Results tagged ‘ Luke Jackson ’
Yesterday the RoughRiders’ 2014 Opening Day roster was announced and there was a little confusion around the inclusion of Nick Martinez. The right-hander was listed on Frisco’s roster, but was also announced as the Rangers’ #5 starter to begin the season. The schedule of Texas’ rotation plans haven’t been completely finalized at the moment, but I’m guessing there’s at least a chance that the Rangers could do the same thing with Martinez as they did with Nick Tepesch a year ago. In 2013, because the Rangers didn’t need a fifth starter until the second time through the rotation, Tepesch made a start with Round Rock before joining the big league club.
With the early season off-days the Rangers have, they could wait until April 9 in Boston (game #9 of the season) before needing a fifth starter. That could allow Martinez to make a start for Frisco and then join Texas for as long as the Rangers need him. I haven’t heard that formally announced, but it would make some sense.
As for Martinez himself, he’s a bit off the radar compared to the other pitching prospects you’ve probably heard about (i.e., Luke Jackson, Chi Chi Gonzalez). The former Fordham second baseman has become a polished pitching prospect who throws a 91-94 mph fastball, an excellent curveball, a changeup and a slider. He works quickly and is very athletic (as you would expect from a former middle infielder). He was stellar in his month with the RoughRiders last season, going 2-0 with a 1.13 ERA (4 ER/32 IP).
Nathan Barnett, my broadcast partner from last season and the new Voice of the Myrtle Beach Pelicans, interviewed Martinez last season and they talked a lot about his development as a pitcher. It’s definitely worth a listen:
This article originally appeared in the March 21 edition of SportsPage Weekly, which is a free publication available throughout the Metroplex. To view the article in the online edition, click here.
There are very few “sure things” in life, but when it comes to local sports and entertainment options, the Frisco RoughRiders are just about as close to a sure thing as you can get. Year after year, Dr Pepper Ballpark hosts exciting baseball action, premium prospects and fun for the whole family. Ask anyone who has ever been to a RoughRiders game and they’ll tell you how memorable the experience is.
It’s almost hard to believe, but the RoughRiders will soon begin their 12th season on April 3 at home against the Northwest Arkansas Naturals (Kansas City Royals affiliate). In honor of a dozen years of Frisco baseball, we present the top 12 reasons to catch the RoughRiders in action this season at Dr Pepper Ballpark.
#12 – A winning tradition
Everybody loves a winner. And over the past decade the RoughRiders have been one of the most consistent winners in Minor League Baseball. In 2013, Frisco finished with a 70-70 record, its eighth consecutive season with a .500 or better mark on the ledger. The last time Frisco finished with a losing record was the only time in team history: back in 2005, when the team finished 58-82. The streak of non-losing seasons is by far the longest in the Texas League; every other team in the circuit has had at least one losing season in the last three years. The streak is the longest in Double-A and the third-longest among all 120 full-season minor league clubs, exceeded only by the Triple-A Sacramento River Cats (11 straight non-losing seasons) and the Advanced-A San Jose Giants (ten). Including teams that play in short-season leagues, Frisco’s streak is the sixth longest; the Elizabethton Twins (25), Brooklyn Cyclones (13) and AZL Giants (13) have the longest such streaks in stateside Minor League Baseball.
#11 – History in the making
Baseball fans appreciate the sport’s history and tradition, and the Texas League plays an important role in the lineage of the game. The RoughRiders and their fans belong to a storied Texas League pedigree that dates back to 1888 (the American League was founded in 1901). A game at Dr Pepper Ballpark is more than just a chance to contribute to baseball’s history; it affords fans the opportunity to witness history as it happens. Notable Texas League alumni span the generations and include Major League Hall of Famers Roberto Alomar, Dizzy Dean, Joe Morgan and Whitey Herzog. It is a legacy furthered by many stars in the game today who also enjoyed success in the Texas League. Current Rangers Shin-Soo Choo and Elvis Andrus had All-Star seasons in the Texas League in 2004 and 2008, respectively. Outside the organization, an impressive crop of recent alumni continue to cultivate the Texas League brand as their big league careers flourish. The Texas League footprint extends across the Major League map and features young stars Mike Trout, Matt Adams, Matt Carpenter, Lance Lynn, Jean Segura and numerous others.
#10 – Rehabbing Rangers
Players, coaches and fans dislike injuries, but they remain an inevitable component of any professional game. For a major league club, the inconvenience of an in-season malady is lessened—somewhat—when an affiliate team plays in the neighborhood. No one in Frisco hopes for a rehab assignment, but when a Rangers’ regular tweaks a calf or strains a wrist, Dr Pepper Ballpark provides a two-fold benefit for both the player and the fan. Players can stay in the Metroplex to nurse an injury and play in an atmosphere that approximates a big league ballgame. On the other hand, fans receive a unique opportunity to view their favorite Rangers in a more intimate setting and at an affordable cost. A total of 13 Rangers players donned a RoughRiders’ cap for a rehab assignment in 2013, including pitcher Matt Harrison, who unfortunately started as many games for Frisco (two) as he did for Texas. Rehab assignments rarely occur with much forewarning, but thanks to Derek Holland’s dog, Wrigley, the southpaw has likely already booked a stint with the RoughRiders in 2014. Make sure you’re in the stands when the Rangers’ rehabbers visit Dr Pepper Ballpark.
#9 – A new skipper
For the first time in five years, someone other than Steve Buechele will write out Frisco’s lineup card. With Buechele managing the Rangers’ Triple-A club this season, Jason Wood steps into the role for the RoughRiders in 2014. Wood, a five-year major leaguer and veteran of 18 professional seasons as a player, will begin his fourth season as a manager in the Texas farm system. The 44-year-old spent the previous three years as the skipper for Advanced-A Myrtle Beach. He led the Pelicans to the playoffs in all three campaigns and looks to get the ’Riders back to the postseason this year. While Wood is a fresh face in the dugout, the rest of his coaching staff will remain in place from the last two seasons. Jeff Andrews returns as the team’s pitching coach following a season in which Frisco’s hurlers collectively set numerous team records. This past offseason, Andrews was honored the co-recipient of the Rangers’ annual Bobby Jones Player Development Man of the Year award. Jason Hart will begin his third season as Frisco’s hitting coach and his instruction has been lauded for helping former RoughRiders Jurickson Profar, Mike Olt, Leury Garcia, Chris McGuiness and Engel Beltre all reach the major leagues over the past two seasons.
#8 – Affordability
One of the charms of Minor League Baseball is getting a big league experience without paying a premium price. RoughRiders games are no different because the team strives to make sure everyone can afford to watch games at Dr Pepper Ballpark. It can be a major strain on the wallet to attend other professional sporting events. The average cost for a family of four to attend a Major League Baseball game is approximately $208; for an NFL game that number is $444, with the NBA checking in at $442 and the NHL at $355. That figure for a Minor League Baseball game? Just $61. With RoughRiders tickets starting at just $7 (less than the cost of a movie theater ticket), attending a game at Dr Pepper Ballpark is very much accessible. But say you’re interested in getting even more value at the ballpark. The RoughRiders offer affordable ticket plans that include all-you-can-eat food and drink, and even packages that include alcohol. These value-based ticket plans make attending games in Frisco possible without denting your bank account.
#7 – The other guys aren’t too shabby either
Tomorrow’s stars play today in the Texas League and 2014 is no exception. The RoughRiders will welcome a host of talent from around the circuit to Dr Pepper Ballpark this season, many of whom are ranked on the MLB.com Top 100 Prospects list. The Tulsa Drillers figure to field a strong pitching rotation bolstered by top 50 prospects Jon Gray (#14) and Eddie Butler (#41). Both pitchers bring high-octane velocity to the Drillers’ staff and can touch the upper 90s on the radar gun. Catcher Austin Hedges (#24) of the San Antonio Missions is rated as the second-highest prospect at his position by MLB.com. His strong arm and good footwork behind the plate will give would-be base stealers second thoughts. Kyle Zimmer (#25), the number five overall pick in the 2012 amateur draft, is expected to start the season with the Northwest Arkansas. The Royals promoted Zimmer to Double-A late last season where he held a 1.93 ERA through four starts with the Naturals. Position players to watch for elsewhere in the Texas League include speedy leadoff hitter Delino DeShields (#66) of the Corpus Christi Hooks, Jorge Bonifacio (#91) of the Naturals and gifted batter Stephen Piscotty (#98) of the Springfield Cardinals. Every mentioned player has big league potential.
#6 – You won’t be the only one cheering
The vocal and expressive fan will find a home at Dr Pepper Ballpark. For nine consecutive seasons, the RoughRiders have led all 30 Double-A teams in total and average attendance. More than half-a-million fans routinely fill Dr Pepper Ballpark every season and the team averages better than 7,000 fans per game. Not only is that the best in Double-A, but it’s also higher than 17 Triple-A teams! On 21 occasions in 2013, the ’Riders drew crowds of more than 10,000. Frisco’s fan base is second to none and players say the crowds enhance the in-game environment more than anywhere else in the Texas League. Bring a sign, be loud and shout until your voice goes out. You won’t be cheering alone.
#5 – More than just peanuts and Cracker Jack
RoughRiders cuisine far outstrips traditional ballpark fare. Sure, fans can still fill up to the gills on foot-long hot dogs and brats from Smokie’s Sausage Shack, but Dr Pepper Ballpark serves something for any palate. The new Beer & Barbeque stand will cook in-house, smoked Texas barbeque favorites while Lone Star Pizza offers a wide range of personal style pies. Deep-fried Oreos grace the à la carte lineup for the first time this season, and for those in search of a healthy option, Greek yogurt is also available. Of course, many Frisco fan favorites will be back on the menu as well, from fresh-spun cotton candy and funnel cakes to snow cones and freshly squeezed lemonade. Of course, few things taste better on a hot Texas night than a cold serving of Dippin’ Dots. It’s never summer without great food, great drinks and RoughRiders baseball.
#4 – An arsenal of arms
For the best pitching this side of Yu Darvish and Arlington, Dr Pepper Ballpark is the place to be. The RoughRiders will rely on their mound men to bolster the franchise’s quest for an eighth playoff berth. Right-hander Luke Jackson is expected to lead the group in 2014. The fireballer started the previous season with Advanced-A Myrtle Beach and made his RoughRiders’ debut on August 4, 2013. He didn’t miss a beat in Double-A and finished the season with 134 combined strikeouts at both Myrtle Beach and Frisco and held the eighth-lowest ERA among all full season minor league pitchers (2.04). Those numbers were a big reason why the Rangers named Jackson the club’s 2013 Minor League Pitcher of the Year. Alex Claudio figures to take the reins from Jackson and the starters as a key piece in the RoughRiders’ bullpen in 2014. The deceptive Claudio fools batters with his changeup and was named the Rangers’ Minor League Reliever of the Year last season. Another burgeoning prospect, Alex Gonzalez, hopes to excite the Frisco faithful this year. Don’t call him Alex, though. Gonzalez prefers the nickname “Chi Chi,” given by a family member. Baseball America rates the 2013 first round draft pick as the number six prospect in the Rangers’ organization. Fans on the wild side will anticipate the return of eight-year veteran Kevin Pucetas as he unleashes his newly developed knuckleball pitch on the diamond this season. Other highly-ranked pitchers that are expected to see time in Frisco this season include Alec Asher, Nick Martinez and Jerad Eickhoff.
#3 – Rougned Odor
Because the makeup of minor league teams are up to the discretion of the parent club, you never know who will be on the Opening Day roster until very late in spring training. That is typically the case with the RoughRiders, but one player who looks very likely to be with the team on April 3 is second baseman Rougned Odor. The Venezuelan with the memorable name is the Rangers’ top-ranked prospect according to Baseball America and he showed why during a 30-game stint with Frisco at the end of the 2013 season. Odor was promoted to Double-A in early August and hit .306/.354/.530 with six home runs, eight doubles, two triples and 19 RBI. And he did all of that as just a 19-year-old, the youngest player in Double-A. (Projecting those numbers out over a 140-game season, he would have hit 28 homers with 37 doubles, nine triples and 89 RBI.) Now 20, Odor spent the first half of spring training in big league camp and hopes to use that experience to further propel his ascension to the major leagues. For the time being, however, the spunky infielder with the big bat is expected to ply his trade at Dr Pepper Ballpark.
#2 – Family-friendly entertainment
The RoughRiders are well-known for making trips to Dr Pepper Ballpark about more than just the game on the field. The atmosphere on game nights is a blast, even for folks who aren’t big baseball fans. The RoughRiders employ a full-time entertainment director whose sole job is to make sure that families have fun when visiting the ballpark. From spectacular fireworks shows following every Friday night home game to a collection of more than 180 hilarious on-field skits and promotions that rotate throughout the season, there is something fun for everyone who comes to a game. Dr Pepper Ballpark even features a pool in right field and two playgrounds (including one specifically designed for two-to-five-year-olds). And for a lot of fans, their favorite RoughRiders aren’t ones you might see in Arlington someday – they are Deuce and Daisy, the team’s loveable mascots.
#1 – The home of future Rangers
With Odor and a tremendous pitching staff leading the way, there should be another impressive assortment of talent on display at Dr Pepper Ballpark this season. This has been the norm in each of the RoughRiders’ first 11 seasons in Frisco, and with the Rangers’ relentless pursuit of building a winning organization from top-to-bottom, don’t look for that trend to change anytime soon. Since 2003, 107 former RoughRiders have reached the major leagues, almost one-third of all Frisco players. In 2013, ten former ’Riders made the big leagues, including Nick Tepesch, Beltre, Garcia and McGuiness. One look at the Rangers’ 40-man roster shows that half of its members played in Frisco. Elvis Andrus, Harrison, Alexi Ogando, Holland, Leonys Martin, Profar, Neftali Feliz, Mitch Moreland, Tanner Scheppers and Martin Perez are just a few of the Texas stalwarts who once wore a RoughRiders uniform. Outside of the Rangers organization, All-Stars such as Ian Kinsler, Chris Davis, Adrian Gonzalez and C.J. Wilson all spent time in Frisco as well.
With the RoughRiders, fans get winning baseball, exciting prospects, delicious food, affordable family fun and the future of the Texas Rangers on display. It all shows that the Frisco RoughRiders continue to be a sure thing for families and sports fans across the Metroplex.
The 2013 season ended eight days ago and before we start thinking about Opening Day 2014 (currently 205 days away, but who’s counting?), let’s wrap up this year with some of the notable notes & factoids. The following tidbits are
stolen taken from the RoughRiders’ end-of-season notes, which you can see in their entirety here.
Report Card: The RoughRiders finished their 11th season with an overall record of 70-70, good enough for third place in the Texas League South Division and fourth-best in the eight-team circuit. Frisco was 39-31 in the first half, claiming second place in the division, and 31-39 in the second half (third place). The RoughRiders missed out on the playoffs for the first time since 2009 and just the fourth time in team history. For the first time since becoming a minor league manager in 2009 (Bakersfield), Steve Buechele oversaw a team that did not make the postseason. Two RoughRiders were named to the postseason All-Star Team: DH Brett Nicholas and RHP Neil Ramirez.
Playing not to lose: For the eighth straight season, the RoughRiders finished with a non-losing record. The last time Frisco finished below .500 was the only time in team history, back in 2005 when the team finished 58-82. The streak of non-losing seasons is by far the longest in the Texas League; every other team in the circuit has had at least one losing season in the last three years. The streak is the longest in Double-A and the third-longest among all 120 full-season minor league clubs, exceeded only by the Triple-A Sacramento River Cats (11 straight non-losing seasons) and the Advanced-A San Jose Giants (ten). Including teams that play in short-season leagues, Frisco’s streak is the sixth longest; the Elizabethton Twins (25), Brooklyn Cyclones (13) and AZL Giants (13) have the longest such streaks in stateside Minor League Baseball.
Home Field Advantage: A crowd of 10,712 watched the RoughRiders beat Corpus Christi in the home finale on August 30, marking the second-biggest attendance at Dr Pepper Ballpark this season. It was exceeded only by the July 4 game against Arkansas, when 10,801 saw the Travelers edge the ’Riders 3-2. Frisco welcomed 479,873 fans to the ballpark this year (an average of 7,057), the highest total in Double-A for the ninth straight year. The total and average attendance figures are higher than 17 Triple-A ballclubs this season.
Pitching in: Pitching coach Jeff Andrews can be proud to point out that this year’s Frisco staff statistically rates as the best in franchise history. Of the 11 seasons in RoughRiders history, the 2013 team finished with the best ERA (3.58, placing in the top two of the league for just the second time ever), strikeouts (1,111), WHIP (1.265), and hits/9 IP (8.0, the lowest figure in the TL since 2003). The team’s strikeouts/9 IP (8.0) was tied for the second-best in team history. Making these feats even more impressive is that the RoughRiders utilized 37 different pitchers (by far the most in the league, five more than Springfield, which had used the second-most), including 19 starters.
Saint Nicholas: Frisco first baseman Brett Nicholas has had a great year in his first Double-A season. Before to this year, Nicholas had 17 career home runs in three combined pro seasons but hit 21 in 2013. In addition to the long balls, the Arizona native established career-bests in games (136), plate appearances (575), at bats (506), hits (146), batting average (.289), slugging percentage (.474), OPS (.831), RBI (91), runs (71), triples (3) and total bases (240). Nicholas finished among the Texas League leaders in average (fourth), games (first), at bats (third), home runs (seventh), RBI (first), hits (first), extra-base hits (tied for fifth, 49) and total bases (first, 240). He was the only player in the TL in the top seven in all three of the Triple Crown categories. Nicholas was named a mid-season and postseason All-Star (at DH) and will be one of the Rangers’ representatives in the Arizona Fall League.
Teo Time: Teodoro Martinez had a breakout season in many respects in 2013. The diminutive outfielder was second on the team with 15 home runs and was also among the team leaders in hits (second, 110), runs scored (third, 51), RBI (fourth, 47), total bases (third, 168), and steals (second, 21). Martinez entered the season with ten career home runs and single-season high of six, but more than doubled his career output in longballs with a year that landed him on the mid-season All-Star Team. He had a career game on the penultimate day of the regular season in Midland, going 4 for 5 with a double, two home runs, eight runs batted in and three runs scored. The eight RBI matched his total from July (three) and August (five) combined and represented what is believed to be a RoughRiders single-game record. It was only fitting that Martinez had his huge game against Midland; in 27 games against the RockHounds, he hit .336/.351/.600 (.951 OPS) with two doubles, nine home runs, 28 RBI, 16 runs scored and seven steals.
New Kids on the Block: The makeup of Frisco’s roster changed dramatically in early August, when nine new players joined the team and seven players were sent elsewhere. Of the new RoughRiders, second baseman Rougned Odor and pitchers Luke Jackson and Nick Martinez—all promoted from Advanced-A Myrtle Beach—shined the brightest. From August 1 through the end of the season, Odor led the Texas League in hits (41) and was tied for second in extra-base hits (16). At 19, he was the youngest player in Double-A and over 30 games hit .306/.354/.530 with six homers, eight doubles, two triples, 19 RBI, 20 runs scored and five steals. Jackson did not allow a run until his fifth ’Riders outing and went 2-0 over six games (four starts) with a 0.67 ERA (2 ER/27 IP), 30 strikeouts and a .144 opposing batting average. Dating back to his time with the Pelicans, he ended the season having gone 15 games (13 starts) since last suffering a defeat (May 27 at Lynchburg). Martinez did not work the strikeouts like Jackson, but he was stellar in five games (four starts), going 2-0 with a 1.13 ERA (4 ER/32 IP), 11 hits allowed, a 0.56 WHIP and a .107 opposing batting average. While pitching in relief of rehabber Nick Tepesch on August 27 against Corpus Christi, he threw seven no-hit innings and retired the last 19 batters of the ballgame.
Don’t walk this way: A constant theme over the course of the season was the inability of the ’Riders to draw walks while on offense. Frisco not only finished last among all Texas League teams with 303 walks this season, but also last among all full-season minor league teams (Advanced-A Brevard County was closest with 343). In fact, the ’Riders had fewer walks than 13 rookie-level teams whose seasons began well after Frisco’s. The 303 walks set a new Texas League record for fewest walks ever received by a team, “besting” the 1992 San Antonio Missions (310). The RoughRiders’ on-base percentage of .300 was the seventh-lowest of all 229 MiLB teams and the second-lowest of all full-season squads.
Guilded Age: The 2013 season was a banner one for longtime RoughRiders utility player Guilder Rodriguez. This past season was Rodriguez’s 13th in professional baseball and his fifth with Frisco. Thanks to a terrific first half of the season, the Venezuelan was named to his first All-Star Game and came in off the bench to play in the South Division’s 6-0 win over the North. Rodriguez set several career Frisco records over the course of the year; he has played in more games as a RoughRider (407) than any other player in team history. On August 4, he passed Renny Osuna as the franchise’s all-time hits leader; he has 352 career hits as a RoughRider. On August 25, playing in his 1000th professional stateside game, Rodriguez stole his 66th base in a Frisco uniform, snapping a tie with Rangers outfielder Craig Gentry for the most career steals. G-Rod is now 66 for 92 stealing bases as a ’Rider; Gentry was 65 for 79 in 207 Frisco games.
This ’pen is mightier: Despite a constantly rotating cast, the RoughRiders’ bullpen was the strength of the pitching staff this season. Frisco’s relievers won almost as many games (34) as the team’s starters (36) while posting an impressive 2.55 ERA (166 ER/586.2 IP). The bullpen was heavy on strikeouts (9.1/9 IP) and stingy on allowing hits (6.9/9 IP). Ben Rowen (0.53 ERA) and Wilmer Font (1.41 ERA) led the group with ten saves apiece while nine total players had at least one save. The strong back end of the bullpen was a major reason why the RoughRiders went 51-0 when taking a lead into the ninth inning, not blowing a ninth inning save all season. Frisco was the only Texas League team that did not lose a game when leading after eight innings (all other teams had at least two such losses). The ’Riders were one of eight full-season minor league teams that did not blow a ninth inning lead and one of three (New Orleans, 72-72; West Michigan, 69-70) that did it while failing to post a winning overall record.
‘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)
Baseball term of the day: blinker - the back pocket lining of baseball pants
‘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 end of July saw a brutal offensive stretch for the ‘Riders but also produced some great audio for ‘Riders on the Record. Highlights include Joe Benson telling us what it is like to face a knuckleball, Kyle McClellan on the whereabouts of his World Series ring and Jon Edwards on his wild path from Cardinals outfielder to Rangers reliever.
Happy Sunday and enjoy!
Sunday, July 28, 2013 – ‘Riders Manager Steve Buechele
In the midst of the longest scoreless streak of the season, the ‘Riders manager Steve Buechele talks about what he can do to get his players out of the slump. He explains the balance of the positive and negative management style that he tries to strike. A former big leaguer, Buechele remembers how he got out of slumps in his career. (w/ Alex Vispoli)
Monday, July 29, 2013 – OF Joe Benson
Just off the disabled list, Joe talks about his return to the team from a groin injury. He gives his take on the team’s offensive woes. Facing a knuckleballer the previous day in Eddie Bonine, he gives us an idea of what it’s like to face the pitch. (w/ Alex)
Tuesday, July 30, 2013 – RP Kyle McClellan
A World Series Champion with the Cardinals in 2010, Kyle McClellan has pitched for the ‘Riders, the Triple-A Express and the Texas Rangers this season. He talks about coming back from injury and the different pitching coaches in the Rangers organization that have helped him along this season. He looks back at his Series win and why he came to Texas in the offseason. He also shares his hiding place for his World Series Ring. (w/ Alex)
Wednesday, July 31, 2013 – 1B Brett Nicholas
After a career night, Brett talks about his comfort level after the plate after his first mini slump of the season. He does his best to explain the offensive lull the ‘Riders experienced over the last week when the team was shutout for 38 consecutive innings. He talks about his adjustments at the plate and how he worked out of his funk. Brett also gives us a sense of what big league rehabbers mean to the clubhouse. (w/ Alex)
Thursday, August 1, 2013 – RP Jimmy Reyes
On the day the ‘Riders received five new players from the Myrtle Beach Pelicans, Jimmy explains what it’s like as a player to go through the transition of losing teammates and getting new ones. A good friend of Luke Jackson, one of the top pitching prospects in the Texas system, Jimmy tells us what we can expect from Luke. (w/ Nathan Barnett)
Friday, August 2, 2013 – RP Jon Edwards
Jon Edwards has one of those fascinating baseball stories. A converted outfielder originally drafted by the Cardinals, Edwards is now a pitcher in the Texas system, and with Frisco, is pitching back home. The Keller native talks about his wild ride through baseball, which included stops in the North American League and the Pecos League in independent baseball before his arrival back in affiliated ball as a rediscovered pitcher. (w/ Nathan)
Saturday, August 3, 2013 – Coach Corey Tucker
A member of the RoughRiders organization since the team’s inaugural season in 2003, Corey Tucker has seen the ballpark and town around it change over the years and watched a number of great ballplayers come through Frisco. He reminisces on the changes to the park and on some of the great players and coaches he has been around including Andre Ethier, Mike Napoli and Elvis Andrus. (w/ Nathan)
Baseball term of the day - getaway bag - first base
(term from The Dickson Baseball Dictionary)
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|
|TL IN MAY||Record||Runs||AVG||OBP||SB||HR||ERA||K||BB||Avg. Att. TD|
‘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 15 – 21: P – Keyvius Sampson (San Antonio); B – Max Stassi (Corpus Christi)
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!
Baseball term of the day: blow a tire - pull a leg muscle
(term from The Dickson Baseball Dictionary)
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.
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.
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 America, Luke, 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.
Baseball term of the day: Dust the jewel – For the umpire to clean off home plate.
(term from The Dickson Baseball Dictionary)
What a span of four days it was for the Texas Rangers organization. In a matter of days, three different minor league teams for the Texas Rangers flirted with a no-hitter. Only one, however, came away with it. On Saturday, when the Frisco RoughRiders were four outs short of their first no-hitter of the season, the Myrtle Beach Pelicans completed theirs against the Wilmington Blue Rocks in a 3-0 victory.
If I had given you two pitching lines of their previous starts before the most recent one, the prediction for a no-hitter from Myrtle Beach probably would have been Cody Buckel (5 IP 2 H 1 R 4 BB 7 K) over Nick Tepesch (4.2 IP 13 H 7 R 2 BB 6 K). But baseball can be a funny game some times.
Tepesch (2-3 4.06 ERA) started the game for Myrtle Beach on the road in Wilmington and he was as good as he’s ever been. The right handed pitcher retired the first eleven batters he faced and later had a span of nine consecutive retired. In all, Tepesch pitched 7 1/3 innings with nine strikeouts and four walks. His nine strikeouts were a season high and one short of matching his career best, ten strikeouts.
The most trouble that Nick got himself into was in the 8th inning when he walked Roman Hernandez and Kevin David to open the inning. He got the third batter, Juan Graterol, to strikeout. Tepesch was then pulled and Jimmy Reyes was brought in to replace him. Reyes ended the threat by getting Alex McClure to ground into a double play.
Jimmy Reyes pitched the ninth inning as well. The southpaw got Whit Merrifield to pop out to shortstop Edwin Garcia and Geulin Beltre to strikeout. At which point the Wilmington Blue Rocks play-by-play announcer, John Sadak, had this call:
The Pelicans pitchers got all of the support they needed from Brett Nicholas, who went 1 for 2 with a double, two RBI, and two walks. Tomas Telis also went 3 for 4 in the game with two doubles and scored two of the three runs.
Frisco was attempting to become the second Ranger’s affiliate with a no-hitter on the day, but came up just short. Chad Bell made his first start of the year for Frisco and pitched four innings of no-hit ball. Carlos Pimentel came in for his fifth relief appearance of the season and pitched three effectively wild innings without allowing a hit. After retiring the first two hitters, reliever Corey Young gave up a double to Jeudy Valdez in the eighth inning. Young finished the inning and Joseph Ortiz came in to pitch the ninth in Frisco’s 13-0, 2-hit bruising of the San Antonio Missions.
Like Frisco, the Hickory Crawdads also came within four outs of a no-hitter on Monday as the team gave up one hit, a home run, in a 5-1 seven inning victory over the Kannapolis Intimidators in game one of a double header. Hickory had a no-hitter through 5 2/3 innings before Mark Haddow homered with two outs in the 6th inning. Luke Jackson started the game for Hickory and gave up the one hit over 6 2/3 innings with three walks and nine strikeouts.
Baseball players go through cycles and when things are clicking for them, special things can happen. This past weekend was almost a very special one for three affiliates of the Texas Rangers.
For Myrtle Beach, however, the very special moment happened.
Written By: Michael Damman