Results tagged ‘ Texas League ’

Nicholas and Ramirez join RoughRiders greats

PostSeason_AllStars

Brett Nicholas and Neil Ramirez made the Texas League Post-season All-Star Team, announced yesterday by league President Tom Kayser. Here is part of the release from RidersBaseball.com:

Nicholas, 25, leads the RoughRiders in batting (.299), home runs (21) and RBI (89). His batting average is currently fourth among qualifying players and first among active Texas Leaguers. He is first in total bases (236), hits (143) and RBI, fourth in the circuit in runs (70) and third in slugging (.493). He has set career highs in hits, triples (3), home runs, runs scored and RBI. He is currently second in the league in games played (129). Nicholas was honored for the first time as an All-Star of any kind when he made the Mid-Season All-Star Team for the South Division; this is his first ever professional post-season selection.

Ramirez, 24, spent time with the ‘Riders for the third straight year in 2013 and went 9-3 in 21 starts with a 3.84 ERA and 127 strikeouts in 103 innings. He started the All-Star Game at Northwest Arkansas for the South Division on June 25 and was the winning pitcher in the contest. Ramirez struck out 11.1 batters per nine innings this season, which would be a career-best if the rate holds up. Now a member of the Cubs’ Double-A affiliate, he departed Frisco as the Texas League leader in strikeouts and ranked fifth in the league in wins (second on Frisco). The Virginia Beach, Virginia native held opposing batters to a .213 average which would be first in the Texas League if he qualified among league leaders. Ramirez was one of nine pitchers selected to the team and one of seven starting pitchers.

Frisco has had at least one Post-season All-Star in every season except for 2005. 2012 was the best season for the ‘Riders with four selections; the previous best was two.

Here is the all-time list of RoughRiders to make the team:

RoughRiders selected to the Texas League Post-season All-Star Team

C – Max Ramirez (2008)

2B – Ramon Nivar (2003)

2B – German Duran (2007)

SS – Elvis Andrus (2008)

SS – Jurickson Profar (2012)

3B – Mike Olt (2012)

OF – Craig Gentry (2009)

OF – Engel Beltre (2012)

DH – Jason Botts (2004)

DH – Nate Gold (2006)

DH – Chad Tracy (2009)

DH – Tommy Mendonca (2011)

DH – Brett Nicholas (2013)

P – A.J. Murray (2003)

P – Kameron Loe (2004)

P – Thomas Diamond (2006)

P – Luis Mendoza (2007)

P – Blake Beavan (2010)

P – Ryan Tatusko (2010)

P – Joe Wieland (2011)

P – Barret Loux (2012)

P – Neil Ramirez (2013)

Fun with numbers and All-Stars

  • The ‘Riders have had 22 players honored over the 11 seasons, an average of two per season.
  • Only once has the club not had a single player make the roster (2005)
  • In 2012, Frisco had a team-record four players make the team.
  • Of the 22 players, 15 have made the big leagues.
  • Despite 5 DH selections, the ‘Riders have not had a player selected as the starting first baseman on the All-Star team.
  • Neil Ramirez is not the first RoughRiders player to win the award while no longer in the organization. He joins Joe Wieland, Ryan Tatusko and Blake Beavan as Post-season All-Stars to earn the award while playing another organization. Ramirez is now in the Cubs organization after inclusion as the player to be named later in the Matt Garza trade. Joe Wieland was in the 2011 trade for Mike Adams. Ryan Tatusko was the return to Washington for Christian Guzman in 2010, and Blake Beavan, in the midst of his 2010 Texas League Post-Season All-Star campaign was traded to Seattle as part of the package for Cliff Lee.
  • 6 of the 22 were also included in last year’s All-’Riders team, selected in honor of the 10th anniversary of the club. Those selections include: Blake Beavan (# SP), Nate Gold (DH), Craig Gentry (CF), Elvis Andrus (SS), Tommy Mendonca (3B) and German Duran (2B).

- Nathan

Baseball term of the day (with enthusiastic assistance today from Scott Fults)cozy roller - a slowly batted ground ball

(term from The Dickson Baseball Dictionary)

The Case for Brett Nicholas, Texas League Player of the Year

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Odds are against ‘Riders first baseman Brett Nicholas, but he deserves consideration for the league’s Player of the Year Award

The ballots are in. The counters are at work, tabulating the totals. Hopefully it won’t come down to the definition and value of a hanging chad. (UPDATE: Corpus Christi’s George Springer has won the award)

Yesterday, Alex and I, along with others around the league, were asked to turn in our votes for the Texas League Postseason All-Star team, Player of the Year award winner, Pitcher of the Year selection and Manager of the Year candidate. The awards are expected to be announced today.

The only stipulation in the voting was that you could not vote for players on your team, so, neither Alex nor I could vote for RoughRiders players. The voting included a ballot filled with the following positions: 1B, 2B, 3B, SS, C, 3 OF and 6 pitchers. There were two columns: one for “1st Team” and another for “2nd team.” So that means we could vote for two 1B, two 2B (etc).

While it was time-consuming and thought-provoking, save for a few players, I thought selecting this season’s Texas League All-Stars was not too difficult. While there are a few deserving candidates, it didn’t take long to pen down David Martinez for Pitcher of the Year in the circuit. As for Manager of the Year, that one was rather easy for me as well.

Then we came to Player of the Year.

The Candidates

So, should I vote for Anthony Aliotti?

The Midland first baseman spent around two thirds of the season crushing Texas League pitching to the tune of a .350 average, .452 on-base percentage and .993 OPS–all league highs, and with enough plate appearances to qualify, Aliotti will finish first in all three of these categories. He has really struggled at Triple-A, but that should not matter. This is Texas League Player of the Year.

George Springer, MiLB.com

George Springer, MiLB.com

What about George Springer? He has to be the favorite for all-around Minor League Player of the Year. He is three home runs away for the elite 40 home run / 40 stolen base club, which has happened only four times in major league history (Jose Canseco 1988, Barry Bonds 1996, Alex Rodriguez 1998, Alfonso Soriano 2006–three former Texas Rangers coincidentally enough). It hasn’t happened in the minor leagues, where the season slate is fewer games (140) since 1956 when Len Tucker accomplished the feat. He is first in minor league baseball in home runs (37), tied for fourth in RBI (105), tied for 20th in steals (43) and fourth in OPS among players with 300+ ABs. He is also accomplishing these feats despite zero time above Advanced-A ball before this year.

Neither player spent even close to the entire season in the league. Springer played 73 games, while Aliotti notched 91. Neither player will finish in the top 5 in home runs or RBI, and depending on how the season finishes, Springer could drop out of the top 5 in stolen bases (23), while Aliotti could lose his spot at #5 in doubles (29).

I searched desperately for a candidate that played 100 or more games in the league (an arbitrary number, I know), that could live up to the play of these two fine ballplayers.

How about Matt Fields of Northwest Arkansas? He will likely capture the home run crown; he has 31 and a six home run edge of second place. But Fields is hitting just .227, plays a non-premium defensive position (first base), and leads the league with 175 strikeouts in 124 games.

Xavier Scruggs? The Springfield first baseman is second in home runs (25), just outside the top 5 in RBI (74), fourth in league in OPS (.853) and leads the league in walks (81). While the resume is an impressive one, a .246 average, more than a strikeout per game, and the opportunity to play lowly Northwest Arkansas 32 times really hurt his cause for me (he hit .313 with six of his 25 homers against the last place Naturals).

Anthony Aliotti, (Edyta Blaszczyk/Odessa American)

Anthony Aliotti, (Edyta Blaszczyk/Odessa American)

Then I got to Brett Nicholas. Of course, I couldn’t vote for Nicholas since he is a ‘Rider. The Frisco first baseman is going to finish the season with the most games played and likely have the highest RBI total (he is first today). His .299 average is fourth in the TL, and is first among active Texas League players. He is first in hits, third in slugging (second active), first in total bases, fourth in runs, and, in comparison to other power hitters in the league, does not strike out very often. Of course in many more games than Springer and Aliotti, he has more hits, runs, home runs and RBI than the leading two candidates. If I could have voted for Nicholas, I might have. It would have been a tough call.

Full disclosure here, I voted for Springer.

His dominance while in the Texas League as well his team’s capturing a playoff spot before his departure outweighed, in my opinion, his smaller gross totals in comparison to Scruggs, or Crumbliss, or Fields, and his speed and elite defense pushed him past Aliotti for me.

There are no criteria listed with this award; it is left up to the voter to decide what factors should go into Player of the Year. This is, in my opinion, a rather fruitless effort to argue over the number of games required for consideration, the value of defense and speed, ballpark factors (hitters’ park vs pitchers’ park), competition of the weighted divisional schedule, etc. Ultimately, when there are no rules, the voter must make these decisions themselves, and arguing over the value of each of these factors is often one without much movement. People’s minds are hard to change on topics like this.

What is important is that any voter at least consider these criteria when making their selection; how to balance them is up to the individual.

Assuming you are with me at this point, here are the raw numbers of the three players:

Tm Aff G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS TB
Nicholas - Frisco TEX 129 543 479 70 143 24 3 21 89 2 1 42 115 .299 .363 .493 .855 236
Aliotti - Midland OAK 91 409 340 49 119 29 0 12 51 3 2 66 83 .350 .452 .541 .993 184
Springer - Corpus Christi HOU 73 323 273 56 81 20 0 19 55 23 5 42 96 .297 .399 .579 .978 158

Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table

Generated 8/27/2013.

I will run through a few of the perhaps more overlooked factors that might shed some light on the worthiness of Nicholas for the league’s highest honor.

Nicholas is the only one with enough games/at bats

For the record, I also think Springer will win the award. Which is astounding.

Since the inception of the award in 1931, only two position players have ever won the award with less than 100 games played. Kila Kaʻaihue of the Northwest Arkansas Naturals won the award in 2008 when and he launched 26 homers and hit .314 over 91 games, and another Royals prospect, Mike Moustakas, took home the hardware in his 66 game season in 2010 when he left the circuit with an 1.100 OPS with 21 homers and a .347 average. He also plays a decent third base in the majors, so I imagine he was above average man at the hot corner in his time in the Texas League.

Five pitchers have won the award: Tim Leary (1980), Bob Muncrief (1940), Dizzy Trout (1938), Harold (Ash) Hillin (1937), Dizzy Dean (1931). Only Trout didn’t spend his entire award-winning season in the TL. He pitched 37 times in the Texas League and in five games for Double-A Toledo in the American Association. Proportionally speaking, he made 88% of his outings in the Texas League, which would be quite a bit more than 100 games by a position player standard.

Even if Aliotti wins the award it would be pretty remarkable. Granted the two players to break the mold have done so in the last 10 years, when seemingly voters might be a bit more prospect-conscious and mid-season promotions are more common, but history is still very much against it.

Nicholas is not in a great hitting environment

Comparing the three players, Alliotti, Nicholas and Springer, it seems that Nicholas is likely in the toughest spot to produce. Mark Eddy of BaseballAmerica.com looked at park factors at the start of this season, and Dr Pepper Ballpark ranked as the fifth best hitter’s park in the eight team league. Midland was third. Corpus Christi ranked fourth:

Citibank Ballpark - Midland, Texas

Citibank Ballpark – Midland, Texas

Rates Per Park, 2010-12
Team R/G H/G HR/G PF-R
Northwest Arkansas 10.86 19.00 1.90 1.132
Springfield 10.09 18.14 2.35 1.019
Midland 9.95 19.19 1.12 1.023
Corpus Christi 9.39 17.97 1.76 1.023
Frisco 8.98 17.20 1.77 0.994
Tulsa 8.75 16.98 2.01 0.995
San Antonio 8.29 16.70 1.21 0.928
Arkansas 7.67 15.64 1.00 0.902

Launching Pad: Springfield, 2.35 HR/G (No. 6)
Graveyard: Arkansas, 1.00 HR/G (No. 106)
Hit Parade: Midland, 19.19 H/G (No. 11)
Pitcher’s Park: Arkansas, 7.67 R/G (No. 4)

(table and statistics from BaseballAmerica.com)

The ‘Riders’ home park is also much harder on left-handed batters, where the power-alley to right-center field is much futher than left-center (383 ft vs. 364 ft) and the WinStar Diamond Deck in left creates a Home Run Porch of sorts in straightaway left field.

mZlVWjRD

Dr Pepper Ballpark – Frisco, Texas

Whataburger Field - Corpus Christi, Texas

Whataburger Field – Corpus Christi, Texas

Additionally, there is the concept of lineup protection. By all accounts, the Midland RockHounds and Corpus Christi Hooks have created more protection for Springer and Aliotti than the ‘Riders have for Nicholas this season. Here is how the offenses stack up:


Team R/gm HR AVG OBP OPS
Corpus 4.63 150 .254 .331 .745
Midland 4.88 94 .254 .336 .726
Frisco 4.16 108 .246 .297 .672

Here is a similar table, only taking account team performance while the player in question was on the team’s roster (Aliotti was promoted on July 18, Springer on June 26):


Team Games R/gm HR/gm AVG OBP OPS
Corpus 76 4.84 1.08 .255 .331 .745
Midland 95 4.83 0.76 .258 .340 .737
Frisco 133 4.16 0.81 .246 .297 .672

Now of course these players account for part of the production, but that is true across the board. Springer and Aliotti were more production on a daily basis than Nicholas, but not enough to account for the disparities between the offenses on a whole.

Nicholas doesn’t play a premium defensive position

Or does he? That ‘Riders everyday first baseman is not really that–an everyday first baseman. He has logged 12 games at catcher, and likely would have more if the ‘Riders had a bit more flexibility at first base.

Other than rehabbers, only Guilder Rodriguez has logged more than one game at first base outside of Nicholas (18 games), and Rodriguez has been needed to spell off days for other infielders as well. Because of this, Nicholas has not been able to log as much time at catcher as he might have otherwise. More starts at catcher would certainly make his candidacy a little stronger.

Springer plays elite defense in center field. Your eyes will tell you that. The scouts will tell you that, and I am sure, when he makes the majors, the sabermetricians will crunch numbers that tell us the same. It is part of the reason I voted for Springer over Aliotti.

Nicholas’ ability at catcher should not be overlooked. He still considers himself a catcher and, defensively, has been pretty darn good at the position. Here is how he stacks up in a few key categories with the two primary Frisco catchers, Tomas Telis and Zach Zaneski:


Name Games Catcher ERA Games/PB SB ATT/gm CS%
Nicholas 12 3.61 12 1.33 0.375
Telis 78 3.51 6.5 0.94 0.324
Zaneski 43 3.77 10.75 1.37 0.305

While this unlikely puts him ahead of Springer, I think it has to put him in front of Aliotti, and at least boost his candidacy. When considering MVP/POTY type awards, many will only focus on the offense of a first baseman, assuming that even an elite defensive first baseman is not adding a ton of value. I think that is an unfair determination in the case of Nicholas.

Conclusion

I would be shocked if Springer or Aliotti doesn’t win the award. In fact, I would be pretty astounded if Springer doesn’t win it, but if he is faulted for his 73 games played, it’s hard to imagine it won’t go to Aliotti.

I don’t even know if Brett Nicholas truly deserves the award, but I have a feeling many voters simply weighed the value of Aliotti’s 18 extra games against the incredible production of George Springer, decided how much that would count against Springer, and then called it a day.

Nicholas likely didn’t get the credit his season deserved. He has without question been the Player of the Year for the Frisco RoughRiders, and maybe even the Player of the Year in the Rangers minor league system, and he deserves at least a thoughtful discussion for Player of the Year in his circuit.

- Nathan

Baseball term of the day: cloud-hunter - a ball batted high in the air

(term from The Dickson Baseball Dictionary)

The name game: Rougned Odor

This week, MiLB.com kicked off their annual fan participation contest “Moniker Madness” where fans can choose the best name among the thousands of active Minor League players.  RoughRiders new-comer Rougned Odor has been selected by MiLB.com as a contestant this season and he needs your votes.  Odor is also the solo representative from the Rangers farm system.

Blog_081513_3

Rougned, also known as Roogey, made his Double-A debut on August 1 and became the youngest player at the level this season at age 19.  The Venezuelan second baseman has a 15 year-old brother with the same first name, but the two are separated by different middle names (older Rougned’s full name is Rougned Roberto, while the younger is named Rougned Jose).  The two have an uncle named Rouglas Odor who is a hitting coach in the Cleveland Indians system.

Blog_081513_1

How to vote

On the webpage, fans will be given a random pairing of two names and will vote on which one they prefer. Then another random pairing will appear and the fan can vote again. This will continue with different random pairings as long as the fan chooses to continue. The ultimate winner of the contest will be the player that wins the most random head-to-head matchups.  Voting will run through noon on Wednesday, August 28.

The link for the Moniker Madness voting page is – www.milb.com/monikermadnes

Other nominated Texas Leaguers:

Delta Cleary Jr. – Tulsa Drillers
Rocky Gale – San Antonio Missions
Cheslor Cuthbert – Northwest Arkansas Naturals
Jett Bandy – Arkansas Travelers

215x160_mm_2013

-Ryan

Baseball term of the day: Seamhead - A dedicated baseball fan

(term from The Dickson Baseball Dictionary)

Texas League Prospects (North Division)

On May 10, we took a glance at some of the prospects from the Texas League South Division and their performances throughout this first part of the season.

The RoughRiders are on the road playing North Division opponents, therefore, today, we’re taking a look at the North Division and discussing prospects for each team.

Springfield Cardinals:

Xavier Scruggs, 1B – Scruggs is ranked second of all first baseman by Baseball America in the St. Louis Cardinals system.  Scruggs leads the Cardinals in home runs (12) and RBIs (38) and is second in the Texas League in HR (one behind Hooks’ slugger George Springer).  Scruggs leads the Texas League in RBIs (just four above Frisco’s Brett Nicholas), slugging percentage (.624) and in best HR/AB ratio (1/10.42).  He was named the Texas League Player of the Week April 29.
The RoughRiders are currently on the road with Springfield.  In last night’s game, Scruggs hit 2 RBIs against Frisco.

Scruggs

Arkansas Travelers:

C.J. Cron, 1B – Cron is ranked by Baseball America as the number 3 prospect and the top first baseman in the Los Angeles Angels system.  Cron leads the Travelers in RBIs (21), doubles (14) and hits (51).  As of today, he is fifth in batting in the Texas League, and number four in doubles and hits. In his last ten games, Cron has averaged .316 four runs on 12 hits with one home run.

Cron

Tulsa Drillers:

Christian Bergman, RHP – Bergman is ranked number 28 and the fifth best right-hander in the Colorado Rockies system by Baseball America.  He leads the Drillers in wins (3), strikeouts (40) and ERA (3.02).  This year, Bergman is 3-2 in nine starts, with opponents hitting .234.  Bergman has the 9th top ERA  in the Texas League and is 2nd in innings pitched (53.2).

Bergman

Northwest Arkansas Naturals:

Matt Fields, 1B – Fields is ranked as the third best first baseman in the Kansas City Royals system by Baseball America.  He leads the Naturals in home runs (10), RBIs (29) and runs (20).  In the Texas League, Matt is 5th in home runs.  In his last ten games, Matt has had five runs on ten hits and 6 RBI, averaging .294 in 34 at bats.

Fields

Baseball Term of the Day: Glory time: A point late in a game during which a relief pitcher can earn a potential save.

-Ryan

Texas League Prospects (South Division)

Today, we look at some of the prospects in the Texas League South Division and their performance this first month and a half of play.   The South Division has held the lead in the league, currently occupying the top four places in the rankings.

Corpus Christi Hooks:

George Springer, CF – Springer is ranked as the 3rd prospect by Baseball America in the Houston Astros system.  The 23-year-old is also the Astros’ top outfielder.  In his first year at the Double-A level, George leads the Hooks this season in runs (27), hits (35), doubles (9) home runs (11) and RBIs (27).  Springer also leads the Texas League in home runs, RBIs  and total bases (77).

Springer

Frisco RoughRiders:

Hanser Alberto, SS – Alberto is ranked as the 15th prospect in the Rangers’ system, and is the top ranked position player on the RoughRiders’ roster by Baseball America.  Hanser has hit .289 in his 30 games this season with 114 at-bats and has had 13 runs on 33 hits with an RBI of 14.  As of opening day, he was the youngest player in the Texas League and the second youngest at the Double-A level at the age of 20.

Alberto_2

San Antonio Missions:

Matt Andriese, RHP – Andriese is ranked by Baseball America as the Padres’ 20th prospect and the ninth top pitcher in the San Diego system.  The 23-year-old has gone 5-0 with an ERA of 2.19 this season with seven starts, opponents hitting .196.  Andriese leads the Missions and the Texas League in wins (5).

Andriese

Midland RockHounds:

Miles Head, 3B – At the age of 22, Head is ranked 7th and the top third baseman in the Oakland Athletics’ system by Baseball America.   Head’s swing is quick and compact, and he has cited as having excellent bat control.  Miles is hitting .206 in 28 games with 107 at-bats and has 11 runs off 22 hits.  He has hit two home runs this season.  In his three games against the RoughRiders, Miles had three runs with eight at-bats striking out twice and walking four times.

Head

___

In ‘Riders News:

Coming off a 6-4 win over the Hooks last night, Frisco continues their series in Corpus Christi tonight at 7.  Kevin Pucetas will start for the RoughRiders and faces Nick Tropeano.

The ‘Riders return to Dr Pepper Ballpark Monday night at 7 against the Midland RockHounds.

Baseball term of the day: Pull the trigger - to decide to swing at the pitch.

-Ryan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

_________________________

TNCTG PART ONE:

Texas League Teams:

South Division:

Frisco RoughRiders: @RidersBaseball

Corpus Christi Hooks: @CCHooks

Midland Rockhounds: @RockHounds

San Antonio Missions: @MissionsMiLB

North Division:

Arkansas Travelers: @ARTravs

Northwest Arkansas Naturals: @NWANaturals

Springfield Cardinals: @Sgf_Cardinals

Tulsa Drillers: @TulsaDrillers

Teams in the Rangers System:

MLB – Texas Rangers: @Rangers

Triple-A – Round Rock Express: @RRExpress

Double-A – Frisco RoughRiders: @RidersBaseball

Advanced-A – Myrtle Beach Pelicans: @PelicanBaseball

Single-A – Hickory Crawdads: @HickoryCrawdads

Short-Season A – Spokane Indians: @SpokaneIndians

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

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

The Voices:

Alex Vispoli, Frisco RoughRiders: @Vispoli 

Bob Hards, Midland Rockhounds: Unknown. 

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

Mike Saeger, San Antonio Missions: @SAMissionsRadio

Phil Elson, Arkansas Travelers: @ElsonPhil

Steven Davis, Northwest Arkansas Naturals: Unknown. 

Andrew Buchbinder, Springfield Cardinals: Unknown. 

Dennis Higgins, Tulsa Drillers: Unknown. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Other good employees and team-related follows:

Frisco RoughRiders:

Nathan Barnett, Media Relations & Broadcasting Assistant: @NathanSBarnett

Ryan Garrett, Media Relations Intern: @Garrett_RM

Corpus Christi Hooks:

Chris Blake, Media Relations Coordinator: @ChrisCBlake

Midland Rockhounds:

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

Tulsa Drillers:

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

Texas Rangers:

John Blake, Executive Vice President of Communications: @RangerBlake

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

In-game Rangers Twitter handle: @theRangersGame

_________________________

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

- Nathan

Baseball term of the day: wand - baseball bat

Opening Day – Take Two

Okay so let’s try that again. Opening Day in North Little Rock was washed out yesterday. The other three games in the Texas League went off without a hitch, and the South Division dominated the action. All three games went the way of the south yesterday, so Frisco comes into Opening Day back a half-game of the other three members in the division. Midland, Corpus Christi and San Antonio all picked up Opening Day victories. Midland and Frisco begin the season on the road while the other two opened up their seasons at home last night.

The rotation is not expected to change today. Cody Buckel will start game one while former big leaguer Ryan Feierabend opposes the Travelers order in game two. Arkansas counters with Jarrett Grube and Mike Piazza. No, not that one.

Keep an eye on the ‘Riders twitter feed for the latest updates on action from North Little Rock, including the starting lineups for game two, but for now, here is the game one lineup. Just the same as yesterday:

ROUGHRIDERS

2B Odubel Herrera

CF Ryan Strausborger

RF Jared Hoying

1B Brett Nicholas

3B Alex Buchholz

LF Chih-Hsien Chiang

C Zach Zaneski

SS Hanser Alberto

RHP Cody Buckel

 

TRAVELERS

CF Travis Witherspoon

LF Matt Long

3B Kaleb Cowart

1B C.J. Cron

DH Robbie Widlansky

RF Randal Grichuk

2B Taylor Lindsey

C Jett Bandy

SS Rolando Gomez

RHP Jarrett Grube

News, notes, thoughts, and links:

  • The RoughRiders weren’t alone in having weather issues yesterday. Of the four active minor league teams in the Texas system (Spokane and the Rangers AZL and DSL teams pick up in June), only one of them got their opener in.
  • That was Round Rock. The Express topped Omaha 3-1 behind five shut-out innings from soon-to-be Texas Ranger’s 5th starter Nick Tepesch. The former ‘Rider scattered five singles in his five frames and struck out five Stormchasers on the way to the victory in his Triple-A debut. 
  • Hickory (Class-A) and Myrtle Beach (Class-A Advanced) were both rained out yesterday. Unlike Frisco, they will not make up their games today. Hickory will play a twin bill tomorrow beginning at 4:00 CT. Myrtle Beach won’t make up their postponed game until May 25th.
  • An extra long edition of the game notes today, complete with both starting pitchers is available at RidersBaseball.com
  • Tonight’s doubleheader can be heard here or if you are on an iPad or iPhone, click here. You can also watch the games with the audio feed simulcast by purchasing a subscription to MiLB.tv.
  • Frisco finishes the three game set with Arkansas in a full nine-inning contest tomorrow at 6:10 p.m. before getting back on the bus for the 194-mile trek to Springdale, Ark., home of the Northwest Arkansas Naturals. The RoughRiders round out the weekend Sunday with the first of a three game series against NW Arkansas at 2:00 p.m.

Enjoy day two of the season Opening Day! Go ‘Riders!

- Nathan

Reviewing the MiLB.com Rangers All-Stars (part 2)

With calendar year wrapping up, we’re taking one last look at the 2012 season, specifically the top performers in the Rangers organization.  MiLB.com’s Rangers Organization All-Star Team provided a good jumping off point and yesterday we took a look at the infield with an eye upon the outfield and pitching today.

OUTFIELD

 MiLB.com’s picks:

Joey Butler, Round Rock (137 G, .290-20-78, 28 2B, 3B, 93 R, 6-10 SB, .392 OBP, .473 SLG, .865 OPS)

Julio Borbon, Round Rock (126 G, .304-10-56, 23 2B, 8 3B, 78 R, 20-28 SB, .349 OBP, .433 SLG, .783 OPS)

Engel Beltre, Frisco (133 G, .261-13-55, 17 2B, 17 3B, 80 R, 36-46 SB, .307 OBP, .420 SLG, .727 OPS)

My picks:

Butler

Beltre

Lewis Brinson, AZL Rangers (54 G, .283-7-42, 22 2B, 7 3B, 54 R, 14-16 SB, .345 OBP, .523 SLG, .868 OPS)

The Rangers have a decent number of outfield prospects in their farm system and some very exciting ones who spent 2012 in the lower levels.  Unfortunately, some of those exciting prospects did not have very good years offensively.  The super-athletic Jordan Akins (Hickory) couldn’t crack the Mendoza Line in his first year with a full-season club while former first rounder Jake Skole struggled mightily in the Carolina League before serving a 50-game suspension for performance-enhancing drugs.

Butler

Joey Butler (pictured with the RoughRiders in 2011) had a great season in Triple-A. (Alex Yocum-Beeman/Frisco RoughRiders)

However, there were some notable seasons among outfielders down on the farm.  While perhaps a little too old to wear the “prospect” label, Butler turned in a fine season for the Express, providing a consistent, middle-of-the-order threat.  Whether or not he profiles to make a big league team at any point, he should have a long career in professional baseball given his ability to produce at the Triple-A level.  I could have really included the entire Round Rock outfield on this list, as Borbon’s numbers were nearly as impressive Butler’s and Leonys Martin (55 G, .359-12-42, 1.033 OPS) was a stud in his limited time in Triple-A.  While both certainly have credible cases to be made, ultimately I decided that there were other players who deserved the recognition maybe just a bit more.

My pick of Beltre was likely influenced by having the opportunity to see him everyday with the RoughRiders this past season.  The former Red Sox signee entered this past season looking to wipe the slate clean from a disastrous 2011 campaign that tarnished his prospect status.  The Dominican delivered, setting career-highs in home runs, triples and steals.  His 17 three-baggers were the second-most in Minor League Baseball and he played an astonishingly good center field.  Speaking from a purely defensive standpoint, I am convinced that he could step into the big leagues today and be a top 15 center fielder.

Based on his 2012 season, the Rangers certainly have to be happy with selecting Brinson with their first round draft pick this past June.  The 18-year-old Floridian did not get the same level of attention that AZL Rangers teammate Joey Gallo received for his desert power surge, but that was through no fault of his own.  Brinson led the AZL with 36 extra-base hits, 54 runs scored and 124 total bases while finishing one shy of the league lead in both hits and RBI.  The potential of Brinson and many of his teammates from this past season should keep Rangers fans excited for the future.

RIGHT-HANDED STARTING PITCHER

MiLB.com’s pick: Barret Loux, Frisco (25 GS, 14-1, 3.47 ERA, 127 IP, 120 H, 100 K, 41 BB, 1.27 WHIP, .251 BAA)

Buckel

Buckel won “Texas League Pitcher of the Week” honors in early September. (Alex Yocum-Beeman/Frisco RoughRiders)

My pick: Cody Buckel, Myrtle Beach/Frisco (26 G, 23 GS, 10-8, 2.49 ERA, 144.2 IP, 105 H, 159 K, 48 BB, 1.06 WHIP, .206 BAA)

Loux’s record is gaudy, but a closer look into his and Buckel’s numbers make the Californian the decisive choice from my perspective.  Loux wowed everyone (the Diamondbacks included, methinks) by winning each of his first ten starts of the season before going 4-1 in his final 15 outings.  His command of four pitches and ability to adjust from start-to-start and during starts were something to behold.  Traded to the Cubs in November as Jake Brigham’s replacement in the Geovany Soto deal, Loux fits the profile of a 4 or 5 starter in a big league rotation.  While Loux was very good at the start of the season for Frisco, Buckel was transcendent for the Pelicans.  The undersized righty had more starts (13) than runs allowed (12) in the Carolina League and, after an adjustment period in Double-A, was at his best in the Texas League as the season wrapped up.  Buckel learned to pound the strike zone with his zippy 92-94 mph fastball and then tortured hitters with his multitude of off-speed offerings (including a “shuuto,” or “reverse-slider”).  Buckel should be a regular big league contributor (either with the Rangers or another team depending on how the trade winds are blowing) before the end of the 2014 season.  Justin Grimm and C.J. Edwards also were worthy of consideration for this spot.

LEFT-HANDED STARTING PITCHER

Bell

Bell made three stops in 2012, starting in Myrtle Beach before finishing the season in Round Rock. (Alex Yocum-Beeman/Frisco RoughRiders)

MiLB.com’s pick: Chad Bell, Myrtle Beach/Frisco/Round Rock (31 G, 21 GS, 8-7, 3.48 ERA, 2 SV, 142.1 IP, 123 H, 110 K, 54 BB, 1.24 WHIP, .236 BAA)

My pick: Bell

The paucity of lefty starters in the Rangers’ system almost gives this award to Bell by default, but he is still a worthy recipient.  He probably should have begun the year: a) in Frisco; and b) as a starter all along.  But he started 2012 in a multi-inning relief role for Myrtle Beach before joining the RoughRiders at the end of April.  He got off to a rocky start in the Texas League, allowing a home run in his first outing before settling down and going 23 straight innings over seven outings without allowing another earned run.  By mid-May, he was starting and on June 11 he received the biggest boost of his season and perhaps his professional career.  With Rangers Special Assistant and pitching legend Greg Maddux in attendance, Bell allowed just one hit and one walk with six strikeouts over 6.2 scoreless innings in a win over Midland.  Maddux said after the game that it was one of the most impressive starts by a Minor Leaguer he had ever witnessed.  Bell was in Round Rock by the end of the month and, though the PCL proved to be more treacherous, continued to string together solid performances.

RELIEVER

MiLB.com’s pick: Ben Rowen, Myrtle Beach (38 G, 5-0, 1.57 ERA, 19-20 SV, 57.1 IP, 52 K, 3 BB, 0.77 WHIP, .201 BAA)

Rowen

Rowen under-handed his way to a phenomenal season on the Grand Strand. (Dano Keeney/MiLB.com)

My pick: Rowen

Winner of a “MiLBY Award” for the best reliever in all of Minor League Baseball, the submariner Rowen is obviously the best choice here.  The former 22nd round draft pick kept his pitches consistently down, inducing a 2.9 GO/AO ratio and allowing just two home runs all season.  His ludicrously low number of walks (three) is perhaps his most impressive statistic, given the unpredictablility of submarine-style pitchers in general.  Other excellent relievers from this past season included Phil Klein (Spokane/Myrtle Beach), Jimmy Reyes (Myrtle), Nicholas McBride (Spokane/Myrtle Beach), Zach Osborne (for his Myrtle work), Ross Wolf (Frisco/Round Rock), Joseph Ortiz (Frisco/Round Rock) and Yoshinori Tateyama (Round Rock).

-          Alex V.

Mendonca, Team USA Take Silver

As you might have seen on ESPN, Team Canada topped Team USA yesterday to take the gold medal in the Pan American Games.  A familiar name to RoughRiders’ fans, Jimmy Van Ostrand, drove in both of Canada’s runs as they edged Tommy Mendonca and the US team, 2-1.  For what’s it’s worth, Matt Hicks, the “Voice of the Hooks,” told me at one point during the season that Van Ostrand was one of the best guys he’s ever met in minor league baseball.

Tommy Mendonca celebrates with his teammates at home plate. (Arnulfo Franco/AP)

Mendonca, the ‘Riders 2011 everyday third baseman, batted seventh in the championship game and finished 0-for-3 with three strikeouts.  However, those numbers aren’t a fair representation of his overall performance during the Games.  In the opener of the Pan American Games, the Fresno State product went 3-for-4 with two doubles, six RBIs and two runs scored as the United States thumped the Dominican Republic, 20-2.   In his first three tournament games he hit .455 with nine RBIs.

Along with Van Ostrand, the Canadian team featured Northwest Arkansas’ Tim Smith and Jamie Romak.  Arkansas’ Matt Shoemaker, the Texas Leauge Pitcher of the Year, joined Tommy on the US squad.  As did Matt Clark (San Antonio, ’10) and former RoughRider Chad Tracy.

Game 6 of the World Series is tonight (maybe).  The Cardinals’ batting practice is scheduled for 4:00 p.m. with the Rangers hitting an hour later if possible. Game 6 has officially be postponed due to rain.  We’ll have to wait until Thursday.

-AG

“Kinsler’s Safe!”

According to Nettie Schwarz, our receptionist here at Dr Pepper Ballpark and All-Time Greatest Rangers’ Fan, Ian Kinsler’s stolen base in the 9th inning in Game 2 of the World Series “was the game.”

Ben and Skin on 103.3 FM ESPN this morning went so far as to say that, along with Nelson Cruz’s blasts in the ALCS, it might be the most defining moment in the playoffs so far for the Rangers.

Kinsler, a member of the RoughRiders’ 2004 Texas League Championship team, told the Dallas Morning News after the game, “my hand just barely got in there.  It took everything I had.”

Of course, all of this came on the heels of Cardinals’ All-Star catcher Yadier Molina rifling a strike down to second base to get Kinsler in the first inning of Game 1.

The replay of his stolen base in Game 2 showed that second base umpire, and St. Louis native, Ron Kulpa got the call right. Rangers’ radio play-by-play man Steve Busby said, “Boy … Molina, not only did he get rid of it quickly, he threw a laser down there to second.”  Boy, is that right.  Couldn’t have been much closer.

Didn’t it remind you a little of Boston’s Dave Roberts’ stolen base in Game 4 of the 2004 ALCS against the (stinkin’) Yankees?  Granted that was an elimination game, but still, when Kinsler took off to to second base, virtually everyone’s heart stopped beating until he was called safe – just like Roberts.

Who knows, maybe Kinsler’s stolen base will do for Texas what Roberts’ did for Boston.

-AG

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