Results tagged ‘ Ronald Guzman ’

Guzman’s got a good glove

For as impressive a start as Ronald Guzman is having at the plate, perhaps his defense has been the more impressive feature of his game so far this season.

Guzman, who holds a career fielding percentage of .986, has played error-free baseball in 16 starts at first base this season, after making 16 errors in 130 games between Class-A Hickory and Class A-Advanced High Desert in 2015.

“I’ve been having some tough plays, but I feel a lot more athletic this year, so I feel like I’m able to make those plays,” said Guzman.

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Guzman is one of three first basemen in the Texas League with a perfect fielding percentage (minimum 100 total chances)

Those tough plays have included scoops, dives, and leaps, which fit the job description of most first basemen. But Guzman has also shown an ability that a lot of first basemen don’t have: going into the splits to receive throws.

“I’ve always been flexible,” he said. “I don’t usually use it very often, but when it’s needed, I will go for it…When I feel like it’s going to be a close play, I always think about doing the splits to get the out.”

Guzman, who’s appearing in Double-A for the first time in his career this season, worked on his lower-body positioning during the offseason, in an attempt to make himself more ready to make a play at first base. He says it has helped, especially, when it comes to fielding ground balls.

“I know defense is a big deal, especially up here,” said the 21-year-old. “You’ve got to be able to make the plays for your pitcher, for your teammates. So I felt like it was really important [to improve in the offseason] and I’m pretty happy with the plays that I’ve done.”

– Ryan

Baseball term of the day: Gloveman – A good defensive player

(term from The Dickson Baseball Dictionary

Looking Back at Pre-Season Storylines

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We’re already a week into the season, and the RoughRiders are off to a scorching-hot start at 5-1. Now, the team finally gets to come home and play at Dr Pepper Ballpark. As we get ready for the opening home stand, which starts tomorrow against Northwest Arkansas, it seems like a good time to check back in quickly with some of the keys I outlined last week before the season started.

1) The outfield is loaded

As expected, the crew in the outfield has been doing quite a bit of damage early on this year. Lewis Brinson and Ryan Cordell are both hitting .375 with 3 doubles. Brinson already has four multi-hit games and Cordell has three. But perhaps the biggest surprise has been Joe Jackson, who is the only outfielder that came in without any experience in Double-A. Jackson started 6-14 (.429) with three extra-base hits in his first three games, with a team-best 6 RBI.

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Ronald Guzman is heating up over his last three games

2) The potential is there… 

One of the preseason questions was how well the seven Double-A newcomers would fare early in the season. So far, it’s a resounding success. We’ve already detailed Jackson’s success, but Ronald Guzman is swinging better than anyone right now. After starting the year 0-6, Guzman is 8-15 in his last three games, including a monster home run Monday night. Plus, Isiah Kiner-Falefa has anchored the leadoff spot in all six games, and notched a four-hit night Monday.

On the pitching side, all three newcomers to Double-A had strong first weeks. Richelson Pena was perfect for 5 2/3 innings on Monday, and fellow Double-A newcomer Reed Garrett helped him finish off a combined one-hit shutout of Arkansas. Sam Wolff also logged a quality start his first time out, going 6 innings and allowing just 1 run on 3 hits.

3) Pitching looks to improve

So far, pitching has definitely been one of the strong sides for the RoughRiders. Frank Lopez, Connor Sadzeck and Sam Wolff each turned in quality starts in the opening series at Arkansas. Pena’s perfection on Monday marked yet another impressive start for Frisco. And on the whole, the bullpen was reliable, allowing just 4 earned runs in 23 1/3 innings of work (1.54 ERA). Meanwhile, starters had a 1.26 ERA through the first five games. We’ll learn a lot about the staff in the coming series against Northwest Arkansas. The RoughRiders held the Naturals to 4 runs in the three games they played, before Northwest Arkansas put up 30 runs in three games against Midland. Another strong showing could further validate an improvement in the pitching staff.

– Ryan

Baseball term of the day: Balkamania – The furor during the early weeks of the 1988 season when the balk rule was reinterpreted along stricter lines.

(term from The Dickson Baseball Dictionary)

Saddle Up: Riders at NW Arkansas (4/9/16)

GAME #3
Frisco RoughRiders (2-0) at Northwest Arkansas Naturals (0-2)
Saturday, April 9 – 6:05 pm
Arvest Ballpark (Springdale, AR)
—————————————–
Audio: Listen online or through the TuneIn Radio app (Nathan Barnett and Steve Goldberg)
Watch: MiLB.TV (NW Arkansas feed)
Live stats: Click here
—————————————–
This series: Game 3 of 3 (Riders lead, 2-0)
This season: Game 3 of 12 (Riders lead, 2-0)

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Lewis Brinson has posted back-to-back multi-hit games to begin the 2016 season

FRISCO LINEUP

  1. Isiah Kiner-Falefa – 3B
  2. Ryan Cordell – RF
  3. Lewis Brinson – CF
  4. Ronald Guzman – 1B
  5. Zach Cone – LF
  6. Joe Jackson – DH
  7. Luis Marte – SS
  8. Kellin Deglan – C
  9. Luis Mendez – 2B

RHP Sam Wolff (0-0, -.–)

RIDERS RECAP: Friday at NW Arkansas (W, 6-3)

Box Score
Game Recap
Highlights
Postgame Notes

SETTING THE STAGE (full game notes here)

LAST TIME OUT: Shutting out Northwest Arkansas until the eighth inning, the RoughRiders moved ahead with a five-run sixth inning and held on for a 6-3 win over the Naturals on Friday night at Arvest Ballpark…CONNOR SADZECK posted six shutout frames en route to a win in his season debut…LEWIS BRINSONALEX BURGRYAN CORDELL, and JOE JACKSON all collected two hits…Frisco led 5-0 until the eighth, when the Naturals scored a run off MATT BUSH…Frisco got the run back in the ninth before the Naturals scored two more in the ninth…RYNE SLACK entered to pick up the final two outs and the save.

TOP OF THE CLASS: The RoughRiders enter the season with six players ranked in either Baseball America or MLBPipeline.com’s Rangers Top 30 Prospects. LEWIS BRINSON, the No. 2 prospect in Rangers’ farm system according to MLBPipeline.com and Baseball America, returns to Frisco. He appeared in 28 games for the Riders last season, hitting .291 with six home runs and 23 RBI before being promoted to Round Rock in August. Brinson is joined by five other players named in the lists—RYAN CORDELL (No. 15 in MLB, No. 11 in BA), RONALD GUZMAN (23, 29), JOSE LECLERC (25, 21),SAM WOLFF (26, NR), and CONNOR SADZECK (27, 26).

STREAKING START: The RoughRiders have had a fair amount of success following an Opening Day victory, and last night’s victory continued the trend. Frisco now has a 5-3 record in the second game of a season after winning the first, and they are 5-1 in those games since 2007.

THREE’S A CROWD: While the Riders have reached the 2-0 mark five times, the team has only improved to 3-0 once. Frisco opened the 2008 season with five straight victories, all occurring on the road against Springfield and Arkansas.

PUTTING THE ‘O’ IN FRISCO: The RoughRiders began this season in a fashion that has never been done before in team history. Frisco kept Northwest Arkansas off the board for 16 straight innings before allowing a run on a one-out sacrifice fly in the bottom of the eighth yesterday. The previous record for consecutive scoreless innings to begin a RoughRiders season was 13 2/3 in 2012.

WELCOMING WOLFF: Right-handed pitcher SAM WOLFF is set to make his Double-A debut for Frisco tonight and his first start since 2014. Wolff missed the entire 2015 season with a torn Achilles following an impressive season with High-A Myrtle Beach the year before. He is currently ranked the No. 26 prospect in the Rangers’ organization, according to MLB Pipeline.

HOW SWEEP IT IS: After winning the first two games of this series, the Riders are back in action trying to accomplish something that was only done once last season. The Riders swept one series in 2015, and it was a rain-shortened two-game road set against Northwest Arkansas on July 10. The last time Frisco swept a series of three or more games was August 15-17, 2014 at Tulsa.

RANGER DANGER: All four of the Rangers’ full-season affiliates are off to 2-0 starts in the 2016 season. Yesterday, everyone in the Texas farm system won, including the big league club. The Rangers beat the Angels 7-3 behind a third inning two-run homer by Rougned Odor (Riders ’13-14). For the second straight game, Triple-A Round Rock scored all their runs in the first three innings and held on to defeat Iowa 4-3. Francisco Mendoza (Riders ‘13-15) gave up a run in the ninth but worked around it to earn his first save. High-A High Desert put up a four-spot in the first inning and for the second straight game, Travis Demeritte (No. 21 prospect, MLB Pipeline) hit two home runs in the 9-5 victory over Inland Empire. Single-A Hickory topped Kannapolis 8-2.

MATT’S ALL, FOLKSMATT BUSH made his debut in the Rangers’ organization Thursday and earned his first save since August 24, 2011 with Double-A Montgomery. Originally a shortstop, the San Diego native was selected No. 1 overall by his hometown Padres in the 2004 MLB Draft. Bush was converted to a pitcher prior to the 2007 season and later spent two years in the Tampa Bay Rays’ farm system.

Saddle Up: Riders at NW Arkansas (4/8/16)

GAME #2
Frisco RoughRiders (1-0, 1-0 1st half) at Northwest Arkansas Naturals (0-1, 0-1)
Friday, April 8 – 7:05 pm
Arvest Ballpark (Springdale, AR)
—————————————–
Audio: Listen online or through the TuneIn Radio app (Nathan Barnett and Steve Goldberg)
Watch: MiLB.TV (NW Arkansas feed)
—————————————–
This series: Game 2 of 3 (Riders lead, 1-0)
This season: Game 2 of 12 (Riders lead, 1-0)

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Connor Sadzeck makes the start for Frisco tonight

FRISCO LINEUP

  1. Isiah Kiner-Falefa – 3B
  2. Ryan Cordell – LF
  3. Lewis Brinson – CF
  4. Alex Burg – C
  5. Ronald Guzman – 1B
  6. Alberto Triunfel – 2B
  7. Preston Beck – RF
  8. Joe Jackson – DH
  9. Luis Marte – SS

RHP Connor Sadzeck (0-0, -.–)

RIDERS RECAP: Thursday at NW Arkansas (W, 2-0)

Box Score
Game Recap
Highlights
RoughRiders Rundown

SETTING THE STAGE (full game notes here)

LAST TIME OUT: The RoughRiders shut out the Northwest Arkansas Naturals 2-0 on Opening Night, behind six innings of scoreless from FRANK LOPEZ and a trio of relievers. LEWIS BRINSON notched a pair of hits, while RYAN CORDELL picked up the lone extra-base hit, an RBI double in the third that put the Riders ahead for good. Northwest Arkansas had its chances with a lead-off double in the fifth and the bases loaded in the eighth but went 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position, leaving seven men on and hitting into a game-ending double-play. MATT BUSH picked up his first save of the year in his first outing since 2011, facing the minimum around a single from Zane Evans.

TOP OF THE CLASS: The RoughRiders enter the season with six players ranked in either Baseball America or MLBPipeline.com’s Rangers Top 30 Prospects. LEWIS BRINSON, the No. 2 prospect in Rangers’ farm system according to MLBPipeline.com and Baseball America, returns to Frisco. He appeared in 28 games for the Riders last season, hitting .291 with six home runs and 23 RBI before being promoted to Round Rock in August. Brinson is joined by five other players named in the lists—RYAN CORDELL (No. 15 in MLB, No. 11 in BA), RONALD GUZMAN (23, 29), JOSE LECLERC (25, 21),SAM WOLFF (26, NR), and CONNOR SADZECK (27, 26).

STREAKING START: Over the course of team history, the RoughRiders have had a fair amount of success following an Opening Day victory. Frisco has a 4-3 record in the second game of a season after winning the first, and they are 4-1 in these games since 2007. The best start to a season was when the Riders reeled off five straight wins on the road against Springfield and Arkansas to begin the 2008 campaign.

STAY IN THE YARD: Last night, Frisco and Northwest Arkansas played the only Texas League game that did not feature a home run. Bruce Caldwell (Springfield) and Mott Hyde (Corpus Christi) both hit solo home runs in their teams’ respective Opening Day victories. The Midland-Arkansas contest featured three home runs. Eric Aguilera (Arkansas) mashed two solo shots to give him an early league lead, and Jaycob Brugman (Midland) hit a three-run dinger with two outs in the first inning.

RANGER DANGER: Although the big league club lost 4-3 to the Angels on an Albert Pujols walk-off single, yesterday was a successful day for all the Rangers’ affiliates. Triple-A Round Rock jumped out to an early 7-1 lead over Iowa and cruised to a 7-3 win. Jared Hoying (Riders ‘12-13) hit a two-out grand slam in the third, and Chad Smith (Riders ’15) earned the win in relief. High-A High Desert doubled up Inland Empire 10-5 behind Travis Demeritte’s (No. 21 prospect, MLB Pipeline) two home runs, and Single-A Hickory topped Kannapolis 5-1.

MATT’S ALL, FOLKS: Last night, MATT BUSH made his debut in the Rangers’ organization and earned his first save since August 24, 2011 with Double-A Montgomery. Originally a shortstop, the San Diego native was selected No. 1 overall by his hometown Padres in the 2004 MLB Draft. Bush was converted to a pitcher prior to the 2007 season and later spent two years in the Tampa Bay Rays’ farm system.

KEEP THEM OFF THE BOARD: All of CONNOR SADZECK’s 16 career wins have come when allowing two earned runs or less. He has allowed two earned runs in a win on just one occasion, with Single-A Hickory on May 25, 2013 against Kannapolis. Sadzeck has allowed three or more runs 15 times in his career without a victory.

FRESH START FOR FRISCO: After finishing 2015 with a 60-79 overall record, the RoughRiders are looking to improve this season. Frisco went 29-41 in the first half and 31-38 in the second half last year. The Riders ended the season in third place, 28.5 games behind Corpus Christi, in the final Texas League South division standings.

FAMILIAR FACES IN FRISCO: The Riders’ initial roster features 18 players who appeared in Frisco last season. Dallas native PRESTON BECK is back home in the Metroplex once again after playing 93 games with the Riders last year. Despite the large number of returning players this year, only five were on the 2015 Opening Day roster.

SKIPPING INTO THE RECORD BOOKSJOE MIKULIK has returned for his second season with the RoughRiders. He is the eighth manager in RoughRiders history, and the fourth to return for a second consecutive year. The veteran skipper is in his 18th season as a Minor League manager and has 1,122 all-time wins. 938 of his victories were recorded with the Asheville Tourists of the South Atlantic League (Class A), setting both a team and league record.

Saddle Up: Riders at NW Arkansas (4/7/16)

GAME #1
Frisco RoughRiders (0-0) at Northwest Arkansas Naturals (0-0)
Thursday, April 7 – 6:25 pm
Arvest Ballpark (Springdale, AR)

AUDIO: Listen online or through the TuneIn Radio app (Nathan Barnett and Steve Goldberg)
WATCH: MiLB.TV (NW Arkansas feed)Photo Apr 05, 1 08 56 PM

FRISCO LINEUP

  1. Isiah Kiner-Falefa – 3B
  2. Ryan Cordell – RF
  3. Lewis Brinson – CF
  4. Alex Burg – DH
  5. Ronald Guzman – 1B
  6. Zach Cone – LF
  7. Alberto Triunfel – 2B
  8. Kellin Deglan – C
  9. Luis Marte – SS

STARTING PITCHER: LHP Frank Lopez (0-0, 0.00)

GAME NOTES (full game notes here)

TOP OF THE CLASS: The RoughRiders enter the season with six players ranked in either Baseball America or MLBPipeline.com’s Rangers Top 30 Prospects. LEWIS BRINSON, the No. 2 prospect in Rangers’ farm system according to MLBPipeline.com and Baseball America, returns to Frisco. He appeared in 28 games for the Riders last season, hitting .291 with six home runs and 23 RBI before being promoted to Round Rock in August. Brinson is joined by five other players named in the lists—RYAN CORDELL (No. 15 in MLB, No. 11 in BA), RONALD GUZMAN (23, 29), JOSE LECLERC (25, 21), SAM WOLFF (26, NR), and CONNOR SADZECK (27, 26).

FRESH START FOR FRISCO: After finishing 2015 with a 60-79 overall record, the RoughRiders are looking to improve this season. Frisco went 29-41 in the first half and 31-38 in the second half last year. The Riders ended the season in third place, 28.5 games behind Corpus Christi, in the final Texas League South division standings.

OPENING DAY HISTORY: The RoughRiders are looking to improve their Opening Day record of 7-6 as the team embarks on their 14th season. They have a 3-5 clip when beginning play on the road, compared to a 4-1 advantage when starting a season at Dr Pepper Ballpark. The Riders have lost their last three Opening Day games, being outscored by a total of 18-5. Five of Frisco’s six Texas League playoff appearances have come in seasons when the Riders won on Opening Day.

RIDING TO THE MAJORS: The RoughRiders have a rich history of sending players from Double-A to the big leagues in a timely manner. Nine of the Riders’ 13 Opening Day starting pitchers have appeared in Major League Baseball. Thirty of the 92 position players from Frisco’s Opening Day starting lineups have also played in MLB. Eleven former Riders made Major League debuts last year, and three were in the Rangers’ starting lineup on Opening Day this year (Elvis Andrus, Mitch Moreland, and Rougned Odor).

FAMILIAR FACES IN FRISCO: The Riders’ initial roster features 17 players who appeared in Frisco last season. Dallas native PRESTON BECK is back home in the Metroplex once again after playing 93 games with the Riders last year. Despite the large number of returning players this year, only five were on the 2015 Opening Day roster. Nobody started last year’s opener on April 9 against Arkansas, but Cody Buckel and Luis Mendez both made appearances.

BRINGING BACK BUSHMATT BUSH is set to make his debut in the Rangers’ organization. Originally a shortstop, the San Diego native was selected No. 1 overall by his hometown Padres in the 2004 MLB Draft. Bush was converted to a pitcher prior to the 2007 season and later spent two years in the Tampa Bay Rays’ farm system. He last played for Double-A Montgomery in 2011. The right-hander dominated in a limited sample size in Spring Training “A” games and hitting 100 mph once on the ballpark radar gun.

SKIPPING INTO THE RECORD BOOKSJOE MIKULIK returns for his second season with the RoughRiders. He is the eighth manager in RoughRiders history and the fourth to return for a second consecutive year. The veteran skipper enters his 18th season as a Minor League manager and has 1,121 all-time wins. 938 of his victories were recorded with the Asheville Tourists of the South Atlantic League (Class A), setting both a team and league record.

THE FLYIN’ HAWAIIANISIAH KINER-FALEFA, one of the eight players who did not appear in Frisco last season, is the youngest member of the Riders’ initial roster (21). The Honolulu native had a .296/.356/.341 slash line in 98 games with Hickory and High Desert in 2015.

ON THE ROAD AGAIN: April 5, 2013 was the last time the Riders started a season on the road. It was also the only time Frisco has ever opened play in the state of Arkansas. The Riders were shut out 7-0 by the Arkansas Travelers in the first game of a doubleheader after Opening Night was rained out in North Little Rock.

-Ryan

Season Storylines to Watch

We’ve finally made it to Opening Day. As I wrote Monday, it’s always one of my favorite days of the baseball season. The RoughRiders begin their 14th season tonight in Springdale, Arkansas against the Northwest Arkansas Naturals at 6:25. As they get ready to roll tonight, here are some storylines worth watching for this season:

Photo Apr 05, 12 56 47 PM

  1. THE OUTFIELD IS LOADED

This really is the theme throughout the Rangers organization, and that wealth of talent is probably part of the reason some really good players are not higher up in the organization to start the year. Lewis Brinson has drawn a lot of the attention on this roster, but he’s far from the only talented outfielder on the squad. Ryan Cordell was with Brinson in Major League camp this spring and looks to build off a good season last year. Preston Beck is back with the Riders and looking to continue improving. Zach Cone has been tearing the cover off the ball all spring, and Joe Jackson is coming off a nice season at High Desert. Early on, it will be interesting to see how the coaching staff rotates those five through the outfield and what trio proves to be the regular core for the RoughRiders.

  1. THE POTENTIAL IS THERE…

While 17 of the 25 players on the Opening Day roster have been with Frisco before, some of the first-timers at the Double-A level could be valuable assets to the squad if they’re able to keep up the level of play they had in the lower levels. Ronald Guzman comes off a strong year between Hickory and High Desert last season (131 G, .283 avg, 28 2B, 7 3B, 12 HR, 87 RBI), and he looked to be swinging well in Spring Training, too. Zach Cone is another guy who’s been swinging well and is coming off one of the best years of his career (113 G, .276, 27 2B, 18 HR, 71 RBI), which included a late-season promotion to Frisco. On the pitching side, both Reed Garrett and Richelson Pena have had a strong last few years in the lower levels of the farm system. Don’t look into their High Desert stats too much, given how much of a hitter’s league the California League is. With all of these guys, it’s just potential for now. But there’s reason to believe that at least some of them can continue playing at a similar level to what they did in the Single-A ranks.

  1. PITCHING LOOKS TO IMPROVE

Last year, it was “rough riding” on the mound. Frisco finished last in the Texas League in team ERA (4.70) and finished at or near the bottom in numerous other categories, too. Nine of the 13 pitchers on the initial roster pitched in Frisco last year, so perhaps that previous experience will pay off this season. The other four bring reason for optimism, too. Both Reed Garrett and Richelson Pena had good seasons in High Desert last year, with Garrett finishing tied for the California League lead in complete games (2) and Pena ending the year tied for the most wins in the league (10). Sam Wolff returns from injury, and the flamethrower Matt Bush is sure to offer a great anchor at the back end of the bullpen.

Those are just some of the bigger picture storylines to watch. Others will develop as the season goes along, and there will be some individual storylines to monitor, too. But enough speculation; first pitch is almost here, and we’ll see just how well the 2016 RoughRiders come together.

-Ryan

Baseball term of the day: Teaser – A slow, deceiving pitch to tempt a batter.

(term from The Dickson Baseball Dictionary

It’s a RoughRiders World

This week, the initial RoughRiders roster for the 2016 season was announced. The 26 players on the roster come to Frisco from four nations and 12 different states in the U.S. Here is some addition information about the cities each of our players call home.

RoughRidersWorld

Simi Valley, California – Cody Buckel

  • Population: 126,871
  • Fun fact: Home of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library
  • Notable baseball player: Jered Weaver

San Diego, California – Matt Bush

  • Population: 1,381,069
  • Fun fact: Nicknamed “The Birthplace of California”
  • Notable baseball player: Ted Williams

Henrico, Virginia – Reed Garrett

  • Population: 321,924
  • County surrounding Richmond, VA
  • Fun fact: Home of Richmond International Raceway, home to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races twice a year
  • Notable baseball player: Jackie Bradley, Jr.

Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic – Juan Grullon, Victor Payano, and Jose Valdespina

  • Population: 1,506,233
  • Capital and largest city in the Dominican Republic
  • Fun fact: Oldest continuously inhabited European settlement in the Americas (founded in 1496)
  • Notable baseball player: Albert Pujols

Esperanza, Dominican Republic – Jose Leclerc

  • Population: 70,588
  • Fun fact: One of three municipalities in the Valverde province
  • Notable baseball player: Hector Noesi

San Jose de Guanipa, Venezuela – Frank Lopez

  • Population: 76,914
  • Fun fact: Also known as El Tigrito
  • Notable baseball player: Odubel Herrera (RoughRiders ’13-14)

Easton, Maryland – Adam Parks

  • Population: 16,687
  • Fun fact: Location of the Third Haven Meeting House, the oldest Quaker meeting house
  • Notable baseball player: Harold Baines

Valverde Mao, Dominican RepublicRichelson Pena

  • Population: 106,818
  • Nicknamed “Ciudad de los Bellos Atardeceres” (City of the Beautiful Sunsets)
  • Fun fact: Holds the record for the highest temperature ever recorded in the Dominican Republic (109.4 degrees Fahrenheit, 43 degrees Celsius)
  • Notable baseball player: Pedro Borbon

Crystal Lake, Illinois – Connor Sadzeck

  • Population: 40,743
  • Fun fact: The tradition of giving gold coins to the Salvation Army anonymously began in 1982
  • Notable baseball player: Mike Myers

Ninety Six, South Carolina – Ryne Slack

  • Population: 1,998
  • Fun fact: Origin of the city’s name is a mystery
  • Notable baseball player: Bill Voiselle

Rapid City, South Dakota – Sam Wolff

  • Population: 67,956
  • Fun fact: Known as the “Gateway to the Black Hills” and the “City of Presidents”
  • Notable baseball player: Mark Ellis

Des Moines, Washington – Alex Burg

  • Population: 31,011
  • Fun fact: City was homesteaded by a group from Des Moines, Iowa
  • Notable baseball player: Brandon Mann

West Islip, New York – Pat Cantwell

  • Population: 28,335
  • Fun fact: Situated on the South Shore of Long Island, exactly halfway between Manhattan and Southampton, N.Y. (45 miles from each)
  • Notable baseball player: Nick Tropeano

Langley, British Columbia, Canada – Kellin Deglan

  • Population: 25,081
  • Fun fact: Langley represented Canada in 2011 Little League World Series
  • Notable baseball player: Brett Lawrie

La Vega, Dominican RepublicRonald Guzman

  • Population: 235,698
  • Fun fact: The city was moved to the bank of the Camu River after an earthquake in 1564
  • Notable baseball player: Jonathan Villar

Honolulu, Hawaii – Isiah Kiner-Falefa

  • Population: 390,738
  • Fun fact: Jackie Robinson played football with the Honolulu Bears, a semi-pro, racially integrated team in 1941. Robinson left Honolulu on December 5, two days before the World War II attack on Pearl Harbor.
  • Notable baseball player: Ron Darling

San Francisco de Macoris, Dominican RepublicLuis Marte

  • Population: 245,397
  • Fun fact: Capital of Duarte province
  • Notable baseball player: Hanser Alberto (RoughRiders ’13-14)

San Juan de los Morros, Venezuela – Luis Mendez

  • Population: 125,347
  • Fun fact: Capital of Guarico state
  • Notable baseball player: Franklin Morales

Licey Al Medio, Dominican RepublicAlberto Triunfel

  • Population: 69,321
  • Fun fact: Santiago’s Cibao International Airport is located here
  • Notable baseball player: Gabriel Arias

Dallas, Texas – Preston Beck

  • Population: 1,281,047
  • Fun fact: Dallas is the fourth most populous metropolitan area in the United States
  • Notable baseball player: Ernie Banks

Tamarac, Florida – Lewis Brinson

  • Population: 63,793
  • Fun fact: Motto is “The City for your Life!”
  • Notable baseball player: Matt Ford

Stone Mountain, Georgia – Zach Cone

  • Population: 5,802
  • Fun fact: Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech includes the line “let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia”
  • Notable baseball player: Brandon Phillips

Orangevale, California – Ryan Cordell

  • Population: 33,960
  • Fun fact: Known for its rolling hills that offer the best views of the Sierra Nevada mountain range and its foothills
  • Notable baseball player: Manny Parra

Simpsonville, South Carolina – Joe Jackson

  • Population: 19,056
  • Fun fact: Home of the 2008 Little League Softball Champions
  • Notable baseball player: Red Barbary

– Steve

Baseball term of the day: arm behind the barn – the undiscovered pitching phenom that early scouts were always in search of

(term from The Dickson Baseball Dictionary)

Breaking Down the 2016 Roster

We’ve all been ready for opening day since the final out of last season. After last week’s excursion to Spring Training, we were that much more excited. And now, we’re about as ready as we can be, after the Rangers announced the Riders initial roster yesterday.

The big excitement, of course, surrounds Lewis Brinson’s return to Frisco after a stellar 2015 campaign. Riders fans can thank the log jam of outfielders in Arlington and Round Rock for the fact that Brinson is coming back, because he’d probably be starting in Triple-A in almost every other organization right now.

But aside from Brinson, there’s a lot to look forward to this summer. Eighteen of the 26 players on this year’s roster (9 pitchers and 9 hitters) donned a RoughRiders uniform for at least part of last season, while some of the organization’s rising stars descend on Dr Pepper Ballpark for the first time.

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Jose Leclerc is a candidate for the starting rotation this season

PITCHERS 

You’d hope the pitching staff can only go up after a rough year in 2015, in which Frisco pitchers combined for a 4.70 staff ERA. There seemed to be a lot of hype surrounding Connor Sadzeck while we were in Surprise. If he can consistently provide strong starts and turn a lead over to the bullpen, that should give the Riders a big boost. Returning starters Frank Lopez, Victor Payano, and Jose Leclerc will be in the running for the starting rotation, as well, but will need to show marked improvement from a year ago, when they combined to go 13-19 with a 5.28 ERA. Reed Garrett started 25 games last year between Hickory and High Desert, and could be another candidate for the rotation.

Out of the bullpen, the biggest intrigue surrounds Matt Bush, who dazzled, sparkled, entertained and then some in his couple spring training outings in major league games (including touching 100 mph earlier this week). If that’s how he threw against major leaguers, imagine how he might dominate at the Double-A level, likely in the back end of the bullpen.

CATCHERS

Alex Burg, Patrick Cantwell, and Kellin Deglan will open the season in the squat for Frisco. Cantwell and Deglan were both invited to major league camp as non-roster invitees this spring in Surprise. Burg, however, might offer the best bat among the three. He hit .271 in 50 games with the Riders last year, launching 11 doubles and 7 homers. Last season was Burg’s first in the Rangers organization after stints with the Giants and Marlins organizations. Depending on how Round Rock’s catching situation plays out, at least one could get the call up at some point in the season. But until then, it will be interesting to see who stakes the starting role.

INFIELDERS

This, perhaps, is the group with the most unknowns heading into 2016. Luis Marte and Luis Mendez are back, but the other three (Ronald Guzman, Isiah Kiner-Falefa, and Alberto Triunfel) are all new to the Double-A level. Guzman probably has the most upside of anyone, at least from a hitting standpoint. He’s coming off a career year in 2015 between Hickory and High Desert, hitting .283 with 12 homers and 87 RBI, the most in the entire Rangers farm system. He also sports a career .985 fielding percentage. Kiner-Falefa, like Guzman, had a rather strong year between the Crawdads and Mavericks last season, hitting .296 with 12 doubles, 2 triples and 40 RBI. And Triunfel, who jumped straight from the Dominican League to High Desert last summer, offers intrigue as well. It’s a group with potential right now, but until that potential is tapped, it’s hard to say just how strong the Riders infield will be.

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Ryan Cordell is coming back to Frisco after spending time in major-league camp this spring

OUTFIELDERS

If infielders are the biggest question mark, outfield may be the spot with the fewest uncertainties heading into 2016. Brinson, who complemented his hitting prowess by earning Rangers Minor League Defensive Player of the Year honors, is the obvious headliner, but there are some other notable talents out in the grass with him. Ryan Cordell joined Brinson in major league camp this spring and turned a lot of heads. He struggled at the plate last year in Frisco (.217 avg, 5 HR, 18 RBI), but did turn in a perfect fielding percentage in the outfield. With a partial Double-A season and a visit to major league camp under his belt, it’ll be interesting to see how big a step forward he takes this summer. Dallas-native Preston Beck is also back with the Riders, and the versatile player is listed as an outfielder on the initial roster this season. Zach Cone, who provides both power and athleticism, in addition to a .991 career fielding percentage, could be a nice fit in Joe Mikulik’s outfield, too. Joe Jackson is the only outfielder on the opening roster who hasn’t yet been to Double-A, but he comes off a good season in High Desert last year and could eventually work his way into a more regular role, especially as some of the guys in front of him move up to Round Rock.

—-

Let’s not forget that these are only the guys who will likely be with Frisco on opening day, which is just eight days away at Northwest Arkansas. The incredibly well-stacked Rangers farm system has plenty of other young stars working their way up the ladder. Pitchers, such as Luis Ortiz, Ariel Jurado and Dillon Tate could find themselves in Frisco by the end of the summer, while position players like Michael De Leon, Travis Demeritte, Jairo Beras, and Juremi Profar are all waiting in the wings with High Desert.

You never can quite tell how a roster will pan out, but there’s certainly reason to believe this group canturn things around in 2016. After all, that’s the beauty of Opening Day. Everybody starts with a blank slate and a chance to do some incredible things.

-Ryan

Baseball term of the day: Run for the cycle – For a player to be retired at first base, second base, third base and home (not necessarily in that order) during a game.

(term from The Dickson Baseball Dictionary)

Spring Training Travels Day 3: A Sitdown with the Great Tepid Participation

This marks the third day, second full day, of the RoughRiders Media Relations Department’s travels at Spring Training in and around Phoenix, Arizona. In our third installment, Nathan Barnett sits down with Tepid Participation, @TepidP on Twitter, to talk who he is looking for on the back fields, why he comes out to Spring Training, and the Choctaw Lazy River. This interview took place on Saturday, March 19. All installments can be found here, including Day 1 and Day 2.

Nathan: Welcome out to Surprize, Arizona and today we are joined by TepidP of Lone Star Ball. If you’re a fan of the Rangers minor leagues, you know who he is. Michael: first, thanks for joining us

TepidP: No problem.

N: Like us, you’re here on the first day of your Spring Training Trip. How long will you be out here this year?

T: I’ll be out here about five days this year (Editor’s note: same as us! Not planned)

N: Is this an every year trip for you?

T: Every year, man. It’s a blast.

N: I know you have fun out here, but what specifically brings you out here?

T: Just looking at the new kids mostly. It’s one of those opportunities–you see all of these kids who get drafted in June–this is one of my opportunities to see a lot of those kids. A lot of Dillon Tate, Mike Matuella–even if they are not pitching, like in Mike’s case. You still get your first set of looks at some of the new guys and then see some of the progress that some of the guys may have made away from Frisco.

N: So, first thing you did, you got off the plane and came straight here. Who was the first guy you were looking for, the first person you wanted to see out here?

T: After you guys!?! I would have to say it was G-Rod (Guilder Rodriguez). I love seeing Guilder, and I am so happy for him to make that transition into the second part of his baseball career, which may or may not end up being even more fruitful than the first part of his career. He’s going to start coaching; I had the chance to catch up with him the first few minutes that I was here, and he’s really excited about the opportunity. I am happy for him. He had an amazing career, and all RoughRiders fans will remember him, and he’s a legend.

N: Now we have to give you some credit here. As many who knew G-Rod as a player, you knew he would be a coach six or so years ago.

T: Everyone did! He’s always been a coach. You know, he was a coach who every once in a while would fill in at shortstop. He’s done that for the last, I don’t know, half-decade of his career, and even he’s known that. It’s nice that he finally made the transition, and he just told me “no more pressure. No more pressure of going 0-for-4.” I just laughed at him. He’s really excited about the opportunity, so I am happy for him.

N: First games are about to start today. Who are you excited to watch today specifically?

T: Well today we are going to get to peek at the starters. Actually, a couple of guys probably bound for Frisco. We’ve got Jose Leclerc on one field, and we have Connor Sadzeck on the other. Those guys will probably go a couple of innings, and obviously those are guys who can dial it up, but also need to work on refining their command, and refining their mechanics, and perfecting their delivery, and they will have a chance to do that today. Hopefully, we will see them for a little while in Frisco.

N: Okay, I am going to put you on the spot: if you had to guess the starting nine position players in Frisco for Opening Day, who would you guess they will be.

T: Oh geez, that really is on the spot. I would say: “Condor” Guzman (Ronald Guzman) over at first. Isiah Kiner-Falefa at second. I’m going to say Luis Marte at short. Third base…uh…I’m not really sure honestly. Then I think Royce Bolinger will be in the outifeld, probably Preston Beck in right, and I’d probably go with Chris Garia (Christopher Garia) in center?

N: And the designated hitter on Opening Day? 

T: Me?

N: We will see what we can do! You tweeted last week about Matt Bush, who is a new guy with the organization who has, let’s called it a “checkered past.” You heard he was throwing upper 90s, with a good hard slider. How excited are you to delve into his story?

T: It’s fascinating, you know. It’s never not going to be fascinating to have a guy who was literally in prison the last three years who has been given an great opportunity by the Rangers. We will have to see if he can take full advantage of it. The skills seem to be there, so it will be up to him.

N: Now let’s talk a little off the field stuff. You are a guy who covers baseball but you’re also into the business of baseball. What was your first reaction when you heard about the Choctaw Lazy River going into Dr Pepper Ballpark this summer?

T: (laughs) My first reaction was “cannonballllll.” I think it’s great. I think its a great opportunity for you guys to get more people out to the park for some great family fun. It’s not a big surprise that at the minor league level, you are marketing the experience even more so than the players. This is another opportunity to put another thing in front of people that will be a draw and get people to be excited about coming out to the park. I think it’s absolutely the coolest thing going.

N: Now you are usually working when you are out at at Dr Pepper Ballpark. Do you have plans to bring the family out and enjoy the lazy river as a fan?

T: I am just going to do a cannonball in my clothes. I am just going to run out there on the first day and put my notepad to the side and just do a cannonball, and we will inaugurate it like that.

N: Well, we will warn the ushers about that. Last thing, what story lines are you watching coming out of spring.

T: Obviously Triple-A should be amazing. With all of the guys that have come through Frisco the last year or so, Triple-A should be great. You’re going to have Jurickson Profar, and probably Joey Gallo, and Nomar Mazara, and Lewis Brinson, if he’s not down with us in Frisco. You’re going to have an amazing opportunity there to watch some really great potential future superstars. Then down at the A-ball level, you have guys in the next wave coming along. Guys like Dillon Tate, guys like Luis Ortiz. Eventually later this summer you will see Mike Matuella and guys like Eric Jenkins and Josh Morgan, kind of the next generation of guys who will become household names and future Rangers.

N: Well thanks for your time! Enjoy your time out here on the back fields!

T: Anytime!

You can follow TepidP on Twitter and in longer, equally eloquent form, over at Lone Star Ball.

– Nathan

Baseball term of the day: bite – the sharp downward break, late or fast, of a curveball or slider.

(term from The Dickson Baseball Dictionary)

Frisco Futures: Checking in with Lewis Brinson

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

LB: All right, see you there.

Thanks for reading.

–          Alex

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