Results tagged ‘ Northwest Arkansas Naturals ’

One home stand late and two posts off the mark…a belated introduction

Baseball players thrive on rhythm and routine both on and off the diamond. The RoughRiders’ first home stand consisted of two rain-outs (including one on Opening Day), two doubleheaders and six games squished into a four-day span. Two of the games featured rehab appearances by big league hurler (and former RoughRider) Matt Harrison. The ‘Riders played three games in a 24-hour period from April 7-8. Simply put, neither rhythm nor routine were present during the first week of the season.

Fortunately, in a regular season that encompasses five months and 140 games, repetition is almost inevitable. The RoughRiders seem to have found at least a semblance of it in the Natural State on their first road trip of the season. The ‘Riders swept the Northwest Arkansas Naturals in three games, but their first game against the Arkansas Travelers was, as you may have guessed, rained out.

Regardless, back at the corner of Hicks & Diamond Drive, I too, have begun to settle into the ebb and flow of the baseball season. I couldn’t be happier, either. As Alex Vispoli’s Broadcasting & Media Relations Assistant, I am excited to help bring you RoughRiders baseball this summer. You can hear me on the air with Alex during every home game and on pregame/postgame coverage while the team is on the road. I look forward to the journey with the ‘Riders this season and I hope we can learn more about this team and the game of baseball together.

As Alex progressively introduced me to the staff at Dr Pepper Ballpark over the course of my first month in town, I consistently heard the phrase, “Welcome aboard.” My effort to reciprocate this friendly Texas welcome appears before your eyes now, regrettably late by one home stand and two blog posts. This is the 502nd post on the ‘Riders Insider Blog and I realize now I had a subconscious desire to publish the 500th. Alas, my dreams of attaining ‘Riders Insider immortality have been dashed (or at the very least, altered).

In an effort to amend my tardiness, I have included some worthwhile links. ‘Riders on the Record returns below as Alex Vispoli sits down on Opening Day with new ‘Riders skipper, Jason Wood. I also encourage you to listen to the first RoughRiders Roundtable of the season on the Dallas Sports Network with Alex, myself, and the usually uninformed Michael Tepid. Many thanks to Ted Price for his work on the production end.

Click here to listen to the 13th edition of RoughRiders Roundtable.

I am genuinely thrilled to climb on the saddle with the RoughRiders in 2014. Here’s to a great ride.

-Chris Vosters

‘Riders on the Record: Three pitchers, two managers and a broadcaster

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‘Riders on the Record is a weekly rundown of the pre-game interviews record by broadcasters Alex Vispoli and Nathan Barnett with RoughRiders players and coaches and occasionally a special guest. You can find all previous editions by clicking here.

A pitching-heavy week on ‘Riders on the record provided some gems from our guests. Kevin Pucetas spoke with R.A. Dickey about his knuckleball apprenticeship–good stuff. Other highlights include Tyler Tufts channeling his old college routine to starting pitching, Nick McBride’s July 4th tradition, Travelers’ manager Tim Bogar comparing Terry Francona and Joe Maddon and Naturals broadcaster Steven Davis’ impressions of flamethrower Yordano Ventura.

Enjoy and Happy Sunday! (and belated Happy Independence Day!)

Sunday, June 30, 2013 – Manager Steve Buechele


In their weekly chat, Alex spoke with ‘Riders manager Steve Buechele about the week that was after the All-Star break. He touches on the resiliency of the offense in their big come-from-behind win. He also talks about the promotion of 2012 ‘Riders outfielder Engel Beltre to the big leagues. (w/ Alex Vispoli)

Monday, July 1, 2013 – Voice of the Naturals Steven Davis


Steven Davis, the voice of the Naturals, talks about the success of the All-Star Game at Arvest Ballpark. He discusses the improved offense and the no-hitter from Brooks Pounders and reminisces on the most impressive Royals pitching prospects he has seen in his time in Springdale. (w/ Alex)

Wednesday, July 3, 2013 – RHP Tyler Tufts


Tyler Tufts made just one start in his pro career before 2013. This year, he has made 12. He has been great as a starter as well. He talks about his routine adjustment and explains what his timeline is like on the day his spot in the rotation is due up. He explains his current health situation and tosses aside the notion 100% in favor of day-to-day assessment. (w/ Nathan Barnett)

Thursday, July 4, 2013 – RHP Nick McBride


On Independence Day, RoughRiders starting pitcher Nick McBride talks about his family’s July 4th tradition on what is now his property. A fixture in the ‘Riders rotation for over a month, McBride began the season in the bullpen at Advanced-A Myrtle Beach; he discusses the change in routine and adjustment as a starter as well as the development of a new pitch. (w/ Nathan)

Friday, July 5, 2013 – Arkansas Travelers Manager Tim Bogar


Arkansas Travelers Manager Tim Bogar joined the pregame show for the final meeting of the regular season between the RoughRiders and the Travelers. He talks about his coaching tree and breaks down the play of some of the key Angels prospects on his roster. (w/ Nathan)

Saturday, July 6, 2013 – RHP Kevin Pucetas


Starting pitcher Kevin Pucetas has begun throwing a knuckleball in addition to his more conventional pitch mix. He talks about the development of that pitch and the advice given to him by R.A. Dickey. (w/ Nathan)

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The RoughRiders meet up with the Naturals tonight at 6:00 p.m. from Dr Pepper Ballpark. As always, you can find the game over at RidersBaseball.com! Here Alex’s interview with the manager live tonight at around 5:50 as part of the pre-game show.

- Nathan

Baseball term of the day: raw-raw - a knuckleball 

(term from The Dickson Baseball Dictionary)

Home Sweet Home: Fireworks, fireworks!

070313 Blog Fireworks

Twelve games deep into the second half of the Texas League season, and the Frisco RoughRiders sit tied atop the South Division standings. The upcoming six-game home stand, which begins tonight, will complete a stretch of 12 straight games against North Division opponents.

This is an important home stand for Frisco, as they are eight games over .500 against the North Division this season and need to capitalize on these meetings against North Division foes. The games line up the same as they did the last six games: three against the Travelers and then three against the Naturals. Frisco went 3-3 in that stretch, taking one from the Travs and two from the Naturals; both teams are 7-5, the best mark in the second half in the Texas League.

These are the matchups we expect to see on the mound for the upcoming two series:

Wednesday: RHP Nick McBride (1-3, 5.14 ERA) vs RHP Matt Oye (5-5, 5.29 ERA)

Thursday: RHP Kevin Pucetas (8-7, 4.80 ERA) vs RHP Brandon Hynick (6-3, 2.88 ERA)

Friday: RHP Neil Ramirez (9-2, 3.14 ERA) vs RHP Mike Piazza (4-2, 3.24 ERA)

Saturday: RHP Carlos Pimentel (7-6, 4.55 ERA) vs TBA

Sunday: RHP Tyler Tufts (2-2, 3.24 ERA) vs TBA

Monday: RHP Nick McBride vs TBA

Wednesday, July 3   |   7:05 p.m.   | RoughRiders vs. Arkansas Travelers (LAA)
Radio: RidersBaseball.com    Webstream: MiLB.tv 

Promotions (click here and also here for more details):

  • Dollar Dog Night
  • RoughRiders Horse Race presented by Whataburger

Thursday, July 4   |   7:05 p.m.   | RoughRiders vs. Arkansas Travelers (LAA)
Radio: RidersBaseball.com    Webstream: MiLB.tv 

Promotions (click here and also here for more details)

  • July 4th Post-game fireworks
  • Free ‘Riders sunshade

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  • Dairy Queen Triple Play
  • RoughRiders Horse Race presented by Whataburger

Friday, July 5   |   7:05 p.m.   | RoughRiders vs. Arkansas Travelers (LAA)
TV: KTXD    Radio: RidersBaseball.com    Webstream: MiLB.tv 

Promotions (click here and also here for more details):

  • Friday Night Post-game fireworks
  • Free Elvis Andrus Replica ‘Riders T-Shirt compliments of Nationwide

5thInningNationwideElvisJersyShirt_for_blog

  • Dairy Queen Triple Play
  • Smashburger SMASH inning

Saturday, July 6   |   7:05 p.m.   | RoughRiders vs. Northwest Arkansas Naturals (KC)
TV: KTXD    Radio: RidersBaseball.com    Webstream: MiLB.tv 

Promotions (click here and also here for more details):

  • Post-game fireworks
  • Dairy Queen Triple Play
  • RoughRiders Horse Race presented by Whataburger

Sunday, July 7   |   6:05 p.m.   | RoughRiders vs. Northwest Arkansas Naturals (KC)
Radio: RidersBaseball.com    Webstream: MiLB.tv 

Promotions (click here and also here for more details):

  • Kids Run the Bases
  • Raising Cane’s Grand Slam Sunday
  • RoughRiders Horse Race presented by Whataburger

Monday, July 8   |   7:05 p.m.   | RoughRiders vs. Northwest Arkansas Naturals (KC)
Radio: RidersBaseball.com    Webstream: MiLB.tv 

Promotions (click here and also here for more details) 

- Nathan

Baseball term of the day: seat-boomerslang term for a home run

(term from The Dickson Baseball Dictionary)

Texas League Prospects (North Division)

On May 10, we took a glance at some of the prospects from the Texas League South Division and their performances throughout this first part of the season.

The RoughRiders are on the road playing North Division opponents, therefore, today, we’re taking a look at the North Division and discussing prospects for each team.

Springfield Cardinals:

Xavier Scruggs, 1B – Scruggs is ranked second of all first baseman by Baseball America in the St. Louis Cardinals system.  Scruggs leads the Cardinals in home runs (12) and RBIs (38) and is second in the Texas League in HR (one behind Hooks’ slugger George Springer).  Scruggs leads the Texas League in RBIs (just four above Frisco’s Brett Nicholas), slugging percentage (.624) and in best HR/AB ratio (1/10.42).  He was named the Texas League Player of the Week April 29.
The RoughRiders are currently on the road with Springfield.  In last night’s game, Scruggs hit 2 RBIs against Frisco.

Scruggs

Arkansas Travelers:

C.J. Cron, 1B – Cron is ranked by Baseball America as the number 3 prospect and the top first baseman in the Los Angeles Angels system.  Cron leads the Travelers in RBIs (21), doubles (14) and hits (51).  As of today, he is fifth in batting in the Texas League, and number four in doubles and hits. In his last ten games, Cron has averaged .316 four runs on 12 hits with one home run.

Cron

Tulsa Drillers:

Christian Bergman, RHP – Bergman is ranked number 28 and the fifth best right-hander in the Colorado Rockies system by Baseball America.  He leads the Drillers in wins (3), strikeouts (40) and ERA (3.02).  This year, Bergman is 3-2 in nine starts, with opponents hitting .234.  Bergman has the 9th top ERA  in the Texas League and is 2nd in innings pitched (53.2).

Bergman

Northwest Arkansas Naturals:

Matt Fields, 1B – Fields is ranked as the third best first baseman in the Kansas City Royals system by Baseball America.  He leads the Naturals in home runs (10), RBIs (29) and runs (20).  In the Texas League, Matt is 5th in home runs.  In his last ten games, Matt has had five runs on ten hits and 6 RBI, averaging .294 in 34 at bats.

Fields

Baseball Term of the Day: Glory time: A point late in a game during which a relief pitcher can earn a potential save.

-Ryan

The 2013 (Nearly) Complete Twitter Guide to the Frisco RoughRiders, the Texas League and the Texas Rangers Farm System: Part One

A couple days ago I wrote a post here with the best resources for keeping up on the Texas Rangers and its minor league teams and prospects, and the entire time while writing it, I kept thinking about how I get as much or more information on Twitter these days.

I still hit the ‘ole feedly reader every day. Sometimes 140 characters just doesn’t really cut it for a topic. Yu know, like Darvish’s outing last night. (For more on that, read this, and this, and this and this. Oh and you have to watch that).

And while that is true, Twitter is still great, especially for breaking news. Want to be the first one to find out that Nelson Cruz’s home run last night actually came with a broken-bat swing? FSSW’s Emily Jones has you covered:

Did you see former RoughRiders pitcher Robbie Erlin got called yetserday? With Twitter, you could find great stuff on who is behind the numbers from excellent Rangers prospect guru Jason Cole:

And, yeah, you might have heard that 17-year-old Rangers prospect Nomar Mazara hit his second home run last night for Class-A Hickory, but how impressive was it? Crawdads’ broadcaster Aaron Cox does a very nice job tweeting in-game. See:

SO, without further ado, here it is: The 2013 (Nearly) Complete Guide to the Frisco RoughRiders, the Texas League, and the Texas Rangers Farm System.

Why “nearly” complete? Well. 1) this is not necessarily exhaustive. Plenty of people tweet about these topics, but this is a great starting point. And 2) of course we need your input! Let us know who we are missing by commenting below or tweeting at me (@NathanSBarnett) and 3) I am not done with the rest of the parts yet…

And, yes, this is just Part One of The 2013 (Nearly) Complete Twitter Guide (TNCTG). I will have a few entries over the next week or so and also update them, as I find new handles worthy of the all-important “follow” click.

Part One looks at the teams and key employee follows in the Texas League and Rangers system. Future entries will include key journalists, commentators, and bloggers to follow. And players! Yes, the exhaustive list of players as well. Stay tuned!

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TNCTG PART ONE:

Texas League Teams:

South Division:

Frisco RoughRiders: @RidersBaseball

Corpus Christi Hooks: @CCHooks

Midland Rockhounds: @RockHounds

San Antonio Missions: @MissionsMiLB

North Division:

Arkansas Travelers: @ARTravs

Northwest Arkansas Naturals: @NWANaturals

Springfield Cardinals: @Sgf_Cardinals

Tulsa Drillers: @TulsaDrillers

Teams in the Rangers System:

MLB – Texas Rangers: @Rangers

Triple-A – Round Rock Express: @RRExpress

Double-A – Frisco RoughRiders: @RidersBaseball

Advanced-A – Myrtle Beach Pelicans: @PelicanBaseball

Single-A – Hickory Crawdads: @HickoryCrawdads

Short-Season A – Spokane Indians: @SpokaneIndians

Rookie – AZL Rangers: No official Twitter handle, that I am aware of. There is @AZL_Rangers which was created by a fan. Decent follow.

Rookie – DSL Rangers: Ditto. Some do cover this team, however. More to come in future TNCTG entries.

The Voices:

Alex Vispoli, Frisco RoughRiders: @Vispoli 

Bob Hards, Midland Rockhounds: Unknown. 

Michael Coffin, Corpus Christi Hooks: No twitter account (see team Twitter handle) 

Mike Saeger, San Antonio Missions: @SAMissionsRadio

Phil Elson, Arkansas Travelers: @ElsonPhil

Steven Davis, Northwest Arkansas Naturals: Unknown. 

Andrew Buchbinder, Springfield Cardinals: Unknown. 

Dennis Higgins, Tulsa Drillers: Unknown. 

Eric Nadel, #1 MLB – Texas Rangers: @NadelEr

Matt Hicks, #2 MLB – Texas Rangers: @RadioHicksie

Mike Capps, Triple-A – Round Rock Express: @RRExpressRadio

Travis Lucian, Advanced-A – Myrtle Beach Pelicans: @TravisLucian

Aaron Cox, Class-A – Hickory Crawdads: @TheAaronCox

Mike Boyle, Short-A – Spokane Indians: @MrMBoyle

Other good employees and team-related follows:

Frisco RoughRiders:

Nathan Barnett, Media Relations & Broadcasting Assistant: @NathanSBarnett

Ryan Garrett, Media Relations Intern: @Garrett_RM

Corpus Christi Hooks:

Chris Blake, Media Relations Coordinator: @ChrisCBlake

Midland Rockhounds:

Greg Bergman, Assistant GM / Media Relations & Advertising: @GregBergman

Tulsa Drillers:

Brian Carroll, Director of Media / Public Relations: @BKC001 

Texas Rangers:

John Blake, Executive Vice President of Communications: @RangerBlake

Updates on Rangers Ballpark: Parking, Traffic, Valet, Gate Openings, Weather & Events: @RangersInfo

In-game Rangers Twitter handle: @theRangersGame

_________________________

For those of you out there wanting to keep up with every with a Twitter “list” — I have made one with most of these handles on there. Feel free to subscribe, I plan to keep it up to date this season.

- Nathan

Baseball term of the day: wand - baseball bat

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. 

Preview: Game 6 of 140

Lineups

ROUGHRIDERS

2B Odubel Herrera

1B Guilder Rodriguez

3B Alex Buchholz

DH Brett Nicholas

RF Alejandro Selen

CF Ryan Strausborger

C Tomas Telis

SS Hanser Alberto

LF Teodoro Martinez

*LHP Ryan Feierabend

NATURALS

3B Angel Franco

SS Orlando Calixte

DH Rey Navarro

LF Mitch Canham

CF Yem Prades

1B Matt Fields

RF Whit Merrifield

2B Alex McClure

Juan Graterol

*LHP Noel Arguelles 

Some thoughts on the lineups:

  • First game for Selen in the field. He plays RF after three games as the DH. He is still looking for his first hit. 
  • No Chiang again. He hasn’t played since coming out of the lineup Sunday for a pinch hitter.
  • First day off for Jared Hoying. Odubel Herrera, Ryan Strausborger and Brett Nicholas are the only ‘Riders who have played every game. Strausborger came on as a pinch hitter on Sunday, thought.
  • Brett Nicholas is the DH — his first game out of first base.
  • Another new position for Guilder Rodriguez. He has played in all four infield spots now after playing the hot corner last night.
  • Telis gets the early nod as the more regular catcher. He and Zach Zaneski split the first four games. Telis though started yesterday and is going again today.

A few notes:

  • Ross Wolf has been promoted from Frisco to Triple-A Round Rock.
  • When the Travelers come to town Thursday, they will be without Jeremy Berg. He pitched in two of the three games against Frisco over the weekend was promoted the Triple-A Salt Lake.
  • Edition #6 of the game notes have been published and has great tidbits on the starters and players on the ‘Riders roster.
  • Former ‘Rider Nick Tepesch makes his debut for the Texas Rangers tonight. He will be the 97th ‘Rider to play in the majors after his time here.
  • Today’s game 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

‘Riders have a winning record: Frisco 4 – Northwest Arkansas 3

For the second straight game, the RoughRiders beat the Naturals by a run, or you know, as the LA Times refers to it, a “point.” Brett Nicholas hit a three-run homer in the first. The Naturals tied the game, but Frisco never trailed. A Jared Hoying RBI-triple in the fifth proved the difference, scoring Guilder Rodriguez, who was productive at the plate again (1-for-3, 2 R, 1 BB). That made it 4-3, and that was your final. Carlos Pimentel struck out nine in what was, by most accounts, the best RoughRiders start of the season. You can read the details and check the box scores here. Frisco wraps up the series from Springdale, Arkansas tonight at 7:00 p.m.

Power surge: For the first time this season, the ‘Riders played in a game with two home runs. Nicholas hit the one for Frisco. Brian Fletcher hit his second long ball of the season for the Naturals. Frisco has two home runs on the year now, with Nicholas joining Rodriguez as the only players with a deep fly.

Balking not running: Naturals starter J.C. Sulbaran was called for a balk last night. It was the second straight ‘Riders game with the rare play. Frisco starting pitcher Kevin Pucetas was called for the infraction in the third inning Sunday. The two teams have stolen one base combined in the two games. Not often you see more balks than steals in a series. Still a game to go Tuesday, though.

Let him catch!: Guilder Rodriguez played 3B last night for the ‘Riders. The super-utility man has played every position but catcher now for Frisco. It was the first time he has played at the hot corner in a RoughRiders uni. He has played third twice for the Rangers Triple-A affiliate Round Rock and has played  there 21 times now in his pro career. Yes, he has pitched. Twice in fact. Both outings came last year for Frisco.

Gunnin’ em: Tomas Telis has been a force behind the plate with his arm. He gave up a steal in the fifth last night but one of the plays of the game came from his right arm in the bottom of the 8th. Orlando Calixte drew a seven-pitch leadoff walk. The next batter, Fletcher, hurt himself fouling off a Wilmer Font heater and was lifted from the game. There was a few minute delay while Fletcher was being attended to. Telis, relatively young for a catcher at this level (21), was ready to go out of the timeout. Trying to catch the ‘Riders napping, the Naturals sent Calixte on the first pitch after the pause in the action, and Telis was ready, gunning him down with a bullet to second baseman Odubel Herrera. The Frisco catcher is 4-for-6 catching attempting basestealers this season. In the early going, he has thrown out more runners than anyone else in the Texas League.

The Tale of Two Series: Frisco and Northwest Arkansas came into the series tied for the league-lead in walks allowed after the first three games (18). Neither walked a batter Sunday. Northwest Arkansas walked three last night. Frisco didn’t walk a batter until Calixte drew one on Font. Frisco had gone 22 innings without issuing a free pass.

A run!  A run! My kingom for a run!: The ‘Riders have played three consecutive one-run games. The 4-3 extra-innings loss Saturday has been followed up by two one-run victories over the Naturals. Frisco won 3-2 on Sunday.

A swing and a miss: Royals prospect Brett Eibner went 0-for-4 last night and accounted for four of the thirteen strikeouts for Frisco pitching. The centerfielder is 0-for-8 in the series and now 0-for-20 on the season with ten strikeouts. He does have a lone walk.

Lucky sevens: The seventh inning proved pivotal again last night in the RoughRiders’ successful work to hang on to a one-run lead. Last night it was Roman Mendez who squeaked out of a jam. After surrendering a lead-off double to Whit Merrifield, he got the next three out in order to keep the lead intact. It was Randy Henry Sunday, who got out of a second-and-third no-out jam in the same frame of a one-run game as well.

From the Big Club:

#95: The 95th RoughRiders player to make the big leagues after his time in Frisco dazzled last night. Joe Ortiz came on for the Rangers in the toughest jam of the game, with two on in a 3-1 game and just one out in the sixth inning. He shined in the high-pressure spot getting two ground balls. He retired all five batters he faced, in fact, working a perfect seventh inning as well.

And soon to be #97: Nick Tepesch (pronounced TEP-ish, by the way) is expected to have his contract purchased by the Rangers today from Triple-A Round Rock. He will make the start against the Tampa Bay Rays in his big league debut. Tepesch went 6-3 with a 4.28 ERA for Frisco in 2012 and had a great spring with Texas. His appearance will put the ‘Riders three players shy of 100 major league alums. He will also be the third former ‘Rider to debut this season (Ortiz, Leury Garcia).

- Nathan

Baseball term of the day: solitaire – a single.

The ‘Riders are 2-2, eyeing a winning record

Solid win for the ‘Riders yesterday to improve to 2-2. A breakout performance from Brett Nicholas (3-for-4, 1 R, 2 2B, 1 RBI) led the way offensively, but it was Kevin Pucetas (5.0 IP, 2 ER, 5 H, 3 K, 0 BB) that gave Frisco a chance. The right-hander made the longest start of the season for the RoughRiders before handing it over to the lights out bullpen for four scoreless innings for the 3-2 win.

Today the ‘Riders go back to work against the Naturals who are now 0-4 on the year. First pitch scheduled for 7:00 p.m from a cloudy and gusty Springdale.

Matchup:

Carlos Pimentel (0-0, 0.00 ERA):

Pimentel spent a full season with Frisco, posting a 2-2 record and a 3.03 ERA in 32.2 innings as a starting pitcher. He faired better out the pen (6-1, 2.26 ERA in 55.2 innings).This will be his second appearance after a scoreless, one-hit frame Friday in rescheduled season opener in North Little Rock. This will be Pimentel’s third consecutive year starting the season at the Double-AA level and fourth straight season to play for Frisco. In each of the last three years he has been better. After a brief but rough stint for the RoughRiders in 2010, he followed up a 7-9 record and posted a 4.74 ERA in 2011 before his breakout year one season ago. This is Pimentel’s seventh season in the minors, but the Dominican right-hander is still only 23 years old. (read more in today’s game notes, linked below).

J.C. Sulbaran (- -,  -.– ERA)

Sulbaran makes his 2013 season debut tonight against the RoughRiders. He came to the Royals system in a trade from the Reds with Donnie Joseph in exchange for reliever Jonathan Broxton. Sulbaran is repeating the Double-A level. He went 7-7 with a 4.04 ERA, posting 111 strikeouts and 22 walks in 19 starts (104.1 innings) in the Southern League as a member of the Reds organization. He didn’t fair near as well in his brief stint in the Texas League after the trade, going 0-4 with a 7.62 ERA, 24 strikeouts and 22 walks in six appearances (26 innings) for Northwest Arkansas. He throws a low-to-mid-90s fastball, a curveball and a changeup. (read more in today’s game notes, linked below).

Sunday’s Highlights:

Going the distance: ‘Riders starter Kevin Pucetas gave Frisco their longest start of the four-game season. His five innings topped the previous high coming from another of the elder statesmen on the roster, Ryan Feierabend, who threw 4.0 innings in the second-half of the doubleheader on Friday.

Pitching machines: Pucetas was really hitting his spots last night. He tossed 49 of his 72 pitches for strikes (68%). He paled in comparison to his mates out of the bullpen though. Randy Henry threw 22 of his 27 in the zone (81%), Ben Rowen missed only twice (6 of 8, 75%) and Ryan Rodebaugh, who closed the game, found the zone 8 out of 10 times (80%).

Getting off the schneid: Frisco is batting just .210 as a team through four games but there are few black holes in the lineup. 1-9 are producing in any given game. Teodoro Martinez (#9 spot in the order yesterday) and Zach Zaneski (#7) both tallied their first hits of the season on Sunday. That leaves only Alejandro Selen who has yet to record a hit (0-for-5). He also hasn’t played in the field. He will DH for the third time today. Guilder Rodriguez, a career .258 hitter, leads the team in hits (5), home runs (1) and batting average (.556).

Bringing the heat: Royals prospect Yordano Ventura was throwing gas against the ‘Riders last night. Ventura is the highest ranked player by Baseball America on the Naturals roster, 85th in all of baseball, fourth among Royals farmhands and second among their pitching prospects. Credit Frisco. They squared him up a number of times, turing around on upper 90s heat. He left with the game tied at 2-2 after five innings. Frisco tagged him for five hits but also struck out five times and didn’t walk against him.

Where in the world is Orlando Calixte?: The Royals most MLB-ready infield prospect got the day off yesterday. The shortstop will DH today. Orlando Calixte was ranked in the top ten prospects in the Carolina League last season and is in his first season of Double-AA ball. Adalberto Mondesi, son of former big leaguer Raul Mondesi, is considered to have a slightly higher ceiling than Calixte but is lower down in the Royals system. Mondesi is playing at Class-A this season after his first year in pro ball at the Rookie level and is only 17 years old. Calixte (21 years old) has decent gap power and a good eye. He is certainly a player to look out for tonight.

Or getting caught in the rain: Ok, this reference was a stretch. What do you want from me? Not quite yet in mid-season form. Anyway, cup-of-tea big leaguer Manny Pina reacquainted himself with his former organization last night. The backstop for the Naturals spent four years in the Texas system before being traded to KC in exchange for the erratic Daniel Gutierrez in 2009.

And some other news, notes, thoughts, and links:

Turn on the bright lights: Leury Garcia made his major league debut Saturday. He batted for Berkman in the 8th inning of an 8-4 deficit. The former RoughRider struck out in his only plate appearance, taking strike three from Angels reliever Kevin Jepsen.  The Rangers utility infielder made the big league team out of camp after hitting .292 with 31 steals in Frisco in 2012.

Big League moves: On the day the Rangers open a series against the Rays, they made a trade with Tampa as well. Texas acquired Robinson Chirinos Monday and then DFA’d Jeff Beliveau, whom the Rangers had claimed from the Cubs in December. Chirinos had DFA’d the catcher at the end of Spring Training, so unless they traded him, he would either have been open to league-wide waivers or the Rays would have to release him. He came to the Rays via the Cubs, who dealt him, along with Hak-Ju LeeChris ArcherSam Fuld and Brandon Guyer in exchange for Matt Garza, Zach Rosscup and Fernando Perez in January of 2011. Chirinos didn’t do much at the major league level in his debut in 2011 (.218/.283/.30 in 60 PA) and is coming off an injury that kept him out in 2012. The 28-year-old Venesulan has a decent minor league track record though. He has been assigned to AAA Round Rock; his last time at that level, in 2010, he mashed the ball for the Iowa Cubs, socking three home runs in 15 games. 

Mute the TV, crank up your laptop speakers: I know the Rangers are on tonight, but it doesn’t mean you can’t baseball-multitask. Today’s game 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. First pitch is scheduled for 7:00; broadcast airs at 6:40 with the pregame show.

Don’t miss out! Tickets are left…but not many for Thursday’s home opening contest at Dr Pepper Ballpark. Frisco looks for revenge against the Arkansas Naturals who took two of three from the ‘Riders to open the season. Top-ranked Frisco prospect Cody Buckel is expected to get the ball for the fighting Buecheles. He looks to bounce back from his Opening Night loss in North Little Rock.

Read ‘em and share ‘em: The first Monday edition of the game notes are here! 

- Nathan

Baseball term of the day: tater - a home run.

Lineups are in: Monday, April 8, 2013

Here are the lineups for tonight.  First pitch for RoughRiders and Naturals from Springdale, Arkansas is at 7:00 p.m.
 
ROUGHRIDERS

2B Odubel Herrera

SS Guilder Rodriguez

RF Jared Hoying

1B Brett Nicholas

DH Alejandro Selen

Tomas Telis

CF Ryan Strausborger

SS Hanser Alberto

LF Teodoro Martinez
 
*RHP Carlos Pimentel
 
NATURALS

CF Brett Eibner

DH Orlando Calixte

LF Brian Fletcher

1B Matt Fields

2B Rey Navarro

C Manuel Pina

RF Whit Merrifield

SS Alex McClure

3B Angel Franco
 
*RHP J.C. Sulbaran
 

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