Results tagged ‘ Texas ’
This week has been an eventful one for the RoughRiders, winning all five games at home. The Riders have also been joined by Rangers catcher Chris Gimenez, another highlight of the past few days in addition to the success on the field. Gimenez was added to the roster earlier this week on a rehab assignment.
During the Major League veteran’s time here in Frisco, Gimenez has been assisting the younger players and giving valuable advice to everyone in the clubhouse. Earlier this week, we caught up with him and chatted about the experience. Here is an excerpt from the interview.
Steve Goldberg: You had a chance to meet a bunch of these guys at Spring Training. What did you know about the Riders players coming in to your rehab assignment?
Chris Gimenez: It’s just a good group of goofballs. The one thing I’ve noticed is that they keep the clubhouse extremely light and it’s a lot of fun. There’s a lot of music and a lot of talking. I think that’s good. That’s something you don’t see a lot of these days, with the iPads and iPhones. Everyone is in their chair playing on their different device. But this group is a good, close-knit group. These guys are having fun.
SG: How does being back here now compare to your own experience as a Minor Leaguer?
CG: This is the nicest ballpark I’ve ever played in aside from the big leagues, so it doesn’t make you feel like you’re in the Minor Leagues. From the ballpark, to the crowd, to the scenery around here, everything is gorgeous. Like I said, they take such good care of us around here that it really doesn’t make you feel like you’re in the Minor Leagues at all.
SG: Did you have experience working with Major League players on rehab assignments when you were in the Minors coming up?
CG: Absolutely. And at every level too. I always remember it being a really cool experience, just to try to talk to some of the guys. I’ve had some conversations with a couple of the guys down here that I’ve known for a little while as well. It’s nice to offer any sort of advice or just be there as someone to listen. Sometimes, you just need a deaf ear to fall on and somebody that you can just go out and have a normal conversation with. Someone that’s not a coach, someone that’s not trying to give you four different things you can do to fix your swing or to throw a strike. It’s the same for me. When you’re struggling, you just want to get out of it as quick as you can. But a lot of times, we put a lot of pressure on ourselves to do that. I think the biggest part of it is just trying to be relaxed as possible. Try to keep it like you were playing in Little League. We never had slumps in Little League because we always had fun doing it. That’s the motto I try to portray when I talk about stuff like that.
SG: You’re fighting for a spot as a catcher on the Rangers [25-man] roster. Does that competition impact you at all during these rehab games?
CG: Not at all. It’s out of my control. The only I can control is just trying to get myself back, in the best game shape I can possibly be in, and put myself in a position for them to have to make a decision on it. As much as I would like to say it’s in my control, I know it’s not. They’re going to have a decision to make.
Baseball term of the day: baby act – A play considered “ungentlemanly” in the late 19th century, such as a bunt or an intentional base on balls.
(term from The Dickson Baseball Dictionary)
The RoughRiders are off to a 15-4 start and lead the Texas League South division, and the other teams in the farm system have stayed hot as well. Every team affiliated with the Rangers, including the big league club, has a winning record and four of the five are in first place in their respective divisions.
Texas Rangers (MLB):
Elvis Andrus (Riders ’08) currently leads the Rangers with a .343 batting average. The mark is good for third in the American League behind Mark Trumbo (.354) and another former Rider Ian Kinsler (.345). Andrus also leads the league with three triples. The Rangers in first place, half a game ahead of the Seattle Mariners, in the AL West with a 12-10 record and begin a three-game home series against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim tonight.
Round Rock Express (Triple-A):
Round Rock is currently in first place in the Pacific Coast League American Southern division with an 11-8 record. Joey Gallo (Riders ’14-15 – Rangers No. 1 prospect, MLB Pipeline) is tied for the league-lead with seven home runs, which is also the second highest total in Minor League Baseball.
High Desert Mavericks (High-A):
Travis Demeritte (Rangers No. 21 prospect) continues to pace the explosive offense for the 17-4 Mavericks. Demeritte leads all of Minor League Baseball with eight home runs. Meanwhile, Luke Tendler paces the circuit with a .377 batting average and is second in the league with 19 RBI. High Desert is in first place in the California League South division, leading Rancho Cucamonga by three games.
Hickory Crawdads (Single-A):
The 14-7 Crawdads have been putting up some impress totals as well, at the lowest full-season level. Andy Ibanez (Rangers No. 16 prospect) leads the entire farm system with his .397 batting average. Pedro Payano (Rangers No. 29 prospect) has a farm system and league-best 0.38 ERA (1 ER in 24 IP). Eric Jenkins (Rangers No. 7 prospect) and Dylan Moore lead Rangers Minor Leaguers with 10 stolen bases each. The Crawdads are tied for second place in the South Atlantic League Northern division, half a game behind Hagerstown.
Stay tuned for more updates from the farm system over the course of the season.
Baseball term of the day: foul screecher – An untutored spectator who cheers foul balls not knowing that they are not hits
(term from The Dickson Baseball Dictionary)
For Connor Sadzeck, the road to Frisco and a spot on the Rangers 40-man roster was a unique one.
The Crystal Lake, Illinois native was selected by Texas in the 11th round of the 2011 MLB Draft after his freshman year at Howard College in Big Spring, Texas, located 45 miles northeast of Midland. After a year with short-season Single-A Spokane, Sadzeck shined in his first full season with Single-A Hickory.
The righty went 12-4 for the Crawdads and led the South Atlantic League with a 2.25 ERA. He was a candidate to start the 2014 season in either High-A Myrtle Beach or Frisco. However, things did not go according to that plan.
In the offseason, Sadzeck had “Tommy John” surgery and was unable to pitch in 2014. However, he came back even stronger than ever. His fastball was clocked as fast as 101 miles per hour, according to Baseball America.
On the road to recovery, Sadzeck and his newfound velocity made the journey out west the following year with High-A High Desert in the California League. Two years later and 3,000 miles away from his last stop in Hickory, he experienced many up and downs during 11 games and eight starts with the Mavericks.
“I was feeling it out and learning how to pitch again,” Sadzeck said. “I was throwing a lot harder than I had been, so I was just learning how to pitch with that newfound velocity.”
On the first day of August, Sadzeck received his promotion to the Riders. The highlight of his month with the Riders came on August 20 at Tulsa. Sadzeck pitched six no-hit innings against the Drillers in his only win of the season with Frisco. He threw 88 pitches in the outing before he was relieved, which was his highest pitch count since returning from the surgery.
“Last year, I felt pretty good coming back,” Sadzeck said. “I felt strong last year. I think I had a little stint two starts into the season where the shoulder flared up a little bit, which was normal. But I felt pretty strong throughout the year.”
During the offseason, while pitching with the Surprise Saguaros of the Arizona Fall League, Sadzeck received a call from the Texas Rangers sharing the news that he had been added to the 40-man roster.
“Our pitching coordinator gave me a call in the morning and let me know I was going to be added,” Sadzeck said. “But the toughest part was I couldn’t say anything until it was officially released. It didn’t feel real because I couldn’t share it with anyone for about five hours until it was released. But it was awesome and a great day.”
When the news of Sadzeck’s addition was finally released, the first people he called were his parents. The tight-lipped pitcher had managed to not say a word to anyone, even his mother and father, until it was official.
“I didn’t want to jeopardize anything, so I did not let them know right away,” Sadzeck said. “I know they would be excited and probably tell some people. So I didn’t share it. But I called them first after it was announced, and they were obviously ecstatic.”
Sadzeck was joined on the 40-man roster by many former Riders as well as current pitcher Jose Leclerc. This year, in his second season at the Double-A level, Sadzeck has been focusing on making several adjustments to help improve his skills on the mound.
“So far this year, I have been kind of dialing it back and learning how to stay within my mechanics,” Sadzeck said. “It has been helping me keep the ball in the zone. I am very excited about this year and seeing how I can bounce back a little better down the stretch this year.”
If his first start was any indication, Sadzeck may be in for another milestone campaign like the one he had three years ago with Hickory. On April 8, Frisco’s second game of the season on the road against Northwest Arkansas, Sadzeck hurled six scoreless innings and only allowed two hits in a win.
Despite only striking out three batters, Sadzeck was extremely efficient on the mound in the start. He only needed 64 pitches to get through his six innings of work, and he also induced a pair of ground-ball double plays.
“I felt like I was just pitching to contact, throwing my fastball over the plate,” Sadzeck said. “The velocity was good and my breaking pitches were effective as well.”
He followed up the impressive first start with another win the following week in the RoughRiders’ second home game at Dr Pepper Ballpark. Sadzeck held the same Naturals to just one run and struck out five batters in his second straight victory.
Sadzeck is currently ranked the No. 27 prospect in the Rangers organization, according to MLB Pipeline. He is one of six players on the RoughRiders roster listed in either MLB Pipeline or Baseball America’s list of the Top 30 Rangers prospects. Although the expectations are even higher this year, Sadzeck believes he is prepared to succeed with the Riders this season.
“I think last year I just put a lot of pressure on myself because I was coming off ‘Tommy John’ surgery, and knew I had the possibility of being added to the 40-man roster,” Sadzeck said. “I added that stress to myself. But this year I can kind of rest easier, knowing that I’m healthy, and I can be a little more relaxed.”
Sadzeck is one of the 17 players returning to the Riders this season, including four of the five pitchers in the starting rotation. This year’s Frisco team begins with a whole lot of veteran experience, as the group continues their quest for a first-half division title, a berth in the Texas League playoffs, and their first league championship since 2004.
Sadzeck (2-0, 0.82 ERA) is scheduled to make his third start of the season tonight at 7:05 against Corpus Christi. Listen online or through the TuneIn Radio app (Nathan Barnett and Ryan Rouillard).
Baseball term of the day: ancient mariner – A poor infielder.
The beginning of Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s poem, “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” (1798): “Like the Ancient Mariner, he stoppeth one of three. / By the long gray beard and glittering eye, / Now wherefore stopp’st thou me?”
The Mariner detained one of three young men going to a wedding feast and mesmerized him with the story of his youthful experiences at sea.
Bob Edwards (Fridays with Red, 1993, p.45) mentioned a letter from John Bunzel, who attributed the term to Red Barber: “One afternoon he described a game in which the shortstop kicked away two ground balls before making a good play on the third–at which Red declared, ‘Like the Ancient Mariner, he stoppeth one of three!”
(term from The Dickson Baseball Dictionary)
This marks the sixth day of the RoughRiders Media Relations Department’s travels at Spring Training in and around Phoenix, Arizona. In this installment, Steve Goldberg tells the story of a RoughRiders fan who has traveled with the Rangers to Spring Training for the past 27 years. All installments can be found here, including Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, Day 4, and Day 5.
Nathan, Ryan, and I have spent the majority of our week here at Spring Training out on the back fields in Surprise, covering former RoughRiders and other players that will soon be a part of the team.
When you watch a game on the back fields, it is an entirely different experience than taking in the action at the main stadium. There are small crowds of about 50 people made up of mostly players, coaches, a few writers, and a handful of Minor League baseball fans.
I was watching the Rangers squad play the Royals the other day and encountered a fan sitting next to me who was a Northwest Arkansas Naturals season ticket holder since their inaugural Texas League season in 2008. Every time a former Natural stepped up to bat, she screamed their name and said, “Come on! Hit a home run! It’s your turn now!”
The second day we were here, Ryan and I had just finished talking to Ryan Strausborger when two RoughRiders fans approached us. They introduced themselves and recounted their memories of Strausborger playing at Dr Pepper Ballpark.
Sheree Bernstein and her mother Edie are loyal Riders fans and Rangers fans. Sheree, a founder of the Riders Booster Club, has followed the Rangers to Spring Training for the past 27 years and can frequently be seen on the back fields in Surprise watching the Minor League games.
Sheree and her mother Edie have countless Spring Training stories about their experiences with former RoughRiders and Rangers over the years. They are season ticket holders at Dr Pepper Ballpark. As much as they love attending RoughRiders home games, they also enjoy the feeling of watching past, present, and future Riders play on practice fields in front of very small crowds.
After meeting Sheree and Edie, I asked if they would share their Spring Training story with our readers here on the blog. They agreed. The following words are Sheree’s.
I would consider us “baseball lifers”. We might not have played or started life as fans. But somewhere along the way, the game and interest in those that play it, run it, and also love it grabbed a hold. We don’t foresee a time it’s not a big part of our lives.
It all began for me when I became an ‘Astros Buddy’ in the mid ‘70s. Going to Astros games in Houston was a way for me to spend quality time with my dad. My love for baseball evolved over time. Mom and I both have spent time as baseball employees. I was an usher, and Mom was a hostess at Dr Pepper Ballpark’s JCPenney Club.
Spring Training has been a big part of our baseball lives for the last 27 years. We started back at the Rangers’ camp in Port Charlotte, Fla., and continued on to the current complex in Surprise. We love the climate, the scenery, the people, and the immersion of baseball for a couple weeks each year.
Mom likes to remember seeing Elvis Andrus when he was young and shy. She has enjoyed seeing him grow into a team leader. Not to mention, he is also an All-Star caliber player.
We love Spring Training so much because it is an opportunity to meet up with friends and get to see the big league team come together up close. We also reacquaint with former players who have already come through Frisco and those that may soon be arriving. We love the relaxed atmosphere and the chance to see the players develop, grow, and mature from one year to the next.
As you can see, Sheree’s passion for baseball is evident. The small handful of fans like Sheree and Edie who attend the Minor League games feel like they are a part of the action on the opposite side of the chain-link fence.
The back fields provide a much more intimate Spring Training setting than the main Surprise Stadium. The “baseball lifers” like Sheree, Edie, and that Northwest Arkansas Naturals fan know that even though the players on the field may not be superstars yet, their opportunity is just a few steps away.
And that, to me, is the most beautiful thing about baseball.
Baseball term of the day: foozler – a lucky base hit
(term from The Dickson Baseball Dictionary)
Henry, 22, didn’t allow an earned in the month, surrendering just one unearned run in six relief appearances, spanning 18.1 innings of work. The Shattuck, Oklahoma native struck out 20 and walked just one Texas League batter and held opponents to a .200 average (13-for-65). To date, the right-hander has posted a 1-0 record with a 0.74 ERA in eight appearances. Henry has tossed multiple innings in all but his first appearance of the season and began the year with a 12.1 innings scoreless streak.
Telis, 21, started 14 of the 25 games for the RoughRiders in the month of April as the catcher. Telis threw out 55.6% (10 CS/18 ATT) of attempted basestealers during the month with a perfect fielding percentage (140 TC). He enters Thursday having gunned down 46.2% (12 CS/26 ATT) of would-be basestealers, which is the best mark in the Texas League and third among all Double-A backstops. The switch-hitting Venezuelan is batting .247 on the season with seven runs, six doubles and 11 RBI in 19 games.
Strangely enough, despite Telis getting the bulk of the catching duties (18 starts for Telis / 12 for Zaneski / 2 for Nicholas), he has only caught Henry twice this season in his eight appearances. The first was on April 18th, Henry’s most dominating outing. He threw a then-season-high four innings (he has since eclipsed that number) and allowed one baserunner, a lone single, and fanned four Naturals in a 14-7 come-from-behind victory. His other outing working with Telis came on May 2nd against San Antonio. He was nearly as sharp, going another four frames. This time he didn’t even allow a hit. He did walk a couple batters and was charged with his first earned run of the season, but he earned his only win of the season in the 3-1 ‘Riders victory.
Last season, the ‘Riders piled up these monthly awards from their parent club. Justin Grimm won Pitcher of the Month in April, Mike Olt was Player of the Month in May and June, Engel Beltre was Defender of the Month in May, and Ryan Rodebaugh was Reliever of the Month in June.
Henry earned Reliever of the Month by the Rangers in May of last season as a member of the Myrtle Beach Pelicans.
And hey, it’s Randy’s birthday tomorrow! Happy early birthday Mr. Reliever of the Month.
Baseball term of the day: cherry pie – a poor hitter; an easy out
Baseball is a game of numbers. Batting average, fielding percentage, home runs, total bases, etc. There’s a value and a statistic for virtually everything. However, some of the most interesting numbers for the ‘Riders this season have come off the field. Like every baseball team, the ‘Riders spend a lot of time traveling. How much? I’m glad you asked.
Road trips: 12
Total miles driven: 10,449
Total time on the bus: 178 hours, 45 minutes (approx. 7.5 days)
Gallons in the bus’ fuel tank: 250
Miles per tank of gas: 1,200
Bus MPG: 4.8
Cost of diesel fuel per gallon: $3.86
Gallons of gas used this season: 2,177
Total cost of gas for the season: $8,403
Total time in Midland, TX: Approx. 336 hours
Episodes of Entourage watched on the bus: All of them
Total number of card games played: 1,284
Shortest trip: Northwest Arkansas to Tulsa (1 hour, 45 minutes; 109 miles)
Longest trip: Midland to Corpus Christi (7 hours, 30 minutes; 475 miles)
Average time of arrival: 4:42 a.m.
No doubt, this has been a fun year for the ‘Riders. But as you can see, there’s a lot that goes into getting the guys around the Texas League. Big thanks to Carlos Coleman, the best driver in the Texas League.
The current road trip is almost halfway over. Then it’s off to Corpus Christi for four games, then back home to finish of the regular season. After that? We’ll jump on the bus for San Antonio and the playoffs.
318 miles, 5 hours and 30 minutes.