Results tagged ‘ Neil Ramirez ’

‘Riders in Review: April 2013

A month into the books, and the ‘Riders are off to a solid start. As we began May yesterday, the RoughRiders sat at 14-11, tied for the best record in the Texas League with the Midland Rockhounds. As we settle in to the month of May (despite the temperatures in the 40s today!), it’s time to a quick look back at how we got to where we are are:

April Overview

Texas League Rankings

Record: 14-11 (T-1st), home: 8-3, road: 6-8, vs. division: 6-7

Runs: 107 (3rd)

Average: .250 (3rd)

Home runs: 17 (5th)

ERA: 2.87 (3rd)

Attendance: 7060 (1st)

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OF Jared Hoying‘s second season in Frisco is off to a great start

Awards

The ‘Riders were kept of out of the Player of the Week honors in the Texas League in April, but it doesn’t mean we can’t give out our own honors.

‘Riders Slugger of the Month: Jared Hoying (.293/.363/.543, 12 R, 7 2B, 2 3B, 4 HR, 15 RBI, 10 BB, 3-4 SB)

Hoying started a little slow, especially in the run production department, as he didn’t pick up his first RBI until the fifth game of the year, but Hoying was far and away the ‘Riders best overall hitter. Jared finished the month third on the team in hitting (behind Rodriguez, Alberto), second in OBP (Rodriguez) and first in SLG. His three steals also tied him for second most of the team.  His game of the month came on April 16, a 14-7 RoughRiders come-from-behind win at home. Hoying went 3-for-4 with a double, a walk and 5 RBI, tying a career high for him (he knocked in five in a game in 2010 as a member of the Spokane Indians).

‘Riders Hurler of the Month: Randy Henry (0-0, 0.00 ERA, 18.1 IP, 13 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 1 HRA, 20 K, 1 BB, 1 HB, 0.76 WHIP, .200 BAA)

Henry didn’t start a game for the ‘Riders in the month, but the way he pitched during April, he seems primed for a spot in rotation if the Rangers want to move him into that role. He was moved to the rotation in Myrtle last season and didn’t fair as well as he did in the ‘pen, so we will see. He dominated the Texas League in April coming in as a reliever. His low 90s fastball with cutting action ate up left-handed hitters who went just 3-for-25 against the right-handed pitcher with one double and nine strikeouts.

Randy Henry was a force in April, his month of his RoughRiders career

RHP Randy Henry was a force in April, his month of his RoughRiders career

In total, of the 13 hits allowed, only four went for extra bases, three doubles and the one home run, which, luckily for Henry came after a misplayed foul pop-up off the bat of Tommy Medica, thus the sterling ERA.

Like Hoying, Henry’s best outing came on April 16 against the Northwest Arkansas Naturals. Coming into a 10-7 ‘Riders lead in the fifth, Henry retired 12 of the 13 batters he faced. Only Naturals leadoff man Brett Eibner beat Henry, rapping a single to start his third inning of work.

Official Texas League Players of the week:

April 4-14: P – Burch Smith (San Antonio Missions); B – Matt Long (Arkansas Travelers)

April 15-21: P – Asher Wojciechowski (Corpus Christi Hooks); B – Brett Eibner (Northwest Arkansas)

April 22-28: P – Jarrett Grube (Arkansas Travelers); B – Mike O’Neill (Springfield Cardinals)

Punching Bag of the Month:

Northwest Arkansas’ J.C. Sulbaran – In two starts against Frisco, the Naturals’ starting pitcher went 0-2 with an 11.08 ERA. He didn’t make it past five innings in either start, and in 7.2 IP, he surrendered 10 hits, three of them long balls, on the way to 10 earned runs against his ledger. The rough start meant a role change, as Sulbaran was relegated to the bullpen after just two starts. Things have continued south for him since then as well.

Best Moment of the Month:

With honorable mentions to Guilder Rodriguez‘s win in the 17-inning contest, the six-game winning streak and the dramatic 9th inning finish Tuesday night, this month’s Moment of the Month comes from the bat of Brett Nicholas. The RoughRiders, in the midst of a four-game losing streak, the longest of April, had not led in the stretch of four games. They hadn’t scored in 15 innings. Down 3-0, with the bases loaded in the 7th inning of the April 28 tilt against the Corpus Christi Hooks, Nicholas launched his second career grand slam and fifth home run of the season, past the Kroger Pool Zone in right field. The blast gave Frisco a 4-3 lead, and they held on for the win. The ‘Riders won their next two games as well, to finish the month on a three-game winning streak.

How did the prospects do?

Frisco’s Opening Day Roster contained six prospects in the Baseball America Rangers Organization top 30:  RHP Cody Buckel (8), RHP Roman Mendez (13), IF Hanser Alberto (15), RHP Wilmer Font (22), RHP Neil Ramirez (23) and RHP Randy Henry (29).

Cody Buckel - Cody had a month to forget in April. Entering the season as the top prospect in the system on the ‘Riders roster, Buckel went 0-4 with an ERA of 18.00 in five starts. His only no-decision came in the RoughRiders 14-7 come from behind win. The good: In nine innings, Buckel struck out nine batters. The bad: He walked 25, hit three batters and threw just 118 of his 270 pitches for strikes (44%). He had issues commanding any of six pitches, and the lack of fastball command put him behind most hitters in the count. At the end of the month, the Rangers made the decision to move Buckel to the Frisco bullpen.

Roman Mendez – Mendez was extremely sharp to begin the season, and like Henry, finished his April with a perfect ERA. Mendez completed the first month with a 1-0 record, an ERA of 0.00, and ten strikeouts in his 11.1 innings of work. The good: In three of his seven outings Mendez kept the opposition hitless, including a two-frame appearance in San Antonio April 23. In his first four outings, he didn’t walk a batter. The bad: The last two trips to the mound for Mendez were less encouraging. He gave his first run (unearned) his last time out in the month. In his last two outings combined, he issued four walks in four innings of work, hit a batter, and threw just 29 of his 63 pitches in the zone (46%).

At just 20 years of age, Alberto is dazzling with the glove.

At just 20 years of age, Hanser Alberto is dazzling with the glove.

Hanser Alberto – Alberto showed flashes of the offensive ability in the first two weeks, but it was few and far between. Through his first nine games, Hanser was hitting just .156 and after his first 15 games played, the batting average still left something to be desired at .228. Alberto finished the month well, (.298/.307/.357) scoring ten runs, driving in ten, with a double and two triples. He struck out just eight times and walked twice.  The good: Alberto found something to finish the month. He showed decent patience in the first part of 2012 playing for the Hickory Crawdads in Class-A (18 BB, 62 games), but that walk rate can be attributed as much or more to raw pitchers in the South Atlantic League, struggling with command than it does to a patient eye from Alberto. Stretching back to 2012, Alberto has gone 55 games and 239 plate appearances (props to Alex for the mad research skills) without a walk. On April 23, Alberto drew the walk to end that streak, and went 2-for-4 in the process, with a run and an RBI (his eighth). Alberto hit .455 in the seven games to end the month with two walks, three RBI and just one strikeout, raising his batting average from .228 to .298. He also got a hit in each game of that stretch. Alberto’s glove has also been excellent–he’s the best shortstop I’ve had the chance to see in the league so far. The bad: he still chases breaking balls, especially sliders away, and that accounts for most of eight April strikeouts. Although the eye is improving, it still has a ways to go (2.3% BB rate in April). It’s getting better though, and he’s the youngest player in the Texas League, second youngest in all of Double-AA baseball, older than only the Orioles top prospect Dylan Bundy.

Wilmer Font – The hard-throwing, hulking Venezuelan is up to his old tricks again in 2013. His first outing of May was probably his roughest of the year, but April was excellent. He posses a heavy mid to upper 90s fastball with sink, a slider and a developing changeup. He finished April with a record of 0-1, with a 0.82 ERA in eight appearances, and he notched three saves. He allowed just two hits in 11 innings, walking 6 and struck out 17. The good: Font has swing-and-miss stuff and we saw it in April. He strikeout rate (42.5%) was the best on the team and behind only Springfield’s Kevin Siegrist (51.2%) among pitchers with at least five innings of work. The bad: The second hit Font allowed this season was a home run. And it cost Frisco the game in a 2-1 loss in San Antonio on April 25.

Neil Ramirez – Arguably the most pleasant surprise of April was Ramirez. The former supplemental first round pick of the Rangers, Ramirez seemed on the fast track to the majors before a disappointing 2012. He pitched well in April, going 2-0 with a 2.22 ERA in five starts. He’s struck out 29 batters and walked 15 in 24.1 innings. The good: Ramirez didn’t allow much contact and he did he wasn’t hit hard. He led April in opponents’ batting average, as the opposition hit just .130 off him. Ramirez fired four straight starts of 5 innings or more, and he didn’t allow more than three hits in any of his five outings. The bad: you’d like to see Ramirez walk a few less hitters. He’s actually walking more batters per nine innings (5.5) than he has has in any year of his career; that tells you how unhittable the righty was in April.

Randy Henry – Discussed above. If you want to stretch for the bad: it’s that he allowed that one home run. No one is complaining with what the Arnett, Oklahoma native did in his first month of Double-A baseball, except maybe left-handed hitters that have had to face him.

Happy May and go RoughRiders!

- Nathan

Baseball term of the day: dewdropa slow curveball

‘Riders on the Record: The Bloodied Submariner and special guest Jason Cole

It’s Sunday.

That means it’s time to relax and unwind with “‘Riders on the Record,” the weekly entry of conversations with this year’s Frisco RoughRiders. Today is also a day to make blueberry pie apparently.

Week three brought us a jam packed lineup of guests for our pregame shows. This week’s ‘Riders on the Record includes conversations with Ben Rowen, the ‘Riders submarining reliever. A professed hockey fan, Rowen got to live the dream of the hockey player this week, getting a few stitches after taking a ball off the chin.  The lineup also includes conversations with the manger, hitting coach and pitching coach. Great stuff from Jason Cole as well, who discussed a few of the ‘Riders bigger pitching prospects.

April 21, 2013 – Manager Steve Buechele


Manager Steven Buechele talks about the longest game in ‘Riders history, a 17-inning game in Corpus Christi and the excellent start to the season from Carlos Pimentel. (w/ Alex Vispoli)

April 22, 2013 – Hitting Coach Jason Hart


We hear from hitting coach Jason Hart for the first time this year. He breaks down the approach of some of the ‘Riders best prospects including Hanser Alberto and Odubel Herrera and also the hot-hitting Ryan Strausborger and Jared Hoying. (w/ Alex)

April 23, 2013 – Jason Cole (of LoneStarDugout and Baseball Prospectus)


Alex had the chance to converse with special guest Jason Cole. Cole covers the Rangers farm system at LoneStarDugout.com and also contributes material for Baseball Prospectus. He breaks down the improvement for Cody Buckel and the origin of his issues in the early season, the emerging prospect status of Randy Henry, and the bounce back of Neil Ramirez. (w/ Alex)

April 24, 2013 – LHP Jimmy Reyes

Jimmy Reyes takes some time before the ‘Riders game in San Antonio to talk to Alex about his journey to Elon University. He discusses his future role in the big leagues and what it is like to be the lonely lefty in the bullpen. (w/ Alex)

April 25, 2013 – Pitching Coach Jeff Andrews


In the first sit down of the year with ‘Riders pitching Coach Jeff Andrews, Alex asks about the stellar bullpen and their heavy workload in the early part of the season. Andrews also allays concerns over Cody Buckel and the mental fortitude this season of Neil Ramirez. (w/ Alex)

April 26, 2013 – RHP Ben Rowen


Submarining right-hander Ben Rowen joined us on the pre game show Friday before the RoughRiders first game of an eight-game home stand. Rowen chronicled the evolution of his throwing mechanics and detailed his unique repertoire. He also talked about facing the Angels Mike Trout, Albert Pujols, and Josh Hamilton in Spring Training. (w/ Nathan Barnett)

April 27, 2013 – Catcher Tomas Telis

RoughRiders catcher Tomas Telis talks about the long road to becoming a professional catcher. A converted infielder, Telis explains what has been challenging about learning the position and who has taught him along the way — including Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez. He also sheds some light on how hard it is to catch a knuckleball. (w/ Nathan)

- Nathan

Baseball term of the day: swing hitter – a batter who holds the bat the bottom of the handle and takes a full cut. 

Fun with numbers: 17-inning game edition

It’s hard to remember that Neil Ramirez even started that game last night. Even though he went five innings, he pitched less than a third of the game.

Seventeen innings in the books. First time in RoughRiders history. Most importantly, another win. The RoughRiders finished off the Hooks 4-2 in seventeen innings to improve to 9-4 on the season.

That’s six wins in-a-row now for the first-place RoughRiders. Frisco is a game ahead of Midland and 2.5 games better than the first place team in the North Division, the Arkansas Travelers (6-6).

The 9-4 mark is one of the best starts in team history. Last year the ‘Riders began 9-4 and finished just short of their second Texas League Championship. The 2012 ‘Riders lost the next three after going 9-4 to fall to 9-7.

The 9-4 start is also best start for the club since 2008 through 13 games. That team began 10-3 and ran their mark to 12-3 before losing. That 2008 squad put together the best record in the  Texas League in the first half (43-27) and won the South Division in both halves. Their overall record of 84-56 is the second best record in team history.

The best final record for Frisco came in 2007 under now Rangers First Base Coach Dave Anderson. That team went 85-55. They also began 9-4 but only won once more (10-4) before falling again to 10-5.

Two more wins and this year’s team will have the second best start in the eleven years of the franchise. Four more will be a new record for the best start to the season in the first seventeen games–a fitting number considering the length of last night’s extra innings contest.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. There is so much to relish about Thursday night’s contest:

The Game:

  • The game took 4 hours and 43 minutes.
  • The Hooks brought 63 batters to the plate. Seven times they got a hit. On five occasions they walked. Nineteen times they struck out (a new season high for Frisco). Once they reached on a hit-by-pitch.
  • The ‘Riders sent 67 batters to the plate. Thirteen collected hits, three walked, one was hit by a pitch and one reached on an error. They struck out just nine times in 17 innings.
  • The two teams combined for 480 pitches. Frisco threw 243 while Corpus Christi tossed 237–surprising, considering the ‘Riders outhit the Hooks 13 to 7.
  • The four innings thrown by Ryan Rodebaugh tied a career high for him. He also pitched four innings in an extra inning game in 2011. That came in a 1-0 Hickory win over Savannah. Rodebaugh relieved major leaguer Justin Grimm, tossing four scoreless innings after Grimm had gone seven strong. Like last night, Rodebaugh did not get the win. The two teams combined for 16 hits in that game, and only one went for extra bases: the fifth double of the season for Jurickson Profar.
  • The game was not ever close to the longest in the history of baseball, or even the Texas League. In fact it wasn’t even the longest game at Whataburger Field in recent memory. Corpus Christie hosted a 20-inning contest against the Wichita Wranglers (also a Hooks loss) on June 1, 2005. The game finished at 1:19 a.m. on June 2. Jackson and San Antonio played a 26-inning, 7 hour and 23 minute game over the course of three days in Texas League play July 14-16, 1988. 
  • The longest professional game in history was the famous clash between the Pawtucket Red Sox and the Rochester Red Wings. That one took 33 innings and spanned over two different days across multiple months in the summer of ’81. 
  • If you are interested in this kind of thing, I would highly recommend this book. It is fascinating. It also debunks the myths of multiple games that were once believed to last over 40 innings. The author writes that he has cataloged 540 games, at time of publication, that took more than 20 innings to complete, across all levels of baseball in all countries.

Guilder Rodriguez:

  • The 29-year-old utility infielder picked up his first career win on the mound last night after throwing a scoreless sixteenth inning. It was his third career pitching performance in his 914th professional game. 
  • His first career outing on the mound came in 2012, in his 11th professional season and 870 games into his pro career. Frisco pitched Rodriguez and Val Majewski in a 9-run 11th inning on the way to a 14-5 11-inning defeat, oddly enough, also against Corpus Christi, the team he collected the win against last night.
  • His first decision (a loss) and his first scoreless inning came during the same game (he pitched two innings), 901 games into his pro career, also last year. Frisco lost 2-1 against Midland in 13 innings.
  • When Rodriguez entered the game last night, he was playing in his 12th professional season, for his 10th different franchise, in his 9th year of Double-AA baseball, in his fifth different season with the RoughRiders and after 3325 plate appearances and 2882 at bats in affiliated baseball.
  • Rodriguez has more appearances as a pitcher (3) than home runs (2) and as many decisions (2) on the mound as he does long balls in his career. He hit his second career home run on Opening Night this season.
  • The utility man has played every position except catcher in his career. With one more pitching performance, right field will become his next least played position. He has played only three games in right. He played their once for Frisco in 2009 and twice last year.

Enough head spinning. Enjoy the game tonight. Another 7:05 start from Corpus Christi. What will we see next? In light of that thought: today’s distraction of the day.

Game notes are coming soon. We will post them here when they are ready to go. UPDATE: Game notes are here!

- Nathan

Baseball term of the day: snake jazz – a breaking ball

Back on the road again

After a partial day off and a seven-hour bus ride to Corpus Christi, the RoughRiders open South Division play against the Hooks Thursday at 7:05 p.m.

The team plays the first four games of the eight-game trip in Corpus Christi before traveling to San Antonio to take on the San Diego affiliate San Antonio Missions.

Both series should be good tests for Frisco, who opens the trip in first place in the entire Texas League. The RoughRiders are 8-4. That puts them a game ahead of 7-5 Corpus Christi and Midland and two games ahead of San Antonio.

The South Division dominated the first two weeks of the season, going 27-20 in cross-divisional play. The fourth place team San Antonio is tied with the first place teams in the North, Arkansas and Tulsa, at 6-6.

Now divisional plays opens, and the next few weeks should tell us a lot about the teams in the league.

The Opponents

Corpus Christi Hooks (7-5, Thursday-Saturday, 7:05, Sunday, 1:05)

The Hooks spent most of last week in first place before getting swept by Tulsa Sunday through Tuesday. An intigruing team to watch, the Hooks are a Houston Astros affiliate. Houston is employing a “piggybacking” or a “tandem” starting rotation at all of their minor league levels. Instead of having an ordinary five-man starting rotation, they have four pairs of starters. Each pair alternates who starts the game, and both go multiple innings. Chris Blake with the Hooks media department has a piece up explaining the pairing system if you want to find out more. Teams at lower levels have employed this system for years, but it is unheard of at the Double-A and Triple-A level.

Because of this rotation, Frisco will not “miss” any of the Corpus starters. The four-game series forces each of the eight “starting pitchers” to face the Frisco lineup at some point during the four-game set. Asher Wojciechowski has been the stalwart so far for the Hooks staff. He has posted 14 scoreless innings with 14 Ks and just four walks. He should relieve David Martinez Saturday night.

Intriguing offensive players on the roster are headlined by first baseman Jonathan Singleton, but he won’t play until May after violating minor league baseball’s drug policy in January; he is suspended for 50 games. Center fielder George Springer, who struggled in his brief stint in Corpus in 2012, is the highest ranked Astros farmhand currently active for the Hooks. He has performed better in the early going this year, hitting .273 with three home runs and is tied for second in the Texas League with 11 RBI. He hit 22 bombs and swiped 28 bags in the California League a year ago and has big time power and speed. Less ballyhooed outfield prospects Austin Wates and Domingo Santana are also off to good starts.

San Antonio Missions (6-6, Monday-Thursday, 7:05)

The farm team of another lowly MLB club, the Missions, like most of the San Diego farm system, is pitching-heavy in prospects. The Missions have six of the top-30 players in the Padres farm system according to Baseball America, and all six are on the pitching staff. Starters Donn Roach (19) and Matthew Andriese (20) are joined by bullpen arms Adys Portillo (9), Burch Smith (22), Matt Stites (27) and Kevin Quackenbush (29), although Portillo is currently on the DL. Andriese and Roach have been filthy thus far, and Quackenbush picked up the team’s only save ten days ago. The prospect-laden staff is producing; the Missions lead the Texas League in ERA (2.66) are tied for the fewest walks allowed (21).

No top-30 players in the Padres system fill the lineup for the Missions, but Tommy Medica has turned some heads. The C/1B/OF prospect was selected in the 14th round in 2010 and is already 25 years old, but he led all Padres farmhands in batting average (.330), on-base percentage (.406) and slugging (.623) a year ago. This is his first season at the Double-A level, and he is crushing the baseball. The career .297 minor league hitter leads the Missions in homers with four and has posted a .348 average. He is also first in the Texas League in total bases. Fringe prospect Jake Blackwood is off to a good start as well; he is tied with RoughRiders killer, Arkansas’ Matt Long, with 18 hits to lead the league.

‘Riders Notes

  • The best source of information on the RoughRiders players on a day-to-day basis are the game notes. You can check out today’s by clicking here.
  • What a homestand for Frisco. Offensively, the team hit just .204 with two home runs in six road games. The six games at home produced 10 long balls and a .313 team average. Frisco is now second in batting average and homers in the league.
  • Leading the way at home was Alejandro Selen (10-for-20, 8 R, 1 HR, 4 RBI, 1 SB), Ryan Strausborger (8-for-20, 4 R, 2 HR, 10 RBI, 2 SB) and Jared Hoying (8-for-23, 3 HR, 9 RBI, 1 SB). Alex Buchholz led the team with eight extra base hits. These were just four of the seven players who hit over .300 on the home stand.
  • The pitching wasn’t too shabby either. Frisco posted 23 consecutive scoreless innings in the middle of the current five-game winning streak. After Matt Long‘s grand slam in the sixth inning on Thursday, the ‘Riders silenced the Travelers and then the Naturals until Carlos Pimentel allowed a pair of runs in the third inning Sunday. The RoughRiders won that game 9-2.
  • Despite two rough outings from Cody Buckel on the home stand (2 GS, 3.1 IP, 8 R, 2 ER, 11 BB, 6 K), Frisco posted a 1.83 ERA in the six games.
  • Randy Henry threw 7.1 scoreless innings in his two outings and is tied a top of the Texas League ERA leaderboard. He is one of only three qualifying players yet to give up a run.
  • Kevin Pucetas (7.1 IP, 0 R, 5 H, 1 BB, 1 K) delivered the longest start of the season, and Neil Ramirez (5.2 IP, 2 H, 2 BB, 5 K)  looked excellent in his second start.
  • During the five-game winning streak Frisco is outscoring the opposition 48-12.

Some random thoughts and tidbits

  • In not so random news, former ‘Riders lefty Joe Ortiz picked up his first and second big league victories for the Rangers during the time Frisco was home. He got his first in Seattle Thursday and another Saturday at Safeco. 
  • Nick Tepesch pitched okay but took the loss in his second start of his MLB career.
  • In wouldn’t-it-be-neat-if-this-guy-made-it-here-this-year news, Joey Gallo hit his fifth and six home runs for the Rangers Class-A affiliate in Hickory. He got some love from MiLB.com this week as well. The power prospect trails only Ernesto Mejia (7) of the Atlanta Braves Triple-A team in Gwinnett for homers by a minor leaguer.

Today’s game begins at 7:05 p.m. The pregame show begins at 6:40 and 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.

- Nathan

Baseball term of the day: petticoat ball – a strike at the knees in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League. 

First RoughRiders Roundtable of the year is up!

Ted Price of DallasSportsNetwork.tv informed us this morning that he has posted the first RoughRiders Roundtable of the season (#10 overall).

You can find the podcast entry by clicking here. 

We will post a link to each RoughRiders Roundtable here on the Insider Blog. You can also subscribe to the podcast on iTunes or by linking the RSS feed to your device or RSS reader.

In this episode Alex, Nathan, and Jason Cole (of LoneStarDugout.com) discuss middle infield prospects Hanser Alberto and Odubel Herrera as well as catcher Tomas Telis before diving into the divergent starts of right-handed starters Neil Ramirez and Cody Buckel . ‘Riders Manager Steve Buechele breaks down the opening day roster. Jason also weighs in on the slow start in Triple-A Round Rock of Rangers third base prospect Mike Olt. We toss around a little Nick Tepesch talk as well.

Enjoy!

Baseball term of the day – knocker – an early term for a batter 

‘Riders on the Record: Week One

You can’t always catch the RoughRiders live. We get it. You’ve got laundry, homework, cooking, meetings, and catching up on your DVR to do. Maybe you are even at Dr Pepper Ballpark (although, if so, you can listen to the game on RidersBaseball.com)! If so, you are missing out on the pregame interviews with a ‘Riders player or coach before the games.

Maybe you do listen to the game but tune in around first pitch and miss the pregame show.  Or even better yet, you did the hear the show, but want listen to the sitdown with one of your favorite players again or even share it with a friend.

So, we bring you “‘Riders on the Record,” a (hopefully) weekly entry each Sunday of the week’s pregame insights with the Frisco ballplayers and field staff. With a little more than a week since the season began, this week’s will be a slightly longer entry.

Hope you enjoy!

April 13, 2013 – RHP Neil Ramirez


Former Rangers supplemental first round pick Neil Ramirez pitched an excellent 5.2 innings in first home start. The right-hander talks about his focus for the season, the wild ride he has endured the last two seasons and how he needs to let his body rest from time to time. (w/ Nathan Barnett)

April 12, 2013 – RHP Randy Henry


Fresh off a stellar outing in the team’s home opener, reliever Randy Henry talks about his comfort level with the club in the early season. The Oklahoma native explains how he likes being close to home. He also talks about his routine, which includes a touching tribute to his late brother and a quirky obsession with the number three. (w/ Nathan)

April 11, 2013 – LHP Ryan Feierabend


On the home opening day for the RoughRiders we had a chance to catch up with Ryan Feierabend, one of just two ‘Riders with big league experience (on the roster at that time). Following his start on short rest, Ryan talked about how far away he is from being full stretched out. He also opened up about his role as a veteran on the team and what advice he has to the young pitchers on the staff looking to make their way to The Show. (w/ Nathan)

April 9, 2013 – 1B Brett Nicholas


Frisco first baseman Brett Nicholas discusses breaking out of his slump. He also touches on his experiences with Texas Rangers starting pitcher Nick Tepesch in their days together at the University of Missouri on the day Tepesch was set to make his MLB debut for the Rangers against the Tampa Bay Rays. (w/ Alex Vispoli)

April 8, 2013 – RHP Kevin Pucetas


Following his first start of the season, veteran starting pitcher Kevin Pucetas talks about his journey in professional baseball and how he landed with the Texas Rangers organization this offseason. He also asses the early start of the season for the team and how he can help set the tone for a young pitching staff. (w/ Alex)

April 7, 2013 – Manager Steve Buechele


Alex sits down again with Manager Steve Buechele. They talk about the early struggles offensively for the club, the heavily worked bullpen, and the up-and-down first start for pitcher Neil Ramirez. (w/ Alex)

April 6, 2013 – IF Guilder Rodriguez


RoughRiders middle infielder Guilder Rodriguez sits down with Alex after his second career home run, which came on Opening Night. A coach on the field, Rodriguez talks about his work last season with top prospects Leury Garcia and Jurickson Profar as well. (w/ Alex)

April 5, 2013 – Manager Steve Buechele


‘Riders manager Steve Buechele discusses his team at the beginning of the season. With plenty of new faces and a long spring training, the skipper talks about his eagerness to start the season and analyzes his team’s apparent strengths and weakness as the team begins play. (w/ Alex)

April 4, 2013 – RHP Cody Buckel

Rangers #8th ranked prospect (according to Baseball America) Cody Buckel talks about his offseason appearance in a Dick’s Sporting Goods commercial, the development of his shuuto pitch, and what he learned in Spring Training from the Texas Rangers pitchers. (w/ Nathan)

- Nathan

Baseball term of the day – dancer – a knuckleball

Season in Review: July

Engel Beltre heated up in July and was key to the ‘Riders’ late-month turnaround. (Alex Yocum-Beeman/RoughRiders).

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

JULY

Record: 16-14 (T-3rd of 8 TL teams)

Average: .263 (3rd)

Home Runs: 33 (1st)

ERA: 4.41 (6th)

Top Offensive Players: Engel Beltre (.308-6-15, 4 2B, 6 3B, 25 R, 12-14 SB, .352/.592/.943), Leury Garcia (.300-1-10, 4 2B, 2 3B, 22 R, 11-12 SB), Jared Hoying (.288-3-10, 3 2B, 3B, 21 R, 3-4 SB), Ryan Strausborger (.287-2-12, 4 2B, 3B, 17 R, 6-6 SB)

Top Pitchers: Barret Loux (5 GS, 1-1, 2.63 ERA, 24 IP, 17 H, 1.04 WHIP, .200 BAA), Nick Tepesch (6 G, 5 GS, 3-1, 2.82 ERA, 38.1 IP, 36 H, 24 K, 9 BB), Ross Wolf (6 G, 2-0, 0.00 ERA, 8 IP, 5 H, 0.88 WHIP, .179 BAA)

After a difficult month of June, the RoughRiders ran hot and cold throughout July.  A look at the monthly numbers above seems to suggest a team playing mediocre baseball throughout the month, but in reality Frisco rapidly swung from one polar opposite to another a few times.

The ’Riders started the month the way they finished the previous one, with a pair of losses to tie its longest losing streak of the season (four).  However, the team then proceeded to rip off six straight wins for its longest winning streak in 2012.  That momentum did not last long, because Frisco then lost 11 of its next 15 to drop into last place in the second half division standings.  The boomerang reversed direction one more time though when the ’Riders won six out of seven to finish the month.

One of the reasons for the instability was the tumultuous nature of the starting pitching staff at the time.  At one point, the ’Riders had three starters dealing with health-related workload restrictions while at the same time were stretching reliever Wilfredo Boscan into a starter’s role and dealing with the growing pains of hurlers recently promoted from Myrtle Beach.

July featured the additional drama of the end-of-month trading deadline and with it came persistent rumors involving the Rangers and several Frisco players.  Mike Olt was the RoughRider most frequently mentioned in trade talks by the media, but by the end of the month it was a different player who ended up changing organizations via a trade.

Frisco’s performance somewhat mirrored the parent club, as the Rangers slogged their way through the middle of the season at the big league level as well.  There was additional crossover with three Texas players rehabbing in RoughRiders uniforms with varying degrees of success.

TIMELINE:

Frisco may have struggled to start July, but at least athletic trainer Carlos Olivas (left) and strength & conditioning coach Eric McMahon were looking good. (Alex Yocum-Beeman/RoughRiders)

July 2:The struggling ’Riders take one on the chin in their series opener at Arkansas.  Frisco brings a 6-2 lead into the ninth inning but gives up five runs in the bottom of the frame – the last three coming on a Roberto Lopez three-run homer off of Ryan Rodebaugh – and lose 7-6.  The form of the loss is especially tough to swallow, considering that the Travelers at the time had the second-fewest homers of any team in the “High Minors” (Double-A and Triple A).  The loss knocks Frisco out of first place overall in the South Division for the first time all season as Corpus Christi takes over as the team with the best record.

July 3: Barret Loux and the RoughRiders rebound in a 5-1 win over the Travs.  Loux, who had lost for the first time all year in his previous start, allows just an unearned run and two hits over seven superb innings to improve to 11-1 in 2012.

July 4: Chris McGuiness supplies the Independence Day fireworks with his 17th home run of the season in Frisco’s 8-0 win over Arkansas.  Cody Buckel shows what made him the best pitcher in the Carolina League in his third Texas League outing, giving up just one hit in six scoreless innings.

July 5: Baseball America releases its revised “Top 50 Prospects” list and the ’Riders are well-represented.  Jurickson Profar comes in at number two (behind Baltimore’s Dylan Bundy) while Mike Olt (11) and Cody Buckel (41) also make the list.

July 7: Frisco finishes off a three-game sweep of Springfield with a 5-2 win at Dr Pepper Ballpark.  The sweep comes just days after the Cardinals swept the ’Riders up in Missouri.  While the win is welcomed, the game features a lack of star power as stud prospects from both sides (Olt and Profar of Frisco; Oscar Taveras and Kolten Wong of Springfield) are in Kansas City for the All-Star Futures Game.

July 8: The Futures Game is played at the Royals’ Kauffman Stadium and Profar makes an early splash, homering for the World team in the first inning off former Northwest Arkansas Natural Jake Odorizzi.  Profar adds a single and goes 2-for-3 while Olt – playing for the U.S. squad – goes 1-for-5 with an RBI.  That night, their ’Riders teammates run their season-best win streak to six games with a 5-4 win against the Travelers.  McGuiness hits a walk-off solo home run in the tenth inning, the first walk-off home run of his baseball life.  Leury Garcia goes 3-for-5 in the contest with an RBI and three of Frisco’s six steals.

July 9: Justin Grimm returns from his three-outing stint with the Rangers for a brief, three-inning start against Arkansas.  After he departs in a scoreless game, Buckel pitches well but surrenders a solo home run to former RoughRiders infielder (and the team’s all-time hits leader) Renny Osuna in the seventh inning.  That proves to be enough for Johnny Hellweg (8 SHO IP) who dominates and leads the Travelers to a 1-0 win to snap Frisco’s six-game win streak.  Hellweg hits Olt on the wrist with a fastball in the third inning and the ’Riders’ third baseman misses the next week with a bruise.

July 12: Frisco goes on the road to Corpus Christi and looks to be in control with a 4-0 lead and two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning.  But Carlos Pimentel and Zach Osborne allow four runs in the frame, including a three-run double by Austin Wates to send the game to extra innings.  The ’Riders hold leads of one and two runs in the tenth and 11th innings, respectively, but both times the Hooks come back.  Wates cements his role as hero with a three-run walk-off home run off Tim Murphy to send Corpus to an improbable 8-7 win and the Whataburger Field crowd (at least, what’s left after a mass exodus in the middle of the ninth inning) into delirium.  Garcia’s big night (4-for-5, 3 R, 3 SB) for Frisco is wasted.

July 13: The ’Riders allow five home runs and lose 12-2 to Corpus Christi.  However, the win is costly to the Hooks as star shortstop Jonathan Villar breaks his hand punching a dugout wall after striking out in the eighth inning and does not play for the rest of the regular season.  Profar plays third base for the first time in his career with Olt still out of the lineup.

July 15: Jarred Cosart and two relievers one-hit Frisco as the ’Riders fall 5-2 to the Hooks.  Wates hits another home run as Profar’s RBI triple in the sixth inning is the team’s only base knock.

July 16: Rangers right-hander Neftali Feliz begins his rehab assignment from a sore elbow with the RoughRiders at Dr Pepper Ballpark.  Feliz, who pitched for Frisco in 2008, strikes out four and allows an unearned run to San Antonio in two innings.  The ’Riders lose 7-4 and Feliz makes two more starts for Round Rock before the Rangers announce he will undergo “Tommy John” surgery and be lost for the year.

Rangers 1B/OF Mitch Moreland returned to his old home ballpark for a three-game rehab stint. Pitchers Neftali Feliz and Mark Lowe also rehabbed in Frisco in July. (Alex Yocum-Beeman/RoughRiders)

July 17: After a disastrous outing by Neil Ramirez (2.1 IP, 8 H, 6 R, 2 BB, HR), Osborne comes in to pitch in relief and does no better, allowing six runs on five hits and a walk without retiring a Missions batter.  Frisco falls 12-4 despite home runs from Olt and Engel Beltre.  Beltre (3-for-5) begins a scorching last half of the month; he will hit .375 with four doubles, four triples, five home runs, seven RBI, 18 runs scored and five steals over the last two weeks of July.

July 18: The Rangers name Olt their “Minor League Player of the Month” for June.  It is the second straight month that Texas has bestowed the honor on the former UConn Husky.

July 19: Trying to win two straight games for the first time in 11 days, the ’Riders blow an early 5-1 lead and allow the tying run to score in the ninth inning for San Antonio.  The Missions score five runs in the 11th and hold off Frisco for a 12-10 victory.  The RoughRiders have lost seven of their last ten games after their six-game win streak.

July 22: A day after getting shut out on just three hits, Frisco’s offense remains anemic against Corpus Christi’s Jose Cisnero, scoring one run on five hits in a 3-1 defeat.  The team’s losing streak hits four games and the squad has lost four consecutive series.

July 23: Beltre is named the Texas League “Player of the Week” for his offensive re-emergence.  He backs up the honor that night by going 3-for-4 with three runs scored, two steals and a walk in the ’Riders’ cathartic 11-3 win over Corpus.  Jake Brigham pitches very well, allowing one run on four hits over seven innings.

July 26: The ’Riders beat Midland 6-0 behind a masterful Nick Tepesch (8 IP, 5 H, 0 R).  The team wins two in a row for the first time in 16 games and snaps its four-series losing streak.

July 27: Frisco receives Rangers 1B/OF Mitch Moreland (hamstring) on a rehab assignment.  The former RoughRider makes his presence felt immediately against San Antonio, going 3-for-4 with two doubles, an RBI, four runs scored and a hit-by-pitch.  The ’Riders smoke the Missions 14-4 with assistance from Garcia and Olt, who both homer.

July 28: The big league rehabbers keep flowing into Dr Pepper Ballpark as reliever Mark Lowe (intercostal strain) joins the ’Riders to begin a rehab assignment.  His stint is not as successful as Moreland’s however, as he gives up a game-tying home run in the eighth inning, only to see McGuiness win the game for Frisco with a walk-off solo home run in the ninth to down the Missions 2-1.  Brigham (6 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 5 K) pitches well but gets a no-decision in what ends up being his final appearance as a RoughRider.

Second-year Frisco pitcher Jake Brigham was traded just before the deadline to the Cubs in exchange for big league catcher Geovany Soto. (Alex Yocum-Beeman/RoughRiders)

July 29:Frisco captures its fifth straight win with a 9-5 victory over San Antonio.  Beltre triples and homers while Ryan Strausborger hits a double and his fourth long ball of the season.  Moreland goes 1-for-5 to finish his rehab assignment with a .308 average (4-for-13).

July 30: For the second consecutive week, Beltre is named the TL “Player of the Week,” joining Corpus Christi’s Brandon Barnes and San Antonio’s Cody Decker as the only players to accomplish the feat in back-to-back weeks.  That night, Lowe allows a three-run home run to the Missions’ Edinson Rincon in the sixth inning and Frisco loses 4-2 to see their five-game win streak snapped.  During the game, news breaks that Brigham has been traded to the Chicago Cubs in exchange for Major League catcher Geovany Soto.  Brigham is called down from the stands (where he had been charting pitches) in the middle of the game and is informed of the deal by Rangers pitching coordinator Danny Clark in the dugout bathroom.

July 31: The trading deadline comes and goes with Brigham being the only RoughRider that gets dealt despite many rumors that Olt or, to a lesser extent, Profar might be on the move.  The re-focused RoughRiders finish July with a 5-1 win versus Midland as Tepesch (6 IP, 3 H, 0 R, BB, 7 K) again outclasses the RockHounds bats.

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

-          Alex V.

Season in Review: June

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

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

JUNE

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

Average: .244 (6th)

Home Runs: 26 (2nd)

ERA: 5.20 (8th)

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

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

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

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

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

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

TIMELINE:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-          Alex V.

Ramirez’s Route To Professional Baseball

Neil Ramirez pitching in Frisco in 2011. (Photo by Alex Yocum-Beeman)

Baseball has been part of RoughRiders’ pitcher Neil Ramirez since he was five years old. He started playing on tournament teams when he was around ten years old including a team called the Virginia Heat which was in the AAU. The spark that began his Ramirez’s initial interest in pitching came from a certain major league team.

“My favorite team growing up was the Atlanta Braves,” Ramirez said. “I loved the whole pitching staff, watching Smoltz, Glavine, Maddux, all those guys.”

High school ball was where Ramirez started garnering attention and standing out.

“I played all four years on the varsity team,” Ramirez said. “I wasn’t the main pitcher I would say until my junior year. We had a pretty good team. A couple of guys ended up playing at D-III schools and one kid, Matt Little, is in pro ball right now with the Tigers.”

Ramirez was drafted in the first round of the 2007 draft by the Texas Rangers out of Kempsville High School. He said he remembers draft day.

“(It was) nerve-wracking. It’s just kind of a waiting game waiting for your name to be called,” Ramirez said.  “I heard different things from different people about where I was going to go so it was cool. It was an awesome experience.”

The biggest decision Ramirez had to make was deciding whether or not to go to college before pursuing professional baseball.

“It was a tough decision. It took all summer for us to kind of decide, me and my family,” Ramirez said. That was definitely one of the tougher decisions because I was going to Georgia Tech which at the time had two of my friends that were committed there and they ended up being top picks also so we would have had a really good staff.”

After deciding to return to college later and sign with the Rangers, his experience in the farm system began in Short Season Spokane. He said it was definitely a learning process.

“It was the first time out on my own really. That’s what I definitely remember a lot, just growing up and learning how to take care of myself,” Ramirez said. “I had a great group of guys that I played with. Zaneski’s still here playing with me now. We had a real fun team up in Spokane. We ended up winning that league that year too which was really neat to get a ring our first year.”

Ramirez spent the next two seasons pitching in Low-A Hickory before being promoted to High-A Myrtle Beach in 2011. He didn’t spend much time there as he was promoted to Double-A Frisco after one game. He made six appearances with the RoughRIders before moving up to Triple-A Round Rock. He began the 2012 season in Triple-A before returning to Frisco. Ramirez said he realizes why and hopes to continue and build upon the skills he has.

“I struggled in Round Rock which everybody goes through so I learned to deal with it. I got sent down here realizing that it’s all a process and not about right now. It’s about the future so I’m just continuing to try to get better every day,” Ramirez said. “I want to be consistent and go out there every five days and give my team a chance to win. I think if I can go out there and compete, battle hitters and stuff like that, it will work out.”

Story by Jarah Wright

Rangers Top 10

Baseball America recently released their list of the top 10 prospects in the Rangers organization. Three players on this list spent time in Frisco with the Roughriders — Neil Ramirez, Leonys Martin and Martin Perez. Several others should make their Frisco debut in 2012.

10) Rougned Odor, SS:  The almost eighteen-year-old Venezuelan spent the 2011 season with the Spokane Indians of the Northwest League. Odor ended his first minor league season with a .262 batting average and .966 fielding percentage at shortstop. There is speculation that Odor will switch to second base this season. Odor’s uncle, Rouglas, is returning this season as one of the coaches for the Akron Aeros, the Double-A affiliate of the Cleveland Indians.

9) Christian Villanueva, 3B: Villanueva spent the 2011 season with the Hickory Crawdads of the South Atlantic League posting a .278 batting average and a .942 fielding percentage at third base. Villanueva spent the 2009 season with the Dominican Summer League Rangers 2 and the 2010 season with the Arizona League Rangers.

8) Jorge Alfaro, C: The Colombian was just 16 when the Rangers offered him a contract in early 2010. With Spokane this past season, Alfaro had a .300 batting average with a .481 slugging percentage.

7) Cody Buckel, RHP: The Rangers signed Buckel in the second round of the 2010 MLB June Amateur Draft. Like Villanueva, Buckel spent the 2011 season with Hickory. In 101.2 innings of work, Buckel struck out 120 batters with an ERA of 2.61.

6) Neil Ramirez, RHP: The Rangers drafted Ramirez in the first round of the 2007 MLB June Amateur Draft. He has steadily risen through the minor league ranks playing for Spokane and Hickory in 2008, 2009 and 2010. Last season, Ramirez split time with three different teams — the Myrtle Beach Pelicans, the Frisco RoughRiders and the Round Rock Express. During his time with Frisco, Ramirez had an ERA of 1.89 and opponent batting average of .194. He is currently on the Texas Rangers 40-man roster and will probably spend the season in Round Rock.


5) Leonys Martin, OF:
Martin had a whirlwind season climbing the ranks to the major league level within the span of a year. He was signed by the Rangers in May 2011 with a contract over $15 million. After a short stint with the Arizona League Rangers, he was promoted to Frisco where he played 29 games.

During his time with Frisco, Martin had a .348 batting average and a .571 slugging percentage. Martin then spent 40 games with Round Rock before being promoted to the Bigs. He played eight games at the major league level with a .375 batting average and .500 slugging percentage. He is listed on the Rangers 40-man roster and will probably remain at the major league level this season.

4) Mike Olt, 3B: Drafted by the Rangers in the first round of the 2010 MLB June Amateur Draft, Olt spent last season with the Arizona League Rangers for four games before making the transition to Myrtle Beach where he spent the remainder of the season. The third baseman has had strong numbers in Myrtle Beach including a .482 slugging percentage and a .954 fielding percentage. He’s jumped two levels in the course of the past season and could be promoted sometime this season.

3) Martin Perez, LHP: The Rangers signed the Venezuelan as a non-drafted free agent in 2007. Since then he has been working his way up through the minor league system. From 2008 to 2011, Perez has spent time playing for Spokane, Hickory and the RoughRiders. During the 2010 season with the ‘Riders, Perez struck out 101 batters in 99.2 innings of work. He ended the 2011 season playing in Round Rock with a  record of four wins and four losses. He was a Futures Game Selection this past season and is currently on the Texas Rangers 40-man roster.

2) Jurickson Profar, SS: Profar was signed by the Rangers in 2009 and spent 2010 with Spokane and 2011 with Hickory. Between the two seasons, he has had fielding percentages over .950. Last season, he hit .286 with 12 home runs and 23 stolen bases leading him to be named the South Atlantic League Most Valuable Player. He was one of the Rangers representatives in the Futures Game this year.

1) Yu Darvish, RHP: The recent Rangers acquisition came at a price of a six-year $60 million contract which isn’t including the record-breaking $51.7 million posting fee. Darvish was drafted in the 2004 Nippon Professional Baseball amateur draft by the Nipponham Fighters and has remained with Nipponham throughout his career.

Last season Darvish had a record of 18 wins and 6 losses, an ERA of 1.44, and 276 strikeouts. Expectations are high for him as he plays his first season with the Rangers who see Darvish as one of their five starters.

By Jarah Wright, Media Relations Intern

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