Results tagged ‘ Luis Sardinas ’

Russell Wilson: A worthwhile gimmick for Rangers

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Whether it’s a football or a baseball, Russell Wilson shows good form on his throws. (photo credit to Louis DeLuca/Dallas Morning News)

This story appears in the March 7 edition of Sports Page Weekly, which is a free publication available in the Metroplex.

During the early portion of spring training for the Texas Rangers, much of the focus has been on a young second baseman who burst onto the pro sports scene in August 2012.  He impressed observers with his skill and a cool sense of confidence which was uncanny for someone so young.  His notability and importance have only grown because of recent events.  Come late February, the Rangers, as well as fans, were wondering when they’d finally see him take to the field out in Surprise.

No, this discussion does not concern Jurickson Profar and his balky right shoulder.  The above also applies to newly minted Super Bowl champion quarterback Russell Wilson. 

Last December, the Rangers plucked Wilson, better known for his stellar work on the gridiron and whose pro baseball career had been on hiatus since 2011, from the Colorado Rockies in the minor league phase of the Rule 5 draft.  The cost to formally acquire the baseball rights of the undersized signal caller? A mere $12,000, roughly the same amount of signing bonus money a team might allot toward a late round draft pick in June.

Throughout the off-season, we’ve read numerous stories about how the Rangers drafting Russell Wilson was not a gimmick.  Let’s be clear: this whole episode has been a complete gimmick.

Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines the word “gimmick” with the following description: a method or trick that is used to get people’s attention or to sell something. 

Enter the Rangers and Wilson.  On March 3rd, the team held a “Russell Wilson Day” of sorts.  The Seattle Seahawks quarterback traveled to Surprise, worked out with the team, fielded ground balls, took in the spring game against Cleveland (a 6-4 Rangers loss) and gave a speech to players within the organization.  And, yes, Texas has begun selling Rangers jerseys with “3” and “Wilson” on the back, as well as other Wilson-themed merchandise. (I’m sure Frisco RoughRiders shortstop Luis Sardinas, whose jersey number is 3 on the Rangers’ 40-man roster, gave Wilson his blessing to temporarily use the number.  Maybe Wilson even persuaded him with financial incentives.)

Now, no one inside or outside the Rangers organization expects Wilson to trade in his facemask and shoulder pads for a glove and some pine tar on a full-time or even part time basis.  This was a singular opportunity to stage a cool photo-op, grab some friendly headlines and sell some Rangers gear.  In other words, it was a gimmick.  For his part, Wilson seems to sincerely enjoy baseball and his respect for those within the game is evident.  But other than throwing out the first pitch sometime this summer, he’s not suiting up on a diamond again anytime soon (unless he somehow transforms into some sort of Anthony Wright clone).  The Rangers knew this when they took him off the Rockies’ hands a few months ago.

But the fact that drafting Russell Wilson and having him spend a day at spring training was a gimmick does not necessarily make it a bad thing.  I realize there’s a negative connotation with the word, but gimmicks can have positive value, as this one does.

First of all, the Rangers should be commended for recognizing and seizing a terrific promotional opportunity and making the most of it in a pseudo-organic way (at least compared with, for example, the Red Sox’ explicit marketing deal with Johnny Manziel, which brought the former Aggie to Fort Myers for a day, wearing a #2 Boston jersey to boot).  Additionally, it has brought a bevy of positive attention to a club coming off a mildly disappointing season, fans are buzzing over their team’s connection with the best young quarterback in the NFL (go ahead, compare his numbers with Andrew Luck and tell me who comes out on top) and it allowed the players in the clubhouse to bask in the glow of a bona fide champion.

And therein lies a big reason why the Rangers want to be so closely associated with a second baseman who owns a career .229 batting average in 93 professional baseball games (all below the Advanced-A level).  As this organization strives to maintain a team that consistently competes for championships, the hope is that through osmosis this group can absorb as many positive attributes as it can from winners like Wilson.  Especially ones who are young enough for current professional athletes to relate to.  That sort of thing can potentially go a long way toward developing a team’s culture and identity. 

If Adrian Beltre is lifting the Commissioner’s Trophy high above his head come October, I’m not sure he’ll be pointing back to March 3rd and Wilson’s spring training visit as a big reason why, but it could be an intangible piece of the foundation that makes up this team’s season.  Intangibles are immeasurable by definition.  But in this case for the Rangers, it cost $12,000.

Yes, drafting Russell Wilson and bringing him to spring training was a gimmick.  A gimmick that may already be worth the gambit.

 

 – Alex

‘Riders on the Record: Dunk City baseball and September call-ups

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

The second-to-last ‘Riders on the Record features Richard Bleier on the rise of his alma mater to “Dunk City,” the inaugural turn for Rougned Odor on the Record (via translator Arlett Mavare) and the always enlightening Jason Cole on the newest ‘Riders hurlers. Want to find out if Rougned Odor voted for himself in Moniker Madness? Be sure to listen in to Alex’s chat with him from Thursday.

It’s been a pleasure reliving these conversations with the players, coaches and special guests this season. We will put off next week’s Record until Monday and include the final eight days of interviews for the season. Thanks for continuing to tune in.

Happy Sunday and enjoy!

Sunday, August 18, 2013 – Manager Steve Buechele


Steve Buechele weighs in on the the previous night’s antics when Odor knocked a walk off single for the second straight night. He gives his take on late-game enthusiasm and how close the ‘Riders came to blows with the Drillers Saturday night. He tries to explain the late fielding blunders for the club and what he expects of Neil Ramirez, who would make his final appearance for the club that night.  (w/ Alex Vispoli)

Tuesday, August 20, 2013 – LHP Richard Bleier


Relief pitcher Richard Bleier joined the RoughRiders after a rocky start to his season in Triple-A. He talks about dealing with the adversity and disappointment of demotion back to Double-A and how he has rebounded to have a strong year out of the ‘Riders bullpen. He recalls the decision to shave his beard in the middle of the season and remembers his time at Florida Gulf Coast. (w/ Alex)

Wednesday, August 21, 2013 – Hitting Coach Jason Hart


Hitting coach Jason Hart joins the pregame show and talks about the newest RoughRiders like Ryan Rua and Kalian Sams as well as how he tries to improve as a hitting coach. Getting close to the end of the season, he explains how he keeps the hitters motivated and focused through the end of the season. (w/ Alex)

Thursday, August 22, 2013 – 2B Rougned Odor


Translated by Arlett Mavare, Rougned Odor explains to Alex about his adjustment to the Texas League and what it was like to have back-to-back nights in which he collects a walk off hit. He talks about the importance of staying with his double play partner Luis Sardinas and the stock he places in the Moniker Madness competition put on by Minor League baseball to crown the best name in the sport. (w/ Alex)

Friday, August 23, 2013 – Jason Cole of Baseball Prospectus


Jason Cole of Baseball Prospectus sits down before the ‘Riders’ last game in San Antonio to discuss the trio of new ‘Riders pitchers: Luke Jackson, Jerad Eickhoff and Nick Martinez. He breaks down the play of Luis Sardinas and speculates on potential September call-ups to the Rangers. (w/ Alex)

- Nathan

Baseball term of the day: baseballese – the overall language of baseball, comprising official terminology, slang, and jargon. 

(term from The Dickson Baseball Dictionary)

‘Riders on the Record: getting knighted and swinging at a tire

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

A jam-packed home stand had lots of new faces looming in the tunnels and on the field at Dr Pepper Ballpark. Tony Fernandez was here as the active hitting coach for Jason Hart, Rangers Field Coordinator Jayce Tingler was in town for a bit, as was the Outfield Instructor Joe Mikulik and Infield Instructor Casey Candaele. Newcomers Nick Martinez, Jerad Eickhoff, Ryan Rua and Kalian Sams all made their Dr Pepper Ballpark debuts, and the ‘Riders were joined by Rangers rehabber Lance Berkman.   Highlights this week include the knighthood of Sir Kalian Sams, Lance Berkman talking about the development of his left-handed swing and the insights of Tony Fernandez.

Happy Sunday and enjoy!

Sunday, August 11, 2013 – Manager Steve Buechele


The skipper sits down with Alex as he does on Sunday to discuss the past week. Steve Buechele explains why he was ejected in the ballgame the previous night and the goes over the frustrating one-run losses of the previous week. He talks about what it is like for a manager after being ejected. As a former big league third baseman, he also explains how difficult a transition that Ryan Rua is making mid-season to go from second base to third. (w/ Alex Vispoli)

Tuesday, August 13, 2013 – OF Kalian Sams


Kalian Sams began the season in the San Diego Padres system and faced the RoughRiders as a member of the San Antonio Missions. Now in the Texas system, he talks about getting acquainted with his new teammates and the hardest part of adjusting to a new clubhouse. A knight in his native Netherlands, he explains how he came to be knighted by the Queen of the Netherlands and what that process was like. (w/ Nathan Barnett)

Wednesday, August 14, 2013 – Rangers Rehabber Lance Berkman


Rangers rehabbing DH Lance Berkman talks about his decision not to retire and what he feels like he contribute to the major league team the rest of the day. He explains the value, in his opinion, of a rehab assignment and why he has been so successful in rehab assignment overs the years. He also talks about becoming a switch-hitter and how he learned. (w/ Nathan)

Thursday, August 15, 2013 – Special Assistant to the GM Tony Fernandez


Longtime major league shortstop Tony Fernandez joined the RoughRiders for the first few games of the home stand to serve as the acting Hitting Coach in place of vacationing Jason Hart. He talks about the process of serving as a temporary hitting coach and what it takes to ensure the growth of the hitters are not thrown off. He also talks about his work in the Rangers system and the key to success for the young middle infielders Luis Sardinas and Rougned Odor. (w/ Nathan)

Friday, August 16, 2013 – C Brett Teschner


While not a highly touted prospect, undrafted catcher Brett Teschner has one of the more interesting stories among those who have donned the RoughRiders red this summer. In his short time in the Rangers system after a mid-season signing this year, Brett has been on every single Rangers US-based affiliate roster, completing the set of his here with the ‘Riders. He talks about the crazy travel. He explains what it is like for the undrafted professional after the MLB draft and if he ever considered calling it quits. (w/ Nathan)

Saturday, August 17, 2013 – RHP Nick Martinez


One of the newest RoughRiders pitchers, Nick Martinez, joins us following his second Double-A start and home debut to discuss his early success with the ‘Riders. Primarily a second baseman in college, Nick talks about his transition to a full-time role on the mound, the development of his repertoire and the origin of his mechanics. (w/ Nathan)

- Nathan

Baseball term of the day: curvist – a curveball pitcher

(term from The Dickson Baseball Dictionary)

‘Riders on the Record: The Franchise Hits Record and Modeling off Tim Lincecum

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

Lots of new faces, lots of new voices this week for ‘Riders on the Record. Wednesday through Saturday we heard from folks we have yet to hear from this season, including three players who joined the team this month. If you have seen Luke Jackson pitch, you might make the Tim Lincecum comparison in terms of his windup. Jackson addresses that notion; turns out its not a coincidence. Be sure to tune in to the always poignant G-Rod, who became the RoughRiders All-Time hits leader on Sunday before a promotion to Triple-A on Friday. Why is Ryan Rua hitting so many home runs this year? He tries to explain the uptick in long balls as well.

Happy Sunday and enjoy!

Sunday, August 4, 2013 – Manager Steve Buechele


The ‘Riders manager saw a bevy of changes to his roster of the week prior. Steve Buechele discusses the promotion of Carlos Pimentel to Triple-A, the addition of some highly-touted prospects from Myrtle Beach included Rougned Odor, Luis Sardinas and Luke Jackson, as well as the challenge of telling players that they have to go down a level. (w/ Alex Vispoli)

Tuesday, August 6, 2013 – UTIL Guilder Rodriguez


With a pair of hits on Sunday August 4, 2013, Guilder Rodriguez became the all-time franchise leader in hits, passing Renny Osuna who had 347 hits for the club. He discusses the significance of the record, especially in light of him passing a friend and a former teammate. He also shares his parting words with Hanser Alberto and Odubel Herrera when they were sent down to Myrtle Beach. (w/ Alex)

Wednesday, August 7, 2013 – SP Jerad Eickhoff


Fresh off his Double-A debut, the big right-hander Jerad Eickhoff sat down with Alex Vispoli. Jerad had some family in town for the outing, he talks about how often his family gets to see him pitch. He talks about how he had honed his control and what he makes of Nick Tepesch comparisons. (w/ Alex)

Thursday, August 8, 2013 – SP Arlett Mavare


Arlett Mavare has not been a starting pitcher since his first year in professional ball. Sliding into the rotation of the ‘Riders this season, Arlett has really found a groove. He talks about his curious strikeout numbers, which he piles up despite the lack of an overpowering fastball. (w/ Alex)

Friday, August 9, 2013 – SP Luke Jackson


Rangers top-10 prospect Luke Jackson fired six shutout frames in his first Double-A start. With an unconventional delivery, Jackson is a very hard thrower. He talks about the tinkering of his mechanics as a professional and how he developed the motion in the first place. He also talks about the adjustment to Double-A and the new clubhouse which is now home to a bunch of his Myrtle Beach teammates. (w/ Alex)

Saturday, August 10, 2013 – 3B Ryan Rua


A “career year” only begins to describe the kind of season that Ryan Rua is putting together this year. At or near the top in the minors in home runs for most of the season, Ryan talks about how he has been able to unlock the power this season and about his journey from small Lake Erie College to Double-A pro ball. (w/ Alex)
– Nathan

Baseball term of the day: blinker – the back pocket lining of baseball pants

‘Riders in Review: July 2013

Welcome to August. The ‘Riders had to have been happy to close the book on July. The 11-18 mark was the worst month for the team in terms of wins and losses this season and the worst since an 8-14 record posted in April 2011.

August 1 brought some new faces–five in fact. The promotion of Carlos Pimentel to Triple-A and the departure of Hanser Alberto, Odubel Herrera, Nick McBride and Kevin Pucetas to Advanced-A Myrtle Beach made room for the Pelicans to send five players to Frisco: pitchers Jon Edwards, Luke Jackson and Francisco Mendoza as well as infielders Rougned Odor and Luis Sardinas. (read more on the new guys here)

Frisco trailed the San Antonio Missions by eight games in the Texas League South Division at the month’s end. Dr Pepper Ballpark proved a tough venue for the ‘Riders in the month. The team won just 3 of 13 games here in Frisco. Still, remarkable performances were put together and some unforgettable moments made.

Texas League Rankings for the Month of July

Record: 55-55 overall, 11-18 in May (T-5th in Texas League), home: 3-10, road: 8-8, vs. division: 9-13

Runs: 110 (T-5th)

Average: .248 (6th)

On-base percentage: .294 (8th)

Stolen bases: 17 (6th)

Home runs: 20 (T-6th)

ERA: 3.78 (5th)

Strikeouts for: 197 (6th)

Walks allowed: 80 (8th)

Avg attendance for the year: 7,165 (6th fewest)

RIDERS REVIEW Record Runs AVG OBP SB HR ERA K BB Avg. Att. TD
April 14-11 107 .250 .297 19 17 2.87 208 84 7060
May 18-11 125 .247 .306 38 32 4.12 255 114 7315
June 12-15 96 .259 .299 23 18 4.10 210 99 7310
July 11-18 110 .248 .294 17 20 3.87 197 80 7165
Season 55-55 438 .251 .299 97 87 3.74 870 377 7165

TL IN MAY Record Runs AVG OBP SB HR ERA K BB Avg. Att. TD
San Anto. 19-10 105 .260 .310 32 20 3.01 225 90 4,349
Corpus 18-11 138 .254 .336 7 34 4.00 179 77 5,475
Arkansas 17-12 110 .258 .314 22 24 3.53 193 77 4,488
NW Ark. 14-15 140 .264 .326 30 31 4.59 233 107 4,756
Springfield 14-15 135 .249 .341 28 28 3.77 247 82 4,929
Tulsa 12-17 96 .243 .299 13 24 3.93 228 82 5,817
FRISCO 11-18 110 .248 .294 17 20 3.78 197 80 7,165
Midland 11-18 112 .234 .316 20 14 3.70 200 79 4,616

Awards

‘Riders Slugger of the Month

3B Alex Buchholz (.341/.412/.615), 15 R, 7 2B, 6 HR, 14 RBI, 9 K, 8 BB, 1 SB)

It’s amazing that four months into the season, this selection has been so easy each month. It’s hard to argue for anyone outside of Alex Buchholz. He very well could win the Texas Rangers Minor League Player of the Month with his torrid July. He added to his stellar July Double-A campaign with a couple of doubles and a ribbie in Triple-A action to close out the month.

No other Rangers minor leaguer posted an OPS of over 1.000. His six home runs represented the highest long ball total on the Rangers’ farm, and was only bested by the big leagues’ Adrian Beltre and his nine July home run in the entire Texas system. Buchholz earned Texas League Player of the Week for the week of June 10-17 when he began his week 7-for-7. Playing for the first time in his career at Triple-A, the former Reds farmhand is in the midst of a breakout season. He has posted a career high in games played (96), doubles (25) home runs (15), RBI (49).

Past winners: Telis (June), Nicholas (May), Hoying (April)

‘Riders Hurler of the Month

RHP Arlett Mavare (0-0, 2.19 ERA, 6 G, 3 GS, 24.2 IP, 20 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 2 HRA, 16 K, 2 BB, 2 HB, 0.89 WHIP, .222 BAA)

With apologies to a number of relievers who shined in July, most notably newcomers Alex Claudio (1.29 ERA/1.07 WHIP, 14.0 IP 16 K, 3 BB) and Lisalverto Bonilla (0.61 ERA/1.02 WHIP, 14.2 IP, 21 K, 5 BB), it was Arlett Mavare who, not only pitched the best in July but also surprised and saved a RoughRiders rotation in dire need of stability.

With Neil Ramirez on the disabled list and the recent departures of Carlos Pimentel (Round Rock) and Kevin Pucetas (Myrtle Beach), the five men from the Opening Day rotation are now all gone. Cody Buckel is in Arizona working out control issues in the Rangers spring training complex and Ryan Feierabend has spent most of the season in Triple-A with the Express.

Mavare stepped into Ramirez’s spot and has been brilliant. Before the move to the rotation, Mavare was 1-2 with a 6.91 ERA. Mavare made three starts in the month: in 16 innings pitched, he allowed four runs on 12 hits with eight Ks and one walk. One walk.

In his final start in July, Arlett tossed a career-high-tying seven innings pitched, something he hadn’t done since his first pro season in 2009.

Past winners: Tufts (June), Rowen (May), Henry (April)

Official Texas League Players of the Week:

July 1 – 7: P – Matt Wisler (San Antonio) ; B – Audry Perez (Springfield) 

July 8 – 14: P – Carlos Hernandez (Midland); B – Brett Eibner (NW Arkansas)

July 15 – 21: P – Keyvius Sampson (San Antonio); B – Max Stassi (Corpus Christi)

July 22 – 28: P – Aaron Brooks (NW Arkansas); B – Brian Fletcher (NW Arkansas)

Punching Bag of the Month

Corpus Christi Hooks RP Kenny Long

Overall it hasn’t been a great season for Long, but July was particularly brutal. The stock was rising for the former 22nd rounder when he was promoted to Double-A for the first time in his career after a good start in Lancaster (Advanced-A). His Hooks run began solid as well, firing four scoreless outings to begin his time in the Texas League.

It’s been shaky since then, so shaky that he is back down in the California League and likely in large part to the way the ‘Riders punished Long. In seven July outings lasting 7.2 innings before his demotion, Long was knocked around for 10 runs on 18 hits with four walks and two home runs allowed. Good for an 0-2 record and an 11.74 ERA. Both losses ad both homers came against Frisco. He matched up against the ‘Riders in his final three Double-A appearances. Here is the line: 3 G, 2.2 IP, 10 H, 7 R, 7 ER, 0 BB, 2 K, 2 HR allowed, .555 BAA (10-for-18). Ouch.

Best Moment of the Month

A second fan won a car at Dr Pepper Ballpark – July 7, 2013 - Remember when Tomas Telis won a fan a car by hitting a home run on the first swing for the ‘Riders in the fifth inning? I remember remarking to someone walking around the ballpark one day how cool it would be if someone actually won this promotion and pegged the odds as somewhere near one in a thousand or so. Shows what I know about chance.

It was only the third time the ‘Riders had run the Pat Lobb Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram Magic Swing Promotion this season, and the contestant went home with a brand new 2013 Jeep Wrangler. Good stuff. So we had that feather in the cap. Everyone who was here can say they saw a once-in-a-lifetime kind of promotional giveaway.

Except it happened again. On July 8, Odubel Herrera hit the third home run of the game for the ‘Riders and just his second of the season. In fact, both RoughRiders hitters to accomplish the feat did it on just their second home run of the year. Herrera hadn’t homered in 31 games and has not hit a long ball since. But that day: fate, destiny and minor league promotion at its finest.

How did the prospects do?

Frisco’s Opening Day Roster contained six prospects in the Baseball America Rangers Organization top 30:  RHP Cody Buckel (8), RHP Roman Mendez (13), IF Hanser Alberto (15), RHP Wilmer Font (22), RHP Neil Ramirez (23) and RHP Randy Henry (29). Joe Benson, ranked 19th in the Minnesota Twins organization by Baseball America to open the season, joined the RoughRiders in late May. Three of the new additions from August 1 are Top 30 Rangers prospects–we will get to them after their first month with the ‘Riders.

Cody Buckel - Nothing new here. Buckel last pitched for the ‘Riders in May. He has been in Arizona at extended Spring Training trying to sort out control issues ever since. Rangers Rehab Pitching Coordinator Keith Comstock updated us on Buckel about a month ago. You can hear my interview with him from ‘Riders on the Record.

Roman Mendez – Mendez is out for the season after undergoing surgery in May to repair a stress fracture in his elbow.

Wilmer Font – No longer with the RoughRiders, Font was promoted to the Round Rock Express on June 29.  The Venezuelan right-hander had a team-high ten saves and sported a career best 1.41 ERA with the RoughRiders in 26 appearances this season. Over his last four RoughRiders appearances he allowed just two hits and issued three walks in 4.1 innings with no runs scored against him and fanned eight. In ten June innings, he allowed one run on four hits and six walks, striking out seventeen. He went three-for-three in save chances and posted a 1-1 record over the month.

Hanser Alberto – In his final game as a RoughRiders swinger (for now), Alberto drove home his double-play partner Odubel Herrera to give the ‘Riders the go-ahead run in an eventual 2-1 win. That was on July 31. One of the roster causalities for the promoted Pelicans on August 1, Alberto really wasn’t able to dig himself out of the offensive hole he was in for most of the season. After hitting .298 in April, Alberto finished with a .213 batting average, the lowest it had been since April 15. Hanser hit just .194 with only four extra base hits. He went 3-for-3 in his return to the Advanced-A level. With a projected hit-tool better than average, expect to see the young shortstop (who is still the youngest player on his team) straighten things out against lower level pitching. 

Neil Ramirez – An overnight household name of sorts, Neil Ramirez went from a high-ceiling righthander that many hardcore Rangers knew about to a player some casual baseball fans, especially in Chicago, became frenzied over when there was wide speculation that Ramirez would be the player to named later in the Matt Garza trade that sent Justin Grimm, Mike Olt and C.J. Edwards to the Cubs. Neil faced a little adversity this month, including a DL stint that began on July 24. Ramirez made just two starts, separated by 14 days to try and allow a sore shoulder to heal. Neither outing showed the best that Neil can offer. He allowed fours runs over six frames against the Travelers on July 5 and lasted a season-low 3.1 innings on July 19 in Corpus Christi. He surrendered five runs on seven hits against the Hooks.

Randy Henry – Henry had his worst outing, statistically, as a RoughRiders pitcher in his last appearance of the month. Against Midland on July 30, he gave up multiple runs for the first time this season, allowing a pair to score on three hits in a low-leverage ninth inning with Frisco leading 11-4. Before that, he had surrendered just one run over eight innings, so the blemish to end July makes him a victim of the small monthly sample size of a reliever. In nine innings, Henry allowed three July runs on five hits. He walked only one and struck out four. He continued to fire strikes and pitch efficiently (117 pitches, 78 strikes).

Joe Benson – Not officially on the top 30 list of Rangers prospects by Baseball America, he probably would be if he was Rangers property to begin the season. After a torrid start to his RoughRiders career, Benson was hampered by a groin injury in June and remained on the disabled list until activation on July 25. After tearing up the Arizona League in a seven-game rehab (.417, 3 2B and a HR). Joe played in just six July contests, all on the road. He hit just .250 (5-for-20), but three of his five hits went for extra bases (2 2B, 1 3B). The important thing is that Joe is healthy and doesn’t feel any lingering affects from his groin tear that sidelined him for most of June and July. He has started all eight games since his activation from the disabled list.

Transactions of July:

7/3 RHP Joakim Soria (right elbow) received on Major League rehab assignment
7/5 RHP Joakim Soria (right elbow) departs from Frisco on his Major League rehab assignment
7/7 RHP Kyle McClellan accepts minor league assignment and reports to Frisco
7/10 RHP Justin Miller promoted to Triple-A Round Rock
7/10 IF Greg Miclat received from Triple-A Round Rock
7/14 IF Guilder Rodriguez (illness) placed on 7-day disabled list (retroactive to July 10)
7/14 RHP Joe Van Meter received from Advanced-A Myrtle Beach
7/14 OF Craig Gentry (non-displaced fracture in left hand) received on Major League rehab assignment
7/15 IF Greg Miclat promoted to Triple-A Round Rock
7/15 OF Jeff Baker (sprained right thumb) received on Major League rehab assignment
7/17 RHP Colby Lewis (torn right flexor tendon) received on Major League rehab assignment
7/18 OF Craig Gentry (non-displaced fracture in left hand) departs from Frisco on his Major League rehab assignment
7/18 OF Jeff Baker (sprained right thumb) departs from Frisco on his Major League rehab assignment
7/19 IF Guilder Rodriguez (illness) activated off 7-day disabled list
7/24 RHP Neil Ramirez (right shoulder) placed on 7-day disabled list, retroactive to Sunday, July 21
7/25 OF Joe Benson (groin) activated off 7-day disabled list
7/30 IF Alex Buchholz promoted to Triple-A Round Rock
7/31 LHP Matt Harrison (back surgery) received on Major League rehab assignment

Happy August and go RoughRiders!

- Nathan

Baseball term of the day: blow a tire pull a leg muscle

(term from The Dickson Baseball Dictionary)

Meet the newest ‘Riders

The RoughRiders received five players from  High-A Myrtle Beach Thursday, including righthanded pitchers Jon Edwards, Luke Jackson and Francisco Mendoza as well as infielders Rougned Odor and Luis Sardinas.

Carlos Pimentel was been promoted to Triple-A Round Rock, and four players were transferred from Frisco to Myrtle Beach: Hanser Alberto, Odubel Herrera, Nick McBride and Kevin Pucetas.

Newbies

Rougned Odor (2B)

Rougned makes his first trip to Double-A, becoming the youngest player at the level by nearly three months.  In fact, since 2011 Rookie ball in Spokane at age 17, he has been the youngest in each league he has played. This season with Myrtle Beach, Odor was the youngest player in all three High-A leagues.

The Venezuelan second baseman is having a tremendous season. At the time of promotion, he was leading the Pelicans in batting (.304) and stolen bases (27) and has more doubles than any Rangers minor leaguer (33). He has clubbed five homers and four triples to go along with the 33 doubles.  Odor’s uncle, ROuglas Odor, was a hitting coach in the Cleveland Indians farm system.

Odor went three-for-five in his Double-A debut, hitting two singles and a triple.

Luis Sardinas (SS)

Sardinas signed as a non-draft free agent on July 2, 2009, and spent the entire 2012 season with the Hickory Crawdads. The 20-year-old shortstop is another member of Baseball America’s top-ten in the Texas system, ranked just behind Jackson at number seven. The Venezuelan hit .297 with the Pelicans with 68 runs scored, one home run and 31 RBI.  He is the third youngest player in the Texas League.

In his first game as a RoughRiders, went one-for-five with a single, and also teamed up with second baseman Odor for an impressive double play in the second to end the frame.

Sardinas_Odor

Luke Jackson (RHP)

Jackson was a former first round pick by Texas in 2010 and one of the top pitching prospects in the Rangers system. Ranked number six in the Rangers system by Baseball AmericaLuke, 21, has lived up to his billing in 2013. In 19 starts, Jackson is 9-4 with a 2.41 ERA (27 ER/101 IP). He is fourth in the Rangers farm system with 104 strikeouts. This is his first promotion to Frisco.

Jon Edwards (RHP)

A former St. Louis Cardinals farmhand, the 25-year-old is a converted outfielder and has spent the last two seasons in the Rangers system. Originally taken in the 14th round by St. Louis out of Keller High School, Edwards was a career .239 hitter in six professional seasons as a Cardinals minor leaguer. Signed by the Rangers prior to the 2012 season, he pitched at four different levels in 2012, including one appearance for the ‘Riders. This season, Edwards has spent the entire season up to this point with the Pelicans, going 3-1 with a 3.57 ERA in 26 outings.

In last night’s game against the Missions, Edwards came in for Arlett Mavare, striking out two and allowing just two hits in 1.1 innings.

Francisco Mendoza (RHP)

Reliever Francisco Mendoza is earning his first promotion to Double-A. In 27 outings as a Pelicans hurler, Mendoza went 3-2 with a 3.55 ERA with seven saves. He is striking out more than a batter an inning this season (46 K/38 IP). Mendoza signed with the Rangers as a non-drafted free agent on May 19, 2008.

In his Double-A debut last night against the Missions, Mendoza pitched a scoreless ninth where he allowed just one hit and struck out three.

-Ryan

Baseball term of the day: Dust the jewel – For the umpire to clean off home plate.

(term from The Dickson Baseball Dictionary)

Your Early November Fall Ball Update

Chris McGuiness has earned praise while playing for the Surprise Saguaros of the Arizona Fall League.

The regular season ended two months ago, but there is still baseball being played all over the world.  Many fall and winter leagues have been playing for several weeks, and plenty of former and future RoughRiders are in action.  Here’s an update on some familiar names and ones that will become familiar to ’Riders fans in just a few months.

Note: For a variety of reasons, many of these off-season leagues tend to dramatically favor strong offensive numbers, especially in the Arizona Fall League.  So you should take some of the impressive offensive numbers (and poor pitching stats, for that matter) with a grain of salt.

ARIZONA FALL LEAGUE (Surprise Saguaros)

1B Chris McGuiness: The former Citadel star, who enjoyed a productive 2012 in Frisco, has played in a team-high 19 games for the Saguaros, hitting .314 with a triple-slash of .410/.543/.952.  He’s tied for the AFL lead with four home runs and 20 RBI.  He’s hit four doubles and has as many walks (11) as he does strikeouts.  He was named the co-Player of the Week in the AFL in week one, sharing the honor with former Corpus Christi Hooks first baseman Jon Singleton.  He was also the only Rangers farmhand named to the AFL Rising Stars Game, going 0-for-2 with a pair of fly outs.

SS Hanser Alberto: The recently minted 20-year-old split 2012 between the Rangers’ two Single-A affiliates in Hickory and Myrtle Beach and could very easily break camp in spring training as a RoughRider.  He’s currently third in the AFL in batting average with a .360 clip in 14 games to go along with a double, two triples and six RBI.  While he has stolen three bases, he’s also been caught four times (he was 24-for-31 in steals during the regular season).

SS Luis Sardinas: Another young middle infielder, the 19-year-old Venezuelan is batting .316 with a home run, two doubles and four runs batted in through nine games.  He played this past season for Hickory and would seem to be a candidate to reach Frisco at some point in 2013 unless things bottom out for him in Myrtle Beach.

C Kellin Deglan:The former first round pick (22nd overall in 2010) out of Canada struggled at the plate for Hickory this past season and things have continued for him out in Arizona.  In eight games, he is batting .172 with no extra-base hits, one RBI and four runs scored.  He is only 20-years-old and has never played above Single-A, so don’t push the panic button just yet.

Ryan Rodebaugh is one member of the Rangers contingent playing for Surprise. (Alex Yocum-Beeman)

RHP Ryan Rodebaugh: After struggling with an oblique injury that sidelined him for more than a month early in the season, the former Kennesaw State Owl put together a very good campaign in his first season at the Double-A level.  In eight AFL games, “Rodey” is 0-1 with a 3.09 ERA, 11 strikeouts and four walks in 11.2 innings.  Since allowing four runs through his first three appearances, he has thrown seven straight scoreless frames.

RHP Joe Van Meter: It was a short stint in the AFL for Van Meter, who was shut down with a sore right shoulder after two starts.  He had given up four runs on nine hits and four walks with four strikeouts in six innings.  The former two-way star at VCU spent most of the season with Myrtle Beach but made three appearances in a RoughRiders uniform in the second half.

RHP Ben Henry: Henry replaced Van Meter on the Saguaros roster and has appeared in three games.  He owns a 10.50 ERA (7 ER in 6 IP) with four strikeouts and seven walks in six innings.  He spent most of this past season with Myrtle Beach, but missed the last month of the year due to injury.

RHP Ben Rowen: A likely closer candidate for the RoughRiders next season, Rowen won a MiLBY Award for the best reliever in Minor League Baseball this past season while pitching for the Pelicans.  In the AFL, he has thrown in 11 games and has posted a 4.22 ERA in 10.2 innings.  The submariner has eight strikeouts and four walks with a .195 opponents’ batting average.

LHP Jimmy Reyes: The former Elon Phoenix has been the most impressive Rangers pitcher in the AFL this year.  Reyes, who spent all of 2012 in Myrtle Beach and finished Nick Tepesch’s May no-hitter, has yielded just two unearned runs on six hits in seven appearances (10 IP) with no walks and seven strikeouts.  He also picked up a win in his first AFL game on October 10.

MEXICAN PACIFIC LEAGUE

C Jose Felix: The RoughRiders’ catcher in each of the past three seasons is playing for the Algodoneros de Guasave (or, the Guasave Cotton Growers for those who are a little rusty on their Español).  After showing solid improvement at the plate for the ’Riders in 2012, he has looked good with Guasave, hitting .407 with three doubles and seven RBI in ten games and a triple-slash line of .393/.519/.911.  And yes, Felix’s OBP is lower than his batting average, as he has not walked yet this off-season.  He walked a ludicrous five times in 306 plate appearances during the regular season.

OF Joey Butler: The former RoughRider (2010 & 2011) is suiting up for the Venados de Mazatlán (Mazatlán Deer; yes, teams in the Mexican Pacific League have silly names.  We should feature them on a blog post soon) after a very solid 2012 campaign with Triple-A Round Rock.  Butler has struggled, however, for Mazatlán, hitting .228 with four doubles, a homer and five RBI in 17 games.

DOMINICAN WINTER LEAGUE

TIGRES DEL LICEY (LICEY TIGERS)

LHP Chad Bell: The Knoxville lefty made Frisco the middle stop on his three-team climb this past season (starting in Myrtle and ending in Round Rock).  He has been hit hard by DWL opposition, going 0-1 with a 7.45 ERA in five games (three starts) with eight strikeouts and three walks in 9.2 innings.

3B Mike Olt: Frisco’s big-bopper in 2012 became a Ranger in early August when the big club called him up directly from the Texas League.  Although his two injury-plagued months in the big leagues were underwhelming, he is still considered a big-time corner infield prospect.  In ten games for Licey, Olt is hitting .286 with four doubles, one home run, five RBI and a triple-slash of .474/.536/1.009.  His fine DWL performance was interrupted when he was hit in the head by a pitch on November 3 and he has yet to play since.

SS Jurickson Profar: Über-prospect Profar recently joined Licey, but has yet to play in a game.  He spent nearly the entire 2012 season in Frisco until the Rangers called him up to the Major League squad when rosters expanded in September.

A ‘Rider in 2011, Leonys Martin has played well in the Dominican Republic this fall. (Alex Yocum-Beeman/RoughRiders)

OF Engel Beltre: When he is not promoting proper recycling techniques, Beltre has been lighting up the DWL just like he did the Texas League at times this past season.  The four-season RoughRiders centerfielder is batting .381 in 15 games for Licey with a double, five  triples, ten RBI, 13 runs scored and a triple-slash of .435/.643/1.078.  He leads the league in average, triples and OPS and is second in OBP and slugging.

OF Leonys Martin: The 2011 RoughRider split this past season

between Round Rock and the Rangers and, like Beltre, has been a solid performer in the DWL.  In 17 games, he is batting .288 with four doubles, a triple, two home runs, 14 RBI and 14 runs scored.

GIGANTES DEL CIBAO (CIBAO GIANTS)

IF LEURY GARCIA: The only Rangers farmhand on Ciboa, Garcia has looked pretty similar to the player he was in Frisco this past season.  In 16 games he is batting .273 with four doubles, a triple, two home runs (he had three for the ’Riders in 2012, including the playoffs), six RBI and seven runs scored.  Garcia is a strong candidate to begin next season with Round Rock.

ESTRELLAS DE ORIENTE (EASTERN STARS)

LHP Ben Snyder: After spending parts of 2010 and 2011 with Frisco, Snyder pitched for Round Rock during the 2012 season.  In five games (three starts) for Oriente, he is 2-1 with a 2.40 ERA, six strikeouts and ten walks in 15 innings.

AGUILAS CIBAENAS (EAGLES OF CIBAO)

RHP Johan Yan: Frisco’s closer for the first two months of 2012, Yan struggled after his promotion to Triple-A (5.03 ERA).  He has performed a bit better in winter ball, going 1-0 with a 4.26 ERA in eight games.  The submarine pitcher has posted an impressive 12-2 strikeout-to-walk ratio and 6:1 groundout/flyout ratio in 6.1 innings.

2009 RoughRiders pitcher Jose Diaz is pitching in La Romana, DR with 2011-12 ‘Rider Fabio Castillo. (James Garner/RoughRiders)

TOROS DEL ESTE (BULLS OF THE EAST)

RHP Fabio Castillo: Castillo split 2012 between Frisco and Round Rock after spending the previous two seasons as a RoughRider.  He has been good in limited action with los Toros, allowing just an unearned run on three hits in 4.1 innings over six appearances.  He has two walks and two strikeouts while pitching for his hometown (La Romana) club.

RHP Jose Diaz: The portly Diaz, who pitched for Frisco in 2009, spent 2012 with Indianapolis (Pittsburgh) of the Triple-A International League.  In ten games for los Toros, he is 1-1 with a 2.79 ERA, 12 strikeouts, one walk and seven hits allowed in 9.2 innings.

LEONES DEL ESCOGIDO (LIONS OF THE CHOSEN ONE)

RHP Carlos Pimentel: Pimentel seemed to be effectively wild or wildly effective at points this season for the ’Riders, but not so effective for los Leones.  In six games (one start), he owns a 10.57 ERA (9 ER, 7.2 IP) with a .343 opponents’ batting average.  Still, with his solid year in Frisco he would seem to be a good bet to begin next season with Round Rock.

PUERTO RICAN WINTER LEAGUE

LEONES DE PONCE (PONCE LIONS)

The Puerto Rican League just began play on November 8.  The Rangers farmhands on Ponce include OF Mike Bianucci (’Riders 2011), C Jorge Alfaro, C Kevin Torres, 1B/OF Brandon Snyder, LHP Tim Murphy (’Riders 2010, 2012), LHP Alexander Claudio, RHP Alex De La Cruz, RHP Jon Edwards (’Riders 2012) and RHP Angelo Leclerc.

VENEZUELAN WINTER LEAGUE

AGUILAS DE ZULIA (ZULIA EAGLES)

RHP Wilfredo Boscan: The RoughRiders’ 2011 Opening Day starter, Boscan spent the first half of 2012 pitching in relief for Frisco before performing very well as a starter in the second half of the season.  He has continued that success for Zulia, going 0-1 with a 0.81 ERA in five starts.  He has struck out 15 and walked six batters in 22.1 innings while opponents are hitting .228 off of him.  The 23-year-old will likely start next season as a RoughRider once again.

TIBURONES DE LA GUAIRA (LA GUAIRA SHARKS)

LHP Joseph Ortiz: Affectionately nicknamed “Mini-Me,” the 5’7” Ortiz put together a superb 2012 season between Frisco and Round Rock.  With La Guaira, he is 0-2 in 12 games with a 3.48 ERA, eight strikeouts and three walks in 10.1 innings and batters are hitting .200 against him.  He will challenge for a spot in the Rangers bullpen during spring training.

RHP Jose Mavare: The 22-year-old Barquisimeto native spent 2012 with Hickory pitching out of the bullpen and could be a candidate to reach Frisco in the second half of next season.  He has been hit hard in the VWL, allowing five runs on eight hits in six innings with five walks and six strikeouts.

NAVEGANTES DEL MAGALLANES (MAGELLAN’S NAVIGATORS)

RHP Randol Rojas: Rojas split 2012 between the Single-A affiliates, spending most of his time with Myrtle Beach.  He has yet to appear in a game for los Navegantes.

LEONES DEL CARACAS (CARACAS LIONS)

Guilder Rodriguez is playing in his native Venezuela in the off-season. (Alex Yocum-Beeman/RoughRiders)

RHP Wilmer Font: The hulking right-hander’s first season coming off Tommy John surgery was a resounding success.  Font spent most of the season with the Pelicans before joining the RoughRiders in August, dazzling the Texas League with a blazing fastball and then earning a promotion to the Rangers in mid-September.  He has not pitched yet for Caracas.

RHP Richard Alvarez: After pitching for Spokane for most the season, Alvarez made one appearance out of the bullpen for Hickory.  Like Font, he has not yet thrown for Caracas.

CARDENALES DE LARA (LARA CARDINALS)

IF Guilder Rodriguez: The longtime Minor League veteran Rodriguez was recently re-signed by the Rangers and may be back in Frisco for a fifth consecutive year in 2013.  In 15 games for Lara, G-Rod is batting .147 with two RBI and a pair of runs scored.

-          Alex V.

Rangers Roundup – Prospects Edition

NOTE: Like this piece? Check out our look at ten RoughRiders’ drastic improvement from last year to this year, which has put all of them on the prospect radar.

The Rangers’ farm system is among the best in baseball, and top-flight prospects play with all of the club’s affiliates. Today, Stephen Harmon takes you around the system and discusses some of the best farmhands within the Rangers’ organization.

Round Rock Express (Triple-A):

Leonys Martin: The 23-year-old Cuban center fielder batted .348 with four homers and ten stolen bases over 29 games with Frisco before being promoted to Round Rock July 9. According to some scouts, Martin has a matured approach at the plate. However, he needs to become more comfortable in the outfield.  Martin, who signed a five-year, $15.5 million contract May 4, is 8-for-20 in his first five games as a member of the Express.

Martin Perez: After ranking Perez as the top pre season prospect in the Rangers organization, Baseball America rated Perez the sixth best prospect in all of minor league baseball in their midseason rankings. The twenty-year-old Venezuelan native received a promotion to Round Rock July 14 after posting a 4-2 record with a 3.16 ERA. He led the RoughRiders in strikeouts with 83 over 88.1 innings.

Neil Ramirez: The 2007 first-round draft pick opened the year in Myrtle Beach before being called up to Round Rock for a temporary spot start. However, he was impressive enough to earn a regular turn in the rotation where he has posted a 3.77 ERA with 82 strikeouts over 71.2 innings.

Frisco RoughRiders (Double-A):

Robbie Erlin: The left-handed starter is undefeated since joining Frisco, going 5-1 with a 3.95 ERA as of July 15th. Erlin has impressed scouts with his command and mature approach to pitching. It is easy to forget that he is twenty years old and already in Double-A. The former third-rounder boasted a 53 to 6 strikeout to walk ratio.

Tanner Scheppers The third best prospect in the Rangers’ farm system has returned from a lower back injury that sidelined him after one start in Round Rock. The 2009 first round draft pick made his 2011 Frisco debut June 19and has compiled a 3.68 ERA with 11 strikeouts in five appearances. Scheppers owns the best fastball and curveball in the system (Baseball America).

Myrtle Beach Pelicans (High-A):

Mike Olt: The third baseman is rated as the seventh best prospect in the organization according to Baseball America. The 49th overall pick in the 2010 draft entered the season headlining a talented Myrtle Beach team. However, the Connecticut native broke his collarbone sliding into home plate June 6 and is likely to be out the remainder of the season.  At the time of the injury, Olt was hitting .286 with 10 homeruns in 54 games.

Robbie Ross: Ross was selected in the second round of the 2008 draft and ranked 24th on Baseball America’s Rangers top prospect list. The lefty opened the season at Myrtle Beach and has been there the entire year. Through his first three starts in July, the Kentucky native posted a 1.06 ERA. Overall, his ERA sits at 2.40.

Barret Loux: Loux was slotted as the 19th prospect in the Rangers organization entering 2011 and he hasn’t disappointed. Through July 15, the 6’5’’ Texas A&M product leads the Pelicans with 108 strikeouts in 90.1 innings.

Miguel de los Santos: Overshadowed by the success of Ross and Loux, de los Santos came of the DL on June 29 after starting the year in Frisco where he experienced command issues. However, through his first three starts for the Pelicans in July, the Rangers’ tenth best farmhand went 2-1 with a 2.57 ERA and 19 strikeouts.

Hickory Crawdads (Low-A):

Jurickson Profar: Profar started the season as the number two prospect in the organization in just his second year of pro ball. The Curacao native is hitting .272 with nine home runs and 38 RBIs. Scouts have been impressed with his advanced plate discipline as an 18 year old. In the XM All-Star Futures Game last week, Profar posted an RBI triple for the World Team.

Jake Skole: Skole earned the South Atlantic League player of the week honors June 14. The 19-year-old Georgia native is improving every game and has seen his average jump to .278 after struggling to hit .219 in May. Skole was drafted 15th overall in the 2010 draft.

Spokane Indians (Short-Season):

Will Lamb: Standing at 6’6”, the Clemson standout has shown why the Rangers selected him the 2nd round last month. Lamb has compiled 17 strikeouts in his first ten innings of work. After five relief appearances, Lamb made his first professional start July 10, going three innings and allowing one run while striking out three.

Zach Cone: Cone was selected 37th overall in this year’s draft and has adjusted quickly to using wooden bats. The University of Georgia product hit .359 in his first month of professional baseball. Known for his power/speed combo, Cone swiped seven steals in his first 17 games.

Surprise Rangers (Rookie):

Luis Sardinas: The 18 year-old shortstop out of Venezuela enters his second year at Arizona after only appearing in 22 games last year. Many comparisons have been made between Sardinas and Profar, but the consensus is that Luis is more of a contact hitter than Profar. Through the first twelve games of 2011, Sardinas is batting .289.

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