14-year history of the franchise to hit four homers in back-to-back games. That said, another team came awfully close. The 2014 squad had two four-homer games in a three-game series (also against Northwest Arkansas) on April 10 and 12.

Hopefully, you enjoyed this look into the record books. I certainly had fun putting it together.

– Ryan

Baseball term of the day: Homeric clout – A home run.

(term from The Dickson Baseball Dictionary

Celebrating the runner-ups in the Riders clubhouse

Runner Up Night

After many months of anticipation, “Runner-Up Night” has arrived! Inspired by the Miss Universe flub in December, it’s a chance to celebrate the second-place winners of the world.

With that in mind, here are some Riders-inspired runner-up themes we thought up (I’m sure we’re leaving some out):

  • The RoughRiders have finished as the Texas League runner-ups three times in the first 13 years of the franchise.
  • Outfielder Lewis Brinson finished runner-up to Joey Gallo this year on the list of top prospects in the Rangers organization.
  • Speaking of Gallo, he finished as runner-up to Corpus Christi’s Telvin Nash for the Texas League lead in home runs in 2014, hitting 21 long balls to Nash’s 22. (Making it all the more impressive, he did it in 40 fewer games than Nash).
  • Both pitcher Reed Garrett and infielder Garrett Weber were named second-team all-conference in college (finishing as a runner-up for a 1st team all-conference spot).
  • Pitcher Cody Buckel was a runner-up to being a first-round draft pick, after being selected by the Rangers in the second round of the 2010 first-year player draft.
  • Outfielder Ryan Cordell’s high school team at Valley Christian Academy finished as sectional runner-ups in 2010.
  • Pitcher Sam Wolff is from Rapid City, South Dakota (which is runner-up to Sioux Falls as the largest city in the state).

Who says first place deserves all the glory? As you can see, there’s still plenty to celebrate when it comes to finishing second.

That said, the winner of tonight’s game will NOT be the team that scores the second-most runs. So here’s to hoping the Riders aren’t runner-ups on the field tonight.

– Ryan

Baseball term of the day: Run-getter – A batter whose primary function is to score runs, as opposed to driving them in.

(term from The Dickson Baseball Dictionary

Looking Back at Pre-Season Storylines

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We’re already a week into the season, and the RoughRiders are off to a scorching-hot start at 5-1. Now, the team finally gets to come home and play at Dr Pepper Ballpark. As we get ready for the opening home stand, which starts tomorrow against Northwest Arkansas, it seems like a good time to check back in quickly with some of the keys I outlined last week before the season started.

1) The outfield is loaded

As expected, the crew in the outfield has been doing quite a bit of damage early on this year. Lewis Brinson and Ryan Cordell are both hitting .375 with 3 doubles. Brinson already has four multi-hit games and Cordell has three. But perhaps the biggest surprise has been Joe Jackson, who is the only outfielder that came in without any experience in Double-A. Jackson started 6-14 (.429) with three extra-base hits in his first three games, with a team-best 6 RBI.

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Ronald Guzman is heating up over his last three games

2) The potential is there… 

One of the preseason questions was how well the seven Double-A newcomers would fare early in the season. So far, it’s a resounding success. We’ve already detailed Jackson’s success, but Ronald Guzman is swinging better than anyone right now. After starting the year 0-6, Guzman is 8-15 in his last three games, including a monster home run Monday night. Plus, Isiah Kiner-Falefa has anchored the leadoff spot in all six games, and notched a four-hit night Monday.

On the pitching side, all three newcomers to Double-A had strong first weeks. Richelson Pena was perfect for 5 2/3 innings on Monday, and fellow Double-A newcomer Reed Garrett helped him finish off a combined one-hit shutout of Arkansas. Sam Wolff also logged a quality start his first time out, going 6 innings and allowing just 1 run on 3 hits.

3) Pitching looks to improve

So far, pitching has definitely been one of the strong sides for the RoughRiders. Frank Lopez, Connor Sadzeck and Sam Wolff each turned in quality starts in the opening series at Arkansas. Pena’s perfection on Monday marked yet another impressive start for Frisco. And on the whole, the bullpen was reliable, allowing just 4 earned runs in 23 1/3 innings of work (1.54 ERA). Meanwhile, starters had a 1.26 ERA through the first five games. We’ll learn a lot about the staff in the coming series against Northwest Arkansas. The RoughRiders held the Naturals to 4 runs in the three games they played, before Northwest Arkansas put up 30 runs in three games against Midland. Another strong showing could further validate an improvement in the pitching staff.

– Ryan

Baseball term of the day: Balkamania – The furor during the early weeks of the 1988 season when the balk rule was reinterpreted along stricter lines.

(term from The Dickson Baseball Dictionary)

When Opportunity Knocks…

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Joe Jackson is 4-8 with 3 extra base hits in his first two career Double-A games

Another day, another win. The RoughRiders took care of business again last night, finishing off the sweep of Northwest Arkansas with a 9-1 win. We’ve talked a lot about the pitching so far, but the bats are starting to become a bigger piece of the puzzle, too.

After mustering just two runs Thursday and going quiet until the five-run sixth inning last night, Frisco scored early and often in the series finale. After a run in the first, they put up their second five-spot in as many days in the fourth, two more in the fifth and a final run in the sixth. The Riders had big performances all around, especially from guys like Lewis Brinson, Ryan Cordell and Joe Jackson, among others in the season-opening series. Today, Frisco sits atop the Texas League leaders in runs (17), doubles (8) and is tied for first in steals (3), while the RoughRiders are second in many other categories.

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Ryan Cordell is hitting .500 with 3 doubles through the first 3 games of 2016

All that said, it’s not like there were countless good opportunities in the first series. Instead, it became a series defined by cashing in on opportunity when it was there, and the Riders certainly did that. They finished the series hitting .469 (15-32) with runners in scoring position, and did a nice job passing the baton down the lineup card when they ran into struggling pitchers (see the two five-run innings for example). It wasn’t just the big innings, either. The third inning Thursday was a good example of finding a way to score in a game where runs were at a premium.

Baseball often – but now always – can be a game heavily influenced by how well a team hits with runners in scoring position. Especially for a team that hasn’t hit a homer yet, the ability to bring home runners in scoring position will be a big key to sustaining this early success.

The pitchers did a great job of suppressing opportunities, as well, holding Northwest Arkansas to a 1-for-19 (.053) mark with RISP. The Naturals left the bases loaded twice, including in a big spot late in Thursday’s game, when a base hit would’ve tied the game or give Northwest Arkansas the lead.

The road trip now shifts to North Little Rock for a series with the Arkansas Travelers (1-2), who only scored 5 runs and struck out a Texas League-high 39 times in their opening series loss to Midland. It presents another good opportunity. Now the question is if the Riders can keep answering when there’s a knock on the door.

– Ryan

Speaking of opportunity, former RoughRiders outfielder Nomar Mazara was called up to the Rangers today and former Frisco catcher/1B Brett Nicholas had his contract purchased by Texas. Both will be with the Rangers in today’s series finale against the Angels. 

Baseball term of the day: Hoopdy Scoop – A curveball

(term from The Dickson Baseball Dictionary

Saddle Up: Riders at NW Arkansas (4/9/16)

GAME #3
Frisco RoughRiders (2-0) at Northwest Arkansas Naturals (0-2)
Saturday, April 9 – 6:05 pm
Arvest Ballpark (Springdale, AR)
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Audio: Listen online or through the TuneIn Radio app (Nathan Barnett and Steve Goldberg)
Watch: MiLB.TV (NW Arkansas feed)
Live stats: Click here
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This series: Game 3 of 3 (Riders lead, 2-0)
This season: Game 3 of 12 (Riders lead, 2-0)

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Lewis Brinson has posted back-to-back multi-hit games to begin the 2016 season

FRISCO LINEUP

  1. Isiah Kiner-Falefa – 3B
  2. Ryan Cordell – RF
  3. Lewis Brinson – CF
  4. Ronald Guzman – 1B
  5. Zach Cone – LF
  6. Joe Jackson – DH
  7. Luis Marte – SS
  8. Kellin Deglan – C
  9. Luis Mendez – 2B

RHP Sam Wolff (0-0, -.–)

RIDERS RECAP: Friday at NW Arkansas (W, 6-3)

Box Score
Game Recap
Highlights
Postgame Notes

SETTING THE STAGE (full game notes here)

LAST TIME OUT: Shutting out Northwest Arkansas until the eighth inning, the RoughRiders moved ahead with a five-run sixth inning and held on for a 6-3 win over the Naturals on Friday night at Arvest Ballpark…CONNOR SADZECK posted six shutout frames en route to a win in his season debut…LEWIS BRINSONALEX BURGRYAN CORDELL, and JOE JACKSON all collected two hits…Frisco led 5-0 until the eighth, when the Naturals scored a run off MATT BUSH…Frisco got the run back in the ninth before the Naturals scored two more in the ninth…RYNE SLACK entered to pick up the final two outs and the save.

TOP OF THE CLASS: The RoughRiders enter the season with six players ranked in either Baseball America or MLBPipeline.com’s Rangers Top 30 Prospects. LEWIS BRINSON, the No. 2 prospect in Rangers’ farm system according to MLBPipeline.com and Baseball America, returns to Frisco. He appeared in 28 games for the Riders last season, hitting .291 with six home runs and 23 RBI before being promoted to Round Rock in August. Brinson is joined by five other players named in the lists—RYAN CORDELL (No. 15 in MLB, No. 11 in BA), RONALD GUZMAN (23, 29), JOSE LECLERC (25, 21),SAM WOLFF (26, NR), and CONNOR SADZECK (27, 26).

STREAKING START: The RoughRiders have had a fair amount of success following an Opening Day victory, and last night’s victory continued the trend. Frisco now has a 5-3 record in the second game of a season after winning the first, and they are 5-1 in those games since 2007.

THREE’S A CROWD: While the Riders have reached the 2-0 mark five times, the team has only improved to 3-0 once. Frisco opened the 2008 season with five straight victories, all occurring on the road against Springfield and Arkansas.

PUTTING THE ‘O’ IN FRISCO: The RoughRiders began this season in a fashion that has never been done before in team history. Frisco kept Northwest Arkansas off the board for 16 straight innings before allowing a run on a one-out sacrifice fly in the bottom of the eighth yesterday. The previous record for consecutive scoreless innings to begin a RoughRiders season was 13 2/3 in 2012.

WELCOMING WOLFF: Right-handed pitcher SAM WOLFF is set to make his Double-A debut for Frisco tonight and his first start since 2014. Wolff missed the entire 2015 season with a torn Achilles following an impressive season with High-A Myrtle Beach the year before. He is currently ranked the No. 26 prospect in the Rangers’ organization, according to MLB Pipeline.

HOW SWEEP IT IS: After winning the first two games of this series, the Riders are back in action trying to accomplish something that was only done once last season. The Riders swept one series in 2015, and it was a rain-shortened two-game road set against Northwest Arkansas on July 10. The last time Frisco swept a series of three or more games was August 15-17, 2014 at Tulsa.

RANGER DANGER: All four of the Rangers’ full-season affiliates are off to 2-0 starts in the 2016 season. Yesterday, everyone in the Texas farm system won, including the big league club. The Rangers beat the Angels 7-3 behind a third inning two-run homer by Rougned Odor (Riders ’13-14). For the second straight game, Triple-A Round Rock scored all their runs in the first three innings and held on to defeat Iowa 4-3. Francisco Mendoza (Riders ‘13-15) gave up a run in the ninth but worked around it to earn his first save. High-A High Desert put up a four-spot in the first inning and for the second straight game, Travis Demeritte (No. 21 prospect, MLB Pipeline) hit two home runs in the 9-5 victory over Inland Empire. Single-A Hickory topped Kannapolis 8-2.

MATT’S ALL, FOLKSMATT BUSH made his debut in the Rangers’ organization Thursday and earned his first save since August 24, 2011 with Double-A Montgomery. Originally a shortstop, the San Diego native was selected No. 1 overall by his hometown Padres in the 2004 MLB Draft. Bush was converted to a pitcher prior to the 2007 season and later spent two years in the Tampa Bay Rays’ farm system.