Results tagged ‘ Phil Klein ’
Opening Day for the Frisco RoughRiders is this Thursday, but former Riders players will have a presence in nearly every Opening Day contest at the start of the 2015 Major League Baseball season. There are 33 former RoughRiders on the Opening Day active rosters of 16 different MLB teams this season, highlighted by the big league debuts of 2014 Frisco players Keone Kela and Odubel Herrera.
The Texas Rangers have an MLB-high 12 former RoughRiders on their roster, with Kela making his first appearance on a major league roster. He is expected to be a member of the Texas bullpen for tonight’s season opener in Oakland. The 21-year-old right-handed pitcher was promoted to Frisco on May 3, 2014 and spent the remainder of the season as a RoughRider. Kela posted a 2-1 record with five saves and a 1.86 ERA in 36 Texas League appearances in 2014, registering a 55:27 strikeout-to-walk ratio and a .162 opponents’ batting average in 38.2 innings. He did not allow an earned run in 30 of his last 32 regular season outings and twice compiled streaks of 14 consecutive scoreless appearances. Kela was the Rangers’ 12th round selection in the 2012 First-Year Player Draft out of Everett (Wash.) Community College.
Herrera is expected to be the Philadelphia Phillies’ everyday centerfielder when the Phillies open the season this afternoon at home against Boston. A Rule 5 Draft selection by Philadelphia in the off-season, Herrera spent the bulk of the past two seasons as a second baseman with the RoughRiders.
He won the Texas League batting crown last year with a .321 average, 13 points higher than second place. In 96 games with the Riders, Herrera compiled 16 doubles, four triples, two home runs and 48 runs batted in. The left-handed batter was named a Texas League Postseason and Mid-Season All-Star last year; he was also a Mid-Season TL All-Star in 2013. A native of Zulia, Venezuela, Herrera was signed by the Rangers as a non-drafted free agent in 2008.
Twelve of the of the 15 Opening Day games scheduled for last night and today feature a former RoughRider on the 25-man roster of at least one team. Since 2003, Frisco has sent 128 former players to the big leagues (not including Major League rehabbers).
FULL LIST OF FORMER ROUGHRIDERS ON MLB OPENING DAY ACTIVE ROSTERS
Texas Rangers (12)
- SS Elvis Andrus
- RHP Neftali Feliz
- LHP Derek Holland
- RHP Keone Kela (MLB debut)
- RHP Phil Klein
- OF Leonys Martin
- RHP Nick Martinez
- RHP Roman Mendez
- 1B/OF Mitch Moreland
- 2B Rougned Odor
- OF Ryan Rua
- Jake Smolinski
Chicago Cubs (4)
- RHP Justin Grimm
- RHP Kyle Hendricks
- 3B Mike Olt
- RHP Neil Ramirez
Boston Red Sox (2)
- RHP Alexi Ogando
- LHP Robbie Ross, Jr.
Kansas City Royals (2)
- RHP Edinson Volquez
- RHP Chris Young
Oakland Athletics (2)
- RHP Jesse Chavez
- OF Craig Gentry
Baltimore Orioles (1)
- RHP Tommy Hunter
Cincinnati Reds (1)
- RHP Jumbo Diaz
Chicago White Sox (1)
- RHP John Danks
Detroit Tigers (1)
- Ian Kinsler
Houston Astros (1)
- RHP Scott Feldman
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (1)
- LHP C.J. Wilson
New York Mets (1)
- OF John Mayberry, Jr.
Philadelphia Phillies (1)
- OF Odubel Herrera (MLB debut)
San Francisco Giants (1)
- 3B Joakim Arias
Toronto Blue Jays (1)
- Justin Smoak
Washington Nationals (1)
- Tanner Roark
The Frisco RoughRiders have been a force in the Texas League so far and their record-number All-Star selections reflects this dominance. The league announced that ten of the team’s players will be 2014 Texas League Mid-Season All-Stars. The game will be played at Dickey-Stephens Park in North Little Rock, Arkansas on Tuesday, June 24 at 7:15 p.m.
The selection committee voted four ‘Riders pitchers and six position players to the South Division side. Starting pitchers Alec Asher, Edwar Cabrera and Luke Jackson will travel to Arkansas as well as reliever Phil Klein. Infielders Rougned Odor, Guilder Rodriguez and Ryan Rua each earned spots on the squad in addition to outfielder Jake Smolinski and catcher Tomás Telis. Infielder Odubel Herrera will replace Odor, who is currently with the Texas Rangers. Rua will serve as the starting third baseman for the South Division and Smolinski will start the contest in the outfield.
The RoughRiders boast more All-Stars than any team in the Texas League. This is the most mid-season all-stars for the ‘Riders since 2011 when Frisco also earned nine selections, including current Texas Ranger Leonys Martin.
Balloting for the Texas League All-Star Game was conducted by votes gathered from managers, coaches, broadcasters and beat writers representing all eight teams.
FRISCO ROUGHRIDERS MID-SEASON ALL-STARS
Ryan Rua – 3B: The RoughRiders’ everyday third baseman is batting .318 (67-for-211) through 59 games with the club this season. Of his 67 hits, good for second in the Texas League, 12 have been doubles, and his ten home runs are tied for fifth in the league with teammate Jake Smolinski. The native of Amherst, Ohio also ranks third in on-base and slugging percentage with totals of .395 and .526, respectively, and has 32 RBI. This will be Rua’s first all-star appearance in the Texas League; however, the utility infielder was named to the Mid-Season and Postseason All-Star teams in the South Atlantic League in 2013 for his efforts with the Hickory Crawdads.
Jake Smolinski – OF: In his eighth season and first in the Rangers organization, the 25-year-old native of Rockford, Illinois has shown patience at the plate and the power to go deep as his .516 slugging percentage reveals. Reaching base in 53 of 61 games, Smolinski finds a way to get on and work his way home. The left fielder leads Frisco in doubles (13) and walks (28), and paces the Texas League in runs scored (39). He is also second in the Texas League with 26 extra-base hits. He has been a dependable defender as well, going a team-high 27 consecutive games without an error. Smolinski also garnered Mid-Season All-Star honors with the Double-A Jacksonville Suns in 2012.
Alec Asher – RHP: The 22-year-old native of Lakeland, Florida has earned his way onto the 2014 Texas League All-Star team with his league-leading 71 1/3 innings pitched. He accumulated those innings across 12 starts with a 6-4 record and 3.28 ERA. The 6-foot-4 righty has issued 58 hits in 262 at-bats, which is good for an opponent average of .221, the fifth-lowest mark among qualified starters in the Texas League. This will be Asher’s first Texas League All-Star Game; he was named to the Carolina League Mid-Season All-Star team in 2013.
Edwar Cabrera – RHP: The native of Baní, Dominican Republic is no stranger to All-Star appearances as he was a South Atlantic Mid-Season All-Star with Asheville in 2011. He also represented the Tulsa Drillers as a Mid-Season and Post-Season All-Star in 2012. In his first season with the Rangers organization, the southpaw is 2-3 with a 3.40 ERA in nine games as a starter and has struck out 44 in 47 2/3 innings of work. As a reliever, Cabrera has a 2.61 ERA with one save in 10.1 innings pitched.
Odubel Herrera – INF: Herrera, 22, is in the second season with the ‘Riders and made the All-Star Game last year as well. The native of Zulia, Venezuela is batting .282 (24-for-85) with a home run, three doubles, a triple and 14 RBI in 22 games. He began the season with Advanced-A Myrtle Beach and was called up May 12. In his second game with the team, the 5-foot-11, 200-pounder matched a season-high with four hits against the Midland RockHounds. Since that time, Herrera has become a reliable infielder for the RoughRiders. He has not been charged with an error since returning to the Texas League.
Luke Jackson – RHP: As the 2013 Nolan Ryan Minor League Pitcher of the Year, Jackson is making his first All-Star appearance in Double-A. He made the All-Star team last year with the Advanced-A Myrtle Beach Pelicans. The Floridian is fourth in the Texas League in ERA (2.55), first in wins (7), second in strikeouts (85), sixth in innings pitched (67) and third in WHIP (0.96). Jackson ranks fourth among starters in allowing just 9.29 baserunners per nine innings. During one of his best outings of the year on April 21, the 6-foot-2 righty took a perfect game into the sixth inning against the San Antonio Missions and allowed just three hits to go along with eight strikeouts and no walks in seven innings pitched.
Phil Klein – RHP: The 6-foot-7, 250-pound right-hander has been in the Rangers organization since 2011 and worked his way up to the ‘Riders in 2013. Being called up to Frisco for part of the 2013 season, Klein has improved in almost every statistical category compared to last year. Among Texas League pitchers, the reliever has the second-lowest batting average among relievers (.152) and strikes out 11.75 batters per nine innings, the third-lowest ratio in the league. He has become the RoughRiders’ closer and is a perfect 7-for-7 in save chances. The former Youngstown State Penguin has worked eight straight scoreless appearances and has not conceded more than one run in any single game this season. After walking ten in his first eight outings, Klein has only walked three in his last 12 appearances.
Rougned Odor – INF: The Rangers’ 2013 Tom Grieve Minor League Player of the Year earns his second straight All-Star selection after starting the 2013 Carolina League All-Star Game at second base. In 32 games with the RoughRiders in 2014, Odor batted .279 and slugged .450 with 36 hits (two doubles, one triple, six home runs) and 17 RBI. His work led to a promotion to the Texas Rangers on May 8. He has played in 24 big league games with Texas and is batting .290 with seven runs, 20 hits and two home runs in 69 at-bats.
Guilder Rodriguez – INF: The fourteen-year professional played his first 12 seasons without an All-Star selection, but is now set to appear in his second consecutive Texas League All-Star Game. The switch-hitter has played the most minor league games (1,040) among all current players who have no big league experience. With multiple hits in five of the last eight games, Rodriguez ranks first in the Texas League in batting average .380 (27 for 71) and second in on-base percentage (.457) since his return from Triple-A Round Rock on May 15. The utility infielder has settled into the shortstop position this year but is still diverse enough to play where his team needs him. Since joining Frisco in 2009, Rodriguez has played every position except catcher.
Tomás Telis – C: The switch-hitting catcher returns to the Texas League All-Star roster for the second consecutive year after making his first appearance in 2013. Telis was also selected for two previous All-Star teams in the 2008 DSL All-Star Game, in which he was named MVP, and in the 2011 South Atlantic League All-Star Game. Telis is batting a league-leading .327 (56-for-171) in 45 games this season. He has scored 18 runs with 11 doubles, two triples, two homers and 26 RBI, and has posted an .807 OPS.
Out with the old, in with the new. Some of our preparations for the 2014 season include buying new uniforms for the players to wear next season. But what happens to the old jerseys, you ask? Well, that’s where you theoretically come in.
We auctioned most of the uniforms off to fans at Dr Pepper Ballpark near the end of the season and now the RoughRiders are making the ones we held back available to the public. Fans now have the opportunity to purchase a home jersey (the type in the photo above). It could easily make for a great gift, a unique piece of sports memorabilia or even an awesome beer league softball uniform!
Here are the jerseys available and who they were worn by this past season:
- #1 – LHP Alex Claudio
- #17 – LHP Jimmy Reyes
- #23 – OF Joe Benson
- #24 – LHP Richard Bleier
- #25 – C Brett Teschner, Rangers UT Jeff Baker, Rangers RHP Joakim Soria, RHP Roman Mendez,
- #26 – OF Kalian Sams
- #30 – RHP Francisco Mendoza
- #32 – Coach/Scout James Vilade
- #33 – Hitting coach (and former Ranger) Jason Hart
- #36 – RHP Jerad Eickhoff
- #40 – RHP Arlett Mavare
- #45 – RHP Phil Klein
The jerseys are going for $100 each and all of the proceeds benefit the RoughRiders Foundation (a non-profit organization that you can read more about here). If you are interested in purchasing a jersey or have any questions, please contact LaShawn Moore of the RoughRiders at LMoore@RidersBaseball.com or at (972) 334-1978.
‘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.
An extra long edition this week with a double-dose of the skipper and a season finale chat with Jeff Andrews is here! It’s been a pleasure posting these each week. Thank you for your support of the Insider Blog and ‘Riders on the Record this season. We hope you enjoyed getting to hear from everyone this season. Highlights for the final edition include Phil Klein on his position on a football field, Nick Tepesch on being named the Rangers’ fifth starter and Randy Henry on how he can improve upon his stellar season.
Happy Monday and enjoy!
Sunday, August 25, 2013 – Manager Steve Buechele
After a tumultuous weekend in which the bullpen has been severely taxed, the manager Steve Buechele assesses the state of the ‘pen and who could have been on the mound among the position players. He discusses why Luke Jackson was removed in the midst of a no-hitter and explains the quick success of Nick Martinez in Double-A. (w/ Alex Vispoli)
Monday, August 26, 2013 – Catcher Zach Zaneksi
The RoughRiders catcher Zach Zaneski comes on to talk about his offseason plans and the end of the RoughRiders season. With Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez in town, Zach tells us what kind of wisdom the future Hall-of-Famer has shared with the ‘Riders backstops. (w/ Nathan Barnett)
Tuesday, August 27, 2013 – RHP Phil Klein
For the first time in his pro career, Phil Klein was the starting pitcher. He talks about keeping his routine consistent and how excited he was to get the nod. In preparation for our fantasy football post on the RoughRiders Insider Blog, I also asked Klein where he would play on a football team. (w/ Nathan)
Wednesday, August 28, 2013 – 1B/C Brett Nicholas
Brett Nicholas put together a career year in 2013. He was named to the Texas League Post-season All-Star Team and a member of the Arizona Fall League the previous day, and he talks about the significance of both in the larger picture of his career. Hovering around a .300 batting average, Brett weighs in on the importance of that number to him as well. (w/ Nathan)
Thursday, August 29, 2013 – 3B Ryan Rua
Fresh off his walk-off grand slam, Ryan Rua reflects on the best moments of his career. He looks back at his breakout season and assess the progress that he has made this year as well as his adjustment to Double-A pitching. (w/ Nathan)
Friday, August 30, 2013 – Rangers Rehabber Nick Tepesch
Rangers rehabber Nick Tepesch talks about his first ever rehab. He shares his story from Spring Training that ended in the nod as the Rangers #5 starter and the development of his slider that has helped him make the leap. He also explains how quick teams and players are to adjust at the big league level. (w/ Nathan)
Saturday, August 31, 2013 – RHP Randy Henry
RoughRiders reliever Randy Henry is putting the finishing touches on a spectacular season in his year at Double-A. Battling an elbow injury, Henry was one of the more dominant pitchers in the Texas League this season. He evaluates his year and pinpoints places for future improvement. (w/ Alex)
Sunday, September 1, 2013 – Manager Steve Buechele
For the final time, the ‘Riders skipper joins our own Alex Vispoli on the pregame show to discuss the end of the season. He gives his take on the significance of a .500 record and shares his plans for the offseason. (w/ Alex)
Monday, September 2, 2013 – Pitching Coach Jeff Andrews
On the final day of the season, Pitching Coach Jeff Andrews sits down to assess his pitching staff at season’s end. He talks about the development of Luke Jackson and Nick Martinez, including the significance of his Jackson’s unconventional mechanics and Martinez’s baseball smarts. A big league coach in 2008 with the Pirates, he explains the value of coaching in the majors and what he learned in his season in Pittsburgh.
Baseball term of the day: sky piece – baseball cap
(term from The Baseball Thesaurus)
‘Riders on the Record is a weekly rundown of the week’s pre-game radio interviews, usually with RoughRiders players and coachs. You can find all the past entries here.
Week four of ‘Riders on the Record was nearly an all-home edition. In the midst of the RoughRiders eight-game homestand, we spoke with Tyler Tufts, Zach Zaneski and Phil Klein for the first time this year. The ‘Riders hit the road on Friday night and Alex chatted with Teodoro Martinez for the first time this year before game one of the four-game series in Midland against the RockHounds. Highlights include the Rangers outfield philosophy from Joe Mikulik, Phil Klein’s emotions when throwing a perfect game in summer collegiate baseball, and Teodoro Martinez discussing the origin of his nickname “Cafe.”
April 28, 2013 – Manager Steve Buechele
The Sunday conversation with Steve Buechele followed the worst defeat of the season for the RoughRiders, an 11-0 loss to the Corpus Christi Hooks. He talks as a former player about how mentally tough it can be to come from behind when down by a big margin. He empathizes with the difficulties Cody Buckel is having this season and, conversely, examines the tremendous start of Randy Henry.
April 29, 2013 – RHP Tyler Tufts
RoughRiders pitcher Tyler Tufts has had quite the year. From a promotion to Triple-A to a life-threatening medical emergency, 2012 was a wild ride for the right-hander. He talks about the fallout from the medical emergency including a silver-lining experience he took in with his family at the ballpark he grew up going to.
April 30, 2013 – Rangers Outfield Instructor Joe Mikulik
The Texas Rangers Outfield Instructor Joe Mikulik made his first trip to Frisco during the home stand. He explained what he does and what his job entails. He talked about the progression of the outfielders from level to level and the significance of situational defense in the Texas Rangers system.
May 1, 2013 – C Zach Zaneski
RoughRiders catcher Zach Zaneski talks about what it is like to be behind the plate to catch Frisco pitching. He explains the success this season for Carlos Pimentel and the decision to call a slider on a 3-2 with the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth the night before.
May 2, 2013 – RHP Phil Klein
Following his Double-A debut, a three inning outing with the Frisco RoughRiders, Phil Klein talks about his journey since his 30th round selection by the Rangers. He explains his increase in velocity and his early experiences in Texas.
May 3, 2013 – RHP Ryan Rodebaugh
After a blisteringly cold and windy day at Dr Pepper Ballpark, Ryan Rodebaugh discusses his first ever professional start in the difficult conditions. He’s asked about his college career as a starter and how he managed to block out the cold to pitch three scoreless innings in the spot-start.
May 4, 2013 – OF Teodoro Martinez
The son of a former big leaguer, Teodoro joined us on the pre-game show for the first time this season in the RoughRiders first trip to Midland. He talked about his improvement at the plate and his work with hitting coach Jason Hart. He also talks about the influence of his family on his baseball career and the notoriety of his father among baseball circles.
Baseball term of the day: Chin music – a pitch thrown up and inside on a hitter, usually designed to get the hitter to back off the plate
After an opening month of relative silence on the roster-move front, the Frisco RoughRiders began May with a splash of changes. April saw just three total transactions and only one moving player:
Today, Jake Brigham, Alex Buchholz and Ryan Feierabend were promoted to Triple-A Round Rock. This marks the first trip for Brigham and Buchholz to the Triple-A level. Feierabend spent time in the majors with the Mariners from 2006-2008.
Klein and Mavare will both be at the Double-A level for the first time. Klein was selected by the Rangers in the 30th round of the 2011 MLB Amateur June Draft out of Youngstown State University. The 24-year-old was spending his second season with the Myrtle Beach Pelicans in the Carolina League. This season the 6’7” 230 lbs. right-hander posted a 1-0 record and a 1.98 ERA with 12 strikeouts and just three walks over 13.2 innings in seven appearances in Carolina League play.
Mavare, signed as an undrafted free agent out of Venezuela in 2009, is in his fifth year of professional baseball. The 23-year-old sported a 0-1 record with a 2.38 ERA in seven outings in his first season with Myrtle Beach. He struck out 12 batters and walked three in 11.1 innings of work.
Frisco’s roster now has 24 active players, one below the Texas League limit.
Klein is not small to say the least. His 6’7″ frame makes him the tallest ‘Riders player on the roster. Font, Pucetas, Ramirez and Rowen are 6’4″ and the closest in stature to Klein. It’s was also Klein’s birthday yesterday (happy 24th!), so he’s probably feeling about as good right now as he did when he threw a perfect game in the Atlantic Coast Baseball League at age 19. Not a bad 24 hours for the young man.
The Ohio native, Klein has shot up the Rangers system quite a bit in the last calendar year. He was promoted to Myrtle just last August, and is now among the first duo to make it up to Frisco from the Pelicans this year. Oh, and Klein pitched for a team whose mascot was the Penguins in college, in case you were curious.
Here is a snippet of what LoneStarDugout’s Jason Cole had to say about Klein when he was promoted to Myrtle in August (click the link to read the full report):
Coming from a high three-quarters arm slot this year, Klein shows a loose arm with clean mechanics that produce an 89-92 mph fastball that has touched the occasional 93-94. He also features a short-but-late breaking slider at 83-84 mph with slight tilt.
According to Cole, Klein was sitting 91-93 with the heater and touched 94-95 at fall instructs.
Jose Mavare’s first stateside season came in 2010 with the Rangers AZL club. After a fantastic 2011 season between rookie ball and Short-Season A Spokane, things slowed down a bit for him in his first year of full-season ball in 2012 with Hickory, but he pitched well enough to open the season with Myrtle Beach this year. He throws an upper 80s to low 90s fastball and sports a curve and change to go along with it. The strikeout potential is clearly a big part of his game, but he doesn’t posses an overpowering fastball despite raking up over 11 k/9 IP in his career.
Taking a look at the numbers, both have been impressive:
RHP Phil Klein
|2011||2 Teams||2 Lgs||A–Rk||1||2||3.98||12||0||0||20.1||20||13||9||1||16||31|
|2012||2 Teams||2 Lgs||A-A+||6||0||1.73||40||0||8||62.1||39||13||12||3||23||67|
|A+ (2 seasons)||A+||1||0||1.50||14||0||0||24.0||8||5||4||1||5||26|
|A (1 season)||A||6||0||1.90||33||0||8||52.0||37||12||11||2||21||53|
|Rk (1 season)||Rk||0||0||0.00||3||0||0||2.2||2||0||0||0||1||7|
|A- (1 season)||A-||1||2||4.58||9||0||0||17.2||18||13||9||1||15||24|
RHP Jose Mavare
|2009||2 Teams||1 Lg||FRk||4||2||1.36||20||5||2||59.2||43||15||9||1||19||58|
|2009||Rangers 2, Rangers 1||DOSL||FRk||4||2||1.36||20||5||2||59.2||43||15||9||1||19||58|
|2010||2 Teams||2 Lgs||Rk-FRk||5||1||2.08||23||0||2||43.1||28||14||10||0||15||61|
|2011||2 Teams||2 Lgs||Rk-A-||0||1||1.95||17||2||0||37.0||24||10||8||0||15||54|
|FRk (2 seasons)||FRk||5||2||1.07||26||5||2||75.2||48||16||9||1||23||85|
|Rk (2 seasons)||Rk||4||2||2.66||26||2||2||50.2||37||18||15||0||19||68|
|A (1 season)||A||5||5||3.57||40||0||5||80.2||66||34||32||6||27||102|
|A- (1 season)||A-||0||0||1.98||8||0||0||13.2||10||5||3||0||7||20|
|A+ (1 season)||A+||0||1||2.38||7||0||2||11.1||7||5||3||1||3||12|
We give a big, warm Texas welcome to these two guys, your newest RoughRiders. And Congrats to Jake, Alex, and Brigham — best of luck in Round Rock!
Baseball term of the day: duck snort – a softly hit ball that goes over the infielders and lands in the outfield for a hit. The term was popularized by White Sox announcer Hawk Harrelson.
With calendar year wrapping up, we’re taking one last look at the 2012 season, specifically the top performers in the Rangers organization. MiLB.com’s Rangers Organization All-Star Team provided a good jumping off point and yesterday we took a look at the infield with an eye upon the outfield and pitching today.
Joey Butler, Round Rock (137 G, .290-20-78, 28 2B, 3B, 93 R, 6-10 SB, .392 OBP, .473 SLG, .865 OPS)
Julio Borbon, Round Rock (126 G, .304-10-56, 23 2B, 8 3B, 78 R, 20-28 SB, .349 OBP, .433 SLG, .783 OPS)
Engel Beltre, Frisco (133 G, .261-13-55, 17 2B, 17 3B, 80 R, 36-46 SB, .307 OBP, .420 SLG, .727 OPS)
Lewis Brinson, AZL Rangers (54 G, .283-7-42, 22 2B, 7 3B, 54 R, 14-16 SB, .345 OBP, .523 SLG, .868 OPS)
The Rangers have a decent number of outfield prospects in their farm system and some very exciting ones who spent 2012 in the lower levels. Unfortunately, some of those exciting prospects did not have very good years offensively. The super-athletic Jordan Akins (Hickory) couldn’t crack the Mendoza Line in his first year with a full-season club while former first rounder Jake Skole struggled mightily in the Carolina League before serving a 50-game suspension for performance-enhancing drugs.
However, there were some notable seasons among outfielders down on the farm. While perhaps a little too old to wear the “prospect” label, Butler turned in a fine season for the Express, providing a consistent, middle-of-the-order threat. Whether or not he profiles to make a big league team at any point, he should have a long career in professional baseball given his ability to produce at the Triple-A level. I could have really included the entire Round Rock outfield on this list, as Borbon’s numbers were nearly as impressive Butler’s and Leonys Martin (55 G, .359-12-42, 1.033 OPS) was a stud in his limited time in Triple-A. While both certainly have credible cases to be made, ultimately I decided that there were other players who deserved the recognition maybe just a bit more.
My pick of Beltre was likely influenced by having the opportunity to see him everyday with the RoughRiders this past season. The former Red Sox signee entered this past season looking to wipe the slate clean from a disastrous 2011 campaign that tarnished his prospect status. The Dominican delivered, setting career-highs in home runs, triples and steals. His 17 three-baggers were the second-most in Minor League Baseball and he played an astonishingly good center field. Speaking from a purely defensive standpoint, I am convinced that he could step into the big leagues today and be a top 15 center fielder.
Based on his 2012 season, the Rangers certainly have to be happy with selecting Brinson with their first round draft pick this past June. The 18-year-old Floridian did not get the same level of attention that AZL Rangers teammate Joey Gallo received for his desert power surge, but that was through no fault of his own. Brinson led the AZL with 36 extra-base hits, 54 runs scored and 124 total bases while finishing one shy of the league lead in both hits and RBI. The potential of Brinson and many of his teammates from this past season should keep Rangers fans excited for the future.
RIGHT-HANDED STARTING PITCHER
MiLB.com’s pick: Barret Loux, Frisco (25 GS, 14-1, 3.47 ERA, 127 IP, 120 H, 100 K, 41 BB, 1.27 WHIP, .251 BAA)
My pick: Cody Buckel, Myrtle Beach/Frisco (26 G, 23 GS, 10-8, 2.49 ERA, 144.2 IP, 105 H, 159 K, 48 BB, 1.06 WHIP, .206 BAA)
Loux’s record is gaudy, but a closer look into his and Buckel’s numbers make the Californian the decisive choice from my perspective. Loux wowed everyone (the Diamondbacks included, methinks) by winning each of his first ten starts of the season before going 4-1 in his final 15 outings. His command of four pitches and ability to adjust from start-to-start and during starts were something to behold. Traded to the Cubs in November as Jake Brigham’s replacement in the Geovany Soto deal, Loux fits the profile of a 4 or 5 starter in a big league rotation. While Loux was very good at the start of the season for Frisco, Buckel was transcendent for the Pelicans. The undersized righty had more starts (13) than runs allowed (12) in the Carolina League and, after an adjustment period in Double-A, was at his best in the Texas League as the season wrapped up. Buckel learned to pound the strike zone with his zippy 92-94 mph fastball and then tortured hitters with his multitude of off-speed offerings (including a “shuuto,” or “reverse-slider”). Buckel should be a regular big league contributor (either with the Rangers or another team depending on how the trade winds are blowing) before the end of the 2014 season. Justin Grimm and C.J. Edwards also were worthy of consideration for this spot.
LEFT-HANDED STARTING PITCHER
MiLB.com’s pick: Chad Bell, Myrtle Beach/Frisco/Round Rock (31 G, 21 GS, 8-7, 3.48 ERA, 2 SV, 142.1 IP, 123 H, 110 K, 54 BB, 1.24 WHIP, .236 BAA)
My pick: Bell
The paucity of lefty starters in the Rangers’ system almost gives this award to Bell by default, but he is still a worthy recipient. He probably should have begun the year: a) in Frisco; and b) as a starter all along. But he started 2012 in a multi-inning relief role for Myrtle Beach before joining the RoughRiders at the end of April. He got off to a rocky start in the Texas League, allowing a home run in his first outing before settling down and going 23 straight innings over seven outings without allowing another earned run. By mid-May, he was starting and on June 11 he received the biggest boost of his season and perhaps his professional career. With Rangers Special Assistant and pitching legend Greg Maddux in attendance, Bell allowed just one hit and one walk with six strikeouts over 6.2 scoreless innings in a win over Midland. Maddux said after the game that it was one of the most impressive starts by a Minor Leaguer he had ever witnessed. Bell was in Round Rock by the end of the month and, though the PCL proved to be more treacherous, continued to string together solid performances.
MiLB.com’s pick: Ben Rowen, Myrtle Beach (38 G, 5-0, 1.57 ERA, 19-20 SV, 57.1 IP, 52 K, 3 BB, 0.77 WHIP, .201 BAA)
My pick: Rowen
Winner of a “MiLBY Award” for the best reliever in all of Minor League Baseball, the submariner Rowen is obviously the best choice here. The former 22nd round draft pick kept his pitches consistently down, inducing a 2.9 GO/AO ratio and allowing just two home runs all season. His ludicrously low number of walks (three) is perhaps his most impressive statistic, given the unpredictablility of submarine-style pitchers in general. Other excellent relievers from this past season included Phil Klein (Spokane/Myrtle Beach), Jimmy Reyes (Myrtle), Nicholas McBride (Spokane/Myrtle Beach), Zach Osborne (for his Myrtle work), Ross Wolf (Frisco/Round Rock), Joseph Ortiz (Frisco/Round Rock) and Yoshinori Tateyama (Round Rock).
– Alex V.