Results tagged ‘ Round Rock Express ’
We are past the halfway point in the Arizona Fall League and RoughRiders have plenty of representation in both former and future players out in the desert, so let’s look at how they are all doing. Last year the Rangers’ “affiliate,” the Surprise Saguaros, won the AFL Championship and through Sunday’s games, Delino DeShields Sr.’s team was 18-12-1. Before we dive into the individual numbers, a little context on the AFL.
You may have heard a lot about the Rangers’ new Advanced-A affiliate, the High Desert Mavericks, and the favorable offensive climate at Mavericks Stadium. Because of the relative ease in scoring runs out in Adelanto, California, evaluators and fans will need to take stats generated there with a grain of salt. The impressive offensive numbers we are likely to see there this season may end up being a mirage after a promotion to Frisco. Likewise, we are due to see some pretty garish ERA’s and other pitching statistics from hurlers out there, so we can’t be too harsh in judging the rough numbers that will undoubtedly hit the box scores.
Now, conditions in the AFL don’t exactly mimic the more hitter-friendly locales in the California League, but the thin air and wind there will help the batters more often than the pitchers, so you always see some bloated numbers for both sides.
There is another reason for this, one you don’t hear quite so much about: the AFL isn’t really it’s all made out to be. Don’t get me wrong, you have a very nice collection of good players there, but it is not the concentrated gathering of elite prospects that Minor League Baseball would lead you to believe it is. Many teams do not send their best prospects out to Arizona, especially on the pitching side. Typically, organizations decide to send their pitchers who did not get enough innings under their belt during the regular season, be it for injury, lack of opportunity or developmental speed bumps (i.e., Houston’s Mark Appel). Not every one of these pitchers is potential star and many are there simply to get in some work, regardless of the results. In that sense, it is a little like spring training for Major League veterans.
The Rangers are not much different from most teams in not sending their very best prospects to the AFL. If that was not the case, you would see Chi Chi Gonzalez, Luke Jackson, Jake Thompson, Luis Ortiz and Keone Kela (among others) suiting up for the Surprise Saguaros this year. Texas was satisfied with all of those pitchers’ workloads during the regular season and elected to send others to the AFL instead. I’m not suggesting that all of the pitchers out in Arizona are non-prospects, simply that the AFL does not typically get the cream of the crop when it comes to pitching.
Another reason to consider the AFL being a bit watered down is that there are so many other leagues in action at the moment. From Venezuela to the Dominican Republic to Australia, Mexico, Colombia and Puerto Rico, there is a lot of competition from other winter/fall leagues and those circuits guzzle up a considerable of minor league talent. Sure, a lot of players in those leagues are veterans (many former big leaguers stay active this way), but young minor leaguers like Jorge Alfaro, Teodoro Martinez and Nomar Mazara occupy their off-seasons in these leagues too.
If you needed another reason not to take too much stock in the stats you see for individual players, keep in mind that five weeks of baseball in October and November is a relatively small sample size in the context of the full season we see from April through Labor Day. We are all glad we did not make any long-term evaluations of Mazara after his first five weeks (sub-.200 average with one homer in Hickory), right? In addition to the sample size issue, it is the end of a long year for many of these players. It is not uncommon for them to be worn down, masking their true potential. Last year Ryan Rua hit .175 in 17 games for Surprise, two points lower than AFL teammate Jonathan Schoop. Can’t remember if either guy did anything of note in 2014…
The AFL has once again tilted in the direction of the hitters, as through Sunday’s games offenses were averaging more than five runs scored per game and the league ERA was 4.51. The Rangers have seven players on the Saguaros roster this season:
RHP Lisalverto Bonilla: 3 GS, 0-1, 5.40 ERA, 11.2 IP, 10 H, 7 R, 7 ER, 1 HR, 6 BB, 11 SO, 2.43 GO/AO, .222 AVG
Bonilla, a RoughRider in 2013, did not put together eye-popping numbers for Triple-A Round Rock in the regular season, but his performance was enough to earn him a promotion to Arlington, where he won his first three big league starts and posted a 3.05 ERA in 20.2 innings. The Rangers want to see how he can hold up as a starting pitcher, which is not a bad idea given his tools (excellent changeup, solid slider and a low-to-mid-90s fastball. He will compete for a spot on the big league team in the spring and will begin the season either there or in the Pacific Coast League.
RHP Cody Kendall: 6 G, 0-0, 5.68 ERA, 6.1 IP, 8 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 2 HR, 0 BB, 3 SO, 0.33 GO/AO, .296 AVG
The 24-year-old Kendall (he will be 25 in December) had a tremendous year out of the bullpen for both Hickory and Myrtle Beach, going 8-3 with a 1.11 ERA in 56.2 innings. He was not a huge strikeout guy (51 whiffs), but limited runners (1.06 WHIP). Given his age, the Rangers will likely push him to Frisco in 2015, perhaps to start the season, and see if the 2012 eighth rounder is capable of matching his success against more advanced hitters.
RHP Josh McElwee: 6 G, 0-0, 0.00 ERA, 6.2 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 9 SO, 1.25 GO/AO, .143 AVG
The South Carolinian has picked up Arizona right where he left off following his successful late-season Double-A cameo. He is tied for the best ERA in the AFL and is eighth in WHIP (0.75). McElwee is exactly six months older than Kendall and is in a similar position in needing to prove himself against top hitters. After an up-and-down stint with Hickory to start the season, he did just that in Myrtle Beach (0.42 ERA in 21.2 IP) and Frisco (1.00 ERA in 9 IP). He flashed a good breaking ball and kept his sinker away from the good part of the bat when we saw him in August. The affable McElwee posted a 2.25 ERA and a 92-25 SO-BB ratio across 66.2 minor league innings this season and should be back in the Texas League to begin 2015.
RHP Sam Wolff: 6 G, 0-0, 9.45 ERA, 6.2 IP, 10 H, 8 R, 7 ER, 4 BB, 6 SO, 2.00 GO/AO, .323 AVG
Some in the Carolina League attested that Wolff was the most impressive pitcher in the circuit at times, but he suffered a second half swoon in his first full professional season (not uncommon at all), finishing 9-5 with a 3.37 ERA in 120.1 innings. After three scoreless outings to begin his AFL stint, Wolff has struggled in his last three, allowing eight runs in 2.2 innings. A favorite of Frisco pitching coach Jeff Andrews (they are both from South Dakota), I would expect the right-hander to pitch for the RoughRiders at some point in 2015.
C Patrick Cantwell: 6 G, .200 (4 for 20), 1 R, 1 RBI, 0 XBH, 4 BB, 6 SO, .333 OBP, .200 SLG, .533 OPS
Cantwell spent all of 2014 with Frisco and surprised many with a solid offensive campaign after a very slow start. He finished with a .268/.360/.341 line while excelling defensively behind the plate. Cantwell is a contact hitter/get-on-base guy and has great intangibles. I would expect to see him spend a lot of time in big league camp spelling Robinson Chirinos & Co. in spring training games, then either head to Double-A or Triple-A to begin the season.
SS Michael De Leon: 7 G, .231 (6 for 26), 3 R, 2 RBI, 0 XBH, 1 BB, 5 SO, .259 OBP, .231 SLG, .490 OPS
The youngest player in the history of the AFL, De Leon does not turn 18 until January (his birthday is January 14, 1997 if you would like to feel old). He has held his own after doing the same (and sometimes more) in his time with Frisco, Myrtle Beach and Hickory. After making his regular season pro debut as an emergency fill-in with the RoughRiders in May, he spent the bulk of his season with the Crawdads before a late-year promotion to the Carolina League, where he was one of the Pelicans’ top offensive performers in the postseason. De Leon hit .248/.307/.314 across all levels, flashed some of the potential that led Texas to award him a mid-six-figure bonus in 2013 and showed everyone what a 160-pound player physically looks like (rough approximation would be Pablo Sandoval ÷ 2). He may be in High Desert for the entirety of 2015.
OF Nick Williams: 15 G, .267 (16 for 60), 4 2B, 3B, HR, 9 HR, 5 R, 0 BB, 16 SO, 0-1 SB, .290 OBP, .417 SLG, .707 OPS
The Galveston native has carried the water for the Rangers hitters on the Saguaros, as he has the highest batting average and is the only one with an extra-base hit (he has six). Williams is tied for fourth in the AFL in hits, tied for ninth in RBI, third in total bases (25) and tied for second in strikeouts (with no walks). The lefty batter oozes potential at the plate and is considered by many to be the best pure hitter in the farm system. As the former second rounder out of high school ball matures, he will need to develop a more controlled approach. When he does, he will really be a special player to watch in the batter’s box. Williams should spend 2015 with the RoughRiders after finishing up the season in Frisco (.226-0-4); he hit .283/.331/.462 for the season (the bulk coming in Myrtle Beach).
Last night, Rangers pitcher Alexi Ogando pitched six solid innings for the RoughRiders in a rehab start, and allowed two runs, including a home run, on four hits while striking out four.
Mike Olt also made his return to Frisco last night against the Tulsa Drillers, though Ogando’s rehab assignment seemed to overshadow the third baseman’s return to the ‘Riders. Olt went 1-for-4, striking out swinging his first two at-bats. In the sixth, Mike flied out to the left warning track, just feet away from knocking it over the wall and then in his final at-bat in the eighth, Olt slammed a two-run home run over the left wall. Frisco beat the Drillers 7-4.
See Mike Olt’s two-run blast in his return to Frisco.
After hitting a Texas League- and RoughRiders-best 28 home runs last year, and despite getting called up to the big leagues in early August, Olt has struggled this year, opening this season at Triple-A Round Rock where he hit just .139 in 20 games with one home run with the Express before being placed on disabled list with vision problems.
MLB.com contributor Christian Corona spoke with Olt about his vision issues last night prior to the game.
Following Frisco’s victory, Josh Jackson, contributor for MiLB.com, talked with Olt about his return:
“It feels really good to finally be able to feel like myself again,” Olt said. “Obviously, when we couldn’t figure things out and I couldn’t see the ball, that was a frustrating time. Tonight it felt good to just work toward finding my normal timing and being able to see the ball.”
Jason Cole of LoneStarDugout.com caught up with Olt this week in Surprise, AZ at extended spring training during his rehab for an interview about the vision troubles. (Note: Subscription to Lone Star Dugout needed to view the article.)
Mike Olt was the 49th overall pick in the 2010 draft pick by the Texas Rangers. The Newberg Report recapped day one of the 2010 Rangers draft picks on June 8, 2010 with this scouting report on Olt coming out of UConn:
The 21-year-old has good hands and feet, solid range, and a strong arm from third. There are holes in his right-handed swing – he struck out 54 times in 264 at-bats this season – but the bat speed is there, and scouts believe in his approach at the plate and coachability. It’s been a long time since third base was so uniformly thin in the big leagues, and in Olt the Rangers see a player they obviously believe could give them an developmental asset, particularly if he can make more consistent contact and take advantage of his power potential while providing lockdown defense at third.
Baseball Term of the Day: Monster shot – a tremendous home run out of the ballpark
Colby Lewis made his first rehab start after being shutdown with triceps tendinitis on Monday in Frisco. Lewis makes his second rehab start tonight at 6:05 CT, but it will be with Triple-A Round Rock in Memphis.
Today seemed like a good day to reminiscence on what was a special day here at Dr Pepper Ballpark. The RoughRiders have been fortunate to see a number of rehabbers come through from the Rangers in their 10+ year history, but it is not too often that a man who started and won World Series games dons the ‘Riders uni. In fact, only once (I believe) has Frisco had a rehabber pitch for them who had started a game in the Fall Classic: Kevin Millwood rehabbed for Frisco in 2007 and 2008–and he lost (game two of the 1999 Series while a member of the Braves). Roy Oswalt started a game in the 2005 World Series in Houston, but he was technically not a rehabber during his time in Frisco in 2012.
Here are some photos to commemorate the day:
The results? A mixed bag. Not great. The rehabber went 2.1 innings and allowed two runs on four hits. Lewis set down the first six men he faced, three on strikes, before running into issues in the third inning.
After the start, Lewis was somewhat discouraged talking to the media. He was not pleased with his velocity, which sat 85-86 mph and topped out at 87. What was expected to be the first of three to four rehab starts, now seems was the first of a somewhat indefinite number, as Lewis said he would tell the Rangers when he was ready.
Lewis said that it felt like he has been on a roller coaster during this rehab from a torn flexor tendon which cost him the second half of 2012 and all of this season thus far.
Well, the next ride is tonight. Happy viewing, twitter following, and post-game reading to you all tonight, as we see if that roller coaster rides high tonight in Memphis.
Looking forward to tonight’s RoughRiders game at 7:05 pm? The game notes are here!
We also would like to wish a Happy Birthday to Neil Ramirez. The right-hander’s last start came on Sunday with Pierzynski behind the plate AND he is starting tonight! Fitting.
Bonus Photo (AJ catching Neal) on Sunday:
Baseball term of the day: home run in an elevator shaft – pop fly
Photo credits to: Grant Nelson, Nathan Barnett and Ryan Garrett
The Frisco roster once again sits at 25 players this week for the first time since the departure of Jake Brigham, Alex Buchholz and Ryan Feierabend. The addition of Richard Bleier, courtesy of the Round Rock Express, brings the roster back to the league limit and bloats the pitching staff to fourteen members.
Bleier is set to make his 2013 ‘Riders debut Thursday, toeing the rubber for Steve Buechele’s squad in the finale of the four-game set with the Midland RockHounds. Bleier, 26, suits up for the RoughRiders for the fourth consecutive season, spending his entire 2010, 2011 and 2012 with Frisco. A starting pitcher for his entire romp through the minors, the southpaw pitched exclusively out of the bullpen for the first time in his pro career at the end of last summer.
Rehabbing an elbow strain that kept him out of the early part of the 2012 campaign, Bleier was activated on June 21 of last season and went immediately into a relief role for the Double-A club, a position he became familiar with at the close of the 2011 season. The control artist didn’t possess quite the command he had previously in his career (2.0 BB/9, vs. 1.5 BB/9 for career coming into 2013), but he was still relatively sharp (for perspective, Frisco has walked 3.7 BB/9 as a team this season).
The sinkerballer pitched out of the bullpen this past winter in the World Baseball Classic qualifiers with Team Israel. Along with Texas Leaguers Cody Decker, Ben Orloff, Jeff Urlaub and Robbie Widlansky, of course not to mention former RockHound, now Oakland Athletic, Nate Freiman, Bleier and Team Israel went 2-1 in qualifying play but was beat out by Spain who, also 2-1, had a higher run differential. In two outings, Bleier held the opposition scoreless and hitless in an inning of work and walked two batters in international play.
Bleier spent his college days at Florida Gulf Coast University, the school pushed into the spotlight in March as “Dunk City” for its high-flying hardwood ways. Taken in the sixth round in 2008, the former Eagle was the highest draft pick in school history at the time. Chris Sale (Chicago White Sox) and Casey Coleman (Chicago Cubs) are the only Eagles to make the majors, and Sale is now the highest draft choice in school history, going 13th overall in the 2010 draft.
The Floridian Bleier opened 2013 getting the chance to pitch at the Triple-A level for the first time in his career. In a small sample, the walk-bug hit Bleier harder than it has in his career (7 BB in 19.0 IP — 3.3 BB/9), but he limited damage in his eight outings, including two starts, posting a 1-1 record with a 3.79 ERA.
|AA (3 seasons)||AA||14||21||5.11||82||41||297.2||367||186||169||21||51||154||1.404||1.5||4.7|
|A (1 season)||A||2||1||1.14||5||4||23.2||19||8||3||0||4||17||0.972||1.5||6.5|
|A- (1 season)||A-||4||5||4.02||14||11||62.2||61||41||28||4||14||44||1.197||2.0||6.3|
|AAA (1 season)||AAA||1||1||3.79||8||2||19.0||23||9||8||1||7||8||1.579||3.3||3.8|
|A+ (1 season)||A+||7||11||4.51||23||22||143.2||165||88||72||9||20||108||1.288||1.3||6.8|
It remains to be seen if Bleier will stick in the Frisco rotation, which at the moment, has just three starters from the Opening Day roster with Carlos Pimentel, Kevin Pucetas and Neil Ramirez, or if Bleier moves back into the relief role that has defined his career the last season and a half. Of course he could be back on the shuttle to Triple-A soon enough as well.
After two late morning affairs, first pitch from Dr Pepper Ballpark is scheduled Thursday for 7:00 pm.
Baseball term of the day: barbering – chatting, as one is likely to do in a barber’s shop
The Frisco RoughRiders return home in second place in the Texas League, trailing only their opponent from this past weekend, the Corpus Christi Hooks. The ‘Riders split the four-game series with the Astros affiliate.
Today, they begin a four-game series with the Midland RockHounds, the Double-A affiliate of the Oakland Athletics. This is the first trip of the season for the RockHounds to Dr Pepper Ballpark; the two teams got acquainted last week when Frisco dropped three of four games at Citibank Ballpark in Midland.
The RoughRiders announced today that Richard Bleier has been added to the roster, received from Triple-A Round Rock, where he began the season. Bleier threw for the RoughRiders in each of the last three seasons. We will have more on him later in the week; he is projected to start on Thursday.
This is how the pitching matchups line up:
Thursday: Richard Bleier vs. TBA
Home stand promotions and broadcast info:
- Dollar Dog Night
- RoughRiders Horse Race presented by Whataburger
- $1 Dr Pepper Thursdays
- RoughRiders Horse Race presented by Whataburger
- Friday Night Post-game fireworks
- RoughRiders Horse Race presented by Whataburger
- Smashburger SMASH inning
- Free ‘Riders sunshade
- Kids Run the Bases
- Raising Cane’s Grand Slam Sunday
- RoughRiders Horse Race presented by Whataburger
Baseball term of the day: radio ball – a fastball thrown so hard, the batter claims he can hear it but not see it
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.