Results tagged ‘ Tulsa Drillers ’

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.

Olt_1

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.

Olt_BP1

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 Insider ranked MiLB Pro Top 10 for April

It is with excitement that we at ‘Riders Insider announce that our blog has been ranked in the Top 10 of all Minor League Pro blogs for the month of April.

Each month, MLB.com Blogs ranks the team and fan blogs based on popularity and page views.  In previous years, all team blogs were compiled together, both Major League and Minor League.  With that system, ‘Riders Insider consistently stayed in the Top 50, remaining near #40 for the past year.  Our highest rank in 2012 was at #32 in November (with ten Minor League blogs above ‘Riders Insider).

This year, MLB.com Blogs added the category of MiLB Pro, and during the first month of the 2013 season, ‘Riders Insider earned the #10 spot, sixth among minor league teams.

We would like to congratulate the top MiLB Pro blog of the month of April, Ben’s Biz Blog.  Above ‘Riders Insider, ranked at #9, is 45 Miles From Fenway, the blog for the Pawtucket Red Sox (Triple-A affiliate of the Boston Redsox).  In the 11th spot is Porcupines in Pinstripes, the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Rail Riders blog  (Triple-A affiliate of the New York Yankees).

In keeping up with this blog, we strive to provide quality posts that our readers will enjoy.  We don’t always post about baseball; however, we like to provide you with the inside scoop on the Frisco RoughRiders as a team and individual players, the Texas Rangers and events at Dr Pepper Ballpark.

Thank you to our readers for viewing our blog and placing us in the Top 10.  We are really excited about this ranking, so please help us maintain and move us up in the rankings.  We would love to hear from you about posts you’ve particularly enjoyed, or if you have suggestions on what you’d like us to cover in future posts.

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Frisco RoughRider’s April 2013 schedule.

In ‘Riders News:

We would like to wish pitcher Wilmer Font a happy 23rd birthday.

Last night, Carlos Pimentel threw seven innings of one-hit baseball and allowed just three baserunners as the Frisco RoughRiders went on to beat the Springfield Cardinals 1-0, tying the series at one apiece.  The RoughRiders conclude their series with the defending Texas League Champion Cardinals tonight at 7:09 at Hammons Field in Springfield, MO.

Frisco continues their road trip tomorrow as they face the Tulsa Drillers for the first time this season.

Baseball term of the day: Whiz chuck: a swiftly pitched ball

-Ryan

Texas League Prospects (North Division)

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

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

Springfield Cardinals:

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

Scruggs

Arkansas Travelers:

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

Cron

Tulsa Drillers:

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

Bergman

Northwest Arkansas Naturals:

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

Fields

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

-Ryan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

_________________________

TNCTG PART ONE:

Texas League Teams:

South Division:

Frisco RoughRiders: @RidersBaseball

Corpus Christi Hooks: @CCHooks

Midland Rockhounds: @RockHounds

San Antonio Missions: @MissionsMiLB

North Division:

Arkansas Travelers: @ARTravs

Northwest Arkansas Naturals: @NWANaturals

Springfield Cardinals: @Sgf_Cardinals

Tulsa Drillers: @TulsaDrillers

Teams in the Rangers System:

MLB – Texas Rangers: @Rangers

Triple-A – Round Rock Express: @RRExpress

Double-A – Frisco RoughRiders: @RidersBaseball

Advanced-A – Myrtle Beach Pelicans: @PelicanBaseball

Single-A – Hickory Crawdads: @HickoryCrawdads

Short-Season A – Spokane Indians: @SpokaneIndians

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

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

The Voices:

Alex Vispoli, Frisco RoughRiders: @Vispoli 

Bob Hards, Midland Rockhounds: Unknown. 

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

Mike Saeger, San Antonio Missions: @SAMissionsRadio

Phil Elson, Arkansas Travelers: @ElsonPhil

Steven Davis, Northwest Arkansas Naturals: Unknown. 

Andrew Buchbinder, Springfield Cardinals: Unknown. 

Dennis Higgins, Tulsa Drillers: Unknown. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Other good employees and team-related follows:

Frisco RoughRiders:

Nathan Barnett, Media Relations & Broadcasting Assistant: @NathanSBarnett

Ryan Garrett, Media Relations Intern: @Garrett_RM

Corpus Christi Hooks:

Chris Blake, Media Relations Coordinator: @ChrisCBlake

Midland Rockhounds:

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

Tulsa Drillers:

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

Texas Rangers:

John Blake, Executive Vice President of Communications: @RangerBlake

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

In-game Rangers Twitter handle: @theRangersGame

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

– Nathan

Baseball term of the day: wand – baseball bat

Nick Schmidt Interview, June 1, 2012

Before the game yesterday we talked to Tulsa Drillers’ starter Nick Schmidt about playing in high profile games like the California League championship game and pitching as part of Team USA.

Shot by: Jarah Wright and Michael Damman

Tyler Johnson Interview, May 31, 2012

We sat down with World Series winner and current Tulsa Drillers reliever Tyler Johnson before the game yesterday to talk about winning the World Series and coming back from an injury to play professional baseball.

Shot by: Michael Damman and Jarah Wright

On The Road: Tulsa and Northwest Arkansas

Texas League travel is renowned in Minor League Baseball circles for the toll it takes on players, coaches, bus drivers and, yes, broadcasters.  With airfare too costly for Double-A teams, all of the trips in the TL are via chartered bus rides.  Google the route from Corpus Christi, Texas to Springfield, Missouri and you’ll get the idea of what sort of monstrosities take place for some teams in our eight-squad circuit.  Fortunately for the RoughRiders, Frisco’s central location makes our travel somewhat more advantageous than for some of our peer teams, notably those from the South Division.

As far as road trips go, the six-game Tulsa-Northwest Arkansas swing has been one of the more enjoyable of the season, with the travel being one of the reasons why.  For most road series, we will leave as a team the day before our first game in a particular city so that the players can salvage as much rest as possible prior to playing.  For example, we left at 3:30 p.m. for Corpus Christi (our longest trip at over seven hours) on a Wednesday with the first game of our series on Thursday night at Whataburger Field.

With Tulsa only about four hours north of the Metroplex, we were able to leave the day of the game last Wednesday.  However, the best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry, which proved to be the case when we arrived in “The 918.”  Our hotel did not have our rooms ready for the team to check in, meaning that we had to wait up to two hours in the lobby to head to our homes away from home (I drew the lucky straw for getting to his room last, leaving me 15 minutes to unpack, change clothes, gather equipment and catch our bus to the ballpark).

The hotel “in” Tulsa is barely in the city; it’s located near the southern edge of its borders, not far from the campus of Oral Roberts University.  Generally, we will have two scheduled bus times to take the team to the ballpark when we are on the road: one at 3 p.m. and another at 4 p.m.  Most of the team will get on the earlier bus, with that night’s starting pitcher taking the other, often by his lonesome self.

The first thing that sticks out about the Drillers’ ballpark is its location.  ONEOK Field (pronounced “one-oak”) is directly adjacent to downtown Tulsa, giving it a terrific view of the skyline over right field and a setting that feels urban, the way it should feel in my opinion.  There is a dearth of views like this in the Texas League (Arkansas’ vista with downtown Little Rock looming past the Arkansas River, is Tulsa’s closest competitor), so it’s a treat to look at the cityscape for three nights.

The second appealing aspect of the Tulsa trip is the ballpark itself.  Built in 2010, ONEOK Field, named after a natural gas utilities company, is the newest park in the TL and it is impressive.  Aside from views it possesses, it boasts a huge clubhouse, a terrific press box and plenty of fan amenities.  I thought the name of a group seating section – “The Oil Field” – was particularly clever, given the importance of the oil industry in Tulsa (hence, the nickname of the team).  The fans support the Drillers in droves, sending Tulsa to the second-highest average attendance in the league (Frisco leads the way by a large margin).  Our final game drew 8,207 fans, making it the largest crowd we have seen at an opposing ballpark this season.

After each game, the players will shower up, have dinner in the clubhouse (as prepared by the visiting clubhouse manager) and load back up onto the bus to head back to the ballpark, typically 45 minutes or an hour after the game ends.  This takes a bit longer on the last day of the series, as the team needs to bring all of its equipment and uniforms to whichever city is next on the travel log.

The trip from Tulsa to our next destination, Springdale, Arkansas – the home of the Northwest Arkansas Naturals – is the shortest route between any two cities in the Texas League.  After numerous seven-hour bus rides this season, the sub-two hour journey following Friday’s game was a welcome trip, especially so because we played a four-hour game against the Drillers in the series finale.  We arrived at our hotel at a reasonable 2:15 a.m. with game time less than 18 hours later.

When ONEOK Field opened, it replaced the Naturals’ Arvest Ballpark as the newest yard in the league (Arvest is a bank headquartered in nearby Bentonville).  Like Tulsa’s home park, Northwest Arkansas’ is quite nice, though the area around it could not be much different.  Instead of the bustling downtown atmosphere you get at the home of the Drillers, Arvest Ballpark is located in a very rural area in the southwest corner of Springdale, a city of close to 70,000 residents.  Grazing horses and cows are not an unusual sight when one looks out onto the rolling fields that surround the ballpark.

While this gives the sense that you are located in the middle of nowhere, people from the area don’t seem to have a hard time finding Arvest.  The park is not far from Interstate 540, the main thoroughfare in the area that runs north to south from Bentonville (the home of Wal-Mart) to Fayetteville (the home of the University of Arkansas).  The rationale for calling the team the “Northwest Arkansas Naturals” and not the “Springdale Naturals” is in part so that the other communities in the region feel a connection with the team that is not exclusive to one city (the Texas Rangers can relate).

While the setting couldn’t be described as exciting, the brand of baseball through two games in Springdale has been, with Frisco and Northwest Arkansas combining to score 29 runs.  The teams have split the first two contests and played a rubber game on Monday afternoon.  A RoughRiders win made the five-hour bus ride back to Frisco seem a lot shorter and truly made this a road trip we won’t mind experiencing again.

Written by: Alex Vispoli

Photos by: Alex Vispoli

All-‘Riders Team: Catcher

2012 marks the RoughRiders’ 10th season as a franchise, all as the Rangers’ Double-A affiliate. Since 2003, there have been hundreds of talented players come through Dr Pepper Ballpark, but some have stood out more than others.  With the help of Michael Damman, the RoughRiders’ Director of Statistical Research, we’ve come up with the All-‘Riders Team: the best player at each position in franchise history.  Today we start with the RoughRiders’ all-time best catcher.

Michael Damman’s Take:  Part of an extremely talented 2008 Frisco RoughRider’s team that won 84 games, Max Ramirez makes the list despite playing just 69 games in Frisco.  Still, Ramirez displayed one of the most dominant offensive performances in his short time with the ‘Riders.

A .354 hitter while in Frisco, Ramirez connected on 35 extra base hits, including 17 home runs, and drove in 50 runs over the 69 games while scoring 49 runs as well.  Ramirez had a .454 on base percentage in addition to a 1.096 OPS in 289 plate appearances for the ‘Riders. Also of note, his time with the RoughRiders included more multi hit games (23) than hit-less games (19).

Since leaving Frisco, Ramirez has yet to show the same kind of offensive numbers, although two wrist injuries in 2009 and 2010 clearly affected his power and ability in the field.  In 140 plate appearances for the Rangers in 2008 and 2010, Ramirez hit .217 with a .340 OBP and .699 OPS.  In 2011, he spent time with the Triple-A clubs of the Houston Astros, Chicago Cubs, and San Francisco Giants.  Ramirez began to display some power for the Giants late in the season as he finished with 11 doubles and 10 homeruns in 48 games.

My Take:  As you’ll see as we continue to release our list of the All-‘Riders Team, Damman pretty much covers it all.  However, I’ll try and chime in a couple of thoughts as well.

In the first nine seasons of ‘Riders baseball, there has never been a player with a higher single-season batting average than Ramirez (.354).  I love the stat that Michael found stating that Ramirez had more multi-hit games than hit-less games.  Think about that for a second.  Even over a half-season sample size, that’s remarkable.

For comparison sake, take for example Tulsa’s Wilin Rosario.  The Drillers’ catcher entered 2011 as the Rockies’ No. 2 prospect and was known not just as a defensive catcher.  This past season, Rosario hit .249 overall, .263 in the first half, .235 in the second.  Point is, Ramirez hit approximately 100 points higher than Rosario who, despite having what some would term a “down year,” is know as catcher who can hit.

-AG

You can read more from Michael Damman on his Rangers’ minor league blog, Chatter From the Pressbox.  You can also follow him on twitter @pressboxchatter.

Up Next: First Base

 

Rangers Lose Top Minor League Talent

At first glance, he isn’t exactly the warm and fuzzy type.  To be honest, in my limited time with him, I can’t remember seeing him smile.  He looks, acts, and talks like someone who has been in baseball his entire life.  And it wasn’t until I had the chance to sit down and interview him in the RoughRiders’ dugout at ONEOK Field in Tulsa, Ok. that I realized how truly valuable Senior Director of Player Development  Scott Servias was to the Texas Rangers.

Unfortunately, he’s now a valuable addition to the division rival Anaheim Angels.

New Angels GM Jerry Dipoto (Artesia News)

Right before the weekend, it was announced that new Angels’ general manager Jerry Dipoto had luered Servais away from Texas by offering him a multi-year contract as the Halos’ assistant general manager overseeing scouting and player development.  With Texas, Servais was responsible for the on-field minor league development in addition to instructing the Rangers’ Major League catchers. He also made recommendations for potential trades and free-agent signings.

There are a lot of moving parts involved with the operations and player development in both major and minor league baseball and I’m far from fully understanding it all.  Over the course of a season I see and meet coaches, scouts, rovers, coordinators, special assistants, and plenty more.  All of them work for the Rangers, and all are trying to help the players here in Frisco become players in Arlington.

What I do know is that Servais had the respect of every RoughRider I talked to.  A one-time player himself, the former catcher was taken in the third round of the 1988 First-Year Player Draft by Houston and began his career with the Astros, making his Major League debut on July 12, 1991.  His playing days ended in 2002 after  batting .245 with 63 home runs and 319 RBIs in 820 Major League games.

I remember talking with former RoughRiders’ second baseman Matt Lawson about Servais at one point last year.  He was incredibly complimentary of Servias and said that he felt like he really took the time to get to know him.  In my interview with Servais in Tulsa, I asked Scott about how important it was for him get to know the players he was developing:

“It’s everything.  I played for 15 years and I remember how important it was when the brass came into town. Letting [the players] know that they’re not just a number or a piece of meat, so to speak.  I’m a person, I have a family, I have a background.  I hope to build equity with the players so when I have to go to a player and hold them accountable or ask them to make an adjustment, we’ve built that equity, and they’ll buy in and take our suggestions.”

This told me a lot about Scott, and I think he really does care about the players.  That might sound a little too “Hallmark” for professional baseball, but in my ten minutes with him, I truly felt as though he meant it.

For the Angels, this was a big time acquisition.  For the Rangers, it leaves a big time void.  Texas general manager Jon Daniels told the Forth Worth Star-Telegram that “[Scott] helped put together an outstanding staff, so we’re confident others will step up and we won’t miss a beat . . . I’m looking forward to competing against him.”  Daniels also said that Scott will be missed and that his new opportunity is an exciting one.

No matter what happens, we’ll see the fruit of Servais’ labor 12 times a year when the RoughRiders take on the Arkansas Travelers.

– AG

Servais alongside Rangers' GM Jon Daniels (Fort Worth Star-Telegram)

Texas League Power Rankings

Only 28 games remain for the RoughRiders and the other seven teams in the Texas League. San Antonio and Arkansas already have their ticket punched to the postseason, and almost every other club in the league has a chance to get into the TL’s final four.

The ‘Riders dropped a place in the standings last night, but could they hold strong in this month’s Power Rankings? Those are below, and here are the Power Rankings from May, June and July.

POWER RANKINGS:

1. San Antonio (76-36, 27-15; Past Rankings: 1, 1, 1)
The Missions have the best record in all of full-season minor league baseball, with the San Jose Giants of the California League (74-38) the only team less than five games away from San Antonio. Not only has San Antonio been great this season, but they added Robbie Erlin and Joe Wieland, who had been with Frisco until the Mike Adams deal at the deadline.
KEY STAT (+200): That’s the Missions’ run differential this season, which leads the minors and is 160 runs better than the second-best mark in the TL (Frisco at +40). Thanks to Mike Saeger, the Missions play-by-play broadcaster for this stat.

2. Frisco (61-51, 21-21; Past Rankings: 6, 2, 3)
The ‘Riders have fallen into a bit of a slump, and Midland has climbed above them in the standings. However, the RockHounds will need to leap over San Antonio in order to make the playoffs and, as a result, deny the RoughRiders of a spot in the playoffs. Midland has been better than the ‘Riders over the last two weeks, but Frisco was clearly better for the season’s first 100 games. Thus, the ‘Riders are here.
KEY STAT (9-2, 3.09): The combined record and earned run average of Erlin and Wieland while they were with the RoughRiders. Now, they are on the team that Frisco would play in the first round of the postseason.

3. Northwest Arkansas (57-52, 22-20; Past Rankings: 4, 3, 6)
The Naturals won the league last year, and they have had plenty of big-time prospects on the roster. Finally, Northwest Arkansas has gone on a bit of a run to assume first place in both the overall and the second half standings. Still, last-place Arkansas is three games back, so this race will go down to the wire.
KEY STAT (2): The Naturals are only two losses away from matching their total from all of last year. Northwest went 86-54 en route to a pair of division crowns and a Texas League championship.

4. Midland (49-63, 22-20; Past Rankings: 3, 7, 5)
Talk about a team that has bounced up and down this season. Right now, Midland is one of the hottest teams in the Texas League and they have jumped into second place in the South. The RockHounds have won eight of ten, including their first series victory over Frisco this season Tuesday through Thursday of last week.
KEY STAT (4): Only four games remain for the RockHounds against the first-place Missions, and those aren’t until August 30-September 2 in San Antonio. Midland must win the second-half championship to go to the playoffs, and they are currently five games back.

5. Arkansas (55-54, 19-23; Past Rankings: 7, 6, 2)
The Travelers stunned many and took the first half North Division title by one game over Northwest Arkansas. Right now, Arkansas is in a bit of a rut after going 6-0 to start half two. Since that point, Arkansas is 13-23, but they still have their postseason berth locked up.
KEY STAT (.348): Mike Trout’s average since returning to the Travs August 1. The Angels’ top prospect, who spent almost a month in the bigs, has hit safely in six of his seven games and has scored seven times since arriving back in North Little Rock.

6. Springfield (52-59, 20-21; Past Rankings: 5, 4, 7)
The Cardinals have been hot lately, which pushes them ahead of Tulsa and Corpus Christi. Springfield has gotten great pitching out of top prospect Shelby Miller, and the squad is right there in second in the second half North standings, just one-and-a-half games back of the Naturals.
KEY STAT (8-2): The Cardinals’ record over the last ten games, which has propelled Springfield from last place in the North to second.

7. Tulsa (52-59, 19-22; Past Rankings: 2, 5, 4)
This is the lowest ranking for the Drillers this season, and it comes with the club still very much alive in the second half. Surprisingly, the Drillers have struggled at home this season. They have the worst home record in the TL at 24-30, including an 8-12 mark in the second half.
KEY STAT (20): The number of games that will remain when Drew Pomeranz, the key cog in Colorado’s trade with Cleveland for Ubaldo Jimenez, is eligible to officially join the Rockies’ system. If he joins the Drillers, Pomeranz would be able to make no more than four starts before the regular season ends.

8. Corpus Christi (42-70, 17-25; Past Rankings: 8, 8, 8)
I’ve tried to move these poor Hooks up in the rankings, but I just can’t do it. Corpus Christi’s roster is depleted now because many key pieces have moved up to Triple-A Oklahoma City or Houston.
KEY STAT (23%): The percentage of the Astros’ current position players that were with the Hooks a month ago. Jose Altuve, J.D. Martinez and Jimmy Paredes are the Hooks-turned-Astros.

Agree? Disagree? Let us know in the comments!

– Brian

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