Results tagged ‘ Mike Olt ’

Season in Review: June

On June 15, the ‘Riders celebrated clinching a spot in the playoffs for the seventh time in ten seasons. (Alex Yocum-Beeman/RoughRiders)

The 2012 Frisco RoughRiders season was an unquestioned success.  The ’Riders won the first half South Division title, finished with an 80-60 record (good for the second-best overall mark in the Texas League) and advanced to the Texas League Championship Series before losing to the Springfield Cardinals.  Along the way, there were standout performances from big-time prospects, thrilling games and terrific storylines.  Before looking ahead to the 2013 season, we look back at a special 2012 campaign that proved to be a memorable one for the ’Riders.

JUNE

Record: 11-16 (6th of 8 TL teams)

Average: .244 (6th)

Home Runs: 26 (2nd)

ERA: 5.20 (8th)

Top Offensive Players: Mike Olt (.325-10-24, 3 2B, 17 R, .438/.738/1.175), Chris McGuiness (.274-8-16, 5 2B, 14 R, .365/.619/.984), Jose Felix (.294-3-9, 2 2B, 5 R), Jurickson Profar (.290-2-12, 4 2B, 3B, 15 R, 2-3 SB)

Top Pitchers: Ryan Rodebaugh (8 G, 1-1, 0.69 ERA, 1-1 SV, 13 IP, 7 H, 18 K, 1.08 WHIP, .159 BAA), Carlos Pimentel (7 G, 1 GS, 2-0, 1.88 ERA, 14.1 IP, 10 H, 17 K, .204 BAA), Joseph Ortiz (9 G, 1-1, 2.79 ERA, 1-2 SV, 9.2 IP ,7 H, 0.93 WHIP, .200 BAA), Justin Grimm (2 GS, 0-0, 1.93 ERA, 14 IP, 11 H, 10 K, 2 BB, 0.93 WHIP, .216 BAA)

June was a month to remember and a month to forget at the same time for the Frisco nine.  On one hand, the ’Riders experienced the high of clinching a spot in the postseason, an extreme power surge by Mike Olt, a direct promotion to the big leagues of Justin Grimm and the sight of a former Major League All-Star wearing a Frisco uniform.  On the other hand, however, the team’s 11-16 record was by far its worst of the season and Steve Buechele’s club was hurt by sudden roster turnover, a sluggish offense and underwhelming pitching.

Roy Oswalt started on June 12 for the ‘Riders in a game that lasted nearly five hours. (Alex Yocum-Beeman/RoughRiders)

No doubt about it, June was eventful for reasons both good and bad.  To paraphrase Buechele, it was evident that the RoughRiders, after two months of stellar play, were coming back to the pack as many players were forced to make their first true adjustments since joining the Texas League.  The letdown factor after securing a playoff spot was evident and the relative inexperience of the team allowed the funk to permeate longer than it probably should have.

Still, the ’Riders were in an enviable position after finishing the first half with the best record in the Texas League.   Frisco and Tulsa earned the right to play a little more relaxed in the second half, knowing that they were the only two teams guaranteed to keep playing after Labor Day.

TIMELINE:

June 1: After ripping off ten straight wins to begin the season, Barret Loux gets his first no-decision of the year.  He and future 2012 big leaguer Edwar Cabrera of Tulsa pitched to a 3-3 stalemate before Ryan Strausborger sent Frisco to a 4-3 walk-off victory with an RBI single in the ninth inning.  The win secured the ’Riders’ first series sweep of the season.  In the game, Mike Olt goes 3-for-4 with two home runs, three RBI and three runs scored.

June 2: Frisco loses 10-5 to Northwest Arkansas in ten innings after the Naturals victimize Wilfredo Boscan and Zach Osborne in the extra frame.  Olt goes 3-for-3 with two more home runs, four RBI and two walks while Jurickson Profar extends his on-base streak to 50 straight games with a single and a walk.

June 3: In a 10-3 loss to the Naturals, Olt makes it three straight games with two home runs with a pair of solo shots.  In this three-game stretch, he increases his season homer total from 11 to 17, the most in the Texas League.  Over his last 11 games, Olt is hitting .489 with eight home runs and 19 RBI.  In the same game, Profar goes 0-for-4 and fails to reach base for the first time since April 6 (the second game of the season), ending his 50-game on-base streak.  The streak would endure as the longest of its kind in Major or Minor League Baseball in 2012.

June 4: Profar is honored by the Texas League as its “TOPPS Player of the Month” for May while Olt is named the TL “Player of the Week” for his recent offensive heroics.  That night, Frisco is swept for the first time this season in a 3-1 loss to Northwest Arkansas.  In a reminder of the tenuous nature of the profession, ’Riders reliever Corey Young is released by the Rangers organization.  Two days later, bullpen-mate Trevor Hurley is released as well.

June 8:The RoughRiders rebound from getting swept by winning their third in a row at San Antonio by a 5-2 final score.  Zach Zaneski goes 2-for-4 with his first career triple to extend his season-best hitting streak to 14 games and raise his batting average to .346 (it was .188 through his first nine games).  The triple was Frisco’s 32nd of the season, the most by any team in professional baseball.  The win shrinks the ’Riders’ magic number for a playoff berth to seven.

Legendary pitcher Greg Maddux and Zach Zaneski share a moment during one of Maddux’s visits to Frisco this season. (Alex Yocum-Beeman/RoughRiders)

June 11: The Rangers name Olt their “Minor League Player of the Month” for May, but the night belongs to fellow corner infielder Chris McGuiness, who hits a grand slam in a 10-1 win over Midland.  McGuiness had just hit a three-run home run the night before.  The offense supports a dazzling Chad Bell (6.2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 6 K), whose performance was personally observed by pitching great and Rangers special assistant to the general manager Greg Maddux.  The future Hall of Famer calls Bell’s performance one of the greatest he has ever witnessed by a Minor Leaguer.

June 12: Roy Oswalt, recently signed by Texas, continues his road back to the big leagues with a start for the RoughRiders against the RockHounds.  Oswalt (3.1 IP, 5 H, 3 R, BB, 3 K, WP) looks rusty, but so do both teams’ bats as the game progresses.  The contest goes 14 innings before Jose Felix wins it with a walk-off single to send Frisco to a 5-4 victory.  The four-hour, 47-minute affair ends nine minutes before midnight and is easily the longest game of the season.  Complicating matters, the two teams must play an 11 a.m. game the next day.  Midland easily wins that game 10-2.

June 14: On the day the All-Star Game rosters are announced, Justin Grimm is shocked to learn that he will be promoted directly to the Rangers in two days and make his Major League debut in a start against the Astros.  That night, Frisco beats Corpus Christi 4-3 to whittle its magic number to one with five games remaining in the first half.

June 15: Ryan Strausborger’s RBI fielder’s choice in the eighth inning snaps a tie game and the ’Riders win 3-2 over the Hooks to clinch a spot in the Texas League playoffs for the seventh time in ten years.  Nick Tepesch, just promoted to take Grimm’s recently vacated spot in the rotation, allows just two runs over seven innings in his Double-A debut.

June 16: While the ’Riders meekly fall to Jose Cisnero (two-hit complete game shutout) and the Hooks 5-0, Grimm wins in his first-ever big league game down the road in Arlington.  Playing in front of a sellout crowd that includes former President George W. Bush, Frisco’s Opening Day starter allows three runs on six hits with no walks and seven strikeouts over six innings as the Rangers beat Houston 8-3.

June 17: Facing a shortage of pitching, Steve Buechele is forced to turn to a pair of position players to pitch the 11th inning against Corpus Christi.  With the game tied at five, outfielder Val Majewski and infielder Guilder Rodriguez combine to allow nine runs on eight hits, a walk and a hit batter.  The Hooks prevail 14-5.

June 19: Frisco beats Midland 5-1 to finish the first half with a 41-29 record, the best mark in the TL.  The ’Riders benefit from six RockHounds errors and a good game from Majewski (2-for-4, double, RBI) on his 31st birthday.  Brad Hawpe, who played the first two months of the season for Frisco while recovering from elbow surgery, requests and his granted his release by the Rangers.

Fortunately, Mike Olt and Jurickson Profar are better hitters than they are dancers. Both had big months in June. (Alex Yocum-Beeman/RoughRiders)

June 21: Over a three-day period, the ’Riders experience a flurry of roster moves.  Gone from the active roster are: LHP Bell (promoted to Round Rock), RHP Fabio Castillo (disabled list), LHP Tim Murphy (disabled list), LHP Joseph Ortiz (Round Rock) and IF Rodriguez (Round Rock).  Frisco receives: LHP Richard Bleier (off the disabled list), RHP Cody Buckel (up from Myrtle Beach), OF Jared Hoying (Myrtle Beach), RHP Neil Ramirez (down from Round Rock) and RHP Ross Wolf (Round Rock).

June 22: Corpus Christi thumps Frisco 13-7 despite three solo home runs from McGuiness, a new career-high.  After getting hit hard in a no-decision by the Hooks in his last outing, Loux (3+ IP, 8 H, 9 R, 8 ER, BB, 4 K, BK) cannot escape his first loss of the season this time.  It is his first defeat in exactly 11 months; he last lost in 2011 to Frederick while pitching in the Carolina League.  Buechele is ejected for the only time all season in the middle of the third inning while Profar is tossed in the ninth.

June 24: The ’Riders lose their season-high fourth straight game in a 3-2 defeat to the Hooks.  In a matchup of terrific pitching prospects, Corpus Christi’s Jarred Cosart (6 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 2 BB, K) outduels Buckel (4 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 3 BB, 3 K), who is making his first Double-A start.

June 25: Ramirez (6 IP, 2 H, R, 3 BB, 6 K) makes his first start since coming down from Triple-A Round Rock and looks sharp in a 4-1 ’Riders victory over the Hooks.  The result takes Frisco into the All-Star break on a winning note.

June 28: The North Division bests the South 3-1 in the Texas League All-Star Game at Tulsa’s ONEOK Field.  Nine Frisco players were named to the South Division team: Bell, Engel Beltre, Jake Brigham, Grimm, Loux, Olt, Carlos Pimentel, Profar and Zaneski.

June 30: The ’Riders look listless in Springfield, losing their second straight game 11-6.  Tepesch and Miguel De Los Santos combine to allow five home runs in the route.

Coming tomorrow: A look back at the month of July.

-          Alex V.

Season in Review: May

Carlos Pimentel and the RoughRiders wore Pink for a series in May to raise awareness for the fight against breast cancer. (Alex Yocum-Beeman/RoughRiders)

The 2012 Frisco RoughRiders season was an unquestioned success.  The ’Riders won the first half South Division title, finished with an 80-60 record (good for the second-best overall mark in the Texas League) and advanced to the Texas League Championship Series before losing to the Springfield Cardinals.  Along the way, there were standout performances from big-time prospects, thrilling games and terrific storylines.  Before looking ahead to the 2013 season, we look back at a special 2012 campaign that proved to be a memorable one for the ’Riders.

MAY

Record: 17-11 (T-1st of 8 TL teams)

Average: .268 (2nd)

Home Runs: 24 (3rd)

ERA: 3.27 (2nd)

Top Offensive Players: Mike Olt (.333-5-23, 7 2B, 16 R, .437/.556/.993, 3-3 SB), Jurickson Profar (.322-3-14, 9 2B, 2 3B, 21 R, .385/.513/.898, 3-5 SB), Zach Zaneski (.429-1-8), 3 2B, 7 R, .489/.571/1.061)

Top Pitchers: Chad Bell (7 G, 3 GS, 1-0, 0.69 ERA, 1-1 SV, 0.62 WHIP, .131 BAA), Justin Grimm (6 GS, 4-2, 2.08 ERA, 34.2 IP, 30 K, 6 BB), Joseph Ortiz (10 G, 0-1, 1.74 ERA, 2-3 SV, 10.1 IP, 8 H, 13 K ,3 BB, 1.06 WHIP, .211 BAA), Ross Wolf (9 G, 0-0, 0.00 ERA, 13.2 IP, 9 H, 0 R, 16 K, 3 BB, 3.75 GO/AO, 0.88 WHIP, .188 BAA)

After a solid opening month, the RoughRiders continued their steady ascent in the Texas League in May.  Frisco held at least a share of first place in the TL South for every day in April and claimed sole possession of the division lead for all of May as well.  The ’Riders began the month by winning seven of their first nine games and held a season-best five-game lead over Midland in the division by May 12.

It wasn’t until Frisco’s first trip to west Texas in the middle of the month that Steve Buechele’s squad lost a second series for the season.  The ’Riders first foray to Citibank Ballpark, home of the RockHounds, proved to be a frustrating experience.  Midland walked off with a win in the first game before Frisco rallied the next day to win by one run.  Big innings hurt the RoughRiders in each of the next two games, as the ’Hounds had six-run and five-run innings in the next two games respectively to win the series.  Frisco responded by winning eight of the final 12 games of the month to steady the ship and tie for the best record in the league during the month.

Jurickson Profar authored a 29-game hitting streak that ended in May. (Alex Yocum-Beeman/RoughRiders)

The team’s success coincided with a remarkable period of roster stability, a rarity in this age of baseball.  Frisco benefitted from the Rangers’ relative health and between April 29 and May 23, there were no roster moves made.  That changed later in the month when the ’Riders suffered their first true loss in the game of musical chairs that is in-season player movement.  Closer Johan Yan, who was leading the Texas League with ten saves, was promoted to Triple-A Round Rock on May 25 where he would remain for the rest of the season.  Yan’s worth was evident in that the team was 12-3 in games decided by one run while he was a RoughRider.

During May, the team continued to get excellent work from Justin Grimm, wins from Barret Loux (5-0, but his ERA in the month rose to 4.71), terrific relief from the likes of Joseph Ortiz, Fabio Castillo, Trevor Hurley and Yan, and solid production from newly converted reliever Chad Bell.  The lefty from Tennessee, who arrived in late April from Myrtle Beach, impressed in the bullpen enough to earn a starting role.  In both functions, he combined to post a 0.69 ERA and kept hitters off-guard by working all parts of the strike zone with his deceptive delivery.

Offensively, Mike Olt began to hit his stride offensively, raising his season batting average by 44 points and hitting five home runs with 23 RBI.  His teammate on the left side of the infield continued to improve as well.  Jurickson Profar continued a hit streak and on-base streak that began in April deep into May.  Profar ended up hitting in 29 straight games from April 19 – May 19, tied for the second-longest hit streak in either Major or Minor League Baseball this past season, and he reached base in every game he played over the month.  Meanwhile, backup catcher Zach Zaneski earned himself more playing time by continuing to produce offensively every time he was given the opportunity.

With a four-game lead in the division and just two more weeks left until the end of the season’s first half, another trip to the postseason was looking like a stronger possibility by the day for the RoughRiders.

TIMELINE:

May 1: Tim Murphy and two relievers combine on a 2-0 shutout effort at San Antonio.  The Frisco pitchers outduel former RoughRider Robbie Erlin, who allows two runs in eight innings.  Erlin was part of the Mike Adams trade in July of 2011and was a member of the ’Riders when the deal was made.

May 5: The ’Riders host the RockHounds on Cinco de Mayo in the first game between the top two teams in the South Division.  Trailing by a run in the seventh inning, Frisco strikes for two tallies in the bottom of the frame to win 3-2.  Joseph Ortiz tosses 1.2 perfect innings for the save while Jurickson Profar extends his hitting streak to 16 games with a third inning single.

May 7: In a matchup of two players that would soon be in the big leagues, Justin Grimm (6 IP, 3 H, R, BB, 5 K) tops A.J. Griffin (6 IP, 8 H, 4 R, 2 BB, 3 K) as the ’Riders beat Midland 4-2.  Frisco scores three runs in the decisive fifth inning, capped by Ryan Strausborger’s second home run of the season.

May 8: The RoughRiders beat up another future Major League hurler, Dan Straily (5.1 IP, 7 H, 5 R, BB, 6 K), in a 9-3 win to capture the series victory.  Later that day, Grimm is named the Rangers’ “Minor League Pitcher of the Month” for April.

May 10: Frisco wallops Corpus Christi 10-2 in the first game of a series in south Texas.  Profar runs his hit streak to 20 games with a 2-for-6 effort while Barret Loux (5.1 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 BB, 6 K) improves to 7-0 on the season.  The true star is Brad Hawpe, who goes 4 for 5 with a double, one run batted in and three runs scored in the game.  After the game Hawpe moves into second place in the Texas League in both batting average (.338) and on-base percentage (.455) but struggles moving forward.

May 14: After splitting their series in Corpus, the ’Riders pay their first visit to Midland and go on to lose in walk-off fashion for the first time in 2012.  After Chris McGuiness was robbed of an RBI single on a line drive back to the pitcher to end the top of the ninth inning, Shane Peterson wins it for the RockHounds with a bases-loaded RBI hit off Ortiz to give Midland a 6-5 victory.

Closer Johan Yan bedeviled Texas League hitters, converting ten saves in 11 chances before a promotion. (Alex Yocum-Beeman/RoughRiders)

May 15:Johan Yan enters the ninth inning with a 5-3 lead over Midland but commits an error, gives up a run and loads the bases with one out.  He gets out of the jam thanks to a spectacular stop and glove flip by second baseman Guilder Rodriguez that starts a game-ending 4-6-3 double play.  Frisco wins 5-4 as Loux becomes the Minors’ first eight-game winner.

May 18: On the heels of their second series defeat of the season, the ’Riders look worn down against former big leaguer and San Antonio Mission Josh Geer, who takes a no-hitter into the eighth inning.  Jared Prince breaks it up with a double to start off the frame, but Frisco goes on to lose 5-2.  Profar narrowly extends his hitting streak to 28 games by tripling in his final at bat in the ninth inning.

May 19: A night after nearly being no-hit, the ’Riders come close to no-hitting San Antonio in a 13-0 victory.  Chad Bell (4 IP), Carlos Pimentel (3 IP) and Corey Young (0.2 IP) combine to get to within four outs of the no-no but Young allows a double to Jeudy Valdez with two outs in the frame to spoil the bid.  Profar wastes no time in moving his hit streak to 29 games, the longest in the Minors at that point, with a first inning double.  Mike Olt closes the affair with a two-run home run in the eighth inning, his ninth of the season.

May 20: Profar fails to get a base hit in a game for the first time since April 17, ending his 29-game hitting streak in a 2-1 Frisco win over the Missions.  By the end of the season, the streak would be tied for the second-longest in Major or Minor League Baseball in 2012.  Profar does work a walk in the fourth inning to push his consecutive games on-base streak to 39.

May 21: Yan blows his first career save by giving up two runs in the ninth inning to San Antonio.  He had been 25-for-25 in save opportunities since he converted from playing infield before today.  His offense, with some help from a fortuitous Jonathan Galvez error, picks him up by scoring a pair of runs in the bottom of the ninth inning en route to a 6-5 win.

May 23 – 25: Division leaders Frisco and Tulsa play for the first time at the Drillers’ ONEOK Field.  Tulsa wins two of three games to claim the series victory, in part thanks to a walk-off wild pitch uncorked by Wilfredo Boscan in the series finale.

May 26: The ’Riders score five runs in the bottom of the first inning off Northwest Arkansas’ Chris Dwyer, but the lead is short-lived as Loux surrenders five runs as well in the bottom of the frame.  The big righty settles down to pitch six innings as the offense provides four more runs in a 9-6 win.  Loux improves to 10-0 in his first ten starts of the season, setting a new Frisco record for most consecutive victories.

May 27: Hawpe, mired in a slump, goes 0-for-4 with two strikeouts in what proves to be his last game of the season, one the ’Riders lose 9-5 to the Naturals.  Since his four-hit game on May 10, the former Major League All-Star has hit .130 (6-for-46) with no extra-base hits and one RBI.

May 28: Memorial Day becomes truly memorable for one RoughRider as Val Majewski and Alex Buchholz combine on back-to-back solo home runs off Northwest Arkansas’ Noel Arguelles in a game Frisco wins 9-6.  It was Majewski’s first and only home run of the season; he goes 3-for-5 with another RBI and run scored for the day.

May 31: Frisco closes out the month of May with a 10-4 win at home over Tulsa.  After a few days off, Hawpe goes on the disabled list with elbow fatigue (he had “Tommy John” surgery on his left elbow the previous August).  Three weeks later he is granted his release by the Rangers organization and does not play again in 2012.

 

Coming tomorrow: A look back at the month of June.

-          Alex V.

Season in Review: April

Jose Felix and an umpiring crew observe the singing of the National Anthem before a RoughRiders game.

The 2012 Frisco RoughRiders season was an unquestioned success.  The ’Riders won the first half South Division title, finished with an 80-60 record (good for the second-best overall mark in the Texas League) and advanced to the Texas League Championship Series before losing to the Springfield Cardinals.  Along the way, there were standout performances from big-time prospects, thrilling games and terrific storylines.  Before looking ahead to the 2013 season, we look back at a special 2012 campaign that proved to be a memorable one for the ’Riders. (All photos by Alex Yocum-Beeman/Frisco RoughRiders)

APRIL

Record: 15-9 (2nd of 8 TL teams)

Average: .263 (3rd)

Home Runs: 26 (2nd)

ERA: 3.08 (2nd)

Top Offensive Players: Brad Hawpe (.321-3-8, .459/.554/1.013), Leury Garcia (.309-0-2, 2 2B, 3 3B)

Top Pitchers: Justin Grimm (5 GS, 4-1, 1.59 ERA, 28.1 IP, 27 K, 6 BB, .194 BAA), Barret Loux (5 GS, 5-0, 1.63 ERA, 27.2 IP, 28 K, 8 BB), Carlos Pimentel (6 G, 2 GS, 2-1, 1/1 SV, 1.35 ERA, 20 IP, 24 K, .174 BAA), Johan Yan (10 G, 0.87 ERA, 5/5 SV, .158 BAA)

High expectations can be a two-edged sword.  On one hand, they can elevate preexisting senses of hope and confidence.  A baseball team from which a lot is expected can thrive on the positive mojo and can achieve success.  Conversely, that hype has the ability to crush a team under the weight of those expectations and it underperforms.  Even if a team doesn’t collapse, the odds of it failing the live up to high expectations are much greater than actually meeting them.

Justin Grimm put himself on track for a breakout 2012 with a dominant April.

Enter the 2012 Frisco RoughRiders.  With Frisco previously fielding playoff teams in six of the nine previous seasons, the expectations were already there for another successful season.  But on top of that, Baseball America tabbed the RoughRiders as the third-most talented roster of players among all 120 full-season Minor League squads.  The respected industry publication cited the presence of big-time infield prospects Jurickson Profar (number one on BA’s list of top Texas Rangers prospects), Mike Olt (three) and Leury Garcia (11) as well as pitchers Justin Grimm (15), Barret Loux (20) and Miguel De Los Santos (29).  Throw in the toolsy, but mercurial Engel Beltre and 2011 Carolina League All-Stars Jared Prince, Ryan Strausborger and Zach Zaneski and it’s easy to see why Baseball America had its eye on the ’Riders.

But talented Minor League squads filled with prospects do not always translate into good teams.  More often than not, it seems that rosters made up of older players with years of experience in their respective leagues have the most success and win championships.

The RoughRiders bucked those odds and finished April with the second-best record in the Texas League through a balanced combination of fantastic pitching and steady offense.  From out of the gate, the team’s pitching staff was dominant.  Justin Grimm anchored a rotation that anchored five intriguing prospects while the bullpen featured hard throwers aplenty.  While the offense got off to a slow start (13 runs in the first five games), it rebounded nicely and proved to be the most dynamic in the TL.

TIMELINE:

Rangers infielders Ian Kinsler & Elvis Andrus returned to their old home ballpark for an exhibition game with the RoughRiders on April 4.

April 4: Before the regular season begins, the RoughRiders host the parent club Texas Rangers in an exhibition game.  Making the occasion even more interesting, prized Japanese import Yu Darvish makes the start for Ron Washington’s club in his first pitching appearance in his new home market.  Darvish does not disappoint, tossing four scoreless innings with two hits and two walks allowed to go along with five strikeouts as the Major Leaguers best the ’Riders 6-1.

April 5: The RoughRiders begin the regular season in Missouri with a 1-0 win over the Springfield Cardinals.  Frisco’s only run scores on a Jose Felix sacrifice fly while Justin Grimm (5.1 IP, 2 H, 0 R, BB, 10 K) is brilliant in his Double-A debut.

April 6: Frisco falls 4-1 to the Cardinals with the team’s only run coming on Mike Olt’s first home run of the season.  Earlier in the day the Rangers re-sign long-time big league outfielder and Westlake, Texas native Brad Hawpe and assign him to Frisco.  Hawpe underwent “Tommy John” surgery while playing for the Padres in August of 2011.

April 7: In what was the first of many, Barret Loux earns his first win of the season in a 6-1 victory over Springfield in the series finale.  Loux works out of trouble in nearly every inning (six hits and two walks) but does not allow a run over five frames.  Hawpe leads the way by going 3-for-4 with a home run in his first at bat.  He finishes a triple shy of the cycle with two runs scored and two RBI.

April 8: The ’Riders continue their season-opening road trip with an extra-innings 3-2 win on Easter Sunday at Arkansas.  Felix hits a soft single to left-center field in the 11th inning that scores Engel Beltre from second base to win it.  Jurickson Profar snaps his 0-for-13 start to the season by hitting a first pitch home run in the fifth inning to the deepest park of Dickey-Stephens Park.

April 14: In a showcase of two of the best position player prospects in the Minors, both Profar and Springfield’s Oscar Taveras hit first inning solo home runs in a game the RoughRiders eventually win 6-2.  Profar officially puts his first week struggles (2 for 26 to begin 2012) to bed with a 3-for-4 night at the plate.

April 16: Frisco beats Arkansas 2-1 behind another excellent performance by Grimm (6.1 IP, H, 0 R, BB, 5 K) for its fourth straight victory.  The win not only clinches the team’s fourth straight series victory to start the season, but it also moves Steve Buechele into the top spot for most wins ever by a Frisco manager.  Buechele’s 155th win as the ’Riders’ skipper gives him one more than Tim Ireland, who managed the team in its first two years of existence and in 2004 won Frisco’s only Texas League championship.

April 19 – 22: After winning 10-0 at Corpus Christi in their first divisional game of the season, the ’Riders see their pitching get torched for 22 runs over the next three games en route to losing their first series of the season.

April 24: Following trips to the disabled list by starter Miguel De Los Santos and reliever Ryan Rodebaugh, Chad Bell is promoted to Frisco from Advanced-A Myrtle Beach.  An under-the-radar prospect, Bell does not take long to impress, at first in relief and eventually as a starting pitcher.  That night Olt hits his fifth home run and Profar triples in a 7-2 Frisco win over San Antonio.

April 25:The ’Riders score three first inning runs off San Antonio’s Hayden Beard but cannot hold the advantage as the Missions come back to tie the game by the third.  After Bell surrenders a go-ahead home run in the top of the ninth inning, Frisco ties it on Hawpe’s two-out RBI double in the bottom of the inning to send the game to extra innings.  However in the 11th, Jeudy Valdez burns Corey Young for an RBI single to send San Antonio to a 6-5 win in three hours and 23 minutes.

Brad Hawpe’s comeback from elbow surgery got off to a great start as his bat provided the ‘Riders a big boost in the season’s first month.

April 26: After Fabio Castillo blows a ninth inning save, the ’Riders and Missions go to extras for the second straight night and take their time to settle things.  The game goes to the 13th inning when Guilder Rodriguez strokes a base hit to center field to score Chris McGuiness and send Frisco to a 6-5 win, its first walk-off victory of the year.  The game takes four hours and 26 minutes to complete.  Earlier in the contest, Leury Garcia pulls up lame at first base running out a bunt and is eventually placed on the disabled list where he will remain for nearly a month because of a right hip flexor.

April 27: Grimm (6 IP, 4 H, 0 R, BB, 9 K) rebounds from his first poor outing of the season to outclass the Hooks’ Jarred Cosart in a 12-0 ’Riders romp.  Chris McGuiness crushes a three-run home run – his fifth of the season – in a six-run fifth inning.  Bell throws three perfect innings (4 K) for the save.

April 29: Loux strikes out eight batters and allows two runs over six innings as the ’Riders blast Corpus 10-3.  The former Texas A&M Aggie ends May tied for the MiLB lead in wins at 5-0 with a 1.63 ERA.  Six Frisco players have multi-hit games, including Profar (2-for-5), who extends his hit streak to 11 games.

April 30: Despite allowing four runs over the first two innings, Jake Brigham gets bailed out by his offense in a 9-4 Frisco victory over the Hooks.  Zach Zaneski, who entered the game hitting .167 (116 points below his career average) with two extra-base hits, drilled two home runs while Alex Buchholz homered and tripled to pace the offense.  The triple was Frisco’s 17th of the year, the most by any professional team through the season’s first month.

Coming tomorrow: A look back at the month of May.

-          Alex V.

Catching up with… Mike Olt

Mike Olt was an All-Star third baseman for the RoughRiders before he was promoted to the Majors on August 2.

Occasionally throughout the off-season we will spend some time catching up with former RoughRiders.  In this edition, we hear from Rangers rookie Mike Olt, who spent most of the 2012 season in Frisco.  A Mid-Season and Postseason Texas League All-Star, Olt played in 95 games for the RoughRiders, hitting .288 with 28 home runs and 82 RBI.  He was called up directly to the Texas Rangers on August 2 but has been hampered by a foot injury in most of his time as a big leaguer.  ‘Riders broadcaster Alex Vispoli caught up with Mike at a recent Rangers home game to reflect on making the Majors and his time with Frisco.

Alex Vispoli: When you found out you were going up, was that a surprise for you or were you expecting it?

Mike Olt: No, it was definitely a surprise.  It was weird how in those last couple of days they were trying to do some [different] things with me, especially playing first base on back-to-back days.  But really going into the office I thought they were going to talk to me about what my plan was because the trade deadline was over, what they wanted me to shoot for.  I knew I was ready, and then when they were able to say I was getting the call up, it was quite the feeling.

AV: I know Frisco manager Steve Buechele has had creative ways of telling guys that they are being promoted, the one with Justin Grimm comes to mind.  If I remember correctly, he was telling you the route to get down to Round Rock?

MO: Yeah, he said to pack my car up and try and head out early to go to Round Rock and he kept the story going the whole time, he probably talked about for five minutes just to stay focused and keep doing what I’m doing, don’t change anything.  And then, just when I’m leaving he’s like “make sure you’re in Arlington in time for C.J. Wilson.”  So that was good, that’s something I’ll never forget.

AV: What are the emotions you’re feeling at that point, where’s your heart at that moment?

MO: Oh, I couldn’t talk.  And that’s the first time in my life I probably couldn’t talk.  I was just really excited.  You always hear stories about [getting promoted to the big leagues]; I have some buddies that got called up and they tell you what their feelings are and you can understand where they’re coming from, but when you feel that [yourself] then you really understand what it’s like, you just get goose bumps.  It’s everything you’ve worked for.

AV: Just in terms of the roller coaster for you, I remember talking to you the week or so leading up to the trading deadline and we weren’t really sure what was going to happen.  You were trusting whatever the plan was and I guess the plan all along was to get you right up there after the trade deadline.  Looking back on it the whole range of emotions must have made it both a little fun and at the time a little stressful.

MO: It was, but I did my best to block it all out.  And I always said I was definitely able to block it out but there were times when I just wanted to know what was going on.  When it was all over with that was definitely relieving, but I definitely did know that I was in a good situation either way so that helped.

AV: You had a base hit in your first Major League at bat.  What’s going through your head when you step into the batter’s box in a big league game for the first time and then you connect on that base hit?  Hitter’s always talk about getting that first hit early in a game to take some stress off the rest of the way and that you got a hit in your first-ever at bat must have been a weight off of your shoulders.

MO: I was nervous during the day but when it got to game time and I got out there and walked into the box it really felt like just another at bat.  I tried to make it as close to normal as I could.  Obviously facing C.J. Wilson it’s tougher to stay within your approach against a guy like that.  But I wasn’t nervous which helped me stay [within myself] and not try to do too much so that helped.

AV:Have you had a moment yet where you’ve taken a step back and said to yourself “Wow, I’m in the big leagues.”?  Have you had a “welcome to the big leagues” type of moment that you can remember where all of a sudden you realize that you’re not in the Texas League any more?

Olt gets a high five from Rangers manager Ron Washington after his walk-off pinch hit RBI single against the Tigers on August 11.

MO: That happened the first day, even with just the crowd.  It’s a totally different feeling when you have 45,000 fans cheering for you, that’s a great feeling.  And then in my second at bat I hit a ball up in the hole and a guy makes a “Top Play” on it.  I get back to the dugout and that was a time where it was like “welcome to the big leagues.”  That usually doesn’t get caught in Double-A.

AV: Unless it’s [Jurickson] Profar, right?

MO: Right [laughs].  No, I would have taken care of him if he caught it.

AV: Has it been nice to see four guys [Wilmer Font, Justin Grimm, Jurickson Profar and Robbie Ross] that you played with in the Minors on the big league roster now with you?  Guys that you came up playing with, to play alongside them has that been a fun experience for you?

MO: Yeah, definitely.  It always helps to have guys that you’ve played with and that you’re comfortable with.  Especially because it’s a good group of young guys mixed with the good group of older guys.  The veteran guys really show us the way and they make it really easy for us up here.  Some of the other guys from other teams that I talk to, for them it’s a little of a different atmosphere.  Not once when you’re here do the veteran guys make you feel like a rookie, so that also helps.

AV: How tough has it been just with the fact that you haven’t been able to get on the field in being a rookie and also with the injuries?  Unfortunately you’ve had plenty of practice overcoming the minor injuries, but it’s still an adjustment.

MO: No, this isn’t the way I want to start my career with something as small as plantar fasciitis.  I don’t even know how I got it; I don’t know how it happened or why it had to happen in the first four days of my big league career.  But I was still able to get a lot out of [the experience here] while I was hurt and on the bench.  I’ve learned a ton and I’m excited to take what I’ve learned and incorporate it with how I go about my business and improve.

AV: How proud were you of your Frisco teammates, following them from afar and seeing what they accomplished without you and without Profar?

MO: I watched every step of the way and I kept in contact with a bunch of the guys.  I knew they didn’t need Profar or myself to win it; they had a great team and great pitching, timely hitting and that’s what we were going to need and we got it for the most part but came up a little short.  So that’s tough but it was a great year and I have a lot of good memories there.

- Alex

The Newest Texas Ranger

Mike Olt played 13 games at first base in Frisco and is expected to play first for the Rangers tonight. (Photo by Alex Yocum-Beeman)

Last night, the Texas Rangers purchased the contract of Frisco infielder Mike Olt. They also put him on the 40-man roster sending utility player Brandon Snyder to Triple-A Round Rock and moving starter Colby Lewis from the 15-day to 60-day disabled list. Olt will make his debut with the Rangers tonight batting eighth and playing first base.

In 95 games with the RoughRiders, Olt had a .288 batting average with 17 doubles, 1 triple, 28 home runs and 82 RBIs. As of today, he is now in the Frisco record books. His 28 home runs put him in third place for single season home runs and ties him with Jason Botts for sixth in all-time home runs. We wish him luck tonight in his major league debut.

Story by Jarah Wright

Our Three Stooges

Jake Brigham, Mike Olt, and Leury Garcia are our three stooges. (Photo Illustration by Jarah Wright)

In honor of the new Three Stooges movie coming out on DVD today, we decided to examine this season through the eyes of the the ‘Riders version of Moe, Larry, and Curly also known as Mike Olt, Leury Garcia, and Jake Brigham.

Mike Olt’s initials are MO making him Moe. When asked about the season is going, he said he thinks it’s going well.

“I’m happy I was able to make improvements in the off-season and build on those improvements,” Olt said. “I put them into practice and keep working hard.”

Olt is currently hitting .289 with 22 home runs and 63 RBIs. On July 5, Baseball America listed Olt as the third in the top 30 prospects in the Rangers organization and 11th in all of minor league baseball.

Leury Garcia’s first name is pronounced like Larry making him Larry. Garcia said he thinks everything is going good so far this season and he wouldn’t change anything that he’s been doing.

Garcia is currently hitting .273 with 8 triples and 18 stolen bases. Baseball America listed Garcia as the 11th in the top 30 prospects in the Rangers organization.

Jake Brigham started out the season with thick, curly black hair but shaved it off making him our Curly.

Like Olt, Brigham said he thinks the season is going well for him and that he’s learning a lot.

“I’m staying healthy and getting to pitch a lot of innings,” Brigham said. “I try to learn something every time I go out there.”

Brigham currently has a record of four wins and five losses with a 4.67 ERA. He has also struck out 99 batters so far this season.

Story by Jarah Wright

Futures Game Recap

The Futures Game is a chance for major league baseball organizations to showcase talented minor league players who could make it to The Show one day. Two minor leaguers are picked to represent each MLB team. Third baseman Mike Olt and shortstop Jurickson Profar were chosen for the Texas Rangers and RoughRiders manager Steve Buechele was chosen as a coach.

Jurickson Profar was interviewed by members of the media before the game. (Twitter: @MLBFutures)

This was the second Futures game in a row for Jurickson Profar who took part in the festivities last year in Arizona. He made an impression quickly. In his first at bat in the 2012 game, he hit a home run to right field to put the World team up 1-0. As he rounded second base, he looked at Mike Olt who was playing third base for the US team and laughingly said ‘I told you.’ Profar went 2-3 with one RBI. He played shortstop for four innings before being replaced by Francisco Lindor. Profar was mic’d up during his first at bat and the video can be seen below.

However, Mike Olt played the entire game for the US team. He started the game at third base and was moved over to play first base for the remainder of the game. Olt went 1-5 with one RBI including a fly out to Profar. Olt was part of the winning team as the US team defeated the World team 17-5.

Mike Olt talked to US team manager George Brett during batting practice. (Twiiter: @MLBFutures)

Olt and Profar were not the only representatives of the Texas League in the Futures game. They were joined by eight others. Here’s a quick rundown of how the fellow Texas Leaguers did in the game.

Oscar Taveras (Springfield Cardinals): Taveras went 1-3 with one RBI. He split time playing right field and center field for the World team.

Kolten Wong (Springfield Cardinals): Wong went 0-2 and played second base for the US team.

Jean Segura (Arkansas Travelers): Segura went 2-3 and played second base for the World team.

Ariel Pena (Arkansas Travelers): Pena pitched for 0.1 innings allowing seven hits and eight runs for the World team.

Nolan Arenado (Tulsa Drillers): Arenado went 1-3 and played third base for the US team.

Jonathan Singleton (Corpus Christi Hooks): Singleton went 3-4 with one RBI. He split time at first base and left field for the US team.

Michael Choice (Midland RockHounds): Choice went 0-2 and played left field for the US team.

Ali Solis (San Antonio Missions): Solis went 0-1 and played catcher for the World team.

Written by Jarah Wright

Pre-game Ritual

Before every RoughRiders game, third baseman Mike Olt has his own way of getting ready for the game right before the starting line-ups are called — handshakes.

He goes around to every player, coach and bat boy and conducts his special pre-game greeting to each one. Some, like his and short stop Jurickson Profar’s are a little more intricate than your traditional fist bump.

By Alex Yocum-Beeman

All-Star Game Recap

Last night was the 76th Texas League All-Star Game and seven RoughRiders were involved in the festivities at ONEOK Field in Tulsa. The festivities began with the Home Run Derby. San Antonio Missions’ first baseman Nate Freiman took home the crown defeating Corpus Christi Hooks’ first baseman Jonathan Singleton.

That set the stage for the All-Star game to begin. The balls for first pitch were delivered by two skydivers to the mound. Mike Olt delived the South’s lineup to the umpires at the home plate meeting. Olt didn’t play in the All-Star game because he is still recovering from a pulled hamstring. After the first pitches were thrown the starting lineups and reserves were announced. There were three RoughRiders in the starting lineup. Jurickson Profar was the leadoff batter and played shortstop, Engel Beltre batted ninth and was in center field, and pitcher Barret Loux was named the starting pitcher for the South All-Stars. A stirring rendition of the national anthem was then sung by Hanson, who are Oklahoma natives.

Barret Loux threw a scoreless first inning. He walked Josh Rutledge, struck out Kolten Wong, and then induced a double play from Nolan Arenado to end the half.

Frisco starter Jake Brigham was brought in to pitch in the second. He allowed a single to Oscar Taveras but Taveras tried to stretch it out to a double and was tagged out at second. Brigham then induced ground outs to Jean Segura and former ‘Riders player Johnny Whittleman.

The game remained scoreless until the North All-Stars scored three runs in the fourth inning off of Corpus Christi Hooks’ pitcher Ross Seaton. Kolten Wong led off the inning hitting a single and then advancing to second on a wild pitch. Nolan Arenado then doubled scoring Wong. That set the stage for Oscar Taveras who hit a home run putting the North on top 3-0.

Engel Beltre led the charge for the South in the sixth inning. He led off the inning hitting at triple to right field. A sac fly by Dean Anna brought Beltre in to score the only run of the game for the South. In the bottom of the inning, there were several substitutions for the South. Frisco catcher Zach Zaneski replaced Ali Solis and put in three innings of work behind the plate.

‘Riders reliever Carlos Pimentel split the eighth inning with Kevin Chapman who got the first out of the inning. Pimentel got the last two outs of the inning by inducing a flyout to third base and a line drive to second base.

The South fell to the North 3-1. Oscar Taveras was unanimously named the MVP. The all-star festivities were then wrapped up with a fireworks display before all of the players went their separate ways to catch up with their teams for games tonight. Frisco plays the Springfield Cardinals tonight at 7 p.m. Fans can listen to the game online at ridersbaseball.com.

Story by Jarah Wright

Our All-Star Picks

In the Texas League, each team is allowed an all-star ballot for the lead broadcaster and a beat writer for their team. With the all-star team lineups being announced today, we decided to pick who we think will make the cut.

Michael Damman

Texas League North:

Catcher-Lars Davis, Tulsa Drillers

First Baseman- Johnny Whittleman, Northwest Arkansas Naturals

Second Baseman- Kolten Wong, Springfield Cardinals

Third Baseman- Nolan Arenado, Tulsa Drillers

Shortstop- Josh Rutledge, Tulsa Drillers

Outfielder- Oscar Taveras, Springfield Cardinals

Outfielder- Wil Myers, Northwest Arkansas Naturals

Outfielder- Carlo Testa, Northwest Arkansas Naturals

Designated Hitter- Ben Paulsen, Tulsa Drillers

Starting Pitcher- Trevor Rosenthal, Springfield Cardinals

Reliever- Steven Geltz, Arkansas Travelers

Texas League South:

Catcher- Ali Solis, San Antonio Missions

First Baseman- Jonathan Singleton, Corpus Christi Hooks

Second Baseman- Jose Martinez, Corpus Christi Hooks

Third Baseman- Mike Olt, Frisco RoughRiders

Shortstop- Jurickson Profar, Frisco RoughRiders

Outfielder- Jeremy Barfield, Midland RockHounds

Outfielder- Brandon Barnes, Corpus Christi Hooks

Outfielder- Cody Decker, San Antonio Missions

Designated Hitter- Nathan Freiman, San Antonio Missions

Starting Pitcher- Justin Grimm, Frisco RoughRiders

Reliever- Jason Stoffel, Corpus Christi Hooks

Jarah Wright

Texas League North:

Catcher- Lars Davis, Tulsa Drillers

First Baseman-  Johnny Whilttleman, Northwest Arkansas Naturals

Second Baseman- Ryan Mount, Arkansas Travelers

Third Baseman- Nolan Arenado, Tulsa Drillers

Shortstop- Christian Colon, Northwest Arkansas Naturals

Outfielder- Oscar Taveras, Springfield Cardinals

Outfielder- Carlo Testa, Northwest Arkansas Naturals

Outfielder- Nick Van Stratten, Northwest Arkansas Naturals

Designated Hitter- Ben Paulsen, Tulsa Drillers

Starting Pitcher- Trevor Rosenthal, Springfield Cardinals

Reliever- Ryan Dennick, Northwest Arkansas Naturals

Texas League South:

Catcher- Zach Zaneski, Frisco RoughRiders

First Baseman- Jonathan Singleton, Corpus Christi Hooks

Second Baseman- Jonathan Galvez, San Antonio Missions

Third Baseman- Mike Olt, Frisco RoughRiders

Shortstop- Jurickson Profar, Frisco RoughRiders

Outfielder- Jeremy Barfield, Midland RockHounds

Outfielder- Engel Beltre, Frisco RoughRiders

Outfielder- Reymond Fuentes, San Antonio Missions

Designated Hitter- Nathan Freiman, San Antonio Missions

Starting Pitcher- Dan Straily, Midland RockHounds

Reliever- Ross Seaton, Corpus Christi Hooks

The All-Star teams will be announced today at 4 p.m. We will announced who made the cut on our Facebook and Twitter later today.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 55 other followers