Results tagged ‘ Midland RockHounds ’

They Came to Play

Miss the last RoughRiders game? Catch up on the action or relive the highlights with ‘Riders Rewind, a daily capsule of yesterday’s big moments. Listen to previous editions of ‘Riders Rewind here.

The RoughRiders earned the right to feel good about themselves after they emerged from the Permian basin as winners of 3-of-4. While the pitching battled itself at times as much as Midland’s potent lineup (season-high 11 walks on Wednesday), the offense shelled the RockHounds for 44 hits and 25 runs. Click here to read the game recap.

Star of the Game(s): 1B Joey Gallo – 1/4, R, HR, 2RBI, BB, 2SO

Impossible to ignore Joey for the second straight night after he knocked game-winning home run with two outs in the top of the ninth in a tie ballgame. The 20-year-old moves into a tie for the minor league home run lead with friend Kris Bryant, each with 33 jacks on the season. Joey also moves into a tie for fifth in the Texas League with 12 home runs. The T.L. is paced by Preston Tucker’s 17. However, with Tucker now in Triple-A, the active leader is Corpus Christi’s Telvin Nash with 15.

In case you missed it:

-Patrick Cantwell finished 0-for-2 with two runs, a walk and two hit-by-pitches. He also reached on an error.

-Cantwell leads the Texas League with 13 hit-by-pitches this season.

-Another double for Trever Adams places him in third place in the Texas League with 23 two-baggers this season. Arkansas’ Alex Yarbrough leads the league with 33.

-J.T. Wise raised his batting average 88 points after a 4-for-4 night in game two of the double header on Tuesday.

-Gallo watch: See above

-A look at the RoughRiders home run leader board (active players only):

1. Joey Gallo (12)

2. Trever Adams (11)

3. Drew Robinson (9)

4. Teodoro Martinez (3)

5. Chris Grayson (2)

5. Jake Skole (2)

7. Odubel Herrera (1)

7. Patrick Cantwell (1)

 

 

Alex Claudio joins the RoughRiders PreGame Show and talks about his Reliever of the Month honors in June and his experiences as a new father. Special thanks to Guilder Rodriguez for translating:

 

Thanks for tuning in,

-Chris V.

This Split Tastes Pretty Good

Miss the last RoughRiders game? Catch up on the action or relive the highlights with ‘Riders Rewind, a daily capsule of yesterday’s big moments. Listen to previous editions of ‘Riders Rewind here.

The RoughRiders earned the doubleheader split on Tuesday the hard way. After Midland usurped the ‘Riders with a Dusty Coleman two-run home run in the bottom of the sixth (remember, they only play seven innings in a twin bill) to win 7-6, Frisco buckled the chinstrap and won 8-3 in game two. In both cases, the ‘Riders fell behind in the first inning and rallied to take the lead. Their lead in game two stuck and although the squad  the RoughRiders are faced with a rare opportunity to win a series in west Texas. Click here to read the two-game recap.

Star of the Game(s): 3B/DH Joey Gallo – 4/7, R, HR, 5RBI, 2SO

Joey gave Midland fits on Tuesday as he through, over and away from its defensive shift. His two-run home run in game one kicked off a five-run inning for the RoughRiders and he racked up three singles and three RBI in the second half of the double header. The Futures Game MVP smacked his first dinger since July 7 (a drought of nine games because of the time he missed in Minneapolis).

His home run totals now read 32 on the season and 11 with Frisco. Joey still trails Kris Bryant by one in the race for the overall lead in Minor League Baseball and he moves into a tie with Trever Adams for most on the team. The slugger still leads the Carolina League in homers by six. Preston Tucker sits atop the Texas League in home runs with 17, but he now plays in the Triple-A ranks. In short, it is entirely conceivable for Joey to win home run titles in two leagues this season.

In case you missed it:

-Honorable mention needs to go to J.T. Wise. The former Wichita Wingnut saw action at catcher in the second game and was not retired at the dish. Wise hit 4-for-4 with a double and three runs scored and raised his batting average by 88 points.

-Another shout-out is awarded to RHP Brodie Downs. The new 35-year-old tossed a scoreless fourth inning in game two and earned his first win with a major league affiliate since August 4, 2009.

-The RoughRiders have racked up 20 runs and 36 hits in the first three games of this series.

-Gallo watch: See above

-A look at the RoughRiders home run board (active players only):

1. Trever Adams (11)

1. Joey Gallo (11)

3. Drew Robinson (9)

4. Teodoro Martinez (3)

5. Chris Grayson (2)

6. Jake Skole (2)

7. Odubel Herrera (1)

8. Patrick Cantwell (1)

 

 

After earning Minor League Pitcher of the Month recognition from the Rangers, Alec faced adversity in the month of July, losing his first three decisions. The righty responded against the Midland RockHounds on July 21 and allowed just one run and five hits over 7 1/3 innings.

 

Thanks for tuning in,

-Chris V.

Finally, A Big Inning

Miss the last RoughRiders game? Catch up on the action or relive the highlights with ‘Riders Rewind, a daily capsule of yesterday’s big moments. Listen to previous editions of ‘Riders Rewind here.

Facing the hottest team in the Texas League, the RoughRiders were able to generate the big inning offensively, using a four-run frame to oust the Midland RockHounds. The Hounds won 14 of their first 17 games in July and had taken five straight off Frisco at Security Bank Ballpark. It was the first time since July 13, in an 11-2 demolition of San Antonio, the ‘Riders scored more than two runs in a single frame. Click here to read the full game recap.

Star of the Game: 1B Trever Adams – 3/5, R, HR, 3RBI, SO

Trever asserted himself at the plate on Monday as he tallied his second home run and his second multi-hit game in the past six games. It was his first three-hit night since June 19. The Nebraskan continues to display consistency at the plate and has not posted a hitless streak of more than two games since April 28-May 3. In the face of the dog days of summer, Trever still has not had back-to-back games with out a base knock in the second half of the season, which began June 17. The righty leads the team in the following categories as of July 21:

  • Games played: 87
  • At-bats: 332
  • Runs: 47
  • Hits: 91
  • Doubles: 21 (tied for third in the Texas League)
  • Home runs: 11
  • RBI: 44
  • Total bases: 147

In case you missed it:

-Patrick Cantwell also had a three-hit outing and finished with a run, a double and two RBI. It was the fourth three-hit night of the season for the ‘Riders backstop. Patrick also raised his batting average to a season-high .259 as his offensive production continues to improve.

-Alec Asher regained the form that made him the Rangers Minor League Pitcher of the Month in June. After he dropped his first three decisions in July, the right-hander pitched into the eighth inning on Monday and allowed just one run on five hits with one walk and four strikeouts. He threw just 88 pitches and 58 for strikes.

-The RoughRiders outhit Midland 16-6 and came one knock shy of tying their season high of 17 hits in a game.

-In a strange sequence, the RockHounds lost both their hitting coach Webster Garrison and their field manager Aaron Nieckula within a span of a few minutes in the fifth inning. Garrison had been barking from the dugout at home plate umpire Clay Park all game and finally received his exit papers. Interestingly enough, it came in the top of the frame with the ‘Riders at the plate. Nieckula grew hot under the collar with his hitting coach ejected and joined him in the locker room shortly thereafter.

-Gallo watch: 2-for-3, R, 2B, SAC, BB, SO

That’s no typo. Joey dropped the first sacrifice bunt of his professional career to advance Trever Adams up to second base in the second inning. The double in the fourth was his eighth with the RoughRiders and 17th of the season.

-Midland’s Jeremy Barfield started the game in right field and took the mound to pitch in the ninth inning. The hulking right-hander spent a portion of last season in extended spring training as part of his conversion process and began the 2014 campaign with Advanced-A Stockton. He made his Double-A pitching debut and picked up two strikeouts in a perfect ninth inning. At the plate, Barfield went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts.

-We take another look at the RoughRiders home run board (active players only):

  1. Trever Adams (11)
  2. Joey Gallo (10)
  3. Drew Robinson (9)
  4. Teodoro Martinez (3)
  5. Chris Grayson (2)
  6. Jake Skole (2)
  7. Odubel Herrera (1)
  8. Patrick Cantwell (1)

 

 

Ryan Rodebaugh is in fine fettle once again after a week on the disabled list with a stomach virus. Rodey missed the team’s last trip to San Antonio and tells us he couldn’t even leave his apartment for a stretch of a few days. No more information necessary. In his return to the bump on July 19, the right-hander sat down three men on strikes for a perfect sixth inning that lasted just 12 pitches as part of a 2-1 win over Corpus Christi.

 

Thanks for tuning in,

-Chris V.

‘Riders Rewind – June 17

Miss the last RoughRiders game? Catch up on the action or relive the highlights with ‘Riders Rewind, a daily capsule of yesterday’s big moments. Listen to previous editions of ‘Riders Rewind here.

The second half began in the same way the first half ended for the RoughRiders. Click here to read the full game recap.

The RoughRiders have lost three in a row for the third time this season. They dropped a trio April 5-7 and lost three consecutive to the Missions at Wolff Stadium May 17-19.  Frisco has not been swept in a series this year, an instrumental factor in its standing atop the Texas League. The ‘Riders thus far have been able to avoid the long losing skid.

Of course, last night’s results and indeed, baseball as a whole, seem shallow in the face of Richard Durrett’s passing yesterday afternoon. His presence is already missed. Be sure to read Alex’s eulogy to Richard on the ‘Riders Insider Blog.

Star of the Game: 2B Odubel Herrera – 2/4, RBI

Odubel’s run-scoring single in the sixth inning broke an stretch of 18 scoreless frames for the ‘Riders. He also reached on an infield base knock in the eighth inning to load the bases as Frisco attempted to piece together a rally. Through 59 games played in 2014 (29 with Myrtle Beach and 30 with Frisco), the Venezuelan is batting .314 with 40 runs scored and 29 driven in.

In case you missed it:

-The opponent has scored first in all seven games of the road trip thus far.

-Midland’s Anthony Aliotti continued his romp against the RoughRiders with a double, a home run and two RBI. For the series, Aliotti is 7-for-11 with four runs, three doubles, two home runs, four RBI, a walk and three strikeouts.

-Gallo watch: 1-for-3, 2BB, K; Gallo has drawn six walks in the series (two per game) and now has nine free trips with the RoughRiders alongside 13 strikeouts.

-LHP Will Lamb made his RoughRiders debut and pitched one scoreless inning. The 6-foot-6 180 pound hurler allowed one hit, one walk and tossed (surprise!) one strikeout.

-The RoughRiders outhit Midland 9-8, but left 13 men on base.

Our pregame interview with outfielder Teodoro Martinez details Teo’s approach at the plate (as evidenced by his .310 batting average) and his rooting interests in the World Cup. His answer may surprise you:

Thanks for tuning in,

-Chris V.

 

‘Riders Rewind – June 16

Miss the last RoughRiders game? Catch up on the action or relive the highlights with ‘Riders Rewind, a daily capsule of yesterday’s big moments. Listen to previous editions of ‘Riders Rewind here.

Frisco ends the first half on a two-game losing streak and with its second shutout in past six days courtesy of a 3-0 defeat at the paws of the Midland RockHounds. Click here to read the full game recap.

The RoughRiders’ offense is officially in a slump. Its two hits on Monday set a season low, and they have just seven hits through the first two games of the series. With the exception of two big innings in the Corpus Christi series, the ‘Riders have scored in six of the past 54 innings.

Slumps are far from uncommon, as any baseball fan knows, especially at this juncture in the season. Fans have been spoiled by a RoughRiders unit that has generated hits and runs at a consistent clip since a sleepy first week of the season.

At this point, it’s important not to mistake the downturn in run production with “coasting.” Jason Wood and his staff are too competitive and care too much about winning to allow this team to mentally check itself out of the second half, postseason berth already in hand. On the other hand, Wood & co. also understand the season is a marathon, not a sprint, and the ability to maintain over the long haul is more important than implementing anything radical to jolt the offense in the short term. They will get back on track.

Star of the Game: RF Teodoro Martinez – 1/3, 2B

The baseball flu has yet to inflict Teo, who doubled in his third straight game last night. He tallied the only extra-base hit and was one of only two runners to reach scoring position for the RoughRiders. Over his last ten games, “Cafe” bats .361, which isn’t too far removed from his season average of .314 through 39 games.

In case you missed it:

-The opponent has scored first in all six games of the road trip thus far.

-Midland’s Anthony Aliotti has given the ‘Riders fits through the first two games of the series. The left-handed hitter posted a .179 through the ten games prior to Frisco’s arrival, but has since gone 5-for-7 with three runs, a home run, two doubles, two RBI, one walk and two strikeouts.

-Gallo watch: 0-for-1, 2BB, K; Gallo has drawn four walks in the series.

-RHP Kyle Lotzkar landed on the disabled list with a strained left quad. The ‘Riders currently have a season-high four players on the DL, three of whom are pitchers (Rodebaugh, Kela).

-Lotzkar to the DL opens up room for lefty reliever Will Lamb, a 2011 second round draft choice out of Clemson. Lamb is the rare southpaw who can touch the mid-90s with his fastball. Tall and willowy at 6-foot-6 180 pounds, Lamb arrived in Midland late yesterday afternoon and joined the team in the dugout with the game already in progress. He becomes the eighth player sent up from Advanced-A Myrtle Beach this season.

Also, new this week, we will begin to incorporate the previous day’s pregame interview into “‘Riders Rewind.” These interviews are typically posted every Sunday in “‘Riders on the Record,” but for the sake of immediacy, we want to present them to you a bit sooner in the week. Enjoy a two-for-one special today:

Jason Wood and Alex Vispoli look back on the season’s first half in this Father’s Day edition of “Sunday with the Skipper:”

 

RHP Jon Edwards overcame a rocky start to the season and has not allowed a run in his last seven outings. He discusses how he navigated through the rough patch and emerged a better player and person. Jon also pitched at nearby Keller High School, which has produced multiple professional baseball athletes in recent years:

 

Thanks for tuning in,

-Chris V.

 

Scouting the South Division

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By: Jay Wallis and Chris Vosters

With June upon us, the race for the first-half division title in the Texas League is in full swing. Frisco reaches the season’s midway point on June 16 against the Midland RockHounds. The ‘Riders are in the midst of a pivotal eight-game homestand and will play out the final six games of the first half on the road.

The RoughRiders entered the month atop the south division, but with all three division rivals in hot pursuit. Every team owns a winning record, which makes the playoff hunt a four-way chase. Let’s spotlight Frisco’s competition down the stretch.

San Antonio: They may have gotten off to a sluggish start in the beginning of the year, but the Missions have really picked up their level of play of late. After falling seven games below .500 in mid-May, San Antonio has since then jumped right back in the playoff hunt thanks to sustained pitching and improved hitting. As a team, the Missions hold the best ERA in the Texas League (2.99) while their closer, Johnny Barbato, leads the league in saves (15). This exceptional pitching has been present for the majority of the season but the hitting hasn’t always been comparable. However, with the emergence of outfielders Rymer Liriano and Yeison Asencio, who was named Texas League Player of the Week for May 19-25, the bats are finally making some noise. If the Missions can continue to improve at the plate during the second half of the season, they could give the ‘Riders trouble, especially since San Antonio is the only team Frisco doesn’t have a winning record against.

Midland: Out of the four Texas League teams in the south division, the RockHounds got off to the best start and held the divisional lead at the end of April. Josh Whitaker and Max Muncy both are Texas League leaders in multiple batting categories and have been the catalyst for Midland’s offense. During a four-game series with the RoughRiders in early May, though, they lost three of four and handed over their position atop the south to the ‘Riders. In addition to losing the series, Muncy suffered a lacerated finger in the second game, causing the first baseman to miss the next 17 games and put a hole in his team’s lineup. The RockHounds ended up losing 17 of 30 games in May, creating more of a gap between the ‘Riders and their competition. If Muncy can regain his confidence at the plate that he has yet to recapture since returning from the DL, it should provide a substantial spark for Midland’s offense moving forward.

Corpus Christi: The ‘Riders have handled the Hooks in 8-of-12 meetings this season. However, the teams’ four remaining meetings before the end of the first half take place under the lights of Whataburger Field. While some teams undergo hot streaks and cold spells, the Hooks’ calling card is their consistency: the Astros’ Double-A affiliate finished 14-12 in April and 15-14 in May. In both pitching and hitting, the Hooks rank in the top half of the Texas League. The ‘Riders hope to avoid damage from Corpus Christi’s Preston Tucker, a seventh round draft choice in 2012. The slugger is batting .319 against the Frisco this season with six doubles and two home runs. The 6-foot, 200-pound lefty ranks near the top of the Texas League in a multitude of categories, namely home runs, RBI, hits and doubles.

Frisco faces a daunting task, but it is important for the RoughRiders and their fans to remember the traits that placed the ‘Riders in a strong position to clinch a postseason berth: a winning record at home, contributions throughout the batting order and strong team chemistry. If the team adheres to that formula, fans can look forward to postseason baseball at Dr Pepper Ballpark come September.

‘Riders Rewind – May 15

Miss the last RoughRiders game? Catch up on the action or relive the highlights with ‘Riders Rewind, a daily capsule of yesterday’s big moments. Listen to previous editions of ‘Riders Rewind here.

Like a scene from the zombie apocalypse, the Midland RockHounds refused to die and finally bit the RoughRiders in the 11th inning to salvage a series split at Security Bank Ballpark. Click here to read the full game recap.

It’s only the middle of May, but a bullpen collapse of that proportion should do more than raise a red flag. It should sound an alarm. Frisco threw the gamut at Midland after starter Edwar Cabrera left the game, desperate to find anybody who could keep the Hounds off the board for an inning, or in some cases, simply earn an out.

No one had an answer as five different relievers combined to pitch 3 2/3 innings and allow seven runs on seven hits with seven walks and a hit batter. The results overshadowed a fantastic night by the offense; the bats swung for 15 hits and the ‘Riders scored multiple runs in four different innings, including the three-run tenth.

Star of the Game: CF Teodoro Martinez – 3-for-5, 2B, 2R, 3RBI

Teo drove in at least one run in every game of the series against Midland and bopped multiple hits in each of the last three games. His run-scoring double to left in the sixth inning on Thursday nearly left the yard for what would have been his first home run of the season.

Drew Robinson (2-for-5, HR, 3B, 2R, 2RBI) and Ryan Rua (3-for-6, 3B, 2B, 3R, RBI) both turned in strong outings, but Teo takes the cake because of timeliness. I know Robinson led off the ninth with a triple in a tie ballgame, but the Venezuelan’s run-scoring single in the tenth gave the ‘Riders a lead in extras that should have been enough to win. The 22-year-old scored later in the frame on an infield single by Patrick Cantwell to put his team up 10-7.

“Cafe” also cranked his double with two outs on the board to spark a two-run rally for Frisco in the sixth.

 

 

Enjoy the highlights and thanks for tuning in.

-Chris V.

 

‘Riders Rewind – May 6

Crew_DeuceMiss the last RoughRiders game? Catch up on the action or relive the highlights with ‘Riders Rewind, a daily capsule of yesterday’s big moments. Listen to previous editions of ‘Riders Rewind here.

Frisco clinched their third straight series at Dr Pepper Ballpark with a 12-7 win over the Midland RockHounds on Tuesday afternoon. It was the second 11:05 a.m. start of the season for the ‘Riders, who moved to 2-0 in games that tip before noon.

The RoughRiders also became the first team in the Texas League to reach the 20-win mark in 2104 and reclaimed the top spot in the south division from the RockHounds. Click here to read the full game recap.

Joe Saunders joined Matt Harrison on the list of Texas Rangers to make a rehab appearance at Dr Pepper Ballpark. The lefty received plenty of run support early as the ‘Riders charged to a 9-1 lead after two innings.

Still, Midland once again proved a pesky opponent to put away. With the wind blowing strongly to left field, the RockHounds gophered five balls out of the park (two against Saunders, three against Luke Jackson). Fortunately for Frisco, all five shots were of the solo variety. The game may have been much more interesting had additional runs crossed on any of Midland’s homers.

The game did not feel out of reach for the Hounds until Rougned Odor pulled a double into right field to score a pair of runs and put the horsemen up 12-7.

After the team enjoyed its first off day in three weeks on Wednesday, the ‘Riders start the second half of their eight-game homestand on Thursday against Corpus Christi. Coverage starts 6:40 p.m. on www.ridersbaseball.com.

 

Enjoy the highlights and thanks for tuning in.

-Chris V.

 

The Case for Brett Nicholas, Texas League Player of the Year

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Odds are against ‘Riders first baseman Brett Nicholas, but he deserves consideration for the league’s Player of the Year Award

The ballots are in. The counters are at work, tabulating the totals. Hopefully it won’t come down to the definition and value of a hanging chad. (UPDATE: Corpus Christi’s George Springer has won the award)

Yesterday, Alex and I, along with others around the league, were asked to turn in our votes for the Texas League Postseason All-Star team, Player of the Year award winner, Pitcher of the Year selection and Manager of the Year candidate. The awards are expected to be announced today.

The only stipulation in the voting was that you could not vote for players on your team, so, neither Alex nor I could vote for RoughRiders players. The voting included a ballot filled with the following positions: 1B, 2B, 3B, SS, C, 3 OF and 6 pitchers. There were two columns: one for “1st Team” and another for “2nd team.” So that means we could vote for two 1B, two 2B (etc).

While it was time-consuming and thought-provoking, save for a few players, I thought selecting this season’s Texas League All-Stars was not too difficult. While there are a few deserving candidates, it didn’t take long to pen down David Martinez for Pitcher of the Year in the circuit. As for Manager of the Year, that one was rather easy for me as well.

Then we came to Player of the Year.

The Candidates

So, should I vote for Anthony Aliotti?

The Midland first baseman spent around two thirds of the season crushing Texas League pitching to the tune of a .350 average, .452 on-base percentage and .993 OPS–all league highs, and with enough plate appearances to qualify, Aliotti will finish first in all three of these categories. He has really struggled at Triple-A, but that should not matter. This is Texas League Player of the Year.

George Springer, MiLB.com

George Springer, MiLB.com

What about George Springer? He has to be the favorite for all-around Minor League Player of the Year. He is three home runs away for the elite 40 home run / 40 stolen base club, which has happened only four times in major league history (Jose Canseco 1988, Barry Bonds 1996, Alex Rodriguez 1998, Alfonso Soriano 2006–three former Texas Rangers coincidentally enough). It hasn’t happened in the minor leagues, where the season slate is fewer games (140) since 1956 when Len Tucker accomplished the feat. He is first in minor league baseball in home runs (37), tied for fourth in RBI (105), tied for 20th in steals (43) and fourth in OPS among players with 300+ ABs. He is also accomplishing these feats despite zero time above Advanced-A ball before this year.

Neither player spent even close to the entire season in the league. Springer played 73 games, while Aliotti notched 91. Neither player will finish in the top 5 in home runs or RBI, and depending on how the season finishes, Springer could drop out of the top 5 in stolen bases (23), while Aliotti could lose his spot at #5 in doubles (29).

I searched desperately for a candidate that played 100 or more games in the league (an arbitrary number, I know), that could live up to the play of these two fine ballplayers.

How about Matt Fields of Northwest Arkansas? He will likely capture the home run crown; he has 31 and a six home run edge of second place. But Fields is hitting just .227, plays a non-premium defensive position (first base), and leads the league with 175 strikeouts in 124 games.

Xavier Scruggs? The Springfield first baseman is second in home runs (25), just outside the top 5 in RBI (74), fourth in league in OPS (.853) and leads the league in walks (81). While the resume is an impressive one, a .246 average, more than a strikeout per game, and the opportunity to play lowly Northwest Arkansas 32 times really hurt his cause for me (he hit .313 with six of his 25 homers against the last place Naturals).

Anthony Aliotti, (Edyta Blaszczyk/Odessa American)

Anthony Aliotti, (Edyta Blaszczyk/Odessa American)

Then I got to Brett Nicholas. Of course, I couldn’t vote for Nicholas since he is a ‘Rider. The Frisco first baseman is going to finish the season with the most games played and likely have the highest RBI total (he is first today). His .299 average is fourth in the TL, and is first among active Texas League players. He is first in hits, third in slugging (second active), first in total bases, fourth in runs, and, in comparison to other power hitters in the league, does not strike out very often. Of course in many more games than Springer and Aliotti, he has more hits, runs, home runs and RBI than the leading two candidates. If I could have voted for Nicholas, I might have. It would have been a tough call.

Full disclosure here, I voted for Springer.

His dominance while in the Texas League as well his team’s capturing a playoff spot before his departure outweighed, in my opinion, his smaller gross totals in comparison to Scruggs, or Crumbliss, or Fields, and his speed and elite defense pushed him past Aliotti for me.

There are no criteria listed with this award; it is left up to the voter to decide what factors should go into Player of the Year. This is, in my opinion, a rather fruitless effort to argue over the number of games required for consideration, the value of defense and speed, ballpark factors (hitters’ park vs pitchers’ park), competition of the weighted divisional schedule, etc. Ultimately, when there are no rules, the voter must make these decisions themselves, and arguing over the value of each of these factors is often one without much movement. People’s minds are hard to change on topics like this.

What is important is that any voter at least consider these criteria when making their selection; how to balance them is up to the individual.

Assuming you are with me at this point, here are the raw numbers of the three players:

Tm Aff G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS TB
Nicholas – Frisco TEX 129 543 479 70 143 24 3 21 89 2 1 42 115 .299 .363 .493 .855 236
Aliotti – Midland OAK 91 409 340 49 119 29 0 12 51 3 2 66 83 .350 .452 .541 .993 184
Springer – Corpus Christi HOU 73 323 273 56 81 20 0 19 55 23 5 42 96 .297 .399 .579 .978 158

Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table

Generated 8/27/2013.

I will run through a few of the perhaps more overlooked factors that might shed some light on the worthiness of Nicholas for the league’s highest honor.

Nicholas is the only one with enough games/at bats

For the record, I also think Springer will win the award. Which is astounding.

Since the inception of the award in 1931, only two position players have ever won the award with less than 100 games played. Kila Kaʻaihue of the Northwest Arkansas Naturals won the award in 2008 when and he launched 26 homers and hit .314 over 91 games, and another Royals prospect, Mike Moustakas, took home the hardware in his 66 game season in 2010 when he left the circuit with an 1.100 OPS with 21 homers and a .347 average. He also plays a decent third base in the majors, so I imagine he was above average man at the hot corner in his time in the Texas League.

Five pitchers have won the award: Tim Leary (1980), Bob Muncrief (1940), Dizzy Trout (1938), Harold (Ash) Hillin (1937), Dizzy Dean (1931). Only Trout didn’t spend his entire award-winning season in the TL. He pitched 37 times in the Texas League and in five games for Double-A Toledo in the American Association. Proportionally speaking, he made 88% of his outings in the Texas League, which would be quite a bit more than 100 games by a position player standard.

Even if Aliotti wins the award it would be pretty remarkable. Granted the two players to break the mold have done so in the last 10 years, when seemingly voters might be a bit more prospect-conscious and mid-season promotions are more common, but history is still very much against it.

Nicholas is not in a great hitting environment

Comparing the three players, Alliotti, Nicholas and Springer, it seems that Nicholas is likely in the toughest spot to produce. Mark Eddy of BaseballAmerica.com looked at park factors at the start of this season, and Dr Pepper Ballpark ranked as the fifth best hitter’s park in the eight team league. Midland was third. Corpus Christi ranked fourth:

Citibank Ballpark - Midland, Texas

Citibank Ballpark – Midland, Texas

Rates Per Park, 2010-12
Team R/G H/G HR/G PF-R
Northwest Arkansas 10.86 19.00 1.90 1.132
Springfield 10.09 18.14 2.35 1.019
Midland 9.95 19.19 1.12 1.023
Corpus Christi 9.39 17.97 1.76 1.023
Frisco 8.98 17.20 1.77 0.994
Tulsa 8.75 16.98 2.01 0.995
San Antonio 8.29 16.70 1.21 0.928
Arkansas 7.67 15.64 1.00 0.902

Launching Pad: Springfield, 2.35 HR/G (No. 6)
Graveyard: Arkansas, 1.00 HR/G (No. 106)
Hit Parade: Midland, 19.19 H/G (No. 11)
Pitcher’s Park: Arkansas, 7.67 R/G (No. 4)

(table and statistics from BaseballAmerica.com)

The ‘Riders’ home park is also much harder on left-handed batters, where the power-alley to right-center field is much futher than left-center (383 ft vs. 364 ft) and the WinStar Diamond Deck in left creates a Home Run Porch of sorts in straightaway left field.

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Dr Pepper Ballpark – Frisco, Texas

Whataburger Field - Corpus Christi, Texas

Whataburger Field – Corpus Christi, Texas

Additionally, there is the concept of lineup protection. By all accounts, the Midland RockHounds and Corpus Christi Hooks have created more protection for Springer and Aliotti than the ‘Riders have for Nicholas this season. Here is how the offenses stack up:


Team R/gm HR AVG OBP OPS
Corpus 4.63 150 .254 .331 .745
Midland 4.88 94 .254 .336 .726
Frisco 4.16 108 .246 .297 .672

Here is a similar table, only taking account team performance while the player in question was on the team’s roster (Aliotti was promoted on July 18, Springer on June 26):


Team Games R/gm HR/gm AVG OBP OPS
Corpus 76 4.84 1.08 .255 .331 .745
Midland 95 4.83 0.76 .258 .340 .737
Frisco 133 4.16 0.81 .246 .297 .672

Now of course these players account for part of the production, but that is true across the board. Springer and Aliotti were more production on a daily basis than Nicholas, but not enough to account for the disparities between the offenses on a whole.

Nicholas doesn’t play a premium defensive position

Or does he? That ‘Riders everyday first baseman is not really that–an everyday first baseman. He has logged 12 games at catcher, and likely would have more if the ‘Riders had a bit more flexibility at first base.

Other than rehabbers, only Guilder Rodriguez has logged more than one game at first base outside of Nicholas (18 games), and Rodriguez has been needed to spell off days for other infielders as well. Because of this, Nicholas has not been able to log as much time at catcher as he might have otherwise. More starts at catcher would certainly make his candidacy a little stronger.

Springer plays elite defense in center field. Your eyes will tell you that. The scouts will tell you that, and I am sure, when he makes the majors, the sabermetricians will crunch numbers that tell us the same. It is part of the reason I voted for Springer over Aliotti.

Nicholas’ ability at catcher should not be overlooked. He still considers himself a catcher and, defensively, has been pretty darn good at the position. Here is how he stacks up in a few key categories with the two primary Frisco catchers, Tomas Telis and Zach Zaneski:


Name Games Catcher ERA Games/PB SB ATT/gm CS%
Nicholas 12 3.61 12 1.33 0.375
Telis 78 3.51 6.5 0.94 0.324
Zaneski 43 3.77 10.75 1.37 0.305

While this unlikely puts him ahead of Springer, I think it has to put him in front of Aliotti, and at least boost his candidacy. When considering MVP/POTY type awards, many will only focus on the offense of a first baseman, assuming that even an elite defensive first baseman is not adding a ton of value. I think that is an unfair determination in the case of Nicholas.

Conclusion

I would be shocked if Springer or Aliotti doesn’t win the award. In fact, I would be pretty astounded if Springer doesn’t win it, but if he is faulted for his 73 games played, it’s hard to imagine it won’t go to Aliotti.

I don’t even know if Brett Nicholas truly deserves the award, but I have a feeling many voters simply weighed the value of Aliotti’s 18 extra games against the incredible production of George Springer, decided how much that would count against Springer, and then called it a day.

Nicholas likely didn’t get the credit his season deserved. He has without question been the Player of the Year for the Frisco RoughRiders, and maybe even the Player of the Year in the Rangers minor league system, and he deserves at least a thoughtful discussion for Player of the Year in his circuit.

- Nathan

Baseball term of the day: cloud-hunter – a ball batted high in the air

(term from The Dickson Baseball Dictionary)

Home Sweet Home: More Colby Lewis

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The ‘Riders are back, but don’t blink–they depart for the road in just three days time. The shortest home stand of the season begins today, and Colby Lewis will take the hill for the ‘Riders for the third time. The rehabber is trying to return from surgery to a torn flexor tendon suffered a little over a year ago.

Tickets are still available for all three games; don’t miss your chance to come catch Colby in a ‘Riders uniform–it could be your last chance to do so. Alex Buchholz has turned himself into a headliner the recently as well. He is hitting .375 in July and his four home runs in the last ten days lead the entire Rangers system–big leagues and minor leagues.

Here are the probables for the three-game set, the shortest home stand of the season:

Monday: RHP Colby Lewis (0-0, 10.80 ERA) vs Murphy Smith (7-7, 3.33 ERA)

Tuesday: RHP Tyler Tufts (3-2, 3.42 ERA) vs RHP Zach Neal (6-8, 4.62 ERA)

Wednesday: RHP Carlos Pimentel (8-6, 3.95 ERA) vs LHP Carlos Hernandez (5-7, 2.62 ERA)

Here are the promotions for the upcoming season:

Monday, July 22   |  7:05 p.m.  | RoughRiders vs. Midland RockHounds (OAK)
Radio: RidersBaseball.com    Webstream: MiLB.tv 

Promotions (click here and also here for more details)

Tuesday, July 23   |  7:05 p.m.  | RoughRiders vs. Midland RockHounds (OAK)
Radio: RidersBaseball.com    Webstream: MiLB.tv 

Promotions (click here and also here for more details)

  • RoughRiders Horse Race presented by Whataburger

Wednesday, July 24  |  7:05 p.m.  | RoughRiders vs. Midland RockHounds (OAK)
Radio: RidersBaseball.com    Webstream: MiLB.tv 

Promotions (click here and also here for more details)

  • Dollar Dog Night
  • RoughRiders Horse Race presented by Whataburger

- Nathan

Baseball term of the day:  gumshoe man – a scout

(term from The Dickson Baseball Dictionary)

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