Results tagged ‘ Minor League ’
NORTH DIVISION OPPONENTS:
Arkansas Travelers – Name derived from an old folk song, The Arkansas Traveler, which was the state song of Arkansas from 1949 to 1963. The music was composed in the 19th century by Colonel Sanford C. ‘Sandy’ Faulkner, and the lyrics were written in 1947.
Northwest Arkansas Naturals – Named partially after the state’s nickname as the “Natural State” and also after the Robert Redford film, The Natural. Bob Rich, Jr. of Rich Products Corporation, the Naturals ownership group, bought the Double-A Buffalo Bisons in 1983. That year, Hollywood producers approached Rich about filming scenes of The Natural at Buffalo’s War Memorial Stadium. Following the release of the film, attendance at Bisons’ games nearly tripled and the team moved to the Triple-A American Association. In a fan vote, the “Naturals” name was chosen, receiving 33% of the vote. The second-place choice “Thunder Chickens” received 27%.
Springfield Cardinals – The only team in the Texas League who currently shares the same name as their Major League affiliate. In 1931, the St. Louis Cardinals purchased a Minor League team, renamed it the Cardinals, and moved it to Springfield. Following the 1946 season, St. Louis moved the team to St. Joseph, Mo. The new Springfield Cardinals began play in the Texas League in 2005, but the dugouts at Hammons Field still include championship banners from the 1930s and 1940s.
Tulsa Drillers – Name was carried over from the Lafayette Drillers who moved to Tulsa in 1977. Tulsa’s original Minor League team was named the Oilers and played Triple-A baseball, but the team moved to New Orleans. The new team opted to keep the Drillers name, due to the importance of oil to the city’s economy, and the ballpark changed its name from Oiler Park to Driller Park.
SOUTH DIVISION OPPONENTS:
Corpus Christi Hooks – Named for the city’s association with fishing, which is very popular on the Gulf Coast of Texas. Team’s colors are navy blue and light blue, representing the sea water and the sky.
Midland RockHounds – Nickname originated in 1999 when Midland’s team became an Oakland Athletic affiliate. They were originally known as the Midland Cubs and the Midland Angels, but the team wanted to have a name that would honor local tradition and be unique. A RockHound is simply a nickname for a geologist and it acknowledges the oil and gas industry in west Texas. The RockHounds became one of the early adopters in the current wave of fun, kid-friendly, location-specific Minor League nicknames.
San Antonio Missions – Named after a chain of five missions that were established along the San Antonio River in the 18th century. It became the largest concentration of Catholic missions in North America. The most famous mission is The Alamo, which is featured on the Missions’ logo.
Baseball term of the day: light tower power piece – A towering home run; a truly awesome blast.
(term from The Dickson Baseball Dictionary)
0 – Losses in series openers
1 – Place in Texas League South division standings
2 – Grand slams for Ryan Cordell
2.95 – Earned run average (lowest in league)
3 – Series sweeps
3.5 – Games ahead of second-place Midland
4 – Total losses
5 – Straight road wins to open the season
5.2 – Runs scored per game (most in league)
6 – Longest win streak (4/25-4/30)
7 – Wins in series openers
8 – Comeback wins
9 – Doubles for Cordell (leads league)
10 – Innings with four or more runs scored
11.1 – Consecutive scoreless innings pitched by Ryne Slack
12 – Longest game (innings), Riders came back to beat Arkansas 6-4
13 – Wins when leading after six innings (no losses)
14 – Singles for Cordell
15 – Extra-base hits for Cordell
16 – Cordell’s league-leading hit streak
17 – Total wins
18 – Home runs
19 – Consecutive batters retired by Richelson Pena (4/7-4/11)
20 – Runs scored by Cordell (leads league)
21 – Games played (best start in team history)
22 – RBI for Cordell (leads Rangers organization – MLB & MiLB)
24 – Sixth-inning runs
42 – Run differential (largest in league)
61 – Total wins by Rangers affiliates, more than any other farm system
6,682 – Average attendance (highest in league)
10,004 – Largest crowd at Dr Pepper Ballpark (4/30)
Baseball term of the day: automobile squint – The theory when automobiles first became popular that driving one adversely affected a ballplayer’s batting eye.
(term from The Dickson Baseball Dictionary)
Ryan Cordell etched his name into the RoughRiders record books in the second inning of last night’s 5-2 victory over Corpus Christi.
Cordell blasted his second grand slam of the season, which is awfully impressive. But in addition, it was also his second one of the week. His first one was on Saturday against Northwest Arkansas.
With two grand slams already, Cordell became the only Minor Leaguer to reach that mark so far in 2016. He joins Washington Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper as the only other player in professional baseball to accomplish the feat this year.
Cordell has already surpassed Frisco’s total number of grand slams as a team last season. The Riders only hit one, coming off the bat of Pat Cantwell on June 24 against Midland. Frisco’s largest number of grand slams as a team in a single regular season is five, occurring in both 2009 and 2013.
Last year, Renato Nunez (Midland) hit grand slams on back-to-back days against Frisco on September 5 and 6. The RockHounds hit more grand slams in 2015 than any other team in Texas League with seven, while the RoughRiders were tagged for a league-high five.
The last time the Riders hit grand slams in the same week as a team was in 2013. Ryan Rua knocked one out against Corpus Christi on August 28, and Teodoro Martinez followed with another on September 1 at Midland.
Prior to Cordell, Brett Nicholas was the most recent Rider to hit two grand slams. His were also in 2013, on April 28 against Corpus Christi and August 18 facing Tulsa.
Mike Olt and Chris McGuiness hit grand slams two days apart in 2012, on June 9 and 11 against San Antonio and Midland, respectively. McGuiness went on to slug another one later in the season on August 12 at Northwest Arkansas.
Jason Botts and Ian Kinsler were the only RoughRiders to hit grand slams in the same game on July 21, 2004. Botts’ grand slam came off San Antonio’s Felix Hernandez, just over a year before “King Felix” made his Major League debut with Seattle in August 2005.
Cordell joins Nicholas, McGuiness, and Chad Tracy as the only players to hit two grand slams in the same season for the Riders. Tracy’s two came in 2009 on July 10 against Springfield and August 7 against San Antonio. Adam Fox also had two grand slams for Frisco, one in 2005 and another in 2009.
33 different players have combined to hit 38 grand slams for the Riders in team history. However, nobody has ever hit more than two. But if the bases are loaded again for Cordell in his time with Frisco, he will have a chance to become the first.
Riders grand slams by year (regular season only):
Ryan Cordell (2)
Brett Nicholas (2)
Chris McGuiness (2)
Chad Tracy (2)
Baseball term of the day: apply the whitewash – To shut out; to keep the opponent from scoring.
(term from The Dickson Baseball Dictionary)
For Connor Sadzeck, the road to Frisco and a spot on the Rangers 40-man roster was a unique one.
The Crystal Lake, Illinois native was selected by Texas in the 11th round of the 2011 MLB Draft after his freshman year at Howard College in Big Spring, Texas, located 45 miles northeast of Midland. After a year with short-season Single-A Spokane, Sadzeck shined in his first full season with Single-A Hickory.
The righty went 12-4 for the Crawdads and led the South Atlantic League with a 2.25 ERA. He was a candidate to start the 2014 season in either High-A Myrtle Beach or Frisco. However, things did not go according to that plan.
In the offseason, Sadzeck had “Tommy John” surgery and was unable to pitch in 2014. However, he came back even stronger than ever. His fastball was clocked as fast as 101 miles per hour, according to Baseball America.
On the road to recovery, Sadzeck and his newfound velocity made the journey out west the following year with High-A High Desert in the California League. Two years later and 3,000 miles away from his last stop in Hickory, he experienced many up and downs during 11 games and eight starts with the Mavericks.
“I was feeling it out and learning how to pitch again,” Sadzeck said. “I was throwing a lot harder than I had been, so I was just learning how to pitch with that newfound velocity.”
On the first day of August, Sadzeck received his promotion to the Riders. The highlight of his month with the Riders came on August 20 at Tulsa. Sadzeck pitched six no-hit innings against the Drillers in his only win of the season with Frisco. He threw 88 pitches in the outing before he was relieved, which was his highest pitch count since returning from the surgery.
“Last year, I felt pretty good coming back,” Sadzeck said. “I felt strong last year. I think I had a little stint two starts into the season where the shoulder flared up a little bit, which was normal. But I felt pretty strong throughout the year.”
During the offseason, while pitching with the Surprise Saguaros of the Arizona Fall League, Sadzeck received a call from the Texas Rangers sharing the news that he had been added to the 40-man roster.
“Our pitching coordinator gave me a call in the morning and let me know I was going to be added,” Sadzeck said. “But the toughest part was I couldn’t say anything until it was officially released. It didn’t feel real because I couldn’t share it with anyone for about five hours until it was released. But it was awesome and a great day.”
When the news of Sadzeck’s addition was finally released, the first people he called were his parents. The tight-lipped pitcher had managed to not say a word to anyone, even his mother and father, until it was official.
“I didn’t want to jeopardize anything, so I did not let them know right away,” Sadzeck said. “I know they would be excited and probably tell some people. So I didn’t share it. But I called them first after it was announced, and they were obviously ecstatic.”
Sadzeck was joined on the 40-man roster by many former Riders as well as current pitcher Jose Leclerc. This year, in his second season at the Double-A level, Sadzeck has been focusing on making several adjustments to help improve his skills on the mound.
“So far this year, I have been kind of dialing it back and learning how to stay within my mechanics,” Sadzeck said. “It has been helping me keep the ball in the zone. I am very excited about this year and seeing how I can bounce back a little better down the stretch this year.”
If his first start was any indication, Sadzeck may be in for another milestone campaign like the one he had three years ago with Hickory. On April 8, Frisco’s second game of the season on the road against Northwest Arkansas, Sadzeck hurled six scoreless innings and only allowed two hits in a win.
Despite only striking out three batters, Sadzeck was extremely efficient on the mound in the start. He only needed 64 pitches to get through his six innings of work, and he also induced a pair of ground-ball double plays.
“I felt like I was just pitching to contact, throwing my fastball over the plate,” Sadzeck said. “The velocity was good and my breaking pitches were effective as well.”
He followed up the impressive first start with another win the following week in the RoughRiders’ second home game at Dr Pepper Ballpark. Sadzeck held the same Naturals to just one run and struck out five batters in his second straight victory.
Sadzeck is currently ranked the No. 27 prospect in the Rangers organization, according to MLB Pipeline. He is one of six players on the RoughRiders roster listed in either MLB Pipeline or Baseball America’s list of the Top 30 Rangers prospects. Although the expectations are even higher this year, Sadzeck believes he is prepared to succeed with the Riders this season.
“I think last year I just put a lot of pressure on myself because I was coming off ‘Tommy John’ surgery, and knew I had the possibility of being added to the 40-man roster,” Sadzeck said. “I added that stress to myself. But this year I can kind of rest easier, knowing that I’m healthy, and I can be a little more relaxed.”
Sadzeck is one of the 17 players returning to the Riders this season, including four of the five pitchers in the starting rotation. This year’s Frisco team begins with a whole lot of veteran experience, as the group continues their quest for a first-half division title, a berth in the Texas League playoffs, and their first league championship since 2004.
Sadzeck (2-0, 0.82 ERA) is scheduled to make his third start of the season tonight at 7:05 against Corpus Christi. Listen online or through the TuneIn Radio app (Nathan Barnett and Ryan Rouillard).
Baseball term of the day: ancient mariner – A poor infielder.
The beginning of Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s poem, “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” (1798): “Like the Ancient Mariner, he stoppeth one of three. / By the long gray beard and glittering eye, / Now wherefore stopp’st thou me?”
The Mariner detained one of three young men going to a wedding feast and mesmerized him with the story of his youthful experiences at sea.
Bob Edwards (Fridays with Red, 1993, p.45) mentioned a letter from John Bunzel, who attributed the term to Red Barber: “One afternoon he described a game in which the shortstop kicked away two ground balls before making a good play on the third–at which Red declared, ‘Like the Ancient Mariner, he stoppeth one of three!”
(term from The Dickson Baseball Dictionary)
With another victory over Northwest Arkansas last night, the Riders continue to keep pace with the 2008 squad for the best start in team history at 7-1.
4/3 at SPR
4/4 at SPR
4/5 at SPR
4/6 at ARK
4/7 at ARK
4/10 vs. SPR
4/11 vs. SPR
4/12 vs. SPR
W, 7-4 (11)
4/7 at NWA
4/8 at NWA
4/9 at NWA
4/10 at ARK
4/11 at ARK
4/12 at ARK
4/14 vs. NWA
4/15 vs. NWA
W, 6-4 (12)
There are many similarities in the way the two teams started their season. They both lost their sixth game. They both won three of their first eight games by two runs or less. They both won a road game in extra innings.
Now, let’s take a look at some of the numbers through the first eight games and see how the two teams compare statistically.
Very similar, indeed.
27 of the 57 players who appeared in a game for the RoughRiders in 2008 ended up playing Major League Baseball at some point in their career. Frisco made it to the 2008 Texas League Championship Series but lost to Arkansas in a thrilling five-game series.
If this year’s team continues to follow in the footsteps of their fellow Riders from eight years ago, this will surely be another historic year of baseball at Dr Pepper Ballpark.
Baseball term of the day: Greyhound squad – The daily list of players cut from a Major League club’s Spring Training roster, who then presumably leave for their Minor League assignments on Greyhound buses
(term from The Dickson Baseball Dictionary)
Last week, prior to the first game of the RoughRiders season at Northwest Arkansas, Ryan wrote a piece about the magic of Opening Day. While Opening Day is certainly something to look forward to, only half the teams in a league actually begin their season at home.
For the other teams, like the Riders this year, Opening Day comes on the road. Sure, there is magic in the air when the players step out on the field for the first time. But it is a different feeling when you are the visitors and not the ones receiving cheers from the crowd.
Home openers are always special, no matter if they fall on the first game of the year or the ninth. For this year’s Riders, the home opener is scheduled for today after the team won five of six road games to begin the season.
While Frisco’s record on Opening Day is 8-6, their record in home openers is not nearly as pretty. The Riders are 4-9 in the first game at Dr Pepper Ballpark, including a 0-8 mark in home openers after beginning play on the road.
Here is a look at the year-by-year results in home openers at Dr Pepper Ballpark:
April 9, 2015 vs. Arkansas: L, 8-4 (Attendance: 8228)
April 4, 2014 vs. Northwest Arkansas: L, 3-1 (Attendance: 8211)
April 11, 2013 vs. Arkansas: L, 6-3 (Attendance: 9267)
April 12, 2012 vs. Springfield: L, 4-3 (Attendance: 7258)
April 7, 2011 vs. Springfield: W, 6-2 (Attendance: 7150)
April 8, 2010 vs. Springfield: W, 2-1 (Attendance: 8301)
April 16, 2009 vs. Springfield: L, 11-9 (Attendance: 7342)
April 10, 2008 vs. Springfield: L, 12-5 (Attendance: 9771)
April 5, 2007 vs. Arkansas: W, 3-2 (Attendance: 8458)
April 6, 2006 vs. Midland: W, 4-2 (Attendance: 8816)
April 12, 2005 vs. Corpus Christi: L, 4-1 (Attendance: 8723)
April 18, 2004 vs. Tulsa: L, 4-1 (Attendance: 10,773)
April 3, 2003 vs. Tulsa: L, 16-2 (Attendance: 10,685)
The RoughRiders will try to snap their four-game losing streak in home openers when they take the field tonight against the Naturals. Last week, Frisco swept Northwest Arkansas in a three-game series at Arvest Ballpark to begin the season. LHP Frank Lopez (1-0, 0.00 ERA) takes the mound for the Riders against LHP Matt Strahm (0-0, 0.00 ERA) for the Naturals.
Baseball term of the day: four-ribeye steak – synonym of grand slam
(term from The Dickson Baseball Dictionary)
This week, the initial RoughRiders roster for the 2016 season was announced. The 26 players on the roster come to Frisco from four nations and 12 different states in the U.S. Here is some addition information about the cities each of our players call home.
Simi Valley, California – Cody Buckel
- Population: 126,871
- Fun fact: Home of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library
- Notable baseball player: Jered Weaver
San Diego, California – Matt Bush
- Population: 1,381,069
- Fun fact: Nicknamed “The Birthplace of California”
- Notable baseball player: Ted Williams
Henrico, Virginia – Reed Garrett
- Population: 321,924
- County surrounding Richmond, VA
- Fun fact: Home of Richmond International Raceway, home to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races twice a year
- Notable baseball player: Jackie Bradley, Jr.
- Population: 1,506,233
- Capital and largest city in the Dominican Republic
- Fun fact: Oldest continuously inhabited European settlement in the Americas (founded in 1496)
- Notable baseball player: Albert Pujols
Esperanza, Dominican Republic – Jose Leclerc
- Population: 70,588
- Fun fact: One of three municipalities in the Valverde province
- Notable baseball player: Hector Noesi
San Jose de Guanipa, Venezuela – Frank Lopez
- Population: 76,914
- Fun fact: Also known as El Tigrito
- Notable baseball player: Odubel Herrera (RoughRiders ’13-14)
Easton, Maryland – Adam Parks
- Population: 16,687
- Fun fact: Location of the Third Haven Meeting House, the oldest Quaker meeting house
- Notable baseball player: Harold Baines
Valverde Mao, Dominican Republic – Richelson Pena
- Population: 106,818
- Nicknamed “Ciudad de los Bellos Atardeceres” (City of the Beautiful Sunsets)
- Fun fact: Holds the record for the highest temperature ever recorded in the Dominican Republic (109.4 degrees Fahrenheit, 43 degrees Celsius)
- Notable baseball player: Pedro Borbon
Crystal Lake, Illinois – Connor Sadzeck
- Population: 40,743
- Fun fact: The tradition of giving gold coins to the Salvation Army anonymously began in 1982
- Notable baseball player: Mike Myers
Ninety Six, South Carolina – Ryne Slack
- Population: 1,998
- Fun fact: Origin of the city’s name is a mystery
- Notable baseball player: Bill Voiselle
Rapid City, South Dakota – Sam Wolff
- Population: 67,956
- Fun fact: Known as the “Gateway to the Black Hills” and the “City of Presidents”
- Notable baseball player: Mark Ellis
Des Moines, Washington – Alex Burg
- Population: 31,011
- Fun fact: City was homesteaded by a group from Des Moines, Iowa
- Notable baseball player: Brandon Mann
West Islip, New York – Pat Cantwell
- Population: 28,335
- Fun fact: Situated on the South Shore of Long Island, exactly halfway between Manhattan and Southampton, N.Y. (45 miles from each)
- Notable baseball player: Nick Tropeano
Langley, British Columbia, Canada – Kellin Deglan
- Population: 25,081
- Fun fact: Langley represented Canada in 2011 Little League World Series
- Notable baseball player: Brett Lawrie
La Vega, Dominican Republic – Ronald Guzman
- Population: 235,698
- Fun fact: The city was moved to the bank of the Camu River after an earthquake in 1564
- Notable baseball player: Jonathan Villar
Honolulu, Hawaii – Isiah Kiner-Falefa
- Population: 390,738
- Fun fact: Jackie Robinson played football with the Honolulu Bears, a semi-pro, racially integrated team in 1941. Robinson left Honolulu on December 5, two days before the World War II attack on Pearl Harbor.
- Notable baseball player: Ron Darling
San Francisco de Macoris, Dominican Republic – Luis Marte
- Population: 245,397
- Fun fact: Capital of Duarte province
- Notable baseball player: Hanser Alberto (RoughRiders ’13-14)
San Juan de los Morros, Venezuela – Luis Mendez
- Population: 125,347
- Fun fact: Capital of Guarico state
- Notable baseball player: Franklin Morales
Licey Al Medio, Dominican Republic – Alberto Triunfel
- Population: 69,321
- Fun fact: Santiago’s Cibao International Airport is located here
- Notable baseball player: Gabriel Arias
Dallas, Texas – Preston Beck
- Population: 1,281,047
- Fun fact: Dallas is the fourth most populous metropolitan area in the United States
- Notable baseball player: Ernie Banks
Tamarac, Florida – Lewis Brinson
- Population: 63,793
- Fun fact: Motto is “The City for your Life!”
- Notable baseball player: Matt Ford
Stone Mountain, Georgia – Zach Cone
- Population: 5,802
- Fun fact: Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech includes the line “let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia”
- Notable baseball player: Brandon Phillips
Orangevale, California – Ryan Cordell
- Population: 33,960
- Fun fact: Known for its rolling hills that offer the best views of the Sierra Nevada mountain range and its foothills
- Notable baseball player: Manny Parra
Simpsonville, South Carolina – Joe Jackson
- Population: 19,056
- Fun fact: Home of the 2008 Little League Softball Champions
- Notable baseball player: Red Barbary
Baseball term of the day: arm behind the barn – the undiscovered pitching phenom that early scouts were always in search of
(term from The Dickson Baseball Dictionary)
This marks the sixth day of the RoughRiders Media Relations Department’s travels at Spring Training in and around Phoenix, Arizona. In this installment, Steve Goldberg tells the story of a RoughRiders fan who has traveled with the Rangers to Spring Training for the past 27 years. All installments can be found here, including Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, Day 4, and Day 5.
Nathan, Ryan, and I have spent the majority of our week here at Spring Training out on the back fields in Surprise, covering former RoughRiders and other players that will soon be a part of the team.
When you watch a game on the back fields, it is an entirely different experience than taking in the action at the main stadium. There are small crowds of about 50 people made up of mostly players, coaches, a few writers, and a handful of Minor League baseball fans.
I was watching the Rangers squad play the Royals the other day and encountered a fan sitting next to me who was a Northwest Arkansas Naturals season ticket holder since their inaugural Texas League season in 2008. Every time a former Natural stepped up to bat, she screamed their name and said, “Come on! Hit a home run! It’s your turn now!”
The second day we were here, Ryan and I had just finished talking to Ryan Strausborger when two RoughRiders fans approached us. They introduced themselves and recounted their memories of Strausborger playing at Dr Pepper Ballpark.
Sheree Bernstein and her mother Edie are loyal Riders fans and Rangers fans. Sheree, a founder of the Riders Booster Club, has followed the Rangers to Spring Training for the past 27 years and can frequently be seen on the back fields in Surprise watching the Minor League games.
Sheree and her mother Edie have countless Spring Training stories about their experiences with former RoughRiders and Rangers over the years. They are season ticket holders at Dr Pepper Ballpark. As much as they love attending RoughRiders home games, they also enjoy the feeling of watching past, present, and future Riders play on practice fields in front of very small crowds.
After meeting Sheree and Edie, I asked if they would share their Spring Training story with our readers here on the blog. They agreed. The following words are Sheree’s.
I would consider us “baseball lifers”. We might not have played or started life as fans. But somewhere along the way, the game and interest in those that play it, run it, and also love it grabbed a hold. We don’t foresee a time it’s not a big part of our lives.
It all began for me when I became an ‘Astros Buddy’ in the mid ‘70s. Going to Astros games in Houston was a way for me to spend quality time with my dad. My love for baseball evolved over time. Mom and I both have spent time as baseball employees. I was an usher, and Mom was a hostess at Dr Pepper Ballpark’s JCPenney Club.
Spring Training has been a big part of our baseball lives for the last 27 years. We started back at the Rangers’ camp in Port Charlotte, Fla., and continued on to the current complex in Surprise. We love the climate, the scenery, the people, and the immersion of baseball for a couple weeks each year.
Mom likes to remember seeing Elvis Andrus when he was young and shy. She has enjoyed seeing him grow into a team leader. Not to mention, he is also an All-Star caliber player.
We love Spring Training so much because it is an opportunity to meet up with friends and get to see the big league team come together up close. We also reacquaint with former players who have already come through Frisco and those that may soon be arriving. We love the relaxed atmosphere and the chance to see the players develop, grow, and mature from one year to the next.
As you can see, Sheree’s passion for baseball is evident. The small handful of fans like Sheree and Edie who attend the Minor League games feel like they are a part of the action on the opposite side of the chain-link fence.
The back fields provide a much more intimate Spring Training setting than the main Surprise Stadium. The “baseball lifers” like Sheree, Edie, and that Northwest Arkansas Naturals fan know that even though the players on the field may not be superstars yet, their opportunity is just a few steps away.
And that, to me, is the most beautiful thing about baseball.
Baseball term of the day: foozler – a lucky base hit
(term from The Dickson Baseball Dictionary)
March Madness 2015 is nine months away. Regardless of how your team fared in the tourney this year, it’s never out of season to relive the highlights with the “One Shining Moment” montage produced by CBS every year since 1987. For 11 of the past 12 years, the video has featured the dulcet tones of Luther Vandross (the lone exception being 2010 when Jennifer Hudson voiced the lyrics). Vandross would have plenty of shining moments to sing about if he voiced the soundtrack to the RoughRiders season thus far (alas, Vandross passed away all too soon in 2005 at the age of 54).
The many acmes of the past month, both on an individual and team level, manifest themselves this past week when the Texas Rangers announced their Minor League Player of the Month awards for May. Every month, the Rangers scan the farm and anoint the top player, pitcher, reliever and defender. All four recipients in May play for the ‘Riders, although to be fair, Joey Gallo and Alex “Chi Chi” Gonzalez earned recognition for their performance with Advanced-A Myrtle Beach. Still, that doesn’t stop us from throwing out our collective chests a little bit here in Frisco, especially given the initial returns from Gallo and Gonzalez in Double-A.
In a salutary gesture to these top performers, we spotlight their one (of many) shining moments in the month of May:
- RHP Phil Klein – Minor League Reliever of the Month
Shining Moment: Sunday, May 25 vs. Springfield – 2.0IP, 0H, 0R, 0BB, 2K, 6BF, SV
Klein shined throughout the month of May and in nine appearances, recorded six saves in as many chances (he had zero saves in the first month of the season). The 25-year-old allowed one run on five hits and three walks over 12 2/3 innings pitched (0.71 ERA) and produced. Several performances stand out, such as Klein’s four strikeouts in two innings against the San Antonio Missions on May 2. In another game against the Missions on May 16, the native of Gahanna, Ohio posted a nearly identical line as the highlighted game above with two strikeouts over two innings of shutout baseball.
Although his four strikeout performance tied a season high, it occurred late in an 8-3 loss to San Antonio with the game already out of reach. While Klein earned the save for his work on the 16th, the ‘Riders won by three runs.
Against Springfield, however, Jason Wood asked the 6-foot-7, 260-pounder to protect a one-run lead with the playoff race in full swing. Klein threw 17 of his 26 pitches for strikes en route to the six-out save and retired the final batter in both innings on strikes.
The 30th round draft choice has continued his roll into June and he has not allowed a run in 13 2/3 innings. Klein’s ERA stands at 0.89 and his eight saves rank fourth in the Texas League.
- C Tomás Telis – Minor League Defender of the Month
Shining Moment: Thursday, May 8 vs. Corpus Christi – 2/4, R, HR, 3RBI, 2CS, PO
Let’s be honest: defense isn’t the only component that goes into the Defender of the Month Award. Let’s be honest about something else: the Rangers could not give Player of the Month honors to anyone other than Joey Gallo. That being said, Telis posted some of the best offensive numbers on the farm by someone not named Gallo, and also showed flashes of defensive merit.
As May closed, Telis paced the Texas League in batting average with a .347 mark. The switch-hitter’s high water mark came on May 18 when his average hit .356 after a 3-for-4 performance at the plate with a double and a stolen base.
The shining moment of the month for the 23-year-old (as of June 18) showcases Telis’s versatility on both offense and defense. His three-run home run in the third inning helped propel the RoughRiders to a 5-3 win and his three RBI tied a season single-game high.
Scouts love Telis for his lightning quick jump time from the crouch behind home plate to the throwing position. This helps give Telis a faster jump on would-be basestealers. His pop behind the dish cost the Hooks on the 8th when the Venezuelan threw out two runners at second base. In addition, he caught Matt Duffy napping with a lead off second and doubled him off to end the fifth.
- 3B Joey Gallo – Minor League Player of the Month
Shining Moment: Friday, May 30 vs. Carolina – 2/4, 3R, 2HR (GS), 7RBI, BB
Boy, this was tough. Gallo, now the three-time defending Player of the Month (dating back to last season) posted video game numbers on more than one occasion in May. Against the Potomac Nationals on May 16, the 20-year-old went a perfect 4-for-4 with four runs, three home runs and five RBI. It was Gallo’s second three-home run game of the season (April 23)
Special thanks to Pelicans’ broadcaster Nathan Barnett for helping us break the tie on this one. True, Gallo hit fewer home runs on the 30th (amazing we are even using multiple home runs as a metric here), but his seven RBI against the Carolina Mudcats tied a Pelicans franchise record.
Also, consider the timeliness of Gallo’s two homers against Carolina. His three-run home run left the park in the fifth inning and brought Myrtle Beach back from a 6-3 deficit. Two innings with the later, with the score tied at six, Gallo ripped a grand slam to put the Birds in front 10-6.
- RHP Alex “Chi Chi” Gonzalez – Minor League Pitcher of the Month
Shining Moment: Tuesday, May 20 at Frederick – 7.0IP, H, R, 3BB, 4K, W
Gonzalez did not lose a decision in five starts with the Pelicans in May. After losing his first two decisions of the season, the 22-year-old allowed six runs over his 34 innings pitched last month, good for a 1.59 ERA. He began the month strong with an eight-inning shutout performance on May 3 against Frederick, and keyed in against the Keys later on the 20th.
Frederick will not be sad to see Gonzalez in the Texas League as the first round draft choice in 2013 took a no-hit bid into the seventh inning. He did not allow a walk until the fifth and turned in the longest outing without a hit by a Pelicans’ starting pitcher this season.
Here’s to a second half (and a postseason) full of more shining moments. Thanks for reading!