Results tagged ‘ Tanner Scheppers ’

The Dandy Dozen: The ‘Riders Turn 12

It's shaping up to be another great summer at Dr Pepper Ballpark.

It’s shaping up to be another great summer at Dr Pepper Ballpark.

This article originally appeared in the March 21 edition of SportsPage Weekly, which is a free publication available throughout the Metroplex.  To view the article in the online edition, click here.

There are very few “sure things” in life, but when it comes to local sports and entertainment options, the Frisco RoughRiders are just about as close to a sure thing as you can get.  Year after year, Dr Pepper Ballpark hosts exciting baseball action, premium prospects and fun for the whole family.  Ask anyone who has ever been to a RoughRiders game and they’ll tell you how memorable the experience is.

It’s almost hard to believe, but the RoughRiders will soon begin their 12th season on April 3 at home against the Northwest Arkansas Naturals (Kansas City Royals affiliate).  In honor of a dozen years of Frisco baseball, we present the top 12 reasons to catch the RoughRiders in action this season at Dr Pepper Ballpark.

#12 – A winning tradition

Everybody loves a winner.   And over the past decade the RoughRiders have been one of the most consistent winners in Minor League Baseball.  In 2013, Frisco finished with a 70-70 record, its eighth consecutive season with a .500 or better mark on the ledger.  The last time Frisco finished with a losing record was the only time in team history: back in 2005, when the team finished 58-82.  The streak of non-losing seasons is by far the longest in the Texas League; every other team in the circuit has had at least one losing season in the last three years.  The streak is the longest in Double-A and the third-longest among all 120 full-season minor league clubs, exceeded only by the Triple-A Sacramento River Cats (11 straight non-losing seasons) and the Advanced-A San Jose Giants (ten).  Including teams that play in short-season leagues, Frisco’s streak is the sixth longest; the Elizabethton Twins (25), Brooklyn Cyclones (13) and AZL Giants (13) have the longest such streaks in stateside Minor League Baseball.

#11 – History in the making

Baseball fans appreciate the sport’s history and tradition, and the Texas League plays an important role in the lineage of the game. The RoughRiders and their fans belong to a storied Texas League pedigree that dates back to 1888 (the American League was founded in 1901). A game at Dr Pepper Ballpark is more than just a chance to contribute to baseball’s history; it affords fans the opportunity to witness history as it happens. Notable Texas League alumni span the generations and include Major League Hall of Famers Roberto Alomar, Dizzy Dean, Joe Morgan and Whitey Herzog. It is a legacy furthered by many stars in the game today who also enjoyed success in the Texas League. Current Rangers Shin-Soo Choo and Elvis Andrus had All-Star seasons in the Texas League in 2004 and 2008, respectively. Outside the organization, an impressive crop of recent alumni continue to cultivate the Texas League brand as their big league careers flourish. The Texas League footprint extends across the Major League map and features young stars Mike Trout, Matt Adams, Matt Carpenter, Lance Lynn, Jean Segura and numerous others.

#10 – Rehabbing Rangers

Matt Harrison was one of 13 rehabbers who played with the 'Riders in 2013.

Matt Harrison was one of 13 rehabbers who played with the ‘Riders in 2013.

Players, coaches and fans dislike injuries, but they remain an inevitable component of any professional game. For a major league club, the inconvenience of an in-season malady is lessened—somewhat—when an affiliate team plays in the neighborhood. No one in Frisco hopes for a rehab assignment, but when a Rangers’ regular tweaks a calf or strains a wrist, Dr Pepper Ballpark provides a two-fold benefit for both the player and the fan. Players can stay in the Metroplex to nurse an injury and play in an atmosphere that approximates a big league ballgame. On the other hand, fans receive a unique opportunity to view their favorite Rangers in a more intimate setting and at an affordable cost. A total of 13 Rangers players donned a RoughRiders’ cap for a rehab assignment in 2013, including pitcher Matt Harrison, who unfortunately started as many games for Frisco (two) as he did for Texas. Rehab assignments rarely occur with much forewarning, but thanks to Derek Holland’s dog, Wrigley, the southpaw has likely already booked a stint with the RoughRiders in 2014. Make sure you’re in the stands when the Rangers’ rehabbers visit Dr Pepper Ballpark.

#9 – A new skipper

For the first time in five years, someone other than Steve Buechele will write out Frisco’s lineup card.  With Buechele managing the Rangers’ Triple-A club this season, Jason Wood steps into the role for the RoughRiders in 2014.  Wood, a five-year major leaguer and veteran of 18 professional seasons as a player, will begin his fourth season as a manager in the Texas farm system.  The 44-year-old spent the previous three years as the skipper for Advanced-A Myrtle Beach.  He led the Pelicans to the playoffs in all three campaigns and looks to get the ’Riders back to the postseason this year.  While Wood is a fresh face in the dugout, the rest of his coaching staff will remain in place from the last two seasons.  Jeff Andrews returns as the team’s pitching coach following a season in which Frisco’s hurlers collectively set numerous team records.  This past offseason, Andrews was honored the co-recipient of the Rangers’ annual Bobby Jones Player Development Man of the Year award.  Jason Hart will begin his third season as Frisco’s hitting coach and his instruction has been lauded for helping former RoughRiders Jurickson Profar, Mike Olt, Leury Garcia, Chris McGuiness and Engel Beltre all reach the major leagues over the past two seasons.

#8 – Affordability

One of the charms of Minor League Baseball is getting a big league experience without paying a premium price.  RoughRiders games are no different because the team strives to make sure everyone can afford to watch games at Dr Pepper Ballpark.  It can be a major strain on the wallet to attend other professional sporting events.  The average cost for a family of four to attend a Major League Baseball game is approximately $208; for an NFL game that number is $444, with the NBA checking in at $442 and the NHL at $355.  That figure for a Minor League Baseball game?  Just $61.  With RoughRiders tickets starting at just $7 (less than the cost of a movie theater ticket), attending a game at Dr Pepper Ballpark is very much accessible.  But say you’re interested in getting even more value at the ballpark.  The RoughRiders offer affordable ticket plans that include all-you-can-eat food and drink, and even packages that include alcohol.  These value-based ticket plans make attending games in Frisco possible without denting your bank account.

#7 – The other guys aren’t too shabby either

Tomorrow’s stars play today in the Texas League and 2014 is no exception. The RoughRiders will welcome a host of talent from around the circuit to Dr Pepper Ballpark this season, many of whom are ranked on the MLB.com Top 100 Prospects list. The Tulsa Drillers figure to field a strong pitching rotation bolstered by top 50 prospects Jon Gray (#14) and Eddie Butler (#41). Both pitchers bring high-octane velocity to the Drillers’ staff and can touch the upper 90s on the radar gun. Catcher Austin Hedges (#24) of the San Antonio Missions is rated as the second-highest prospect at his position by MLB.com. His strong arm and good footwork behind the plate will give would-be base stealers second thoughts. Kyle Zimmer (#25), the number five overall pick in the 2012 amateur draft, is expected to start the season with the Northwest Arkansas. The Royals promoted Zimmer to Double-A late last season where he held a 1.93 ERA through four starts with the Naturals. Position players to watch for elsewhere in the Texas League include speedy leadoff hitter Delino DeShields (#66) of the Corpus Christi Hooks, Jorge Bonifacio (#91) of the Naturals and gifted batter Stephen Piscotty (#98) of the Springfield Cardinals. Every mentioned player has big league potential.

#6 – You won’t be the only one cheering

The vocal and expressive fan will find a home at Dr Pepper Ballpark. For nine consecutive seasons, the RoughRiders have led all 30 Double-A teams in total and average attendance. More than half-a-million fans routinely fill Dr Pepper Ballpark every season and the team averages better than 7,000 fans per game.  Not only is that the best in Double-A, but it’s also higher than 17 Triple-A teams! On 21 occasions in 2013, the ’Riders drew crowds of more than 10,000. Frisco’s fan base is second to none and players say the crowds enhance the in-game environment more than anywhere else in the Texas League. Bring a sign, be loud and shout until your voice goes out. You won’t be cheering alone.

#5 – More than just peanuts and Cracker Jack

RoughRiders cuisine far outstrips traditional ballpark fare. Sure, fans can still fill up to the gills on foot-long hot dogs and brats from Smokie’s Sausage Shack, but Dr Pepper Ballpark serves something for any palate. The new Beer & Barbeque stand will cook in-house, smoked Texas barbeque favorites while Lone Star Pizza offers a wide range of personal style pies. Deep-fried Oreos grace the à la carte lineup for the first time this season, and for those in search of a healthy option, Greek yogurt is also available. Of course, many Frisco fan favorites will be back on the menu as well, from fresh-spun cotton candy and funnel cakes to snow cones and freshly squeezed lemonade. Of course, few things taste better on a hot Texas night than a cold serving of Dippin’ Dots. It’s never summer without great food, great drinks and RoughRiders baseball.

Luke Jackson figures to lead a very talented starting rotation this season.

Luke Jackson figures to lead a very talented starting rotation this season.

#4 – An arsenal of arms

For the best pitching this side of Yu Darvish and Arlington, Dr Pepper Ballpark is the place to be. The RoughRiders will rely on their mound men to bolster the franchise’s quest for an eighth playoff berth. Right-hander Luke Jackson is expected to lead the group in 2014. The fireballer started the previous season with Advanced-A Myrtle Beach and made his RoughRiders’ debut on August 4, 2013. He didn’t miss a beat in Double-A and finished the season with 134 combined strikeouts at both Myrtle Beach and Frisco and held the eighth-lowest ERA among all full season minor league pitchers (2.04). Those numbers were a big reason why the Rangers named Jackson the club’s 2013 Minor League Pitcher of the Year. Alex Claudio figures to take the reins from Jackson and the starters as a key piece in the RoughRiders’ bullpen in 2014. The deceptive Claudio fools batters with his changeup and was named the Rangers’ Minor League Reliever of the Year last season. Another burgeoning prospect, Alex Gonzalez, hopes to excite the Frisco faithful this year. Don’t call him Alex, though. Gonzalez prefers the nickname “Chi Chi,” given by a family member. Baseball America rates the 2013 first round draft pick as the number six prospect in the Rangers’ organization. Fans on the wild side will anticipate the return of eight-year veteran Kevin Pucetas as he unleashes his newly developed knuckleball pitch on the diamond this season. Other highly-ranked pitchers that are expected to see time in Frisco this season include Alec Asher, Nick Martinez and Jerad Eickhoff.

#3 – Rougned Odor

Top prospect Rougned Odor is expected to begin the season at second base in Frisco.

Top prospect Rougned Odor is expected to begin the season at second base in Frisco.

Because the makeup of minor league teams are up to the discretion of the parent club, you never know who will be on the Opening Day roster until very late in spring training.  That is typically the case with the RoughRiders, but one player who looks very likely to be with the team on April 3 is second baseman Rougned Odor.  The Venezuelan with the memorable name is the Rangers’ top-ranked prospect according to Baseball America and he showed why during a 30-game stint with Frisco at the end of the 2013 season.  Odor was promoted to Double-A in early August and hit .306/.354/.530 with six home runs, eight doubles, two triples and 19 RBI.  And he did all of that as just a 19-year-old, the youngest player in Double-A.  (Projecting those numbers out over a 140-game season, he would have hit 28 homers with 37 doubles, nine triples and 89 RBI.) Now 20, Odor spent the first half of spring training in big league camp and hopes to use that experience to further propel his ascension to the major leagues.  For the time being, however, the spunky infielder with the big bat is expected to ply his trade at Dr Pepper Ballpark.

#2 – Family-friendly entertainment

The RoughRiders are well-known for making trips to Dr Pepper Ballpark about more than just the game on the field.  The atmosphere on game nights is a blast, even for folks who aren’t big baseball fans.  The RoughRiders employ a full-time entertainment director whose sole job is to make sure that families have fun when visiting the ballpark.  From spectacular fireworks shows following every Friday night home game to a collection of more than 180 hilarious on-field skits and promotions that rotate throughout the season, there is something fun for everyone who comes to a game.  Dr Pepper Ballpark even features a pool in right field and two playgrounds (including one specifically designed for two-to-five-year-olds).  And for a lot of fans, their favorite RoughRiders aren’t ones you might see in Arlington someday – they are Deuce and Daisy, the team’s loveable mascots.

#1 – The home of future Rangers

With Odor and a tremendous pitching staff leading the way, there should be another impressive assortment of talent on display at Dr Pepper Ballpark this season.  This has been the norm in each of the RoughRiders’ first 11 seasons in Frisco, and with the Rangers’ relentless pursuit of building a winning organization from top-to-bottom, don’t look for that trend to change anytime soon.  Since 2003, 107 former RoughRiders have reached the major leagues, almost one-third of all Frisco players.  In 2013, ten former ’Riders made the big leagues, including Nick Tepesch, Beltre, Garcia and McGuiness.  One look at the Rangers’ 40-man roster shows that half of its members played in Frisco.  Elvis Andrus, Harrison, Alexi Ogando, Holland, Leonys Martin, Profar, Neftali Feliz, Mitch Moreland, Tanner Scheppers and Martin Perez are just a few of the Texas stalwarts who once wore a RoughRiders uniform.  Outside of the Rangers organization, All-Stars such as Ian Kinsler, Chris Davis, Adrian Gonzalez and C.J. Wilson all spent time in Frisco as well.

***

With the RoughRiders, fans get winning baseball, exciting prospects, delicious food, affordable family fun and the future of the Texas Rangers on display.  It all shows that the Frisco RoughRiders continue to be a sure thing for families and sports fans across the Metroplex.

#TakeTanner to the 2013 All-Star Game

Yu DarvishNelson Cruz and Joe Nathan were selected to represent the Rangers at the 2013 All-Star Game.

Now, Rangers relief pitcher and Frisco RoughRiders’ alumni  Tanner Scheppers is one of five pitchers in contention for the 34th and final spot on the American League team based on fan vote for the 2013 All-Star Game Tuesday, July 16 at New York’s Citi Field.

Scheppers is 5-1 with a 1.88 ERA in 42 appearances for the Rangers in 2013. He is tied for the A.L. lead in relief wins, is tied for fourth with 17 holds, and is tied for the ninth lowest relief ERA. He is seeking his first All-Star appearance.

Cast your vote here to take Tanner to the All-Star Game!  Voting is unlimited and you can also vote by texting A4 to 89269. Voting ends Thursday, July 11 at 3 p.m. CT.

For the second consecutive year, the All-Star Game MLB.com Final Vote will include a social balloting element as Twitter support from the 10 candidates’ fans over the last six hours of balloting will count toward their final vote totals. From 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. (CDT) on Thursday, July 11, any tweet that includes #TakeTanner will be tabulated as part of the official vote total used to determine the American League and National League winners.

13TV_TakeTanner_3

 The ways you can vote for Tanner:

 – Cast your vote at mlb.com

 – Text A4 to 89269

- On Thursday, July 11, tweet
  #TakeTanner anytime from
9 a.m. to 3 p.m. CT

Voting ends July 11 at 3 p.m. CT

Scheppers was a member of the ‘Riders squad in the 2010 and 2011 seasons, and posted a 2-1 record with a 2.38 ERA in 23 games.  Scheppers split the 2012 season between Triple-A Round Rock and the Rangers,making his major league debut on June 7, 2012.

2011_Scheppers

Year Tm W L ERA G SV IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP
2010 Frisco 0 0 0.82 6 2 11.0 3 1 1 1 0 19 0.273
2011 Frisco 2 1 3.13 17 0 23.0 18 10 8 1 9 24 1.174
AA (2 seasons) 2 1 2.38 23 2 34.0 21 11 9 2 9 43 0.882
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 7/8/2013.

To encourage fans to help pitcher Tanner Scheppers be elected to the 2013 American League All-Star Team, the Texas Rangers are offering a special sweepstakes.

By voting and selecting Tanner Scheppers as your 2013 Final Vote choice, all fans will be entered into the Texas Rangers Vote #TakeTanner All-Star Game Final Vote Sweepstakes for the chance to win one of five fantastic prizes. Fans will be automatically registered for the sweepstakes each of the first 25 times they vote for Scheppers in the 2013 All-Star Game MLB.com Final Vote sponsored by freecreditscore.com at texasrangers.com.

There is no limit to the number of times that fans may vote in the All-Star Game Final Vote.  However, fans will be registered to win for the sweepstakes just the first 25 times they vote for Scheppers. All rules for the sweepstakes can be found on texasrangers.com.

The Rangers All-Star Sweepstakes prizes are:

-Two Innings with Nolan Ryan – Winner and a guest have the opportunity to sit with Nolan Ryan in his home plate seats, during a mutually agreeable game, for 2 innings.  Prize includes two tickets to the game.

-Boomstick Ride Around – Winner and one guest will have the opportunity to ride in the Boomstick around the warning track prior to a mutually agreeable game, plus two tickets to the game.

-Photo Opportunity In Washington’s Seat + Batting Practice – Winner and one guest will receive game tickets and will have the opportunity to visit the Rangers dugout before the game and take a photo from Manager Ron Washington’s bench.  After the photo, you’ll watch the visiting team take  BP from the area behind home plate.

-Sit with the Voice of Rangers Ballpark, Chuck Morgan, for an inning – One winner will visit the in-park PA room, run the ribbon panels for half an inning, & visit with Chuck Morgan, voice of Rangers Ballpark, for half an inning for a mutually agreeable game.  Prize includes tickets for winner and three (3) guests.

-Ozarka Race Finish Line Holder – Get the chance to hold the finish line on the field during the Ozarka Texas Legends Race or Dot Race (one (1) winner.)  Opportunity will include tickets for winner and one (1) guest, and winner’s name to be announced and shown on the main video board.

For the second consecutive year, the All-Star Game MLB.com Final Vote will include a social balloting element as Twitter support from the 10 candidates’ fans over the last six hours of balloting will count toward their final vote totals. From 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. (CDT) on Thursday, July 11, any tweet that includes #TakeTanner will be tabulated as part of the official vote total used to determine the American League and National League winners.

Vote now to support the #TakeTanner campaign and help send another Ranger to the All-Star Game in NYC!

AllStarGame

-Ryan

Baseball Term of the Day: Lallapalooza –  A spectacular play.

A new Lowe for the Rangers

Maybe the weirdest baseball card a player has ever had?

Maybe the weirdest baseball card a player has ever had?

We interrupt today’s edition of “Nolan Ryan Talk” to bring you the latest development involving the guys who are actually on the field: last night the Rangers announced the signing of veteran pitcher Derek Lowe to a minor league deal.  Lowe split last year between the rotation and bullpen for the Indians and Yankees, going 9-11 with a 5.11 ERA and one save in 38 games, 21 starts.  The big sinkerballer has bounced around the last few seasons, but is best known for being one of the chief “idiots” on the 2004 World Series-winning Boston Red Sox, earning the clinching win in all three series that post-season.

While he’s not on the Rangers’ 40-man roster at the moment, you would have to think he’s a at least a decent bet to make the club out of spring training given his versatility, the team’s lack of experienced middle relievers, and the fact that the Rangers were facing the prospects of going into a season without a pitcher named “Lowe” for the first time in four years (Mark signed a minor league deal with the Dodgers last month).

As someone who grew up in the Boston area and remembers when Dan Duquette pulled off one of the greatest heists in big league history – trading Heathcliff Slocumb for Lowe and some guy named Jason Varitek – I have a special place in my heart for the Michigan native.  I watched him go back-and-forth from the starting rotation to the closer spot and have success in both positions, pitch a no-hitter in 2002 against the Devil Rays, and put a lot of Boston nightclub owners’ kids through college.

It’s a smart, low-risk move for the Rangers, who could benefit tremendously if Lowe can locate his sinker and be effective for a couple innings at a time when called upon (or even fill in as a starter).  If he doesn’t work out, he didn’t cost you much to begin with so there’s no obligation to keep him.  He should be a strong clubhouse presence as a player who has succeeded on the biggest stages and is known to be a good teammate.  And, at the very least, his acquisition has slowed down some of the Ryan talk that has become a distraction for the organization.

***

The Rangers won a 3-2 decision over the Cubs in Surprise yesterday and got some strong pitching from Robbie Ross (4 IP, 4 H, 1 R) and Alexi Ogando (3 IP, 6 K, 1 R).  Lance Berkman also homered as the team won its second straight Cactus League contest.

Jon Daniels has the power; Nolan Ryan has the love(Note: read around the “sign in” bubble to take in the article) Before we get to the on-the-field items, this Randy Galloway column is a must-read for fans interested in the Nolan Ryan story (i.e., pretty much all Rangers fans).  Galloway has been all over this story from the start and says that Daniels was actually offered the full CEO job that belonged to Ryan, in addition to the president title, back in November but turned it down.  More interesting stuff to chew on.

Berkman confident about health as Opening Day approaches - Jeff Wilson has the Big Puma feeling good about his ability to be ready to go come March 31.

Rapid Reaction from Texas winRon Matejko’s fast facts on yesterday’s victory.

Robbie Ross continues to impressWith Perez out until May, the former RoughRiders lefty may have cast himself as the new favorite to take the fifth starter spot after yesterday’s outing.

Alexi Ogando rewards Ron Washington’s faithGiven the way his first two spring outings went, Ogando’s strong performance was maybe the most encouraging thing about yesterday’s game.

Derek Lowe gives club versatilityRichard Durrett gives his thoughts on the Lowe acquisition.

Astros should woo Nolan RyanESPN.com’s Johnette Howard argues that Jim Crane should be pulling out all the stops to swipe away the Rangers’ CEO.

Angels’ Hamilton primed for monster year — but holds no grudgesSome interesting nuggets on CBS.com’s Jon Heyman’s interview with former Rangers slugger Josh Hamilton, including Hamilton saying that Nolan Ryan wished that Texas hadn’t dragged its feet in the negotiations.

Rangers don’t plan to return Alexi Ogando – and maybe Robbie Ross – to bullpen (subscription only)Gerry Fraley thinks that the starting rotation is the final destination for both Ogando and Ross.

Ogando, Ross giving Rangers confidence in rotationT.R. Sullivan’s report on the two pitchers impressing Ron Washington yesterday.

Rangers press on despite Ryan’s uncertaintySullivan has plenty of quotes from Daniels on the Ryan story.

Olt, Martin pulled out of Rangers’ lineupSullivan’s notes column has injury updates on Mike Olt (tooth pain, not the Rory McIlroy type), Leonys Martin (hamstring), Kyle McClellan (shoulder), Tanner Scheppers (hamstring) and Yoshinori Tateyama (back).

- Alex

Former ‘Rider Blogs about Ramos Abduction

As reported by ESPN, and countless other news outlets, Washington Nationals’ catcher Wilson Ramos  was abducted by gunmen Wednesday from his home in his native Venezuela.

As I wrote about on the Insider Blog on Tuesday, the following Rangers’ farm-hands are currently playing in the Venezuelan Winter League: Wilfredo Boscan, RHP (Zulia); Joey  Butler, OF (Magallanes); Joseph Ortiz, LHP (La Guaira); Renny Osuna, INF (La Guaira); Guilder Rodriguez, INF (Lara); and Tanner Scheppers, RHP (Magallanes).

One other player currently participating in the Venezuelan Winter League is none other than former RoughRider, Ryan Tatusko.  Tusk is one of my all-time favorite ‘Riders because he really is the best of both worlds: a great player and a great person.  It was a sad day when we and fellow RoughRider Tanner Roark were traded in 2010 to (ironically) the Washington Nationals in exchange for Cristian Guzman.

Tatusko went 9-2, 2.97 ERA in 24 games/13 starts with Frisco in 2010 (James Garner)

Ryan keeps a great blog about life in the minors and appropriately wrote about the recent events in Venezuela:

“I hope that I can clear some things up for people and shed some light about what [Venezuela] is like off the field. I am only speaking from a vantage point being with the Margarita Bravos and what it is like for us on Margarita Island and traveling to the mainland when we have to go on the “road.”

“As far as what has transpired in Valencia, we play Aragua all the time during the year, and I have nothing but positive things to say about the city, stadium, and its fans. I have flown into Valencia to play in the minor league game when I was strengthening my arm for starts and I loved the airport as well. Whatever that is transpiring in Valencia is an extreme, isolated incident. I pray for [Wilson Ramos] and for his family, although I have never met him we are all family in this game, especially in the Nationals organization.”

To read the rest of Ryan’s great blog post, click here.

- AG

 

RoughRiders Around the Globe

Every September when the minor league season comes to an end and fall sets in, many think that it’s time for our RoughRiders to take a well earned vacation.  However, what many don’t realize is that minor leaguers around the country travel around the world to play winter and fall ball.  These leagues provide the players a chance for additional income and the opportunity to improve their game.  Here’s where some RoughRiders, and other Rangers’ farm-hands, will be sending post cards from this off-season:

Arizona Fall League

Players: Miguel De Los Santos, LHP; Leury Garcia, INF; Ryan Kelly, RHP; Leonys Martin, OF; Justin Miller, RHP; Mike Olt, INF; Neil Ramirez, RHP; Elio Sarmiento, C; Ryan Strausborger, OF; Johan Yan, RHP.  (All play for the Surprise Saguaros).

Mike Olt could possibly open up 2012 in Frisco (James Garner)

Rangers’ prospect Mike Olt was named the Arizona Fall League’s Player of the Week on Monday, batting .571 (8-14) with a double, 2 home runs, 8 RBI, and 5 walks the previous week.  The 23-year-old matched the Fall League’s single-game high with a 6 RBI effort on Friday and represented the Rangers and Saguaros in the AFL Rising Stars Game on Saturday. The 6 RBI performance gave the University of Connecticut product a share of the AFL RBI lead (30), while he also leads the league in both home runs (8) and slugging percentage (.705).

OF Leonys Martin has seen action with the Saguaros as a member of the club’s taxi squad and hit a home run in his Fall League debut on October 19…OF Ryan Strausborger has hit safely in 8 of his last 9 games, raising his season average to .327 (17-52). The Arizona Fall League regular season continues through November 17.

Mexican Winter League 

Players: Cody Eppley, RHP (Obregon); Jose Felix, C (Guasave)

RHP Cody Eppley has worked out of the bullpen for the Mexican Winter League’s Obregon, going 1-1 with a 3.60 ERA (6 ER/15.0 IP) over 14 appearances.

Dominican Winter League 

Players: Engel Beltre, OF (Licey); Julio Borbon, OF (Escogido); Fabio Castillo, RHP (La Romana); Andres James, INF (Licey); Carlos Pimentel, RHP (Escogido).

RHP Carlos Pimentel has posted a 0.82 ERA (1 ER/11.0 IP) with 15 strikeouts against 5 walks in 8 relief outings with Escogido.

Venezuelan Winter League 

Players: Wilfredo Boscan, RHP (Zulia); Joey  Butler, OF (Magallanes); Joseph Ortiz, LHP (La Guaira); Renny Osuna, INF (La Guaira); Guilder Rodriguez, INF (Lara); Tanner Scheppers, RHP (Magallanes).

Pan American Games

3B Tommy Mendonca and INF Chad Tracy each took home silver medals as part of Team USA in the Pan American Games hosted by Guadalajara, Mexico on October 19-25. Mendonca batted .333 (6-18) with one home run and a tournament-high 10 RBI in 5 games for Team USA, while Tracy hit .182 (2-11) with 2 RBI in 4 games. The Americans fell 2-1 to Canada in the Gold Medal Game and finished the tournament with a 3-2 record.

-AG

Alumni Report

The RoughRiders have made 82 different transactions this season, and many players have come and gone. Let’s update you on a few of the guys who are no longer with the RoughRiders and, in some cases, no longer even in the Rangers’ system.

Miguel De Los Santos: A member of the 40-man roster, De Los Santos is the reigning Carolina League Pitcher of the Week after tossing seven no-hit innings for Myrtle Beach against Potomac Saturday. The P-Nationals broke up the no-no bid in the ninth inning after De Los Santos left. The southpaw is 3-3 with a 2.95 earned run average in eight High-A appearances this season with the Pelicans.

Robbie Erlin: After the Rangers sent him to the San Diego farm system in the Mike Adams deal, Erlin joined up with the best team in minor league baseball–the San Antonio Missions. So far, Erlin has made two starts and he has thrived. Erlin has surrendered only one run on seven hits in 12 innings of work. However, the southpaw is without a decision with San Antonio. Overall this season, Erlin is 8-4 with a 3.11 ERA.

Tommy Hunter: The Rangers sent Hunter and former RoughRider Chris Davis for reliever Koji Uehara. So far with the Orioles, Hunter is 0-1 with a 6.94 ERA in three appearances (two starts). In 11 and two-thirds innings, Hunter has allowed nine runs on 17 hits.

Leonys Martin: In his 58 minor league games since signing as an amateur free agent with the Rangers in early May, Martin is hitting .306. However, the outfielder has a .269 batting average with Triple-A Round Rock. In his 25 games with the Express, Martin has driven in 13 runs and stolen four bases. In a strange split, Martin is batting .394 against fellow lefties but only .213 against righties in Triple-A.

Martin Perez: The Rangers’ top prospect is 3-2 with a 5.28 ERA in six starts with Triple-A Round Rock. Perez has had two great outings in a row, including last night’s no decision against Tacoma (5.2 IP, 2 ER, 4 H, 2 K). Opponents at Triple-A are hitting a pretty healthy .341 against Perez in his first six efforts for Round Rock.

Guilder Rodriguez: In Rodriguez’s second go-around at the Triple-A level, the infielder is batting .278 with nine RBIs in 22 games with the Express. For the most part, Rodriguez has batted ninth and played at shortstop. However, he is getting some time at second base with Nick Green now on the Round Rock roster.

Tanner Scheppers: Scheppers joined Triple-A Round Rock Saturday after a couple of months with the RoughRiders. The dynamic reliever has tossed five innings with the Express, and he has allowed nine hits but only one run. Last night against Tacoma, Scheppers tossed three shutout innings during extra frames.

Joe Wieland: Wieland accompanied Erlin to San Antonio in the deadline deal with the Padres, but not before the righty posted the fourth no-hitter in Frisco history. With the Missions, Wieland has made one start, during which he went six innings and gave up a run on three hits. Wieland will start for the Missions tonight at Springfield.

- Brian

RoughRiders’ All-Gridiron Team

With the NFL lockout over and August underway, football is in the air.  The ‘Riders have some solid athletes this season which prompted the question “who would play where if the RoughRiders were a football team”? Seems logical.  After consulting with Frisco strength and conditioning coach Eric McMahon, here is the ‘Riders All-Gridiron Team. Feel free to leave comments with your opinions.  -AG

Offense

Quarterback: Ben Snyder
Although he was a two-time All-State wide receiver in high school, Snyder like the logical fit as QB. He has good athleticism, is a veteran, and has the intelligence the position demands.

Wide Receiver/Flanker: Justin Miller
At 6’4″, Miller is the prototypical deep threat. He has nice leaping abilities and is will force matchup problems for opposing defensive backs. “Snyder to Miller” is something we’ll be saying a lot.

Wide Receiver: Carlos Pimentel
He might be the most athletic pitcher of the ‘Riders staff. Pimentel has a quick burst off the line and is the perfect over-the-middle compliment to Miller going deep.

Running Back: Davis Stoneburner
Although he’s not the prototypical pounding back some might desire, Stoneburner possesses the quickness and elusiveness to to run effectively. What he lacks in size he makes up for in determination and confidence. Stoney is a nice open field runner who also contributes in the passing game.

Wide Receiver/Running Back (Flex): Corey Young
His quick hips and burst make Young a versatile offensive weapon both in the backfield and in the slot. He can lineup in a split-back set with Stoneburner, or can run complimentary routes over the middle with Pimentel in-between the first and second layers of the defense. His run after the catch abilities can turn a five yard dump pass into a 15 yard pick up.

Tight End: Tanner Scheppers
This is a natural fit. At 6’4″ with a long wingspan, Scheppers is the perfect red zone target for Snyder. He’s great over the middle of the field and, as a former short stop in college, has more athleticism than anyone on the line.

Right Tackle: Adalberto Flores
Big, tall, and physical, Flores shoulders the responsibility of protecting Snyder’s blindside. He has the quick feet and powerful arms to move quickly and keep a clean pocket.

Right Guard: Robbie Ross
With a low center of gravity, Ross wards off the blitz well. He also has enough quickness to pull on running plays and open up holes for Stoneburner.

Center: Jose Felix
Another natural fit. “Chief” is the anchor of the offensive line.

Left Guard: Richard Bleier
Bleier has the intelligence to read the defense and the athleticism to pull.

Left Tackle: Fabio Castillo
Pound-for-pound the biggest guy on the line.  Fabio is aggressive with string hands and a wide upper-half.

Defense

Defensive End: Mike Bianucci
Has the size to stay in on running downs, but the athleticism and burst to rush the passers. His low center of gravity helps keep him on his feet, and his motor will wear down offensive tackles by the fourth quarter.

Defensive Tackle: Jose Ruiz
As one RoughRider told me, if Jose joined a Division I football program today, in four years he’d be an All-American. Ruiz has elite lateral movement and a sharp burst. He’s a beast clogging up the middle and has the speed to rush the passer.

Defensive Tackle: Jake Brigham
Fear the beard.  Brigham has the strength and aggressiveness to compliment Ruiz next to him. He also has the long arms to knock down passes when rushing.  He brings the intensity and heart his position demands.

Defensive End: Johan Yan
Love this choice. His height and weight profiles as a rush defensive end. He runs well, has a long wingspan, and is big and strong enough to play the run.

Outside Linebacker: Elio Sarmiento
Thick and strong, Sarmiento can stuff the run but also has the quickness to cover a tight end who releases from the line. He can cover the flat and is disciplined enough to be trusted take down a running back in the open field.

Middle Linebacker: Jonathan Greene
His physical build and tools make Greene a nice choice here. He stuffs the run well and isn’t afraid of contact.

Middle Linebacker: Tommy Mendonca
Like Greene, Mendonca has the build to stuff the run. His strong forearms help him wrap up well and he has the quickness to move in a confined space well.

Outside Linebacker: Mitch Hilligoss
Aside from having a linebackers neck, Hilligoss can drop back like a safety, rush like a defensive end, and stop the run. Like Sarmiento, Hilli is a good fit here.

Cornerback: Engel Beltre
Beltre has big play, pick-six potential. His elite speed matches up with any wide receiver. He has all the makings up a shut-down corner.

Cornerback: Renny Osuna
While Renny may not have the speed of Beltre, he is ultra reliable and can cover the run as well. Has the athleticism to cover all types of receivers and has a nose for the ball.

Free Safety: Tyler Tufts
Perfect combination of size and speed to cover the entire third layer of the defense. Tufts has nice range and is a sound safety blanket for Renny and Osuna on the outer thirds. His big hits make receivers think twice before coming over the middle.

RoughRiders Trade Talk

Last week Stephen Harmon examined some prospects in the Rangers system that have tremendously improved their stock since the start of the season.  Now, with the trading deadline approaching this afternoon at 4 p.m. ET, he looks at the Rangers’ top tier prospects who have been linked with trade rumors across MLB.  

For starters, the Rangers’ trade yesterday with Baltimore for Koji Uehara has changed things for Texas entering today. Here is what Richard Durrett of ESPN Dallas says following the deal:

“Instead of having to make a deal at any cost for Heath Bell, for instance, they can continue to negotiate with the Padres and see if San Diego comes off its high price for Bell. If they don’t, then the Rangers can pass. If they do, then Texas can try to strike a deal. The Rangers are still considered one of the favorites for Bell, so we’ll see what happens there.”

With that as a launching point, here are what people are saying about some future, current, and former RoughRider players.

Robbie Erlin

This 20-year-old lefty has generated a lot of interest in the trade market in the past week. Scouts from the Padres, Mets, and White Sox organizations as well as Rangers’ President Nolan Ryan and GM John Daniels were all on hand at Dr Pepper Ballpark last Tuesday night for Erlin’s start against Midland.

According to Durrent, and as tweeted by Jim Bowden of ESPN.com, the Padres and Rangers were, and possibly still are, close on agreeing to a deal that would send All-Star closer Heath Bell to Texas. The centerpiece in the Rangers package of players that would be shipped to San Diego is rumored to beErlin and/or Joe Wieland who just pitched a no-hitter Friday night.  However, the Rangers are hesitant to part with their prospects and believe the Padres’ asking price is too high. On the other hand, Bell is the preeminent closer on the market, and the Rangers have been the most aggressive team pursuing him.

Here in Frisco, Erlin has impressed with his focus and mature composure. Through Erlin’s first eleven games in Frisco, the California native has posted a 5-2 record and a 4.32 ERA. Additionally, he has struck out 61 batters while walking only seven. More amazingly is that the lefty has issued only one free pass through his five starts in July.  Listen to Frisco pitching coach Jeff Andrews talk about Erlin  and Wieland with Bryan Dolgin of 103.3 FM ESPN.

Joe Wieland

At 21-years-old, Wieland has made a impressed through hist first seven starts – even without his no-hitter.

Robbie Erlin may be grabbing the headlines as the Rangers’ most sought after pitching prospect, but Wieland appears to be equally talented. Both players started the season in Myrtle Beach and have, at times, dominated Texas League hitters.

Said Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus, “I talked to a team early this week that told me the Rangers were very high on Wieland and very reluctant to talk about him in deals.”

Martin Perez

Martin Perez, the Rangers number one pre-season prospect according to Baseball America, has also been getting a lot of attention around the rumor mills. However, the Rangers seem unwilling to deal the young left-hander who Keith Law predicts will emerge as a number one or number two starter within five years.

Simply put, Perez appears to be off the market.  Keith Law talks with Bryan Dolgin about Perez and Leonys Martin (not on the market).

Tanner Scheppers

The hard throwing right-hander has impressed with his mid to upper 90’s fastball. According to Jayson Stark of ESPN, Scheppers name has come up in a package presented to the Padres for Heath Bell.

For the most part, we haven’t really heard Scheppers’ name tossed around too much in the last couple of weeks.  The Rangers’ No. 3 overall prospect (Baseball America) has now made 15 appearances out of the Frisco bullpen and with six walks and 24 strikeouts after spending two separate stints on the disabled list this year.

Jurickson Profar

At 18-years-old, Profar may not be ready for the big leagues for a while, but he is worth waiting for. The Rangers have rejected the Padres offer of a Profar/Derrick Holland package for Heath Bell, reports Baseball Time In Arlington.  Similar to Perez, it appears as though Profar is clearly off the market.

The Sunday trade deadline is an exciting time of year in baseball. Thanks to a farm system that is packed with talent from Short-Season Spokane to Triple-A Round Rock, the Rangers have become very active in the rumor mill, as many teams are lured to the Rangers young pitching prospects.

The countdown has been on for a while, but it all comes to an end this afternoon.

RoughRiders Roundtable Podcast, Episode #3

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN

The latest episode of the RoughRiders Roundtable Podcast is now yours to listen to and download on iTunes.  As always, a big thanks to our producer Ted Price, Jason Cole of LoneStarDugout.com, and Brian.

The three of us discuss the trade deadline, Joe Wieland, Mike Bianucci, Tomym Mendonca, Johan Yan, Renny Osuna, Jake Brigham, Justin Miller, Tanner Scheppers … and even more.

We’ve been thrilled with the early response of the podcast.  Episode 2 had over 1,300 downloads!  Thanks to all who download and listen, and remember, feel free to leave a comment with a question or future topic you’d like us to discuss.

I hope you and your iPod enjoy.  -AG

July Is For Pitching

It has been a good month for the RoughRiders yet again in July. Frisco is 14-8, which means the club is on pace for more wins in July than it has had in any month this season.

The offense has been solid as usual, posting a .282 batting average. That is one point higher than the ‘Riders’ team average in June (.281).

But the RoughRiders’ pitching staff has been the group that has improved the most in the first 22 games of July. The staff, which owned an ERA around 4.50 throughout the first three months of the season, boasts a season-best 3.60 ERA this month. Opponents are averaging only 4.2 runs per game against the ‘Riders, and 12 times the opposition has managed less than four runs in a game this month.

Today, we delve into the statistics and find five RoughRiders hurlers who have posted season-best ERAs for a month in July, along with three others who are at or close to their season low.

SEASON LOW ERAs:

Richard Bleier: Bleier has been bounced around all season long, from the disabled list into a few piggyback outing, to the rotation and then the bullpen and back into the rotation. Hopefully you kept up there. Bleier is back in the rotation and set to start tonight. The southpaw is 2-1 with a 3.80 ERA in July, a month during which Bleier has made three starts and three bullpen appearances. He will start for the ‘Riders tonight as they aim for their fifth sweep of the season and their second at Dr Pepper Ballpark.

Jake Brigham: Like Bleier, Brigham began the season as a starter but is now in the bullpen. After a rough start in the ‘pen, Brigham has settled in nicely. The right-hander currently owns a 2.13 ERA in July, which is more than two runs better than his previous best. He has struck out 16 batters in 12 and two-thirds innings of work. Brigham has not pitched since Thursday, so fans can expect to see him again soon.

Robbie Erlin is 5-2 in his young Double-A career (Photo: James Garner).

Robbie Erlin: The Rangers’ number four prospect has been pretty steady during his first two months at the Double-A level, and Erlin has been at his best in July. The left-hander has a 3.75 ERA in four July starts, but his record is only 1-2. In July, the strikeout-per-inning ratio has gone down a bit from June (1.2 in June to 0.8 in July), but Erlin has not walked a single batter in 24 innings this month. The next start for Erlin will be Tuesday against Midland.

Tanner Scheppers: Scheppers has been with the RoughRiders for more than a month, and he has shown flashes of dominance during his time in the Texas League. In July, Scheppers has an ERA of 3.38, but that includes a tough start to July when he allowed four earned runs in three appearances. Since then, the righty has posted six scoreless innings of work in his last five outings. Scheppers has some of the best stuff in the Rangers’ system, and he doesn’t figure to be in Frisco for much longer based on his recent performances. Triple-A Round Rock could be the next destination soon.

Joe Wieland: Wieland’s successes have been documented here on the Insider Blog, and he continued that good work last night with six scoreless innings against Corpus Christi. Wieland’s ERA is at 1.54 in Double-A, and it sits at just 1.50 in July. In all six of his starts, Wieland has worked at least five innings and allowed two earned runs or less.

DESERVING MENTION:

Justin Miller: It was going to be tough for Miller to best his effort in June because, well, he didn’t allow any earned runs in 13 and two-thirds innings of work. Here in July, Miller has recorded 11 and a third frames, and he allowed his only run of the month at Springfield July 9. Throw out that single tally, and the midseason All-Star has not surrendered a run since May 23 in a game at San Antonio that he went on to earn the victory.

Yohan Yan has yet to give up a run for the 'Riders (Photo: James Garner).

Yohan Yan: Yan has been great with both Myrtle Beach and Frisco. So far with the ‘Riders in three appearances, the side-winding right-hander has crafted five and a third scoreless innings of relief. He has held the opposition to just two base hits. Thus, his ERA with the ‘Riders is at its lowest in July because this is his first month here, but he deserved inclusion on this list. So far, so good for the ‘Riders’ newest arm.

Corey Young: Young is almost in the same category as Miller. He gave up just one run in June for an ERA of 0.87. Here in July, Young has only given up one run in three fewer innings, so he could still go on to post a season-low for a month with a few more appearances. When Young went on the disabled list with a back injury in late April, he had an ERA at 9.00. That mark has since dropped to a very healthy 3.51.

- Brian

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 55 other followers