Results tagged ‘ Texas Rangers ’

RoughRiders’ Average First Half Lineup Card

70 down, 70 to go.

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

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

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

1st Half Lineup

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The rest…

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

- Nathan

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

(term from The Baseball Thesaurus)

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

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

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

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

Sunday, June 9, 2013 – Manager Steve Buechele


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

Tuesday, June 11, 2013 – 1B Brett Nicholas

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

Wednesday, June 12, 2013 – C Tomas Telis


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

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


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

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


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

Saturday, June 15, 2013 - RHP Ben Rowen

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

- Nathan

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

(term from The Baseball Thesaurus)

Teodoro Martinez and Brett Nicholas Honored by Rangers

Teodoro Martinez and Brett Nicholas were honored by the Texas Rangers Friday, earning “Player of the Month” and “Defender of the Month” respectively for May. From the ‘Riders press release:

 Martinez, 21, was second on the team in batting average during May, hitting at a .322 clip. He also picked up 10 runs, 10 walks, 2 doubles, 5 home runs and 17 RBI over 26 games, taking over as the RoughRiders’ leadoff hitter by the end of the month. Martinez reached base safely in 22 of 26 games and hit safely in 19 of those games. On May 15 at home against the Midland RockHounds, Martinez picked up his first two-home run game as well as his first ever four-RBI performance. The four hits he collected tied a career high. His seven home runs for the season is a career-best as well; his previous personal high was set last year when he hit six long balls as a member of the Myrtle Beach Pelicans. After a slow start, Martinez is hitting .300 since April 21 and is fourth on the team at .272 for the year.

Martinez

 Nicholas, 24, started 24 games at first base and 3 games behind the plate for the ‘Riders in May. He committed only one error during the month, which came as a catcher. As a first baseman, he is fielding .998 (1 / 492 TC) for the season. As a catcher, he threw out 2-of-5 attempting basestealers in May. The former Missouri Tiger leads the RoughRiders in hitting with a .305 average and a team-high 38 runs, 15 doubles, 13 home runs and 44 RBI in 65 games. He has a triple as well and is second on the team in walks with 21. The Phoenix, Arizona native is near the top of multiple categories among Texas Leaguers, including fourth in batting average and RBI, fifth in runs and home runs and third in total bases (129). Like Martinez, Nicholas has set a career-high in home runs this season; his previous high also came last year in Myrtle Beach when he hit eight as the Pelicans’ everyday first baseman.

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The two join Randy Henry and Tomas Telis to be honored by the Rangers this season. Henry was tabbed the Rangers Reliever of the Month, while Telis picked up Defender of the Month in April.

Martinez had an exceptionally big day on Friday, as he was also selected to replace injured San Antonio outfielder Reymond Fuentes on the South Division All-Star team. Teodoro joins Nicholas and seven other ‘Riders as Mid-Season All-Stars, tying the Arkansas Travelers for the most selections among Texas League teams with eight.

-Ryan

Baseball Term of the Day: junkballer - A pitcher who relies on off-speed pitches and trickery rather than the fastball or curveball

Ian Kinsler: a RoughRider again

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Kinsler’s second at-bat on Thursday night

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Thursday’s lineup card

Rangers second baseman Ian Kinsler, rehabbing from a right intercostal muscle strain, made his first rehab appearance last night, going 0-for-4 with a pair of strikeouts, serving as the designated hitter and batting leadoff.

In the first inning, he struck out looking on a borderline fastball on the outside corner from Corpus Christi starter Nick Tropeano. He flew out to shallow right field in the third. In his third trip to the plate, it was shades of the first, as he was called out again on strikes on a similar pitch near the outside corner. He made good contact against reliever Bobby Doran in the eighth, lining out to left fielder Michael Burgess to complete his night.

Originally expected to make his return to the Rangers lineup in early June, it was found that Kinsler also had a stress reaction in his ribcage as well, adding a couple weeks to his recovery time.

Now that time has come. Kinsler is expected to play in the field, at second base, tonight and tomorrow for the ‘Riders, and if all goes well, he will return to the Ranger lineup on Sunday. And they sure could use their spark plug.

The Rangers are just 4-8 in June and the offense is scoring an average of three runs per game in the 12 contests this month. Texas was 27-14 before Kinsler sat out of a start with the first pains in his rib cage. Since then, Texas is 11-14 and scoring 4.12 runs per game, and that includes three extra-innings games (one that took 18 innings). They scored 4.9 runs a game with him in the lineup.

For some perspective the #15 and #16 ranked MLB clubs in runs per game have scored 4.27 and 4.22 respectively. The Kinsler-powered Rangers would currently rank sixth in the majors, while the Kinsler-less squad would check in at 19th in runs per game.

For ‘Riders fans, Kinsler is a familiar face. This is the third season Kinsler has rehabbed with the club (first stints coming in 2009 and 2010). In 2004, the second baseman was still playing as a shortstop, and exclusively so, in the minors. He split his ’04 campaign between Low-A Clinton and Double-A Frisco (skipping Advanced-A Stockton). He led the Midwest League in batting average (.402), doubles (30), RBI (52) and on-base percentage (.465) before his promotion to the RoughRiders in June.

The 22-year-old proved ready for Double-A pitching:

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Year Age Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG
2004 22 Frisco 71 326 277 51 83 21 1 9 46 7 4 32 47 .300 .400 .480
2009 27 Frisco 2 9 7 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 .000 .222 .000
2010 28 Frisco 6 23 19 3 5 0 1 0 6 2 0 2 3 .263 .348 .368
2013 31 Frisco 1 4 4 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 .000 .000 .000
AA (4 seasons) 80 362 307 55 88 21 2 9 52 9 4 35 53 .287 .388 .456
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 6/14/2013.

In his first week in Frisco he clubbed a home run off Andy Pettitte, making a rehab start for the Astros for then Double-A Houston affiliate Round Rock (now the Rangers Triple-A club). He earned Texas League Player of the week honors that week and was the Rangers Minor League Player of the Month in June. At season’s end he was named Texas Rangers Tom Grieve Minor League Player of the Year.

At Triple-A the following season, the Rangers converted Kinsler to second base, he clubbed 23 home runs and hit .274 against Pacific Coast League pitching. In 2006, he broke camp with the big league club, and the rest, as they say, is history.

- Nathan

Baseball term of the day: ungodly shota hard line drive
(term from The Dickson Baseball Dictionary)

Kinsler’s 2004 season with the RoughRiders

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

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

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

Happy Sunday and enjoy!

Sunday, June 2, 2013 - Manager Steve Buechele


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

Tuesday, June 4, 2013 - RHP Nick McBride


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

Wednesday, June 5, 2013 - Danny Clark


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

Thursday, June 6, 2013 - Missions Broadcaster Mike Saeger


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

Friday, June 7, 2013 - IF Guilder Rodriguez


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

Saturday, June 8, 2013 - RHP Kevin Pucetas


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

- Nathan

Baseball term of the day: coop –  dugout

(term from The Baseball Thesaurus)

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

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

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

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

Happy Sunday and enjoy!

Sunday, May 26, 2013 – Manager Steve Buechele


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

Monday, May 27, 2013 – Tulsa Broadcaster Dennis Higgins 


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

Tuesday, May 28, 2013 – OF Joe Benson


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

Wednesday, May 29, 2013 – Hanser Alberto


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

Friday, May 31, 2013 – 3B Alex Buchholz


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

Saturday, June 1, 2013 – 3B Mike Olt


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

- Nathan

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

Mike Olt’s Return to Frisco

Last night, Rangers pitcher Alexi Ogando pitched six solid innings for the RoughRiders in a rehab start, and allowed two runs, including a home run, on four hits while striking out four.

Mike Olt also made his return to Frisco last night against the Tulsa Drillers, though Ogando’s rehab assignment seemed to overshadow the third baseman’s return to the ‘Riders. Olt went 1-for-4, striking out swinging his first two at-bats. In the sixth, Mike flied out to the left warning track, just feet away from knocking it over the wall and then in his final at-bat in the eighth, Olt slammed a two-run home run over the left wall.  Frisco beat the Drillers 7-4.

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See Mike Olt’s two-run blast in his return to Frisco.

After hitting a Texas League- and RoughRiders-best 28 home runs last year, and despite getting called up to the big leagues in early August, Olt has struggled this year, opening this season at Triple-A Round Rock where he hit just .139 in 20 games with one home run with the Express before being placed on disabled list with vision problems.

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Mike Olt at batting practice before Friday night’s game agains the Tulsa Drillers

Other links 

MLB.com contributor Christian Corona spoke with Olt about his vision issues last night prior to the game.

Following Frisco’s victory, Josh Jackson, contributor for MiLB.com, talked with Olt about his return:

“It feels really good to finally be able to feel like myself again,” Olt said. “Obviously, when we couldn’t figure things out and I couldn’t see the ball, that was a frustrating time. Tonight it felt good to just work toward finding my normal timing and being able to see the ball.”

Jason Cole of LoneStarDugout.com caught up with Olt this week in Surprise, AZ at extended spring training during his rehab for an interview about the vision troubles. (Note: Subscription to Lone Star Dugout needed to view the article.)

Mike Olt was the 49th overall pick in the 2010 draft pick by the Texas Rangers.  The Newberg Report recapped day one of the 2010 Rangers draft picks on June 8, 2010 with this scouting report on Olt coming out of UConn:

The 21-year-old has good hands and feet, solid range, and a strong arm from third. There are holes in his right-handed swing – he struck out 54 times in 264 at-bats this season – but the bat speed is there, and scouts believe in his approach at the plate and coachability. It’s been a long time since third base was so uniformly thin in the big leagues, and in Olt the Rangers see a player they obviously believe could give them an developmental asset, particularly if he can make more consistent contact and take advantage of his power potential while providing lockdown defense at third.

Baseball Term of the Day: Monster shot - a tremendous home run out of the ballpark

-Ryan

‘Riders Rehabber: Alexi Ogando’s Road to the Rangers

Rangers’ starter Alexi Ogando will make the start for the RoughRiders in tonight’s game against the Tulsa Drillers. The 29-year-old is currently on the Rangers 15-day disabled list with right biceps tendinitis.

Ogando

Alexi Ogando pitching for the Texas Rangers

In the past three years, Ogando has played a dominant role on the Rangers’ pitching staff.  However, his path to Arlington has been unique and bizarre.

Ogando’s road to the Rangers:

In 2005, Alexi Ogando was selected by the Rangers from Oakland in the minor league phase of the 2005 Rule 5 Draft. He was an outfielder in the Oakland system, but was instantly converted to pitcher with the Rangers.

Caught up in a marriage-visa scam in the Dominican Republic with former Rangers right-hander Omar Beltre, guilty of gullible involvement before Texas acquired him, Ogando was essentially quarantined in the Dominican for five years after joining the organization. Around 30 Dominican players were involved in the scam, promised $5,000 by a Dominican crime syndicate to agree to a sham marriage to women they didn’t know. The women would then gain entry into the US with their newly acquired visas and obtain divorces shortly after arriving.

In his five years stuck in the Dominican, Alexi pitched for the Rangers’ Dominican Summer League clubs in 2006 and 2007. He didn’t pitch in 2008 but was back on a DSL mound in 2009, making 10 appearances in July and August.

In Februrary 2010, the U.S. State Department notified the Rangers that the Dominican right-handers had been provided waivers allowing them to apply for work visas.   All immigration restraints to their entry into the United States were also removed. The two prospects reportedly spent their last year in the Dominican speaking publicly to educate citizens about these human trafficking scams.

Then-Rangers Assistant GM Thad Levine reportedly played a significant role in the process from the organization’s side. Ogando and Beltre were top-tier prospects, but at age 26 and 28 respectively, pitching dominantly for five years against largely overmatched Dominican Summer League competition, their ability to get outs against major league batters in the US could have been an issue in the MLB. Texas kept both on the restricted list for three years (adding Ogando to the 40-man roster before doing so in his case) rather than moving on, as all other clubs did with the other 30 Dominican players around the league caught up in the scandal.

Ogando’s Career with the Rangers:

Ogando is in his fourth season with the Rangers and second season as a member of the starting rotation.  He has appeared in 142 major league games with 39 starts, with a record of 23-11 and a 3.12 ERA.

Ogando_2010

Alexi Ogando as a RoughRider in 2010

The Dominican right-hander made nine starts this season for Texas with a 4-2 record and a 3.08 ERA before heading to the disabled list on May 16 with right biceps tendonitis. In 50 innings this season, the converted outfielder has 37 strikeouts and 19 walks.

He was a member of the RoughRiders in 2010, a year he finished in Arlington making 44 appearances out of the bullpen for the Rangers in his rookie season. As a RoughRiders hurler, he made seven outings, including three starts.

In two years of post season play, Ogando has gone 2-0 with a 2.37 ERA in 19 innings pitched.  He was particularly effective in the 2011 series against the Tigers, going 2-0 in four games pitching 7.2 innings allowing one run on three hits and striking out ten.

*Sources
Newberg Report

-Ryan

Baseball Term of the Day: rainmaker- a very high pop fly, usually in the infield

Say it is so Joe!

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

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

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

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

Benson-HR

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

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

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

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

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

1. St. Louis Cardinals 31-16

2. Texas Rangers 31-17

3. Cincinnati Reds 30-18

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

_________

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

- Nathan

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

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

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

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

Enjoy!

Sunday, May 19, 2013 – Manager Steve Buechele


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

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


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

Wednesday, May 22, 2013 – OF Ryan Strausborger


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

Thursday, May 23, 2013 – OF Barrett Serrato


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

Friday, May 24, 2013 – RHP Carlos Pimentel


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

Saturday, May 25, 2013 – RHP Ben Rowen


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

- Nathan

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

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