Results tagged ‘ Nomar Mazara ’

A Tale of Two Halves


Miss the last RoughRiders game? Catch up on the action or relive the highlights with ‘Riders Rewind, a daily capsule of yesterday’s big moments. Listen to previous editions of ‘Riders Rewind here.

Yes, I know a nine-inning baseball game is not bisected into halves (but give me a break, college football starts this weekend!). But Frisco’s 5-4 win over Corpus Christi in 11 innings on Wednesday read like a story with a part one and a part two. Click here to read Monday’s game recap.

Once again, the ‘Riders made a starting pitcher look like a minor league Cy Young. Last night, it was Jordan Jankowski, who allowed one hit and struck out ten in six innings. The streak of consecutive innings without a run scored against a starting arm is still active and stands at 33 straight frames going into Thursday’s action. The offensive slump sunk to further depths in the first half of Wednesday’s game as well. When the ‘Riders finally scored in the seventh inning (via a bases-loaded walk) it broke a streak of 28 innings without an earned run.

But after halftime (represented by a Corpus Christi pitching change), the ‘Riders came out of the locker room with a second wind. They scored three runs in the seventh. With one out in the top of the ninth, Joey Gallo delivered another clutch home run to send the game to the bottom of the ninth. The ‘Riders capitalized on two Telvin Nash blunders in the 11th to score the go-ahead run in extras. And Ryan Rodebaugh submitted his best outing of the season, tossing two scoreless innings to preserve the tie and protect the win. There’s no question the ‘Riders are batting at low tide right now, but they keep finding ways to eke out wins in tight situations.

Star of the Game: 1B Joey Gallo – 1/4, R, HR, 3 RBI, BB

Joey had three RBI on the night, but he didn’t get ‘em all at once. He worked a walk with the bases loaded to put the ‘Riders on the board for the first time. He belted his 20th home run in the Texas League in the top of the ninth inning to up his season total to 41. Watch the video of the home run and the pitch from Mitchell Lambson was, unsurprisingly, right in Joey’s sweet spot (down and in). He produced a productive out in the 11th to drive in Patrick Cantwell for the second time in the game and give the ‘Riders a 5-4 lead. And, Joey did it all without a strikeout.

In case you missed it:

-Honorable mention goes to Ryan Rodebaugh, who tossed two innings in extras and allowed just one hit with one strikeout. He faced one above the minimum and produced his own win to move to 3-0 on the season.

-Will Lamb continues to provide thrills on the mound. In the bottom of the ninth, he issued three walks (one intentional) with the score tied at four, but managed to strike out Teoscar Hernandez looking at a fastball to end the inning and usher the game into extras.

-The RoughRiders scored five unanswered runs to cap the win.

-Corpus Christi left 13 men on base and outhit the ‘Riders 9-7.

-Hanser Alberto extended his hitting streak to 11 with his two-RBI single in the seventh inning.

-The ‘Riders clinched the season series against Corpus Christi and lead the Hooks 17-13 with two games remaining between the two sides in 2014.

-Gallo watch: See Above

-A look at the RoughRiders home run leader board (current players only):

1. Joey Gallo (20)

2. Trever Adams (13)

3. J.T. Wise (6)

4. Jake Skole (5)

5. Teodoro Martinez (3)

5. Jorge Alfaro (3)

7. Odubel Herrera (2)

7. Nomar Mazara (2)

9. Patrick Cantwell (1)

9. Hanser Alberto (1)

 

With Guilder Rodriguez serving as translator, Francisco Mendoza joins the Pregame Show and talks about his pitching style and an accident that nearly cost him his baseball career:

 

Thanks for tuning in,

-Chris V.

Pitching Spectacular


Miss the last RoughRiders game? Catch up on the action or relive the highlights with ‘Riders Rewind, a daily capsule of yesterday’s big moments. Listen to previous editions of ‘Riders Rewind here.

Fans of defense were treated to a classic last night. 2013 first overall choice Mark Appel looked every bit the part on Tuesday as he cranked out his most impressive outing as a member of the Astros organization. Click here to read Monday’s game recap.

Star of the Game: RHP Jake Thompson – 6 1/3 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 6 K

Appel was transcendent, but Jake was pretty darn good, too. The righty kept the ‘Riders in position to win the game and fortunately avoided a loss on his record. His ERA with Frisco now sits at 2.93.

In case you missed it:

-The bus-lagged RoughRiders turned in another sleepy offensive performance and registered just two hits and a total of five baserunners (three in the ninth).

-The ‘Riders have not scored against an opponent’s starting pitcher on this road trip (four games), a period of 27 innings.

-Hanser Alberto chased Appel from the game in the ninth inning when he led off the frame with a double. It extended Hanser’s hit streak to ten straight.

-Trever Adams went hitless in four at-bats and has gone consecutive games without a base knock for the first time in the second half.

-Gallo watch: 0-for-3, SO

Four batters in the lineup struck out multiple times on Tuesday. Joey was not a part of that club.

-A look at the RoughRiders home run leader board (current players only):

1. Joey Gallo (19)

2. Trever Adams (13)

3. J.T. Wise (6)

4. Jake Skole (5)

5. Teodoro Martinez (3)

5. Jorge Alfaro (3)

7. Odubel Herrera (2)

7. Nomar Mazara (2)

9. Patrick Cantwell (1)

9. Hanser Alberto (1)

 

Southpaw Joseph Ortiz chats about his recovery from a freak accident in the offseason and the joys of being a father for the first time. He also reflects on his season with the Rangers in 2013 and how he told his family of his promotion to the major leagues:

 

Thanks for tuning in,

-Chris V.

2014 Playoffs: It’s Going to be Midland


Miss the last RoughRiders game? Catch up on the action or relive the highlights with ‘Riders Rewind, a daily capsule of yesterday’s big moments. Listen to previous editions of ‘Riders Rewind here.

It’s official. The RoughRiders and RockHounds will square off the first week of September in the Texas League South Division Championship Series. Midland’s first playoff berth since 2010 was clinched on Monday because of two outcomes: 1) Midland knocked off Frisco 5-1 AND 2) San Antonio lost in spectacular fashion to Corpus Christi by a final score of 23-7. Yes, 23-7. The Hooks scored 12 runs and sent 16 men to the plate in the 5th inning alone.

The Missions and the Hooks are now mathematically eliminated, which means the ‘Riders and Hounds will spend the rest of the regular season in a battle for home field advantage in the first round of the playoffs. Going into Tuesday’s action, Frisco holds a one game lead over Midland for the division lead in the second half and owns a 3 1/2 game edge in the overall standings. Click here to read Monday’s game recap.

Star of the Game: SS Hanser Alberto – 1/3, SO

Hanser registered one of the RoughRiders’ three hits in the game and extended his hitting streak to nine straight.

In case you missed it:

-The RoughRiders scored their only run in unearned fashion. Guilder Rodriguez reached second base on an error by second baseman Conner Crumbliss, and took third on a wild pitch. Odubel Herrera picked up the lone RBI of the game for the ‘Riders when he scored G-Rod on a groundout.

-Frisco did not score a run against a Midland starting pitcher in the series. Of the 27 innings in the series, the ‘Riders scored in three.

-Had Frisco swept Midland, it would have been the ‘Riders first sweep of the Hounds since May 2011 and their first sweep in Midland since 2007.

-The ‘Riders did not hit a home run in the series and last went yard in the first inning of a 5-4 win against San Antonio on August 19 (Trever Adams).

-Gallo watch: DNP

On his Pregame Show interview a few Sundays ago, Jason Wood revealed his plan to rest certain players in anticipation of the playoffs. True to his word, Joey has been given a few extra off days lately, which will hopefully pay dividends in September.

-A look at the RoughRiders home run leader board (current players only):

1. Joey Gallo (19)

2. Trever Adams (13)

3. Drew Robinson (11)

4. J.T. Wise (6)

5. Jake Skole (5)

6. Teodoro Martinez (3)

6. Jorge Alfaro (3)

8. Odubel Herrera (2)

8. Nomar Mazara (2)

11. Patrick Cantwell (1)

11. Hanser Alberto (1)

 

After a slow start, Hanser Alberto has been on a role at the plate for the RoughRiders. He continues his trend of stellar defensive play at short as well:

 

Thanks for tuning in,

-Chris V.

Fun in the Fifth


Miss the last RoughRiders game? Catch up on the action or relive the highlights with ‘Riders Rewind, a daily capsule of yesterday’s big moments. Listen to previous editions of ‘Riders Rewind here.

Another big inning for the RoughRiders spelled another victory in Midland where the ‘Riders are 5-1 in the second half. Frisco has contained all its runs in this series to just two innings, but they’ve been highly productive. Good pitching never hurts, either, and the RoughRiders’ arms have kept a potent Midland attack mostly under wraps through the first two-thirds of the set. Click here to read the game recap.

Star of the Game: RHP Jerad Eickhoff – 7.0 IP, 3 H, R, 3 BB, 7 K

Eick hit the double-digit win mark with his third straight outing of seven innings on the hill. Lauded by his coaches for his dedicated work ethic, Jerad sent his season ERA south to 3.96, the lowest mark since after his second outing of the season on April 14.

In case you missed it:

-The RoughRiders scored five runs on five hits in the fifth inning. They sent nine men to the plate.

-Frisco scored all five runs in the frame in singular fashion.

-Three consecutive doubles (J.T. Wise, Nomar Mazara, Hanser Alberto) opened the big fifth inning.

-Patrick Cantwell scored the fifth run for the ‘Riders on a delayed double steal from third base. It was the first stolen base of the season for Cantwell. The ‘Riders swiped three bags in the game.

-Wise, Alberto, Cantwell and Nick Williams all had multiple hits for the ‘Riders.

-Gallo watch: 0-for-4, 3 SO

-A look at the RoughRiders home run leader board (current players only):

1. Joey Gallo (19)

2. Trever Adams (13)

3. Drew Robinson (11)

4. J.T. Wise (6)

5. Jake Skole (5)

6. Teodoro Martinez (3)

6. Jorge Alfaro (3)

8. Odubel Herrera (2)

8. Nomar Mazara (2)

11. Patrick Cantwell (1)

11. Hanser Alberto (1)

 

The starting pitching staff has been the backbone of the team’s sustained success this season. After a bumpy homestand against San Antonio, field manager Jason Wood comments on the state of the rotation in the latest “Sunday with the Skipper” conversation:

 

Thanks for tuning in,

-Chris V.

Meeting Mazara

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Nomar Shamir Mazara Jiminian joined the Texas Rangers organization with plenty of high expectations. Three years ago on July 2, the Rangers signed the then 16-year-old outfielder from the Dominican Republic for a record-setting $4.95 million—the largest bonus for an international prospect in Major League Baseball. The front office views Mazara as a cornerstone talent for the future and a valuable left-handed power hitter who just needs time to mature.

How has Mazara handled this pressure during his first three seasons of professional baseball?

“I am just the same guy every day no matter what. I don’t worry about anything else. Whatever I have to give, I bring it all to the clubhouse and the field for my team.”

Mazara, who was called up to Double-A on August 4, admitted there were early bumps along the road. In his first full minor league season, Mazara played 126 games with the Single-A Hickory Crawdads and batted .236 with 62 RBI and 13 home runs.

The Dominican didn’t allow the mental aspect of his game to become a detriment; instead, he learned from the 2013 season and adjusted his approach at the plate.

“Last season was my first full year, and I did struggle to start,” Mazara said. “I knew I was better than that. So I used that to prepare my mind, telling myself I had to get out of it. I put a lot of work in, tried to be more patient and started looking more for the pitch that I wanted.”

That attitude did not go unnoticed by the Rangers. When Mazara took the leap over Advanced-A and went directly from the ‘Dads to the RoughRiders, general manager Jon Daniels said the surprising promotion was in large part due to Mazara doing what his club asked him to do all year.

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“I guess it’s because I always give it my all,” Mazara said. “I don’t care if I go 0-for-4 or 4-for-4, I’m always going to be the same guy for my team.”

Since his arrival to the United States from Santo Domingo, Mazara’s quick hands at the plate have caught the eyes of scouts. Once he starts his swinging motion, it doesn’t take long for him to get from point A to point B.

“When I was working out before I signed, I worked a lot with my agent with heavy bats,” Mazara said. “It built up my strength and made me work for every swing. I think that’s why I have such quick hands and have that speed.”

Major league teams covet left-handed power hitters, and the Rangers believe Mazara has the tools to become a strong southpaw with increased muscle on his 200-pound frame. However, he doesn’t want his batting prowess to be his only valued strength and expects to hone more of his tools.

“My defense, my power, my speed,” Mazara said. “I want to be known for all of those. It’s always good to develop these things and be able to do many things on the field. It’s going to make me a better player. I’m going to keep developing that, continue getting in the weight room, doing my agility drills and putting work in.”

Standing 6-foot-4, Mazara is taller than all his fielding teammates not named Joey Gallo. He uses this height and reach to his advantage when chasing down fly balls in right field. Back in his hometown, though, Mazara’s stature helped in more ways than one.

“When I was little, I actually started playing basketball first,” Mazara said. “I started playing when I was four and picked up baseball when I was five. I ended up playing both at the same time during my childhood. Then when I was about 13 or 14, my father told me to quit playing basketball and start focusing on baseball. It was the right move for me because I like to play baseball much more.”

It’s becoming more and more apparent that Mazara’s father (whose first name is Ramon—Nomar’s name backwards) made a smart decision for his son. Mazara is currently the youngest player in Double-A and will inevitably play a vital role in the Rangers’ future. Yet, Mazara isn’t concerned about the future. He is focusing on the present and ready to help the ‘Riders in September.

“I want to finish hard,” Mazara said. “There’s not too much left of the season, but I want to give my best and help my team. We have a chance to win the championship, and I want to be a part of that.”

-Jay Wallis

Master Drillers


Miss the last RoughRiders game? Catch up on the action or relive the highlights with ‘Riders Rewind, a daily capsule of yesterday’s big moments. Listen to previous editions of ‘Riders Rewind here.

The ‘Riders would gladly play more cames at ONEOK Field if the schedule allowed. On Sunday, Frisco completed a three-game sweep of the Drillers and will finish the regular season 5-0 in the Oil City. The RoughRiders mastered Tulsa from the start and won 9-of-11 (with one game cancelled) in 2014. Click here to read the game recap.

Star of the Game: RHP Alec Asher – 6.0 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 6 K

Alec book-ended the six-game road trip with a pair of victories on the hill. After falling to 8-11, the Big Cat has raised his season record to 10-11 and has allowed just one unearned run in his last 12 innings. Alec did not walk a batter over the course of his six innings on Sunday and never allowed multiple baserunners in a single inning.

In case you missed it:

-The RoughRiders finish their slate of games against the North Division with a 29-18 record.

-Odubel Herrera batted leadoff and turned in a three-hit night (all singles) with two runs and two stolen bases. Odubel now has 11 swiped bags as a RoughRider this season.

-Jorge Alfaro picked up three hits as well including a double and a run scored in the ninth inning.

-Teodoro Martinez extended his hitting streak to a season-high 11 games with an RBI double in the sixth.

-Trever Adams scored two runs and now has 63 on the season, third-most in the Texas League.

-Nick Williams has a double and triple through his first two games in the Texas League.

-Gallo watch: 1-for-4, R, HR, 2 RBI, BB, SB, 2 SO

Joey got a hold of a ninth-inning offering from lefty Kraig Sitton and bopped his second home run of the series. The blast was Joey’s 40th of the season and 19th as a RoughRider. On a historical note, Joey becomes the first minor league player since Ron Kittle in 1981-1982 to hit 40 homers in consecutive seasons. He is once again tied with Kris Bryant for the most home runs in the minors and trails Corpus Christi’s Telvin Nash by one for the Texas League lead.

-A look at the RoughRiders home run leader board (active players only):

1. Joey Gallo (19)

2. Trever Adams (12)

3. Drew Robinson (11)

4. J.T. Wise (6)

5. Jake Skole (5)

6. Teodoro Martinez (3)

6. Jorge Alfaro (3)

8. Chris Grayson (2)

8. Odubel Herrera (2)

8. Nomar Mazara (2)

11. Patrick Cantwell (1)

11. Hanser Alberto (1)

 

Jason Wood shares his thoughts on the changed dynamic of the team with an influx of young prospects over the course of the season:

 

Thanks for tuning in,

-Chris V.

Déjà Vu


Miss the last RoughRiders game? Catch up on the action or relive the highlights with ‘Riders Rewind, a daily capsule of yesterday’s big moments. Listen to previous editions of ‘Riders Rewind here.

It was déjà vu all over again for the ‘Riders and no one complained as Frisco came out on the right side of an 8-2 final score for the second night in a row. Click here to read the game recap.

Star of the Game: RHP Chi Chi Gonzalez – 7.0 IP, 6 H, R, 2 BB, 8 K

Pitching in front of friends and family in Tulsa, Chi Chi turned in his sixth straight winning decision to move his Double-A record to 7-3 (12-5 on the season) with a 2.02 ERA (2.32 overall). The ‘Riders took the reins off the right-hander for the first time and he turned in his longest outing with Frisco both in terms of innings and pitch count (106 pitches and 74 strikes). Chi Chi played collegiately at Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, hence the high concentration of supporters. The native of Delray Beach, Florida was especially keen with runners on the bases and stranded runners in scoring position in four of his seven innings. He has become the Luke Jackson of the second half for the RoughRiders.

In case you missed it:

-Nomar Mazara deserves an honorable mention for his performance at the plate on Saturday. He finished the night 2-for-4 with two runs, a double, a home run and four RBI.

As if the pure numbers aren’t enough to validate his case, the timeliness of his extra-base knocks enhanced the impact of his line. His second Double-A homer in the second got the ‘Riders on the board and into the lead, not to mention it came off Eddie Butler, a pitcher with big league experience this season. In the ninth, with the RoughRiders clinging to a 3-2 lead, Nomar provided his squad with a much-needed cushion on a ringing two-run double to right. The Dominican made the Drillers pay for a costly error earlier in the frame and tipped off a five-run frame for the ‘Riders who made the final score look rather lopsided.

-All five of the RoughRiders’ runs in the ninth were unearned because of an error on shortstop Taylor Featherston. If Featherston makes the play on a Nick Williams grounder, the inning is over with the score still 3-2.

-Speaking of Nick Williams, the newest RoughRider batted 1-for-4 in his Double-A debut with two runs and a double. He reached base three times including a wild-pitch strikeout and the aforementioned error on Featherston in the ninth.

-Teodoro Martinez extended his hitting streak to a season-high ten games with an RBI single in the ninth.

-Trevor Story has been almost the sole source of offense for the Drillers in this series. The Irving High School alumnus pummeled his third home run against the RoughRiders in five games on Saturday.

-Gallo watch: 1-for-3, 2 R, HR, RBI, BB, SO

Butler struck Joey out in the first, but the slugger extracted revenge in the fourth on the first pitch of the inning. Butler dropped one right into Joey’s sweet spot (low and inside) and he knocked out to right-center for his 18th home run with the RoughRiders. It’s home run number 39 for Joey this season and he trails Corpus Christi’s Telvin Nash by two in the Texas League home run race.

-A look at the RoughRiders home run leader board (active players only):

1. Joey Gallo (18)

2. Trever Adams (12)

3. Drew Robinson (11)

4. J.T. Wise (6)

5. Jake Skole (5)

6. Teodoro Martinez (3)

6. Jorge Alfaro (3)

8. Chris Grayson (2)

8. Odubel Herrera (2)

8. Nomar Mazara (2)

11. Patrick Cantwell (1)

11. Hanser Alberto (1)

 

If Teo had his way, the Tulsa Drillers would be on the schedule for more than 12 games. Café has two four-hit games against the Drillers this season and has been scorching hot in the month of August. He also talks about the influence of his father, a former major leaguer, on his development as a ballplayer:

 

Thanks for tuning in,

-Chris V.

Frisco Futures: Checking in with Lewis Brinson

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Lewis Brinson (center) and Joey Gallo (right) were part of Jon Daniels’ hailed 2012 draft class.

If you follow the Rangers’ farm system, then it’s very likely you’ve heard of Lewis Brinson.  An athletic outfielder from Coral Springs, Florida, Texas drafted Brinson in the first round (29th overall) in 2012.  He played his first full season with low-A Hickory last year and was part of a Crawdads team that broke the South Atlantic League record for home runs in a single season (178).  Brinson’s individual season was a bit of mixed bag: he hit .237/.322/.749 with 21 homers, 52 RBI, 24 steals and 191 strikeouts.

On Saturday, Brinson got his first taste of big league action, pinch hitting for Michael Choice in the Rangers’ wild, 16-15 spring training win over the Athletics.  He doubled to center field on the first pitch he saw from 2013 Midland RockHound Ryan Dull in the seventh inning before flying out to right in the eighth.

Entering the 2014 season, ESPN.com’s Keith Law ranks Brinson as the Rangers’ fourth-best minor league prospect.  The right-handed outfielder won’t turn 20 until May 8 and figures to begin the year with either Hickory or Myrtle Beach.  While it’s unlikely he could reach Frisco this year, a great campaign could lead to a late season cameo with the RoughRiders.  While I was out in Surprise last week, I caught up with Brinson and we talked about spring training, last season in Hickory and his goals before breaking camp.

If you’d like to listen to the audio of the interview, click here.

Alex Vispoli: Lewis, this is your second spring training; what’s been the difference from what you came in to see last year and what you’ve been going through this year?

Lewis Brinson: Last spring training I was kind of in awe a little bit.  The whole spring training aspect of it with big leaguers around everywhere; guys that you grew up loving and now you’re training with them, stretching with them, hitting with them, getting to talk to them everyday.  But now I’ve gotten kind of used to it and I’m just trying to win a job here.  You’ve got a better idea of what you need to do to get ready for the season, so I’m just looking at it like that.

AV: Instead of being in awe of the big leaguers, are you trying this year to learn from them, watching what they do and how they go about their business?

LB: Yeah, definitely.  Anytime a big leaguer stops and talks to you, you listen.  I’m just watching them walk around, hitting, throwing, stretching, working out, talking.  Just getting used to knowing how they go about their business.  You want to be at that level one day so who cares if you copy them?  They’re big leaguers, they’re there for a reason, so why not be like them?

AV: A lot of folks looked at that Hickory team that you were on last year – you had Joey Gallo, Nomar Mazara, Ronald Guzman, Jorge Alfaro –a lot of really young guys that have had a ton of success early in their pro careers.  Was it fun to be a part of that group?  You guys are all about the same age, in the same boat, with the same experience level, playing together.

LB: Oh yeah, that was very fun.  Everybody looked at our home runs last year [with us being] a really young group and was asking “How did they hit that many home runs?  These guys must be freakishly talented or on something.”  But we have a great time together.  We’re all, like you said, the same age, so we love being around each other.  We all have the same goals; we all have the same work ethic and want to get to the big leagues around the same time and start our big league careers together, hopefully with the Texas Rangers.  We’re just out there having a good time.  I love those guys.

AV: Finally Lewis, what are your goals here for the next couple of weeks before you break camp?

LB: Just to get ready.  [Minor league spring] games start Thursday [March 13].  So just getting ready for the season.  It’s grind time, trying to make a team and trying to get your last bit of work in.  Just come here everyday with a plan, and plan to get better everyday.

AV: Well Lewis, best of luck here over the next couple of weeks.  Stay healthy and hopefully at some point down the line we’ll see you in Frisco.

LB: All right, see you there.

Thanks for reading.

-          Alex

Back fields, bees and Buckel: Day Two in Surprise

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The all-seeing eye of the back fields, providing a prime view of four diamonds at once.

This week I’m taking in my first visit to Surprise, Arizona for Rangers Spring Training, and I’m bringing you with me. If you missed the recap of Day One of my trip, check it out right here.

From what I can gather, you go through a few different phases during Spring Training as a player,coach and executive.

1. There’s the initial burst of excitement over getting back to a baseball field and rediscovering your passion for the game you love.  This period is great – until you grow weary of the numerous of meetings, practices, simulated situations and other minutia that, while important, is not why anyone signed up to be a part of this game.  All during this time, you’re chomping at the bit to start playing something that at least resembles a game.

2. You eventually do move into this phase, but they’re not real games (granted, Spring Training games are not really like real games, but at least it’s somewhat close); they’re more like scrimmages that you play against the same people you’ve been practicing against for the last week or two.

3. Just when you get to the point where you’re mentally over the idea of facing the same opponent day after day, you start games against other organizations, which is a major refresher for the mind.

4. Then, you just get sick and tired of being in Arizona for up to two months and playing the role of “human sunny-side up egg” in the roasting desert sun.  You want to get the season underway and start playing games that count (with real stats too).

The big leaguers are in the midst of Phase 3, while the minor leaguers have just gotten to Phase 2, which I watched begin in earnest on Monday morning at the Rangers’ Spring Training complex in Surprise.  Along the way, I witnessed the start of a comeback, a rebirth, the long-term future and the bizarre before finishing the day with a Hall of Famer.

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Hypoderm Sunscreen & 99¢ Only Stores, two lifesavers.

7:45 a.m.  – As I alluded to at the end of yesterday’s post, I was not going to play the role of fool two days in a row (at least in this specific respect) and get microwaved by the southwest sun once again.  Upon the recommendation of the helpful hotel lobby person, I headed over the nearby “99 ¢ Only Store” (because dollar stores are considered too bourgeoisie here) to purchase some sunscreen.  Now, I was just as suspicious as you probably are reading this about buying 99-cent sunscreen.  “Wouldn’t splashing a layer of water on your skin be at least equally effective?”  Yeah, that ran through my head, but my faith in “Hypoderm Sunscreen” (Note to anyone who thought, “Why didn’t I think of an amazing name like that?”: it’s not a registered trademark, apparently) was rewarded. My burns from Sunday were reasonably contained and my skin did not start falling off at any point.  And I feel like a true bargain hunter after spotting this attempt on eBay to charge some poor sap $12.99+shipping for three of these babies. The whole episode felt a little like hitting a three-point bank shot that you didn’t call.

8:15 a.m. – Things are still fairly quiet by the time I reach the complex, probably due to the fact that fans won’t be let into the facility until 10 a.m.  There are a few hitters getting some early work in and some of the big leaguers are trickling in for the day.  The Rangers clubhouse is divided into two sides: one for the major leaguers and one for the minor leaguers.  The minor league clubhouse is a lot bigger, but more crowded because there are so many more players in that camp.  I am a bit surprised at how nice the minor league clubhouse is, however.  I wasn’t necessarily expecting Bull Durham or some high school level accommodations, but I wasn’t expecting it to be nearly equal in many respects to the big league side.  The lockers are made of wood (like the major leaguers) and are certainly an acceptable size, the flood is nicely carpeted and it has a welcoming tone to it.  It’s much better than many road stadium clubhouses (and some home ones too) I’ve seen in my baseball travels.

On this particular morning, I meet Alex “Chi-Chi” Gonzalez in the clubhouse and we talk about his outing in the big league “A” game the day before.  He allowed three of the four men he faced to reach base before being removed after hitting his 20-pitch limit.  A pair of meekly-hit grounders were able to sneak through for hits, so he isn’t overly negative about his performance even though all three men came home to score later in the inning.  As for his nickname (which he prefers to go by, by the way), Chi-Chi says it was given to him by his grandfather’s brother; he nicknamed Gonzalez’ two older sisters Nina and Nene, so Chi-Chi seemed to fit the bill for Alex.

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Uniform reinforcements are on standby outside the clubhouse.

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Lots of players in camp means lots of broken bats. There’s an overflowing cardboard box filled with them.

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Approximately one-sixteenth of the baseballs they’ve got in camp. These ones haven’t yet met a bat or blade of grass.

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It’s hard not to look forward to the future when you see a foursome like Joey Gallo, Nick Williams, Lewis Brinson and Nomar Mazara hitting together.

9 a.m. – Pockets of minor league hitters are taking batting practice out on the back fields (the big leaguers practice on the two fields closest to the stadium/clubhouse).  I stumble upon the BP group that folks who love prospects dream about: Joey Gallo, Nick Williams, Lewis Brinson and Nomar Mazara.  Like many, I’ve heard a lot about these players but have never seen them in person (Ronald Guzman and Jorge Alfaro are also among the super-prospects who are super-young and populated Hickory’s Avengers-like squad last season).  Like many, I am impressed at first glance.  I didn’t realize how big they all were.  At 6’3″, Brinson is the shrimp of the group.  The others are either 6’4″ or 6’5″ and aren’t just tall rods with pine tar on their batting gloves.  They’re built like stallions and we may see one or two gallop to Frisco by the end of 2014 if things go well.

I have a nice conversation about Cody Buckel with rehab pitching coordinator Keith Comstock, who says that Buckel is throwing the ball as well as he ever has.  Buckel, the Rangers’ 2012 Nolan Ryan Minor League Pitcher of the Year, suffered a bad case of the yips last season and spent most of the campaign rewiring himself mentally and mechanically.  I hadn’t heard much about Cody since the end of the season and am excited to see him pitch later in the day.

9:30 a.m. – The pitchers meet as a group with new farm director Mike Daly right next to the tall observation structure pictured at the start of the blog entry and it’s not long before Daly is about to give another talk to the hitters.  It’s recommended that I join the group if I want a cool history lesson.  Daly proceeds to educate the players about notable players from the 1966 MLB draft.  The first overall pick was Steve Chilcott by the Mets – a seven-year minor leaguer who never reached the show.  The second pick did slightly better.  His name is Reggie Jackson.  Daly tells the group about Reggie’s career and his epic performances in the World Series before finishing up by talking about the sixth overall pick from that draft: none other than Tom Grieve.  I later speak with Daly and we talk about his history lesson.  He’s concerned about the relative lack of knowledge many young players have about players who came before them, so he makes it a point to relay some history during camp through his own lessons and visits from legends like Pudge Rodriguez and others.  Hopefully Texas’ minor leaguers can avoid the fate of Josh Hart.

10 a.m. – After the meetings wrap up, it’s more practice time on the back fields. The four fields are filled with defensive drills, bunt plays and batting practice.  I’ll see infield work before games throughout the season, but never 20-30 minutes’ worth with every pitcher also taking part in these simulated situations.  These are the minor leagues, and the minors are all about development.  We see that over the course of the season, but the foundation is laid right here.

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Jason Wood hits grounders and calls out simulated scenarios for the fielders to respond to like they were in an actual game.

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Ryan Rua sizes up a Jason Wood pitch during BP.

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Greg Maddux about to hit a grounder back to Nick Tepesch as he joins Matt Harrison and Tommy Hanson for fielding work.

11:30 a.m. – Most of the big leaguers have left the practice fields to get ready for that afternoon’s game against the Reds, but not everyone has headed back to the clubhouse.  On the infield-only field, Greg Maddux is hitting ground balls back to Matt Harrison, Nick Tepesch and Tommy Hanson.  So not only the minor league guys work on fielding, and what better mound defender to learn from than Maddux, who only racked up a record 18 Gold Gloves during his Hall of Fame career.  With not a whole lot else going on, a crush of fans flock to get in prime autograph position for when the session is over (for Tepesch, obviously).

On my way back to the big league side, I have a short chat with Rangers manager Ron Washington who is about to drive his golf back to the clubhouse.  I wish him luck this season at the end of our conversation, to which he responds, “Well thank you baby!” and drives off.

12 noon - I meet Brandon Boyd, who is one of the Rangers’ clubhouse managers and also a former RoughRiders employee.  Brandon oversaw the ‘Riders clubhouse from 2005-09 before moving on to Arlington.  He takes me into the big league clubhouse, where I catch up with several familiar faces: Mitch Moreland, a RoughRider in 2009 and a rehabber in 2012 & ’13; Ryan Feierbend, a 2013 ‘Rider who would throw a scoreless inning in relief of Yu Darvish later in the day; and Brett Nicholas, Frisco’s best offensive player in 2013.  Nicholas has been with the big club for the spring, mostly as a catcher after spending nearly all of last year at first base. Most of the clubhouse is vacant, but that is probably because it is when media is allowed in for interviews (nobody likes the media, especially radio guys).

On my way back to the minor leaguers, I stop to talk to Harrison, who I met during his rehab stint with Frisco last summer.  Harrison will pitch for the first time in Tuesday’s game and says he feels completely healthy for the first time in a very long time.  He says 2013 was agonizing, but feels like he is in great shape and is ready to get back to what made him an All-Star in 2012.

12:15 p.m. – I return to the back fields to watch the three intersquad games being played (the start of Phase 2 of Spring Training).  Basically, all of the players in camp are mixed into random teams and pitted against one another for games that would last approximately five innings.  This is once of the coolest parts of the day.  On Field 5 I see Jorge Alfaro lace a Kevin Pucetas knuckleball to right-center for a triple.  Pucetas is reinventing himself as a knuckleball pitcher after toying with the pitch in Frisco last season.  Despite the Alfaro three-bagger, the knucklers dance enough that Pucetas does not allow another baserunner.

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Kevin Pucetas readies a knuckleball while warming up in the bullpen.

The lineups for one intersquad game.

The lineups for one intersquad game.

Wait a minute, let's get a better look at that Jason Wood baseball card.

Wait a minute, let’s get a better look at that Jason Wood baseball card.

When I turn to Field 4, I watch Alex Claudio end an inning with a pickoff at second base with Juremi Profar batting and later Jon Edwards hits 98 on the radar gun.  It is tough to keep up with all three games at once, so I miss some action but thoroughly enjoy what I did see.  And the players seem to enjoy playing in games for the first time since last season.  The minor league guys will play intersquad games on Tuesday and Wednesday before squaring off against other organizations beginning Thursday.

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Nomar Mazara attempts to square up a pitch during an intersquad game. That’s Jorge Alfaro behind the plate.

Soon enough, it’s Buckel’s turn to pitch and I am not disappointed.  Cody looks a lot like the 2012 Cody; the one who struck out 9.9 batters per nine innings and displayed impeccable control.  Buckel gets a strikeout and ultimately retires three of the four men he faces.  Afterwards, he tells me that it felt good to finally pitch in his first game action since a pair of early-August AZL contests.  He says he didn’t attack the strike zone the way he has in recent bullpens, but chalks that up to the long delay in facing live batters.

As an aside, I don’t want to make Buckel’s outing out to be more than it was.  It was a good step in the right direction after a nightmare 2013, not a guarantee that he will never struggle again on the mound in the minors.  I hope that he can string outings like this together and get his career back to where it was, and then beyond.  Monday was not a definitive answer to anything, but it certainly was encouraging to see.

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Cody Buckel looked completely different than the last time I saw him pitch in 2013, when he struggled to throw strikes.

2 p.m. – Following the intersquad games, I head back to Surprise Stadium, where the Rangers and Reds are well underway.  But before I can enter the stadium through the team offices, I encounter an obstacle I just am not expecting: bees.  Lots of them.  A stone column that sits between the office and the stadium concourse apparently gathered an enormous mass of bees over the span of an hour.  There was no hive there previously; they just all swarmed to that spot and just stayed.  I’m told it’s probably not safe to walk past them and that pest control is on its way.  I agree that missing an inning or so of a Spring Training game in exchange for avoiding hundreds of simultaneous bee stings is probably a fair trade.  It isn’t long before a group of close to a dozen people (including Rangers special assistant and former pitcher Darren Oliver) join me to watch the extermination.

A photo essay of the kill:

The swarm of bees were approximately the size of a basketball and it seemed to be growing.

The swarm of bees was approximately the size of a basketball and it seemed to be growing.

Nonchalant pest control showed up on a moment's notice.

Nonchalant pest control showed up on a moment’s notice.

You know it's memorable when even the exterminator is snapping photos. But he was crazy close without much face protection.

You know it’s memorable when even the exterminator is snapping photos. But he was crazy close without much face protection.

Getting to work. They put a tarp down to help collect the dead bees.

Getting to work. They put a tarp down to help collect the dead bees.

He's not spraying any sort of insecticide or poison; it's actually just soapy water, which apparently messes with the bees pretty badly.

He’s not spraying any sort of insecticide or poison; it’s actually just soapy water, which apparently messes with the bees pretty badly.

The whole group didn't fall at once.  The bees came out in fist-sized clumps.

The whole group didn’t fall at once. The bees came out in fist-sized clumps.

After about five minutes of spraying, the coast was clear and I dashed into the ballpark.

After about five minutes of spraying, the coast was clear and I dashed into the ballpark.

2:15 p.m. – The Rangers and Reds are in the fifth inning by the time I get past the bees and into the stadium.  Yu Darvish is finishing up his outing and both teams get ready to send in position players that 95% of the stadium has never heard of.  Now 11 years old, Billy Parker Field at Surprise Stadium holds up very well and seems to be an enjoyable place to watch a game.  There’s a big Monday crowd on hand; hopefully most of them do not leave with bee stings.

The second level view from right behind home plat.e

The second level view from right behind home plate.

A look from the third base concourse. The Rangers team offices are housed in the building in the back.

A look from the third base concourse. The Rangers team offices are housed in the building in the back.

Looking homeward from the outfield berm. That grass the fans are seated on is actually a plastic synthetic surface that feels and looks like real grass.  I had to pluck one from the ground to confirm it wasn't the real deal.

Looking homeward from the outfield berm. That grass the fans are seated on is actually a plastic synthetic surface that feels and looks like real grass. I had to pluck one from the ground to confirm it wasn’t the real deal.

Want to cool down after the game? There's a community aquatic center across the street from Surprise Stadium.

Want to cool down after the game? There’s a community aquatic center across the street from Surprise Stadium.

The Rangers bullpen is down the right field line. Under the screen you can see 2013 RoughRiders Randy Henry, Jimmy Reyes and Brett Nicholas.

The Rangers bullpen is down the right field line. Under the screen you can see 2013 RoughRiders Randy Henry, Jimmy Reyes and Brett Nicholas.

Kansas City's offices are located on the third base side of the park, exactly opposite (an equal, by all appearances) of the Rangers'. These kids must know that they could never be Royals.

Kansas City’s offices are located on the third base side of the park, exactly opposite the Rangers’. These kids must know that they could never be Royals.

New to me: a souvenir store in a ballpark tailored to women and children.

New to me: a souvenir store in a ballpark tailored to women and children.

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Team-themed coozies are among the specialty products for sale at the “women and kids” team store.

3:15 p.m. – Because I did not get the chance to see him on Sunday, I make a stop by the Rangers’ broadcast booth to see Eric

Eric Nadel (left) and Matt Hicks giving listeners every Josh Wilson detail they could ask for,

Eric Nadel (left) and Matt Hicks giving listeners every Josh Wilson detail they could ask for,

Nadel.  I’ve met Eric a few times at Rangers games and he has always been kind to me.  Rangers fans are lucky to have had him for so long and I wasn’t the only one who was very happy for his Hall of Fame election this past off-season.  I don’t want to take too much of his and Matt Hicks’ time during the game, but I congratulate Eric on the honor during an inning break and then scoot out of the booth.  In the radio booth right next door, fellow Hall of Fame broadcaster Marty Brennaman is broadcasting for the Reds’ radio network.  Eric calls Marty one of his career mentors.

3:40 p.m. – The Rangers wrap up an 8-2 win over Cincinnati as former RoughRiders Neftali Feliz and Nicholas form the game-ending battery.  It’s Texas’ first win since Thursday against San Diego and the last game I’ll see at Surprise Stadium during my stay in Arizona.  The team heads to Camelback Ranch in Glendale to play the White Sox on Tuesday and I’ll be there for at least some of it as I hit the home stretch of my stay in the desert.

The Rangers assume the victory formation after an 8-2 win over the Reds.

The Rangers assume the victory formation after an 8-2 win over the Reds.

As always thanks for reading,

Alex

The 2013 (Nearly) Complete Twitter Guide…: Part Two – The Players

This post is a continuation of an earlier post compiling the essential Twitter handles to keep up with the Texas Rangers farm system and Texas League. You can find all entries here

A little over a week ago, I posted twitter handles for the teams in the Texas Rangers system and the Texas league, along with broadcasters and other key employees in the league and the Rangers’ farm. Today, I submit Part Two of “The 2013 (Nearly) Complete Twitter Guide to the Frisco RoughRiders, the Texas League and the Rangers Farm System,” or TNCTG. If you want to check Part One – go here.

Today: a list of the players. This is, to my knowledge, an exhaustive list of the Frisco RoughRiders in addition to as many twitter handles I could find of Texas Rangers at the MLB and MiLB levels. As always, comment below or tweet me (@NathanSBarnett) with additional follows. I will update this as I can as the season moves along. If you want to use a list to keep track of these players, the RoughRiders Twitter handle has a 2013 RoughRiders list and I have one compiling as many current Rangers MLB and MiLB players that I can find.

_________________________

TNCTG PART TWO – The Players

(as of 05/17/13)

2013 Frisco RoughRiders

Current RoughRiders:

Hanser Alberto ‏ @elpotroalberto (#15 ranked prospect in Texas system by Baseball America)

Cody Buckel ‏  @Cheatcode07 (#8)

Randy Henry ‏ @RandyHenry51 (#29)

Odubel Herrera ‏ @odubelherrera1frisco roughriders logo

Jared Hoying ‏ @jhoying3035

Teodoro Martinez ‏ @martinezteo

Brett Nicholas ‏ @bnicholas15

Kevin Pucetas ‏ @KPucetas

Jimmy Reyes ‏ @jimmymreyes

Ryan Rodebaugh ‏ @RRodey

Ben Rowen ‏ @B_Rowen

Ryan Strausborger ‏ @Ryan_Straus

Zach Zaneski ‏ @ZZaneski

RoughRiders to play in 2013, now off roster:

Jake Brigham ‏ @jbrigham49 (Triple-A)

Ross Wolf ‏ @18RGW (Triple-A)

Other players in the Texas Rangers System:

MLB:

Elvis Andrus ‏ @ElvisandrusSS1

Nelson Cruz ‏ @ncboomstick17

ダルビッシュ有(Yu Darvish) ‏ @faridyu

Neftali Feliz ‏ @NefFeliz

Josh Frasier ‏ @Frasier66 (bullpen catcher)

Leury Garcia ‏ @leurygarcia1 (#20)

Justin Grimm ‏ @GrimmReaper51 (#5)

Derek Holland ‏ @Dutch_Oven45texas_rangers-9679

Michael Kirkman ‏ @MikeKirkman50

Josh Lindblom  @JoshLindblom52 

Leonys Martin ‏ @leonys27martin (#4)

Joe Nathan ‏ @JoeNathan36

Martin Perez ‏ @MartinPerez33D (#3)

Jurickson Profar ‏ @JURICKSONPROFAR (#1 ranked prospect overall by Baseball America)

Robbie Ross ‏ @Ross_108

Joakim Soria ‏ @joakimsoria

Triple-A Round Rock:

Chad Bell ‏ @ChadBell19 (Injured just before beginning of the season, finished 2012 with Express)

Engel Beltre ‏ @engelbeltre07

Lisalverto Bonilla ‏ @propecto1

Jake Brigham ‏ @jbrigham49

Robinson Chirinos  @robinson28chrr_express_logo_detail

Michael Olt ‏ @molt2222 (#2)

Yangervis Solarte ‏ @yanyi26_12

Yoshinori Tateyama ‏ @tatetatetateyan

Ross Wolf ‏ @RGW

Advanced-A Myrtle Beach:

Alec Asher ‏ @Ash_Tag24

Kellin Deglan ‏ @keldegs

Royce Bolinger ‏ @roycebolinger

Zach Cone ‏ @ZachCone (#24)

Ryan Harvey ‏ @Hammer32jetlifepelicans

Luke Jackson ‏ @YaBoy77 (#6)

Will Lamb ‏ @LamboLeap30

Nick Martinez ‏ @nickmartinez10 (#27)

Rougned Odor ‏ @RougnedOdor (#11)

Drew Robinson ‏ @drewrobinsonnn

Jake Skole ‏ @JakeSkole15

Joe Van Meter ‏ @JVanMeter28

Class-A Hickory Crawdads:

Jorge Alfaro ‏ @_JorgeAlfaro11 (#9)

Ryan Bores ‏ @RyanBores

Lewis Brinson ‏ @LewisBrinson (#12)

Eric Brooks ‏ @itsEricBrooks

Coby Cowgill ‏ @CobyCowgill_RHP

C.J. Edwards ‏ @CEdwardsSBS (#14)

Joey Gallo ‏ @JoeyGallo24 (#10)

David Lyon ‏ @DLyonKSU36Hickory_Crawdads

Joe Maloney ‏ @JoeBoMalones

Nomar Mazara ‏ @NomarMzra26 (#16)

Luis Mendez ‏ @mendezluis932

Ryan Rua ‏ @Rua_Numba_2

Connor Sadzeck ‏ @connorsadzeck

Ryne Slack ‏ @Slack28

Nick Vickerson ‏ @Nick_Vickerson

Nick Williams ‏ @NW1superstar (#25)

Players yet to be assigned (either hurt or will be in either Rookie or Short-Season A)

Jairo Beras ‏ @jairoberas (#18)

Janluis Castro ‏ @Jaanluis

Guy Edmonds ‏ @EdmondsGuy

Brandon Garcia ‏ @BrandonGarcia_

Ronald Guzman ‏ @_ronaldguzman (#17)

Jamie Jarmon ‏ @jjarmon34

Kevin Matthews ‏ @kevmat1

Barrett Serrato ‏ @bserrato23

Nick Urbanus ‏ @NickUrb

Brett Weibley ‏ @wild_stallion5

Collin Wiles ‏ @cwiles11

_________________________

- Nathan

Baseball term of the day: fuzzy concreteartificial turf

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