Results tagged ‘ Lewis Brinson ’

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 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)
—————————————–
Audio: Listen online or through the TuneIn Radio app (Nathan Barnett and Steve Goldberg)
Watch: MiLB.TV (NW Arkansas feed)
Live stats: Click here
—————————————–
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.

Saddle Up: Riders at NW Arkansas (4/8/16)

GAME #2
Frisco RoughRiders (1-0, 1-0 1st half) at Northwest Arkansas Naturals (0-1, 0-1)
Friday, April 8 – 7:05 pm
Arvest Ballpark (Springdale, AR)
—————————————–
Audio: Listen online or through the TuneIn Radio app (Nathan Barnett and Steve Goldberg)
Watch: MiLB.TV (NW Arkansas feed)
—————————————–
This series: Game 2 of 3 (Riders lead, 1-0)
This season: Game 2 of 12 (Riders lead, 1-0)

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Connor Sadzeck makes the start for Frisco tonight

FRISCO LINEUP

  1. Isiah Kiner-Falefa – 3B
  2. Ryan Cordell – LF
  3. Lewis Brinson – CF
  4. Alex Burg – C
  5. Ronald Guzman – 1B
  6. Alberto Triunfel – 2B
  7. Preston Beck – RF
  8. Joe Jackson – DH
  9. Luis Marte – SS

RHP Connor Sadzeck (0-0, -.–)

RIDERS RECAP: Thursday at NW Arkansas (W, 2-0)

Box Score
Game Recap
Highlights
RoughRiders Rundown

SETTING THE STAGE (full game notes here)

LAST TIME OUT: The RoughRiders shut out the Northwest Arkansas Naturals 2-0 on Opening Night, behind six innings of scoreless from FRANK LOPEZ and a trio of relievers. LEWIS BRINSON notched a pair of hits, while RYAN CORDELL picked up the lone extra-base hit, an RBI double in the third that put the Riders ahead for good. Northwest Arkansas had its chances with a lead-off double in the fifth and the bases loaded in the eighth but went 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position, leaving seven men on and hitting into a game-ending double-play. MATT BUSH picked up his first save of the year in his first outing since 2011, facing the minimum around a single from Zane Evans.

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: Over the course of team history, the RoughRiders have had a fair amount of success following an Opening Day victory. Frisco has a 4-3 record in the second game of a season after winning the first, and they are 4-1 in these games since 2007. The best start to a season was when the Riders reeled off five straight wins on the road against Springfield and Arkansas to begin the 2008 campaign.

STAY IN THE YARD: Last night, Frisco and Northwest Arkansas played the only Texas League game that did not feature a home run. Bruce Caldwell (Springfield) and Mott Hyde (Corpus Christi) both hit solo home runs in their teams’ respective Opening Day victories. The Midland-Arkansas contest featured three home runs. Eric Aguilera (Arkansas) mashed two solo shots to give him an early league lead, and Jaycob Brugman (Midland) hit a three-run dinger with two outs in the first inning.

RANGER DANGER: Although the big league club lost 4-3 to the Angels on an Albert Pujols walk-off single, yesterday was a successful day for all the Rangers’ affiliates. Triple-A Round Rock jumped out to an early 7-1 lead over Iowa and cruised to a 7-3 win. Jared Hoying (Riders ‘12-13) hit a two-out grand slam in the third, and Chad Smith (Riders ’15) earned the win in relief. High-A High Desert doubled up Inland Empire 10-5 behind Travis Demeritte’s (No. 21 prospect, MLB Pipeline) two home runs, and Single-A Hickory topped Kannapolis 5-1.

MATT’S ALL, FOLKS: Last night, MATT BUSH made his debut in the Rangers’ organization 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.

KEEP THEM OFF THE BOARD: All of CONNOR SADZECK’s 16 career wins have come when allowing two earned runs or less. He has allowed two earned runs in a win on just one occasion, with Single-A Hickory on May 25, 2013 against Kannapolis. Sadzeck has allowed three or more runs 15 times in his career without a victory.

FRESH START FOR FRISCO: After finishing 2015 with a 60-79 overall record, the RoughRiders are looking to improve this season. Frisco went 29-41 in the first half and 31-38 in the second half last year. The Riders ended the season in third place, 28.5 games behind Corpus Christi, in the final Texas League South division standings.

FAMILIAR FACES IN FRISCO: The Riders’ initial roster features 18 players who appeared in Frisco last season. Dallas native PRESTON BECK is back home in the Metroplex once again after playing 93 games with the Riders last year. Despite the large number of returning players this year, only five were on the 2015 Opening Day roster.

SKIPPING INTO THE RECORD BOOKSJOE MIKULIK has returned for his second season with the RoughRiders. He is the eighth manager in RoughRiders history, and the fourth to return for a second consecutive year. The veteran skipper is in his 18th season as a Minor League manager and has 1,122 all-time wins. 938 of his victories were recorded with the Asheville Tourists of the South Atlantic League (Class A), setting both a team and league record.

Saddle Up: Riders at NW Arkansas (4/7/16)

GAME #1
Frisco RoughRiders (0-0) at Northwest Arkansas Naturals (0-0)
Thursday, April 7 – 6:25 pm
Arvest Ballpark (Springdale, AR)

AUDIO: Listen online or through the TuneIn Radio app (Nathan Barnett and Steve Goldberg)
WATCH: MiLB.TV (NW Arkansas feed)Photo Apr 05, 1 08 56 PM

FRISCO LINEUP

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

STARTING PITCHER: LHP Frank Lopez (0-0, 0.00)

GAME NOTES (full game notes here)

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).

FRESH START FOR FRISCO: After finishing 2015 with a 60-79 overall record, the RoughRiders are looking to improve this season. Frisco went 29-41 in the first half and 31-38 in the second half last year. The Riders ended the season in third place, 28.5 games behind Corpus Christi, in the final Texas League South division standings.

OPENING DAY HISTORY: The RoughRiders are looking to improve their Opening Day record of 7-6 as the team embarks on their 14th season. They have a 3-5 clip when beginning play on the road, compared to a 4-1 advantage when starting a season at Dr Pepper Ballpark. The Riders have lost their last three Opening Day games, being outscored by a total of 18-5. Five of Frisco’s six Texas League playoff appearances have come in seasons when the Riders won on Opening Day.

RIDING TO THE MAJORS: The RoughRiders have a rich history of sending players from Double-A to the big leagues in a timely manner. Nine of the Riders’ 13 Opening Day starting pitchers have appeared in Major League Baseball. Thirty of the 92 position players from Frisco’s Opening Day starting lineups have also played in MLB. Eleven former Riders made Major League debuts last year, and three were in the Rangers’ starting lineup on Opening Day this year (Elvis Andrus, Mitch Moreland, and Rougned Odor).

FAMILIAR FACES IN FRISCO: The Riders’ initial roster features 17 players who appeared in Frisco last season. Dallas native PRESTON BECK is back home in the Metroplex once again after playing 93 games with the Riders last year. Despite the large number of returning players this year, only five were on the 2015 Opening Day roster. Nobody started last year’s opener on April 9 against Arkansas, but Cody Buckel and Luis Mendez both made appearances.

BRINGING BACK BUSHMATT BUSH is set to make his debut in the Rangers’ organization. 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. He last played for Double-A Montgomery in 2011. The right-hander dominated in a limited sample size in Spring Training “A” games and hitting 100 mph once on the ballpark radar gun.

SKIPPING INTO THE RECORD BOOKSJOE MIKULIK returns for his second season with the RoughRiders. He is the eighth manager in RoughRiders history and the fourth to return for a second consecutive year. The veteran skipper enters his 18th season as a Minor League manager and has 1,121 all-time wins. 938 of his victories were recorded with the Asheville Tourists of the South Atlantic League (Class A), setting both a team and league record.

THE FLYIN’ HAWAIIANISIAH KINER-FALEFA, one of the eight players who did not appear in Frisco last season, is the youngest member of the Riders’ initial roster (21). The Honolulu native had a .296/.356/.341 slash line in 98 games with Hickory and High Desert in 2015.

ON THE ROAD AGAIN: April 5, 2013 was the last time the Riders started a season on the road. It was also the only time Frisco has ever opened play in the state of Arkansas. The Riders were shut out 7-0 by the Arkansas Travelers in the first game of a doubleheader after Opening Night was rained out in North Little Rock.

-Ryan

Season Storylines to Watch

We’ve finally made it to Opening Day. As I wrote Monday, it’s always one of my favorite days of the baseball season. The RoughRiders begin their 14th season tonight in Springdale, Arkansas against the Northwest Arkansas Naturals at 6:25. As they get ready to roll tonight, here are some storylines worth watching for this season:

Photo Apr 05, 12 56 47 PM

  1. THE OUTFIELD IS LOADED

This really is the theme throughout the Rangers organization, and that wealth of talent is probably part of the reason some really good players are not higher up in the organization to start the year. Lewis Brinson has drawn a lot of the attention on this roster, but he’s far from the only talented outfielder on the squad. Ryan Cordell was with Brinson in Major League camp this spring and looks to build off a good season last year. Preston Beck is back with the Riders and looking to continue improving. Zach Cone has been tearing the cover off the ball all spring, and Joe Jackson is coming off a nice season at High Desert. Early on, it will be interesting to see how the coaching staff rotates those five through the outfield and what trio proves to be the regular core for the RoughRiders.

  1. THE POTENTIAL IS THERE…

While 17 of the 25 players on the Opening Day roster have been with Frisco before, some of the first-timers at the Double-A level could be valuable assets to the squad if they’re able to keep up the level of play they had in the lower levels. Ronald Guzman comes off a strong year between Hickory and High Desert last season (131 G, .283 avg, 28 2B, 7 3B, 12 HR, 87 RBI), and he looked to be swinging well in Spring Training, too. Zach Cone is another guy who’s been swinging well and is coming off one of the best years of his career (113 G, .276, 27 2B, 18 HR, 71 RBI), which included a late-season promotion to Frisco. On the pitching side, both Reed Garrett and Richelson Pena have had a strong last few years in the lower levels of the farm system. Don’t look into their High Desert stats too much, given how much of a hitter’s league the California League is. With all of these guys, it’s just potential for now. But there’s reason to believe that at least some of them can continue playing at a similar level to what they did in the Single-A ranks.

  1. PITCHING LOOKS TO IMPROVE

Last year, it was “rough riding” on the mound. Frisco finished last in the Texas League in team ERA (4.70) and finished at or near the bottom in numerous other categories, too. Nine of the 13 pitchers on the initial roster pitched in Frisco last year, so perhaps that previous experience will pay off this season. The other four bring reason for optimism, too. Both Reed Garrett and Richelson Pena had good seasons in High Desert last year, with Garrett finishing tied for the California League lead in complete games (2) and Pena ending the year tied for the most wins in the league (10). Sam Wolff returns from injury, and the flamethrower Matt Bush is sure to offer a great anchor at the back end of the bullpen.

Those are just some of the bigger picture storylines to watch. Others will develop as the season goes along, and there will be some individual storylines to monitor, too. But enough speculation; first pitch is almost here, and we’ll see just how well the 2016 RoughRiders come together.

-Ryan

Baseball term of the day: Teaser – A slow, deceiving pitch to tempt a batter.

(term from The Dickson Baseball Dictionary

It’s a RoughRiders World

This week, the initial RoughRiders roster for the 2016 season was announced. The 26 players on the roster come to Frisco from four nations and 12 different states in the U.S. Here is some addition information about the cities each of our players call home.

RoughRidersWorld

Simi Valley, California – Cody Buckel

  • Population: 126,871
  • Fun fact: Home of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library
  • Notable baseball player: Jered Weaver

San Diego, California – Matt Bush

  • Population: 1,381,069
  • Fun fact: Nicknamed “The Birthplace of California”
  • Notable baseball player: Ted Williams

Henrico, Virginia – Reed Garrett

  • Population: 321,924
  • County surrounding Richmond, VA
  • Fun fact: Home of Richmond International Raceway, home to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races twice a year
  • Notable baseball player: Jackie Bradley, Jr.

Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic – Juan Grullon, Victor Payano, and Jose Valdespina

  • Population: 1,506,233
  • Capital and largest city in the Dominican Republic
  • Fun fact: Oldest continuously inhabited European settlement in the Americas (founded in 1496)
  • Notable baseball player: Albert Pujols

Esperanza, Dominican Republic – Jose Leclerc

  • Population: 70,588
  • Fun fact: One of three municipalities in the Valverde province
  • Notable baseball player: Hector Noesi

San Jose de Guanipa, Venezuela – Frank Lopez

  • Population: 76,914
  • Fun fact: Also known as El Tigrito
  • Notable baseball player: Odubel Herrera (RoughRiders ’13-14)

Easton, Maryland – Adam Parks

  • Population: 16,687
  • Fun fact: Location of the Third Haven Meeting House, the oldest Quaker meeting house
  • Notable baseball player: Harold Baines

Valverde Mao, Dominican RepublicRichelson Pena

  • Population: 106,818
  • Nicknamed “Ciudad de los Bellos Atardeceres” (City of the Beautiful Sunsets)
  • Fun fact: Holds the record for the highest temperature ever recorded in the Dominican Republic (109.4 degrees Fahrenheit, 43 degrees Celsius)
  • Notable baseball player: Pedro Borbon

Crystal Lake, Illinois – Connor Sadzeck

  • Population: 40,743
  • Fun fact: The tradition of giving gold coins to the Salvation Army anonymously began in 1982
  • Notable baseball player: Mike Myers

Ninety Six, South Carolina – Ryne Slack

  • Population: 1,998
  • Fun fact: Origin of the city’s name is a mystery
  • Notable baseball player: Bill Voiselle

Rapid City, South Dakota – Sam Wolff

  • Population: 67,956
  • Fun fact: Known as the “Gateway to the Black Hills” and the “City of Presidents”
  • Notable baseball player: Mark Ellis

Des Moines, Washington – Alex Burg

  • Population: 31,011
  • Fun fact: City was homesteaded by a group from Des Moines, Iowa
  • Notable baseball player: Brandon Mann

West Islip, New York – Pat Cantwell

  • Population: 28,335
  • Fun fact: Situated on the South Shore of Long Island, exactly halfway between Manhattan and Southampton, N.Y. (45 miles from each)
  • Notable baseball player: Nick Tropeano

Langley, British Columbia, Canada – Kellin Deglan

  • Population: 25,081
  • Fun fact: Langley represented Canada in 2011 Little League World Series
  • Notable baseball player: Brett Lawrie

La Vega, Dominican RepublicRonald Guzman

  • Population: 235,698
  • Fun fact: The city was moved to the bank of the Camu River after an earthquake in 1564
  • Notable baseball player: Jonathan Villar

Honolulu, Hawaii – Isiah Kiner-Falefa

  • Population: 390,738
  • Fun fact: Jackie Robinson played football with the Honolulu Bears, a semi-pro, racially integrated team in 1941. Robinson left Honolulu on December 5, two days before the World War II attack on Pearl Harbor.
  • Notable baseball player: Ron Darling

San Francisco de Macoris, Dominican RepublicLuis Marte

  • Population: 245,397
  • Fun fact: Capital of Duarte province
  • Notable baseball player: Hanser Alberto (RoughRiders ’13-14)

San Juan de los Morros, Venezuela – Luis Mendez

  • Population: 125,347
  • Fun fact: Capital of Guarico state
  • Notable baseball player: Franklin Morales

Licey Al Medio, Dominican RepublicAlberto Triunfel

  • Population: 69,321
  • Fun fact: Santiago’s Cibao International Airport is located here
  • Notable baseball player: Gabriel Arias

Dallas, Texas – Preston Beck

  • Population: 1,281,047
  • Fun fact: Dallas is the fourth most populous metropolitan area in the United States
  • Notable baseball player: Ernie Banks

Tamarac, Florida – Lewis Brinson

  • Population: 63,793
  • Fun fact: Motto is “The City for your Life!”
  • Notable baseball player: Matt Ford

Stone Mountain, Georgia – Zach Cone

  • Population: 5,802
  • Fun fact: Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech includes the line “let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia”
  • Notable baseball player: Brandon Phillips

Orangevale, California – Ryan Cordell

  • Population: 33,960
  • Fun fact: Known for its rolling hills that offer the best views of the Sierra Nevada mountain range and its foothills
  • Notable baseball player: Manny Parra

Simpsonville, South Carolina – Joe Jackson

  • Population: 19,056
  • Fun fact: Home of the 2008 Little League Softball Champions
  • Notable baseball player: Red Barbary

– Steve

Baseball term of the day: arm behind the barn – the undiscovered pitching phenom that early scouts were always in search of

(term from The Dickson Baseball Dictionary)

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