Results tagged ‘ Myrtle Beach Pelicans ’
We are past the halfway point in the Arizona Fall League and RoughRiders have plenty of representation in both former and future players out in the desert, so let’s look at how they are all doing. Last year the Rangers’ “affiliate,” the Surprise Saguaros, won the AFL Championship and through Sunday’s games, Delino DeShields Sr.’s team was 18-12-1. Before we dive into the individual numbers, a little context on the AFL.
You may have heard a lot about the Rangers’ new Advanced-A affiliate, the High Desert Mavericks, and the favorable offensive climate at Mavericks Stadium. Because of the relative ease in scoring runs out in Adelanto, California, evaluators and fans will need to take stats generated there with a grain of salt. The impressive offensive numbers we are likely to see there this season may end up being a mirage after a promotion to Frisco. Likewise, we are due to see some pretty garish ERA’s and other pitching statistics from hurlers out there, so we can’t be too harsh in judging the rough numbers that will undoubtedly hit the box scores.
Now, conditions in the AFL don’t exactly mimic the more hitter-friendly locales in the California League, but the thin air and wind there will help the batters more often than the pitchers, so you always see some bloated numbers for both sides.
There is another reason for this, one you don’t hear quite so much about: the AFL isn’t really it’s all made out to be. Don’t get me wrong, you have a very nice collection of good players there, but it is not the concentrated gathering of elite prospects that Minor League Baseball would lead you to believe it is. Many teams do not send their best prospects out to Arizona, especially on the pitching side. Typically, organizations decide to send their pitchers who did not get enough innings under their belt during the regular season, be it for injury, lack of opportunity or developmental speed bumps (i.e., Houston’s Mark Appel). Not every one of these pitchers is potential star and many are there simply to get in some work, regardless of the results. In that sense, it is a little like spring training for Major League veterans.
The Rangers are not much different from most teams in not sending their very best prospects to the AFL. If that was not the case, you would see Chi Chi Gonzalez, Luke Jackson, Jake Thompson, Luis Ortiz and Keone Kela (among others) suiting up for the Surprise Saguaros this year. Texas was satisfied with all of those pitchers’ workloads during the regular season and elected to send others to the AFL instead. I’m not suggesting that all of the pitchers out in Arizona are non-prospects, simply that the AFL does not typically get the cream of the crop when it comes to pitching.
Another reason to consider the AFL being a bit watered down is that there are so many other leagues in action at the moment. From Venezuela to the Dominican Republic to Australia, Mexico, Colombia and Puerto Rico, there is a lot of competition from other winter/fall leagues and those circuits guzzle up a considerable of minor league talent. Sure, a lot of players in those leagues are veterans (many former big leaguers stay active this way), but young minor leaguers like Jorge Alfaro, Teodoro Martinez and Nomar Mazara occupy their off-seasons in these leagues too.
If you needed another reason not to take too much stock in the stats you see for individual players, keep in mind that five weeks of baseball in October and November is a relatively small sample size in the context of the full season we see from April through Labor Day. We are all glad we did not make any long-term evaluations of Mazara after his first five weeks (sub-.200 average with one homer in Hickory), right? In addition to the sample size issue, it is the end of a long year for many of these players. It is not uncommon for them to be worn down, masking their true potential. Last year Ryan Rua hit .175 in 17 games for Surprise, two points lower than AFL teammate Jonathan Schoop. Can’t remember if either guy did anything of note in 2014…
The AFL has once again tilted in the direction of the hitters, as through Sunday’s games offenses were averaging more than five runs scored per game and the league ERA was 4.51. The Rangers have seven players on the Saguaros roster this season:
RHP Lisalverto Bonilla: 3 GS, 0-1, 5.40 ERA, 11.2 IP, 10 H, 7 R, 7 ER, 1 HR, 6 BB, 11 SO, 2.43 GO/AO, .222 AVG
Bonilla, a RoughRider in 2013, did not put together eye-popping numbers for Triple-A Round Rock in the regular season, but his performance was enough to earn him a promotion to Arlington, where he won his first three big league starts and posted a 3.05 ERA in 20.2 innings. The Rangers want to see how he can hold up as a starting pitcher, which is not a bad idea given his tools (excellent changeup, solid slider and a low-to-mid-90s fastball. He will compete for a spot on the big league team in the spring and will begin the season either there or in the Pacific Coast League.
RHP Cody Kendall: 6 G, 0-0, 5.68 ERA, 6.1 IP, 8 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 2 HR, 0 BB, 3 SO, 0.33 GO/AO, .296 AVG
The 24-year-old Kendall (he will be 25 in December) had a tremendous year out of the bullpen for both Hickory and Myrtle Beach, going 8-3 with a 1.11 ERA in 56.2 innings. He was not a huge strikeout guy (51 whiffs), but limited runners (1.06 WHIP). Given his age, the Rangers will likely push him to Frisco in 2015, perhaps to start the season, and see if the 2012 eighth rounder is capable of matching his success against more advanced hitters.
RHP Josh McElwee: 6 G, 0-0, 0.00 ERA, 6.2 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 9 SO, 1.25 GO/AO, .143 AVG
The South Carolinian has picked up Arizona right where he left off following his successful late-season Double-A cameo. He is tied for the best ERA in the AFL and is eighth in WHIP (0.75). McElwee is exactly six months older than Kendall and is in a similar position in needing to prove himself against top hitters. After an up-and-down stint with Hickory to start the season, he did just that in Myrtle Beach (0.42 ERA in 21.2 IP) and Frisco (1.00 ERA in 9 IP). He flashed a good breaking ball and kept his sinker away from the good part of the bat when we saw him in August. The affable McElwee posted a 2.25 ERA and a 92-25 SO-BB ratio across 66.2 minor league innings this season and should be back in the Texas League to begin 2015.
RHP Sam Wolff: 6 G, 0-0, 9.45 ERA, 6.2 IP, 10 H, 8 R, 7 ER, 4 BB, 6 SO, 2.00 GO/AO, .323 AVG
Some in the Carolina League attested that Wolff was the most impressive pitcher in the circuit at times, but he suffered a second half swoon in his first full professional season (not uncommon at all), finishing 9-5 with a 3.37 ERA in 120.1 innings. After three scoreless outings to begin his AFL stint, Wolff has struggled in his last three, allowing eight runs in 2.2 innings. A favorite of Frisco pitching coach Jeff Andrews (they are both from South Dakota), I would expect the right-hander to pitch for the RoughRiders at some point in 2015.
C Patrick Cantwell: 6 G, .200 (4 for 20), 1 R, 1 RBI, 0 XBH, 4 BB, 6 SO, .333 OBP, .200 SLG, .533 OPS
Cantwell spent all of 2014 with Frisco and surprised many with a solid offensive campaign after a very slow start. He finished with a .268/.360/.341 line while excelling defensively behind the plate. Cantwell is a contact hitter/get-on-base guy and has great intangibles. I would expect to see him spend a lot of time in big league camp spelling Robinson Chirinos & Co. in spring training games, then either head to Double-A or Triple-A to begin the season.
SS Michael De Leon: 7 G, .231 (6 for 26), 3 R, 2 RBI, 0 XBH, 1 BB, 5 SO, .259 OBP, .231 SLG, .490 OPS
The youngest player in the history of the AFL, De Leon does not turn 18 until January (his birthday is January 14, 1997 if you would like to feel old). He has held his own after doing the same (and sometimes more) in his time with Frisco, Myrtle Beach and Hickory. After making his regular season pro debut as an emergency fill-in with the RoughRiders in May, he spent the bulk of his season with the Crawdads before a late-year promotion to the Carolina League, where he was one of the Pelicans’ top offensive performers in the postseason. De Leon hit .248/.307/.314 across all levels, flashed some of the potential that led Texas to award him a mid-six-figure bonus in 2013 and showed everyone what a 160-pound player physically looks like (rough approximation would be Pablo Sandoval ÷ 2). He may be in High Desert for the entirety of 2015.
OF Nick Williams: 15 G, .267 (16 for 60), 4 2B, 3B, HR, 9 HR, 5 R, 0 BB, 16 SO, 0-1 SB, .290 OBP, .417 SLG, .707 OPS
The Galveston native has carried the water for the Rangers hitters on the Saguaros, as he has the highest batting average and is the only one with an extra-base hit (he has six). Williams is tied for fourth in the AFL in hits, tied for ninth in RBI, third in total bases (25) and tied for second in strikeouts (with no walks). The lefty batter oozes potential at the plate and is considered by many to be the best pure hitter in the farm system. As the former second rounder out of high school ball matures, he will need to develop a more controlled approach. When he does, he will really be a special player to watch in the batter’s box. Williams should spend 2015 with the RoughRiders after finishing up the season in Frisco (.226-0-4); he hit .283/.331/.462 for the season (the bulk coming in Myrtle Beach).
The RoughRiders received five players from High-A Myrtle Beach Thursday, including righthanded pitchers Jon Edwards, Luke Jackson and Francisco Mendoza as well as infielders Rougned Odor and Luis Sardinas.
Carlos Pimentel was been promoted to Triple-A Round Rock, and four players were transferred from Frisco to Myrtle Beach: Hanser Alberto, Odubel Herrera, Nick McBride and Kevin Pucetas.
Rougned Odor (2B)
Rougned makes his first trip to Double-A, becoming the youngest player at the level by nearly three months. In fact, since 2011 Rookie ball in Spokane at age 17, he has been the youngest in each league he has played. This season with Myrtle Beach, Odor was the youngest player in all three High-A leagues.
The Venezuelan second baseman is having a tremendous season. At the time of promotion, he was leading the Pelicans in batting (.304) and stolen bases (27) and has more doubles than any Rangers minor leaguer (33). He has clubbed five homers and four triples to go along with the 33 doubles. Odor’s uncle, ROuglas Odor, was a hitting coach in the Cleveland Indians farm system.
Odor went three-for-five in his Double-A debut, hitting two singles and a triple.
Luis Sardinas (SS)
Sardinas signed as a non-draft free agent on July 2, 2009, and spent the entire 2012 season with the Hickory Crawdads. The 20-year-old shortstop is another member of Baseball America’s top-ten in the Texas system, ranked just behind Jackson at number seven. The Venezuelan hit .297 with the Pelicans with 68 runs scored, one home run and 31 RBI. He is the third youngest player in the Texas League.
In his first game as a RoughRiders, went one-for-five with a single, and also teamed up with second baseman Odor for an impressive double play in the second to end the frame.
Luke Jackson (RHP)
Jackson was a former first round pick by Texas in 2010 and one of the top pitching prospects in the Rangers system. Ranked number six in the Rangers system by Baseball America, Luke, 21, has lived up to his billing in 2013. In 19 starts, Jackson is 9-4 with a 2.41 ERA (27 ER/101 IP). He is fourth in the Rangers farm system with 104 strikeouts. This is his first promotion to Frisco.
Jon Edwards (RHP)
A former St. Louis Cardinals farmhand, the 25-year-old is a converted outfielder and has spent the last two seasons in the Rangers system. Originally taken in the 14th round by St. Louis out of Keller High School, Edwards was a career .239 hitter in six professional seasons as a Cardinals minor leaguer. Signed by the Rangers prior to the 2012 season, he pitched at four different levels in 2012, including one appearance for the ‘Riders. This season, Edwards has spent the entire season up to this point with the Pelicans, going 3-1 with a 3.57 ERA in 26 outings.
In last night’s game against the Missions, Edwards came in for Arlett Mavare, striking out two and allowing just two hits in 1.1 innings.
Francisco Mendoza (RHP)
Reliever Francisco Mendoza is earning his first promotion to Double-A. In 27 outings as a Pelicans hurler, Mendoza went 3-2 with a 3.55 ERA with seven saves. He is striking out more than a batter an inning this season (46 K/38 IP). Mendoza signed with the Rangers as a non-drafted free agent on May 19, 2008.
In his Double-A debut last night against the Missions, Mendoza pitched a scoreless ninth where he allowed just one hit and struck out three.
Baseball term of the day: Dust the jewel – For the umpire to clean off home plate.
(term from The Dickson Baseball Dictionary)
‘Riders on the Record is a weekly rundown of the week’s pre-game radio interviews, usually with RoughRiders players and coachs. You can find all the past entries here.
Week four of ‘Riders on the Record was nearly an all-home edition. In the midst of the RoughRiders eight-game homestand, we spoke with Tyler Tufts, Zach Zaneski and Phil Klein for the first time this year. The ‘Riders hit the road on Friday night and Alex chatted with Teodoro Martinez for the first time this year before game one of the four-game series in Midland against the RockHounds. Highlights include the Rangers outfield philosophy from Joe Mikulik, Phil Klein’s emotions when throwing a perfect game in summer collegiate baseball, and Teodoro Martinez discussing the origin of his nickname “Cafe.”
April 28, 2013 – Manager Steve Buechele
The Sunday conversation with Steve Buechele followed the worst defeat of the season for the RoughRiders, an 11-0 loss to the Corpus Christi Hooks. He talks as a former player about how mentally tough it can be to come from behind when down by a big margin. He empathizes with the difficulties Cody Buckel is having this season and, conversely, examines the tremendous start of Randy Henry.
April 29, 2013 – RHP Tyler Tufts
RoughRiders pitcher Tyler Tufts has had quite the year. From a promotion to Triple-A to a life-threatening medical emergency, 2012 was a wild ride for the right-hander. He talks about the fallout from the medical emergency including a silver-lining experience he took in with his family at the ballpark he grew up going to.
April 30, 2013 – Rangers Outfield Instructor Joe Mikulik
The Texas Rangers Outfield Instructor Joe Mikulik made his first trip to Frisco during the home stand. He explained what he does and what his job entails. He talked about the progression of the outfielders from level to level and the significance of situational defense in the Texas Rangers system.
May 1, 2013 – C Zach Zaneski
RoughRiders catcher Zach Zaneski talks about what it is like to be behind the plate to catch Frisco pitching. He explains the success this season for Carlos Pimentel and the decision to call a slider on a 3-2 with the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth the night before.
May 2, 2013 – RHP Phil Klein
Following his Double-A debut, a three inning outing with the Frisco RoughRiders, Phil Klein talks about his journey since his 30th round selection by the Rangers. He explains his increase in velocity and his early experiences in Texas.
May 3, 2013 – RHP Ryan Rodebaugh
After a blisteringly cold and windy day at Dr Pepper Ballpark, Ryan Rodebaugh discusses his first ever professional start in the difficult conditions. He’s asked about his college career as a starter and how he managed to block out the cold to pitch three scoreless innings in the spot-start.
May 4, 2013 – OF Teodoro Martinez
The son of a former big leaguer, Teodoro joined us on the pre-game show for the first time this season in the RoughRiders first trip to Midland. He talked about his improvement at the plate and his work with hitting coach Jason Hart. He also talks about the influence of his family on his baseball career and the notoriety of his father among baseball circles.
Baseball term of the day: Chin music – a pitch thrown up and inside on a hitter, usually designed to get the hitter to back off the plate
After an opening month of relative silence on the roster-move front, the Frisco RoughRiders began May with a splash of changes. April saw just three total transactions and only one moving player:
Today, Jake Brigham, Alex Buchholz and Ryan Feierabend were promoted to Triple-A Round Rock. This marks the first trip for Brigham and Buchholz to the Triple-A level. Feierabend spent time in the majors with the Mariners from 2006-2008.
Klein and Mavare will both be at the Double-A level for the first time. Klein was selected by the Rangers in the 30th round of the 2011 MLB Amateur June Draft out of Youngstown State University. The 24-year-old was spending his second season with the Myrtle Beach Pelicans in the Carolina League. This season the 6’7” 230 lbs. right-hander posted a 1-0 record and a 1.98 ERA with 12 strikeouts and just three walks over 13.2 innings in seven appearances in Carolina League play.
Mavare, signed as an undrafted free agent out of Venezuela in 2009, is in his fifth year of professional baseball. The 23-year-old sported a 0-1 record with a 2.38 ERA in seven outings in his first season with Myrtle Beach. He struck out 12 batters and walked three in 11.1 innings of work.
Frisco’s roster now has 24 active players, one below the Texas League limit.
Klein is not small to say the least. His 6’7″ frame makes him the tallest ‘Riders player on the roster. Font, Pucetas, Ramirez and Rowen are 6’4″ and the closest in stature to Klein. It’s was also Klein’s birthday yesterday (happy 24th!), so he’s probably feeling about as good right now as he did when he threw a perfect game in the Atlantic Coast Baseball League at age 19. Not a bad 24 hours for the young man.
The Ohio native, Klein has shot up the Rangers system quite a bit in the last calendar year. He was promoted to Myrtle just last August, and is now among the first duo to make it up to Frisco from the Pelicans this year. Oh, and Klein pitched for a team whose mascot was the Penguins in college, in case you were curious.
Here is a snippet of what LoneStarDugout’s Jason Cole had to say about Klein when he was promoted to Myrtle in August (click the link to read the full report):
Coming from a high three-quarters arm slot this year, Klein shows a loose arm with clean mechanics that produce an 89-92 mph fastball that has touched the occasional 93-94. He also features a short-but-late breaking slider at 83-84 mph with slight tilt.
According to Cole, Klein was sitting 91-93 with the heater and touched 94-95 at fall instructs.
Jose Mavare’s first stateside season came in 2010 with the Rangers AZL club. After a fantastic 2011 season between rookie ball and Short-Season A Spokane, things slowed down a bit for him in his first year of full-season ball in 2012 with Hickory, but he pitched well enough to open the season with Myrtle Beach this year. He throws an upper 80s to low 90s fastball and sports a curve and change to go along with it. The strikeout potential is clearly a big part of his game, but he doesn’t posses an overpowering fastball despite raking up over 11 k/9 IP in his career.
Taking a look at the numbers, both have been impressive:
RHP Phil Klein
|2011||2 Teams||2 Lgs||A–Rk||1||2||3.98||12||0||0||20.1||20||13||9||1||16||31|
|2012||2 Teams||2 Lgs||A-A+||6||0||1.73||40||0||8||62.1||39||13||12||3||23||67|
|A+ (2 seasons)||A+||1||0||1.50||14||0||0||24.0||8||5||4||1||5||26|
|A (1 season)||A||6||0||1.90||33||0||8||52.0||37||12||11||2||21||53|
|Rk (1 season)||Rk||0||0||0.00||3||0||0||2.2||2||0||0||0||1||7|
|A- (1 season)||A-||1||2||4.58||9||0||0||17.2||18||13||9||1||15||24|
RHP Jose Mavare
|2009||2 Teams||1 Lg||FRk||4||2||1.36||20||5||2||59.2||43||15||9||1||19||58|
|2009||Rangers 2, Rangers 1||DOSL||FRk||4||2||1.36||20||5||2||59.2||43||15||9||1||19||58|
|2010||2 Teams||2 Lgs||Rk-FRk||5||1||2.08||23||0||2||43.1||28||14||10||0||15||61|
|2011||2 Teams||2 Lgs||Rk-A-||0||1||1.95||17||2||0||37.0||24||10||8||0||15||54|
|FRk (2 seasons)||FRk||5||2||1.07||26||5||2||75.2||48||16||9||1||23||85|
|Rk (2 seasons)||Rk||4||2||2.66||26||2||2||50.2||37||18||15||0||19||68|
|A (1 season)||A||5||5||3.57||40||0||5||80.2||66||34||32||6||27||102|
|A- (1 season)||A-||0||0||1.98||8||0||0||13.2||10||5||3||0||7||20|
|A+ (1 season)||A+||0||1||2.38||7||0||2||11.1||7||5||3||1||3||12|
We give a big, warm Texas welcome to these two guys, your newest RoughRiders. And Congrats to Jake, Alex, and Brigham — best of luck in Round Rock!
Baseball term of the day: duck snort – a softly hit ball that goes over the infielders and lands in the outfield for a hit. The term was popularized by White Sox announcer Hawk Harrelson.
The 2013 (Nearly) Complete Twitter Guide to the Frisco RoughRiders, the Texas League and the Texas Rangers Farm System: Part One
A couple days ago I wrote a post here with the best resources for keeping up on the Texas Rangers and its minor league teams and prospects, and the entire time while writing it, I kept thinking about how I get as much or more information on Twitter these days.
I still hit the ‘ole feedly reader every day. Sometimes 140 characters just doesn’t really cut it for a topic. Yu know, like Darvish’s outing last night. (For more on that, read this, and this, and this and this. Oh and you have to watch that).
And while that is true, Twitter is still great, especially for breaking news. Want to be the first one to find out that Nelson Cruz’s home run last night actually came with a broken-bat swing? FSSW’s Emily Jones has you covered:
Just confirmed Nelson Cruz broke his bat on that homerun. #beastmode
— Emily Jones (@EmilyJonesFSN) April 25, 2013
Did you see former RoughRiders pitcher Robbie Erlin got called yetserday? With Twitter, you could find great stuff on who is behind the numbers from excellent Rangers prospect guru Jason Cole:
— Jason Cole (@LoneStarDugout) April 25, 2013
And, yeah, you might have heard that 17-year-old Rangers prospect Nomar Mazara hit his second home run last night for Class-A Hickory, but how impressive was it? Crawdads’ broadcaster Aaron Cox does a very nice job tweeting in-game. See:
17 year old Nomar Mazara with a towering solo homer over the video board and clock in Greensboro to give the #Crawdads an early 1-0 lead.
— Aaron Cox (@TheAaronCox) April 24, 2013
SO, without further ado, here it is: The 2013 (Nearly) Complete Guide to the Frisco RoughRiders, the Texas League, and the Texas Rangers Farm System.
Why “nearly” complete? Well. 1) this is not necessarily exhaustive. Plenty of people tweet about these topics, but this is a great starting point. And 2) of course we need your input! Let us know who we are missing by commenting below or tweeting at me (@NathanSBarnett) and 3) I am not done with the rest of the parts yet…
And, yes, this is just Part One of The 2013 (Nearly) Complete Twitter Guide (TNCTG). I will have a few entries over the next week or so and also update them, as I find new handles worthy of the all-important “follow” click.
Part One looks at the teams and key employee follows in the Texas League and Rangers system. Future entries will include key journalists, commentators, and bloggers to follow. And players! Yes, the exhaustive list of players as well. Stay tuned!
TNCTG PART ONE:
Texas League Teams:
Frisco RoughRiders: @RidersBaseball
Corpus Christi Hooks: @CCHooks
Midland Rockhounds: @RockHounds
San Antonio Missions: @MissionsMiLB
Arkansas Travelers: @ARTravs
Northwest Arkansas Naturals: @NWANaturals
Springfield Cardinals: @Sgf_Cardinals
Tulsa Drillers: @TulsaDrillers
Teams in the Rangers System:
MLB – Texas Rangers: @Rangers
Double-A – Frisco RoughRiders: @RidersBaseball
Advanced-A – Myrtle Beach Pelicans: @PelicanBaseball
Single-A – Hickory Crawdads: @HickoryCrawdads
Short-Season A – Spokane Indians: @SpokaneIndians
Rookie – AZL Rangers: No official Twitter handle, that I am aware of. There is @AZL_Rangers which was created by a fan. Decent follow.
Rookie – DSL Rangers: Ditto. Some do cover this team, however. More to come in future TNCTG entries.
Alex Vispoli, Frisco RoughRiders: @Vispoli
Michael Coffin, Corpus Christi Hooks: No twitter account (see team Twitter handle)
Mike Saeger, San Antonio Missions: @SAMissionsRadio
Phil Elson, Arkansas Travelers: @ElsonPhil
Eric Nadel, #1 MLB – Texas Rangers: @NadelEr
Matt Hicks, #2 MLB – Texas Rangers: @RadioHicksie
Mike Capps, Triple-A – Round Rock Express: @RRExpressRadio
Travis Lucian, Advanced-A – Myrtle Beach Pelicans: @TravisLucian
Aaron Cox, Class-A – Hickory Crawdads: @TheAaronCox
Mike Boyle, Short-A – Spokane Indians: @MrMBoyle
Other good employees and team-related follows:
Nathan Barnett, Media Relations & Broadcasting Assistant: @NathanSBarnett
Ryan Garrett, Media Relations Intern: @Garrett_RM
Corpus Christi Hooks:
Chris Blake, Media Relations Coordinator: @ChrisCBlake
Greg Bergman, Assistant GM / Media Relations & Advertising: @GregBergman
Brian Carroll, Director of Media / Public Relations: @BKC001
John Blake, Executive Vice President of Communications: @RangerBlake
Updates on Rangers Ballpark: Parking, Traffic, Valet, Gate Openings, Weather & Events: @RangersInfo
In-game Rangers Twitter handle: @theRangersGame
For those of you out there wanting to keep up with every with a Twitter “list” — I have made one with most of these handles on there. Feel free to subscribe, I plan to keep it up to date this season.
Baseball term of the day: wand – baseball bat
In my digging to learn everything I can about the Rangers farm system, I have come across a number of great websites and writers that cover this system extremely well. The Rangers fanbase is blessed by its coverage, especially since DFW is not a baseball town. There are a number of very talented folks out there working hard to give you tidbits and insight on the big league team and the youngsters on the way. I was hard pressed, but here is the list of the 10 Rangers minor league/major league must reads:
Top 10 Rangers major league and minor league resources
A definitive source to the Rangers minor league system, especially at the lower levels. Jason Cole has a tremendous reach and connections within the organization and in the scouting circles His work with Baseball Prospectus takes him away from his work with this site at times, but it is incredible stuff. Outside of the national scouts covering Rangers prospects on the rare occasion, you won’t find better scouting information on Rangers farmhands. He does a good minor league recap on a more-or-less-daily basis of all the affiliates, and I absolutely love his player Q&A’s. He talks to players in the system that no one else does. While everyone else is going gaga over Profar, Olt and Alfaro, Jason shows us why we need to pay attention to Nick Williams, Nomar Mazara and Joey Gallo. For you Rangers minor league junkies, this is a must read. Unfortunately some content is behind a pay-wall, but if you are a die-hard, it is worth the cost.
2. Baseball Time in Arlington (BBTiA)
Run by Joey Matschulat and Mike Hindman, BBTiA is a fun mish-mosh of Rangers coverage. Joey “Matches,” as he is known in the Rangers community, is the more prolific of the authors (they do have others that contribute sometimes as well), but Hindman’s posts are often longer, a bit more creative and on the opining side. Either that, or he is telling some good war stories. Matschulat’s puts up some great sabermetrics-y posts on occasion for the number-crunchers of you out there, which is the highlight of the site for me. Jason Parks used to write for this publication before he joined Baseball Prospectus, so you know they are doing the right thing over there.
Emotional, stream-of-conscious driven, passionate, yet also analytic and well-written and absolutely optimistic, the Newberg Report is one of the longer-standing Rangers blogs. Well, really it began as an e-mail list, which you can still sign up for. Jamey Newberg was ahead of his time, covering the Rangers farm system inside-and-out beginning in 1998, well before many saw the hunger of baseball fans for this kind of coverage. His brand has really exploded in recent years, as he has expanded to his own website and MLB-recognized blog, not to mention a brief stint making Rangers farm system videos that played at Rangers Ballpark during games a few years back. Since the team has turned things around at the big league level, Newberg writes more about the major league team now than he used to, but he still provides some juicy tidbits on the up-and-comers. I think Newberg is at his best when has the chance to go down to Spring Training and Fall Instructs. Newberg does an excellent job of painting the picture of the minor leaguers as people, not just baseball “tools.” He has a great eye for the intangibles. He wrote this about Elvis Andrus in 2007, just after the Mark Teixeira trade, and now we all know how spot-on he was:
For some players, the ball just sounds different coming off their bat. Some can spin a breaking ball in such a way that you know the hitter has no chance before the pitch is halfway to the plate. There are others . . . who you can tell are different simply by how they carry themselves.
I’m struggling as to how to explain it. It’s not really a swagger that [he] has. It’s more of a comfortable magnetism. He reminds me of a feature tailback, or a really good cover corner, with that smile that says he knows he’s going to beat you more often than not. He’s going to be a leader.
Another great component of the Newberg Report is the Rangers Farm Report, authored by Scott Lucas, who writes a daily recap of the Rangers action at all the minor league levels. It’s a convienent way to keep on the affiliates, especially since if you simply subscribe, it comes straight to your e-mail inbox.
A very diverse set of commentary and quips, Lone Star Ball (LSB) is without a doubt one of my favorite Rangers reads, especially since there is so much Rangers content out there. LSB is unique. Adam Morris is the guru behind it, who I was first introduced to by Ted Price’s Rangers Podcast in Arlington. Morris can come off as surly at times, but that is an enjoying changeup in a pretty optimistic market. It makes for a great follow on twitter too (@LoneStarBall). Everything from newspaper-ish rundown of the day’s Ranger game to simply embedding offensive numbers from a Rangers affiliate from baseball reference to one of the more entertaining posts I’ve read this season, Lone Star Ball has a little something for everyone.
The blog of the Rangers Triple-A affiliate, the Round Rock Express, Express Tracks is a fun way to be in touch with the Round Rock community. Good especially for those living in the surrounding areas, they do some fun interactive things with the fans through their blog. Like us here at the Riders ‘Insider Blog, they are committed to covering their team as well with some nice analysis and feature stories on the guys on the farm.
6. Texas Rangers Report (ESPNDallas.com)
With an excellent team of reporters, ESPNDallas has put their full weight behind the Rangers since signing the Rangers broadcast to their radio lineup before the 2011 season. Richard Durrett, Todd Wills and Sahadev Sharma (among others) write multiple posts every day covering the Rangers. Probably the most exhaustive source out there, following the site on an RSS reader can be overwhelming, but they do a fantastic job. This is also home to my favorite weekly read on the Rangers, Wash’s Wisdom, which is now authored by Todd Wills.
7. Foul Territory (part of Star-Telegram.com)
Foul Territory is the Star-Telegram’s Rangers beat. Jeff Wilson and Drew Davison do a nice job and occasionally cover the minor league teams as well. Drew has made it out to a game here at Dr Pepper Ballpark this year and comes periodically to ‘Riders games. Good daily coverage for all things Rangers. Similar to ESPNDallas’ coverage and also to SportsDayDFW.
8. SportsDayDFW (powered by the Dallas Morning News)
Evan Grant. Enough said. Well, okay, I’m long-winded, so I won’t stop there. Grant is arguably the most respected Rangers beat-writer in the market and for good reason. The Dallas Morning News was smart to keep their Rangers coverage alive and get Evan Grant back on board after his brief stint with D Magazine’s Insider Corner blog. His work alone make this site worth a look, but the contributors are all solid. Like ESPN Dallas and Foul Territory, the DMN’s coverage will hit every issue and topic with the team. Reading all three can be repetitive, so find the writers you like the most.
Home of a weekly piece on the RoughRiders, The Sports Page Weekly is your home to some exclusive content for your favorite DFW sports teams. They do some nice off-the-beaten path stories and their style is a refreshingly more in-your-face alternative in a pretty calm media market. Plus they even PRINT IT, which you know, is pretty rare these days, so bravo to the bastions of paper and ink!
The blog of T.R. Sullivan. I think most of you know to go to TexasRangers.com to get news, so I didn’t include it. Sullivan is a writer for MLB.com covering the Rangers, and when he posts here, the blog has some good stuff. Plus it is my favorite named blog on the list, so it earned a spot. There are some incredible photos from Rangers’ photographer Kelly Gavin here as well…an enjoyable weekly scroll at the very least because of that.
Sweet Spot in Baseball – unique photos and commentary from Kaylan Eastepp, the Rangers Director of Interactive & Social Media. She has exclusive access to the Rangers players in non-baseball situations. Want to see Tanner Scheppers feeding birds or Elvis Andrus answering FSSW’s Emily Jones’ cell phone? This is the place for you.
DallasSportsNetwork – Home of the RoughRiders Roundtable, Ted Price puts together some of the most unique content of Dallas sports conversation out there. From the excellent Rangers Podcast in Arlington to the TCU “Frogs O’ War,” if its DFW sports, Ted has you covered, bringing a long-form discussion to the teams you love the most with the people qualified to talk about them. Great stuff for the morning commute.
Spokesman-Review – Indians Coverage – Just a local paper in Spokane, Washington. But they do a really nice job covering the Rangers Short-Season A team, the Spokane Indians. The Indians start their season in June.
MLB Trade Rumors – Texas Rangers Feed – A MUST read for any Rangers fan around the trading deadline and in the winter at the very least. This is not a Rangers-specific site, so I didn’t include it on the list, but they are THE source for trade rumors, many of which, of course, include some of our favorite RoughRiders and former ‘Riders, so it’s relevant stuff. I remember reading or hearing somewhere that many GMs even use this site to keep up on news because they are so good at what they do. I can’t find where I heard that though, so I might just be making that up. Even still, it could be true.
Minor League Ball – Another more general baseball site but a great follow for the minor-league aficionado. John Sickel’s “Minor League Ball Gameday” posts are great. Basically it points out the best minor league story lines from yesterday and what to look out for today. Some occasional college-ball content as well, which is nice if you miss the metal bat every now and then.
B3: Big, Bald and Beautiful – Jonanthan Mayo is a senior writer for MLB.com and is very respected in the baseball world. This is his prospect blog. He doesn’t write too often, but when he does, he usually focuses on the top prospects in the game. A good, simple, straightforward read. And he doesn’t write too much, which is nice because it’s never an overwhelming addition to your list.
MiLB.com’s PROSPECTive Blog – Similar to the last one but they post a bit more often. Plus they have pretty pictures. Some good stuff on Profar the last month or so on this site.
And a blog I wish would come back:
Beachbound & Down – Run by former Myrtle Beach Pelicans broadcaster Joel Godett, who is now the voice of Ball State men’s basketball and football, I am told this might be down for good. Hopefully we see something out of the Pelican’s blogosphere soon; I doubt the name will be this great though.
How do I keep track of all of this?
Well, if you don’t already have an RSS reader you use, I would recommend getting one. It makes life easier in the expansive interwebs. Google Reader is my favorite: the simplest and the most popular…but is also getting canned in July. Instead of waiting for the death-date, I ripped off the band-aid and moved on over to Feedly. I am a fan. A pretty big fan actually. But, don’t take my word for it, there are plenty of options out there. Happy Reading!
HEY!!! You forgot my favorite Rangers news source!
Did I? Well, let us know! We are always looking for more resources, and your fellow readers are as well. Post a comment with other sources of Rangers news!
Oh, and game notes are here for tonight’s game! Broadcast hits the airwaves at 6:40 for the 7:05 start for Nelson W. Wolff Municipal in San Antonio.
Baseball Term of the day: huckleberry – a rookie
Okay so let’s try that again. Opening Day in North Little Rock was washed out yesterday. The other three games in the Texas League went off without a hitch, and the South Division dominated the action. All three games went the way of the south yesterday, so Frisco comes into Opening Day back a half-game of the other three members in the division. Midland, Corpus Christi and San Antonio all picked up Opening Day victories. Midland and Frisco begin the season on the road while the other two opened up their seasons at home last night.
The rotation is not expected to change today. Cody Buckel will start game one while former big leaguer Ryan Feierabend opposes the Travelers order in game two. Arkansas counters with Jarrett Grube and Mike Piazza. No, not that one.
Keep an eye on the ‘Riders twitter feed for the latest updates on action from North Little Rock, including the starting lineups for game two, but for now, here is the game one lineup. Just the same as yesterday:
2B Odubel Herrera
CF Ryan Strausborger
RF Jared Hoying
1B Brett Nicholas
3B Alex Buchholz
LF Chih-Hsien Chiang
C Zach Zaneski
SS Hanser Alberto
RHP Cody Buckel
CF Travis Witherspoon
LF Matt Long
3B Kaleb Cowart
1B C.J. Cron
DH Robbie Widlansky
RF Randal Grichuk
2B Taylor Lindsey
C Jett Bandy
SS Rolando Gomez
RHP Jarrett Grube
News, notes, thoughts, and links:
- The RoughRiders weren’t alone in having weather issues yesterday. Of the four active minor league teams in the Texas system (Spokane and the Rangers AZL and DSL teams pick up in June), only one of them got their opener in.
- That was Round Rock. The Express topped Omaha 3-1 behind five shut-out innings from soon-to-be Texas Ranger’s 5th starter Nick Tepesch. The former ‘Rider scattered five singles in his five frames and struck out five Stormchasers on the way to the victory in his Triple-A debut.
- Hickory (Class-A) and Myrtle Beach (Class-A Advanced) were both rained out yesterday. Unlike Frisco, they will not make up their games today. Hickory will play a twin bill tomorrow beginning at 4:00 CT. Myrtle Beach won’t make up their postponed game until May 25th.
- An extra long edition of the game notes today, complete with both starting pitchers is available at RidersBaseball.com
- Tonight’s doubleheader can be heard here or if you are on an iPad or iPhone, click here. You can also watch the games with the audio feed simulcast by purchasing a subscription to MiLB.tv.
- Frisco finishes the three game set with Arkansas in a full nine-inning contest tomorrow at 6:10 p.m. before getting back on the bus for the 194-mile trek to Springdale, Ark., home of the Northwest Arkansas Naturals. The RoughRiders round out the weekend Sunday with the first of a three game series against NW Arkansas at 2:00 p.m.
day two of the season Opening Day! Go ‘Riders!
As we enter the final hours of the Major League Baseball Non-Waiver Trade Deadline, here is a look at how the Rangers Minor League teams, not including Frisco, have fared thus far this season and a look at how they have done recently.
Round Rock Express (AAA)
48-61 record (16 games back in the American Southern Division of the PCL)
Runs per Game: 4.82 (12th in the PCL)
Runs Allowed per Game: 5.28 (8th in the PCL)
Top 30 Prospects: 6
How the Names Have Done: The Express came into the season with a promising roster, including 2011 RoughRiders pitchers Martin Perez (#2 ranked Texas prospect) and Neil Ramirez (#5 ranked Texas prospect) and outfielder Leonys Martin (#4 ranked Texas prospect). The roster also included 2011 breakthrough players Mike Bianucci (30 home runs and 89 RBI in 2011) and Tommy Mendonca (25 home runs, 87 RBI, and an .827 OPS in 2011). Mendonca, however, struggled on the field when he was healthy and has been on the DL since June 2. Bianucci hit .280 with 14 home runs and 50 RBI in 78 games before also being placed on the DL on July 12. Perez was inconsistent and then promoted to the Rangers. Neil Ramirez struggled before being sent down to Frisco. Leonys Martin played well for the Express before being promoted to the Rangers.
Lately: While the Express have struggled as a team this season, they have won five games in a row and are 7-3 in their last ten games.
Myrtle Beach Pelicans (A+)
58-49 record overall (22-15 record and first place in the Southern Division of the Carolina League in the second half)
Runs Per Game: 3.81 (8th in the CAR)
Runs Allowed Per Game: 3.73 (1st in the CAR)
Top 30 Prospects: 8
How the Names Have Done: Myrtle Beach has had nearly a third of the Texas Rangers top 30 prospects on their roster at some point this season led by current RoughRiders pitcher Cody Buckel (#6 ranked Texas prospect) and third baseman Christian Villanueva (#8 ranked Texas prospect). Buckel dominated the Carolina League prior to being called up as he went 5-3 with a league best 1.31 ERA over 13 starts for the Pelicans. Villanueva is currently hitting .285 with a team high ten home runs and .777 OPS in the pitcher friendly league. Odubel Herrera (#27 ranked Texas prospect) leads the team with 20 steals. Ranked pitching prospects Matt West (#10) and Luke Jackson (#18) have been with the team since mid June. Matt West, converted to pitching from the infield, has struggled to an 8.10 ERA out of the bullpen in eleven appearances. Jackson is 2-1 with a 5.60 ERA over seven starts. Like Jackson, Roman Mendez (#19 ranked Texas prospect) also has struggled, going 4-6 with a 5.34 ERA over 13 appearances (12 starts).
Lately: The Pelicans finished 36-34 in the first half, but have been playing much better and are aiming for a playoff berth. They currently are 22-15 with a 1 game lead over the first half title winner, the Winston-Salem Dash. Overall, the Pelicans have a 3.5 game lead over the Salem Red Sox in case the Dash win both halves.
Hickory Crawdads (A)
57-50 record overall (21-17 tied for first place in the Northern Division of the South Atlantic League in the second half)
Runs per Game: 5.20 (4th in the SAL)
Runs Allowed per Game: 4.92 (6th in the SAL)
Top 30 Prospects: 7
How the Names Have Done: For the second straight year the Hickory Crawdads roster has featured an 18 year old middle infielder that has produced above league average with the bat. Last year it was top prospect Jurickson Profar who put his mark on the South Atlantic League. This year, second baseman Rougned Odor (#9 ranked Texas prospect) earned attention by hitting .293 with six home runs and an .838 OPS in the first half. While he has struggled in the second half, Odor is still posting above league average numbers with a .268 average, eight home runs and a .749 OPS overall. Catcher Jorge Alfaro (#7 ranked Texas prospect) is one of the highest ceiling players on the Crawdad’s roster and might be one of the highest ceiling prospects in the organization. Alfaro, 19 years old, is hitting .289 with 22 extra base hits in 48 games and an .820 OPS. In the second half, the catcher is hitting .302 with an .859 OPS. Speaking of high ceilings, some would argue that Jordan Akins (#12 ranked Texas prospect) has the highest ceiling of any position player in the organization. Whether he develops his raw tools on the field is another story. The possible five tool outfielder is batting just .192 with an atrocious 9 walk to 118 strikeout ratio. His .529 OPS is the lowest on the team. In the second half, Akins is hitting just .165 with a .435 OPS and 42 strikeouts to just two walks. It seems as though Texas just knows how to develop middle infielders. Beginning with Ian Kinsler and Elvis Andrus, on down to Profar and Leury Garcia in Frisco, and to Odor and Luis Sardinas (#17 ranked Texas prospect) in Hickory, the Rangers have done a tremendous job developing middle infielders. Sardinas leads Hickory with a .305 batting average and 27 steals. So far in July, the switch hitting shortstop is hitting .389 with a .929 OPS.
Lately: The Crawdads finished the first half 36-33, but have gone 21-17 and are tied for the division lead in the second half. Overall their 57-50 record is the third best in the division, six games behind the Hagerstown Suns for the best overall. Over their last ten games, the Crawdads are an even 5-5. After taking three of four from the Delmarva Shorebirds, they were swept by the Augusta Greenjackets. They are currently playing the Kannapolis Intimidators at home.
Spokane Indians (SS-A)
16-28 record overall (4-2 and tied for first place in the Eastern Division of the Northwest League in the second half)
Runs per Game: 3.50 (8th in the NWL)
Runs Allowed per Game: 4.93 (7th in the NWL)
Top 30 Prospects: 1
How the Names Have Done: With the season beginning on June 15, the Spokane Indians are part of short season ball. Their roster was filled mostly with 2012 draft picks, albeit with one top prospect entering 2012. Pitcher David Perez (#26 ranked Texas prospect) entered the 2011 season as the #11 prospect in the organization. Suffering command struggles, he dropped a bit in the rankings, but remains with an extremely high ceiling. Perez only has appeared in three games (one start) for the Indians, however, and went 1-1 with a 13.00 ERA in those appearances. Catcher Patrick Cantwell (third round pick) was the highest 2012 draft pick on Spokane’s roster, and has hit .250 with a .668 OPS thus far. Fifth round pick and University of Texas-Arlington product Preston Beck is hitting just .203 with a .572 OPS for the Indians. Gabriel Roa, a 25th round pick, leads the team with a .307 batting average and is among the team leaders in OPS with a .736 OPS. Fourth round pick, pitcher Alec Asher, has done well going 1-2 with a 3.06 ERA in 11 appearances out of the bullpen. He has 24 strikeouts in 17.2 innings. Pitcher Eric Brooks, an 11th round pick, is 2-1 with a 2.52 ERA in eight appearances (seven starts).
Lately: After going just 12-26 in the first half, the Indians are 4-2 early on in the second half. They are 6-4 in their last ten games with a series win (2 out of 3) over the Yakima Bears most recently.
Arizona League Rangers (Rookie)
19-13 overall (First place in the Western Division of the Arizona League)
Runs per Game: 6.56 (4th in the AZL)
Runs Allowed per Game: 5.41 (4th in the AZL)
Top 30 Prospects: 2
How the Names Have Done: When you’re talking about the Arizona League and the Rangers, the first name that will pop up when looking at draft status, prospect status, and a stat sheet is 2012 first round supplemental pick Joey Gallo. Drafted out of Bishop Gorman High School in Nevada, Gallo has gotten off to a tremendous professional start. Gallo is hitting .321 with 14 home runs and 35 RBI in 32 games. He has hit over half of the team’s home runs and has hit more home runs by himself than four other teams in the league have as a team. He also has twice as many home runs as the next closest in the league. The third baseman isn’t just hitting home runs, however, as Gallo also has walked an impressive 28 times in 32 games. It should be noted that none of those were intentional walks either. First round pick Lewis Brinson, an outfielder, has also gotten off to a good start with a .302 batting average and an .881 OPS. He has hit seven triples in 32 games and stolen eight bases in nine attempts. Ronald Guzman (#13 ranked Texas prospect) is hitting .283 with ten extra base hits in 28 games. Nomar Mazara (#30 ranked Texas prospect) is struggling with a .231 batting average, but has walked 23 times and hit 13 extra base hits in 31 games to help him to a .787 OPS.
Lately: The AZL Rangers are currently on a four game winning streak and have won six of their last seven games. They won six in a row from June 29 to July 5, but followed that streak with a five game losing streak. Overall, they are 19-13 and hold a one game lead over the AZL Mariners.
Written By: Michael Damman