Results tagged ‘ Robbie Erlin ’

The RoughRiders’ ghosts of trade deadlines passed

Blog_Trade

So Matt Garza pitched well for the Rangers on Wednesday. He tosses for the Rangers tonight. The newest addition to the organization was acquired on Tuesday from the Chicago Cubs for Rangers starting pitcher Justin Grimm (and 2012 RoughRiders hurler), Round Rock third baseman Mike Olt (and 2012 RoughRiders home run leader), Hickory Crawdads ace C.J. Edwards and….a player to be named later.

Not a ton is known about Edwards in the national media since he is a lower-level guy. It’s from a website with a fantasy baseball focus, but RotoGraphs has a good piece up on what he brings to the table if you are curious.

There is rather strong speculation that the player to be named later (PTBNL) could end up being RoughRiders starting pitcher, and recently placed on the disabled list man, Neil Ramirez:

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Neil Ramirez, 2013

Search “Neil Ramirez” on Twitter and your browser might explode. OK, it won’t, but there is plenty of speculation out there on the subject. If you are looking for that, here you go.

As someone not on the beat of the Rangers or Cubs, someone who does not communicate on a daily basis with the front office of either side, weighing in on the subject seems meaningless and pointless. As would a look back at Neil Ramirez as a RoughRiders pitcher and Rangers prospect…because, at least for now, he still is a RoughRiders hurler and still could be in a day, a week, a month or a year. (tease: IF he is traded, we will probably do a post on his career as a RoughRiders player…stay tuned! No promises though.)

IF he is indeed traded, he joins a list of RoughRiders traded while on the roster, and looking at the old transactions, there is quite the interesting mix. With the July 31 Trade Deadline fast approaching (Wednesday!), it seemed as good a time as any to look back at the trades made by the Texas Rangers near the trading deadline that involved RoughRiders players.

To qualify for the list, the player had to be on the RoughRiders roster at some point during the same year they were traded, but I excluded some after that filter. Ideally, these are players that were on the ‘Riders roster at the time of the trade, or at least played significant time on the team. Mike Olt, for example, was on the RoughRiders roster for three days this season, but doesn’t seem to really fit the point of this list. He was on the roster in a pseudo-rehab role before returning to Triple-A.

There are also a handful of trades made by Texas in the months of April, May, November and December–I only included deals from June, July and August. If you are interested in this sort of thing, check out baseballreference.com for their trade history machine–it’s pretty neat. Additionally, each player is linked to their baseball reference page, so you can see what those players’ career shaped up like.

Anyway, enough digressing…here it is! An exhaustive list (barring the author’s mistakes and editorial omissions as always) of the Rangers deadline or near-deadline deals involving RoughRiders:

July 21, 2005: The Texas Rangers traded RoughRiders SP Matt Lorenzo to the Atlanta Braves for Kevin Gryboski.

Interestingly enough, Matt Lorenzo went from High-A Bakersfield, the Rangers affiliate at the time to High-A Myrtle Beach, the Rangers current High-A affiliate (then with the Braves). His time in Frisco was brief, making ten appearances, nine starts for the ‘Riders in April and May. He didn’t pitch very well (3-5, 7.14 ERA, 1.99 WHIP) and only reached Double-A one more time in his career. It came with the Pirates in 2006. His tenure in Atlanta’s system didn’t outlast the 2005 season, and his career wrapped up at the conclusion of 2007.

Gryboski on the other hand made 11 largely mediocre appearances for the Rangers in 2005 and signed with Washington the following offseason.

June 29, 2006: The Texas Rangers traded RoughRiders SP Fabio Castro to the Philadelphia Phillies for Daniel Haigwood and cash

Although not a RoughRiders pitcher for very long, his inclusion on the Rangers big league roster for some time made it impossible for me to filter this trade off the list. Yes, Fabio Castro was a Ranger.

For four appearances, the then 21-year-old pitched against the Tigers, Angels, Rays and Diamondbacks as a member of the Rangers. In five outings, four starts, for the RoughRiders Castro went 0-1 with a 1.98 ERA. He went on to pitch well for the Phills for the remainder of 2006, but didn’t have much of a big league career after that. This season, he is pitching in Cancun for Tigres de Quintana Roo in the AAA Mexican League.

July 30, 2006: The Texas Rangers traded RoughRiders RP Bryan Corey to the Boston Red Sox for Luis Mendoza

Bryan Corey made his comeback to the bigs through Frisco in 2006. He was dominant in 13 games for the ‘Riders, saving eight ballgames in 13 appearances with a 2.08 ERA. After 12 games at Triple-A, the Rangers promoted the righthander in June, and he went on to pitch 16 games for the club.

Texas designated him for assignment, however, and got Luis Mendoza in exchange before a team could nab him off the waiver wire. Mendoza would debut in the majors with Texas the following season and is still pitching at the highest level–now for the Royals.

July 31, 2006: The Texas Rangers traded RoughRiders RP Jose Diaz to the Kansas City Royals for Matt Stairs

Attempting a run at the 2006 AL West Crown, the Rangers went out and aquired 38-year-old Matt Stairs, who didn’t hit much for the Rangers (.210/.273/.370) in 26 games down the stretch. Amazingly, Stairs went on to play five more seasons in the big leagues, none of them for Texas.

The cost was Jose Diaz, who got a quick promotion to Triple-A after a stellar start for the ‘Riders in 2006. In eight games, four starts, Diaz posted a 2-0 record with a 1.29 ERA. He pitched in just four games in the majors for the Royals, all coming in 2006. The Rangers actually signed him again in 2008. He pitched for Frisco again, and made it up to Arlington for a single appearance with the big league club. He was last heard from in 2011, playing for the independent Long Island Ducks of the Atlantic League.

July 31, 2006: The Texas Rangers traded RoughRiders RP Jesse Chavez to the Pittsburgh Pirates for Kip Wells

As someone who grew up in Texas and was in high school at the time, I thought I would have remembered this deal. I forgot Kip Wells was a Ranger. That’s because he made two starts for the club and was then shutdown for the remainder of the season with a foot injury. Texas reportedly had some interest in resigning Kip Wells when he became a free agent at the end of the season but did not. Chavez has carved out a decent major league career for himself.

Almost the first man on the list to actual be on the ‘Riders roster when traded, Chavez made 38 appearances before his promotion to Triple-A in late July and was traded after one appearance for the Triple-A Oklahoma City Redhawks (then a Rangers affiliate). Seven years later, he is now in the Oakland bullpen and at age 29, is having the best year of his career.

August 30, 2006: The Texas Rangers traded Mike Nickeas to the New York Mets for Victor Diaz

Finally! We come the first RoughRiders player to be traded at the deadline. The previous men were all ‘Riders at some point during these respective seasons, but Mike Nickeas was an active member of the ‘Riders roster when traded in late August, just prior to the “second trade deadline” which takes place on August 31 (for more info on MLB Transactions rules, go here).

A .248 hitter in 2006 for the RoughRiders, Nickeas was the cost for outfielder Victor Diaz, who hit a little bit for the Rangers in the final month of the season…not enough for Texas to make postseason play, however. After six plus seasons as a Mets farmhand, playing in Major League action in three different seasons, Nickeas is now in the Toronto system, pitching at Triple-A.

Jose Vallejo, 2009

Jose Vallejo, 2009

August 18, 2009: The Texas Rangers traded a PTBNL and Matt Nevarez to the Houston Astros for Ivan RodriguezThe Texas Rangers sent RoughRiders 2B Jose Vallejo (August 20, 2009) to the Houston Astros to complete the trade.

Ah yes. The return of Pudge. Another August move for a push at the postseason, Pudge likely at least filled the seats a bit for the Rangers. Ivan became the primary catcher in a season filled by Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Taylor Teagarden and Kevin Richardson. Vallejo was off the ‘Riders roster and off to Triple-A in early May, never hit much for the Astros organization and never made the majors.

July 9, 2010: The Texas Rangers traded RoughRiders 2B/OF Matt Lawson, RoughRiders SP Blake Beavan, RoughRiders RP Josh Lueke and Justin Smoak to the Seattle Mariners for Cliff LeeMark Lowe and cash.

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Blake Beavan, 2010

The trade of the franchise. Right alongside the Josh Hamilton deal as arguably the most positively impactful acquisition in team history, I don’t really need to elaborate here. At least not on the big league side.

On the RoughRiders side, Matt Lawson was a productive RoughRiders hitter, batting .277 in 76 contests for the squad. Beavan was a high-floor Rangers pitching prospect who has since made over 40 starts for the Mariners. As a ‘Rider, the 6’7″ Irving, Texas native went 10-5 with a 2.78 ERA in 2010. He fired 12 quality starts in his total of 17 before the trade. Lueke flashed lights-out stuff for Frisco out of the bullpen, saving five ballgames with 26 Ks in just 18.2 innings as a Texas Leaguer. He has spent parts of the last three seasons in the Show, most recently with Tampa Bay. He is still striking a ton of guys out but with mixed results.

July 29, 2010: The Texas Rangers traded P Omar Poveda and RoughRiders RP Evan Reed to the Florida Marlins for Jorge Cantu.

Jorge Cantu…one of the vaunted additions (along with Guzman just below) that were supposed to help the Rangers get over the hump. Nothing compares to the addition of Cliff Lee this season (how could it!), but Cantu was quite the disappointment. After hitting .262/.310/.409 for the Marlins before the trade, the declining corner infielder hit .235/.279/.327 for the Rangers in 30 games and had a grand total of eight plate appearances in the postseason (going 0-for-8), including one measly at-bat in the World Series.

Poveda was hampered by injuries and never panned out, but Evan Reed, a stalwart of the 2010 RoughRiders bullpen, had an up-and-down minor league jaunt with the Marlins. This April, the Tigers took him off waivers, and he has spent significant time with Detroit’s major league club, making his debut in the majors on May 16 against his former club, allowing a run on two hits to the Rangers. He is currently on the roster getting big leaguers out.

July 30, 2010: The Texas Rangers traded RoughRiders SP/RPs Ryan Tatusko and Tanner Roark to the Washington Nationals for Cristian Guzman.

Guzman was pretty awful for the Rangers (.152/.204/.174) after posting very solid numbers for the Nationals over three plus seasons. In 2012 he was signed by the Indians but released before the start of the season. After not making the postseason roster for Texas in 2010, he never played in a professional game again.

To get him, the Rangers gave up Tatusko, of Newberg Report fame. A solid arm for the ‘Riders that season as well, the righthander went 9-2 with a 2.97, largely as a starter. His last outing as a RoughRiders pitcher was one of his better outings: six shutout innings in a no-decision against the Corpus Christi Hooks at home on July 26. Tatusko tossed a nine-inning complete game shutout on July 16 as well, in an efficient 94-pitch effort over the Hooks at Dr Pepper Ballpark. Tanner Roark was another member of the rotation primarily, splitting his time between the ‘Riders pen and starting quintet. The ‘Riders rotation took quite the hit from this trade…just like they did after the following trade:

July 31, 2011: The Texas Rangers traded RoughRiders SPs Robbie Erlin and Joe Wieland to the San Diego Padres for Mike Adams.

Joe Wieland, 2011

Joe Wieland, 2011

One of the bigger impact trades on the list, the Rangers gave up two very good starting pitching prospects to get one of the best relievers in the National League at the time. For a while it appeared the Rangers would acquire Padres closer Heath Bell, and out of seemingly nowhere, picked up Adams instead.

Erlin and Wieland were both staples of the 2011 ‘Riders rotation. Erlin was 5-2 with a 4.32 ERA in 11 appearances, 10 starts, after his late May promotion from Myrtle Beach. Wieland was not called up from the Pelicans’ squad until mid-June but adapted quickly to Texas League batters. The big righthander was 4-0 with a 1.23 ERA as a RoughRiders pitcher and pitched a nine-inning no-hitter in his final start as a Rangers farmhand on July 29, 2011. This elicited a series of blog posts on this site, including one of my favorite ‘Riders Insider Blog posts of all-time. Both have had big league time with the Padres and still are poised for solid careers.

- Nathan

Baseball term of the day: Ryanitisa mock disease causing faux symptoms that batters used to try and get out of the lineup rather than face Nolan Ryan

(term from The Dickson Baseball Dictionary)

Wolf gets the call: ‘Riders MLB alum #99

Ross Wolf pitched for the RoughRiders for most of his 2012 season and made one appearance in 2013 for Frisco. Today, he makes his first big league start for the Texas Rangers.

Ross Wolf pitched for the RoughRiders for most of his 2012 season and made one appearance in 2013 for Frisco. Today, he makes his first big league start for the Texas Rangers.

Ross Wolf has made 502 appearances in his professional career. Over those 502 outings, he has tossed 748.1 innings. 18 of those outings were starts, 11 of which came during his first professional year in 2002 for the Jamestown Jammers of the New York Penn League (Short-Season A, at that time with the Florida Marlins) and six of which have come in the last six weeks with the Round Rock Express (Triple-A, Rangers). Before this season, the right-hander hadn’t started a ballgame since 2005.

Wednesday afternoon, Ross Wolf makes his 26th major league appearance. He will balloon his 25 innings pitched at the major league level, and the 30-year-old from Illinois will make his first big league start.

When he does, he will become the 99th RoughRiders player to make the big leagues after his time in Frisco (excluding rehabbers of course). He joins: Joeseph Ortiz (95 – Texas Rangers), Leury Garcia (96 – Texas Rangers), Nick Tepesch (97 – Texas Rangers) and Robbie Erlin (98 – San Diego Padres). He is the first member of the 2013 RoughRiders to appear in the majors.

Ross Wolf spent parts of two different seasons in the bigs: in 2007 he made 14 appearances out of the Florida Marlins bullpen and another 11 outings for the Oakland Athletics during the summer of 2010.

Signed as a minor league free agent after the beginning of the season on April 27, 2012 after being released the same week by Baltimore, Wolf spent the majority of the season in Frisco, with a brief stop in Round Rock.

After just one outing with the RoughRiders this season, Wolf was promoted to Round Rock on April 9, 2013 where he joined the Express rotation, posting just a 1-1 record in six starts despite a very impressive 1.85 ERA and 1.06 WHIP. He walked just nine batters over those six starts in 34 innings pitched.

It’s been 964 days since Wolf has toed the rubber of a big league mound, with his last appearance coming on October 1, 2010, when he pitched a scoreless ninth inning of a meaningless 9-0 Oakland victory over Seattle. Since that date, Wolf has made professional appearances in 113 games, spanning 171.2 innings, and thrown 2,634 pitches.

If you want to get to know the veteran a little bit more, broadcaster Alex Vispoli had a really interesting conversation with Wolf in November in which he discusses the change in his repertoire over the last year and why his first two big league stints didn’t go as well as he would have liked.

Wolf gets the nod in Arlington this afternoon for the series finale against the Oakland Athletics, as the Rangers look to avoid being swept for the first time this year. Wolf is the 8th different starting pitcher used by Texas this season and is taking the spot of another former RoughRiders hurler, Nick Tepesch, who is being skipped with a blister issue.

Adam Morris of LoneStarBall suggests that Wolf will be DFA’d after his start today, which means he could be claimed by another big league team, traded, sent back to the minors, or released, making his future very uncertain, but I am sure he is thrilled to get the chance to prove something today. We here in the ‘Riders media department are excited for him as well, and if he can get a victory, he will do what Yu Darvish couldn’t do last night, get the Rangers a win over the As–which would be a decent claim to fame if nothing else.

- Nathan

Baseball term of the day: wolf (of course) – a fan who constantly criticizes or heckles a player or team 

Game 4 Preview – San Antonio at Frisco

Texas League South Division Series
San Antonio Missions at Frisco RoughRiders
Saturday, September 10 – 7:05 p.m.
Game 4 – San Antonio leads 2-1

GAME 4 BACKGROUND:

The RoughRiders face elimination tonight in Game 4 of this South Division Series after San Antonio’s 5-3 win Friday at Dr Pepper Ballpark. The ‘Riders battled back from three separate deficits in Game 3, but Cody Decker’s eighth-inning solo shot, his second homer of the game, proved to be the difference. Frisco used five pitchers in the loss, four of whom allowed at least one run. With a win tonight, the Missions would return to the Texas League Championship Series for the first time since winning the title in 2007. The RoughRiders are 1-4 all-time when facing elimination in the postseason.

STARTING PITCHERS:

Frisco – RHP Adalberto Flores (5-4, 3.32 ERA): Flores joined the rotation late in the regular season after Derek Hankins’ promotion to Triple-A Round Rock. Tonight will be Flores’ fourth career minor league start. In his two starts thus far this season, Flores has allowed eight runs (seven earned) in seven and two-thirds innings. Against the Missions, Flores is 1-1 with a 4.96 earned run average in eight appearances spanning 16 and a third frames. Flores was a midseason All-Star in the Texas League after going 2-1 with a 2.41 ERA in the first half.

San Antonio – LHP Robbie Erlin (1-0, 1.38 ERA): For the second time this series, the RoughRiders must square off with a former Frisco hurler. Erlin has shined in six starts with the Missions since the Rangers traded Erlin and Joe Wieland, who earned the Game 1 win for San Antonio, for San Diego reliever Mike Adams. The Padres’ front office has been cautious with Erlin’s pitch and inning count, which explains why he is averaging barely more than four innings per start with the Missions. This figures to change tonight, as it did with Wieland Wednesday. Overall this year, Erlin is 9-4 with a 2.99 ERA.

FRISCO FACTS:

  • San Antonio’s offense has forced Frisco’s pitching staff to work in this series. Through the first three games, the ‘Riders have had to throw 445 pitches, or 17.1 per inning. Compare that to San Antonio, a unit that has needed only 353 pitches. This calculates to 13.1 per frame.
  • In particular, Frisco’s starters have labored through their outings. The trio of Robbie Ross (6IP, 1R, 107 pitches), Ben Snyder (6IP, 0R, 100 pitches) and Carlos Pimentel (4IP, 2R, 80 pitches) have ultimately been successful. They have a combined earned run average of 1.69. However, the bullpen has been taxed because the Missions have elevated the pitch counts quickly.
  • Mitch Hilligoss has been the best hitter not only on the RoughRiders, but in the Texas League this postseason. Hilligoss paces all Texas Leaguers with a .385 batting average (5-for-13). The next highest batting average on the ‘Riders is Renny Osuna’s .250 mark.
  • Offense has been tough to come by in both divisional series here in 2011. Hilligoss is one of only three men to hover above .300. San Antonio’s Cody Decker (.364) and Blake Tekotte (.333) are the others.
  • The Arkansas-Northwest Arkansas series, which is now 2-1 in favor of the Travs after the Naturals stayed alive with a 3-1 win last night, has only featured eight runs. Through three games, Roberto Lopez’s .273 average is the best in that set.
  • Low-A Hickory’s season is done after a 2-0 loss at home to Greensboro last night. The Grasshoppers swept the ‘Dads 2-0. High-A Myrtle Beach will face elimination tonight after losing at Kinston 7-0 Friday. Triple-A Round Rock barely avoided a sweep in a 9-8, 11-inning win over Omaha. The Storm Chasers still lead the set 2-1.

BROADCAST INFORMATION:

You can catch tonight’s game, along with every 2011 playoff game, on 1630 KKGM or online here. You will hear from Frisco skipper Steve Buechele in addition to former RoughRider Robbie Erlin on the pre-game show, which begins at 6:35.

Game 1 Preview – Frisco at San Antonio

Texas League South Division Series
Frisco RoughRiders at San Antonio Missions

Wednesday, September 7 – 7:05 p.m.
Game 1 – Series tied 0-0

GAME 1 BACKGROUND:

The RoughRiders begin their sixth postseason journey tonight in San Antonio against a Missions team that finished with minor league baseball’s best record (94-46). These two teams posted the top two records in the entire Texas League. San Antonio won the season series 19-13, which includes an 11-5 mark against the ‘Riders at Nelson Wolff Municipal Stadium. These two franchises have not met in the postseason since 2008 when the RoughRiders swept San Antonio 3-0.

STARTING PITCHERS:

Frisco – LHP Robbie Ross: Ross earned a promotion to Frisco in early August, and he has an ERA of 2.61 in his six starts with the ‘Riders. With High-A Myrtle Beach, Ross went 9-4 with a 2.61 ERA, which was enough to earn him the Carolina League’s Pitcher of the Year honor. The southpaw squared off with San Antonio August 26, and he worked seven innings and gave up three runs (two earned) on seven hits. Left-handed hitters are hitting just .143 against Ross.

San Antonio – RHP Joe Wieland: Wieland joined the Missions after Texas shipped the right-hander to San Diego, along with lefty Robbie Erlin, for big league reliever Mike Adams. Since joining San Antonio, Wieland is 3-1 with a 2.77 ERA in five starts. The Reno, Nevada, native earned a victory against the ‘Riders in his only start against his former club August 25. Overall this year with High-A Myrtle Beach, Frisco and San Antonio, Wieland is 13-4 with an ERA of 1.97, which is fifth in minor league baseball.

FRISCO FACTS:

  • The RoughRiders are 4-4 all-time in playoff series openers, which is also their record in playoff series. When the ‘Riders win Game 1 of a playoff series, they have always won the series. When they lose Game 1, they have always lost the set.
  • Robbie Ross’ Double-A debut came in Game 4 of the Texas League Division Series last year. He gave up seven runs in three-plus innings in a season-ending loss at Midland.
  • Renny Osuna has been the ‘Riders’ best hitter against the Missions this season. In 29 games, Osuna is hitting .328 with 13 RBIs. Frisco’s home run leader, Mike Bianucci, has also enjoyed some success against the Missions. Bianucci hit seven of his 30 homers against San Antonio pitching.
  • The RoughRiders enter the postseason without a player on the disabled list. San Antonio is missing only Beamer Weems, who has been out of action since July 5. The Missions did get an offensive boost with the return of Vince Belnome, who returned to the lineup August 30 after missing a month and a half. Belnome boasted a .327 average against the ‘Riders in 15 games.
  • Three other Rangers affiliates begin postseason play tonight. Triple-A Round Rock hosts Omaha in their first playoff game since 2006. High-A Myrtle Beach is in the playoffs in its first season as a Rangers farm club, and the Pelicans play Kinston. Low-A Hickory travels to Greensboro for the opener of a best-of-three semifinal.

BROADCAST INFORMATION:

You can catch tonight’s game, along with every 2011 playoff game, on 1630 KKGM or online here. You will hear from Frisco skipper Steve Buechele and LoneStarDugout.com’s Jason Cole on the pre-game show, which begins at 6:35.

Playoff Pitching Matchups

The RoughRiders and Missions will begin their divisional round series Wednesday night in San Antonio. At this point, we know the probable pitchers for both Game 1 and Game 2. Let’s go inside the matchups.

Game 1 – Wednesday
Frisco at San Antonio
LHP Robbie Ross (1-1, 2.61 ERA) v. RHP Joe Wieland (3-1, 2.77 ERA)
These two hurlers led the Rangers’ High-A affiliate–the Myrtle Beach Pelicans–to a first-half division title earlier this season. Wieland earned a promotion to Frisco in late June. All the righty did with the RoughRiders was post a 1.23 ERA in seven starts. Two days after tossing a no-hitter in San Antonio, Wieland joined the Missions after the Rangers’ shipped him and Robbie Erlin to San Diego’s system for Mike Adams.

Robbie Ross gets the call for Game 1 Wednesday (Alex Yocum-Beeman).

With the Missions, Wieland still has great numbers. However, his final outing of the regular season was his shakiest at the Double-A level. Wieland surrendered four runs on ten hits in five innings Wednesday night against Midland. He needed more than 100 pitches to get through those five frames.

Ross remained with the Pelicans through July and earned the Carolina League Pitcher of the Year honor. Despite the tougher competition, Ross has had similar success with the RoughRiders. In 38 innings of work, Ross has struck out 36 and given up only 11 earned runs.

The southpaw faced San Antonio August 26 and lasted seven innings. He gave up three runs, two of which were earned, on seven hits. While Ross did not get the win, Frisco earned the victory that night.

Game 2 – Thursday
Frisco at San Antonio
LHP Ben Snyder (11-5, 3.87 ERA) v. RHP Simon Castro (5-6, 4.33 ERA)
After 26 relief appearances, Snyder joined the RoughRiders’ starting rotation at the outset of the second half. Snyder has been steady for Frisco, posting a 4.15 ERA in his 14 starts. Entering the playoffs, Snyder has notched a quality start in five straight efforts, and he has worked through six frames in his last seven starts. He leads the club in wins with 11.

Ben Snyder hopes to continue his success against lefties Thursday night (Alex Yocum-Beeman).

Snyder is dominant against fellow left-handers, who have just a .202 average against the Bellevue, Ohio native. This could be a huge asset against San Antonio. The Missions carry six lefties, including the likes of Jaff Decker, Sawyer Carroll and Blake Tekotte.

The Padres’ number three prospect according to Baseball America, Castro has made 16 starts with the Missions this season. Castro is a specimen at 6’5″, 210 pounds, and he has strong strikeout numbers (73 in 89 1/3 innings). Since August 1, the righty is 2-1 with a 2.37 ERA.

Against the RoughRiders, Castro has been pretty solid. He is only 1-2, but his ERA sits at 2.67. He has whiffed 25 in 27 innings of work over the course of four starts.

Beyond these two games, the RoughRiders’ starters have yet to be announced. For San Antonio, right-hander Casey Kelly will start Game 3. Game 4 and Game 5′s hurlers have not been set yet. Stay tuned for continuing playoff coverage, including an interview with Frisco’s Game 1 starter–Robbie Ross.

- Brian

PlayBall! Preview

We have been working on a special version of the PlayBall! game program for the playoffs, and you can get a sneak peak at the feature story here. It is a summary of the 2011 season, and it brings back some memories from a tremendous five-month.
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The RoughRiders’ Run to the Playoffs

For the sixth time in franchise history, the RoughRiders are in the Texas League playoffs. Find out how the ‘Riders reached this point in our season rewind.

A Texas League season is a grind, with long trips, steamy temperatures, and few breaks. It is a long journey with peaks and valleys. Here in the RoughRiders’ ninth season, there were enough peaks for Frisco to enjoy playoff baseball for the sixth time.

April was a struggle for second-year skipper Steve Buechele’s club. The ‘Riders finished the month in the South Division’s basement at 8-14. The signature moment of the rough April was quite a notable one, though. Martin Perez, the Rangers’ top prospect, tossed a rain-shortened perfect game at Arkansas April 19.

By May 13, the ‘Riders worked their way back to the .500 mark. Later in the month, Frisco staked its claim to second place with a four-game sweep of Midland at Dr Pepper Ballpark. From this point on, the ‘Riders spent more time in second place than any other team in the Texas League.

The RoughRiders received some temporary help in May. Last year’s American League Most Valuable Player Josh Hamilton hit a home run during his two-day rehab stint in Frisco. Nelson Cruz also graced the middle of the ‘Riders’ order for three games while battling back from an injury. Big name pitchers like Neftali Feliz, Tommy Hunter and Brandon Webb rehabbed in Frisco, too.

Leonys Martin's stateside career began in Frisco, and he is now in Arlington. (James Garner)

Also, outfielder Leonys Martin made his stateside debut with the RoughRiders after the Rangers inked Martin to a $15.5 million dollar contract. Martin hit .348 in 29 games with the ‘Riders before heading to Triple-A Round Rock.

Frisco finished the first half strongly, but a 40-30 mark was not good enough to notch a division championship after San Antonio’s 49-win showing. Individually, Tommy Mendonca was the star of the show in June. Mendonca was the Texas League’s Player of the Month after boasting a .375 batting average and driving in 30 runs.

July was a month for the record books in Frisco. The ‘Riders matched a franchise-high in runs in their 19-4 thumping of Corpus Christi July 22. Mendonca hit three of the RoughRiders’ record-setting eight home runs.

One week later, Joe Wieland became the first RoughRider to single-handedly throw a nine-inning no-hitter at San Antonio. Less than 48 hours after the no-no, the Rangers dealt Wieland and Robbie Erlin to San Diego for big league reliever Mike Adams. As a result, the former Frisco duo joined San Antonio’s loaded rotation.

The 'Riders begin their 2011 playoff journey Wednesday in San Antonio (Alex Yocum-Beeman).

The RoughRiders spent the month of August holding off Midland for a playoff berth. They officially clinched a spot in the season’s final week, a few days after the ‘Riders took three of four from their first round opponent—San Antonio.

Over the course of 140 games, the ‘Riders played well enough to earn a chance to vie for the Texas League’s richest prize. The club has been among the best in the league in most categories this season, and Frisco is well positioned to have a September to remember for the first time since 2004—the franchise’s first and only championship season.

The RoughRiders have won regularly here in 2011, and now only six playoff wins separate the ‘Riders from a title.

- Brian

Playoff Push: Why Rooting for San Antonio Is OK

With the RoughRiders’ 3-1 win over Midland and San Antonio’s 6-0 victory over Corpus Christi, Frisco is closing in on its sixth ever playoff appearance. Ultimately, the ‘Riders’ standing in the second-half race means nothing at this point because they already have the wild card spot secured if one is needed.

The first-half champion meets the second-half champion in the Texas League’s divisional round. However, San Antonio won the first half and lead the second half by six games with nine to go. This is where the wild card comes into play.

When one team wins both division titles in a season, the team with the second best overall record punches a ticket to the postseason. Frisco (73-58) already has the second-best mark clinched in the South Division, with Midland (59-72) and Corpus Christi (48-83) well below .500.

The only thing that can prevent the ‘Riders from going to the playoffs is a huge comeback by Midland for the second-half crown (Corpus has already been eliminated from the race). Midland’s “elimination number,” which is calculated just like a magic number but isn’t nearly as magical, sits at three. Thus, if the number of Midland losses plus San Antonio wins from now until the regular season equals or surpasses three, San Antonio wins the second half and Frisco claims the wild card.

Former RoughRider Robbie Erlin can help the 'Riders inch closer to the playoffs (James Garner).

With that being said, let’s set the table for the two games that matter tonight:

Frisco (Ben Snyder; 9-5, 4.21) vs. Midland (Gary Daley; 6-5, 4.50)
6:00 p.m. – Citibank Ballpark

The ‘Riders have owned Midland this season, posting a 15-8 record against the men from the Permian Basin. Four of Ben Snyder’s nine wins have come against the RockHounds, and his ERA sits at 4.26 in his eight appearances against them. However, Gary Daley loves facing the ‘Riders. Daley is 3-0 with a 1.19 ERA in 22 2/3 frames in three starts against Frisco in ’11. The rest of Midland’s pitching staff has an ERA of 5.68 against the ‘Riders.

San Antonio (Robbie Erlin; 0-0, 2.12) v. Corpus Christi (Erick Abreu; 6-6, 4.07)
6:05 p.m. – Whataburger Field
The Padres monitor their minor league pitchers’ innings more than most systems, so Robbie Erlin has only worked 17 innings in his four starts with the Missions. In his last two efforts, Erlin has tossed only five innings, so don’t expect a workhorse-like effort from the former RoughRider tonight. Abreu has labored against San Antonio this year (7 IP, 7 ER, 11 H). The Missions have a 19-4 mark against Corpus this season, which is the second-most lopsided season series in the TL (Frisco’s 10-2 record against Tulsa is the most lopsided).

If the ‘Riders win and the Missions lose tonight, then Frisco can clinch a playoff spot as early as tomorrow. Then, it’s time to think playoffs in North Texas for the second straight season.

- Brian

Wieland’s Return to Frisco

July 31 was a big day for both the RoughRiders and the San Antonio Missions. Two days after Joe Wieland pitched a no-hitter in San Antonio, Wieland and Robbie Erlin made the surreal walk from the visitor clubhouse to the home clubhouse at the Wolff. Wieland and Erlin were traded to San Diego for big league reliever Mike Adams.

Joe Wieland blanked the 'Riders over five innings Thursday night in Frisco (Alex Yocum-Beeman).

Erlin squared off against the ‘Riders August 8 and held them to one run on two hits in six innings. Last night at Dr Pepper Ballpark, Wieland was just as good.

Wieland blanked his former club over five quick innings. The right-hander struck out three and walked two. He only allowed one runner to reach third base. Before he threw pitch number one, the Missions led 3-0. After an inning and a half, San Antonio extended that lead to 8-0.

When you combine his stats during his time in Myrtle Beach, Frisco and San Antonio this season, Wieland is 13-3 with a 1.79 earned run average. In 150 2/3 innings, Wieland has struck out 144 and walked 18. In his first four starts with the Missions, Wieland is 3-0 with a 1.71 ERA.

Yesterday, Wieland was our pre-game guest. He discussed his comfort level in San Antonio, his excitement for the playoffs, and his scheduled start in game one of the first round of the playoffs, which will most likely come against the ‘Riders.

You can listen to Wieland’s interview below.

- Brian

Storylines for Frisco-San Antonio

Unless Midland can erase an eight-game deficit and win the second-half title in the South Division, the Frisco RoughRiders and the San Antonio Missions will square off in the first round of the Texas League playoffs.

The RoughRiders have had some great moments against the Missions this year (James Garner).

These two clubs kick off a four-game series tonight at Dr Pepper Ballpark, and it will act as a preview of that best-of-five series that is set to begin September 7. Let’s take you through some of the storylines.

1. Momentum Against the Missions?
The RoughRiders have played San Antonio tough this season, but they have only been able to muster a 10-18 mark. The Missions are the best team in all of full-season minor league baseball (86-40), so there’s no shame in that. However, to win a championship, the ‘Riders must get past them. It would be a big boost to win this series, especially because Frisco has only one series victory against the Missions in seven tries this season.

2. Ross, Hankins Face San Antonio
Ben Snyder (0-2, 3.75 ERA in 24 innings) and Carlos Pimentel (1-0, 2.70 ERA in 33 1/3 innings) have had success against the Missions this season, and they will pitch during the series. However, Derek Hankins has only seen them once (five scoreless innings) and Robbie Ross has yet to face the Missions. The Snyder-Pimentel-Hankins-Ross quartet figures to be the ‘Riders’ rotation right now, with Neil Ramirez building up strength as the club’s other starter. These four pitchers must have success to beat San Antonio.

The 'Riders saw Robbie Erlin earlier this month. They will face Joe Wieland Thursday (Alex Yocum-Beeman).

3. Wieland Back in Frisco
The RoughRiders saw Robbie Erlin in the Missions’ previous visit to Dr Pepper Ballpark, but they missed Joe Wieland. This time, it’s the other way around. Wieland, who is 2-0 with a 2.25 ERA since joining the Missions, will start Thursday. Erlin held the ‘Riders to just one run on two hits in his first game against them, and Wieland gets his chance in two days.

4. Missions’ Offense Sputtering?
San Antonio is 16-4 this month, yet they are hitting a season-low .244 as a team. Obviously, it helps that the club has a 2.17 team ERA in August, but the offense has been declining ever since its remarkable April. Take a look at the team’s batting averages by month: .315/.268/.264/.252/.244. San Antonio averages just 4.8 runs per game against Frisco, so we’ll see if the ‘Riders can continue to slow them down.

5. Ready for a Late-Season Surge?
Yes, San Antonio has been the better team over the course of 126 games. However, the ‘Riders and Missions will (likely) meet in a best-of-five series in early September. Are the RoughRiders ready to start that last-minute run and carry the momentum into the playoffs? Following an 0-4 start to the road trip, the ‘Riders bounced back with back-to-back wins. This can be a chance to carry that work into and through a series with the heavy favorite in the Texas League.

This series should be fun. We hope you enjoy! More coverage to come soon.

- Brian

Insider Blog Rewind

We continue to receive tremendous support every day with the ‘Riders Insider Blog, and it is greatly appreciated. We have posted plenty of content about the RoughRiders both on and off the field, and we wanted to take a look back at ten of our most popular posts from the last few weeks.

Becoming Martin Perez (July 15): A look at how Martin Perez became the top prospect in the Rangers’ system during his two-year stint in Frisco.

The ‘Riders Driver (July 21): Carlos Coleman is the man behind the wheel for the RoughRiders on every road trip. Learn about him and his connection to coach Mike Tomlin and the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Former RoughRiders Thriving in Arlington (July 24): More than half of the Rangers have played with the ‘Riders at some point. Find out who right here.

Press Box Junkies (July 28): A look at the four men who make sure everything that happens at Dr Pepper Ballpark actually counts.

Wieland’s No-Hitter on Twitter (July 29): Fans’ real-time reaction to Joe Wieland’s no-hitter against San Antonio.

Erlin, Wieland, Buechele react to trade (August 1): Interviews with Robbie Erlin and Joe Wieland, who were shipped to San Diego’s system for big league reliever Mike Adams. Also, a chat with skipper Steve Buechele about the deal.

RoughRiders’ All-Gridiron Team (August 3): If the RoughRiders’ roster played football instead of baseball, this is what the depth chart would look like.

24 hours of the RoughRiders (August 8): A look at our lives before, during and after a home game.

Behind the scenes: Inside the clubhouse (August 9): A journey (with pictures) throughout the “off-limits” areas of Dr Pepper Ballpark.

Hanging with the RoughRiders’ Crew (August 12): An inside look at what it takes to become a member of the most exciting entertainment group in the Texas League.

If you have any ideas for stories, please feel free to leave a comment. We are always looking for more ideas!

Thanks for following along, everyone!

- Brian

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