Results tagged ‘ Steve Buechele ’

Meet the new ‘Rider: Greg Miclat

Best wishes Justin Miller. As of Wednesday, Justin is a member of the Triple-A Round Rock Express, making his first career trip to Triple-A. Finding his form over the last six outings, Miller seemed ready for the next step, and now he will get the chance. From the ‘Riders press release:

Miller, 26, has played exclusively for the RoughRiders since 2011. The right-hander was recovering from “Tommy John” surgery at the start of the season, and began a MLB rehab assignment with the RoughRiders on May 17. On June 12, Miller was taken off his rehab assignment and was optioned to Frisco. In 16 appearances with the ‘Riders this season, Miller was 1-0 with a 6.19 ERA. He allowed 11 earned runs on 16 hits in 16 innings of work, striking out 21 and walking seven. Over his last six outings, the Bakersfield, California native allowed one unearned run in six innings of work. He did not walk a batter and surrendered just three hits over that stretch. Miller pitched for the ‘Riders in 2011 and missed all of 2012 after undergoing “Tommy John” surgery in April 2012.

In return, the RoughRiders are getting Greg Miclat from the Express, a middle infielder that has spent his first two years in the Rangers organization as a member of the Triple-A squad.

Miclat, 25, is in his second season with the Round Rock Express. Drafted by the Baltimore Orioles in the fifth round of the 2008 MLB June Amateur Draft, Miclat was traded to Texas by the Orioles in December 2011 as a player to be named later, along with Randy Henry, in exchange for former RoughRiders and Rangers catcher Taylor Teagarden. In 68 games this season, the Salisbury, North Carolina native is hitting .252 with no home runs and 24 RBI to go along with ten stolen bases, playing 30 games at shortstop and 39 at second base. The middle infielder stole a career-high 50 bases in 2011 with the Bowie Baysox in his final season as Orioles’ property. This will be his first stint with the RoughRiders.

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(Jamie Harms / American-Statesman)

Splitting his time between 2B and SS makes you think that he probably plays there for the ‘Riders as well. In fact, he has played only 2B and SS in his career.

Could that mean we see G-Rod in the outfield like 2012? Before Monday night, the ‘Riders had played the Teodoro Martinez / Ryan Strausborger / Chih-Hsien Chiang outfield trio for 20 straight games until Alejandro Selen spelled Chiang a couple days ago in right field. The addition of Miclat could allow Rodriguez to give that trio a bit more rest. In his career, Rodriguez has played three games in right field, 16 in center, and 23 in left field.

Bringing in Miclat also brings the ‘Riders back into a more conventional roster construction. Since Benson’s placement on the disabled list on May 19, the RoughRiders have functioned with just two bench players. Now they have three.

Miclat (25 years old) doesn’t hit for much power but provides an experienced middle infielder to bolster the youngsters Hanser Alberto (20) and Odubel Herrera (21). The 50 stolen base season for Miclat in 2011 provides some intrigue as well. The Express have been a pretty conservative baserunning team in his time in the Rangers system, ranking second to last in the PCL in 2012 in stolen bases with 70 in 104 attempts. This season they have been slightly below middle of the pack in both. Maybe this is why Miclat’s stolen base totals are down so significantly.

Perhaps with Steve Buechele‘s “green light” system, we could see Miclat return to his running ways. Scouted as having speed that grades as less than elite, Miclat clearly knows how to run the bases; his 50 steals in 2011 came on just 53 attempts.

File this away in the slightly interesting category: this is the first time that Henry and Miclat will be on the same team in their careers. They have been in the same major league organization since Henry was drafted in 2009, but Miclat has always been a level or two above the Oklahoman.

Miclat will be in uniform for the RoughRiders tonight when they begin a four-game series with the Corpus Christi Hooks. You can read more about the matchup in today’s game notes and be sure to tune in to the broadcast, which begins at 6:40 p.m. for the 7:05 scheduled first pitch.

- Nathan

Baseball term of the day: sodfather - the groundskeeper

‘Riders on the Record: Three pitchers, two managers and a broadcaster

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‘Riders on the Record is a weekly rundown of the pre-game interviews record by broadcasters Alex Vispoli and Nathan Barnett with RoughRiders players and coaches and occasionally a special guest. You can find all previous editions by clicking here.

A pitching-heavy week on ‘Riders on the record provided some gems from our guests. Kevin Pucetas spoke with R.A. Dickey about his knuckleball apprenticeship–good stuff. Other highlights include Tyler Tufts channeling his old college routine to starting pitching, Nick McBride’s July 4th tradition, Travelers’ manager Tim Bogar comparing Terry Francona and Joe Maddon and Naturals broadcaster Steven Davis’ impressions of flamethrower Yordano Ventura.

Enjoy and Happy Sunday! (and belated Happy Independence Day!)

Sunday, June 30, 2013 – Manager Steve Buechele


In their weekly chat, Alex spoke with ‘Riders manager Steve Buechele about the week that was after the All-Star break. He touches on the resiliency of the offense in their big come-from-behind win. He also talks about the promotion of 2012 ‘Riders outfielder Engel Beltre to the big leagues. (w/ Alex Vispoli)

Monday, July 1, 2013 – Voice of the Naturals Steven Davis


Steven Davis, the voice of the Naturals, talks about the success of the All-Star Game at Arvest Ballpark. He discusses the improved offense and the no-hitter from Brooks Pounders and reminisces on the most impressive Royals pitching prospects he has seen in his time in Springdale. (w/ Alex)

Wednesday, July 3, 2013 – RHP Tyler Tufts


Tyler Tufts made just one start in his pro career before 2013. This year, he has made 12. He has been great as a starter as well. He talks about his routine adjustment and explains what his timeline is like on the day his spot in the rotation is due up. He explains his current health situation and tosses aside the notion 100% in favor of day-to-day assessment. (w/ Nathan Barnett)

Thursday, July 4, 2013 – RHP Nick McBride


On Independence Day, RoughRiders starting pitcher Nick McBride talks about his family’s July 4th tradition on what is now his property. A fixture in the ‘Riders rotation for over a month, McBride began the season in the bullpen at Advanced-A Myrtle Beach; he discusses the change in routine and adjustment as a starter as well as the development of a new pitch. (w/ Nathan)

Friday, July 5, 2013 – Arkansas Travelers Manager Tim Bogar


Arkansas Travelers Manager Tim Bogar joined the pregame show for the final meeting of the regular season between the RoughRiders and the Travelers. He talks about his coaching tree and breaks down the play of some of the key Angels prospects on his roster. (w/ Nathan)

Saturday, July 6, 2013 – RHP Kevin Pucetas


Starting pitcher Kevin Pucetas has begun throwing a knuckleball in addition to his more conventional pitch mix. He talks about the development of that pitch and the advice given to him by R.A. Dickey. (w/ Nathan)

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The RoughRiders meet up with the Naturals tonight at 6:00 p.m. from Dr Pepper Ballpark. As always, you can find the game over at RidersBaseball.com! Here Alex’s interview with the manager live tonight at around 5:50 as part of the pre-game show.

- Nathan

Baseball term of the day: raw-raw - a knuckleball 

(term from The Dickson Baseball Dictionary)

‘Riders on the Record: a Cinderella run and a Gold Glover’s art

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‘Riders on the Record is a weekly rundown of the pre-game interviews record by broadcasters Alex Vispoli and Nathan Barnett with RoughRiders players and coaches and occasionally a special guest. You can find all previous editions by clicking here.

Another week has come and gone. The All-Star break sends us into the final 60+ games and the season, and once again we look back on another fine set of guests from this week’s ‘Riders on the Record. Highlights include Justin Miller’s College World Series storytelling and future Hall-of-Famer Omar Vizquel’s artistic inspiration.

Enjoy and Happy Sunday!

Sunday, June 23, 2013 – Manager Steve Buechele


Steve Buechele sits down for the Sunday interview for the last time before the All-Star break. He harps on the resiliency of his team but stresses the importance of this break. He highlights the nice contributions from Mitch Moreland and Joakim Soria in rehab stints during the home stand and touches on the departure of Ben Rowen and the arrival of Alex Claudio. He also shares his experiences with facing the knuckleball in light of Pucetas throwing one just a few days prior.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013 – C Zach Zaneksi


Coming off his home run before the All-Star break, Zach Zaneski talks about the current offensive groove he is in and how he is trying to make adjustments this season. He talks about catching MLB rehabber Joakim Soria and the quality of Kevin Pucetas‘ knuckleball.

Thursday, June 27, 2013 – RHP Justin Miller

Alex checked in with Justin Miller on the status of his stuff and his health on his road back from “Tommy John” surgery. He talks about his recent aggressiveness and how pitching coach Jeff Andrews has helped him along. He also reminisces on his collegiate days at Fresno State when his 2008 team made a Cinderella run through Omaha at the College World Series.

Friday, June 28, 2013 – Angels Infield Coordinator Omar Vizquel


Angels infield coordinator and Travelers Manager for the series, Omar Vizquel, sat down to speak about his first year as a coach and his long playing career. He zeroed in on the keys to his defensive successes and his delved into favorite hobby.

Saturday, June 29, 2013 – RHP Randy Henry


Randy Henry talks about his adjustment to short relief outings after his return from the disabled list. He explains his injury and the plans the Rangers have for him as far as how he will be used out of the bullpen. He also tells his story of when he was traded from the Orioles to the Rangers.

- Nathan

Baseball term of the day: Punch and Judy hitter - a singles hitter

‘Riders on the Record: Tongo, Neil’s curveball and a bundle of rehabbers

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‘Riders on the Record is a weekly rundown of the pre-game interviews record by broadcasters Alex Vispoli and Nathan Barnett with RoughRiders players and coaches and occasionally a special guest. You can find all previous editions by clicking here.

The season’s longest home stand was bolstered by the addition of rehabbers Mitch Moreland and Joakim Soria, both of who were kind enough to take some time to chat with us this week. Highlights from this week include updates from Keith Comstock on a number of injured, rehabbing and retooling Rangers hurlers, and James Vilade imparting some interesting insight on to the days leading up to the MLB draft for the Rangers’ player development wing. Teodoro Martinez explains the origin of his “Tongo” nickname, and be sure to tune in to Mitch’s interview to find out why David Murphy got the call from Ron Washington to pitch in the blowout in Boston and not the former college pitcher himself.

Sunday, June 16, 2013 – Manager Steve Buechele


In the weekly sit down with Manager Steve Buechele, we hear about the progress of Richard Bleier in his work out of the bullpen this year. He hits on the quietly dominating year that Brett Nicholas is putting together. The manager shares his story about telling Guilder Rodriguez that he had made his first ever all-star team. (w/ Alex Vispoli)

Monday, June 17, 2013 - RHP Neil Ramirez


Texas League All-Star starting pitcher Neil Ramirez is not focused on his selection but still proud of it. He breaks down the state of his curveball as well as his improved mental approach to the game this season. (w/ Nathan Barnett)

Tuesday, June 18, 2013 – Rangers 1B Mitch Moreland

Rangers rehabbing first baseman Mitch Moreland sat down after his first rehab game with the ‘Riders to talk about his health and his second incarnation of hamstring issues in his pro career. A former pitcher, Moreland explains how the decision was made to focus on hitting as a Rangers’ farmhand and if he ever missed pitching. He tells us how David Murphy got the nod over him to pitch in the blowout at Fenway Park earlier this season. (w/ Nathan)

Wednesday, June 19, 2013 – ‘Riders Coach / Rangers Scout James Vilade


‘Riders coach and Rangers scout James Vilade joined the pregame show for the first time this season to talk about his work with the ‘Riders and the Rangers. He talks about the Rangers pre-draft workouts and his involvement. He talks how he got into baseball operations and the value of personal connections in the scouting process. (w/ Nathan)

Thursday, June 20, 2013 – OF Teodoro Martinez


It’s been a great few weeks for Teodoro Martinez. A late addition to the Texas League All-Star game, Martinez followed up the honor just days later being named Texas Rangers Minor League Player of the Month for May. One of the team’s offensive leaders this year, he talks about his feel for the leadoff spot and his increased power. He also explains the origins of his nickname “Tongo.” (w/ Nathan)

Friday, June 21, 2013 - RHP Joakim Soria


Texas Rangers rehabber Joakim Soria joined the pregame to talk about his rehab from “Tommy John” surgery. He explains his decision to sign with the Texas Rangers and outlines a potential timetable for his return to the big leagues. He explains how he was “found,” the turning point in his career and his path to stardom in Kansas City. (w/ Nathan)

Saturday, June 22, 2013 – Rangers Rehab Pitching Coordinator Keith Comstock


Texas Rangers Rehab Pitching Coordinator Keith Comstock joined the broadcast to talk about a number of Rangers rehabbers, including Cody Buckel, and what the process is like out in Arizona. He touches on Joakim Soria and Justin Miller as well. (w/ Nathan)

- Nathan

Baseball term of the day: foozler - a lucky base hit

(term from The Dickson Baseball Dictionary)

RoughRiders’ Average First Half Lineup Card

70 down, 70 to go.

Frisco finished the first half with a 2-1 win over Midland last night. While we look ahead to what will come, including hopefully a ‘Riders second half title and a playoff berth, now is as good a time as ever to look back at what has been.

Remember when Odubel Herrera was the primary leadoff hitter? How about when Jared Hoying hit third every single one of his first 32 starts, a spot now clearly controlled by Brett Nicholas. Or how about the revolving door in the #2 spot in the order that saw Ryan Strausborger bat in eight times but only once since April 25.

The lineup has changed quite a bit over the course of the year, and I thought it might neat to take a closer look. Thus, I present the unofficial Steve Buechele RoughRiders Average First Half Lineup Card:

1st Half Lineup

This was an inexact science, but the idea was to present the amalgamation of the most common occurrences in the lineup over the first 70 games. I started with the top nine position players in terms of games started. Jared Hoying played more often than Guilder Rodriguez when on the active roster but his injury and subsequent promotion but him a few starts behind Rogirguez, Chih-Hsien Chiang and Tomas Telis for total starts.

I could have gone with the player who has played the most at each position, but that would mean Selen would be the DH (with 21 starts at DH, Chiang was second with 10 starts at DH), but Selen only made 32 overall starts in the first half, which ranked 11th on the team in total starts, so that didn’t make as much sense.

From there, I tried to place the most common spot in the lineup for each of the nine players, but that led to a few problems as well. For example: of the nine players, Chiang made the most starts in the #5 spot (22) but he made more starts in the #6 spot (28), which was also the most among the nine players, so he was the obvious choice there. Odubel Herrera and Teodoro Martinez batted leadoff more than anywhere else, but as you will see, Odubel became the #7 hitter, which has been the most inconsistently filled spot in the lineup. It’s the only spot that hasn’t had at least one player with more than 20 starts in that position of the lineup card.

The good news is, filling out the defense was easy. Of the nine players, each player’s most common position did not overlap save for one situation. Both Rodriguez and Buchholz played 3B more than anywhere else. Buchholz played almost twice as many times at the hot corner than G-Rod, though, so Rodriguez became the DH by default.

Martinez_Teodoro1. #3 Teodoro Martinez LF – Cafe has led off 23 times, including 22 of his last 23 starts. The one aberration in that stretch was batting second behind Ian Kinsler when he rehabbed with the RoughRiders last week–not a shameful move into the #2 spot. That consistency, along with the fact that he has really only hit in the #9 spot consistently otherwise (which needed to go to Alberto as you will see) won him the choice over Odubel Herrera in this spot. The ‘Riders are 14-9 when Martinez bats in the top spot. He is hitting .270 as the #1 batter, which is actually his lowest average at any spot in the lineup with more than 4 at bats; his .731 OPS, however, is the second highest (.759 in the #9 spot). As far the position goes, Teo has been the left fielder on 47 of the 70 lineup cards, which only trails Ryan Strausborger among outfield starts at one position.

Rodriguez_Guilder2. #6 Guilder Rodriguez DH – It’s ironic that the super-utility man Rodriguez is the DH. Or maybe it’s just stupidity on my part. G-Rod has actually only DH’d 3 times. Only Zach Zaneski and Hanser Alberto have DH’d less, but I had nowhere else to put him. If I could fill out the lineup card with him as the UTIL player, I would, but that’s just not allowed. The 29-year-old Venezuelan has played 12 games at 1B, 9 at 2B, 21 at 3B and 6 at SS. He leads the team in walks and on-base percentage (.0008 better than Brett Nicholas) and makes good contact, making him a good #2 hole hitter. He is hitting .309 in this spot this year and boasts a better than .400 OBP. He also has only one homer this year (and second of his career) in the spot in the order, which is good enough reason by itself. The fact that he has hit there more than anywhere else in the order, no one has any many starts in that spot as him, and no one else has primarily been the #2 hitter make G-Rod the obvious choice here.

Nicholas_Brett3. #29 Brett Nicholas 1B – Brett Nicholas made 28 of his first 30 appearances in the cleanup spot. Since that point, Nicholas has been the consistent pencil-in at number three. Nicholas has hit third more than any other player has hit in a single spot in the lineup. It has changed much as far as his production. In 33 games in the three spot, he is hitting .314/.383/.529. His production in the cleanup spot was nearly identical .291/.364/.556. He has struck out 50% more in the three hole (33 Ks vs. 22 Ks). As far as first base goes, only Hanser Alberto and Odubel Herrera have made more starts at one position (64 at SS, 60 at 2B) than Nicholas has at 1B (57)–a no brainer.

Buchholz_Alex4. #5 Alex Buchholz 3B – Buch has started 40 of the RoughRiders 70 games at the hot corner and only Brett Nicholas has more starts in the cleanup spot than him. This is all despite a three-week stint for the former Reds farmhand with the Rangers Triple-A club in Round Rock (where he hit eighth mostly and split time between DH and 3B, in case you were curious). He has 19 starts in the #5 spot but the cleanup spot really has suited him nicely. He is hitting .299 there with four of his six home runs. He is batting just .222 in the middle spot of the lineup.

Telis_Tomas5. #13 Tomas Telis C – Telis has been a shifting part of the middle to back-end of Buechele’s lineup. With 13 starts in the five and six spots of the lineup and 12 in the seven spot, he sort of defaulted into this position. Both Buchholz and Chiang have more starts than Telis at #5 but made more sense where they are at #4 and #6. He has received the bulk of the catching starts (38 of 70), 13 more than Zaneski. This has also been Telis’ best spot in the order as far as the batting average (.321), although all three of his home runs have come batting sixth, including the shot that won a fan a brand new Jeep.

Chiang_Chih-Hsien6. #11 Chih-Hsien Chiang RF - This one was easy. The first ever Taiwanese-born RoughRider was the most often used player in right field this season as well as the number six spot in the order. The same was true of Chiang’s starts. He made 22 in the number five spot, six less than number six. His starts in left (14) and DH (10) were far outweighed by his playing time in right field (36). He hasn’t hit his best in the number six spot. In fact his .202 batting average hitting sixth is the worst of the five spots in the order that he has hit in.

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7. #7 Odubel Herrera 2B – The hardest man to place, Herrera actually spent more time in the leadoff spot than any other player and hit second more often than seventh. He hasn’t hit leadoff since May 22 though. At least his position was easy to place. Outside of Alberto at SS, Herrera has made the most starts at one position with 60 at second base. He is hitting .304 in the #7 spot, his highest average of any spot in the lineup in which he has started more than one game, so that helps. I’ll run with that stat and leave it at that. Plus, he is hitting there tonight to begin the second half.

Strausborger_Ryan8. #4 Ryan Strausborger CF – With 63 starts in the outfield, Ryan Strausborger has been by far the most commonly placed player into the lineup as an outfielder. His 54 centerfield starts is most for any ‘Riders player at one spot in the outfield. His spot in the order has been less predictable. Ryan has hit second (8 starts), fifth (2), sixth (12), seventh (20), eighth (23), and ninth (1). His .247 average and .301 on-base percentage batting eighth is best of any spot he has hit in the order.

Alberto_Hanser9. #2 Hanser Alberto SS – Alberto began and finished the first half in the last spot of the order. He did 26 other times in between, beating out the second spot in the order for most starts for him. The 64 out of 70 day shortstop was the most commonly started position player at one position and his 28 starts in the #9 spot trail only Brett Nicholas in the three and four spot (33,32), Hoying in the three spot (32), and Herrera in the leadoff spot (29) for most starts in one spot of the order. Hanser hit .222 in the first half in the last spot in the order while he hit .288 in the #2 spot, but that is more of a function of him hitting second while hitting well and not hitting well because he was batting second. The youngest player in the Texas League at season’s open finished behind only Brett Nicholas and Ryan Strausborger with 65 starts.

The rest…

  • The bench players are all of the position players who didn’t make the starting nine that have played for the ‘Riders this year.
  • Neil Ramirez made it on the card as the most oft-used starting pitcher on the staff. He has made 14 starts. Carlos Pimentel checks in second with 13 games started.
  • The #5 spot is the only one in the lineup in which every active member of the roster has made at least one start in. Even Joe Benson has a start there, and he has only made eight starts in total.
  • Brett Nicholas and Jared Hoying were the most stable forces in the Frisco lineup in the first half. The two appeared in only three different spots (#3, #4, and #5). Every other RoughRider was placed in at least four different spots in the order in the first half.

- Nathan

Baseball term of the day: rabbit – a player with great speed

(term from The Baseball Thesaurus)

‘Riders on the Record: Kinsler’s ribs, “Pudge” teaching the youth and three All-Stars

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‘Riders on the Record is a weekly rundown of the pre-game interviews record by broadcasters Alex Vispoli and Nathan Barnett with RoughRiders players and coaches and occasionally a special guest. You can find all previous editions by clicking here.

A star-studded week for ‘Riders on the Record brings us conversations with three ‘Riders selected to the Texas League All-Star roster, a Rangers Hall-of-Famer and an All-Star big league rehabber.

Happy Sunday (and Father’s Day!) and enjoy!

Sunday, June 9, 2013 – Manager Steve Buechele


‘Riders manager Steve Buechele breaks down the most recent start from Carlos Pimentel and discusses the keys to his success. He also talks about managing Tyler Tufts, who has been shifted into the RoughRiders rotation, and how to gauge his readiness later into games. (w/ Alex Vispoli)

Tuesday, June 11, 2013 – 1B Brett Nicholas

Brett Nicholas sits down to talk about his recent All-Star nod and the excitement he has to play on the squad. He talks about his admiration for fellow All-Star, Midland’s Anthony Aliotti. He also weighs on the best conversationalist in the league, based on his chit-chats at the first base bag. (w/ Alex Vispoli)

Wednesday, June 12, 2013 – C Tomas Telis


The ‘Riders All-Star Catcher Tomas Telis comes to share his story of finding out the news about the All-Star game. He tells us who he would like to catch in the All-Star game that he has had to face as a batter. He also explains what his “off” days are like and how being a student of the game as a catcher helps his approach at the plate. (w/ Nathan Barnett)

Thursday, June 13, 2013 - Rangers HOF Catcher Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez


Legendary Rangers catcher, now Special Assistant to Rangers General Manager Jon Daniels, Ivan Rodriguez joined the pre-game show to talk with us about his new role with the Rangers and the development of the young catchers in the Rangers system. He also touches on how it feels to be a part of the Texas Rangers Hall of Fame. (w/ Nathan)

Friday, June 14, 2013 - Rangers 2B Ian Kinsler


Texas Rangers rehabbing All-Star second baseman Ian Kinsler talks about the state of his rehab, the importance of playing in the field while on the assignment and the history of his rib injury. He also reminisces on his time in Frisco as a member of the RoughRiders. (w/ Nathan)

Saturday, June 15, 2013 - RHP Ben Rowen

RoughRiders All-Star reliever Ben Rowen talks about how he heard about his Mid-Season All-Star honors and what it means to him in his first Double-A level. He talks about the influence of Chad Bradford. He also touches on his love for hockey and his beloved LA Kings. (w/ Nathan)

- Nathan

Baseball term of the day: diamond artist - a 1930s term for a ballplayer

(term from The Baseball Thesaurus)

‘Riders on the Record: owning seven gloves and hunting hogs

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‘Riders on the Record is a weekly rundown of the pre-game interviews record by broadcasters Alex Vispoli and Nathan Barnett with RoughRiders players and coaches and occasionally a special guest. You can find all previous editions by clicking here.

This week, highlights include the Manager’s appreciation for the submarining right-hander, a fascinating conversation with Danny Clark (editor’s note: my favorite interview of the year thus far), and hunting stories from Kevin Pucetas.

Happy Sunday and enjoy!

Sunday, June 2, 2013 - Manager Steve Buechele


This week’s Sunday chat with ‘Riders manager Steve Buechele finished up the home stand for the RoughRiders. He hits on Mike Olt‘s strange vision issues and the torrid start for Joe Benson. He lauds Ben Rowen for getting his team out of so many jams. (w/ Alex Vispoli)

Tuesday, June 4, 2013 - RHP Nick McBride


Nick McBride joins us for the first time this season. He talks about his bouncing around the Rangers system. He weighs on his favorite pitching role, whether he wants to be a starter or reliever. (w/ Alex)

Wednesday, June 5, 2013 - Danny Clark


The Rangers Minor League Pitcher Coordinator Danny Clark took some time out of his day to join the pregame show to discuss the state of the Rangers arms. He tells us that Randy Henry will be pitching in short stints following his return from the DL. He talks about the inconsistencies of Wilmer Font, the enigma of Ben Rowen and the philosophies of the Rangers in promoting their pitchers. He also outlines a number of guys who could be the next RoughRiders pitcher coming up from the lower levels. (w/ Alex)

Thursday, June 6, 2013 - Missions Broadcaster Mike Saeger


Missions broadcaster Mike Saeger chats with the Voice of the RoughRiders Alex Vispoli before the game Friday night. They discuss the Missions inability to field against the RoughRiders. Saeger talks about the quietly impressive year of Padres prospect Matt Andriese and Kalian Sams bursting onto the scene. (w/ Alex)

Friday, June 7, 2013 - IF Guilder Rodriguez


The RoughRiders utility infielder owns nearly enough gloves to field a whole team. Guilder Rodriguez talks about playing multiple positions and how he prepares for the combination of situations he must be ready for on a day-to-day basis. He talks about his big hit the previous night, which gave the RoughRiders a big one-run win in San Antonio. (w/ Alex)

Saturday, June 8, 2013 - RHP Kevin Pucetas


RoughRiders starting pitcher Kevin Pucetas joins us and breaks down where he is mentally and physically close to the mid-way point for the season. He also shares his favorite hobby, hunting, and tells a story of nearly breaking a North Texas record! (w/ Alex)

- Nathan

Baseball term of the day: coop –  dugout

(term from The Baseball Thesaurus)

‘Riders on the Record: the first day of school, home runs over touchdowns and the return of Mike Olt

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‘Riders on the Record is a weekly rundown of the pre-game interviews record by broadcasters Alex Vispoli and Nathan Barnett with RoughRiders players and coaches and occasionally a special guest. You can find all previous editions by clicking here.  

Another busy week of player transactions, the RoughRiders saw the return of Alex Buchholz and Arlett Mavare from Triple-A, the departure of Barret Serrato (back to extended spring training), Roman Mendez sustain a season-ending injury, Mike Olt return from the DL and Alexi Ogando make a rehab start for the Rangers at Dr Pepper Ballpark.

Highlights from this week eight’s ‘Riders on the Record include Steve Buechele’s assessment of his two aces in Neil Ramirez and Carlos Pimentel, Dennis Higgins (The Voice of the Drillers) talking about former Clemson QB Kyle Parker’s focus on baseball, Joe Benson’s acclimation to the RoughRiders clubhouse, and Mike Olt on his lengthy journey back to health from a vision issue he dealt with in spring training and while at Triple-A Round Rock.

Happy Sunday and enjoy!

Sunday, May 26, 2013 – Manager Steve Buechele


In their weekly sit-down, ‘Riders Manager Steve Buechele speaks about the gritty outing of Neil Ramirez, the continued success of recently named Texas League Pitcher of the Week Carlos Pimentel, the return of Alex Buchholz from Triple-A, and the addition of Joe Benson from Minnesota. (w/ Alex Vispoli)

Monday, May 27, 2013 – Tulsa Broadcaster Dennis Higgins 


Tulsa broadcaster Dennis Higgins joins Alex to give us a Drillers perspective. He talks about Kyle Parker‘s commitment to baseball after starring at Clemson as a QB in addition to playing baseball. They talk about the Rockies relationship with the Tulsa franchise and the new instructional program put in place by Colorado this offseason. (w/ Alex)

Tuesday, May 28, 2013 – OF Joe Benson


The Texas Rangers claimed Joe Benson off waivers from Minnesota on Saturday. He sat down with Nathan Barnett before his home debut at Dr Pepper Ballpark and discussed his whirlwind of a weekend. He explains his speedy home run trot and expresses his excitement for a fresh start in the Rangers organization. (w/ Nathan Barnett)

Wednesday, May 29, 2013 – Hanser Alberto


RoughRiders shortstop Hanser Alberto talks about his big three-run home run that lifted the ‘Riders over the Cardinals on Tuesday. He explains the origins of his nickname “Radio” as well. (w/ Nathan)

Friday, May 31, 2013 – 3B Alex Buchholz


In his first week back at Double-A, Alex Buchholz discusses his time with Triple-A Round Rock. In his ever stint at the highest minor league level, Buchholz excelled, and he explained the differences between Double-A and Triple-A pitching as well as the routine of the players around him. (w/ Nathan)

Saturday, June 1, 2013 – 3B Mike Olt


Mike Olt returned from the disabled list and played over the weekend for the RoughRiders. In his first game, he homered to left field, just his second of the season. He hit only one as a member of the Express in his 20 games, but with his vision issues resolved, Mike says he feels more like himself. He talked about his long road to recovery and the legions of doctor visits. (w/ Nathan)

- Nathan

Baseball term of the day: tobasco tapa hard-hit ground ball
(term from The Dickson Baseball Dictionary)

Say it is so Joe!

Joe+Benson+Minnesota+Twins+Photo+Day+N4y2KxEMxPcl
Say Hello to Joe Benson.

Drafted in the second round, 64th overall by the Minnesota Twins in 2006, Benson entered the Twins system out of Joliet Catholic Academy, signing for $575,000 in a decision to forgo playing college baseball (and maybe football as well) at Purdue University.

In 2006, Benson was a Gulf Coast League Twin (Rookie) for 52 games and then a Beloit Snapper (Class A) for eight more after signing to his professional deal on June 10, 2010–just days after the draft. 1914 days later, he made his Major League debut for the Twins against Jake Peavy and the White Sox.

Another 262 days later, Benson was a Ranger and was optioned to Frisco. The next day he hit his first home run as a Texas farmhand, with Frisco in Tulsa. The following day he hit his second. Last night (2179 days after he signed with Minnesota) he made his Dr Pepper Ballpark debut and hit another.

Benson-HR

Benson’s home run and sprint around the bases on Monday (in real time)

Before we go into the waiver process that brought Benson to Frisco, take another look at that journey around the bags by Benson (it might take few moments to load). ‘Riders manager Steve Buechele said it’s the fastest home run trot he’s ever seen, and it wasn’t a one-time performance. This is what he does.

As Joe himself explained it: “before 2010, I never had more than 5 home runs in a season. I started to hitting some balls to right-center, and right off the bat, I would think three. That’s pretty much been my philosophy. If I backspin a ball, and I think it’s getting over an outfielder’s head, I am thinking a triple. By then, if the ball goes over the fence, and the umpire signals home run, I think it looks obnoxious to break it down into a slow jog, so I just kind of keep the pace, touch home plate, and jog back into the dugout.”

On Saturday, May 25, 2013, the Rangers acquired Benson on waivers from Minnesota. The Twins needed to make room for P.J. Walters, and Benson was the roster casualty. From my best understanding of the rule (thanks to BPPurple Row, and @NewbergReport), when a player is placed on waivers, every MLB team is notified and has up to 48 hours to place a claim on the player. If no team placed a claim, Benson could have been removed from the Twins 40-man roster and stayed in their system. If multiple claims were placed on the player, the priority would have gone to the team with the worst record (in either league) on the day the waiver window closed, which should have been Saturday, May 23 (he was claimed by Texas).

Going into Saturday, this is how the top of the MLB Standings looked:

1. St. Louis Cardinals 31-16

2. Texas Rangers 31-17

3. Cincinnati Reds 30-18

This means that 28 other teams passed on Benson (maybe St. Louis did as well, seems likely considering the depth at OF in their system). La Velle E. Neal III has a good piece on how the Twins front office viewed the deal and their interaction with Benson over the weekend.

Benson was once regarded very highly in the Twins system before injuries and issues at the Triple-A level dropped his stock a bit. A two sport start in high school, Benson was, and still is, a great athlete with good speed, a good throwing arm, and a projectable bat with power. Benson was ranked the 8th best prospect in Twins organization by Baseball America entering his first full season in 2007. He rose to second in the system in 2008 after he showed good speed (18 SB) and good patience (49 BB) despite contact issues (124 K) and a lack of power (5 HR) in the Midwest League with the Beloit Snappers. The power was very slow to come around, as he posted four home runs in 2008 and just five in 2009. His stock fell in the system, ranked 15th entering 2009 and then 13th to begin 2010.

But then 2010 happened. Benson exploded for 27 homers, the most in the entire Minnesota organization (Thome had 25 in the bigs). His 23 Double-A home runs ranked fourth in Eastern League tied for the most hit by a New Britain hitter since 2004 when now major leaguer Garrett Jones hit 30. He was still striking out quite a bit (136 in 123 games) but the patience was still there and the power was real.

Year Tm Lev G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
2006 2 Teams Rk-A 60 215 32 56 11 5 5 29 10 10 21 47 .260 .329 .428 .757
2006 Twins Rk 52 196 30 51 11 5 5 28 9 10 21 41 .260 .335 .444 .779
2006 Beloit A 8 19 2 5 0 0 0 1 1 0 0 6 .263 .263 .263 .526
2007 Beloit A 122 432 73 110 18 8 5 38 18 16 49 124 .255 .347 .368 .715
2008 Beloit A 69 254 39 63 16 3 4 27 17 11 24 73 .248 .326 .382 .708
2009 2 Teams A+-Rk 82 268 47 76 10 3 5 29 15 8 48 74 .284 .414 .399 .813
2009 Twins Rk 2 5 1 1 0 0 0 0 1 1 2 0 .200 .429 .200 .629
2009 Fort Myers A+ 80 263 46 75 10 3 5 29 14 7 46 74 .285 .414 .403 .817
2010 2 Teams AA-A+ 123 459 81 119 31 8 27 62 19 9 47 136 .259 .343 .538 .881
2010 Fort Myers A+ 21 85 16 25 11 1 4 13 5 0 8 21 .294 .375 .588 .963
2010 New Britain AA 102 374 65 94 20 7 23 49 14 9 39 115 .251 .336 .527 .862
2011 2 Teams AA-Rk 114 409 71 116 29 4 16 67 14 10 58 111 .284 .387 .491 .879
2011 Twins Rk 3 9 2 2 1 0 0 0 1 1 2 2 .222 .364 .333 .697
2011 New Britain AA 111 400 69 114 28 4 16 67 13 9 56 109 .285 .388 .495 .883
2012 4 Teams Rk-AAA 76 277 30 56 13 3 6 36 13 4 30 81 .202 .288 .336 .624
2012 Twins Rk 3 8 1 3 1 0 0 0 1 1 1 2 .375 .444 .500 .944
2012 Fort Myers A+ 8 33 7 10 3 0 1 8 4 0 5 9 .303 .395 .485 .880
2012 New Britain AA 37 141 13 26 6 1 3 20 4 3 13 43 .184 .268 .305 .572
2012 Rochester AAA 28 95 9 17 3 2 2 8 4 0 11 27 .179 .269 .316 .584
2013 2 Teams AAA-AA 45 162 25 33 7 3 4 14 4 2 11 52 .204 .267 .358 .625
2013 Rochester AAA 42 151 20 29 7 2 1 9 4 2 10 50 .192 .256 .285 .541
8 Seasons 691 2476 398 629 135 37 72 302 110 70 288 698 .254 .346 .426 .772
AA (4 seasons) AA 253 926 152 238 54 13 45 141 31 21 109 269 .257 .350 .489 .839
Rk (4 seasons) Rk 60 218 34 57 13 5 5 28 12 13 26 45 .261 .343 .436 .779
A (3 seasons) A 199 705 114 178 34 11 9 66 36 27 73 203 .252 .338 .370 .708
A+ (3 seasons) A+ 109 381 69 110 24 4 10 50 23 7 59 104 .289 .404 .451 .855
AAA (2 seasons) AAA 70 246 29 46 10 4 3 17 8 2 21 77 .187 .261 .297 .558
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 5/29/2013.

Benson earned the Sherry Robertson Award, given to the Twins Minor League Player of the Year in 2010. Baseball America ranked him as a top 100 prospect before the 2011 season, and again he was in the top five in the Twins system, ranked fourth. In September of the year, Benson leapfrogged Triple-A and went straight to The Show. Things didn’t go great for Joe in the big leagues, however. He hit just .239 in 21 games with the Twinkies and did not homer in 74 plate appearances. The strikeouts were still a problem and he didn’t walk much against Major League pitching.

Year Tm Lg G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG
2011 MIN AL 21 74 71 3 17 6 1 0 2 2 2 3 21 .239 .270 .352
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 5/29/2013.

Benson went back to minors to open 2012 and had issues with Triple-A pitching. He was demoted back to Double-A and battled injuries including a left knee issue and a broken left hamate bone in his wrist. Joe says he feels like he is totally healthy this season and wasn’t quite right at the end of the 2012.

He has showed it in his three games with his new organization. Three games. Three home runs. A triple. Five RBI.

Who knows where Joe Benson goes from here. He is out of options and will be a free agent at the end of the season. For now, it’s nice to see him off to a good beginning in his fresh start, and he sure has been a nice addition to this Frisco lineup.

Below is the interview I conducted with Joe before Tuesday’s home debut for the outfielder.

_________

The RoughRiders host the Springfield Cardinals once again tonight at 7:05 pm at Dr Pepper Ballpark. RHP Tyler Tufts opposes RHP Seth Blair, and you can read all about the ‘Riders in tonight’s edition of the game notes.

- Nathan

Baseball term of the day: Baseball rata player devoted to the game

‘Riders on the Record: a red-eye and a nearly historic start

‘Riders on the Record is a weekly rundown of the pre-game interviews record by broadcasters Alex Vispoli and Nathan Barnett with RoughRiders players and coaches and occasionally a special guest. You can find all previous editions by clicking here.  

Happy Holiday weekend ‘Riders fans! The RoughRiders play their first evening game on a Sunday tonight in Tulsa, and since it is Sunday, once again it is time for ‘Riders on the Record. Hope you enjoy the entries this week which include the skipper’s side of his ejection a week ago, a former Metroplex star discussing his bout with cancer, a surprising callup’s crazy travel day to Frisco and the thoughts of Carlos Pimentel following his near no-hitter. And there is Fungo Golf, of course.

Enjoy!

Sunday, May 19, 2013 – Manager Steve Buechele


This Sunday morning Alex asked Manager Steve Buechele about the hot-hitting of Teodoro Martinez, the hamstring injury to Jared Hoying and the offensive struggles of Ryan Strausborger. He also explains his gripe with the umpires the previous night that led to his ejection. (w/ Alex Vispoli)

Monday, May 20, 2013 – San Antonio Missions RHP Josh Geer


Forney High School graduate and San Antonio Missions right-handed pitcher Josh Geer took some time after batting practice to tell us about his memories of baseball in the Metroplex growing up. The former major leaguer talked about his bout with cancer and where is in physically in his recovery as well as how it changed his mental approach with baseball. He recounts his days in high school with Braves catcher Evan Gattis as well. (w/ Nathan Barnett)

Wednesday, May 22, 2013 – OF Ryan Strausborger


Finally catching fire a bit for the ‘Riders offensively, Ryan Strausborger talks about his big hit the previous ballgame and how he feels offensively past the quarter mark of the season. Well on his way to eclipsing his stolen base mark of a year ago, he brings up his desire to be more aggressive on the base paths as well. In the wake of Ross Wolf‘s first Major League start the same day, he talks about what the pitcher was like as a teammate as well. (w/ Alex)

Thursday, May 23, 2013 – OF Barrett Serrato


Newest RoughRiders position player Barrett Serrato has yet to play in a game, but it could be in part because he still has jet lag! He talked about his wild travel day Sunday after getting the call that he had been promoted to Double-A. He talks about his goals for the season and the adjustments he is trying to make him his metal bat days at Purdue. (w/ Alex)

Friday, May 24, 2013 – RHP Carlos Pimentel


A day after the RoughRiders combined for a one-hit shutout, the starting pitcher Carlos Pimentel talks about his special night. Pimentel through the first seven innings and took a no-hitter into the 6th inning. (w/ Alex)

Saturday, May 25, 2013 – RHP Ben Rowen


Following a night in which he picked up his third save of the year, Ben Rowen joined Alex on the pregame show. Despite his very different arm angle, Ben explained that he experiences similar soreness and tire that any other pitcher would. He also talked about his hockey-playing days and his Fungo Golf hobby. (w/ Alex)

- Nathan

Baseball term of the day: a la cartea catch made with one hand

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