Results tagged ‘ Texas Rangers ’

Riding Through the Farm: May 16

041516 Bush, Matt (Photo Credit - Frisco RoughRiders) 2

Matt Bush made his big league debut this weekend with the Rangers.

“Riding Through the Farm” is your weekly look at what’s going on in the Rangers organization outside of Frisco.

TEXAS RANGERS (22-16, 1st place, AL West)

The big talk around the organization in the last 24 hours has been about the melee that ensued yesterday. Plenty has already been written about it, so we won’t any more words on the matter.

Aside from all that, the big news of the weekend was Matt Bush’s promotion to the Rangers.  He had two good outings for the Rangers, mowing down the Blue Jays 1-2-3 in his debut on Friday and picking up his first big league win yesterday.

With yesterday’s win, the Rangers are back atop the AL West.

Tonight: at Oakland, 9:05 p.m. (SP: LHP Derek Holland)

TRIPLE-A ROUND ROCK EXPRESS (18-18, 1st, PCL American Southern Division)

The RoughRiders aren’t the only Rangers affiliate in the midst of a long losing streak. The Express had their losing streak run to six games Sunday in Albuquerque, despite a three-run homer from Shin Soo Choo in his first rehab game. Three of the six losses, however, have been by two runs or fewer.

Before yesterday’s game, skipper Jason Wood became the first player to have his number retired by the Isotopes.

Tonight: at Albuquerque, 7:35 p.m. (SP: LHP Michael Roth)

CLASS-A ADVANCED HIGH DESERT MAVERICKS (25-12, T-1st, California League South Division)

When we last updated you, the Mavericks were in the midst of a rough 2-5 stretch. Last week was much better, though, as the Mavericks won five of six games, including the first three against a good Visalia team.

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Luis Ortiz, seen here during Spring Training, is off to a great start with the Mavericks.

One of the big stories this week was quality starting pitching. Saturday, it was Luis Ortiz who allowed just one hit (a home run) and one run over six innings of work. Yesterday, Yohander Mendez followed that performance up with five scoreless innings, allowing just two hits, while walking one and striking out seven.

Another highly touted arm, righty Ariel Jurado, goes for the Mavericks this afternoon against Visalia.

Tonight: at Visalia, 3:05 p.m. (SP: RHP Ariel Jurado)

CLASS-A HICKORY CRAWDADS (24-12, 1st, South Atlantic League Northern Division)

The schedule says the ‘Dads played just one game yesterday, but they played the equivalent of more than two. Hickory got tangled in a 19-inning affair with the Rome Braves, allowing seven runs in the top of the 19th to fall, 9-2. It culminated a four-game series split for the Crawdads.

The much-talked-about Andy Ibanez is starting to find his groove again, going 9-for-27 in his last seven games, with four of those nine hits going for doubles. He was 2-for-18 his previous seven games.

Tonight: at Lexington, 6:05 p.m. (SP: TBD)

– Ryan

Baseball term of the day: Baseballically – Relating to the game of baseball. (“The Babe [Ruth] was one of my children, you know, baseballistically speaking.” – Former Yankees president Edward G. Barrow)

(term from The Dickson Baseball Dictionary

Bush shines on the big stage

I wrote yesterday about Matt Bush finally getting called up to the big leagues, and he wasted no time making his Major League debut.

Bush came in for the ninth inning in last night’s 5-0 loss to Toronto, but it was a memorable way to break into the bigs. Bush’s assignments were not easy: Josh Donaldson (struck him out looking), Jose Bautista (pop out), and Edwin Encarnacion (foulout).

Bush needed 17 pitches (10 strikes) to get through the inning, picking up right where he left off with the RoughRiders. For those of us who have watched him this year, the results aren’t all that surprising, but you never know how someone will react when the lights get a little brighter on the big stage (and when three of Toronto’s best hitters step to the plate).

Hopefully, it’s a sign of more to come for Bush, who is finally getting his chance to shine.

– Ryan

Baseball term of the day: Baseballiana – An assembly of items, or bibliography, representative of, or associated with, baseball.

(term from The Dickson Baseball Dictionary

Saddle Up: Riders at Arkansas (4/11/16)

GAME #5
Frisco RoughRiders (4-0) at Arkansas Travelers (1-3)
Monday, April 11 – 7:10 p.m.
Dickey-Stephens Park (North Little Rock, AR)
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Audio: Listen online or through the TuneIn Radio app (Nathan Barnett and Steve Goldberg)
Watch: MiLB.TV (Arkansas feed)
Live stats: Click here
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This series: Game 2 of 3 (Riders lead, 1-0)
This season: Game 2 of 12 (Riders lead, 1-0)

FRISCO LINEUP

  1. Isiah Kiner-Falefa – 3B
  2. Ryan Cordell – LF
  3. Lewis Brinson – CF
  4. Ronald Guzman – 1B
  5. Joe Jackson – DH
  6. Preston Beck – RF
  7. Alberto Triunfel – 2B
  8. Kellin Deglan – C
  9. Luis Marte – SS

RHP Richelson Pena (0-0, -.–)

RIDERS RECAP: Sunday at Arkansas (W, 6-4 – 12 innings)

Box Score
Game Recap
Highlights
Postgame Notes

SETTING THE STAGE (full game notes here)

LAST TIME OUT:

Trailing 4-0 in the sixth, the Riders mounted a comeback to tie the game over the next three innings and scored twice in the 12th to capture a 6-4 win over the Arkansas Travelers…RYAN CORDELL smacked the club’s first homer of the year in the sixth to make it 4-1, and Frisco put together a pair of runs in the seventh and the game-tying run on a single by JOE JACKSON in the eighth…The Riders bullpen posted seven scoreless innings, including 3.1 innings from RYNE SLACK who earned the win.

THE ‘PEN IS MIGHTIER:

While almost every facet of the RoughRiders team is clicking right now, the bullpen is in the midst of a particularly impressive stretch. Over the past two games, the pen has posted ten straight scoreless innings from the combination of CODY BUCKEL,REED GARRETTADAM PARKSJOSE VALDESPINA, and RYNE SLACK. Over that stretch, the relievers have allowed just five hits and five walks, while striking out six.

STREAKING START:

Thanks to a three-game series sweep over Northwest Arkansas and last night’s 12-inning win over Arkansas, the Riders reached 4-0 for just the second time in team history. Frisco opened the 2008 season with five straight victories on the road against Springfield and Arkansas.

aMAZing DEBUT:

Nomar Mazara (MLB Pipeline No. 3 prospect, Riders ’14-15) made history in his first start with the Rangers. The 20-year-old outfielder became the youngest player to ever record three hits in his Major League debut. Mazara singled in his first two at-bats before smacking a solo homer off 11-year veteran Jered Weaver.

BRETT TO THE BIGS:

Nomar Mazara wasn’t the only former Rider to get called up to the Majors yesterday. The Rangers purchased the contract of Brett Nicholas (Riders ’13). After playing in Frisco, Nicholas spent the past two seasons with Round Rock and began 2016 with the Express before being promoted yesterday.

HOW SWEEP IT IS:

After taking all three games from Northwest Arkansas in the opening series, the Riders accomplished something that was done just once last year. Frisco only swept one series in 2015, and it was a rain-shortened two-game road set against Northwest Arkansas on July 10. The last time the Riders swept a three-game series was August 15-17, 2014 at Tulsa.

RANGER DANGER:

Three of the four of the Rangers full-season affiliates are off to 4-0 starts in the 2016 season. Triple-A Round Rock scored three runs in the first two innings and then exploded for seven runs in the top of the eighth, en route to a 10-4 victory and series sweep over Iowa. High-A High Desert plated three early runs as well and held on for to defeat Inland Empire 3-2 for the sweep. Single-A Hickory became the first Rangers affiliate to lose this season, falling to Kannapolis 10-3.

 

Riding Through the Farm: Rangers Organization Off to Perfect Start

Happy Friday, everyone! Opening Day has come and gone in Minor League Baseball. As we enter day two, the Rangers are the only organization to have all four of their affiliates win last night, thanks to victories from Frisco, Round Rock, High Desert and Hickory yesterday. Two other organizations (Boston and Toronto) also went undefeated yesterday, but some of their affiliates didn’t play due to inclement weather.

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Joey Gallo and the Round Rock Express picked up a 7-3 win at Iowa yesterday

We’ve already written plenty about the RoughRiders shutout win at Northwest Arkansas last night, led by 6 solid innings from starter Frank Lopez, a clutch double by Ryan Cordell and big-time pitching late in the game when the pressure situations came up. So as you get ready for game two tonight at 7:05 (listen live online or on the TuneIn Radio app), we wanted to give you a quick look at some of the stars throughout the organization yesterday.

TRIPLE-A ROUND ROCK EXPRESS (7-3 win at Iowa)

The Express didn’t waste any time getting on the board in the season opener, scoring twice in the top of the 1st and then putting up a 5-spot in the 3rd to start the year on a winning note.

Tonight: Game 2 at Iowa, 7:08 pm

CLASS-A ADVANCED HIGH DESERT MAVERICKS (10-5 win vs Inland Empire)

Travis Demeritte, MLB.com’s no. 21 prospect in the Rangers organization, made his High Desert debut in a memorable way, and the Mavericks scored 6 runs over the first 3 innings to pick up the Opening Day win.

Tonight: Game 2 vs Inland Empire, 8:35 pm

CLASS-A HICKORY CRAWDADS (5-1 win vs Kannapolis)

Rangers no. 16 prospect Andy Ibanez and no. 11 prospect Brett Martin was effective in his four innings on the mound for the Crawdads, as they began their defense of the South Atlantic League title with a win.

  • IF Andy Ibanez: 4-5, 3B, 4 RBI
  • LHP Brett Martin: 4.0 IP, 4 H, 1 R (0 ER), 2 BB, 8 K
  • RHP Tyler Davis: 3.0 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 4 K to pick up the win in relief

Tonight: Game 2 at Kannapolis, 6:05 pm – Rangers no. 4 prospect Dillon Tate is scheduled to start

Stay tuned for more updates from the farm system over the course of the season.

– Ryan

Baseball term of the day: Foozler – A lucky base hit.

(term from The Dickson Baseball Dictionary

Saddle Up: Riders at NW Arkansas (4/7/16)

GAME #1
Frisco RoughRiders (0-0) at Northwest Arkansas Naturals (0-0)
Thursday, April 7 – 6:25 pm
Arvest Ballpark (Springdale, AR)

AUDIO: Listen online or through the TuneIn Radio app (Nathan Barnett and Steve Goldberg)
WATCH: MiLB.TV (NW Arkansas feed)Photo Apr 05, 1 08 56 PM

FRISCO LINEUP

  1. Isiah Kiner-Falefa – 3B
  2. Ryan Cordell – RF
  3. Lewis Brinson – CF
  4. Alex Burg – DH
  5. Ronald Guzman – 1B
  6. Zach Cone – LF
  7. Alberto Triunfel – 2B
  8. Kellin Deglan – C
  9. Luis Marte – SS

STARTING PITCHER: LHP Frank Lopez (0-0, 0.00)

GAME NOTES (full game notes here)

TOP OF THE CLASS: The RoughRiders enter the season with six players ranked in either Baseball America or MLBPipeline.com’s Rangers Top 30 Prospects. LEWIS BRINSON, the No. 2 prospect in Rangers’ farm system according to MLBPipeline.com and Baseball America, returns to Frisco. He appeared in 28 games for the Riders last season, hitting .291 with six home runs and 23 RBI before being promoted to Round Rock in August. Brinson is joined by five other players named in the lists—RYAN CORDELL (No. 15 in MLB, No. 11 in BA), RONALD GUZMAN (23, 29), JOSE LECLERC (25, 21), SAM WOLFF (26, NR), and CONNOR SADZECK (27, 26).

FRESH START FOR FRISCO: After finishing 2015 with a 60-79 overall record, the RoughRiders are looking to improve this season. Frisco went 29-41 in the first half and 31-38 in the second half last year. The Riders ended the season in third place, 28.5 games behind Corpus Christi, in the final Texas League South division standings.

OPENING DAY HISTORY: The RoughRiders are looking to improve their Opening Day record of 7-6 as the team embarks on their 14th season. They have a 3-5 clip when beginning play on the road, compared to a 4-1 advantage when starting a season at Dr Pepper Ballpark. The Riders have lost their last three Opening Day games, being outscored by a total of 18-5. Five of Frisco’s six Texas League playoff appearances have come in seasons when the Riders won on Opening Day.

RIDING TO THE MAJORS: The RoughRiders have a rich history of sending players from Double-A to the big leagues in a timely manner. Nine of the Riders’ 13 Opening Day starting pitchers have appeared in Major League Baseball. Thirty of the 92 position players from Frisco’s Opening Day starting lineups have also played in MLB. Eleven former Riders made Major League debuts last year, and three were in the Rangers’ starting lineup on Opening Day this year (Elvis Andrus, Mitch Moreland, and Rougned Odor).

FAMILIAR FACES IN FRISCO: The Riders’ initial roster features 17 players who appeared in Frisco last season. Dallas native PRESTON BECK is back home in the Metroplex once again after playing 93 games with the Riders last year. Despite the large number of returning players this year, only five were on the 2015 Opening Day roster. Nobody started last year’s opener on April 9 against Arkansas, but Cody Buckel and Luis Mendez both made appearances.

BRINGING BACK BUSHMATT BUSH is set to make his debut in the Rangers’ organization. Originally a shortstop, the San Diego native was selected No. 1 overall by his hometown Padres in the 2004 MLB Draft. Bush was converted to a pitcher prior to the 2007 season and later spent two years in the Tampa Bay Rays’ farm system. He last played for Double-A Montgomery in 2011. The right-hander dominated in a limited sample size in Spring Training “A” games and hitting 100 mph once on the ballpark radar gun.

SKIPPING INTO THE RECORD BOOKSJOE MIKULIK returns for his second season with the RoughRiders. He is the eighth manager in RoughRiders history and the fourth to return for a second consecutive year. The veteran skipper enters his 18th season as a Minor League manager and has 1,121 all-time wins. 938 of his victories were recorded with the Asheville Tourists of the South Atlantic League (Class A), setting both a team and league record.

THE FLYIN’ HAWAIIANISIAH KINER-FALEFA, one of the eight players who did not appear in Frisco last season, is the youngest member of the Riders’ initial roster (21). The Honolulu native had a .296/.356/.341 slash line in 98 games with Hickory and High Desert in 2015.

ON THE ROAD AGAIN: April 5, 2013 was the last time the Riders started a season on the road. It was also the only time Frisco has ever opened play in the state of Arkansas. The Riders were shut out 7-0 by the Arkansas Travelers in the first game of a doubleheader after Opening Night was rained out in North Little Rock.

-Ryan

The Magic of Opening Day

There are plenty of great two-word phrases in baseball: play ball, home run, and strike three, to name a few. But I’ve always been a believer that there’s no two-word phrase more satisfying to a baseball fan than this one: Opening Day.

You just can’t beat the festive atmosphere that comes with Opening Day. For baseball fans across the country, it’s a chance to come out of a six-month, baseball-less hibernation. Teams that are coming off a good year hope to keep a good thing going, while those that were out of the race by August are back in a five-way tie for first place. 23127972556_e8321afec1_k

Opening Day is so regal, in a way that other sports can’t match when their seasons open. Full stadiums, introductions of the entire team and special ceremonies make Opening Day memorable every year.

I remember getting out of school early to go spend a few hours under the sun and formally welcome baseball back from its extended absence. When I lived in Seattle, I even remember waking up to watch Mariners Opening Day on TV at 3:00 am (they were playing in Japan), back in 2012.

You just can’t beat Opening Day. It was great watching the three games yesterday, and there’s plenty more on tap today, including the Rangers opener at 3:05. It’s all serving as an appetizer for Opening Day in the minor leagues, coming up on Thursday, including Frisco’s game at Northwest Arkansas. So even if you don’t get a chance to go to a ballgame today, hopefully you feel the excitement of a new baseball season, where anything can happen and the fun is just beginning.

-Ryan

Baseball term of the day: open the floodgates – For a fielder to bring his glove up too quickly, allowing the ball to skid under the glove and between the fielder’s legs.

(term from The Dickson Baseball Dictionary)

Q&A: Life of a Beat Writer at Spring Training

 

Spring Training games may not count toward the standings, but it doesn’t mean there aren’t stories for reporters to cover. Many members of the media are at Spring Training for most, if not all, of camp. While it’s tough to be away from home for that long, there are also some benefits to covering Spring Training, compared to regular season action. To get more insight on the matter, I caught up with Stefan Stevenson last week in Surprise. He covers the Rangers for The Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

Backfield Misc Photo Mar 22, 10 07 41 AM

Nathan: Can you tell me a little bit about what it’s like as a writer to be out here for spring training?

Stefan: The first time I covered a Spring Training, it was in February of 2014. Jeff Wilson, the lead beat writer for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, had a serious back issue, and I had to cover for him. That first couple weeks, it’s intimidating because you don’t know – I was covering TCU at the time, so I wasn’t paying that much attention the Rangers. So you do have to do a crash course in who everybody is. I mean, the simplest little things—because you don’t know anything. So that was tough for a couple weeks. But quickly, you start getting engrossed and know everybody’s name. I’m not just talking about players, but personnel and staff. So once I got my bearings, I really started to enjoy it. Baseball has always been my favorite sport, going back to being a kid. So to actually be able to come out and cover a Spring Training was awesome. And even though it was intimidating, I loved it. And the next year, when I was on the beat, it was so much easier because I knew everybody and had already been on the beat for half of ’14 and loved it. Now, coming out here, I can’t wait to get out here. Not only the weather, the sun, but it’s almost a relaxing atmosphere. And even though you’re doing a job – and it can be stressful sometimes – just the whole ambiance of spring training and the players are relaxed, I love it. By the time March is winding down, everybody’s ready to get home, and I am too, but for that first month, first three or four weeks, it’s my favorite part of the job, actually.

N: What are some of the dos and don’ts on the media side that fans wouldn’t know?

S: Well, I knew this, but it is a big don’t. When you’re in the clubhouse and you’re waiting to talk to a player, when they first get to their locker, it’s always good to give them a chance to get settled instead of bum rushing them. Especially if they’re not dressed yet or if they have their street clothes on, you want to give them a chance …to put their uniform on or if they’re going to take a shower, get out of their uniform and into their clothes…The other don’t that I needed to be reminded of – I knew it – but you’ve got to know who’s pitching that day. Not as much in spring training, but in the regular season, if a pitcher’s throwing that night, a starter, you don’t talk to him.

N: What is different about covering spring training vs. the regular season?

S: The daily beat is about finding out the updates on injuries, any kind of change in the lineup or rotation, asking guys about what happened. Here’s one difference: in spring training, we get reaction and find out stuff that happened in a game or earlier that day. A lot of times during the regular season, with deadlines and time crunches, we have to follow up the next day on something that happened, like an injury or what happened with a pitcher in a certain inning the night before. There’s not a lot of time a lot of times during the regular season with the night games to get all that information. Sometimes, the player’s not available …or you just don’t have enough time and you’ve gotta wait until the next day. So that’s a difference.

N: So that’s just a product of the games being earlier out here?

S: Yeah, yeah. Basically. And the access is a little different. Like when a pitcher is done out here, like a starter, he’ll go four innings and then eventually – this is probably something fans probably don’t realize – in spring training, when a starting pitcher is done with his game and he leaves the field, he’ll go in and take a shower and the PR people for the Rangers will let us know, ‘hey, Colby Lewis is now available in the clubhouse.’ Before the game’s even over – the game’s still in the fifth inning – whoever wants to talk to Colby Lewis can go in there and get his reaction to how he pitched and have that done before the game’s even over. And same with position players. If a starter, like Shin Soo Choo, comes out in the fifth inning and he’s in there, we can talk to him and ask him about his first several at-bats, and get it over with, which is nice. Because… you just want to get quick hit notes and get people’s reaction.

N: So it’s a lot like when you come out to Frisco and cover a rehabber?

S: Yeah, exactly. When a major leaguer is in Frisco, they usually let us talk to them as soon as they’ve gotten situated in the clubhouse and have had a shower… deadlines don’t go away. And even though the internet’s out there and you can always post something, we’re a newspaper, so we’re trying to get it in the next day’s newspaper.

N: How about the schedule? Players and coaches talk about it. It’s a lot different out here. I know it’s tough for the media as well. You guys are used to coming in at two o’clock in the afternoon and suddenly, you’re here at 6 or 7 in the morning.

S: Man, I’m the poster child for that not being a good thing, because I’m a night owl. I don’t go to bed typically til two o’clock in the morning. And out here, the clubhouse a bunch of times has been open at 7:00 am or 7:15 am for 45 minutes…I, thankfully, have a condo two minutes from the complex here which makes it a lot easier…But still, getting up at 6:00 am – even as a little kid, I never got up early. I always slept in…I like the regular season schedule. Although, I’ll say this. Having your nights free, having more of like a 9-5 type job – even though it’s more like 7-5 out here – is nice, but it still makes for long days.

N: What’s the earliest you’ve gone to bed out here?

S: Man, I’ve been in bed like at 8 o’clock with my iPad, watching Netflix and falling asleep by 8:30. That is ideal, man. If I could do that, that’d be awesome. The only time I would do that at home is if I was sick. I’ll fall asleep sometimes on the couch, but get in bed that early? No way.

N: What’s one or two of the biggest storylines you’re following as spring training wraps up?

S: The fifth starter position is still totally up in the air. I’m leaning towards AJ Griffin winning it, but he’s still coming off Tommy John [surgery], and is still a question mark. I mean, Jeremy Guthrie I know was a favorite of some, but he did not do well in his last outing. Personally, from the get-go, I thought Chi Chi Gonzalez had the upper hand, but he’s kind of been up and down. Same with Nick Martinez. I mean, it’s still wide open. That, and then the utility infielder/outfielder. There’s guys with different attributes that have had awesome camps. I think Ryan Rua is a lock for the roster. I think Pedro Ciriaco, he’s had an awesome camp. But those two guys have had the best camps of anybody. And then you’ve got guys like Justin Ruggiano, who’s got a proven track record. Drew Stubbs, who’s an awesome defensive player. Hanser Alberto is an A-plus fielder who can play anywhere in the infield and he’s been doing it this spring at third, short, second, first. There’s some tough decisions to be made, and I know that’s how Jeff Bannister would prefer it. But I really don’t know. There’s like three of four positions on the bench, the fourth outfielder, that it could go either way.

N: What are you most looking forward to about getting back home?

S: Sleeping in my own bed, seeing my two cats, my wife, obviously. And just getting back to my nighttime routine. Fans probably don’t know, but the beat writers typically get to the ballpark in Arlington around 2:30/3:00 every day for a 7:00 game. That’s when our day starts. It’s 2:30 til basically 11:30/midnight, and that’s more of my style… It’s fun when the games start counting, too. When everything’s more serious and there’s something specific to write about that means something, because a lot of what we’re doing out here is conjecture and projections and predictions so that’s cool when it all means something.

N: Thank you, sir.

S: No problem.

-Nathan

Baseball term of the day: gateway – Syn. of first base. It is so called because first base is the threshold to the other bases and the opportunity of scoring.

(term from The Dickson Baseball Dictionary)

Breaking Down the 2016 Roster

We’ve all been ready for opening day since the final out of last season. After last week’s excursion to Spring Training, we were that much more excited. And now, we’re about as ready as we can be, after the Rangers announced the Riders initial roster yesterday.

The big excitement, of course, surrounds Lewis Brinson’s return to Frisco after a stellar 2015 campaign. Riders fans can thank the log jam of outfielders in Arlington and Round Rock for the fact that Brinson is coming back, because he’d probably be starting in Triple-A in almost every other organization right now.

But aside from Brinson, there’s a lot to look forward to this summer. Eighteen of the 26 players on this year’s roster (9 pitchers and 9 hitters) donned a RoughRiders uniform for at least part of last season, while some of the organization’s rising stars descend on Dr Pepper Ballpark for the first time.

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Jose Leclerc is a candidate for the starting rotation this season

PITCHERS 

You’d hope the pitching staff can only go up after a rough year in 2015, in which Frisco pitchers combined for a 4.70 staff ERA. There seemed to be a lot of hype surrounding Connor Sadzeck while we were in Surprise. If he can consistently provide strong starts and turn a lead over to the bullpen, that should give the Riders a big boost. Returning starters Frank Lopez, Victor Payano, and Jose Leclerc will be in the running for the starting rotation, as well, but will need to show marked improvement from a year ago, when they combined to go 13-19 with a 5.28 ERA. Reed Garrett started 25 games last year between Hickory and High Desert, and could be another candidate for the rotation.

Out of the bullpen, the biggest intrigue surrounds Matt Bush, who dazzled, sparkled, entertained and then some in his couple spring training outings in major league games (including touching 100 mph earlier this week). If that’s how he threw against major leaguers, imagine how he might dominate at the Double-A level, likely in the back end of the bullpen.

CATCHERS

Alex Burg, Patrick Cantwell, and Kellin Deglan will open the season in the squat for Frisco. Cantwell and Deglan were both invited to major league camp as non-roster invitees this spring in Surprise. Burg, however, might offer the best bat among the three. He hit .271 in 50 games with the Riders last year, launching 11 doubles and 7 homers. Last season was Burg’s first in the Rangers organization after stints with the Giants and Marlins organizations. Depending on how Round Rock’s catching situation plays out, at least one could get the call up at some point in the season. But until then, it will be interesting to see who stakes the starting role.

INFIELDERS

This, perhaps, is the group with the most unknowns heading into 2016. Luis Marte and Luis Mendez are back, but the other three (Ronald Guzman, Isiah Kiner-Falefa, and Alberto Triunfel) are all new to the Double-A level. Guzman probably has the most upside of anyone, at least from a hitting standpoint. He’s coming off a career year in 2015 between Hickory and High Desert, hitting .283 with 12 homers and 87 RBI, the most in the entire Rangers farm system. He also sports a career .985 fielding percentage. Kiner-Falefa, like Guzman, had a rather strong year between the Crawdads and Mavericks last season, hitting .296 with 12 doubles, 2 triples and 40 RBI. And Triunfel, who jumped straight from the Dominican League to High Desert last summer, offers intrigue as well. It’s a group with potential right now, but until that potential is tapped, it’s hard to say just how strong the Riders infield will be.

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Ryan Cordell is coming back to Frisco after spending time in major-league camp this spring

OUTFIELDERS

If infielders are the biggest question mark, outfield may be the spot with the fewest uncertainties heading into 2016. Brinson, who complemented his hitting prowess by earning Rangers Minor League Defensive Player of the Year honors, is the obvious headliner, but there are some other notable talents out in the grass with him. Ryan Cordell joined Brinson in major league camp this spring and turned a lot of heads. He struggled at the plate last year in Frisco (.217 avg, 5 HR, 18 RBI), but did turn in a perfect fielding percentage in the outfield. With a partial Double-A season and a visit to major league camp under his belt, it’ll be interesting to see how big a step forward he takes this summer. Dallas-native Preston Beck is also back with the Riders, and the versatile player is listed as an outfielder on the initial roster this season. Zach Cone, who provides both power and athleticism, in addition to a .991 career fielding percentage, could be a nice fit in Joe Mikulik’s outfield, too. Joe Jackson is the only outfielder on the opening roster who hasn’t yet been to Double-A, but he comes off a good season in High Desert last year and could eventually work his way into a more regular role, especially as some of the guys in front of him move up to Round Rock.

—-

Let’s not forget that these are only the guys who will likely be with Frisco on opening day, which is just eight days away at Northwest Arkansas. The incredibly well-stacked Rangers farm system has plenty of other young stars working their way up the ladder. Pitchers, such as Luis Ortiz, Ariel Jurado and Dillon Tate could find themselves in Frisco by the end of the summer, while position players like Michael De Leon, Travis Demeritte, Jairo Beras, and Juremi Profar are all waiting in the wings with High Desert.

You never can quite tell how a roster will pan out, but there’s certainly reason to believe this group canturn things around in 2016. After all, that’s the beauty of Opening Day. Everybody starts with a blank slate and a chance to do some incredible things.

-Ryan

Baseball term of the day: Run for the cycle – For a player to be retired at first base, second base, third base and home (not necessarily in that order) during a game.

(term from The Dickson Baseball Dictionary)

Spring Training Travels: Guilder Rodriguez

We spoke with Guilder Rodriguez about transitioning from player to coach. We will have more on RidersTV soon; here is a teaser of our interview with him from our Spring Training Travels Series. All installments from the series can be found here, including Day 1Day 2, Day 3Day 4Day 5Day 6, and our mid-trip update.

Although his time in the Major Leagues was short-lived, Guilder Rodriguez is one of the most well-known RoughRiders in team history. The middle infielder is the all-time leader in Riders in games played, hits, and stolen bases.

Coming soon to #RidersTV is an exclusive interview with Guilder about Spring Training as a coach and his upcoming role as a coach in the Dominican Summer League.

Here is a preview:

Nathan

Baseball term of the day: zob – a weak person; a fool.

(term from The Dickson Baseball Dictionary)

Spring Training Travels Day 5: Checking in with Non-Roster Invitees

IMG_3428

Former RoughRiders Ryan Cordell (center) and Lewis Brinson (right) returned to minor league camp this week after spending most of Spring Training in major league camp.

This marks the fifth day of the RoughRiders Media Relations Department’s travels at Spring Training in and around Phoenix, Arizona. In this installment, we check in with some former RoughRiders who were invited to major league camp as non-roster invitees. All installments can be found here, including Day 1Day 2, Day 3 and Day 4.

If you’ve been to a Spring Training game, you know the drill. The major leaguers play for the first five or six innings, before you find you find yourself asking “who?” every time an unfamiliar name is introduced as a pinch hitter or defensive replacement. These mystery players are often the non-roster invitees.

Non-roster invitees are players with minor-league contracts (i.e. not on the 40-man roster), but are participating on the major league side of camp instead of the minor league side. Often, they are younger players working their way to their first full-time MLB roster spot, while veteran big leaguers are occasionally brought in, too (a la Jeremy Guthrie this year). This spring, the Rangers had 18 non-roster invitees, including a handful of former RoughRiders. While many of the non-roster invitees won’t make the big league roster right away, the opportunity to train alongside some of the game’s best players provides a valuable experience.

“I’m not trying to put too much pressure on myself,” said 2014-15 RoughRiders infielder Drew Robinson. “I’m just trying to learn as much as I can, absorb anything I can from these guys.

IMG_3420

Ryan Cordell works with RoughRiders hitting coach Jason Hart during Tuesday morning’s practice.

And that absorption of knowledge from established veterans can be just as important as refining on-field skills.

“Seeing how they go about their business day to day, I mean, it’s huge because it’s something you have to be able to learn how to do,” said 2015 RoughRiders outfielder Ryan Cordell. “At this point in my career, learning how to become better off the field, how to prepare myself when I come to the field, that’s the biggest part.

Though they’re not a regular face in the Rangers clubhouse during the summer, they’ve been welcomed in as part of the family.

“It’s a good vibe around here,” said 2013 RoughRiders catcher/first baseman Brett Nicholas. “They treat us like we’re part of the team. I’ve enjoyed talking to some of the veteran guys who have been around for a while and just them giving their two cents on what it’s like to play at this level.”

Monday, the Rangers sent nine players down to minor league camp – including Robinson, Cordell and Lewis Brinson. Though they won’t be in Arlington for opening day, they’re another step closer to becoming full-time major leaguers, whether later this season or later on down the road. And perhaps next year, they’ll crack the 40-man roster and can serve as gracious hosts to the newest wave of non-roster invitees.

– Ryan

Baseball term of the day: add a foot – To gain physical maturity and thus increase the velocity of one’s fastball

(term from The Dickson Baseball Dictionary)

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