Results tagged ‘ Matt Lawson ’

First Time ‘Riders Pitcher Rehabs

Mark Lowe became the third Texas Rangers player to rehab with the Frisco RoughRiders this season tonight when he joined first baseman Mitch Moreland in Frisco. The other, Neftali Feliz, pitched two innings in a rehab start on July 16 against the San Antonio Missions. He was the only one of the three to not have pitched in Frisco as a RoughRiders before.

He pitched one inning of relief tonight against the San Antonio Missions. He gave up a game tying home run to Edinson Rincon and struck out two batters.

The right handed reliever has made 26 appearances for the Rangers this season and posted a 2.30 ERA. In 31 1/3 innings Lowe has struck out 25 batters and given up 22 hits.  He was placed on the Disabled List by the Rangers on June 29 with a strained right intercostals muscle.

The 29 year old was traded to the Texas Rangers as part of the Cliff Lee blockbuster deal at the trade deadline on July 9, 2010. The Rangers sent first baseman Justin Smoak, utility player Matt Lawson, and pitchers Blake Beavan and Josh Lueke to Seattle, all of whom played for the Frisco RoughRiders in either 2009 or 2010.

Written By: Michael Damman

Photo Illustration By: Jarah Wright

Photos courtesy of: Texas Rangers, Frisco RoughRiders, Seattle Mariners, and Philadelphia Phillies

Former RoughRiders on the Move

It’s that time of year where major league teams are wheeling and dealing.  Here are three former ‘Riders who have recently packed their bags because of a major league trade or free agency:

1. Taylor Teagarden

Of the three, the Rangers’ trade of Taylor is the most recent and the most talked about in DFW.  The Rangers announced the trade yesterday afternoon, dealing the Dallas native, and former University of Texas star, to Baltimore for right-handed pitcher Randy Henry and a player to be named later. According to Richard Durrett of ESPNDallas.com, the PTBNL won’t be determined until after the Rule-5 draft next Thursday.

We’re now all familiar with what Mike  Napoli is capable of, and Yorvit Torrealba proved to be capable as well.  With both catchers  under contract for 2012, the odds of Taylor making the major league roster out of spring training wasn’t good. In Baltimore he’ll now be backing up Matt Wieters.

Meanwhile, Henry is a 21-year-old Arnett Ok. native.  Selected in the 4th round of 2009 by Baltimore, Henry has worked exclusively out of the bullpen in his brief two-year minor league career.  He spent 2011 in Low-A and High-A and combined to go 4-3 with a 2.22 ERA in 52 2/3 innings with eight walks and 40 strikeouts.

According to Durrett, “Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus tweeted that Henry has a plus fastball with command and good velocity and sink on his pitches. One scout said he throws between 90-93 mph with a nice slider and is a good athlete.”

Always a chance we’ll see him in Frisco in 2012.

2. Josh Lueke

The Seattle Mariners have sent former RoughRiders’ reliever Josh Lueke and a PTBNL (or cash considerations) to the Tampa Bay Rays for catcher John Jaso.

Josh only made 15 appearances with the ‘Riders in 2010 before being dealt with Matt Lawson, Blake Beavan, and Justin Smoak in the Cliff Lee deal.  Josh had an overpowering 96-98 mph fastball that he struggled to control at times against Texas League batters.

In 25 games with the M’s this year, the former 16th round pick went 1-1, 6.06 ERA in 25 games.  Now 26-years-old, Josh also pitched in 30 games with Triple-A Tacoma in 2011 and went 2-4, 2.76 ERA.

3. Brandon Boggs

The RoughRiders’ center fielder in 2007, Brandon Boggs recently signed a minor league contract with the Pittsburgh Pirates.  Originally from (my hometown of) St. Louis, Boggs was a 4th round pick of the Rangers in 2004.   On November 23, 2010, Boggs signed a major league contract with the Milwaukee Brewers, but was outrighted to Triple-A Nashville near the end of spring training 2011.  He declared for free agency on October 17, 2011.

In 104 games with Frisco in 2007, the switch hitter hit .266 with 19 home runs and 66 runs batted in.  Now 28-years-old, Boggs played in 94 games with Nashville in 2011 hitting .241 with 9 homers and 28 RBIs.

All the best to these three former ‘Riders in new homes.

-AG

Rangers Lose Top Minor League Talent

At first glance, he isn’t exactly the warm and fuzzy type.  To be honest, in my limited time with him, I can’t remember seeing him smile.  He looks, acts, and talks like someone who has been in baseball his entire life.  And it wasn’t until I had the chance to sit down and interview him in the RoughRiders’ dugout at ONEOK Field in Tulsa, Ok. that I realized how truly valuable Senior Director of Player Development  Scott Servias was to the Texas Rangers.

Unfortunately, he’s now a valuable addition to the division rival Anaheim Angels.

New Angels GM Jerry Dipoto (Artesia News)

Right before the weekend, it was announced that new Angels’ general manager Jerry Dipoto had luered Servais away from Texas by offering him a multi-year contract as the Halos’ assistant general manager overseeing scouting and player development.  With Texas, Servais was responsible for the on-field minor league development in addition to instructing the Rangers’ Major League catchers. He also made recommendations for potential trades and free-agent signings.

There are a lot of moving parts involved with the operations and player development in both major and minor league baseball and I’m far from fully understanding it all.  Over the course of a season I see and meet coaches, scouts, rovers, coordinators, special assistants, and plenty more.  All of them work for the Rangers, and all are trying to help the players here in Frisco become players in Arlington.

What I do know is that Servais had the respect of every RoughRider I talked to.  A one-time player himself, the former catcher was taken in the third round of the 1988 First-Year Player Draft by Houston and began his career with the Astros, making his Major League debut on July 12, 1991.  His playing days ended in 2002 after  batting .245 with 63 home runs and 319 RBIs in 820 Major League games.

I remember talking with former RoughRiders’ second baseman Matt Lawson about Servais at one point last year.  He was incredibly complimentary of Servias and said that he felt like he really took the time to get to know him.  In my interview with Servais in Tulsa, I asked Scott about how important it was for him get to know the players he was developing:

“It’s everything.  I played for 15 years and I remember how important it was when the brass came into town. Letting [the players] know that they’re not just a number or a piece of meat, so to speak.  I’m a person, I have a family, I have a background.  I hope to build equity with the players so when I have to go to a player and hold them accountable or ask them to make an adjustment, we’ve built that equity, and they’ll buy in and take our suggestions.”

This told me a lot about Scott, and I think he really does care about the players.  That might sound a little too “Hallmark” for professional baseball, but in my ten minutes with him, I truly felt as though he meant it.

For the Angels, this was a big time acquisition.  For the Rangers, it leaves a big time void.  Texas general manager Jon Daniels told the Forth Worth Star-Telegram that “[Scott] helped put together an outstanding staff, so we’re confident others will step up and we won’t miss a beat . . . I’m looking forward to competing against him.”  Daniels also said that Scott will be missed and that his new opportunity is an exciting one.

No matter what happens, we’ll see the fruit of Servais’ labor 12 times a year when the RoughRiders take on the Arkansas Travelers.

- AG

Servais alongside Rangers' GM Jon Daniels (Fort Worth Star-Telegram)

Catching up with Scott Servais

Scott Servais, the Rangers’ Senior Director of Player Development, was in Tulsa for the last two days to check in the RoughRiders players and staff – something that happens a handful of times per season.  Scott oversees the on-field development of all players in the Rangers’ Minor League system.  It’s a big job, and Scott was gracious enough to sit down with me in the ‘Riders dugout at ONEOK Field to chat about his job, the RoughRiders, and the minor leagues.

Me (AG): What all does your job entail?

Photo: Jason Cole

Photo Credit: LoneStarDugout.com

Scott Servais (SS): I’m in charge of everything going on in the Rangers’ minor leagues.  It all starts with our scouts.  They bring the talent to us, and then it’s up to us to groom the talent and put them in the right spots.

AG:  With so many players between rookie ball and Triple-A, is it ever hard remembering who is where?

SS: No, it’s pretty much ingrained.  It’s a part of my life every morning waking up and knowing who is where.  It’s  a full-time gig.  Fortunately, I have a great staff.  They do a tremendous job not only teaching the game the “Ranger way,” but also communicating with our players and myself.

AG: What exactly is the “Ranger way?”

SS: I think there are a lot of ways to put that.  I think we have a certain style of player, and a certain style of play.  It’s played out in the big leagues by some of the younger players who have come up through our system.  Obviously Ian Kinsler, Elvis Andrus, Mitch Moreland, and Craig Gentry.  Even Nelson Cruz spent some time with us in the minors before figuring it out.

And then there’s the pitching.  Guys like Neftali Feliz and Derek Holland are products of our system and guys that we’re very proud of.  They understand what it is we feel is important and they have the discipline to carry it out and get better at the big league level.

AG: Former ‘Rider Matt Lawson told me earlier this year following his retirement from baseball that he felt like you really took the time to get to know him when he was playing in the Rangers’ system.  How important are those relationships?

SS: It’s everything.  I played for 15 years and I remember how important it was when the brass came into town.  Letting [the players] know that they’re not just a number or a piece of meat, so to speak.  I’m a person, I have a family, I have a background.  I hope to build equity with the players so when I have to go to a player and hold them accountable or ask them to make an adjustment, we’ve built that equity, and they’ll buy in and take our suggestions.

The game is a little different now than it was 20 years ago.  Then, when a coach said something, you just did it.  Now days, you have to be expected to explain “why.” Hopefully when you have a background with the players, they’ll trust you, and that’s what it’s about.  They have to trust.  There’s never been one player that has made it to the big leagues on his own.

My thanks to Scott for taking the time to answer some questions.  It was clear that he wasn’t just rattling of a company line.  I can tell he really does believe in the things that he was talking about.  

This is now my second season in the Rangers’ system and I continue to be impressed with the overall quality of people that are in the mix – both on and off the field.  I’m sure there are things that could be better, like everywhere, but from everyone I’ve talked with, Texas is going about things the right way.

-AG

Catching Up With Matt Lawson

Matt and me outside the 'Riders hotel in Springfield

Matt and me outside the 'Riders hotel in Springfield

I’m sure you remember Matt Lawson.  He was a 2010 Midseason Texas League All-Star and manned second base for the  RoughRiders while hitting .277 in 76 games with Frisco with seven home runs and 34 RBIs.

As I talked about some on the broadcast last night, a year ago yesterday, Lawson, along with Justin Smoak, Josh Lueke, and Blake Beavan were all shipped to Seattle in exchange for Cliff Lee.  Just like this year, the ‘Riders were in Springfield (Lawson’s hometown) playing the Cardinals when the trade happened.

“Law Dog,” as many teammates referred to him, was assigned to West Tennessee following the trade where he played for the Diamond Jaxx and hit .319 in 42 games.  However, after a successful showing in the prospect driven Arizona Fall League, Lawson was traded again just days before spring training.  This time he was dealt to Cleveland for another big leaguer, Aaron Laffey.

Lawson broke camp with Double-A Akron in the Indians’ system and played in 30 games for the Aeros before voluntarily retiring from baseball on June 14.

Matty now resides with his wife Mallory in Springfield, Mo. where he plans on finishing his schooling at Missouri State University where he played collegiately, and will also work as a volunteer assistant with his college coach, Keith Guttin.

Safe to say his retirement saddened many of us who got to know him well and rooted for him to make it to the bigs. However, if you know Matty well, you also know that he’s a clear thinker who wouldn’t make a decision of that proportion without really thinking it through. Matt was, and still is, one of my favorite players I’ve ever had the chance to cover.  I had the opportunity last year to share some meals with him on the road and learned more about him off the field. It’s relationship I’ll always value.

I had a hard time finding someone last season who was more genuine and worked harder day in and day out than Matt.  Let me be the first to say that I don’t see everything, and that there are plenty of hard working players throughout the minors.  However, from what I observed, Matt was a hard one to top.

I had the chance to grab lunch with Matty in Springfield the other day and then, in true minor league fashion, interview him in the Panera parking lot (classy).  In my conversation with him that played the other night on our pre-game show, what struck me the most was when we mentioned that contemplating retirement was a “battle of identities.”  The conflict between the guy who wanted to keep playing and chasing a dream, with that of someone who has a passion to coach and enter the second phase of his professional career.

After eating lunch with Matt, I was grateful to see that he is genuinely happy.  He’s excited to spend more time at home with Mallory and to experience professional coaching for the first time.

I don’t know how often our paths will cross in the future (at least twice a year when the ‘Riders travel to Springfield), but I do know that if I had a son and was looking for a coach, I can’t think of many better than Matty.

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