Results tagged ‘ Mike Olt ’

May Madness

The minor league season may be in full swing, but for college baseball end of season tournament time is in full swing.

To get to the dance you need to win your league tourney or get an at-large berth. Obviously, every team would prefer the former, but let’s face it, it’s not easy. Just ask any number of ‘Riders, since many have played in these tournaments before.

Since some will be following their alma maters this weekend, we thought it would be fun to take a look back at the college careers of a couple of RoughRiders.

Courtesy of Texas A&M

Barret  Loux (Texas A&M)

Prior to giving Texas League hitters headaches, Loux tied up Big 12 hitters as a member of the Aggies. As a junior in College Station, Loux led the Big 12 in strikeouts (136) and was a finalist for the USA Golden Spikes Award (Given to the top amateur baseball player in the country).

Currently No. 8 in USA Today’s Top 25 poll, the Aggies were eliminated in two games at the Big 12 tournament, losing back-to-back games to Missouri and the University of Kansas. As a top 10 team, A&M doesn’t need to be concerned about their NCAA tournament chances. However the team’s less than stellar performance in Oklahoma City could affect who they see at regionals.

Justin Grimm (Georgia)

Grimm played his college baseball “between the hedges,” as a three year member of the Georgia Bulldogs. In 2008, Justin even had the chance to visit college baseball’s most hallowed grounds, when UGA advanced to the College World Series Finals, and ended the year with a number two national ranking.

This season has been a bit of a different story, as the ‘Dawgs were eliminated from the SEC Tournament Wednesday afternoon, falling to Auburn 3-2. The good news? The SEC is the premier baseball conference in all of Division I, where sweeping a conference series almost never happen. The bad news is that at (31-26), Georgia will need an at-large berth to qualify for the NCAA tourney.

Courtesy of Stephen Slade, University of Connecticut

Mike Olt (UConn)

While he gets plenty of attention as one of the Rangers top farmhands, it’s easy to forget that Mike is still the “Sultan of Stoors.” So where does the nickname come from?

Well, in three seasons, Mike set the all-time home record for the University of Connecticut (44 homers). He also hit .318 during his junior year. The Huskies could have used him Saturday, as Mike’s old club was knocked out of the Big East Tournament by South Florida. While this means UConn’s season is over, give the team credit for knocking off Louisville, considered the favorite to take the league crown.

Chris McGuiness (The Citadel)

If you’re a baseball purist, you might be spending the weekend down in Greenville, South Carolina where the Southern Conference baseball championships are taking place. If you’re not though, don’t worry we won’t think any less of you.

However, the next time you’re at Dr Pepper Ballpark you can impress your friends by telling them that ‘Riders first baseman Chris McGuiness played for a So-Con school. Over a three year career with the Citadel, McGuiness pitched and played first base, while at the plate, he led the nation in walks during his junior year. Sadly there will be no magical run to Omaha for this bunch of Bulldogs. After an opening round win, the Citadel lost an elimination game to Elon Friday night.

Written by: Geoff Arnold

RoughRiders Around the Globe

Every September when the minor league season comes to an end and fall sets in, many think that it’s time for our RoughRiders to take a well earned vacation.  However, what many don’t realize is that minor leaguers around the country travel around the world to play winter and fall ball.  These leagues provide the players a chance for additional income and the opportunity to improve their game.  Here’s where some RoughRiders, and other Rangers’ farm-hands, will be sending post cards from this off-season:

Arizona Fall League

Players: Miguel De Los Santos, LHP; Leury Garcia, INF; Ryan Kelly, RHP; Leonys Martin, OF; Justin Miller, RHP; Mike Olt, INF; Neil Ramirez, RHP; Elio Sarmiento, C; Ryan Strausborger, OF; Johan Yan, RHP.  (All play for the Surprise Saguaros).

Mike Olt could possibly open up 2012 in Frisco (James Garner)

Rangers’ prospect Mike Olt was named the Arizona Fall League’s Player of the Week on Monday, batting .571 (8-14) with a double, 2 home runs, 8 RBI, and 5 walks the previous week.  The 23-year-old matched the Fall League’s single-game high with a 6 RBI effort on Friday and represented the Rangers and Saguaros in the AFL Rising Stars Game on Saturday. The 6 RBI performance gave the University of Connecticut product a share of the AFL RBI lead (30), while he also leads the league in both home runs (8) and slugging percentage (.705).

OF Leonys Martin has seen action with the Saguaros as a member of the club’s taxi squad and hit a home run in his Fall League debut on October 19…OF Ryan Strausborger has hit safely in 8 of his last 9 games, raising his season average to .327 (17-52). The Arizona Fall League regular season continues through November 17.

Mexican Winter League 

Players: Cody Eppley, RHP (Obregon); Jose Felix, C (Guasave)

RHP Cody Eppley has worked out of the bullpen for the Mexican Winter League’s Obregon, going 1-1 with a 3.60 ERA (6 ER/15.0 IP) over 14 appearances.

Dominican Winter League 

Players: Engel Beltre, OF (Licey); Julio Borbon, OF (Escogido); Fabio Castillo, RHP (La Romana); Andres James, INF (Licey); Carlos Pimentel, RHP (Escogido).

RHP Carlos Pimentel has posted a 0.82 ERA (1 ER/11.0 IP) with 15 strikeouts against 5 walks in 8 relief outings with Escogido.

Venezuelan Winter League 

Players: Wilfredo Boscan, RHP (Zulia); Joey  Butler, OF (Magallanes); Joseph Ortiz, LHP (La Guaira); Renny Osuna, INF (La Guaira); Guilder Rodriguez, INF (Lara); Tanner Scheppers, RHP (Magallanes).

Pan American Games

3B Tommy Mendonca and INF Chad Tracy each took home silver medals as part of Team USA in the Pan American Games hosted by Guadalajara, Mexico on October 19-25. Mendonca batted .333 (6-18) with one home run and a tournament-high 10 RBI in 5 games for Team USA, while Tracy hit .182 (2-11) with 2 RBI in 4 games. The Americans fell 2-1 to Canada in the Gold Medal Game and finished the tournament with a 3-2 record.

-AG

Olt Named AFL “Rising Star”

Yesterday I wrote about the success lefty Miguel De Los Santos is having in the prospect laden Arizona Fall League.  Hours after my posting, the AFL released the rosters for the annual Rising Stars Game played this Saturday at Surprise Stadium at 1 p.m. CST.

Among the 50 prospects that will be on display, the lone Rangers’ farm-hand selected was third baseman Mike Olt.  In 16 AFL games, Olt is tied for the league lead with six home runs.  His 22 runs batted in are the second-most.  Some great power numbers over a small sample size while hitting .309.

Mike Olt entered 2011 as the Rangers' No. 7 Prospect (James Garner)

You might remember Olt had a bit of an abbreviated 2011 season due to a home plate collision in early June that caused him to suffer a broken left collarbone.  The injury resulted in Olt essentially playing the equivalent of a short-season schedule: 69 games.  In that time the former supplemental first round pick out of Connecticut hit .267/14-HR/42-RBI.

The log-jam at third base from top to bottom in the Rangers’ system is a good problem for Texas to have and should be interesting to watch develop in 2012 and beyond.

In 66 games at third base in 2011, Olt committed just nine errors for a .954 fielding percentage (James Garner)

RoughRiders’ fans are well aware of the abilities of 2011 RoughRiders’ third baseman, Tommy Mendonca.  Tommy was a Midseason Texas League All-Star and had a incredible month of June when he hit .375 and was named the Rangers Minor League Player of the Month.  Mendo would be the first to say he struggled down the stretch, primarily with strikeouts.  Nevertheless, Mendonca played well defensively, proved to be a force in the ‘Riders lineup, and was a second-round draft pick.

Not to look too far up the ladder, but it is interesting to note  that at the major league level, first-year Rangers’ third baseman Adrian Beltre received his third career Gold Glove last night.  In January the Rangers inked the former Dodger, Mariner, and Red Sox to a six-year, $96 million contract.

So much for him only playing well in a contract year.

Does Mendonca open up 2012 in Round Rock and Olt in Frisco?  We’ll have to wait until April to find out.

-AG

P.S. A big thanks to RoughRiders’ team photographer James Garner for the pics in today’s blog.  He is somehow everywhere, including Surprise, Ariz. to take in some AFL baseball.

‘Riders in the Fall League

Once the playoffs end for the RoughRiders this year, Dr Pepper Ballpark will close its doors, the players will pack up their lockers, and everyone will deserve a long vacation. But what many don’t realize is that for a number of RoughRiders, the season doesn’t end. Many players travel to Venezuela, Puerto Rico, or Mexico to play in winter leagues to continue to get better and prepare for the next year.

A few select players, however, get the chance to remain stateside and play in the highly regarded Arizona Fall League. The 12-week, prospect driven league is entering its 20th season and is owned and operated by Major League Baseball.   Big league All-Stars such as Derek Jeter, Albert Pujols, and Ryan Braun have all spent time in the AFL.  This year, three current ‘Riders have been tabbed to play in the Fall League with the Surprise Rafters.

RHP, Neil Ramirez

The former 44th overall pick in the 2007 draft is 1-0 with a 1.89 ERA in Double-A this season through six starts.  The bulk of his season has been spent in Triple-A Round Rock where he made 17 starts and went 4-3 and had a 3.68 ERA.  The right-hander was placed on the disabled list in mid-July because of shoulder fatigue which has limited his innings in the Texas League.

When I talked with Neil following his start Thursday night in Corpus Christi he was excited to be selected for the Fall League.  “It’s a big honor, for sure.  It’s good competition and will great to see how you stack up.”  The righty wants to continue to hone his mechanics while he’s there.  “I plan on working on making good pitches and will focus on the backside of my delivery.  The Fall League will also give me a good idea what my off-season conditioning will look like.”

C, Elio Sarmiento

The ‘Riders switch-hitting catcher has had a terrific season in Frisco.  He hit .327 in 16 July games and has been a constant presence behind the plate for the ‘Riders.  He has always had a great rapport with the staff, but this has been his best offensive season in Double-A.  Elio is batting .378 with runners on base, and is hitting .356 with runners in scoring position.

His selection to the AFL is a great way to conclude his 2011 campaign and he’s clearly grateful.  “I feel blessed, it’s a great opportunity for me and I consider it a reward for all the hard work,”  His goals for the AFL season are pretty simple, “I want to finish healthy, do my best, and hope for even more opportunities with the Rangers.”

The Fall League works out well for Sarmiento because he makes his off-season home in Phoenix along with his wife and two children.  His mother-in-law is also in Phoenix and for just the second time, Elio’s mother will visit the U.S. from Venezuela and will be able to watch him play in Surprise.

RHP, Johan Yan

He was originally a shortstop then got too big for the position and moved to third base. Then his bat wasn’t cutting it so the Rangers’ moved him to the mound.  That didn’t work at first either.  The last ditch effort was to change Yan from the traditional over-the-top delivery to a side-arm approach.

Bingo.

The right-hander went from thinking his playing days were over to now being selected to the top off-season league in the country.  In 43 appearances combined between High-A Myrtle Beach and Frisco, Johan has allowed just eight earned runs in slightly over 66 innings of work and has a Double-A earned run average of 0.36.  On August 15th against Tulsa he gave up his first earned run since June 1 when he was pitching with the Pelicans.

Like Neil and Elio, Yan is a hard worker who has really made the most of his opportunities and will only get better in Arizona.

Former ‘Rider from early in the season Miguel de los Santos will also be going to Surprise to play in the AFL.  He’s pitched with Myrtle Beach after being placed on the DL with a shoulder injury after making six starts with Frisco.

The remaining prospects tabbed to play in Arizona who you have to imagine will be future RoughRiders are RHP Ryan Kelly, SS Leury Garcia, 3B Mike Olt, and OF Ryan Strausborger.

Congrats to Neil, Elio, Johan, and the rest of the group.  We’ll keep you posted on how their season goes here on the Insider Blog.

-AG

Rangers Roundup – Prospects Edition

NOTE: Like this piece? Check out our look at ten RoughRiders’ drastic improvement from last year to this year, which has put all of them on the prospect radar.

The Rangers’ farm system is among the best in baseball, and top-flight prospects play with all of the club’s affiliates. Today, Stephen Harmon takes you around the system and discusses some of the best farmhands within the Rangers’ organization.

Round Rock Express (Triple-A):

Leonys Martin: The 23-year-old Cuban center fielder batted .348 with four homers and ten stolen bases over 29 games with Frisco before being promoted to Round Rock July 9. According to some scouts, Martin has a matured approach at the plate. However, he needs to become more comfortable in the outfield.  Martin, who signed a five-year, $15.5 million contract May 4, is 8-for-20 in his first five games as a member of the Express.

Martin Perez: After ranking Perez as the top pre season prospect in the Rangers organization, Baseball America rated Perez the sixth best prospect in all of minor league baseball in their midseason rankings. The twenty-year-old Venezuelan native received a promotion to Round Rock July 14 after posting a 4-2 record with a 3.16 ERA. He led the RoughRiders in strikeouts with 83 over 88.1 innings.

Neil Ramirez: The 2007 first-round draft pick opened the year in Myrtle Beach before being called up to Round Rock for a temporary spot start. However, he was impressive enough to earn a regular turn in the rotation where he has posted a 3.77 ERA with 82 strikeouts over 71.2 innings.

Frisco RoughRiders (Double-A):

Robbie Erlin: The left-handed starter is undefeated since joining Frisco, going 5-1 with a 3.95 ERA as of July 15th. Erlin has impressed scouts with his command and mature approach to pitching. It is easy to forget that he is twenty years old and already in Double-A. The former third-rounder boasted a 53 to 6 strikeout to walk ratio.

Tanner Scheppers The third best prospect in the Rangers’ farm system has returned from a lower back injury that sidelined him after one start in Round Rock. The 2009 first round draft pick made his 2011 Frisco debut June 19and has compiled a 3.68 ERA with 11 strikeouts in five appearances. Scheppers owns the best fastball and curveball in the system (Baseball America).

Myrtle Beach Pelicans (High-A):

Mike Olt: The third baseman is rated as the seventh best prospect in the organization according to Baseball America. The 49th overall pick in the 2010 draft entered the season headlining a talented Myrtle Beach team. However, the Connecticut native broke his collarbone sliding into home plate June 6 and is likely to be out the remainder of the season.  At the time of the injury, Olt was hitting .286 with 10 homeruns in 54 games.

Robbie Ross: Ross was selected in the second round of the 2008 draft and ranked 24th on Baseball America’s Rangers top prospect list. The lefty opened the season at Myrtle Beach and has been there the entire year. Through his first three starts in July, the Kentucky native posted a 1.06 ERA. Overall, his ERA sits at 2.40.

Barret Loux: Loux was slotted as the 19th prospect in the Rangers organization entering 2011 and he hasn’t disappointed. Through July 15, the 6’5’’ Texas A&M product leads the Pelicans with 108 strikeouts in 90.1 innings.

Miguel de los Santos: Overshadowed by the success of Ross and Loux, de los Santos came of the DL on June 29 after starting the year in Frisco where he experienced command issues. However, through his first three starts for the Pelicans in July, the Rangers’ tenth best farmhand went 2-1 with a 2.57 ERA and 19 strikeouts.

Hickory Crawdads (Low-A):

Jurickson Profar: Profar started the season as the number two prospect in the organization in just his second year of pro ball. The Curacao native is hitting .272 with nine home runs and 38 RBIs. Scouts have been impressed with his advanced plate discipline as an 18 year old. In the XM All-Star Futures Game last week, Profar posted an RBI triple for the World Team.

Jake Skole: Skole earned the South Atlantic League player of the week honors June 14. The 19-year-old Georgia native is improving every game and has seen his average jump to .278 after struggling to hit .219 in May. Skole was drafted 15th overall in the 2010 draft.

Spokane Indians (Short-Season):

Will Lamb: Standing at 6’6”, the Clemson standout has shown why the Rangers selected him the 2nd round last month. Lamb has compiled 17 strikeouts in his first ten innings of work. After five relief appearances, Lamb made his first professional start July 10, going three innings and allowing one run while striking out three.

Zach Cone: Cone was selected 37th overall in this year’s draft and has adjusted quickly to using wooden bats. The University of Georgia product hit .359 in his first month of professional baseball. Known for his power/speed combo, Cone swiped seven steals in his first 17 games.

Surprise Rangers (Rookie):

Luis Sardinas: The 18 year-old shortstop out of Venezuela enters his second year at Arizona after only appearing in 22 games last year. Many comparisons have been made between Sardinas and Profar, but the consensus is that Luis is more of a contact hitter than Profar. Through the first twelve games of 2011, Sardinas is batting .289.

A Bit of a Break

Unfortunately, this will probably be the last blog until Monday or so. The entire MLBlog universe will undergo a migration to a different server, so we will not be able to upload any new posts. The details are discussed here.

In fact, you won’t even be able to view this blog. When you type in our URL (or any MLBlog’s URL), you will be directed to the community blog. It’s really too bad they are doing this during the season, especially at an exciting time like this one for the RoughRiders.

But, we will try to bulk up our coverage to you on Twitter. We will give plenty of updates there, including some extra coverage to the newest RoughRider–Leonys Martin. If you missed yesterday’s blog, check it out for plenty on Martin’s introductory press conference yesterday in Arlington.

Here are some Facts before the opener of this four-game series.

FRISCO FACTS:

  • Leonys Martin is indeed in the lineup in center field tonight. He will hit first and wear number 20. Martin arrived early and is gearing up for the first affiliated game of his career.
  • To make room for Martin on the 24-man roster, starter Miguel De Los Santos has been placed on the disabled list with a shoulder injury. De Los Santos’ turn in the rotation was supposed to be tomorrow night. Carlos Pimentel will move up a day and start, which will be on normal rest because of the off day Wednesday. The “to be announced” label shifts to Saturday night’s game with regards to Frisco’s starter.
  • Scott Lucas of the Newberg Report came out with his monthly Minor League Players of the Month, and a few RoughRiders made the cut. On the offensive side, Jonathan Greene was fifth on the list, with Mike Bianucci one spot below him. Myrtle Beach’s Mike Olt topped the countdown. Olt also earned the Rangers’ minor league award for April.
  • Speaking of Bianucci, he has homered in consecutive ballgames for the second time this season. He has also gone deep in three of his last four games. Through 32 contests, Bianucci has 11 homers, which is tied with San
    Antonio’s Cody Decker for the Texas League lead. In other words, he has
    homered once every 11.4 at bats. He also sits fifth in the TL with 28
    runs batted in.
  • As for the pitchers, Martin Perez, the only ‘Rider on Lucas’ list, was fifth. Round Rock’s Neil Ramirez took home that honor along with the Rangers’ pitcher of the month award.
  • In his first Triple-A appearance, Mark Hamburger worked a scoreless seventh and eighth in Round Rock’s 7-5, 10-inning victory at Tucson last night. The former RoughRider whiffed two and scattered three hits. 
  • Here’s a key nugget for this weekend’s series with the Hooks–J.D. Martinez has been placed on the seven-day disabled list. The move was just made, but Martinez can return whenever he is healthy. He has not played in a game since May 5 (seven days ago). Martinez leads Corpus Christi with 30 RBIs, which puts him in a tie for second in the league. He is also fourth in the TL in batting average (.340).
  • Martinez’s replacement in left field has been Jake Goebbert. Since being promoted from high-A Lancaster, Goebbert has hit .294 (5-for-17) with two RBIs and two runs. This is Goebbert’s first crack at the Double-A level.

Again, this will likely be our last blog until Monday. Follow us on Twitter for the latest news and notes over the weekend. We’ll be back early next week.

- Brian

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