Results tagged ‘ Round Rock Express ’

Day Three in Surprise: Chi-Chi, Cacti and Camelback Ranch

Tommy Hansen faces the White Sox at beautiful Camelback Ranch.

Tommy Hansen faces the White Sox at Camelback Ranch.

This week I’m taking in my first visit to Surprise, Arizona for Rangers Spring Training, and I’m bringing you with me. Click the links if you missed the earlier recaps of my trip: Day One ….  Day Two.  

As I’ve mentioned before in this space, I had never been to Arizona prior to this trip (29 states down, 21 to go).  I had an expectation as to what it would be like out here, but I was a little bit jarred seeing cacti and palm trees almost equally share this suburban landscape.  Sure, I was expecting the saguaro, prickly pear and barrel cacti; but I didn’t know about the palm tree prevalence here.  The sight of such disparate plants juxtaposed with each other makes for a strange sight, but I guess there were some people who also thought it bizarre to combine soft serve vanilla and chocolate ice cream into a magnificent swirl of tasty goodness.

I might argue that baseball in the state of Arizona presents a bit of a dichotomy. Here you have a place that is mostly desert with its capital city receiving just eight inches of rain per year.  When you fly over the area, the predominant color is some combination of beige/brown.  A baseball field’s most striking color is green.  When people walk into a stadium for the first time, they don’t often remark about the infield dirt; it’s the lush green grass that catches the eye.  And the grass gets that green because groundskeepers need to regularly douse it with tremendous amounts of water.

I’m not trying to make some sort of environmental case against baseball in Arizona.  I’m just saying it’s always interesting when you see two things put together that don’t naturally seem to belong.  That was the theme I kept coming back to as I took in my final full day in the Valley of the Sun.

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Alex Rios waits for his turn to hit during batting practice.

Alex Rios waits for his turn to hit during batting practice.

9:15 a.m. - I get to the complex a little later this morning, which is no worry because the back fields are still empty by the time I arrive.  Fields 1 & 2, however, are a different story.  The big league club is active with batting practice and Ron Washington is holding court in an otherwise empty dugout at Nolan Ryan Field with a larger media contingent than we’ve seen the last few days.  The reason is two-fold: the Round Rock Express front office has just gotten into town and arrive with several members of their local media, hungry for information on the 2014 squad.  Also, Matt Harrison is making his spring debut in the “B” game this morning against the Royals.  There’s a definite buzz in the air that I hadn’t felt the previous two days here in Surprise.

As I attempt to poke my head into the media scrum, my attention is drawn away by Rangers PR man John Blake, who asks if I can help him with a media request involving minor leaguer and longtime RoughRider Guilder Rodriguez.  One of the DFW TV stations wants to do a story on a veteran player in the minors who helps teach the younger guys how to play the game and Guilder (pronounced “WHEEL-dair”) is the perfect candidate.  I’m happy to help, but I’m also struck by the unusual request.  With all of the great players in camp, some of them brand new to the Rangers (Fielder, Choo), this station wants to report on a 30-year-old Venezuelan utility man with two home runs in 13 professional seasons.  It’s not an easy story to sell the average fan back home, who will likely never see G-Rod play in a game.  Impressed by the request (I’ve never known TV sports guys to be the most enterprising of reporters…), I head to the back fields to tell Guilder that he will be interviewed later in the day.

Matt Harrison delivers to Eric Hosmer in the "B" game on Tuesday.

Matt Harrison delivers to Eric Hosmer in the “B” game on Tuesday.

10 a.m. - They let the fans in a little early today so they could catch the “B” game and Harrison’s start.  The “B” game is played on one of the Rangers practice fields and not in the main stadium.  It looks very much like a minor league spring game, given the spartan surroundings.  But this is no quaint exercise in pitchers simply getting their work in.  It can’t be when the Royals bring over prized big leaguers Alcides Escobar, Eric Hosmer, Danny Valencia and Mike Moustakas to play in the contest.  Over on Field 2, batting practice with some of the big leaguers is still going on while Harrison unleashes a fastball for strike one to get the contest started.  He retires the first batter thanks to a superb sliding catch down the right field line by second baseman Rougned Odor, gives up a hit, but retires the next two batters to complete his work for the day.   Harrison says after his outing that he felt good and the recovery into Wednesday will be key to determining the next step for him as he comes back from three 2013 surgeries.

Harrison is the only “regular” playing for the Rangers in this game; most of the others will be suiting up later in the day against the White Sox. Odor ends up providing all of the offense in the “B” game, stroking an RBI triple and a two-run home run off lefty Everett Teaford.  I wasn’t there to see it, but Odor allegedly flipped his bat after going yard.  In an unrelated note, the RoughRiders open the season against the Royals-affiliated Northwest Arkansas Naturals on April 3.

Rougned Odor and Engel Beltre strike a similar pose in the "B" game.

Rougned Odor and Engel Beltre strike a similar pose in the “B” game.

Greg and Mike Maddux get a good look at the pitchers along with the Royals coaches.

Greg and Mike Maddux get a good look at the pitchers along with the Royals coaches.

10:30 a.m. - I spy Alex “Chi-Chi” Gonzalez nearby and chat with him for a bit about his first Spring Training.  Because I want you to learn a little more about the Rangers’ 2013 first round draft pick, I recorded the interview so I could post it here.  I’ll transcribe it when I’m back in Frisco, but here’s a link to the audio for now.

11 a.m. - I head to the back fields for the start of more intersquad games between the Rangers minor leaguers.  Just like yesterday, the teams are mixed up pretty significantly, with Triple-A guys playing alongside short-season guys in some cases.  After the final out of each half inning is recorded, the team on offense sends up a player to bunt so that both sides can work on bunt execution.  The players seem to forget that they’re doing this every inning, so most of them begin running off the field after the third out is recorded, only to have about eight people yell “BUNT PLAY!” at them so they stay in their positions.

Alec Asher, a prospective 2014 'Rider, pitches to Nomar Mazara. Asher sat 94-95 with his fastball and looked sharp.

Alec Asher, a prospective 2014 ‘Rider, pitches to Nomar Mazara. Asher sat 94-95 with his fastball and looked sharp.

Many of the players found themselves away from their natural positions.  Travis Demeritte, a shortstop by trade, played at second base.  Ryan Rua, an infielder, was in left field.  Catcher Jorge Alfaro was at first base, as was outfielder Jared Hoying (who also saw time at second base in a “B” game earlier in Spring Training; he reportedly impressed Ron Washington with his performance).  The reasons for moving players around like this include building up a player’s versatility, experimenting to determine if a new position might be a better fit or protecting a player from injury.

Jared Hoying plays in on the grass at first base.  Jairo Beras lingers off the bag.

Jared Hoying plays in on the grass at first base. Jairo Beras lingers off the bag.

11:45 a.m. - I get permission to watch some of the games from up in the tower that sits between all four of the minor league fields.  Many of the coaches will shuttle between the observation tower and field level to watch the action.  It’s a great way to keep an eye on as much of the games as possible.  Some of the coaches who are up there with me include Field Coordinator Jayce Tingler, Infield Coordinator Casey Candaele, Special Assignment Hitting Instructor Harry Spillman and some guy named Ivan Rodriguez.  Yeah, I’ve never heard of him either.

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It won't be framed anywhere, but here's a good look at the view from the observation tower.

It won’t be framed anywhere, but here’s a good look at the view from the observation tower. (Click to see a bigger image)

Once the intersquad games are complete, I make one last lap around the facility and say my goodbyes to folks.  I fly back to Texas on Wednesday morning and won’t be back at Rangers camp on this trip.

Pudge is still a pretty popular guy with Rangers fans.

Pudge is still a pretty popular guy with Rangers fans.

A scout's view at Camelback Ranch.

A scout’s view at Camelback Ranch.

2:30 p.m. - Following a quick lunch, I make my way to Camelback Ranch, the Spring Training complex in Glendale that is home to the Chicago White Sox and Los Angeles Dodgers.  The Rangers are playing the Pale Hose in another Cactus League matchup and by the time I arrive, it’s 5-0 Sox in the sixth inning.  I saunter over to the scout seats behind home plate and find my friend Jason Cole.  Known to many Rangers fans as the publisher of “Lone Star Dugout” and a contributor to Baseball Prospectus, Jason was also the color commentator for our RoughRiders TV broadcasts the last few years.  During the off-season, the Tampa Bay Rays recognized his talents as an evaluator and hired him to be a professional scout (read more about it here).  Sadly, Jason will no longer be able to join me on the air, but I’m very excited for him and his new path in baseball.  He’ll still make it to Frisco every now and then to scout the Rangers (maybe picking out the pieces in a future David Price trade?), so there will still be future opportunities to make him laugh at my awful jokes when he’s up in the press box, as he’s dutifully done in recent seasons.

2:45 p.m. - I take a lap around the ballpark to see the sights of one of the newer facilities in the Cactus League.  It is located just south of University of Phoenix Stadium (the home of the Arizona Cardinals) and the land around the ballpark is mostly desert scrub.  If you look at the surrounding area on Google Maps, you see what appears to be a large river flowing near the complex.  Sadly, the Agua Fria River is completely dry.  Check out the same map through the satellite view and you’ll see what I mean.  It is not a picturesque area near the park, however inside the complex it looks and feels like a resort.  Man-made ponds, winding pathways and an elaborate collection of trees make Camelback Ranch feel quite different from the land around it.  I will say, it is a very nice facility and it has the most unique design of the three complexes I have visited on this trip.

Resort, or baseball complex?

Resort, or baseball complex?

This is the view you get when you walk into the ballpark from the center field gate.  You wouldn't even know it's a baseball stadium.

This is the view you get when you walk into the ballpark from the center field gate. You wouldn’t even know it’s a baseball stadium.

Bring a hat to Camelback Ranch, because there is very little shade for a vast majority of the seats.

Bring a hat to Camelback Ranch, because there is very little shade for a vast majority of the seats.

Looking in from left field.

Looking in from left field.

The Dodgers' offices are located beyond left field while the White Sox have an identical building beyond right.

The Dodgers’ offices are located beyond left field while the White Sox have an identical building beyond right.

Brett Nicholas (bottom left) and Wilmer Font (upper right), both 2013 RoughRiders, help man the Texas bullpen.

Brett Nicholas (bottom left) and Wilmer Font (upper right), both 2013 RoughRiders, help man the Texas bullpen.

The park looks empty, but most fans have flocked to the shade, leaving the tan seats baking in the sun.

The park looks empty, but most fans have flocked to the shade, leaving the tan seats baking in the sun.

One of the reasons I especially wanted to come to this game was the fact that the White Sox were the Rangers’ opponent.  Prior to

My former skipper Joe McEwing waves home a White Sox player.

My former skipper Joe McEwing waves home a White Sox player.

joining the RoughRiders, I spent two seasons as the broadcaster for the Winston-Salem Dash, the High-A affiliate of Chicago.  In addition to seeing many familiar players suit up for the White Sox, I recognized a few coaches.  The Dash’s manager in 2010, Joe McEwing, is now the third base coach for Robin Ventura’s squad, while the bullpen coach is former Winston pitching coach Bobby Thigpen.

During my walk around the park, I spy “Thiggy” in the home bullpen and call down to him during a lull in the action.  He’s happy to see me and we have a short chat that is interrupted by an usher.  He tells me to not stand next to the bullpen railing or converse with the coaches during the game.  I sheepishly say goodbye to Thiggy and then make my way back to the concourse, feeling like an embarrassed third grader who was caught talking during class.

3:45 p.m. - After the Rangers rally to take the lead in the top of the eighth, Chicago ties it in the bottom of the inning and then wins it in the ninth to send Texas to a 7-6 loss.  Afterwards I grab dinner with the Rays’ newest pro scout and bid adieu to Arizona baseball.  In the natural scheme of things, it might not make a lot of sense, but watching so much baseball in the desert this week was a blast and I’m already looking forward to another trip next year (not to mention Opening Day in about three weeks).

Getting over my palm tree-cactus complex.

Getting over my palm tree-cactus complex.

I’ll have more from my trip to Arizona over the next few days, but it’s back to DFW for now.  As always, thanks for reading.

- Alex

Remembering the Promoted Ones

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So apparently today is Paul Bunyan Day. Or maybe it was yesterday. The origin stories seem dubious.

At any rate, that got me thinking about Jared Hoying, the most Paul Bunyan like of this season’s RoughRiders. The big body, long arms, big swing of the stick, and the prodigious power that put on shows in batting practice on a regular basis in the season’s early months.

Of couse, now Jared, along with a number of other 2013 RoughRiders are playing elsewhere. And the promotions have been well-deserved. Although we would all love to have Hoying and his big bat and rangy outfield skills helping the RoughRiders and Ben Rowen’s more-often-than-not unhittable stuff baffling Texas League batters, it is nice to see them succeeding at higher levels.

Now seems as a good a time as any to check in on these most recent former ‘Riders and their paths at the higher levels.

Ross Wolf - RHP

As we go chronogically, Wolf was the first RoughRider promoted this season. The veteran reliever was pushed into a starting role after his April 9 promotion to Round Rock where he performed nothing short of sensationally. In six starts, Wolf went 1-1 with a 1.85 ERA for the Express, striking out 25 and walking just nine over 34 innings. Making his first appearances as a starter since 2005 and first work as a regular fixture in a starting rotation since his rookie season in 2002 with the Jamestown Jammers of the New York-Penn League, Wolf went six or more innings in four of his six outings, tossing 85 pitches or more on three occasions and even registering 97 pitches in his final Triple-A start.

Then Nick Tepesch got a blister. And Wolf was promoted to the Rangers to make the spot start. Suggested by some that he would be DFA’d immediately following the outing, Wolf remains on the Texas roster 37 days later. Challenged with somewhat irregular work, Wolf is 1-1 with a 1.47 ERA in the big leagues this year. He has thrown scoreless outings on five of the seven occassions he has been used out of the pen, and allowed earned runs only once out of the bullpen. His lone loss came in the 18-inning battle with the Blue Jays in which he allowed one unearned run in 6.2 relief innings.

Jake Brigham - RHP

Jake is lucky to be pitching at all. On May 20, in just his fifth appearance since the call-up, he was struck with a ground ball on his lower right leg. He was carted off the field. Amazingly, he was pitching five days later, as nothing was broken.

The numbers don’t look great (1-1, 5.44 ERA), but he has found a recent groove. He has not allowed an earned run over his last three appearances, including one start, spanning 13 innings. Over his last 18.1 innings, he has surrendered just one earned run and has lowered his ERA from 9.39 as a Triple-A pitcher to 5.44 where it is today.

Ryan Feierabend - LHP

Promoted on May 1 along with Brigham (and Alex Buchholz who has since returned), Feierabend has been a steady force in the rotation. He has completed at least five innings in all 11 of his Triple-A outings, thrown 100 or more pitches on three occasions, and even tossed a complete game, the only one thrown by an Express pitcher this season. He is 4-2 with a 3.90 ERA in his 11 starts after going 1-2 with a 3.86 ERA for Frisco in April.

Martin Perez - LHP

Originally a MLB rehabber, Perez was a member of the active RoughRiders roster from May 12 to May 16 before his Triple-A promotion. Perez dazzled in Triple-A action, posting a 5-1 record with a 1.75 ERA for Round Rock in six starts. After a rocky first outing, Perez allowed just three earned runs in his last five Triple-A starts, good for an 0.87 ERA.

The lefty makes the start for the Rangers tonight at home against the Reds. He has made two MLB starts this season and is 1-1 with a 3.65 ERA. His last start was a gem, as he tossed seven innings of two-run ball against the Cardinals in the Rangers’ sweep of St. Louis this past weekend.

Kyle McClellan - RHP

Former St. Louis Cardinals reliever Kyle McClellan is not a product of Rangers development but his time in Frisco still ensured he was ready to move on up. Signed to a minor league contract in the offseason, McClellan made two appearances for the ‘Riders and six for the Express before his call to the Rangers bullpen. He has provided nice depth for the Texas pen, albeit with mediocre numbers thus far (6 G, 8.1 IP, 6 H, 6 ER, 4 BB, 3 K). McClellan has a fantastic major league tract record and should be nice depth for the Rangers relief corps for the remainder of the season.

Mike Olt - 3B

Olt made a brief stop in Frisco after getting his troubling vision problems got sorted out. After a tremendously slow start in Triple-A, where he hit just .139 with one home run in twenty games, Olt was disagnosed with an issue stemming from a problem with his tear duct. After the prescription of some seemingly-magical eye drops, Olt went 4-for-12 in three games at Dr Pepper Ballpark with a home run and two doubles before heading back to Round Rock.

Back with the Express, Olt is hitting .261/.361/.543 with seven long balls, five doubles and has walked 15 times in 24 games since his return. He seems poised for a big league promotion at some point, especially if Texas can’t keep the injury bug away from its hitters.

Jared Hoying - OF

On his 24th birthday, Jared received a strain of his left hamstring on a double to left field. Out from May 18 until June 7, when he was activated from the disabled list, Jared was also promoted, earning his first career call up to Triple-A.

Jared got a hit in each of his first three games, including his first Triple-A home run and triple. After a hitless effort on June 11 and a failed pinch-hit attempt on June 13, he put together his first two-hit Triple-A game on June 14. It was the first of 11 straight games with at least one hit for Hoying, a streak that was snapped last night.

In 17 games he has three homers, three triples and two doubles. His .617 SLG is the highest on the Express since his promotion, and lately, he has been hitting in third spot of the order for Rangers Triple-A club.

Ryan Rodebaugh - RHP

Like Jake Brigham, Ryan Rodebaugh doesn’t posses the best Triple-A numbers of the bunch (0-0, 5.68 ERA) but has been mostly the Ryan Rodebaugh that Frisco fans have come to know, love and trust over the last two seasons. After a four-run debut in a single inning of work on June 11, Ryan has not allowed a run. In a stretch spanning five appearances and 5.1 innings, he has walked five but allowed just three hits and has racked up seven Ks.

Ben Rowen - RHP

And then there is the submariner. Missing out on the Texas League All-Star game because of the call-up, Ben has been used just twice since his June 20 promotion. In his first ever Triple-A appearance, he fanned three and allowed just one base runner on a single hit in two innings. It took him just 23 pitches to toss those two scoreless frames, as he threw 16 pitches for strikes.

His last time out, Rowen, who led the RoughRiders with 10 saves at the time of his promotion, earned his first Triple-A save with a scoreless inning to close out a 10-7 come-from-behind win for the Express in the extremely hitter-friendly home of the Albuquerque Isotopes.

- Nathan

Baseball term of the day: grazer an outfielder

(term from The Dickson Baseball Dictionary)

Mike Olt’s Return to Frisco

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.

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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.

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Mike Olt at batting practice before Friday night’s game agains the Tulsa Drillers

Other links 

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

-Ryan

Taking another look at Colby’s rehab start

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:

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Lewis wore #46. He is #48 with the Rangers. Note A.J. Pierzysnki played in this game, although he did not catch Lewis.

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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.

MiLB posted a clip of Lewis striking out Kalian Sams who, earlier in the series, obliterated a baseball seemingly into thin air to deep left. You can watch that strikeout highlight here.

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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.

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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.

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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:

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- Nathan

Baseball term of the day: home run in an elevator shaftpop fly

Photo credits to: Grant Nelson, Nathan Barnett and Ryan Garrett

Meet Richard Bleier (Again)

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.5878159956_ef4f8e82d9_b

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 DeckerBen 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.

Year Tm Lev W L ERA G GS IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP BB/9 SO/9
2008 Spokane A- 4 5 4.02 14 11 62.2 61 41 28 4 14 44 1.197 2.0 6.3
2009 2 Teams A+-A 9 12 4.03 28 26 167.1 184 96 75 9 24 125 1.243 1.3 6.7
2009 Hickory A 2 1 1.14 5 4 23.2 19 8 3 0 4 17 0.972 1.5 6.5
2009 Bakersfield A+ 7 11 4.51 23 22 143.2 165 88 72 9 20 108 1.288 1.3 6.8
2010 Frisco AA 7 11 5.04 28 28 164.1 191 98 92 13 28 82 1.333 1.5 4.5
2011 Frisco AA 7 8 5.60 32 13 101.1 142 73 63 5 16 55 1.559 1.4 4.9
2012 Frisco AA 0 2 3.94 22 0 32.0 34 15 14 3 7 17 1.281 2.0 4.8
2013 Round Rock AAA 1 1 3.79 8 2 19.0 23 9 8 1 7 8 1.579 3.3 3.8
6 Seasons 28 39 4.61 132 80 546.2 635 332 280 35 96 331 1.337 1.6 5.4
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
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 5/15/2013.

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.

- Nathan

Baseball term of the day: barbering – chatting, as one is likely to do in a barber’s shop

Home Sweet Home: Day baseball aplenty and the return of Richard Bleier

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.

5877598287_2fc2ef7997_b

Richard Bleier returns to Frisco this home stand, having made eight appearances for the Triple-A Round Rock Express thus far.

This is how the pitching matchups line up:

Monday: Tyler Tufts vs. Zach Neal

Tuesday: Neil Ramirez vs. Arnold Leon

Wednesday: Kevin Pucetas vs. Sean Murphy

Thursday: Richard Bleier vs. TBA

Home stand promotions and broadcast info:

Monday, May 13   |   7:00 p.m.   |   RoughRiders vs. Midland RockHounds (Oakland Athletics)
Radio: RidersBaseball.com    Webstream: MiLB.tv 

Tuesday, May 14   |   11:00 a.m.   |   RoughRiders vs. Midland RockHounds (Oakland Athletics)
Radio: RidersBaseball.com    Webstream: MiLB.tv 

Wednesday, May 15   |   11:00 a.m.   |   RoughRiders vs. Midland RockHounds (Oakland Athletics)
Radio: RidersBaseball.com    Webstream: MiLB.tv 

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

  • Dollar Dog Night
  • RoughRiders Horse Race presented by Whataburger

Thursday, May 16   |   7:00 p.m.   |   RoughRiders vs. Midland RockHounds (Oakland Athletics)
Radio: RidersBaseball.com    Webstream: MiLB.tv 

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

  • $1 Dr Pepper Thursdays
  • RoughRiders Horse Race presented by Whataburger

Friday, May 17   |   7:00 p.m.   |   RoughRiders vs. San Antonio Missions (San Diego Padres)
Radio: RidersBaseball.com    Webstream: MiLB.tv 

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

  • Friday Night Post-game fireworks
  • RoughRiders Horse Race presented by Whataburger
  • Smashburger SMASH inning

Saturday, May 18   |   7:00 p.m.   |   RoughRiders vs. San Antonio Missions (San Diego Padres)
TV: KTXD    Radio: RidersBaseball.com    Webstream: MiLB.tv 

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

  • Free ‘Riders sunshade
FREE SUNSHADES!

FREE SUNSHADES!

Sunday, May 19   |   4:00 p.m.   |   RoughRiders vs. San Antonio Missions (San Diego Padres)
TV: KTXD    Radio: RidersBaseball.com    Webstream: MiLB.tv 

Promotions (click here and also here for more details)

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

5833070888_16dfe1f766_b

Monday, May 20   |   11:00 a.m.   |   RoughRiders vs. San Antonio Missions (San Diego Padres)
Radio: RidersBaseball.com    Webstream: MiLB.tv 

For information on tickets to see the RoughRiders in 2013, please call (972) 731-9200, email info@ridersbaseball.com or visit www.ridersbaseball.com.

- Nathan

Baseball term of the day: radio balla fastball thrown so hard, the batter claims he can hear it but not see it 

The 2013 (Nearly) Complete Twitter Guide…: Part Two – The Players

This post is a continuation of an earlier post compiling the essential Twitter handles to keep up with the Texas Rangers farm system and Texas League. You can find all entries here

A little over a week ago, I posted twitter handles for the teams in the Texas Rangers system and the Texas league, along with broadcasters and other key employees in the league and the Rangers’ farm. Today, I submit Part Two of “The 2013 (Nearly) Complete Twitter Guide to the Frisco RoughRiders, the Texas League and the Rangers Farm System,” or TNCTG. If you want to check Part One – go here.

Today: a list of the players. This is, to my knowledge, an exhaustive list of the Frisco RoughRiders in addition to as many twitter handles I could find of Texas Rangers at the MLB and MiLB levels. As always, comment below or tweet me (@NathanSBarnett) with additional follows. I will update this as I can as the season moves along. If you want to use a list to keep track of these players, the RoughRiders Twitter handle has a 2013 RoughRiders list and I have one compiling as many current Rangers MLB and MiLB players that I can find.

_________________________

TNCTG PART TWO – The Players

(as of 05/17/13)

2013 Frisco RoughRiders

Current RoughRiders:

Hanser Alberto ‏ @elpotroalberto (#15 ranked prospect in Texas system by Baseball America)

Cody Buckel ‏  @Cheatcode07 (#8)

Randy Henry ‏ @RandyHenry51 (#29)

Odubel Herrera ‏ @odubelherrera1frisco roughriders logo

Jared Hoying ‏ @jhoying3035

Teodoro Martinez ‏ @martinezteo

Brett Nicholas ‏ @bnicholas15

Kevin Pucetas ‏ @KPucetas

Jimmy Reyes ‏ @jimmymreyes

Ryan Rodebaugh ‏ @RRodey

Ben Rowen ‏ @B_Rowen

Ryan Strausborger ‏ @Ryan_Straus

Zach Zaneski ‏ @ZZaneski

RoughRiders to play in 2013, now off roster:

Jake Brigham ‏ @jbrigham49 (Triple-A)

Ross Wolf ‏ @18RGW (Triple-A)

Other players in the Texas Rangers System:

MLB:

Elvis Andrus ‏ @ElvisandrusSS1

Nelson Cruz ‏ @ncboomstick17

ダルビッシュ有(Yu Darvish) ‏ @faridyu

Neftali Feliz ‏ @NefFeliz

Josh Frasier ‏ @Frasier66 (bullpen catcher)

Leury Garcia ‏ @leurygarcia1 (#20)

Justin Grimm ‏ @GrimmReaper51 (#5)

Derek Holland ‏ @Dutch_Oven45texas_rangers-9679

Michael Kirkman ‏ @MikeKirkman50

Josh Lindblom  @JoshLindblom52 

Leonys Martin ‏ @leonys27martin (#4)

Joe Nathan ‏ @JoeNathan36

Martin Perez ‏ @MartinPerez33D (#3)

Jurickson Profar ‏ @JURICKSONPROFAR (#1 ranked prospect overall by Baseball America)

Robbie Ross ‏ @Ross_108

Joakim Soria ‏ @joakimsoria

Triple-A Round Rock:

Chad Bell ‏ @ChadBell19 (Injured just before beginning of the season, finished 2012 with Express)

Engel Beltre ‏ @engelbeltre07

Lisalverto Bonilla ‏ @propecto1

Jake Brigham ‏ @jbrigham49

Robinson Chirinos  @robinson28chrr_express_logo_detail

Michael Olt ‏ @molt2222 (#2)

Yangervis Solarte ‏ @yanyi26_12

Yoshinori Tateyama ‏ @tatetatetateyan

Ross Wolf ‏ @RGW

Advanced-A Myrtle Beach:

Alec Asher ‏ @Ash_Tag24

Kellin Deglan ‏ @keldegs

Royce Bolinger ‏ @roycebolinger

Zach Cone ‏ @ZachCone (#24)

Ryan Harvey ‏ @Hammer32jetlifepelicans

Luke Jackson ‏ @YaBoy77 (#6)

Will Lamb ‏ @LamboLeap30

Nick Martinez ‏ @nickmartinez10 (#27)

Rougned Odor ‏ @RougnedOdor (#11)

Drew Robinson ‏ @drewrobinsonnn

Jake Skole ‏ @JakeSkole15

Joe Van Meter ‏ @JVanMeter28

Class-A Hickory Crawdads:

Jorge Alfaro ‏ @_JorgeAlfaro11 (#9)

Ryan Bores ‏ @RyanBores

Lewis Brinson ‏ @LewisBrinson (#12)

Eric Brooks ‏ @itsEricBrooks

Coby Cowgill ‏ @CobyCowgill_RHP

C.J. Edwards ‏ @CEdwardsSBS (#14)

Joey Gallo ‏ @JoeyGallo24 (#10)

David Lyon ‏ @DLyonKSU36Hickory_Crawdads

Joe Maloney ‏ @JoeBoMalones

Nomar Mazara ‏ @NomarMzra26 (#16)

Luis Mendez ‏ @mendezluis932

Ryan Rua ‏ @Rua_Numba_2

Connor Sadzeck ‏ @connorsadzeck

Ryne Slack ‏ @Slack28

Nick Vickerson ‏ @Nick_Vickerson

Nick Williams ‏ @NW1superstar (#25)

Players yet to be assigned (either hurt or will be in either Rookie or Short-Season A)

Jairo Beras ‏ @jairoberas (#18)

Janluis Castro ‏ @Jaanluis

Guy Edmonds ‏ @EdmondsGuy

Brandon Garcia ‏ @BrandonGarcia_

Ronald Guzman ‏ @_ronaldguzman (#17)

Jamie Jarmon ‏ @jjarmon34

Kevin Matthews ‏ @kevmat1

Barrett Serrato ‏ @bserrato23

Nick Urbanus ‏ @NickUrb

Brett Weibley ‏ @wild_stallion5

Collin Wiles ‏ @cwiles11

_________________________

- Nathan

Baseball term of the day: fuzzy concreteartificial turf

May Day Roster Moves: Happy Birthday Mr. Klein

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:

4/4 RHP Tyler Tufts (hamstring) placed on seven-day disabled list
4/9 RHP Ross Wolf promoted to Triple-A Round Rock
4/11 RHP Tyler Tufts (hamstring) activated off seven-day disabled list

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.

To help reinforce the roster, the ‘Riders were sent two players for Myrtle Beach, Phil Klein and Jose Mavare. From the ‘Riders press release:

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.

4317

Phil Klein in his Pelicans-esque Sag Harbor Whalers uniform in the ACBL (Brett Mauser)

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

Year Tm Lg Lev W L ERA G GS SV IP H R ER HR BB SO
2011 2 Teams 2 Lgs A–Rk 1 2 3.98 12 0 0 20.1 20 13 9 1 16 31
2011 Rangers ARIZ Rk 0 0 0.00 3 0 0 2.2 2 0 0 0 1 7
2011 Spokane NORW A- 1 2 4.58 9 0 0 17.2 18 13 9 1 15 24
2012 2 Teams 2 Lgs A-A+ 6 0 1.73 40 0 8 62.1 39 13 12 3 23 67
2012 Hickory SALL A 6 0 1.90 33 0 8 52.0 37 12 11 2 21 53
2012 Myrtle Beach CARL A+ 0 0 0.87 7 0 0 10.1 2 1 1 1 2 14
2013 Myrtle Beach CARL A+ 1 0 1.98 7 0 0 13.2 6 4 3 0 3 12
3 Seasons 8 2 2.24 59 0 8 96.1 65 30 24 4 42 110
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
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 5/1/2013.

RHP Jose Mavare

Year Tm Lg Lev W L ERA G GS SV IP H R ER HR BB SO
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
2009 Rangers 1 DOSL FRk 3 2 1.93 12 5 0 42.0 33 14 9 1 12 41
2009 Rangers 2 DOSL FRk 1 0 0.00 8 0 2 17.2 10 1 0 0 7 17
2010 2 Teams 2 Lgs Rk-FRk 5 1 2.08 23 0 2 43.1 28 14 10 0 15 61
2010 Rangers DOSL FRk 1 0 0.00 6 0 0 16.0 5 1 0 0 4 27
2010 Rangers ARIZ Rk 4 1 3.29 17 0 2 27.1 23 13 10 0 11 34
2011 2 Teams 2 Lgs Rk-A- 0 1 1.95 17 2 0 37.0 24 10 8 0 15 54
2011 Rangers ARIZ Rk 0 1 1.93 9 2 0 23.1 14 5 5 0 8 34
2011 Spokane NORW A- 0 0 1.98 8 0 0 13.2 10 5 3 0 7 20
2012 Hickory SALL A 5 5 3.57 40 0 5 80.2 66 34 32 6 27 102
2013 Myrtle Beach CARL A+ 0 1 2.38 7 0 2 11.1 7 5 3 1 3 12
5 Seasons 14 10 2.41 107 7 11 232.0 168 78 62 8 79 287
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
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 5/1/2013

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!

-Nathan

Baseball term of the day: duck snorta 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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

_________________________

TNCTG PART ONE:

Texas League Teams:

South Division:

Frisco RoughRiders: @RidersBaseball

Corpus Christi Hooks: @CCHooks

Midland Rockhounds: @RockHounds

San Antonio Missions: @MissionsMiLB

North Division:

Arkansas Travelers: @ARTravs

Northwest Arkansas Naturals: @NWANaturals

Springfield Cardinals: @Sgf_Cardinals

Tulsa Drillers: @TulsaDrillers

Teams in the Rangers System:

MLB – Texas Rangers: @Rangers

Triple-A – Round Rock Express: @RRExpress

Double-A – Frisco RoughRiders: @RidersBaseball

Advanced-A – Myrtle Beach Pelicans: @PelicanBaseball

Single-A – Hickory Crawdads: @HickoryCrawdads

Short-Season A – Spokane Indians: @SpokaneIndians

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

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

The Voices:

Alex Vispoli, Frisco RoughRiders: @Vispoli 

Bob Hards, Midland Rockhounds: Unknown. 

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

Mike Saeger, San Antonio Missions: @SAMissionsRadio

Phil Elson, Arkansas Travelers: @ElsonPhil

Steven Davis, Northwest Arkansas Naturals: Unknown. 

Andrew Buchbinder, Springfield Cardinals: Unknown. 

Dennis Higgins, Tulsa Drillers: Unknown. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Other good employees and team-related follows:

Frisco RoughRiders:

Nathan Barnett, Media Relations & Broadcasting Assistant: @NathanSBarnett

Ryan Garrett, Media Relations Intern: @Garrett_RM

Corpus Christi Hooks:

Chris Blake, Media Relations Coordinator: @ChrisCBlake

Midland Rockhounds:

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

Tulsa Drillers:

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

Texas Rangers:

John Blake, Executive Vice President of Communications: @RangerBlake

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

In-game Rangers Twitter handle: @theRangersGame

_________________________

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

- Nathan

Baseball term of the day: wand - baseball bat

The 10 best ways to keep up on the Rangers and the farm system

In my digging to learn everything I can about the Rangers farm system, I have come across a number of great websites and writers that cover this system extremely well. The Rangers fanbase is blessed by its coverage, especially since DFW is not a baseball town. There are a number of very talented folks out there working hard to give you tidbits and insight on the big league team and the youngsters on the way.  I was hard pressed, but here is the list of the 10 Rangers minor league/major league must reads:

Top 10 Rangers major league and minor league resources

1. LoneStarDugout

A definitive source to the Rangers minor league system, especially at the lower levels. Jason Cole has a tremendous reach and connections within the organization and in the scouting circles  His work with Baseball Prospectus takes him away from his work with this site at times, but it is incredible stuff. Outside of the national scouts covering Rangers prospects on the rare occasion, you won’t find better scouting information on Rangers farmhands. He does a good minor league recap on a more-or-less-daily basis of all the affiliates, and I absolutely love his player Q&A’s. He talks to players in the system that no one else does. While everyone else is going gaga over Profar, Olt and Alfaro, Jason shows us why we need to pay attention to Nick Williams, Nomar Mazara and Joey Gallo. For you Rangers minor league junkies, this is a must read. Unfortunately some content is behind a pay-wall, but if you are a die-hard, it is worth the cost.

2. Baseball Time in Arlington (BBTiA)

Run by Joey Matschulat and Mike Hindman, BBTiA is a fun mish-mosh of Rangers coverage. Joey “Matches,” as he is known in the Rangers community, is the more prolific of the authors (they do have others that contribute sometimes as well), but Hindman’s posts are often longer, a bit more creative and on the opining side. Either that, or he is telling some good war stories. Matschulat’s puts up some great sabermetrics-y posts on occasion for the number-crunchers of you out there, which is the highlight of the site for me. Jason Parks used to write for this publication before he joined Baseball Prospectus, so you know they are doing the right thing over there.

3. The Newberg Report

Emotional, stream-of-conscious driven, passionate, yet also analytic and well-written and absolutely optimistic, the Newberg Report is one of the longer-standing Rangers blogs. Well, really it began as an e-mail list, which you can still sign up for. Jamey Newberg was ahead of his time, covering the Rangers farm system inside-and-out beginning in 1998, well before many saw the hunger of baseball fans for this kind of coverage. His brand has really exploded in recent years, as he has expanded to his own website and MLB-recognized blog, not to mention a brief stint making Rangers farm system videos that played at Rangers Ballpark during games a few years back. Since the team has turned things around at the big league level, Newberg writes more about the major league team now than he used to, but he still provides some juicy tidbits on the up-and-comers. I think Newberg is at his best when has the chance to go down to Spring Training and Fall Instructs. Newberg does an excellent job of painting the picture of the minor leaguers as people, not just baseball “tools.” He has a great eye for the intangibles. He wrote this about Elvis Andrus in 2007, just after the Mark Teixeira trade, and now we all know how spot-on he was:

For some players, the ball just sounds different coming off their bat.  Some can spin a breaking ball in such a way that you know the hitter has no chance before the pitch is halfway to the plate.  There are others . . . who you can tell are different simply by how they carry themselves.  

 I’m struggling as to how to explain it.  It’s not really a swagger that [he] has.  It’s more of a comfortable magnetism.  He reminds me of a feature tailback, or a really good cover corner, with that smile that says he knows he’s going to beat you more often than not.  He’s going to be a leader.

Another great component of the Newberg Report is the Rangers Farm Report, authored by Scott Lucas, who writes a daily recap of the Rangers action at all the minor league levels. It’s a convienent way to keep on the affiliates, especially since if you simply subscribe, it comes straight to your e-mail inbox.

4. Lone Star Ball

This is actually Adam Morris' twitter image. So you know he can't be boring.

This is actually Adam Morris’ twitter avatar, so you know he can’t be boring.

A very diverse set of commentary and quips, Lone Star Ball (LSB) is without a doubt one of my favorite Rangers reads, especially since there is so much Rangers content out there. LSB is unique. Adam Morris is the guru behind it, who I was first introduced to by Ted Price’s Rangers Podcast in Arlington. Morris can come off as surly at times, but that is an enjoying changeup in a pretty optimistic market. It makes for a great follow on twitter too (@LoneStarBall). Everything from newspaper-ish rundown of the day’s Ranger game to simply embedding offensive numbers from a Rangers affiliate from baseball reference to one of the more entertaining posts I’ve read this season, Lone Star Ball has a little something for everyone. 

5. Express Tracks

The blog of the Rangers Triple-A affiliate, the Round Rock Express, Express Tracks is a fun way to be in touch with the Round Rock community. Good especially for those living in the surrounding areas, they do some fun interactive things with the fans through their blog. Like us here at the Riders ‘Insider Blog, they are committed to covering their team as well with some nice analysis and feature stories on the guys on the farm.

6. Texas Rangers Report (ESPNDallas.com)

With an excellent team of reporters, ESPNDallas has put their full weight behind the Rangers since signing the Rangers broadcast to their radio lineup before the 2011 season. Richard Durrett, Todd Wills and Sahadev Sharma (among others) write multiple posts every day covering the Rangers. Probably the most exhaustive source out there, following the site on an RSS reader can be overwhelming, but they do a fantastic job. This is also home to my favorite weekly read on the Rangers, Wash’s Wisdom, which is now authored by Todd Wills.

7. Foul Territory (part of Star-Telegram.com)

Foul Territory is the Star-Telegram’s Rangers beat. Jeff Wilson and Drew Davison do a nice job and occasionally cover the minor league teams as well. Drew has made it out to a game here at Dr Pepper Ballpark this year and comes periodically to ‘Riders games. Good daily coverage for all things Rangers. Similar to ESPNDallas’ coverage and also to SportsDayDFW.

Awesome photo from Tepesch's debut this season (Kelley Gavin, Letters from Elysian Fields, 2013)

Awesome photo from Tepesch’s MLB debut this season (Kelly Gavin, Letters from Elysian Fields, 2013)

8. SportsDayDFW (powered by the Dallas Morning News)

Evan Grant. Enough said. Well, okay, I’m long-winded, so I won’t stop there. Grant is arguably the most respected Rangers beat-writer in the market and for good reason. The Dallas Morning News was smart to keep their Rangers coverage alive and get Evan Grant back on board after his brief stint with D Magazine’s Insider Corner blog. His work alone make this site worth a look, but the contributors are all solid. Like ESPN Dallas and Foul Territory, the DMN’s coverage will hit every issue and topic with the team. Reading all three can be repetitive, so find the writers you like the most.

9. The Sports Page Weekly

Home of a weekly piece on the RoughRiders, The Sports Page Weekly is your home to some exclusive content for your favorite DFW sports teams. They do some nice off-the-beaten path stories and their style is a refreshingly more in-your-face alternative in a pretty calm media market. Plus they even PRINT IT, which you know, is pretty rare these days, so bravo to the bastions of paper and ink!

10. Postcards from Elysian Fields

The blog of T.R. Sullivan. I think most of you know to go to TexasRangers.com to get news, so I didn’t include it. Sullivan is a writer for MLB.com covering the Rangers, and when he posts here, the blog has some good stuff. Plus it is my favorite named blog on the list, so it earned a spot. There are some incredible photos from Rangers’ photographer Kelly Gavin here as well…an enjoyable weekly scroll at the very least because of that.

Honorable Mention

Sweet Spot in Baseball - unique photos and commentary from Kaylan Eastepp, the Rangers Director of Interactive & Social Media. She has exclusive access to the Rangers players in non-baseball situations. Want to see Tanner Scheppers feeding birds or Elvis Andrus answering FSSW’s Emily Jones’ cell phone? This is the place for you.

Pitcher Josh Lindbloom feeding a chicken, not too many places have this kind of access (Courtesy of

Pitcher Josh Lindbloom feeding a chicken, not too many places have this kind of access (Kaylan Eastepp, Sweet Spot in Baseball, 2013)

DallasSportsNetwork - Home of the RoughRiders Roundtable, Ted Price puts together some of the most unique content of Dallas sports conversation out there. From the excellent Rangers Podcast in Arlington to the TCU “Frogs O’ War,” if its DFW sports, Ted has you covered, bringing a long-form discussion to the teams you love the most with the people qualified to talk about them. Great stuff for the morning commute.

Spokesman-Review – Indians Coverage - Just a local paper in Spokane, Washington. But they do a really nice job covering the Rangers Short-Season A team, the Spokane Indians. The Indians start their season in June.

MLB Trade Rumors – Texas Rangers Feed - A MUST read for any Rangers fan around the trading deadline and in the winter at the very least. This is not a Rangers-specific site, so I didn’t include it on the list, but they are THE source for trade rumors, many of which, of course, include some of our favorite RoughRiders and former ‘Riders, so it’s relevant stuff. I remember reading or hearing somewhere that many GMs even use this site to keep up on news because they are so good at what they do. I can’t find where I heard that though, so I might just be making that up. Even still, it could be true.

Minor League Ball - Another more general baseball site but a great follow for the minor-league aficionado. John Sickel’s “Minor League Ball Gameday” posts are great. Basically it points out the best minor league story lines from yesterday and what to look out for today. Some occasional college-ball content as well, which is nice if you miss the metal bat every now and then.

B3: Big, Bald and Beautiful - Jonanthan Mayo is a senior writer for MLB.com and is very respected in the baseball world. This is his prospect blog. He doesn’t write too often, but when he does, he usually focuses on the top prospects in the game. A good, simple, straightforward read. And he doesn’t write too much, which is nice because it’s never an overwhelming addition to your list.

MiLB.com’s PROSPECTive Blog - Similar to the last one but they post a bit more often. Plus they have pretty pictures. Some good stuff on Profar the last month or so on this site.

And a blog I wish would come back:

Beachbound & Down - Run by former Myrtle Beach Pelicans broadcaster Joel Godett, who is now the voice of Ball State men’s basketball and football, I am told this might be down for good. Hopefully we see something out of the Pelican’s blogosphere soon; I doubt the name will be this great though.

How do I keep track of all of this?

feedlyWell, if you don’t already have an RSS reader you use, I would recommend getting one. It makes life easier in the expansive interwebs. Google Reader is my favorite: the simplest and the most popular…but is also getting canned in July. Instead of waiting for the death-date, I ripped off the band-aid and moved on over to Feedly. I am a fan. A pretty big fan actually. But, don’t take my word for it, there are plenty of options out there. Happy Reading!

HEY!!! You forgot my favorite Rangers news source! 

Did I? Well, let us know! We are always looking for more resources, and your fellow readers are as well. Post a comment with other sources of Rangers news!

Oh, and game notes are here for tonight’s game! Broadcast hits the airwaves at 6:40 for the 7:05 start for Nelson W. Wolff Municipal in San Antonio.

- Nathan

Baseball Term of the day: huckleberry – a rookie

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