Results tagged ‘ Martin Perez ’

The Dandy Dozen: The ‘Riders Turn 12

It's shaping up to be another great summer at Dr Pepper Ballpark.

It’s shaping up to be another great summer at Dr Pepper Ballpark.

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

Matt Harrison was one of 13 rehabbers who played with the 'Riders in 2013.

Matt Harrison was one of 13 rehabbers who played with the ‘Riders in 2013.

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.

Luke Jackson figures to lead a very talented starting rotation this season.

Luke Jackson figures to lead a very talented starting rotation this season.

#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

Top prospect Rougned Odor is expected to begin the season at second base in Frisco.

Top prospect Rougned Odor is expected to begin the season at second base in Frisco.

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.

Remembering the Promoted Ones

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So apparently today is Paul Bunyan Day. Or maybe it was yesterday. The origin stories seem dubious.

At any rate, that got me thinking about Jared Hoying, the most Paul Bunyan like of this season’s RoughRiders. The big body, long arms, big swing of the stick, and the prodigious power that put on shows in batting practice on a regular basis in the season’s early months.

Of couse, now Jared, along with a number of other 2013 RoughRiders are playing elsewhere. And the promotions have been well-deserved. Although we would all love to have Hoying and his big bat and rangy outfield skills helping the RoughRiders and Ben Rowen’s more-often-than-not unhittable stuff baffling Texas League batters, it is nice to see them succeeding at higher levels.

Now seems as a good a time as any to check in on these most recent former ‘Riders and their paths at the higher levels.

Ross Wolf – RHP

As we go chronogically, Wolf was the first RoughRider promoted this season. The veteran reliever was pushed into a starting role after his April 9 promotion to Round Rock where he performed nothing short of sensationally. In six starts, Wolf went 1-1 with a 1.85 ERA for the Express, striking out 25 and walking just nine over 34 innings. Making his first appearances as a starter since 2005 and first work as a regular fixture in a starting rotation since his rookie season in 2002 with the Jamestown Jammers of the New York-Penn League, Wolf went six or more innings in four of his six outings, tossing 85 pitches or more on three occasions and even registering 97 pitches in his final Triple-A start.

Then Nick Tepesch got a blister. And Wolf was promoted to the Rangers to make the spot start. Suggested by some that he would be DFA’d immediately following the outing, Wolf remains on the Texas roster 37 days later. Challenged with somewhat irregular work, Wolf is 1-1 with a 1.47 ERA in the big leagues this year. He has thrown scoreless outings on five of the seven occassions he has been used out of the pen, and allowed earned runs only once out of the bullpen. His lone loss came in the 18-inning battle with the Blue Jays in which he allowed one unearned run in 6.2 relief innings.

Jake Brigham – RHP

Jake is lucky to be pitching at all. On May 20, in just his fifth appearance since the call-up, he was struck with a ground ball on his lower right leg. He was carted off the field. Amazingly, he was pitching five days later, as nothing was broken.

The numbers don’t look great (1-1, 5.44 ERA), but he has found a recent groove. He has not allowed an earned run over his last three appearances, including one start, spanning 13 innings. Over his last 18.1 innings, he has surrendered just one earned run and has lowered his ERA from 9.39 as a Triple-A pitcher to 5.44 where it is today.

Ryan Feierabend – LHP

Promoted on May 1 along with Brigham (and Alex Buchholz who has since returned), Feierabend has been a steady force in the rotation. He has completed at least five innings in all 11 of his Triple-A outings, thrown 100 or more pitches on three occasions, and even tossed a complete game, the only one thrown by an Express pitcher this season. He is 4-2 with a 3.90 ERA in his 11 starts after going 1-2 with a 3.86 ERA for Frisco in April.

Martin Perez – LHP

Originally a MLB rehabber, Perez was a member of the active RoughRiders roster from May 12 to May 16 before his Triple-A promotion. Perez dazzled in Triple-A action, posting a 5-1 record with a 1.75 ERA for Round Rock in six starts. After a rocky first outing, Perez allowed just three earned runs in his last five Triple-A starts, good for an 0.87 ERA.

The lefty makes the start for the Rangers tonight at home against the Reds. He has made two MLB starts this season and is 1-1 with a 3.65 ERA. His last start was a gem, as he tossed seven innings of two-run ball against the Cardinals in the Rangers’ sweep of St. Louis this past weekend.

Kyle McClellan – RHP

Former St. Louis Cardinals reliever Kyle McClellan is not a product of Rangers development but his time in Frisco still ensured he was ready to move on up. Signed to a minor league contract in the offseason, McClellan made two appearances for the ‘Riders and six for the Express before his call to the Rangers bullpen. He has provided nice depth for the Texas pen, albeit with mediocre numbers thus far (6 G, 8.1 IP, 6 H, 6 ER, 4 BB, 3 K). McClellan has a fantastic major league tract record and should be nice depth for the Rangers relief corps for the remainder of the season.

Mike Olt – 3B

Olt made a brief stop in Frisco after getting his troubling vision problems got sorted out. After a tremendously slow start in Triple-A, where he hit just .139 with one home run in twenty games, Olt was disagnosed with an issue stemming from a problem with his tear duct. After the prescription of some seemingly-magical eye drops, Olt went 4-for-12 in three games at Dr Pepper Ballpark with a home run and two doubles before heading back to Round Rock.

Back with the Express, Olt is hitting .261/.361/.543 with seven long balls, five doubles and has walked 15 times in 24 games since his return. He seems poised for a big league promotion at some point, especially if Texas can’t keep the injury bug away from its hitters.

Jared Hoying – OF

On his 24th birthday, Jared received a strain of his left hamstring on a double to left field. Out from May 18 until June 7, when he was activated from the disabled list, Jared was also promoted, earning his first career call up to Triple-A.

Jared got a hit in each of his first three games, including his first Triple-A home run and triple. After a hitless effort on June 11 and a failed pinch-hit attempt on June 13, he put together his first two-hit Triple-A game on June 14. It was the first of 11 straight games with at least one hit for Hoying, a streak that was snapped last night.

In 17 games he has three homers, three triples and two doubles. His .617 SLG is the highest on the Express since his promotion, and lately, he has been hitting in third spot of the order for Rangers Triple-A club.

Ryan Rodebaugh – RHP

Like Jake Brigham, Ryan Rodebaugh doesn’t posses the best Triple-A numbers of the bunch (0-0, 5.68 ERA) but has been mostly the Ryan Rodebaugh that Frisco fans have come to know, love and trust over the last two seasons. After a four-run debut in a single inning of work on June 11, Ryan has not allowed a run. In a stretch spanning five appearances and 5.1 innings, he has walked five but allowed just three hits and has racked up seven Ks.

Ben Rowen – RHP

And then there is the submariner. Missing out on the Texas League All-Star game because of the call-up, Ben has been used just twice since his June 20 promotion. In his first ever Triple-A appearance, he fanned three and allowed just one base runner on a single hit in two innings. It took him just 23 pitches to toss those two scoreless frames, as he threw 16 pitches for strikes.

His last time out, Rowen, who led the RoughRiders with 10 saves at the time of his promotion, earned his first Triple-A save with a scoreless inning to close out a 10-7 come-from-behind win for the Express in the extremely hitter-friendly home of the Albuquerque Isotopes.

- Nathan

Baseball term of the day: grazer an outfielder

(term from The Dickson Baseball Dictionary)

‘Riders on the Record: The Greatest of All-Time and the Coldest Game

‘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.  

This week provides our first all road edition of ‘Riders on the Record. Highlights include the first Rangers rehabber in LHP Martin Perez, the Hall of Famer Rickey Henderson and the ‘Riders top position player prospect Hanser Alberto. Enjoy!

May 5, 2013 – Manager Steve Buechele


Steve Buechele talks to Alex about the great defense the ‘Riders have played to this point and the frigid conditions from Thursday night. (all entries this week w/ Alex Vispoli)

May 6, 2013 – Rangers rehabbing lefty Martin Perez


Before making his first regular season start of 2013, Martin Perez talks about his rehab after taking a line drive off of forearm in Spring Training and how is feeling as he prepares for a start with the ‘Riders.

May 7, 2013 – HOFer Rickey Henderson


Alex talked to Rickey Henderson. Come on. It’s Rickey Henderson — just click play.

May 9, 2013 – Shortstop Hanser Alberto


Hanser Alberto joins the pre-game show for the first time, talking about his first season of Double-A ball. The youngest player in the Texas League talks about playing with a bunch of older players and the origins of his leadership qualities.

May 10, 2013 – RHP Neil Ramirez


Neil Ramirez comes on to discuss his solid last outing when he struck out nine batters. He talks about the use of his curveball and how nice it is to have such an excellent bullpen behind him.

May 11, 2013 – Hooks Broadcaster Michael Coffin


The Voice of the Hooks chats with our Alex Vispoli on the state of the Texas League at the quarter-mark of the season. They talk about the down year offensively they have seen and what the piggybacking has done for the Hooks.

- Nathan

Baseball term of the day: cow’s horn - a curveball

The 2013 (Nearly) Complete Twitter Guide…: Part Two – The Players

This post is a continuation of an earlier post compiling the essential Twitter handles to keep up with the Texas Rangers farm system and Texas League. You can find all entries here

A little over a week ago, I posted twitter handles for the teams in the Texas Rangers system and the Texas league, along with broadcasters and other key employees in the league and the Rangers’ farm. Today, I submit Part Two of “The 2013 (Nearly) Complete Twitter Guide to the Frisco RoughRiders, the Texas League and the Rangers Farm System,” or TNCTG. If you want to check Part One – go here.

Today: a list of the players. This is, to my knowledge, an exhaustive list of the Frisco RoughRiders in addition to as many twitter handles I could find of Texas Rangers at the MLB and MiLB levels. As always, comment below or tweet me (@NathanSBarnett) with additional follows. I will update this as I can as the season moves along. If you want to use a list to keep track of these players, the RoughRiders Twitter handle has a 2013 RoughRiders list and I have one compiling as many current Rangers MLB and MiLB players that I can find.

_________________________

TNCTG PART TWO – The Players

(as of 05/17/13)

2013 Frisco RoughRiders

Current RoughRiders:

Hanser Alberto ‏ @elpotroalberto (#15 ranked prospect in Texas system by Baseball America)

Cody Buckel ‏  @Cheatcode07 (#8)

Randy Henry ‏ @RandyHenry51 (#29)

Odubel Herrera ‏ @odubelherrera1frisco roughriders logo

Jared Hoying ‏ @jhoying3035

Teodoro Martinez ‏ @martinezteo

Brett Nicholas ‏ @bnicholas15

Kevin Pucetas ‏ @KPucetas

Jimmy Reyes ‏ @jimmymreyes

Ryan Rodebaugh ‏ @RRodey

Ben Rowen ‏ @B_Rowen

Ryan Strausborger ‏ @Ryan_Straus

Zach Zaneski ‏ @ZZaneski

RoughRiders to play in 2013, now off roster:

Jake Brigham ‏ @jbrigham49 (Triple-A)

Ross Wolf ‏ @18RGW (Triple-A)

Other players in the Texas Rangers System:

MLB:

Elvis Andrus ‏ @ElvisandrusSS1

Nelson Cruz ‏ @ncboomstick17

ダルビッシュ有(Yu Darvish) ‏ @faridyu

Neftali Feliz ‏ @NefFeliz

Josh Frasier ‏ @Frasier66 (bullpen catcher)

Leury Garcia ‏ @leurygarcia1 (#20)

Justin Grimm ‏ @GrimmReaper51 (#5)

Derek Holland ‏ @Dutch_Oven45texas_rangers-9679

Michael Kirkman ‏ @MikeKirkman50

Josh Lindblom  @JoshLindblom52 

Leonys Martin ‏ @leonys27martin (#4)

Joe Nathan ‏ @JoeNathan36

Martin Perez ‏ @MartinPerez33D (#3)

Jurickson Profar ‏ @JURICKSONPROFAR (#1 ranked prospect overall by Baseball America)

Robbie Ross ‏ @Ross_108

Joakim Soria ‏ @joakimsoria

Triple-A Round Rock:

Chad Bell ‏ @ChadBell19 (Injured just before beginning of the season, finished 2012 with Express)

Engel Beltre ‏ @engelbeltre07

Lisalverto Bonilla ‏ @propecto1

Jake Brigham ‏ @jbrigham49

Robinson Chirinos  @robinson28chrr_express_logo_detail

Michael Olt ‏ @molt2222 (#2)

Yangervis Solarte ‏ @yanyi26_12

Yoshinori Tateyama ‏ @tatetatetateyan

Ross Wolf ‏ @RGW

Advanced-A Myrtle Beach:

Alec Asher ‏ @Ash_Tag24

Kellin Deglan ‏ @keldegs

Royce Bolinger ‏ @roycebolinger

Zach Cone ‏ @ZachCone (#24)

Ryan Harvey ‏ @Hammer32jetlifepelicans

Luke Jackson ‏ @YaBoy77 (#6)

Will Lamb ‏ @LamboLeap30

Nick Martinez ‏ @nickmartinez10 (#27)

Rougned Odor ‏ @RougnedOdor (#11)

Drew Robinson ‏ @drewrobinsonnn

Jake Skole ‏ @JakeSkole15

Joe Van Meter ‏ @JVanMeter28

Class-A Hickory Crawdads:

Jorge Alfaro ‏ @_JorgeAlfaro11 (#9)

Ryan Bores ‏ @RyanBores

Lewis Brinson ‏ @LewisBrinson (#12)

Eric Brooks ‏ @itsEricBrooks

Coby Cowgill ‏ @CobyCowgill_RHP

C.J. Edwards ‏ @CEdwardsSBS (#14)

Joey Gallo ‏ @JoeyGallo24 (#10)

David Lyon ‏ @DLyonKSU36Hickory_Crawdads

Joe Maloney ‏ @JoeBoMalones

Nomar Mazara ‏ @NomarMzra26 (#16)

Luis Mendez ‏ @mendezluis932

Ryan Rua ‏ @Rua_Numba_2

Connor Sadzeck ‏ @connorsadzeck

Ryne Slack ‏ @Slack28

Nick Vickerson ‏ @Nick_Vickerson

Nick Williams ‏ @NW1superstar (#25)

Players yet to be assigned (either hurt or will be in either Rookie or Short-Season A)

Jairo Beras ‏ @jairoberas (#18)

Janluis Castro ‏ @Jaanluis

Guy Edmonds ‏ @EdmondsGuy

Brandon Garcia ‏ @BrandonGarcia_

Ronald Guzman ‏ @_ronaldguzman (#17)

Jamie Jarmon ‏ @jjarmon34

Kevin Matthews ‏ @kevmat1

Barrett Serrato ‏ @bserrato23

Nick Urbanus ‏ @NickUrb

Brett Weibley ‏ @wild_stallion5

Collin Wiles ‏ @cwiles11

_________________________

- Nathan

Baseball term of the day: fuzzy concreteartificial turf

‘Riders Rehabbers

Rangers’ pitcher and former RoughRider Martin Perez will be returning to the ‘Riders tonight in Midland as he begins his rehab assignment.  The left-handed pitcher is expected to throw four innings and is likely to make another rehab start during the team’s current road trip.

Perez’s left wrist was broken after he was struck by a line drive off the bat of Seattle Mariners infielder Brad Miller in a spring training game on March 3. Prior to the injury, Perez was in contention for a spot in the Rangers’ starting rotation. He entered the season ranked by Baseball America as the organization’s third-best prospect and ranked 81st on the publication’s list of top 100 prospects in the minors.

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Perez holding wrist after March 3 spring training injury

The 22-year-old Venezuelan pitched for the RoughRiders during parts of the 2009, 2010 and 2011 seasons and made his major league debut last year for Texas.   He pitched in 12 big league games (six starts), going 1-4 with a 5.45 ERA (23 ER/38.0 IP).   In his three seasons with Frisco, Perez pitched in 46 games (44 starts) and went 10-13 with a 4.74 ERA (110 ER/209.0 IP) and 198 strikeouts.

Perez2011

Martin Perez as a RoughRider in 2011

A few players who have rehabbed in Frisco

Nelson Cruz:  Nelly has made two rehab appearances with the RoughRiders.  He has played a total of six games in Frisco in 2010 and 2011, with eleven at-bats both years.  He has had a total of six hits and two RBIs in the ‘Riders uniform.

Cruz2011

Nelson Cruz rehabbing with the ‘Riders in 2011

Josh Hamilton: Hamilton rehabbed in Frisco for one game in 2009 and two more in 2011.  On May 18, 2011, Josh hit a two-run homer in his second at-bat, and helped the ‘Riders to a pair of wins over the Midland RockHounds.

Hamilton2011

Former Ranger Josh Hamilton in Frisco for 2011 rehab.

Ian Kinsler: The former RoughRider returned to Frisco in 2009-’10 due to a strained left groin.  While rehabbing with the ‘Riders, Ian played in eight games with four runs and six RBIs.

Kinsler2010

Ian Kinsler at bat during his 2010 ‘Riders rehab assignment

Naftali Feliz: Another former ‘Rider, Feliz returned to Frisco in 2011 and 2012 on rehab assignment with elbow soreness issues.

feliz2012

Neftali Feliz in Frisco during the 2012 season

Some others who have been assigned to the RoughRiders include: Hank Blalock (’08), (’11), Matt Harrison (’09-10), Mark Lowe (’12), Kevin Mench (’03-04), Darren O’Day (’11), Jarrod Saltalamacchia (’09), Mark Teixeira (’04, ’07).

Baseball Term of the Day: Dent the Plate – to score a run.

 

-Ryan

A new Lowe for the Rangers

Maybe the weirdest baseball card a player has ever had?

Maybe the weirdest baseball card a player has ever had?

We interrupt today’s edition of “Nolan Ryan Talk” to bring you the latest development involving the guys who are actually on the field: last night the Rangers announced the signing of veteran pitcher Derek Lowe to a minor league deal.  Lowe split last year between the rotation and bullpen for the Indians and Yankees, going 9-11 with a 5.11 ERA and one save in 38 games, 21 starts.  The big sinkerballer has bounced around the last few seasons, but is best known for being one of the chief “idiots” on the 2004 World Series-winning Boston Red Sox, earning the clinching win in all three series that post-season.

While he’s not on the Rangers’ 40-man roster at the moment, you would have to think he’s a at least a decent bet to make the club out of spring training given his versatility, the team’s lack of experienced middle relievers, and the fact that the Rangers were facing the prospects of going into a season without a pitcher named “Lowe” for the first time in four years (Mark signed a minor league deal with the Dodgers last month).

As someone who grew up in the Boston area and remembers when Dan Duquette pulled off one of the greatest heists in big league history – trading Heathcliff Slocumb for Lowe and some guy named Jason Varitek – I have a special place in my heart for the Michigan native.  I watched him go back-and-forth from the starting rotation to the closer spot and have success in both positions, pitch a no-hitter in 2002 against the Devil Rays, and put a lot of Boston nightclub owners’ kids through college.

It’s a smart, low-risk move for the Rangers, who could benefit tremendously if Lowe can locate his sinker and be effective for a couple innings at a time when called upon (or even fill in as a starter).  If he doesn’t work out, he didn’t cost you much to begin with so there’s no obligation to keep him.  He should be a strong clubhouse presence as a player who has succeeded on the biggest stages and is known to be a good teammate.  And, at the very least, his acquisition has slowed down some of the Ryan talk that has become a distraction for the organization.

***

The Rangers won a 3-2 decision over the Cubs in Surprise yesterday and got some strong pitching from Robbie Ross (4 IP, 4 H, 1 R) and Alexi Ogando (3 IP, 6 K, 1 R).  Lance Berkman also homered as the team won its second straight Cactus League contest.

Jon Daniels has the power; Nolan Ryan has the love(Note: read around the “sign in” bubble to take in the article) Before we get to the on-the-field items, this Randy Galloway column is a must-read for fans interested in the Nolan Ryan story (i.e., pretty much all Rangers fans).  Galloway has been all over this story from the start and says that Daniels was actually offered the full CEO job that belonged to Ryan, in addition to the president title, back in November but turned it down.  More interesting stuff to chew on.

Berkman confident about health as Opening Day approaches - Jeff Wilson has the Big Puma feeling good about his ability to be ready to go come March 31.

Rapid Reaction from Texas winRon Matejko’s fast facts on yesterday’s victory.

Robbie Ross continues to impressWith Perez out until May, the former RoughRiders lefty may have cast himself as the new favorite to take the fifth starter spot after yesterday’s outing.

Alexi Ogando rewards Ron Washington’s faithGiven the way his first two spring outings went, Ogando’s strong performance was maybe the most encouraging thing about yesterday’s game.

Derek Lowe gives club versatilityRichard Durrett gives his thoughts on the Lowe acquisition.

Astros should woo Nolan RyanESPN.com’s Johnette Howard argues that Jim Crane should be pulling out all the stops to swipe away the Rangers’ CEO.

Angels’ Hamilton primed for monster year — but holds no grudgesSome interesting nuggets on CBS.com’s Jon Heyman’s interview with former Rangers slugger Josh Hamilton, including Hamilton saying that Nolan Ryan wished that Texas hadn’t dragged its feet in the negotiations.

Rangers don’t plan to return Alexi Ogando – and maybe Robbie Ross – to bullpen (subscription only)Gerry Fraley thinks that the starting rotation is the final destination for both Ogando and Ross.

Ogando, Ross giving Rangers confidence in rotationT.R. Sullivan’s report on the two pitchers impressing Ron Washington yesterday.

Rangers press on despite Ryan’s uncertaintySullivan has plenty of quotes from Daniels on the Ryan story.

Olt, Martin pulled out of Rangers’ lineupSullivan’s notes column has injury updates on Mike Olt (tooth pain, not the Rory McIlroy type), Leonys Martin (hamstring), Kyle McClellan (shoulder), Tanner Scheppers (hamstring) and Yoshinori Tateyama (back).

- Alex

Metroplex abuzz with Ryan talk as Rangers walk off

Nolan Ryan played his last five big league seasons as a Ranger.

Nolan Ryan played his last five big league seasons as a Ranger.

Things have pretty much blown up around here regarding the Nolan Ryan situation.  There are a good number of compelling on-the-field Rangers stories to be discussed throughout this spring, from filling the fifth spot in the starting rotation to the center field position battle to rebuilding a bullpen to overcoming the loss of key free agents.  Throw in some exciting, young prospects, a new hitting coach, record ticket sales and there’s a lot going on for Ron Washington’s club.  But the story that risks swallowing all of that up like a Texas-sized black hole is the “will he or won’t he leave?” for Rangers CEO Nolan Ryan after his president title was removed and given to general manager Jon Daniels.  The possibility was first raised yesterday in the Star-Telegram by Randy Galloway that Ryan could be gone from the organization before camp is over out in Surprise.

There’s a lot going on with this, from a possible power struggle to jealousy within the organization over credit and the looming specter of the rudderless Houston Astros swooping in and reclaiming the state’s greatest natural resource.  Now, I heard the Morning News’ Evan Grant interviewed on The Ticket yesterday and he feels that it’s a long shot that Ryan leaves for the Astros.  Grant insinuated that Ryan is not he biggest fan of new owner Jim Crane’s and that many people Ryan was close to in that organization have gotten whacked.  This doesn’t mean that it couldn’t still happen, however, even with Ryan having three years left on his Rangers contract.

Adam Morris of Lone Star Ball made  the point on Twitter last night and I can’t help but give it at least some credence.  In the 80+ hours it’s been since the title announcements were made by the Rangers, we have heard nothing from Ryan and very little from Daniels.  Sometimes silence says more than words, which could indicate to some that there’s something less than warm and fuzzy going on in the front office.

By the way, the Rangers walked off with a 5-4 win over the Padres yesterday with Jeff Baker plating Julio Borbon for the game winner.

Today’s links (note: with the Star-Telegram stories you can easily read around the “sign-in” bubble that appears when you open the page):

Daniels has said nothing has changed with Nolan RyanJeff Wilson has Daniels offering very little in terms of reaction to the Galloway story, saying that he reports to Ryan and that this is essentially a non-story.

Rangers’ power shift could have Nolan Ryan looking for exitGil Lebreton writes that he thinks Ryan will leave but that ownership wants him to stay and continue the work that has made the Rangers so successful.

Rangers’ Martin Perez focused on quick recovery after breaking forearmThe other big story of the week gets some follow-up coverage from Wilson along with a quick note about Adrian Beltre’s Cactus League debut.

Darvish does good work without best stuff as Rangers rally - Wilson touches upon Yu Darvish’s scoreless three innings in the Rangers’ 5-4 victory over the Padres yesterday.

If Rangers must pick between Jon Daniels and Nolan Ryan, the choice is clear…Tim Cowlishaw checks in to give his thoughts on the Ryan-Daniels situation and says if you’re choosing between the two, he goes with Daniels.

Understanding the situation between Nolan Ryan and Rangers managementGrant has a pretty good overview of all the issues involved in this story.

Rangers in communication with Porcello, Lohse - Gerry Fraley says the Rangers have not been idle since Perez went down due to injury on Sunday.  Rick Porcello is arguably a more palpable choice over Kyle Lohse because he is younger and won’t cost you a draft pick, though he would force you to give up some level of prospect(s).

Rangers betting on youth for futureNormally a headline like that would be used for the makeup of your team or farm system, but ESPNDallas.com’s Jean-Jacque Taylor is using it on the Rangers’ front office.

Does Kyle Lohse make sense now?Richard Durrett asks the question in a blog entry from this morning.

Yu Darvish impressive againRon Matejko touches upon Darvish’s outing yesterday against San Diego.

Beltre back in the swing with successful debutMLB.com’s AJ Cassavell has a full report on Beltre’s return to the lineup.

Darvish keeps spring hitless streak intact - Cassavell’s notes column touches upon Darvish, Perez and Nate Robertson’s comeback attempt.

- Alex

Costly comebacker could have Rangers scrambling

Martin Perez gets checked out by a trainer after being hit by a line drive in Sunday's game vs. Seattle. (photo credit to Jake Roth/USA TODAY Sports)

Martin Perez gets checked out by a trainer after being hit by a line drive in Sunday’s game vs. Seattle. (photo credit to Jake Roth/USA TODAY Sports)

First there was “The Case of the Poorly Timed Tattoo” and now there’s a much more serious Rangers injury to be concerned about.  In the sixth inning of yesterday’s 7-6 loss to the Mariners, former RoughRiders pitcher Martin Perez was struck just above the left wrist by a Brad Miller line drive and after the game it was revealed that he suffered a fracture of the left ulna bone.  It will be at least four weeks until he can begin a throwing program and most indications are that he will be on the shelf until May at the earliest.

What makes this so unfortunate is that Perez was the clear leader in the clubhouse for the fifth spot in Texas’ rotation, a position that failed to produce any wins down the home stretch of the 2012 season.  The former RoughRider was having a strong spring training while the other competitors were either: a) struggling; b) injured; or c) inexperienced.  Perez, the Rangers’ top minor league pitcher who has been on prospect radars everywhere for the last few years, was looking to make that next step to become a reliable major league starter.  That still may end up happening, but this is a big blow in the short term for the club.

The calls for veteran free agent pitcher Kyle Lohse were already out there to some degree and they’ve only gotten even louder since Sunday afternoon.  The Rangers will have to decide how big of a setback this is and if they want to put themselves into a position they were in last year with Roy Oswalt.  Texas was practically forced to sign Oswalt after some injuries to their pitching staff, but had to stash the former all-star in the bullpen because of ineffectiveness which didn’t sit well with ol’ Roy.

It’s not completely an apples-to-apples comparison, as there would be some differences and some similarities if they were to sign Lohse.  The former Cardinals righty is 34, the same age as Oswalt when he signed with Texas a few months into the 2012 season.  He has been better than Oswalt in recent years (including a stellar season last year) but has a career track record of mediocrity; he’s almost the opposite of Oswalt’s in that sense.  The primary reason Lohse has not signed yet is because he and agent Scott Boras likely want more money and more years than the market has been interested in giving him (as well as the forfeiture of a first round draft pick and the signing bonus pool money that goes along with it), whereas Oswalt simply wasn’t interested in pitching a full season, Roger Clemens-style.

What makes this a tricky situation is the expected return of Colby Lewis as soon as May, when Perez would likely be back.  The question the Rangers need to answer is whether they feel they can last the first six weeks of the season with a big question mark in that fifth rotation spot (whether it is Robbie Ross, Justin Grimm, Kyle McClellan, Nick Tepesch, etc.) or if they need to feel a little more certain with a veteran who finished seventh in the Cy Young voting last year.  In a very competitive A.L. West, it’s a decision that will likely have big consequences.

Now, on to today’s links, with the two most important off-the-field stories leading off:

In trying to keep Jon Daniels in town, Rangers must be careful not to squeeze out Nolan Ryan – If you missed it, the Rangers announced the promotion of Jon Daniels to president/GM on late Friday afternoon, normally a release time for when businesses want to sweep under the rug to avoid maximum attention.  (I’m not trying to say that that’s what the Rangers were trying to do in this case, just pointing out a common practice.)  Nolan Ryan, now no longer team president, will continue as CEO and Daniels will report to him.  Kevin Sherrington explains the tight-rope walk that Rangers ownership must embark upon to satisfy all wings of their baseball operation and maintain success both on and off the field.  A good read.

Nolan Ryan could leave Rangers by the end of spring training, sources sayRandy Galloway has sources who say that Nolan Ryan’s departure from the Rangers is imminent, based on changing roles over who gets final say baseball-wise.  Another interesting read on a subject that threatens to take over the narrative of the next month. (note: for this story you need a subscription, but you can easily read the text around the “sign in” pop-up.

Perez injury leaves Texas Rangers’ rotation with questions that Kyle Lohse could answer (subscription required)Gerry Fraley gives us his thoughts on the rotation quandary created by Perez’ injury.

Justin Grimm all but eliminates himself from Texas Rangers rotation after another ugly outing - Fraley reports on Grimm’s latest rough big league appearance.

Fraley on Joe Nathan’s new pitch and Julio Borbon getting to the end of the line

Tough day for 5th-spot contendersRon Matejko of ESPNDallas.com notes that it was a rough Sunday for two of the Rangers’ top rotation candidates.

Martin Perez out at least two months with broken forearmJeff Wilson’s report on the injury of the day.

Tepesch making early impressionDrew Davison’s notes column brings up Tepesch as a possibility for the fifth spot as well as David Murphy’s thoughts on PED penalties.

Murphy eager to step into everyday roleAnthony Andro writes that Murphy expects big things now that he knows his role as an everyday player going into a season.  A big year would certainly help his bottom line come the hot stove season, as he is a free agent after 2013.

Nathan makes scoreless debut in Rangers’ lossLost in all of the Martin Perez/Nolan Ryan news was that Joe Nathan looked pretty good in his first spring outing.

Grimm remains determined for Opening Day roleDespite poor results this spring, William Boor of MLB.com writes that Justin Grimm is confident he can turn things around and be a contributor to the big league club.

Nathan, E. Beltre primed for spring actionBoor’s notebook has more on the return of Nathan and Engel Beltre, who is back from a left shoulder injury.

- Alex

Rangers Spring Training Links – 2/26/2013

Me and my brother, young Kevin Vispoli, at a Mets game in 2010.

Me and my brother, young Kevin Vispoli, at a Mets game in 2010.

Before we get to today’s links, a quick happy birthday shout-out to my brother, Kevin, who’s now only one year away from being eligible to sign an international free agent baseball contract.  He’s not the next Jairo Beras, but he is much more talented ninth grade baseball player than I was back in the day.  (Also, despite the photo, neither he nor I are Mets fans.  Maybe he is a little, but I’m smart enough not to subject myself to that level of misery.)  Happy birthday bro!

The Rangers got walloped by the Rockies 9-1 yesterday.  Here are today’s links:

Martin Perez impressive in start - As the headline indicates, Ron Matejko was one of many who came away with positive things to say about the former RoughRiders’ official Cactus League debut.

Perez, Grimm motivated to make impression for TexasLyle Spencer of MLB.com talks to the two candidates who pitched in yesterday’s Rockies game.  Grimm will have an uphill climb after a difficult outing, especially in the face of Perez’s brilliance.

Loquacious Andrus has audience in Texas prospectsT.R. Sullivan has Elvis Andrus taking on a greater leadership/mentor role this spring out in Surprise.

Rangers optimistic Lewis could return in MaySullivan’s notebook has an update on Colby Lewis’ improved outlook as well as the forecast for Lance Berkman, Jason Frasor and Joe Nathan.

Texas Rangers have reason to keep sidearming Coty Woods on roster, but will he be ready?Gerry Fraley talks to Rule 5 pickup (and former Tulsa Driller) Coty Woods about his spring and his prospects of sticking with the big club.

Texas Rangers fans start campaign to bring silence to ballpark when Josh Hamilton hitsIt will never happen, given the difficulty of getting 50,000 people all on the same page, but it’s an interesting idea.

Young will be in DFW fans’ heartsFormer Ranger Michael Young reflects on his time in Texas and gives his thoughts on how DFW fans should view Hamilton.

Enjoy Andrus while he’s still in TexasMatt Mosley says appreciate Andrus because it’s not likely to last after 2014.

Martin Perez makes strong spring debutDrew Davison gives his take on Perez’s outing yesterday (subscription required for most Star-Telegram stories).

Lance Berkman isn’t the retiring kindRandy Galloway has a story on the Big Puma.

- Alex

Rangers Spring Training Links – 2/25/2013

Martin Perez makes his first start of the spring against the Rockies today as he tries to secure a spot in the Rangers' rotation.

Martin Perez makes his first start of the spring against the Rockies today as he tries to secure a spot in the Rangers’ rotation.

The Rangers began their exhibition slate over the weekend with a tie and a pair of losses against the Royals.  Today they’ll get some fresh competition when they venture over to Scottsdale for a date with the Rockies.  Here’s a smattering of stories from the weekend that was in Rangers-land:

Perez fired up for chance at rotation spotFormer RoughRider Martin Perez gets the starting nod today for Texas and has as good an opportunity as anyone for the fifth spot in the rotation.  T.R. Sullivan gets the thoughts of an excitable Perez.

Harrison battles command in windy conditionsSullivan writes that Matt Harrison’s first spring outing was a little ragged in less-than-ideal weather.

Tepesch impresses in spring debut vs. hometown teamWhile he had a few rough days as a RoughRider, there was no doubt last season that Nick Tepesch profiles as a big league starting pitcher.  He showed that yesterday with two scoreless innings against the Royals.

Tepesch impresses in debutESPNDallas.com’s Ron Matejko has more on Tepesch’s outing yesterday.

McClellan suffers setbackMatejko also has an update on Kyle McClellan, who re-injured his shoulder in bullpen session Sunday morning.

Nolan Ryan’s focus is pitching (of course)Richard Durrett has Nolan Ryan talking about the club’s pitching situation, including the candidates for the number five spot in the rotation.

After subpar season, Rangers’ Kinsler vows new approach in 2013 (subscribers only) – Evan Grant writes that Ian Kinsler believes he can improve from his down 2012 season.

Texas Rangers have the Kansas City Royals bluesGrant runs down the essentials from yesterday’s 7-5 loss to KC.

Rangers conflicted by Profar’s talent, Andrus’ primeThe Fort Worth Star-Telegram’s Randy Galloway writes about the dilemma that figures to plague the Rangers for the next two seasons with Jurickson Profar essentially ready for a full-time role at a position where there is zero need for Texas.

Rangers have second hitting coach with ‘old and gray’ BerkmanDave Magadan’s not the only new hitting coach for Texas, writes Jeff Wilson.

Kyle McClellan still slowed by back sorenessDrew Davison has the Star-Telegram’s notebook with Justin Grimm reminiscing about his stint with the big club last season.

- Alex

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