Results tagged ‘ Springfield Cardinals ’
The RoughRiders return to Dr Pepper Ballpark on Tuesday night at 7:05 p.m. to host the same two opponents of last week’s road trip, the Springfield Cardinals and the Tulsa Drillers. Frisco will play three games each against both teams, looking to recover from a tough six-game road stint. Last week, the ‘Riders were swept by the Cardinals in three straight one-run games. Frisco lost their first game against the Drillers, but won game two, ending a streak of six straight one-run losses. The RoughRiders lost the series in Sunday’s matchup, ending the road trip in third place, twelve games out of first place.
This will be the first time for fans to see the four newest RoughRiders, who were added to the roster during the road trip. Infielder Ryan Rua was promoted from Class-A Hickory and the Rangers signed former San Antonio Missions outfielder Kalian Sams and assigned him to Frisco. Pitchers Jerad Eickhoff and Nick Martinez were promoted from Myrtle Beach. Martinez will start Friday against the Drillers, and Eickhoff is scheduled to throw the following game.
This six-game home stand will be the last time this season that the ‘Riders will face the Cardinals and the Drillers and will be the next-to-last home stand of the season.
Rangers’ designated hitter Lance Berkman has been transfered to Frisco to continue his rehab assignment, and is expected to serve as the DH for the ‘Riders on Tuesday and Wednesday when the team hosts the Springfield Cardinals at Dr Pepper Ballpark. Berkman is rehabbing from inflammation in his left hip.
These are the matchups we expect to see on the mound for the upcoming two series:
Friday: RHP Nick Martinez (0-0, 1.50 ERA) vs RHP Tim Gustafson (6-8, 4.76 ERA)
Saturday: RHP Jerad Eickhoff (0-1, 6.55 ERA) vs RHP Christian Bergman (7-7, 3.28 ERA)
Sunday: RHP Neil Ramirez vs RHP Tyler Matzek (8-7, 3.43 ERA)
- RoughRiders Horse Race presented by Whataburger
- Dollar Dog Night
- RoughRiders Horse Race presented by Whataburger
- $1 Dr Pepper Thursdays
- Kids Run the Bases
- Raising Cane’s Grand Slam Sunday
- RoughRiders Horse Race presented by Whataburger
Baseball term of the day: Truck horse - A very slow runner
(term from The Dickson Baseball Dictionary)
Jerad Eickhoff and Nick Martinez arrived in Springfield, Missouri yesterday to join the team as they opened a six-game road trip with three against the Springfield Cardinals. Eickhoff made an immediate impact, starting the game for the ‘Riders last night in the 4-3 walk-off defeat. After a shaky three-run first inning, Eickhoff faced two over the minimum through the next four innings. He allowed a walk and a lone single–that was it. He picked up a no-decision.
Nick Martinez makes his Double-A debut at ONEOK Field on Saturday against the Tulsa Drillers.
To introduce you to these two guys a bit, an excerpt from the press release over at RidersBaseball.com:
Eickhoff, 23, receives his first career promotion to Double-A and is expected to start tonight’s series opener at the Springfield Cardinals. Drafted by Texas in the 15th round of the 2011 MLB June Amateur Draft, the right-hander has spent the entire season in the Pelicans rotation. In 21 starts, he posted a 7-3 record and a 3.41 ERA. The Evansville, Illinois native struck out 80 batters in 116 innings with 26 walks allowed. A reliever in his first professional season in 2011, Eickhoff has pitched just once out of the bullpen over the last two seasons. In 2012 with Hickory, he posted a 13-7 record, and his 13 wins were tied for the second most in team history.
Martinez, 23, was drafted by the Rangers in 2011 as well, taken in the 18th round out of Fordham University. Like Eickhoff, Martinez began 2013 in the Myrtle Beach rotation (aside from one relief appearance) and is making his first trip to Double-A. In 22 outings for the Pelicans, he went 10-7 with a 2.87 ERA. Ranked #27 by Baseball America among Rangers prospects entering 2012, the Carolina League All-Star fanned 105 and walked 38 in 119.1 innings before his promotion. The former Fordham Ram pitched in relief and played second base in college. His All-Star selection this season marked the second straight year he has participated in his league’s mid-season All-Star Game, as he earned the same honors in the South Atlantic League in 2012.
A bit outdated at this point, Jason Cole of Baseball Prospectus wrote this in July 2011:
Since signing with the Rangers, the 6-foot-4 hurler has displayed solid command of a 91-94 mph fastball. He also mixes in a 73-75 mph curveball, which has good shape but is deliberate out of the hand and lags behind his fastball.
I got an update from Jason today though, who saw Jerad in early July of this year:
Eickhoff is almost like a Nick Tepesch starter kit. The arsenal is very similar, and he’ll have to make some of the same improvements Tepesch made. I think he profiles as a no. 4 or 5 starter at the end of the day. He’s a big right-hander with a durable build and a nice command/control profile.
When I saw him with Myrtle Beach last month, he sat comfortably in the low-90s with his four-seam fastball and not only held velocity, but he also touched 94-95 mph pretty consistently while working out of his jam near the 100-pitch mark. He’s also got an upper-80s cutter, a changeup that has progressed well this year, and a curveball.
For me, the curve will be the biggest key for Eickhoff. It’s a fringy pitch right now. If he can bring the curveball along over the next year or two into even an average offering, it’s going to make a big difference. He doesn’t project for a plus secondary pitch and won’t miss a lot of bats, but he should throw strikes with a big body and a deep arsenal.
The velocity stuck around last night as well, with Jerad throwing in the low to mid 90s near the end of his 81 pitch start (touching 97 mph on what appeared to be a hot gun in Springfield). His next start comes Sunday night in Tulsa in the road trip finale. He lines up to make his Dr Pepper Ballpark debut on Saturday, August 17.
Here are the numbers on Eickhoff:
An interesting story, Martinez is just two years removed from being drafted by Texas and converted to a full-time pitcher. The Fordham University product was a middle-of-the-order bat that played second base and was used out of the bullpen as a college player, but has quickly adapted to the starting rotation as a pro.
Jason Cole sent over his thoughts on Martinez as well, who he saw on the same trip to Salem while the Pelicans were in town last month:
Martinez is an intriguing guy because he was primarily a second baseman in college. He’d come in and relieve maybe once per weekend. The Rangers liked the arm, athleticism, and delivery, though, and snapped him up as a pitcher in the draft. Martinez took to full-time pitching immediately and showed good command of an 88-94 mph fastball in his first season. The velocity is the same today.
He, like Eickhoff, doesn’t necessarily have a dominant secondary pitch, but he has pitchability with a mix of four usable pitches – fastball, slider, curveball, changeup. It’s a back of the rotation ceiling or perhaps long man/up-and-down profile, but an overall intriguing arm worth watching. He has adjusted his delivery a bit this year to get a little more downward angle on his stuff, and I think it has translated well. As a result, his ground-ball rates have improved and the command/control has remained the same as last year, which is solid.
Baseball America, who ranked Martinez #27 among Rangers prospects entering 2013, adds that “his breaking ball has made the most progress of any of his secondary pitches since he signed.”
Following his ‘Riders debut on Sunday, he would line up to make his Dr Pepper Ballpark debut in the home stand finale on Sunday, August 18.
And the stats on Martinez:
- ‘Riders return to action in Springfield tonight at 7:09 p.m.
- Neil Ramirez returns from disabled list tonight and makes his first outing since July 19. He was placed on the DL on July 24, retroactive to July 21, with an injury to his right shoulder.
- Correspondingly, the RoughRiders have placed LHP Alex Claudio on the 7-day disabled list.
- Read more in tonight’s game notes
- Want to tune in…find out how
Baseball term of the day: yakker - curve ball
(Term from MLB.com Baseball Basics: Lingo)
It is with excitement that we at ‘Riders Insider announce that our blog has been ranked in the Top 10 of all Minor League Pro blogs for the month of April.
Each month, MLB.com Blogs ranks the team and fan blogs based on popularity and page views. In previous years, all team blogs were compiled together, both Major League and Minor League. With that system, ‘Riders Insider consistently stayed in the Top 50, remaining near #40 for the past year. Our highest rank in 2012 was at #32 in November (with ten Minor League blogs above ‘Riders Insider).
This year, MLB.com Blogs added the category of MiLB Pro, and during the first month of the 2013 season, ‘Riders Insider earned the #10 spot, sixth among minor league teams.
We would like to congratulate the top MiLB Pro blog of the month of April, Ben’s Biz Blog. Above ‘Riders Insider, ranked at #9, is 45 Miles From Fenway, the blog for the Pawtucket Red Sox (Triple-A affiliate of the Boston Redsox). In the 11th spot is Porcupines in Pinstripes, the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Rail Riders blog (Triple-A affiliate of the New York Yankees).
In keeping up with this blog, we strive to provide quality posts that our readers will enjoy. We don’t always post about baseball; however, we like to provide you with the inside scoop on the Frisco RoughRiders as a team and individual players, the Texas Rangers and events at Dr Pepper Ballpark.
Thank you to our readers for viewing our blog and placing us in the Top 10. We are really excited about this ranking, so please help us maintain and move us up in the rankings. We would love to hear from you about posts you’ve particularly enjoyed, or if you have suggestions on what you’d like us to cover in future posts.
In ‘Riders News:
We would like to wish pitcher Wilmer Font a happy 23rd birthday.
Last night, Carlos Pimentel threw seven innings of one-hit baseball and allowed just three baserunners as the Frisco RoughRiders went on to beat the Springfield Cardinals 1-0, tying the series at one apiece. The RoughRiders conclude their series with the defending Texas League Champion Cardinals tonight at 7:09 at Hammons Field in Springfield, MO.
Frisco continues their road trip tomorrow as they face the Tulsa Drillers for the first time this season.
Baseball term of the day: Whiz chuck: a swiftly pitched ball
On May 10, we took a glance at some of the prospects from the Texas League South Division and their performances throughout this first part of the season.
The RoughRiders are on the road playing North Division opponents, therefore, today, we’re taking a look at the North Division and discussing prospects for each team.
Xavier Scruggs, 1B – Scruggs is ranked second of all first baseman by Baseball America in the St. Louis Cardinals system. Scruggs leads the Cardinals in home runs (12) and RBIs (38) and is second in the Texas League in HR (one behind Hooks’ slugger George Springer). Scruggs leads the Texas League in RBIs (just four above Frisco’s Brett Nicholas), slugging percentage (.624) and in best HR/AB ratio (1/10.42). He was named the Texas League Player of the Week April 29.
The RoughRiders are currently on the road with Springfield. In last night’s game, Scruggs hit 2 RBIs against Frisco.
C.J. Cron, 1B – Cron is ranked by Baseball America as the number 3 prospect and the top first baseman in the Los Angeles Angels system. Cron leads the Travelers in RBIs (21), doubles (14) and hits (51). As of today, he is fifth in batting in the Texas League, and number four in doubles and hits. In his last ten games, Cron has averaged .316 four runs on 12 hits with one home run.
Christian Bergman, RHP – Bergman is ranked number 28 and the fifth best right-hander in the Colorado Rockies system by Baseball America. He leads the Drillers in wins (3), strikeouts (40) and ERA (3.02). This year, Bergman is 3-2 in nine starts, with opponents hitting .234. Bergman has the 9th top ERA in the Texas League and is 2nd in innings pitched (53.2).
Northwest Arkansas Naturals:
Matt Fields, 1B – Fields is ranked as the third best first baseman in the Kansas City Royals system by Baseball America. He leads the Naturals in home runs (10), RBIs (29) and runs (20). In the Texas League, Matt is 5th in home runs. In his last ten games, Matt has had five runs on ten hits and 6 RBI, averaging .294 in 34 at bats.
Baseball Term of the Day: Glory time: A point late in a game during which a relief pitcher can earn a potential save.
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:
Just confirmed Nelson Cruz broke his bat on that homerun. #beastmode
— Emily Jones (@EmilyJonesFSN) April 25, 2013
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:
— Jason Cole (@LoneStarDugout) April 25, 2013
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:
17 year old Nomar Mazara with a towering solo homer over the video board and clock in Greensboro to give the #Crawdads an early 1-0 lead.
— Aaron Cox (@TheAaronCox) April 24, 2013
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:
Frisco RoughRiders: @RidersBaseball
Corpus Christi Hooks: @CCHooks
Midland Rockhounds: @RockHounds
San Antonio Missions: @MissionsMiLB
Arkansas Travelers: @ARTravs
Northwest Arkansas Naturals: @NWANaturals
Springfield Cardinals: @Sgf_Cardinals
Tulsa Drillers: @TulsaDrillers
Teams in the Rangers System:
MLB – Texas Rangers: @Rangers
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.
Alex Vispoli, Frisco RoughRiders: @Vispoli
Michael Coffin, Corpus Christi Hooks: No twitter account (see team Twitter handle)
Mike Saeger, San Antonio Missions: @SAMissionsRadio
Phil Elson, Arkansas Travelers: @ElsonPhil
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:
Nathan Barnett, Media Relations & Broadcasting Assistant: @NathanSBarnett
Ryan Garrett, Media Relations Intern: @Garrett_RM
Corpus Christi Hooks:
Chris Blake, Media Relations Coordinator: @ChrisCBlake
Greg Bergman, Assistant GM / Media Relations & Advertising: @GregBergman
Brian Carroll, Director of Media / Public Relations: @BKC001
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.
Baseball term of the day: wand - baseball bat
One of the goals we had this season was to talk to prospects throughout the league. Yesterday we talked to Springfield Cardinals’ pitcher Trevor Rosenthal who was named Minor League Pitcher of the Month in May by the St. Louis Cardinals organization. He talked to us about spring training and his season with Springfield.
Shot by Michael Damman and Jarah Wright
Only 28 games remain for the RoughRiders and the other seven teams in the Texas League. San Antonio and Arkansas already have their ticket punched to the postseason, and almost every other club in the league has a chance to get into the TL’s final four.
1. San Antonio (76-36, 27-15; Past Rankings: 1, 1, 1)
The Missions have the best record in all of full-season minor league baseball, with the San Jose Giants of the California League (74-38) the only team less than five games away from San Antonio. Not only has San Antonio been great this season, but they added Robbie Erlin and Joe Wieland, who had been with Frisco until the Mike Adams deal at the deadline.
KEY STAT (+200): That’s the Missions’ run differential this season, which leads the minors and is 160 runs better than the second-best mark in the TL (Frisco at +40). Thanks to Mike Saeger, the Missions play-by-play broadcaster for this stat.
2. Frisco (61-51, 21-21; Past Rankings: 6, 2, 3)
The ‘Riders have fallen into a bit of a slump, and Midland has climbed above them in the standings. However, the RockHounds will need to leap over San Antonio in order to make the playoffs and, as a result, deny the RoughRiders of a spot in the playoffs. Midland has been better than the ‘Riders over the last two weeks, but Frisco was clearly better for the season’s first 100 games. Thus, the ‘Riders are here.
KEY STAT (9-2, 3.09): The combined record and earned run average of Erlin and Wieland while they were with the RoughRiders. Now, they are on the team that Frisco would play in the first round of the postseason.
3. Northwest Arkansas (57-52, 22-20; Past Rankings: 4, 3, 6)
The Naturals won the league last year, and they have had plenty of big-time prospects on the roster. Finally, Northwest Arkansas has gone on a bit of a run to assume first place in both the overall and the second half standings. Still, last-place Arkansas is three games back, so this race will go down to the wire.
KEY STAT (2): The Naturals are only two losses away from matching their total from all of last year. Northwest went 86-54 en route to a pair of division crowns and a Texas League championship.
4. Midland (49-63, 22-20; Past Rankings: 3, 7, 5)
Talk about a team that has bounced up and down this season. Right now, Midland is one of the hottest teams in the Texas League and they have jumped into second place in the South. The RockHounds have won eight of ten, including their first series victory over Frisco this season Tuesday through Thursday of last week.
KEY STAT (4): Only four games remain for the RockHounds against the first-place Missions, and those aren’t until August 30-September 2 in San Antonio. Midland must win the second-half championship to go to the playoffs, and they are currently five games back.
5. Arkansas (55-54, 19-23; Past Rankings: 7, 6, 2)
The Travelers stunned many and took the first half North Division title by one game over Northwest Arkansas. Right now, Arkansas is in a bit of a rut after going 6-0 to start half two. Since that point, Arkansas is 13-23, but they still have their postseason berth locked up.
KEY STAT (.348): Mike Trout’s average since returning to the Travs August 1. The Angels’ top prospect, who spent almost a month in the bigs, has hit safely in six of his seven games and has scored seven times since arriving back in North Little Rock.
6. Springfield (52-59, 20-21; Past Rankings: 5, 4, 7)
The Cardinals have been hot lately, which pushes them ahead of Tulsa and Corpus Christi. Springfield has gotten great pitching out of top prospect Shelby Miller, and the squad is right there in second in the second half North standings, just one-and-a-half games back of the Naturals.
KEY STAT (8-2): The Cardinals’ record over the last ten games, which has propelled Springfield from last place in the North to second.
7. Tulsa (52-59, 19-22; Past Rankings: 2, 5, 4)
This is the lowest ranking for the Drillers this season, and it comes with the club still very much alive in the second half. Surprisingly, the Drillers have struggled at home this season. They have the worst home record in the TL at 24-30, including an 8-12 mark in the second half.
KEY STAT (20): The number of games that will remain when Drew Pomeranz, the key cog in Colorado’s trade with Cleveland for Ubaldo Jimenez, is eligible to officially join the Rockies’ system. If he joins the Drillers, Pomeranz would be able to make no more than four starts before the regular season ends.
8. Corpus Christi (42-70, 17-25; Past Rankings: 8, 8, 8)
I’ve tried to move these poor Hooks up in the rankings, but I just can’t do it. Corpus Christi’s roster is depleted now because many key pieces have moved up to Triple-A Oklahoma City or Houston.
KEY STAT (23%): The percentage of the Astros’ current position players that were with the Hooks a month ago. Jose Altuve, J.D. Martinez and Jimmy Paredes are the Hooks-turned-Astros.
Agree? Disagree? Let us know in the comments!
The RoughRiders finished up a 5-1 road trip Tuesday night, which, believe it or not, is not even the best road swing of the season. The ‘Riders swept Arkansas after taking two of three in Springfield. Frisco begins a four-game series with Corpus Christi tonight, but let’s take a look back at a great six-game trip in today’s Frisco Facts.
- The ‘Riders swept Arkansas without the services of Tommy Mendonca, who went back home to California to be with his friends and family after two of his close friends passed away in a car accident. Mendonca is back in the lineup tonight, which is a huge boost considering all of Mendonca’s great work during the month of June.
- Frisco won all three of its games against the Travelers by one run (3-2, 4-3, 3-2). On the season, the ‘Riders own a 19-11 record in one-run games, which is second to San Antonio in all of the Texas League.
- During the six-game trip, Frisco starters went 3-1 with a 2.83 earned run average. The ‘Riders’ pitching as a whole held opponents to a .186 average with men in scoring position.
- The RoughRiders’ 13-inning win at Arkansas Sunday was the club’s tenth extra-inning victory in 14 tries, which is good for the best winning percentage in the league. Midland (7) is the next closest in wins in extra-inning affairs.
- The ‘Riders have made a living against the North Division. On the year, the squad is 23-13 against that division and 13-5 on the road against that quartet. Too bad the regular season slate features games against the North only 34 percent of the time.
- Frisco’s defense was less than stellar for the first time in a while. During the six-game road trip, the ‘Riders committed eight errors. Still, Frisco (.979) trails only Arkansas (.980) in fielding percentage in the TL.
- Finally, the RoughRiders are now 2-0 in season series after going 7-5 against both Arkansas and Springfield. Currently, the ‘Riders have the season-series edge against everyone except for San Antonio (6-10) and Corpus Christi (10-10).
The ‘Riders and Hooks open up a four-game series tonight at Dr Pepper Ballpark, and plenty is planned for the quick home stand. If you aren’t coming out to the game tonight, join us on the RoughRiders Baseball Network at 6:35. Enjoy!
The month of July is upon us, and the Texas League has been full of surprises. The Missions continue to roll, the Travelers have turned into the power of the North, and the RoughRiders are right there in the conversation for the league’s best teams.
Last month, the RoughRiders were ranked second in our Texas League Power Rankings. Can they hold onto that ranking? Find out in this month’s Power Rankings (past rankings in order from earliest to most recent).
1. San Antonio (55-23, 6-2; Past Rankings: 1, 1): The Missions have held this title since our first rankings back in April, and there is no reason to lower them now. Since our last ranking when the Missions were 38-18, they have gone 17-5, raising their winning percentage to a ridiculous .705. San Antonio is trying to replicate Northwest Arkansas’ dominance in the North last year, when the Naturals won both halves and the league title in September.
HIGH POINT (June 12): San Antonio clinched the first half title on this day with a 6-4 win over Corpus Christi, a last at-bat win that wrapped up a first half title that seemed inevitable after the team’s incredible start.
LOW POINT (June 22): This was the day that everyone’s records were reset to 0-0, which was a drop from 28 games above .500 to, well, 0. The Missions overcame this adversity with a 5-3 win over the Hooks.
KEY STAT (1st): San Antonio has the best record in all of full-season minor league baseball. No other team has a winning percentage above .700 like the Missions do.
2. Arkansas (42-33, 6-2; Past Rankings: 7, 6): Boy did I mess this one up last time. I had the entire North Division slotted 3-6, and I had the Travelers sixth. I learned my lesson. The Travs may be playing the best baseball in the Texas League over the last two weeks, and they would be first if it weren’t for, you know, the best team in all of minor league baseball.
HIGH POINT (June 21): Arkansas clinched its first playoff berth since 2008 with a 17-6 thumping of Springfield at Hammons Field. That victory capped a 13-6 run to end the first half and get that postseason bid.
LOW POINT (June 11): The Travelers lost their second straight game to Northwest Arkansas on that day, 6-4. The Travs finished 7-3 to get that playoff berth.
KEY STAT (+45): That was Arkansas’ run differential in June after posting a -1 in April and a -3 in May.
3. Frisco (43-35, 3-5; Past Rankings: 6, 2): The RoughRiders finished second in the Texas League during the first half of the season. It’s too bad the ‘Riders didn’t play in the North. Frisco would have won the division fairly easily. Instead, the ‘Riders sit in pretty good position in the playoff chase provided that San Antonio continues to roll. Only a Midland or Corpus Christi second-half crown should keep the club out of the playoffs.
HIGH POINT (June 19): The ‘Riders wrapped up a 6-2 road trip with a 9-8, 12-inning victory over Corpus Christi at Whataburger Field. In the month, Frisco went 13-5 away from Dr Pepper Ballpark.
LOW POINT (June 26): T.J. Steele’s walk-off, two-run homer gave Corpus Christi a 4-3 victory over the ‘Riders, which was the Hooks’ third straight against Frisco. That loss dipped the ‘Riders’ mark in the second half to 1-4.
KEY STAT (11): Frisco is 11 games up on Midland for second place in the overall standings, which means that if San Antonio wins both halves, the RoughRiders are in the driver’s seat for the second playoff spot from the South. The team with the second best overall record goes to the playoffs when the same team wins the division in both halves.
4. Tulsa (38-40, 5-3; Past Rankings: 2, 5): The Drillers got off to a great start in the first half before fading and finishing the half in third. So far, so good for Tulsa in the second half. It’s hard to believe that a team two games below the break-even mark would be fourth, but that’s the set-up in this top-heavy Texas League.
HIGH POINT (June 27): With two down and his club down by two in the top of the 9th, Tim Wheeler hit a three-run home run to give the Drillers a 6-5 lead over the Cardinals that they would not lose. It was Tulsa’s third straight win, and it ushered in the All-Star Break in a big way.
LOW POINT (June 19): The Drillers were already out of the chase by this point, but Arkansas delivered a knockout with a 3-1 win over Tulsa, the Travs’ third straight win over the Drillers.
KEY STAT (19): Wheeler’s home run total, which leads the Texas League by two over Frisco’s Mike Bianucci and Springfield’s Matt Adams.
5. Midland (32-46, 5-3; Past Rankings: 3, 7): Maybe it is a bit early to call the RockHounds “contenders” in the second half, but they are 5-3 and they rallied for a series split of San Antonio last week. Midland is off to a great start against the three best teams in this league (and the three top teams in this poll).
HIGH POINT (June 27): Midland went into the break with a come-from-behind 2-1 win over San Antonio. The ‘Hounds scored one in the seventh to tie and one in the eighth to win.
LOW POINT (June 25): Two days prior, the RockHounds were shutout by the Missions for the second straight day, 2-0. It looked like more of the same for Midland in the second half. The last four games have changed that outlook.
KEY STAT (3.9): That’s the average number of runs Midland’s opponents have scored in the first eight games of the second half. The RockHounds had the worst ERA in the first half (5.22).
6. Northwest Arkansas (36-39, 1-7; Past Rankings: 4, 3): The next two teams share the biggest drops of the month. I had the Naturals as the favorite in the North in early June, and they finished one game back of Arkansas. The second half, however, has been a struggle. The Naturals have lost seven in a row and sit with the worst record in the Texas League’s second half.
HIGH POINT (June 22): It was a modest high point, as the Naturals began the second half with a 6-2 win at Tulsa. At that point, the Naturals were four games above .500.
LOW POINT (July 1): Yesterday, the Naturals dropped their seventh straight, 4-1 at San Antonio. This skid ties a franchise high for most consecutive losses in team history. The only other time a seven-game losing streak has occurred for the Naturals–August of ’09.
KEY STAT (41-21): That’s the margin of runs for the Naturals’ opponents and the Naturals in the second half. Northwest has posted two runs or less in five of the eight games.
7. Springfield (34-44, 2-6; Past Rankings: 5, 4): I was higher on the Cardinals than most in the first half, but Springfield still finished last in the North with a 32-38 mark. So far in the second half, things haven’t gotten much better for a team that does have significantly more talent than it had at the beginning of the year.
HIGH POINT (June 15): Shelby Miller, St. Louis’ top prospect, tossed eight shutout innings against Arkansas in Springfield’s 8-1 win over the first-place Travs to keep the Cardinals alive (barely). Miller scattered four hits and whiffed eight.
LOW POINT (June 30): The Cardinals lost the lead in the eighth inning and fell victim to a RoughRiders walk-off win 7-6. It was the final loss during a four-game skid.
KEY STAT (1.89): Miller’s ERA through six Double-A starts. He has been great since his call-up from high-A Palm Beach.
8. Corpus Christi (29-49, 4-4; Past Rankings: 8, 8): The rankings have been consistent at the beginning and the end. The Hooks have been in the basement all year long. However, the Hooks have shown some life in the second half, and players like Jose Altuve, Xavier Cedeno, Jake Goebbert, Dallas Keuchel and J.D. Martinez make it fun to watch Corpus Christi. The Hooks may not be in the hunt, but they will post their fair share of wins in the second half.
HIGH POINT (June 26): T.J. Steele’s walk-off, two-run homer gave the Hooks a 4-3 victory over Frisco and a 3-2 record in the second half.
LOW POINT (June 27): The Hooks were three outs away from their first series sweep of the season, but the RoughRiders responded with four runs in the top of the ninth to stun Corpus 6-3.
KEY STAT (.500): The Hooks’ winning percentage through eight games in half number two, which is significantly better than the .357 mark they posted in the first half.
How would you rank the Texas League? Let us know. Enjoy our coverage tonight on TXA 21 beginning at 7:00 and on the RoughRiders Baseball Network beginning at 6:35. Hope you are along for the ride!