Results tagged ‘ Luis Mendez ’
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 back at our favorite interviews of the season on the Dr Pepper Pregame Show
RYAN: Luis Mendez (June 16)
Sometimes, an interview goes a whole different direction than what you had planned, but those are some of the best. In this case, a simple question about working the kid’s camp that day led us to a discussion about being a leader and a role model, among other topics.
Mendez was always a fun one to talk to and his sentiments in here about having fun are sincere. He was always smiling and I could tell how much he loved the game. It was great to see him get the call-up to Triple-A yesterday.
STEVE: Ryan Ledbetter (June 24)
At the end of June, a Ledbetter arrived in Frisco. It was Ryan Ledbetter, who, as we later found out in the interview, is a few minutes younger than his twin brother David.
Ryan was very enthusiastic about joining the RoughRiders. He was open about discussing his journey through the farm system and shared stories about being drafted by the same team as his twin brother.
The interview stood out to me as well because, like in the case of Luis Mendez, Ledbetter was always smiling. You could see his passion for the sport coming out in the way he talked, which also helped enhance the interview overall.
NATHAN: Mike Daly (August 18)
This was pretty easy for me. When Mike talks: I listen. This guy has so much knowledge about the Rangers organization and comes from a player development perspective that really matters. As the head honcho of the minor league system, pretty much all developmental reports and player movement goes through Mike. He knows the system from top to bottom like very few others do.
Additionally, Mike is one of the positive people you’ll ever meet. His outlook on the Rangers players, and life in general, is extremely optimistic and energetic. He’s a joy to be around and a joy to listen to. Enjoy!
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: Invisible man – A sportswriter when things are going well for the home team and nothing negative is being written.
(term from The Dickson Baseball Dictionary)
The art of switch-hitting has always fascinated me. Imagine all the times you’ve tried doing something with your non-dominant hand/arm and how hard it was (at least, if your experience is anything like mine). When it comes to switch hitters, not only have they figured out to hit from both sides, but they do it well enough to hit respectably in professional baseball. I’m a righty, but I probably wouldn’t fare very well on either side of the plate against professional arms, let alone both sides.
All that said, I talked to Luis Mendez, one of the two switch hitters on the roster (Shaq Matta is the other) to get a sense of how he got to where he is today.
Mendez, a natural righty, says he first started switch hitting at age 15 in an effort to make himself more marketable to teams looking to sign him.
My agent at that time said, ‘hey, you’re gonna be a switch hitter,’” said Mendez. “He was telling me you have one year to learn. If it doesn’t work, it’s fine. You’ll go back to the right. But it worked. I swung at the first pitch I saw and he said, ‘woah. You’re gonna hit switch.’”
To get to the point of being comfortable switch hitting, the Venezuelan infielder says he spent about an hour a day hitting left-handed. In fact, he’s gotten so comfortable on the left side that it’s now his preferred side.
“I love left now,” said Mendez. “I just love hitting left-handed, especially when he throws hard. I like hitting fastballs…It feels natural now.”
The numbers prove it too. Mendez is a .232 hitter (43-for-185) hitting on the left side, compared to just a .130 mark (6-for-46) when swinging on his natural side.
I’ve always been in awe of the art of switch hitting. And don’t even get me started on switch pitching. That’s just crazy.
Baseball term of the day: Switch-pitch – A changeup.
(term from The Dickson Baseball Dictionary)
Batting practice is so much more than stepping in the cage and swinging away. Each hitter takes his own approach to BP. I asked a few of the Riders what their focus is when they take batting practice.
The first round, I just try to hit the ball middle/oppo, find the barrel middle/oppo, see the ball and how it’s coming off the bat. Then the next round, I start using the middle of the field. And the third round is game speed, depending on how I feel. And the fourth round is depending on how I feel, too. [I’ll take] one swing, two swings, and if I feel good, I just get out and get ready for the game. I take ground balls and take that feeling into the game.
For me, I’m more of a ‘just feel good in BP’ guy. If I’m feeling really good, I’ll try hit it in the gap every swing. For me, it’s day-by-day. It’s all about feeling. Some days, you feel so good that you don’t even need to take BP because you don’t want to waste those swings. Over the course of the year, there are so many different feelings you get and you just kind of gage yourself. If you’re feeling bad, you take more swings. If you’re feeling good, you take less swings. It evens out so you don’t take too many swings over the course of the season.
Every time I go into the cage, I just try to use my hands and stay together with my back part and try to just throw my hands. That’s all I think about in the cage. I do tee first, then front toss, then overhand. It’s a routine that I have but my approach is always the same.
Some days, I just go easy, do a little bit of front toss and refresh my mind. Sometimes, I feel like I have to work on something and I do something more drastic like go to the machine or something different. Normally, I keep the same routine.
I always try to do the same thing. My first round, I work the other way and stay inside the ball using my hands. The second round, I just try to stay up the middle. After that, I hit the ball wherever the pitch is.
Baseball term of the day: Bingo Hitter – A hitter whose batting average is below .100.
(term from The Dickson Baseball Dictionary)
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)
- Isiah Kiner-Falefa – 3B
- Ryan Cordell – RF
- Lewis Brinson – CF
- Ronald Guzman – 1B
- Zach Cone – LF
- Joe Jackson – DH
- Luis Marte – SS
- Kellin Deglan – C
- Luis Mendez – 2B
RHP Sam Wolff (0-0, -.–)
RIDERS RECAP: Friday at NW Arkansas (W, 6-3)
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 BRINSON, ALEX BURG, RYAN 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, FOLKS: MATT 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.
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.
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.
- 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 Republic – Richelson 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 Republic – Ronald 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 Republic – Luis 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 Republic – Alberto 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
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)
We’ve all been ready for opening day since the final out of last season. After last week’s excursion to Spring Training, we were that much more excited. And now, we’re about as ready as we can be, after the Rangers announced the Riders initial roster yesterday.
The big excitement, of course, surrounds Lewis Brinson’s return to Frisco after a stellar 2015 campaign. Riders fans can thank the log jam of outfielders in Arlington and Round Rock for the fact that Brinson is coming back, because he’d probably be starting in Triple-A in almost every other organization right now.
But aside from Brinson, there’s a lot to look forward to this summer. Eighteen of the 26 players on this year’s roster (9 pitchers and 9 hitters) donned a RoughRiders uniform for at least part of last season, while some of the organization’s rising stars descend on Dr Pepper Ballpark for the first time.
You’d hope the pitching staff can only go up after a rough year in 2015, in which Frisco pitchers combined for a 4.70 staff ERA. There seemed to be a lot of hype surrounding Connor Sadzeck while we were in Surprise. If he can consistently provide strong starts and turn a lead over to the bullpen, that should give the Riders a big boost. Returning starters Frank Lopez, Victor Payano, and Jose Leclerc will be in the running for the starting rotation, as well, but will need to show marked improvement from a year ago, when they combined to go 13-19 with a 5.28 ERA. Reed Garrett started 25 games last year between Hickory and High Desert, and could be another candidate for the rotation.
Out of the bullpen, the biggest intrigue surrounds Matt Bush, who dazzled, sparkled, entertained and then some in his couple spring training outings in major league games (including touching 100 mph earlier this week). If that’s how he threw against major leaguers, imagine how he might dominate at the Double-A level, likely in the back end of the bullpen.
Alex Burg, Patrick Cantwell, and Kellin Deglan will open the season in the squat for Frisco. Cantwell and Deglan were both invited to major league camp as non-roster invitees this spring in Surprise. Burg, however, might offer the best bat among the three. He hit .271 in 50 games with the Riders last year, launching 11 doubles and 7 homers. Last season was Burg’s first in the Rangers organization after stints with the Giants and Marlins organizations. Depending on how Round Rock’s catching situation plays out, at least one could get the call up at some point in the season. But until then, it will be interesting to see who stakes the starting role.
This, perhaps, is the group with the most unknowns heading into 2016. Luis Marte and Luis Mendez are back, but the other three (Ronald Guzman, Isiah Kiner-Falefa, and Alberto Triunfel) are all new to the Double-A level. Guzman probably has the most upside of anyone, at least from a hitting standpoint. He’s coming off a career year in 2015 between Hickory and High Desert, hitting .283 with 12 homers and 87 RBI, the most in the entire Rangers farm system. He also sports a career .985 fielding percentage. Kiner-Falefa, like Guzman, had a rather strong year between the Crawdads and Mavericks last season, hitting .296 with 12 doubles, 2 triples and 40 RBI. And Triunfel, who jumped straight from the Dominican League to High Desert last summer, offers intrigue as well. It’s a group with potential right now, but until that potential is tapped, it’s hard to say just how strong the Riders infield will be.
If infielders are the biggest question mark, outfield may be the spot with the fewest uncertainties heading into 2016. Brinson, who complemented his hitting prowess by earning Rangers Minor League Defensive Player of the Year honors, is the obvious headliner, but there are some other notable talents out in the grass with him. Ryan Cordell joined Brinson in major league camp this spring and turned a lot of heads. He struggled at the plate last year in Frisco (.217 avg, 5 HR, 18 RBI), but did turn in a perfect fielding percentage in the outfield. With a partial Double-A season and a visit to major league camp under his belt, it’ll be interesting to see how big a step forward he takes this summer. Dallas-native Preston Beck is also back with the Riders, and the versatile player is listed as an outfielder on the initial roster this season. Zach Cone, who provides both power and athleticism, in addition to a .991 career fielding percentage, could be a nice fit in Joe Mikulik’s outfield, too. Joe Jackson is the only outfielder on the opening roster who hasn’t yet been to Double-A, but he comes off a good season in High Desert last year and could eventually work his way into a more regular role, especially as some of the guys in front of him move up to Round Rock.
Let’s not forget that these are only the guys who will likely be with Frisco on opening day, which is just eight days away at Northwest Arkansas. The incredibly well-stacked Rangers farm system has plenty of other young stars working their way up the ladder. Pitchers, such as Luis Ortiz, Ariel Jurado and Dillon Tate could find themselves in Frisco by the end of the summer, while position players like Michael De Leon, Travis Demeritte, Jairo Beras, and Juremi Profar are all waiting in the wings with High Desert.
You never can quite tell how a roster will pan out, but there’s certainly reason to believe this group canturn things around in 2016. After all, that’s the beauty of Opening Day. Everybody starts with a blank slate and a chance to do some incredible things.
Baseball term of the day: Run for the cycle – For a player to be retired at first base, second base, third base and home (not necessarily in that order) during a game.
(term from The Dickson Baseball Dictionary)