Results tagged ‘ Steve Buechele ’

PlayBall! Preview

We have been working on a special version of the PlayBall! game program for the playoffs, and you can get a sneak peak at the feature story here. It is a summary of the 2011 season, and it brings back some memories from a tremendous five-month.
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The RoughRiders’ Run to the Playoffs

For the sixth time in franchise history, the RoughRiders are in the Texas League playoffs. Find out how the ‘Riders reached this point in our season rewind.

A Texas League season is a grind, with long trips, steamy temperatures, and few breaks. It is a long journey with peaks and valleys. Here in the RoughRiders’ ninth season, there were enough peaks for Frisco to enjoy playoff baseball for the sixth time.

April was a struggle for second-year skipper Steve Buechele’s club. The ‘Riders finished the month in the South Division’s basement at 8-14. The signature moment of the rough April was quite a notable one, though. Martin Perez, the Rangers’ top prospect, tossed a rain-shortened perfect game at Arkansas April 19.

By May 13, the ‘Riders worked their way back to the .500 mark. Later in the month, Frisco staked its claim to second place with a four-game sweep of Midland at Dr Pepper Ballpark. From this point on, the ‘Riders spent more time in second place than any other team in the Texas League.

The RoughRiders received some temporary help in May. Last year’s American League Most Valuable Player Josh Hamilton hit a home run during his two-day rehab stint in Frisco. Nelson Cruz also graced the middle of the ‘Riders’ order for three games while battling back from an injury. Big name pitchers like Neftali Feliz, Tommy Hunter and Brandon Webb rehabbed in Frisco, too.

Leonys Martin's stateside career began in Frisco, and he is now in Arlington. (James Garner)

Also, outfielder Leonys Martin made his stateside debut with the RoughRiders after the Rangers inked Martin to a $15.5 million dollar contract. Martin hit .348 in 29 games with the ‘Riders before heading to Triple-A Round Rock.

Frisco finished the first half strongly, but a 40-30 mark was not good enough to notch a division championship after San Antonio’s 49-win showing. Individually, Tommy Mendonca was the star of the show in June. Mendonca was the Texas League’s Player of the Month after boasting a .375 batting average and driving in 30 runs.

July was a month for the record books in Frisco. The ‘Riders matched a franchise-high in runs in their 19-4 thumping of Corpus Christi July 22. Mendonca hit three of the RoughRiders’ record-setting eight home runs.

One week later, Joe Wieland became the first RoughRider to single-handedly throw a nine-inning no-hitter at San Antonio. Less than 48 hours after the no-no, the Rangers dealt Wieland and Robbie Erlin to San Diego for big league reliever Mike Adams. As a result, the former Frisco duo joined San Antonio’s loaded rotation.

The 'Riders begin their 2011 playoff journey Wednesday in San Antonio (Alex Yocum-Beeman).

The RoughRiders spent the month of August holding off Midland for a playoff berth. They officially clinched a spot in the season’s final week, a few days after the ‘Riders took three of four from their first round opponent—San Antonio.

Over the course of 140 games, the ‘Riders played well enough to earn a chance to vie for the Texas League’s richest prize. The club has been among the best in the league in most categories this season, and Frisco is well positioned to have a September to remember for the first time since 2004—the franchise’s first and only championship season.

The RoughRiders have won regularly here in 2011, and now only six playoff wins separate the ‘Riders from a title.

- Brian

RoughRiders Playoff History

In case you missed it, the RoughRiders have clinched a playoff spot for the sixth time in franchise history. Frisco will square off with San Antonio in the first round beginning September 7.

How have the ‘Riders fared in the playoffs over the years? Here are the year-by-year results.

2003:
Divisional Round: Defeated Wichita 3-0
Championship Series: Lost to San Antonio 4-1
In the RoughRiders’ first season, they qualified for the playoffs and made quick work of the Wranglers in the first round. In 2003, like this season, San Antonio was an all-timer of a team. The Missions went 88-51 in the regular season and cruised past the ‘Riders for the title.

The RoughRiders celebrate their 2004 Texas League championship.

2004:
Divisional Round: Defeated Tulsa 3-0
Championship Series: Defeated Round Rock 4-1
After a third-place finish in the first half, the RoughRiders blew away the competition en route to their first and only Texas League championship. Frisco went 45-25 in the second half to punch its playoff ticket. In their three-game sweep of Tulsa, the ‘Riders scored 28 runs. In the championship series against Round Rock, Frisco’s pitching staff gave up only 20 runs. This remains the lone banner in the RoughRiders’ tenure in the Texas League.

2007:
Divisional Round: Lost to San Antonio 3-0
Following their title in 2004, the RoughRiders missed the playoffs in ’05 and ’06. They made up for lost time with a record of 85-55 during the 2007 regular season, which was ten games better than any other team in the Texas League. However, the ‘Riders did not translate their regular season success into the playoffs. The Missions outscored Frisco 19-8 in the sweep. San Antonio went on to win the TL title.

2008:
Divisional Round: Defeated San Antonio 3-0
Championship Series: Lost to Arkansas 3-2
For the second straight season, the ‘Riders posted the best record in the Texas League (84-56). This time, the ‘Riders made quick work of San Antonio in the first round. In fact, Frisco’s sweep of San Antonio was more lopsided than the Missions’ broom job in ’07, as the ‘Riders outscored the defending champs 20-5. The championship series went back and forth, with Frisco taking Game 2 and Game 4. However, the Travelers dominated the deciding Game 5 11-3 to win their first outright title since 1989.

2010:
Divisional Round: Lost to Midland 3-1
Skipper Steve Buechele led the RoughRiders to the playoffs in his first season at the helm, but the RockHounds won back-to-back games at home after the two clubs split the two games at Dr Pepper Ballpark. Midland lost to Northwest Arkansas in the championship series.

All-Time Record (Games): 17-14
All-Time Record (Series): 4-4

- Brian

My Texas League Postseason Ballot

The 2011 Texas League Postseason All-Star ballots are out to managers and media members, and both Aaron and I have a vote. Below, I have my picks along with a brief explanation why.

First off, here are a few notes. As a member of the RoughRiders organization, I cannot vote for a RoughRider. Still, I have included six ‘Riders who could be on this list. Also, anyone who has played in the TL this year is eligible. Finally, all of the ballots are due by tomorrow, so the last two weeks of the season do not factor into the decision.

Share your thoughts at the bottom in the comments section. Here we go.

Catcher: Wilin Rosario (Tulsa)

The Rockies’ number two prospect, Rosario has not had the best season offensively. But, he could get a September promotion to Colorado and he has put up the best numbers of any Texas League catcher (.254, 18 HR, 41 RBI).

First Baseman: Matt Adams (Springfield)

Triple Crown? Matt Adams has a chance in '11 (Photo courtesy of Mark Harrell/Springfield Cardinals).

With Tim Wheeler’s recent struggles and Jermaine Mitchell’s promotion to Triple-A Sacramento, Adams has an outside shot at a Triple Crown. Adams has a league-leading 30 homers (one better than Wheeler) and 94 RBIs, and he is sixth in the league in average at .313. However, the top three (Mitchell, J.D. Martinez and James Darnell) will not have enough plate appearances to qualify barring a return to the TL. His real target is Mike Trout (.326).

Second Baseman: Jose Altuve (Corpus Christi)

I like to steer away from players who did not spend much time in a league for postseason awards, but the second base spot is weak here in the Texas League and Altuve was incredible to watch. He hit .361 in his 35 games with Corpus Christi. During that short stint, Altuve drove in 25 runs and scored 21.

Shortstop: Darwin Perez (Arkansas)

Shortstop is a fairly weak position in the Texas League this season, as well, so Perez is my choice because of his on-base percentage (.378, 11th), stolen bases (22, 6th) and fielding percentage (.982, 1st among qualifiers). If I could vote for a RoughRider, Renny Osuna would be my choice here.

Third Baseman: James Darnell (San Antonio)

With apologies to Arkansas’ Luis Jimenez, Darnell was a machine in his 76 games with the Missions. Darnell hit .333, which still qualifies for third in the Texas League, and he had an OPS of 1.038. Darnell hit 17 homers and drove in 62 runs, and now his home is San Diego.

Outfielder: Mike Trout (Arkansas)

Trout was advertised as the number one or number two prospect in the minors at the start of the season, and he has not disappointed. Trout is hitting .326 with 33 stolen bases, and he earned a brief stint in the big leagues. He is incredibly fun to watch.

Outfielder: Jermaine Mitchell (Midland)

Mitchell still qualifies as the league’s leader in batting average (.355), on-base percentage (.453) and OPS (1.042). He didn’t have the gaudy home run (10) or RBI (50) totals, but he was a menace atop Midland’s order.

Outfielder: Tim Wheeler (Tulsa)

Wheeler has struggled in August, but he still boasts great numbers (Photo courtesy of Shawn E. Davis/MiLB.com).

Wheeler has struggled lately (.200, 0 HR, 2 RBIs in August), but you have to wonder if he is getting bored at the Double-A level. He is still second in homers (29) and tied for fourth in RBIs (79).  It was between Corpus Christi’s J.D. Martinez and Wheeler, and I went with Tulsa’s leadoff hitter, who is putting up middle-of-the-order stats. Don’t worry, Martinez fans…

Designated Hitter: J.D. Martinez (Corpus Christi)

The Hooks have the worst record in the Texas League, but they are one of three teams to have two offensive representatives on my list. Martinez, like Jose Altuve, is in the big leagues now, but he is fourth in the TL in OPS (.959) and seventh in RBIs (72) despite only playing in 88 games.

Three toughest offensive omissions:
1. Arkansas 3B Luis Jimenez (barely edged by Darnell and Martinez)
2. Springfield OF Alex Castellanos (gave Wheeler edge despite being in recent funk)
3. San Antonio OF Blake Tekotte (outfield was the most loaded position)

Three most likely RoughRiders on the list:
1. Renny Osuna (2B/SS)
2. Tommy Mendonca (3B)
3. Leonys Martin (OF)
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Pitchers:

1. Matt Shoemaker (Arkansas)

Matt Shoemaker has the best ERA in the TL, and it's not even that close (Photo courtesy of the Arkansas Travelers).

Shoemaker started the season in Triple-A, but he came down to the Texas League in early May and began his dominance. He leads the league, by a wide margin, in ERA (2.18) and WHIP (1.00) among qualifiers. He also paces all Texas Leaguers in strikeouts with 121 and is tied at the top with 12 wins.

2. Garrett Richards (Arkansas)

Richards is the man who is deadlocked with Shoemaker in wins. Both hurlers are 12-2, and Richards is the league leader in innings with 141. Richards, who is currently with the Angels, is 12-2 with an ERA of 3.06, which is second to Shoemaker among qualifiers.

3. Dallas Keuchel (Corpus Christi)

Don’t let his 9-7 record fool you—Keuchel has been a legitimate ace all season long. The lefty has worked through five innings in all but one of his 19 starts, and he has only surrendered more than three runs four times. He is not overpowering (76 strikeouts in 127 2/3 innings), but he is second among qualifiers in WHIP at 1.12.

Joe Wieland tossed a no-hitter with Frisco, and he is now dominating with San Antonio (Photo courtesy of James Garner).

4. Joe Wieland (San Antonio)

Casey Kelly is San Diego’s top prospect, and Jorge Reyes has the best numbers of any San Antonio starter who has been on the club all year. However, who has made a bigger impact in the Texas League this season than Wieland? Wieland tossed a no-hitter with the RoughRiders against San Antonio, and then he went to the Missions. Wieland’s ERA is 1.50 in Double-A, and he has a 1.85 overall this season.

5. Nick Vincent (San Antonio)

Vincent has made more appearances (58) than anyone else in the Texas League. The reliever is 7-1 with a 2.19 ERA in 70 innings, and he has 82 strikeouts to 14 walks. In the eighth inning, the righty owns a 1.91 ERA. In the ninth, that mark falls to 1.50. The Missions have been dominant all year long, and the bullpen is a big reason why.

6. Brad Brach (San Antonio)

Closers are not that common in the minors, but Brach was the man who dominated the ninth inning while in San Antonio. Brach had a 2.25 ERA and went 23 for 25 in save opportunities with the Missions before earning a promotion to Triple-A Tucson. When ahead in the count, the TL’s save leader held his opposition to an .097 average (7-for-72).

Three toughest pitching omissions:
1. Springfield’s Shelby Miller (good numbers, but not good enough to overcome small sample size)
2. Tulsa’s Juan Nicasio (better numbers than Miller, but fewer innings)
3. San Antonio’s Jorge Reyes (4th in ERA, but only worked more than five innings once)

Three most likely RoughRiders on the list:
1. LHP Martin Perez
2. RHP Justin Miller
3. RHP Tyler Tufts

PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Springfield’s Matt Adams

He is the most dangerous hitter in the Texas League right now, and he has a chance at the Triple Crown. He may not have the upside that some other players in this league possess, but he has been the best hitter on the best offense, by far, in the TL.

ON THE MEDAL STAND: 2. Arkansas’ Mike Trout; 3. San Antonio’s James Darnell.

PITCHER OF THE YEAR: Arkansas’ Matt Shoemaker

The Travelers earned a first-half title because of their pitching staff, and Shoemaker has been the go-to guy. Shoemaker stumbled a bit in Triple-A earlier this season, but he figures to do much better in his second go-around at that level after an incredible season at the Double-A level.

ON THE MEDAL STAND: 2. Arkansas’ Garrett Richards; 3. Corpus Christi’s Dallas Keuchel.

MANAGER OF THE YEAR: San Antonio’s Doug Dascenzo

The Missions have the best record in minor league baseball, and they have had many good players. However, Dascenzo has navigated his club through many promotions, and they haven’t slowed down at all. This San Antonio club is a dominant force that will go into the playoffs as the heavy favorites, and Dascenzo is a big reason why.

ON THE MEDAL STAND: 2. Frisco’s Steve Buechele; 3. Northwest Arkansas’ Brian Poldberg.

- Brian

Insider Blog Rewind

We continue to receive tremendous support every day with the ‘Riders Insider Blog, and it is greatly appreciated. We have posted plenty of content about the RoughRiders both on and off the field, and we wanted to take a look back at ten of our most popular posts from the last few weeks.

Becoming Martin Perez (July 15): A look at how Martin Perez became the top prospect in the Rangers’ system during his two-year stint in Frisco.

The ‘Riders Driver (July 21): Carlos Coleman is the man behind the wheel for the RoughRiders on every road trip. Learn about him and his connection to coach Mike Tomlin and the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Former RoughRiders Thriving in Arlington (July 24): More than half of the Rangers have played with the ‘Riders at some point. Find out who right here.

Press Box Junkies (July 28): A look at the four men who make sure everything that happens at Dr Pepper Ballpark actually counts.

Wieland’s No-Hitter on Twitter (July 29): Fans’ real-time reaction to Joe Wieland’s no-hitter against San Antonio.

Erlin, Wieland, Buechele react to trade (August 1): Interviews with Robbie Erlin and Joe Wieland, who were shipped to San Diego’s system for big league reliever Mike Adams. Also, a chat with skipper Steve Buechele about the deal.

RoughRiders’ All-Gridiron Team (August 3): If the RoughRiders’ roster played football instead of baseball, this is what the depth chart would look like.

24 hours of the RoughRiders (August 8): A look at our lives before, during and after a home game.

Behind the scenes: Inside the clubhouse (August 9): A journey (with pictures) throughout the “off-limits” areas of Dr Pepper Ballpark.

Hanging with the RoughRiders’ Crew (August 12): An inside look at what it takes to become a member of the most exciting entertainment group in the Texas League.

If you have any ideas for stories, please feel free to leave a comment. We are always looking for more ideas!

Thanks for following along, everyone!

- Brian

24 Hours of the RoughRiders

Note: This is a running diary of a typical day in the life of the RoughRiders’ media department. The updates are available in chronological order, so scroll down for the latest updates.
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10:45 p.m. Sunday (all of us): Well after the RoughRiders’ 6-5 victory over the San Antonio Missions, the media department departs Dr Pepper Ballpark. The game story is up, the information is distributed to local media, the equipment is packed, and the lights are off. We will be back here before we know it.

1:00 a.m. (Brian): I’m the night owl of the group, it seems. After a quick bite to eat following the game, I sit down and prepare the content for PlayBall! The text is already set to go for today’s edition, but I need to turn in the draft for Wednesday’s edition. In order to get the PlayBall! programs ready for each home game, much of the content is due 2-3 days in advance.

Once I sent that to Alex, our terrific graphic designer and an avid reader of the blog, I’m done for the night. Aaron will be with you early, and I’ll follow shortly after as we continue to give you an inside look at our day-to-day life. We’ll have pictures and everything, so enjoy!

10:30 a.m. (Aaron): After waking up around 9 a.m. and saying goodbye to my wife Heather who left earlier this morning for work, it’s time to start working on tonight’s game notes.  This is a daily task that virtually every broadcaster in the minors deals with.  These notes are used by both the home and road broadcaster along with visiting media, scouts, etc.  It’s about 13 pages of news, stats, bios, and trends.  The idea is that you can flip through the notes and have a pretty good idea what that team has been up to lately, even if you haven’t seen them play.  We always post our notes to our website as well.

11:14 a.m. (Aaron): Notes are taking longer today because we have a new starter tonight, Derek Hankins.  I’ve just finished looking up all his career stats and bio information.  I use information to make a dedicated page in our games that focuses on the starting pitcher.  It’s always exciting getting a new starter, but it means a longer day for the game notes to create and format the pitcher’s page.

Everyone in minor league baseball loves the cheetah.

11:30 a.m. (Brian): I woke up around 10 a.m., ate some breakfast, and caught up on e-mails for a bit. The first job every day for me is to update the web site. The best part about the “newsroom” that allows us to post, archive, update, etc., is the “cheetah.” While the site is in the process of generating, we are greeted to the running cheetah that you see to your left. Once I’m done with updating the story, the game story will be down, a few new exciting RoughRiders promos will be on the home page, and the “Extra Bases Chat” will be ready to go for tonight’s series finale.

12:27 p.m. (Aaron): Game notes are done.  I sometimes stand up and wave pom-poms when this is completed. I mentally have a hard time moving on with my day until I know this is behind me.  In addition to writing them, I’ve also emailed them out to our distribution list that includes media members from around Dallas-Fort Worth, the Rangers, and their affiliates.  After I emailed the notes out in PDF form, I then posted them to our website.  The cheetah must have had a light breakfast, he (she?) ran pretty fast for me.

Renny Osuna is one hit away from history.

12:45 p.m. (Brian): Everything online is updated, and a few new promotions are available for viewing at ridersbaseball.com. Now, the goal is to get ready for some possible history at Dr Pepper Ballpark tonight. With two hits yesterday, shortstop Renny Osuna is tied with Steve Murphy for the all-time hit lead in Frisco history.

This means that Osuna is one hit away from setting a very important record. As a result, we are preparing for it now. We already have a script for John Clemens, the “Voice of Dr Pepper Ballpark,” to read if/when Osuna breaks the record. Also, Alex has designed an image for us to put on the home page of our website. The sneak peak to that image is to the left. Now, time to get ready and head into the office for all of the tasks at the stadium. First pitch time is in about six hours!

Frisco's starting nine for tonight.

2:00 p.m. (Brian): I am alone in the office right now, but Stephen came in here earlier today to print out rosters and stat packs. Stat packs are distributed to all managers, coaches and media members, and they contain overall stats, situational stats, the Texas League’s daily report, and much more. For a stat nerd like me, it is an important part of my preparation.

Now, it’s time to get the lineups set to go. We have already received Frisco’s lineup from skipper Steve Buechele. It looks pretty similar to what we’ve seen from him lately, especially because the club only has one extra player right now (Jose Felix is the odd man out today).

I remember when I first started covering baseball, I thought that the lineup card would be very formal and magical. Well, you can be the judge. And don’t get your hopes up.

2:30 p.m. (Brian): After enjoying some free pizza in our conference room (always a sign of a good day), it’s time to start getting our paperwork around to both teams and to the press box. We’ve nicknamed our printer “T.K.” and it is very busy during this part of the day. Once the printing is done, I’ll walk it up to the booth in the chilly North Texas weather. By that point, our whole force will be in here getting ready for tonight’s game!

2:33 p.m. (Aaron): Once the notes were done I got some lunch and did some work around the house.  Trying to have a marriage and work in minor league baseball is a tough assignment.  Like all of us, I’m at the ballpark eight nights a week and am out of town so often it’s hard to be very helpful at home.  My wife Heather does so much for us in-season I try to help out when I can.  Once I got caught up on some emails, I picked up the house (my messes, of course), emptied the dishwasher, paid some bills, and did some general husbandly duties that I (rarely) excel at.

The RoughRiders saved some trees today.

3:15 p.m. (Brian): The RoughRiders’ media quartet is in the office to prepare for the game this evening, which is actually Frisco’s 26th straight day with a game. Reid is filing away with some “clippings,” which are used to document how much outside coverage the RoughRiders get. Stephen is working on a blog for tomorrow on a “behind the scenes” look at Dr Pepper Ballpark. I am doing this blog and writing a feature for Sports Page Dallas.

Aaron appears to have the most important job of all. It is easy to lose track of things during the grind of a minor league season, and one thing that slipped all of our minds was our “recycle box.” As you can see on the left, it was quite full today when Aaron decided to usher in the off day tomorrow with a clean recycle box. Admirable.

To be honest, I’m not sure if that bad will be able to hold all of the paper for the long term, but it is worth a shot. Three hours until the pre-game show. Plenty of work to do!

All of those green peaks and valleys represent the volume coming out of our microphones.

4:20 p.m. (Brian): By this time of the day, everyone is gearing up for the game in their own way. For me, as the pre- and post-game show host, I need to be prepared for the Texas League and Texas Rangers’ scoreboard. To do that, I keep some updated information on each game within the league. The sheet I used was featured back in this blog post.

I will also pre-record an intro for the top of the pre-game show, which features a highlight from the previous night. To record, I use a nifty-looking program called “Adobe Audition,” which you can see to your right. Plenty of green, which is my favorite color.

4:35 p.m. (Brian): We just found out about the pitching situation for tonight. Derek Hankins will pitch no more than four innings, and then Richard Bleier will work behind the newest ‘Rider. Hopefully this duo can give Frisco’s ‘pen a much-deserved night off this evening!

4:45 p.m. (Aaron): Each day I try to talk with some of the guys in the clubhouse and find out some information for the broadcast.  Some days it’s nothing more than pointless chatter (like when I talk with our trainer, Carlos Olivas).  Other times I get some good stuff.  Along with Carlos, today I checked in with our pitching coach Jeff Andrews.  He gave me the game plan for tonight that Brian mentioned about regarding how many innings Hankins will go.  Normally this time of night I’m finding someone to interview for our pre-game show.  However, I already recorded my interview with Robbie Erlin yesterday to play on tonight’s pre-game.  Now all I have to worry about is getting dinner and filling out my scorebook.

5:20 p.m. (Brian): Speaking of dinner, everyone in the office was treated to some Sonny Bryan’s barbeque before the game. As we were eating, clubhouse manager CJ Allen came into our four-person office and offered up some of his delicious lasagna that was left over from the RoughRiders’ clubhouse. So, the ‘Riders’ baseball and media teams have been fueled by the same dinner tonight!

The view from the broadcast booth at Dr Pepper Ballpark.

5:45 p.m. (Brian): Wonder what happens before the gates open? Well, after arriving in the press box a bit ago, we have been treated to some warmups by “The Crew” and some of San Antonio’s batting practice. Oftentimes, the evening’s national anthem singer will give it a whirl before fans enter the stadium.

Also, if you are looking to collect a baseball from a Double-A game, try to get to Dr Pepper Ballpark early. There are always a handful of baseballs in the outfield berm following batting practice. I saw a few bombs sail out of here this afternoon. Always a nice way to get a fun souvenir.

6:10 p.m. (Brian): Above is a view from our press box, the highest press box in the Texas League. First pitch is less than an hour away, and our pre-game begins in 25 minutes!

6:35 p.m. (Brian): The pre-game show has begun! You can listen live at this link. We will still update this periodically throughout the night. After all, we promised 24 hours of the RoughRiders!

7:13 p.m. (Brian): Renny Osuna’s first chance at history tonight resulted in a strikeout at the hands of Robbie Erlin, the former RoughRider and tonight’s starter for San Antonio. Osuna is still one hit away from the all-time record, so he’ll get a few more chances tonight.

Former RoughRider Robbie Erlin allowed just one run in six innings for the Missions (Photo: Alex Yocum-Beeman)

8:00 p.m. (Brian): So far, the ‘Riders lead 1-0 in what has been a good game. Aaron calls the play-by-play in the first, second, fifth, sixth and ninth innings, while I take the rest. So, I’m off the air until our scoreboard update at the end of the fifth. Plenty of great action tonight in the Texas League and in the Rangers’ system.

8:46 p.m. (Aaron): Was really fun to watch Robbie pitch again tonight.  Too bad for him he allowed the only run so far over 6.2 innings tonight.  Brian has the play-by-play now until the ninth inning.

9:07 p.m. (Brian): What a change of events in this one tonight. The ‘Riders go from up one to down one in the top of the eighth. Now, Reid is scrambling to change up his game recap, and Aaron is cutting up the highlights. It is much more work here in the booth when the game is close, and that’s what we have tonight!

9:41 p.m. (Brian): A late rally propelled the Missions to a 3-1, series-clinching victory over the RoughRiders tonight at Dr Pepper Ballpark. Unfortunately, the loss did not bring with it any history. Renny Osuna finished 0-for-4, so his hits record will have to wait at least another game.

While the crowd leaves, our work continues. Aaron is busy cutting up the highlights while I prepare for the “Scoreboard Show” that follows every game. Reid is working on the game story for the website, and Stephen is wrapping up the Extra Bases Chat and getting a head start on game notes for Wednesday. The night is almost over for us after another busy Monday.

10:15 p.m. (Brian): My night is pretty much over, outside of overseeing the posting of the game story. I just signed off on the Scoreboard Show, and Reid is about done with the story. The end is most certainly near.

10:30 p.m. (Brian): The game story is posted. The booth is clean. The media are alerted. The night is over. Almost 24 hours after we left last night, and 2,229 words later, our day is over. Thanks so much for following along!

100 Things on 100 Games

The RoughRiders have played 100 games this season. With only 40 games left, the ‘Riders currently own the Texas League’s second best record at 57-43. To celebrate the century mark, let’s tell you about 100 things from each of the 100 games. I promise that everything will not be listed, but let’s add up some of the RoughRiders’ most notable numbers and get to 100 x 100, or 10,000. Here we go.

0: The number of runs, hits, or base runners that Martin Perez allowed during his rain-shortened perfect game April 19 at Arkansas.

12: The number of home runs hit in the RoughRiders’ 19-4 victory over Corpus Christi this past Friday. The ‘Riders had eight of those, including three by Tommy Mendonca.

19: Frisco’s run total from that win last week, which matched a franchise-high for runs in a game. The club also surpassed its previous record in home runs (8) and hits (24).

20: How many times Dr Pepper Ballpark has been sold out this season. The RoughRiders currently lead the Texas League in attendance, averaging almost eight thousand people per night.

26: The ‘Riders have come from behind in 26 victories this season, which makes up almost half of Frisco’s wins.

48: How many different men have donned the RoughRiders uniform this season, which is a list that consists of men like defending American League MVP Josh Hamilton and undrafted 2011 free agent Jimmy Swift. And seemingly everyone in between.

65: The number of days the RoughRiders have been tied for or in sole possession of second place in the Texas League South Division.

76: The RoughRiders have made 76 transactions this season. The first one was sending now Chris Mobley, who is now with the Reds, to Triple-A Round Rock April 5. The most recent one was Robbie Diaz’s return to Frisco late last week.

100: Uh well, this is the number of games the ‘Riders have played. Sorry, I had to include it.

103: The number of home runs that the ‘Riders have hit this season, which is already 35 more than the club’s season total last year.

186: When you add the home runs and RBIs for Mike Bianucci (23, 70) and Tommy Mendonca (20, 73), you get 186. According to Michael Damman, the Director of the RoughRiders Statistical Research Department, the RoughRiders are the only team in the minors to have teammates that own 20+ homers and 70+ RBIs.

199: The number of wins in Frisco manager Steve Buechele’s career. He is 199-170 in his career and 120-101 during his time with the RoughRiders.

264: That’s how many minutes the RoughRiders’ longest game lasted. It was a 4-hour, 24-minute thriller that Arkansas won 4-3 in 15 innings.

296: Through Monday’s action, the Rangers’ minor league system has won 296 games, which is third-most in baseball. Texas’ farm system has the best winning percentage at .584.

306: Renny Osuna’s hit total while with the RoughRiders, which is second to Steve Murphy. Murphy had 319 during his time in Frisco.

541: The number of runs Frisco’s offense has scored this season, which is good for more than five runs per contest.

.570 (this is counting as 570, by the way): Frisco’s winning percentage, which would be the fourth-best in franchise history. The previous high is .607 back in 2007.

774: The number of strikeouts that Frisco’s pitching staff has come up with during the season. Jake Brigham leads all ‘Riders with 85.

910: Frisco pitching has thrown 910 innings this year. In that span, the club owns a 4.41 ERA, which is third in the Texas League.

965: How many hits the RoughRiders’ offense has mustered, which is almost ten per game. Frisco trails only Springfield in the Texas League in hits.

1.007 (this is counting as 1,007, by the way): Leonys Martin’s OPS while with the RoughRiders, which leads all 2011 ‘Riders not named Josh Hamilton (1.087), who doesn’t quite count. Martin hit .348 with four homers and 24 RBIs in 29 games at the Double-A level.

1509: The total number of bases the ‘Riders have reached this season. That’s a lot of running.

2004: The year of the RoughRiders’ first and only Texas League championship season. Here in 2011, the ‘Riders have proven through their first 100 games that they have the talent to add another title here in 2011.

Yep, that’s 10,000. It will be fun to see what 1 or 100 amazing things the RoughRiders do in the season’s stretch run. Enjoy the ride along with us.

- Brian

“Dad, wanna play catch?”

Every Father’s Day I can’t help but think of that scene from Field of Dreams where Kevin Costner plays catch with his dad (once your done reading you can watch it here).

I’m not ashamed to say it makes me cry every time.  I wanted to ask some of the ‘Riders what some of their favorite baseball memories were with their dads, and I’m glad I can share their answers with you.

Manager, Steve Buechele: From playing in little league, to college baseball at Stanford, all the way to the major leagues, Boo’s dad supported him the entire way.

“To this day, I remember my dad, and my mom, always being there and watching every game my brothers and I played.

I then asked Boo about the first time his dad got to see him play in the major leagues.

“We were playing the Angles and I had a bunch of friends and family come out to the game.  I remember hugging my dad after the game and him telling me that he had tears in his eyes during the National Anthem.”

LHP, Robbie Erlin: Growing up in Santa Cruz, Calif., Erlin’s father probably never imagined that his son would be the Rangers’ No. 4 prospect at just 20-years-old.  But as Erlin’s coach in the Scotts Valley Little League, he greatly influenced his son’s future career.

“When I was 9-years-old my dad told me that before I could throw a curveball, I had to be able to locate my fastball.  He and I worked after practice on throwing a curve and finally one day during a game I was pitching he signaled to our catcher to call for a curveball.”

As we all know, Robbie’s curveball is now one of the best in the Rangers’ minor league system.  I then asked Robbie if 9-years-old was a bit early to be throwing a curve.

“Not if you know how to throw it.”  

3B, Tommy Mendonca: By now, we all know how well Tommy has been playing lately.  And we all know how hard he’s been working out.  Most are aware of the magical ride he went on when playing for Fresno State University in 2008 when the Bulldogs won the College World Series and Mendo was named the College World Series Most Outstanding Player as a sophomore.

“Both of my parents were at every game in Omaha during our playoff run.  My dad was my little league coach and it was great having him and my mom watching me and supporting me when we were playing in such big games.”

RHP, Jake Brigham: One of seven kids (four brothers, two sisters) , Jake grew up in Florida where his dad was a barber.  He had to cut a lot of hair to support all those hungry mouths and thus had one day off a week: Wednesday.

“Every Wednesday afternoon he’d take us seven kids to Barnett Park and we had practically enough players to field a team.  I remember him pitching to us … We all got a chance to field, catch, hit, and play the outfield.”

LF/DH, Mike Bianucci: “Nuch” had the big blast last night in the 13th inning to give the ‘Riders the win, but it was his dad who saw him hit has a kid.

“It was great having my dad coach me in Babe Ruth League.  Once I turned pro, he first had a chance to watch me play in Hickory.  My best memories are of him watching me in high school, though.  It was great then because I always had lots of family at the games.”


 

2B, Davis Stoneburner: His real name is Ralph, which, so conveniently for today’s article, is his father’s name.  After asking him a baseball memory he shared with his dad, Stoney gave me an answer in a way that only he could.

“The first time my dad saw me play as a professional was in Clinton, Ia. when I was playing for the LumberKings.  I was a shortstop at the time and he came out to watch me play a four-game series.  Bad part was I didn’t get a single hit.”

Fortunately, he’s now riding a nine-game hitting streak.  Looks like he’s recovered.

We’ll have more of a tribute to Father’s Day on the pre-game show tonight.  Along with Mother’s Day, it’s one of my favorite pre-game segments all season long.  First pitch tonight in the series finale in Corpus Christi crosses home plate at 6:05, pre-game coverage kicks off at 5:35.

If for some reason you miss the pre-game segment of all the ‘Riders wishing their dad’s a happy Father’s Day but would like to hear it, feel free to email me at agoldsmith@ridersbaseball.com and I’ll send you the .mp3 version.

Talk with you tonight,

AG

Frisco “Bus” ‘Riders

The RoughRiders are about as centrally located as it comes in the Texas League.  However, that doesn’t mean that the bus rides are always short.  Frisco radio broadcaster Aaron Goldsmith lets you ride shotgun on the RoughRiders’ journey Wednesday night from Midland to Corpus Christi.  Before you begin reading, a quick bathroom break is of course recommended. 

9:50 p.m. Thanks to a 6:30 p.m. first pitch, I’m off the air now and can quickly wrap up my

Post-game clubhouse dinner never looked so good.

Post-game clubhouse dinner never looked so good.

post-game work and pack my radio gear to load on the bus.

10:14 p.m. Before every bus ride you have to fuel up – and not just with gas.  After you’ve played for three hours – or in my case talked for three hours – food is a must.  Here’s what was put out for us in the clubhouse in Midland.  I get some BBQ chicken thighs, mac and cheese, and a few small bags of trail mix to take on the bus.  All the players pay “dues” to the “clubbie” who provides the pre- and post-game spread.  Since I don’t pay daily dues, I gave the clubbie $7 for my share of food (I’m that wealthy).

10:33 p.m. After quickly chowing down, it’s time to load up.  Most of the players are already on the bus and, as you can see below, cards is a favorite way to pass the time.  Hitting Coach Brant “Brownie” Brown has already put season one of Las Vegas into the DVD player on the bus for some entertainment.  Brownie is a major movie buff (his favorite is the Matrix)He always brings a good selection of movies each trip.

L to R: Tommy Mendonca's arm, Richard Bleier, Jake Brigham, Mike Bianucci.

L to R: Tommy Mendonca's arm, Richard Bleier, Jake Brigham, Mike Bianucci.

10:40 p.m. Carlos, the best bus driver in the Texas League – and it’s not even close – puts the gearshift in drive and we pull away from the clubhouse and hit the road for Corpus Christi.  Steve Buechele, the ‘Riders manager, is on his laptop, as is Pitching Coach Jeff Andrews.  They’re both working on their post-game player reports that they usually do from the clubhouse.  On get-away-days, however, they’re forced to type from the bus.

11:07 p.m. I’m surprised it took this long, but I finally break out my noise canceling headphones.  A pricy investment, but worth every penny.  Between the movie, the air conditioning, and the noise from the road, the bus is very loud – even if no one is talking.  The one thing giving the noise a run for its money is the temperature.  The bus tends to get incredibly cold.  Even though it was 99 degrees outside when we boarded, I have a pair of grey sweat pants pulled up over my kaki shorts.  (I sense a wedgie mounting an attack within the next few hours).

11:40 p.m. Love my iPhone.  With the MLB At Bat app, I’m listening to the final innings of the Mariners vs. Angles game (the only game in progress at this hour).  I’m not a fan of either team, but after calling four games solo in Midland, it’s nice to hear a voice other than my own (I’m sure others would agree).

1:13 a.m. My first “wakeup” of the trip.  Something you get used to.  On an eight hour trip I’ll probably fall in and out of consciousness at least a half dozen times.  This time it’s for something somewhat rare.  Carlos has pulled the bus over at a rest stop and Boo and Brownie scamper off quickly to use the restroom.  The M’s/Halos game is long over.  No idea who won.  I wonder if people fall asleep like that when I’m broadcasting?  A question I fear asking.  I switch quickly to iTunes and am out again in a few minutes.

2:13 a.m.  Strangely, exactly an hour later I’m up for no particular reason and am thrilled to see that all the cabin lights along with season one of Las Vegas has been turned off.  Heaven.  Sometimes the lights and movie du jour stay on until as late as 4 a.m. making it harder to sleep.  I glance in front of me and see the silhouette of our Strength and Conditioning Coach, Eric McMahon.  He’s wearing a ballcap, sunglasses, and headphones.  Why the sunglasses when it’s dark?  A veteran move.  Especially for us guys who sit near the front of the bus, it helps to darken oncoming headlights, making it easier fall asleep.  Unfortunately I’m officially awake.  With five hours to go, it’s trail mix time.

3:51 a.m. Driving through downtown San Antonio.  Too bad we’re playing the Hooks.

By the time I get off the bus, there's not much left.

By the time I get off the bus, there's not much left.

4:19 a.m. Finally about to fall back asleep when … wedgie.

5:58 a.m. Our Athletic Trainer Carlos Olivas lovingly taps my leg which is stretched across the isle.  This, in the world of minor league bus rides, is a wakeup call.  We’re here.  He darts off the bus because someone has to be in charge of everyone’s room keys.  He’s off to the front desk to check everyone in while I try to wake up.

6:02 a.m. As the players rush pass me to get off the bus I pack up my bag and gather my stuff.  I walk off the bus to find that along with the RoughRiders, the humidity made the trip to Corpus as well.

6:07 a.m. I’m in my room on the 16th floor.  Radio guys always get the Penthouse.  Tonight is game one against the Hooks.  Time to get some sleep.  The bus leaves the hotel for the ballpark this afternoon 4:30.

A view from the Penthouse: Sunrise over the Gulf

A view from the Penthouse: Sunrise over the Gulf

Another Buechele In The Minors

With the 447th pick in the MLB Draft, the San Francisco Giants selected Garrett Buechele, the son of Frisco manager Steve Buechele. Garrett played third base for the Oklahoma Sooners.

He had been selected last year in the 18th round by the Rangers, but he did not sign. Another year in college earned Garrett a four-round increase in his stock.

A couple of other cool connections as the Draft continues today—Matt Skole, the brother of Texas’ first-round pick last year (Jake Skole), was the fifth-round pick (157th overall) by Washington.

Kansas City’s 15th-round pick (456th overall), Richard Espy, is the son of Tulsa manager Duane Espy.

Oh, and about a thousand players have been drafted out of the state of Texas. Sources tell me that number will continue to rise.

Fair Warning

The NBA Finals are set. It will be Miami against Dallas beginning Tuesday night in South Beach, just like I accurately predicted.

If you were gullible enough to click that link, I apologize. Actually, I picked the Lakers over the Bulls. For what it is worth, those two teams went a combined 1-8 against the two teams that will play for basketball’s ultimate prize. As you can tell, I’m really good at predicting.

Not only do the Mavericks have the support of the DFW area, but they are also gaining support from all those who dislike Miami and its “Big Three.” I fall into this category, and I’m in the most passionate subset of it because I’m a Cleveland fan.

I’m just warning all you Mavericks fans–it isn’t a great omen to have Cleveland on your side. The city doesn’t exactly thrive in these situations. I’ll tell you this, though. If the Mavs pull it out, then Dirk and the guys will get quite an ovation in their trip to Cleveland next year.

Let’s go Mavs, and let’s go Facts.

FRISCO FACTS:

  • Before we get into a few thriving RoughRiders, there was a trade today. Right-hander Chris Mobley was sent to the Reds for a player to be named later and cash. Mobley split time between Frisco and Triple-A Round Rock and had a 4.67 earned run average in 14 outings.
  • “This is probably one of those moves that is great for the player. There’s a Triple-A job open in Louisville,” Frisco manager Steve Buechele said about Mobley’s departure. “He’s a great kid. Hopefully, he’ll go out and help them.”
  • He’s no Dirk Nowitzki right now, but Frisco starter Martin Perez has been on fire as of late. In his last four starts, Perez has four quality starts, 25 strikeouts, and a 0.68 ERA. Yesterday, Perez left with the lead for the fifth time this season, and he finally received his first win in those situations. His only other win (and decision, for that matter) came in that rain-shortened perfect game April 19.
  • So far this season, it has been easy to tell whether or not Perez has it going. Perez, the Rangers’ top prospect, has given up a combined nine runs in the first and second innings and just four in the rest of the game. He owns a 1.07 ERA from the third inning on.
  • Finally, Perez is dominating in situations that he should dominate. Against fellow left-handers, he has allowed only seven hits in 44 at-bats (.159). For what it’s worth, lefties hit .267 against Perez a year ago. Also, when Perez is ahead in the count, his opposition is hitting .113.
  • With a top prospect, the question of a promotion pops up. “No doubt,” Buechele said when he was asked about it. “You look at the Texas League stat sheet, and he’s the number one pitcher in this league. Certainly, those thoughts start crossing your mind, and I would have no problem recommending him a promotion. I think he could handle Triple-A right now. His improvement from last year to this year has been incredible.”
  • Buechele said that the biggest keys to Perez’s jump have been the improved command of his fastball and the ability to keep some rough innings under control. Perez has given up more than one run in an inning only three times this season.
  • Leonys Martin continues to perform well for the ‘Riders. He has hit safely in 10 of his 13 games this year, and his average sits at .315. When you look at his game-by-game average, Martin has never had it dip below .273. He is hitting better against lefties (.320) than he has against righties (.310).
  • What has been most impressive to me when looking at his stats is his performance in “clutch” situations. He is swinging at a .583 clip (7-for-12) with men in scoring position. Within that figure, he is 4-for-5 with runners in scoring position and two down. Overall, when men are on base, Martin has a .421 average.
  • On the flip side, it has been a rough period for Engel Beltre. Since returning from his 15-game suspension, Beltre is hitting .154. He has yet to drive in a run or steal a base during these nine games. He has struck out eight times and walked only once.
  • In these nine games, Beltre has played in right field four times, left field three times and center field twice. Martin has only played outside of center field once as a RoughRider.
  • Finally, here’s a pretty cool new blog from Neil Wagner, a pitcher for the Midland RockHounds. He had a funny blog about his time in Frisco during Josh Hamilton and Nelson Cruz’s rehab stint. I hope he continues to update it.

Join us for the pre-game show at 6:35 along the RBN. First pitch is set for 7:05.

- Brian

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