Results tagged ‘ Wilmer Font ’

Putting a bow on the 2013 Season

The 2013 season ended eight days ago and before we start thinking about Opening Day 2014 (currently 205 days away, but who’s counting?), let’s wrap up this year with some of the notable notes & factoids. The following tidbits are stolen taken from the RoughRiders’ end-of-season notes, which you can see in their entirety here.

SEASON NOTES

Report Card: The RoughRiders finished their 11th season with an overall record of 70-70, good enough for third place in the Texas League South Division and fourth-best in the eight-team circuit.  Frisco was 39-31 in the first half, claiming second place in the division, and 31-39 in the second half (third place).  The RoughRiders missed out on the playoffs for the first time since 2009 and just the fourth time in team history.  For the first time since becoming a minor league manager in 2009 (Bakersfield), Steve Buechele oversaw a team that did not make the postseason.  Two RoughRiders were named to the postseason All-Star Team: DH Brett Nicholas and RHP Neil Ramirez.

Playing not to lose: For the eighth straight season, the RoughRiders finished with a non-losing record.  The last time Frisco finished below .500 was the only time in team history, back in 2005 when the team finished 58-82.  The streak of non-losing seasons is by far the longest in the Texas League; every other team in the circuit has had at least one losing season in the last three years.  The streak is the longest in Double-A and the third-longest among all 120 full-season minor league clubs, exceeded only by the Triple-A Sacramento River Cats (11 straight non-losing seasons) and the Advanced-A San Jose Giants (ten).  Including teams that play in short-season leagues, Frisco’s streak is the sixth longest; the Elizabethton Twins (25), Brooklyn Cyclones (13) and AZL Giants (13) have the longest such streaks in stateside Minor League Baseball.

Home Field Advantage: A crowd of 10,712 watched the RoughRiders beat Corpus Christi in the home finale on August 30, marking the second-biggest attendance at Dr Pepper Ballpark this season.  It was exceeded only by the July 4 game against Arkansas, when 10,801 saw the Travelers edge the ’Riders 3-2.  Frisco welcomed 479,873 fans to the ballpark this year (an average of 7,057), the highest total in Double-A for the ninth straight year.  The total and average attendance figures are higher than 17 Triple-A ballclubs this season.

Pitching in: Pitching coach Jeff Andrews can be proud to point out that this year’s Frisco staff statistically rates as the best in franchise history.  Of the 11 seasons in RoughRiders history, the 2013 team finished with the best ERA (3.58, placing in the top two of the league for just the second time ever), strikeouts (1,111), WHIP (1.265), and hits/9 IP (8.0, the lowest figure in the TL since 2003).  The team’s strikeouts/9 IP (8.0) was tied for the second-best in team history.  Making these feats even more impressive is that the RoughRiders utilized 37 different pitchers (by far the most in the league, five more than Springfield, which had used the second-most), including 19 starters.

Saint Nicholas: Frisco first baseman Brett Nicholas has had a great year in his first Double-A season.  Before to this year, Nicholas had 17 career home runs in three combined pro seasons but hit 21 in 2013.  In addition to the long balls, the Arizona native established career-bests in games (136), plate appearances (575), at bats (506), hits (146), batting average (.289), slugging percentage (.474), OPS (.831), RBI (91), runs (71), triples (3) and total bases (240).  Nicholas finished among the Texas League leaders in average (fourth), games (first), at bats (third), home runs (seventh), RBI (first), hits (first), extra-base hits (tied for fifth, 49) and total bases (first, 240).  He was the only player in the TL in the top seven in all three of the Triple Crown categories.  Nicholas was named a mid-season and postseason All-Star (at DH) and will be one of the Rangers’ representatives in the Arizona Fall League.

Teo Time: Teodoro Martinez had a breakout season in many respects in 2013.  The diminutive outfielder was second on the team with 15 home runs and was also among the team leaders in hits (second, 110), runs scored (third, 51), RBI (fourth, 47), total bases (third, 168), and steals (second, 21).  Martinez entered the season with ten career home runs and single-season high of six, but more than doubled his career output in longballs with a year that landed him on the mid-season All-Star Team.  He had a career game on the penultimate day of the regular season in Midland, going 4 for 5 with a double, two home runs, eight runs batted in and three runs scored.  The eight RBI matched his total from July (three) and August (five) combined and represented what is believed to be a RoughRiders single-game record.  It was only fitting that Martinez had his huge game against Midland; in 27 games against the RockHounds, he hit .336/.351/.600 (.951 OPS) with two doubles, nine home runs, 28 RBI, 16 runs scored and seven steals.

New Kids on the Block: The makeup of Frisco’s roster changed dramatically in early August, when nine new players joined the team and seven players were sent elsewhere.  Of the new RoughRiders, second baseman Rougned Odor and pitchers Luke Jackson and Nick Martinez—all promoted from Advanced-A Myrtle Beach—shined the brightest.  From August 1 through the end of the season, Odor led the Texas League in hits (41) and was tied for second in extra-base hits (16).  At 19, he was the youngest player in Double-A and over 30 games hit .306/.354/.530 with six homers, eight doubles, two triples, 19 RBI, 20 runs scored and five steals.  Jackson did not allow a run until his fifth ’Riders outing and went 2-0 over six games (four starts) with a 0.67 ERA (2 ER/27 IP), 30 strikeouts and a .144 opposing batting average.  Dating back to his time with the Pelicans, he ended the season having gone 15 games (13 starts) since last suffering a defeat (May 27 at Lynchburg).  Martinez did not work the strikeouts like Jackson, but he was stellar in five games (four starts), going 2-0 with a 1.13 ERA (4 ER/32 IP), 11 hits allowed, a 0.56 WHIP and a .107 opposing batting average.  While pitching in relief of rehabber Nick Tepesch on August 27 against Corpus Christi, he threw seven no-hit innings and retired the last 19 batters of the ballgame.

Don’t walk this way: A constant theme over the course of the season was the inability of the ’Riders to draw walks while on offense.  Frisco not only finished last among all Texas League teams with 303 walks this season, but also last among all full-season minor league teams (Advanced-A Brevard County was closest with 343).  In fact, the ’Riders had fewer walks than 13 rookie-level teams whose seasons began well after Frisco’s.  The 303 walks set a new Texas League record for fewest walks ever received by a team, “besting” the 1992 San Antonio Missions (310).  The RoughRiders’ on-base percentage of .300 was the seventh-lowest of all 229 MiLB teams and the second-lowest of all full-season squads.

Guilded Age: The 2013 season was a banner one for longtime RoughRiders utility player Guilder Rodriguez.  This past season was Rodriguez’s 13th in professional baseball and his fifth with Frisco.  Thanks to a terrific first half of the season, the Venezuelan was named to his first All-Star Game and came in off the bench to play in the South Division’s 6-0 win over the North.  Rodriguez set several career Frisco records over the course of the year; he has played in more games as a RoughRider (407) than any other player in team history.  On August 4, he passed Renny Osuna as the franchise’s all-time hits leader; he has 352 career hits as a RoughRider.  On August 25, playing in his 1000th professional stateside game, Rodriguez stole his 66th base in a Frisco uniform, snapping a tie with Rangers outfielder Craig Gentry for the most career steals.  G-Rod is now 66 for 92 stealing bases as a ’Rider; Gentry was 65 for 79 in 207 Frisco games.

This ’pen is mightier: Despite a constantly rotating cast, the RoughRiders’ bullpen was the strength of the pitching staff this season.  Frisco’s relievers won almost as many games (34) as the team’s starters (36) while posting an impressive 2.55 ERA (166 ER/586.2 IP).  The bullpen was heavy on strikeouts (9.1/9 IP) and stingy on allowing hits (6.9/9 IP).  Ben Rowen (0.53 ERA) and Wilmer Font (1.41 ERA) led the group with ten saves apiece while nine total players had at least one save.  The strong back end of the bullpen was a major reason why the RoughRiders went 51-0 when taking a lead into the ninth inning, not blowing a ninth inning save all season.  Frisco was the only Texas League team that did not lose a game when leading after eight innings (all other teams had at least two such losses).  The ’Riders were one of eight full-season minor league teams that did not blow a ninth inning lead and one of three (New Orleans, 72-72; West Michigan, 69-70) that did it while failing to post a winning overall record.

- Alex

‘Riders in Review: July 2013

Welcome to August. The ‘Riders had to have been happy to close the book on July. The 11-18 mark was the worst month for the team in terms of wins and losses this season and the worst since an 8-14 record posted in April 2011.

August 1 brought some new faces–five in fact. The promotion of Carlos Pimentel to Triple-A and the departure of Hanser Alberto, Odubel Herrera, Nick McBride and Kevin Pucetas to Advanced-A Myrtle Beach made room for the Pelicans to send five players to Frisco: pitchers Jon Edwards, Luke Jackson and Francisco Mendoza as well as infielders Rougned Odor and Luis Sardinas. (read more on the new guys here)

Frisco trailed the San Antonio Missions by eight games in the Texas League South Division at the month’s end. Dr Pepper Ballpark proved a tough venue for the ‘Riders in the month. The team won just 3 of 13 games here in Frisco. Still, remarkable performances were put together and some unforgettable moments made.

Texas League Rankings for the Month of July

Record: 55-55 overall, 11-18 in May (T-5th in Texas League), home: 3-10, road: 8-8, vs. division: 9-13

Runs: 110 (T-5th)

Average: .248 (6th)

On-base percentage: .294 (8th)

Stolen bases: 17 (6th)

Home runs: 20 (T-6th)

ERA: 3.78 (5th)

Strikeouts for: 197 (6th)

Walks allowed: 80 (8th)

Avg attendance for the year: 7,165 (6th fewest)

RIDERS REVIEW Record Runs AVG OBP SB HR ERA K BB Avg. Att. TD
April 14-11 107 .250 .297 19 17 2.87 208 84 7060
May 18-11 125 .247 .306 38 32 4.12 255 114 7315
June 12-15 96 .259 .299 23 18 4.10 210 99 7310
July 11-18 110 .248 .294 17 20 3.87 197 80 7165
Season 55-55 438 .251 .299 97 87 3.74 870 377 7165

TL IN MAY Record Runs AVG OBP SB HR ERA K BB Avg. Att. TD
San Anto. 19-10 105 .260 .310 32 20 3.01 225 90 4,349
Corpus 18-11 138 .254 .336 7 34 4.00 179 77 5,475
Arkansas 17-12 110 .258 .314 22 24 3.53 193 77 4,488
NW Ark. 14-15 140 .264 .326 30 31 4.59 233 107 4,756
Springfield 14-15 135 .249 .341 28 28 3.77 247 82 4,929
Tulsa 12-17 96 .243 .299 13 24 3.93 228 82 5,817
FRISCO 11-18 110 .248 .294 17 20 3.78 197 80 7,165
Midland 11-18 112 .234 .316 20 14 3.70 200 79 4,616

Awards

‘Riders Slugger of the Month

3B Alex Buchholz (.341/.412/.615), 15 R, 7 2B, 6 HR, 14 RBI, 9 K, 8 BB, 1 SB)

It’s amazing that four months into the season, this selection has been so easy each month. It’s hard to argue for anyone outside of Alex Buchholz. He very well could win the Texas Rangers Minor League Player of the Month with his torrid July. He added to his stellar July Double-A campaign with a couple of doubles and a ribbie in Triple-A action to close out the month.

No other Rangers minor leaguer posted an OPS of over 1.000. His six home runs represented the highest long ball total on the Rangers’ farm, and was only bested by the big leagues’ Adrian Beltre and his nine July home run in the entire Texas system. Buchholz earned Texas League Player of the Week for the week of June 10-17 when he began his week 7-for-7. Playing for the first time in his career at Triple-A, the former Reds farmhand is in the midst of a breakout season. He has posted a career high in games played (96), doubles (25) home runs (15), RBI (49).

Past winners: Telis (June), Nicholas (May), Hoying (April)

‘Riders Hurler of the Month

RHP Arlett Mavare (0-0, 2.19 ERA, 6 G, 3 GS, 24.2 IP, 20 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 2 HRA, 16 K, 2 BB, 2 HB, 0.89 WHIP, .222 BAA)

With apologies to a number of relievers who shined in July, most notably newcomers Alex Claudio (1.29 ERA/1.07 WHIP, 14.0 IP 16 K, 3 BB) and Lisalverto Bonilla (0.61 ERA/1.02 WHIP, 14.2 IP, 21 K, 5 BB), it was Arlett Mavare who, not only pitched the best in July but also surprised and saved a RoughRiders rotation in dire need of stability.

With Neil Ramirez on the disabled list and the recent departures of Carlos Pimentel (Round Rock) and Kevin Pucetas (Myrtle Beach), the five men from the Opening Day rotation are now all gone. Cody Buckel is in Arizona working out control issues in the Rangers spring training complex and Ryan Feierabend has spent most of the season in Triple-A with the Express.

Mavare stepped into Ramirez’s spot and has been brilliant. Before the move to the rotation, Mavare was 1-2 with a 6.91 ERA. Mavare made three starts in the month: in 16 innings pitched, he allowed four runs on 12 hits with eight Ks and one walk. One walk.

In his final start in July, Arlett tossed a career-high-tying seven innings pitched, something he hadn’t done since his first pro season in 2009.

Past winners: Tufts (June), Rowen (May), Henry (April)

Official Texas League Players of the Week:

July 1 – 7: P – Matt Wisler (San Antonio) ; B – Audry Perez (Springfield) 

July 8 – 14: P – Carlos Hernandez (Midland); B – Brett Eibner (NW Arkansas)

July 15 – 21: P – Keyvius Sampson (San Antonio); B – Max Stassi (Corpus Christi)

July 22 – 28: P – Aaron Brooks (NW Arkansas); B – Brian Fletcher (NW Arkansas)

Punching Bag of the Month

Corpus Christi Hooks RP Kenny Long

Overall it hasn’t been a great season for Long, but July was particularly brutal. The stock was rising for the former 22nd rounder when he was promoted to Double-A for the first time in his career after a good start in Lancaster (Advanced-A). His Hooks run began solid as well, firing four scoreless outings to begin his time in the Texas League.

It’s been shaky since then, so shaky that he is back down in the California League and likely in large part to the way the ‘Riders punished Long. In seven July outings lasting 7.2 innings before his demotion, Long was knocked around for 10 runs on 18 hits with four walks and two home runs allowed. Good for an 0-2 record and an 11.74 ERA. Both losses ad both homers came against Frisco. He matched up against the ‘Riders in his final three Double-A appearances. Here is the line: 3 G, 2.2 IP, 10 H, 7 R, 7 ER, 0 BB, 2 K, 2 HR allowed, .555 BAA (10-for-18). Ouch.

Best Moment of the Month

A second fan won a car at Dr Pepper Ballpark – July 7, 2013 - Remember when Tomas Telis won a fan a car by hitting a home run on the first swing for the ‘Riders in the fifth inning? I remember remarking to someone walking around the ballpark one day how cool it would be if someone actually won this promotion and pegged the odds as somewhere near one in a thousand or so. Shows what I know about chance.

It was only the third time the ‘Riders had run the Pat Lobb Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram Magic Swing Promotion this season, and the contestant went home with a brand new 2013 Jeep Wrangler. Good stuff. So we had that feather in the cap. Everyone who was here can say they saw a once-in-a-lifetime kind of promotional giveaway.

Except it happened again. On July 8, Odubel Herrera hit the third home run of the game for the ‘Riders and just his second of the season. In fact, both RoughRiders hitters to accomplish the feat did it on just their second home run of the year. Herrera hadn’t homered in 31 games and has not hit a long ball since. But that day: fate, destiny and minor league promotion at its finest.

How did the prospects do?

Frisco’s Opening Day Roster contained six prospects in the Baseball America Rangers Organization top 30:  RHP Cody Buckel (8), RHP Roman Mendez (13), IF Hanser Alberto (15), RHP Wilmer Font (22), RHP Neil Ramirez (23) and RHP Randy Henry (29). Joe Benson, ranked 19th in the Minnesota Twins organization by Baseball America to open the season, joined the RoughRiders in late May. Three of the new additions from August 1 are Top 30 Rangers prospects–we will get to them after their first month with the ‘Riders.

Cody Buckel - Nothing new here. Buckel last pitched for the ‘Riders in May. He has been in Arizona at extended Spring Training trying to sort out control issues ever since. Rangers Rehab Pitching Coordinator Keith Comstock updated us on Buckel about a month ago. You can hear my interview with him from ‘Riders on the Record.

Roman Mendez – Mendez is out for the season after undergoing surgery in May to repair a stress fracture in his elbow.

Wilmer Font – No longer with the RoughRiders, Font was promoted to the Round Rock Express on June 29.  The Venezuelan right-hander had a team-high ten saves and sported a career best 1.41 ERA with the RoughRiders in 26 appearances this season. Over his last four RoughRiders appearances he allowed just two hits and issued three walks in 4.1 innings with no runs scored against him and fanned eight. In ten June innings, he allowed one run on four hits and six walks, striking out seventeen. He went three-for-three in save chances and posted a 1-1 record over the month.

Hanser Alberto – In his final game as a RoughRiders swinger (for now), Alberto drove home his double-play partner Odubel Herrera to give the ‘Riders the go-ahead run in an eventual 2-1 win. That was on July 31. One of the roster causalities for the promoted Pelicans on August 1, Alberto really wasn’t able to dig himself out of the offensive hole he was in for most of the season. After hitting .298 in April, Alberto finished with a .213 batting average, the lowest it had been since April 15. Hanser hit just .194 with only four extra base hits. He went 3-for-3 in his return to the Advanced-A level. With a projected hit-tool better than average, expect to see the young shortstop (who is still the youngest player on his team) straighten things out against lower level pitching. 

Neil Ramirez – An overnight household name of sorts, Neil Ramirez went from a high-ceiling righthander that many hardcore Rangers knew about to a player some casual baseball fans, especially in Chicago, became frenzied over when there was wide speculation that Ramirez would be the player to named later in the Matt Garza trade that sent Justin Grimm, Mike Olt and C.J. Edwards to the Cubs. Neil faced a little adversity this month, including a DL stint that began on July 24. Ramirez made just two starts, separated by 14 days to try and allow a sore shoulder to heal. Neither outing showed the best that Neil can offer. He allowed fours runs over six frames against the Travelers on July 5 and lasted a season-low 3.1 innings on July 19 in Corpus Christi. He surrendered five runs on seven hits against the Hooks.

Randy Henry – Henry had his worst outing, statistically, as a RoughRiders pitcher in his last appearance of the month. Against Midland on July 30, he gave up multiple runs for the first time this season, allowing a pair to score on three hits in a low-leverage ninth inning with Frisco leading 11-4. Before that, he had surrendered just one run over eight innings, so the blemish to end July makes him a victim of the small monthly sample size of a reliever. In nine innings, Henry allowed three July runs on five hits. He walked only one and struck out four. He continued to fire strikes and pitch efficiently (117 pitches, 78 strikes).

Joe Benson – Not officially on the top 30 list of Rangers prospects by Baseball America, he probably would be if he was Rangers property to begin the season. After a torrid start to his RoughRiders career, Benson was hampered by a groin injury in June and remained on the disabled list until activation on July 25. After tearing up the Arizona League in a seven-game rehab (.417, 3 2B and a HR). Joe played in just six July contests, all on the road. He hit just .250 (5-for-20), but three of his five hits went for extra bases (2 2B, 1 3B). The important thing is that Joe is healthy and doesn’t feel any lingering affects from his groin tear that sidelined him for most of June and July. He has started all eight games since his activation from the disabled list.

Transactions of July:

7/3 RHP Joakim Soria (right elbow) received on Major League rehab assignment
7/5 RHP Joakim Soria (right elbow) departs from Frisco on his Major League rehab assignment
7/7 RHP Kyle McClellan accepts minor league assignment and reports to Frisco
7/10 RHP Justin Miller promoted to Triple-A Round Rock
7/10 IF Greg Miclat received from Triple-A Round Rock
7/14 IF Guilder Rodriguez (illness) placed on 7-day disabled list (retroactive to July 10)
7/14 RHP Joe Van Meter received from Advanced-A Myrtle Beach
7/14 OF Craig Gentry (non-displaced fracture in left hand) received on Major League rehab assignment
7/15 IF Greg Miclat promoted to Triple-A Round Rock
7/15 OF Jeff Baker (sprained right thumb) received on Major League rehab assignment
7/17 RHP Colby Lewis (torn right flexor tendon) received on Major League rehab assignment
7/18 OF Craig Gentry (non-displaced fracture in left hand) departs from Frisco on his Major League rehab assignment
7/18 OF Jeff Baker (sprained right thumb) departs from Frisco on his Major League rehab assignment
7/19 IF Guilder Rodriguez (illness) activated off 7-day disabled list
7/24 RHP Neil Ramirez (right shoulder) placed on 7-day disabled list, retroactive to Sunday, July 21
7/25 OF Joe Benson (groin) activated off 7-day disabled list
7/30 IF Alex Buchholz promoted to Triple-A Round Rock
7/31 LHP Matt Harrison (back surgery) received on Major League rehab assignment

Happy August and go RoughRiders!

- Nathan

Baseball term of the day: blow a tire pull a leg muscle

(term from The Dickson Baseball Dictionary)

‘Riders in Review: June 2013

Early first half struggles for Tulsa and Northwest Arkansas flipped upside down as the two teams became the two most dominant Texas League squads in the month of June. Led by retired-no-more Roy Oswalt and indy-ball right-hander Sean Gallagher, the Drillers posted an absurd 2.12 ERA in June and made up enough ground to capture the first-half title in the North Division. The Naturals played spoiler to their in-state rivals, beating the Arkansas Travelers in five of six meetings to close the first half and send the Travs tumbling out of the top spot in the North. Now the Naturals are tied for first place in the whole Texas League in the second half (8-5 entering Thursday).

The RoughRiders, on the other hand, experienced a tough month of June. Losing Roman Mendez in May didn’t help, neither did the promotions of Wilmer Font, Jared Hoying, Ryan Rodebaugh, and Ben Rowen, not to mention the continued injury issue for outfielder Joe Benson. Still, the RoughRiders completed the first half in second place and are competing in the early part of the second half.

Texas League Rankings for the Month of June

Record: 44-37 overall, 12-15 in May (T-5th in Texas League), home: 5-9, road: 7-6, vs. division: 10-10

Runs: 96 (7th)

Average: .259 (3rd)

On-base percentage: .299 (8th)

Stolen bases: 23 (T-3rd)

Home runs: 18 (5th)

ERA: 4.10 (7th)

Strikeouts for: 210 (1st)

Walks allowed: 99 (8th)

Avg attendance for the year: 7310 (1st)*

RIDERS REVIEW Record Runs AVG OBP SB HR ERA K BB Avg. Att. TD*
April 14-11 107 .250 .297 19 17 2.87 208 84 7060
May 18-11 125 .247 .306 38 32 4.12 255 114 7315
June 12-15 96 .259 .299 23 18 4.10 210 99 7310
Season 44-37 328 .252 .301 80 67 3.73 463 297 7310

TL IN MAY Record Runs AVG OBP SB HR ERA K BB Avg. Att. TD*
Tulsa 17-9 82 .230 .307 26 12 2.12 158 65 5,950
NW Ark. 17-12 137 .283 .330 25 29 4.01 209 95 4,794
Corpus 14-13 132 .252 .324 19 33 4.16 160 72 5,388
San Anto. 14-13 102 .257 .314 22 12 3.44 207 71 4,221
FRISCO 12-15 96 .259 .299 23 18 4.10 210 99 7,363
Springfield 12-15 104 .260 .323 13 24 3.97 200 72 4,611
Arkansas 12-16 111 .254 .320 23 22 3.66 195 80 4,499
Midland 11-16 132 .256 .347 16 17 3.97 193 72 4,641

*Attendance calculated through July 3 games, so June numbers include one game of July for each team

Awards

‘Riders Slugger of the Month

C Tomas Telis (.338/.365/.563, 9 R, 4 2B, 4 HR, 13 RBI, 2 BB, 1 SB)

8758264369_d98ac4587a_b

What a month for Tomas. The Texas League All-Star hit all four of his home runs in the month and lifted his average from .234 after June 1st’s 0-for-4 to .277 when the month completed. Telis was not only the best ‘Riders hitter in June but can make a case that he was the best hitter in the whole league. His .338 mark was the best in the league among qualifying hitters. He was tied for seventh in home runs. He accomplished what he did in just 18 games, splitting time with Brett Nicholas and Zach Zaneski at the catcher spot. He posted nine multi hit games in June (and has done so in all three July games already). He stole a base to boot and he won a fan a car. Not bad. Bravo Tomas!

Past winners: Nicholas (May), Hoying (April)

‘Riders Hurler of the Month

RHP Tyler Tufts (0-1, 1.82 ERA, 5 GS, 24.2 IP, 18 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 0 HRA, 9 K, 4 BB, 3 HB, 0.89 WHIP, .207 BAA)

8754968787_63e3b67d74_b

Like Telis, Tufts really had a breakout month in June. The career reliever made one spot start in 2012, his first in five seasons as a pro.  This year, he has made 12 starts with a 3.20 ERA as a starter. In five June starts, he allowed one or fewer earned runs in four of his five outings. On two occassions, Tufts fired five innings of shutout ball with two or fewer hits allowed, and in 24.2 innings over the month, he walked just four batters. Only Jimmy Reyes had a lower ERA during the month among pitchers with more than eight innings pitched (1.80 ERA).

Past winners: Rowen (May), Henry (April)

Official Texas League Players of the Week:

May 27 – June 2: P – Murphy Smith (Midland); B – George Springer (Corpus Christi)

June 3-9: P – Carlos Pimentel (Frisco) ; B – Brian Fletcher (NW Arkansas) 

June 10-16: P -Roy Oswalt (Tulsa); B – Alex Buchholz (Frisco)

June 17 – 23: P – Neil Ramirez (Frisco); B – Ruben Gotay (Springfield)

June 24 – 30: P – Brooks Pounders (NW Arkansas); B – Whit Merrifield (NW Arkansas)

Punching Bag of the Month

Corpus Christi Hooks SP Jake Buchanan

The award given out to the player most likely to be glad he isn’t facing Frisco anytime soon goes out of respect this month to Jake Buchanan. It’s not that Buchanan was the hardest-hit pitcher the RoughRiders faced, but considering his accomplishments before his meeting with the RoughRiders on June 12, his slip-ups to end June (and coincidentally his Texas League season, for now), made him a contender and the ultimate selection of the notorious honor.

In his final three Texas League starts, before promotion to Triple-A Oklahoma City, Buchanan allowed 13 runs, all earned. Before that three-start stint he had allowed six earned runs in 15 appearances, 10 starts. He faced the ‘Riders in two of those three starts, allowing nine runs over nine innings. Coming in to that stretch a perfect 7-0, Buchanan left the Texas League at 7-2, taking losses against the ‘Riders and San Antonio.

Best Moment of the Month

Frisco rallies from three down with seven-run ninth – June 29, 2013 - Again the ‘Riders waited until the end of the month to come up with the most memorable moment of the month. Last month it was the back-to-back-to-back home runs on May 31. This month was an easy selection. In the midst of a brutal offensive stretch, the RoughRiders plated seven runs to take a 10-6 lead in the top of the ninth in Springdale, Arkansas against the Northwest Arkansas.

Frisco fell behind 3-0 in the second, 4-0 after the third, and trailed 5-1 after seven innings. In the first seven innings, the ‘Riders offense managed six baserunners on two singles, three walks, and a hit batter. But the ‘Riders plated two in the eighth and trailed 6-3 going into the ninth.

In the wild top half of the ninth inning, the RoughRiders collected eight hits and a walk against relievers Scott Alexander and J.C. Sulbaran. They plated seven runs. Every RoughRiders hitter other than Odubel Herrera reached base in the inning, and nine consecutive ‘Riders reached safely. The big hit came ten batters into the inning when Ryan Strausborger hit a bases-clearing triple to put Frisco ahead 10-6.

The Naturals got the tying run to the plate in the ninth, but Frisco hung on for the 10-7 win.

The seven runs and eight hits put together in the ninth were the most by the team in any single frame this season.  The last time the ’Riders scored at least seven in an inning was in the seventh inning on July 22, 2011 in a 19-4 win versus Corpus Christi. The most ninth inning runs in known team history occurred on May 19, 2006, when the RoughRiders used an eight-run ninth inning to defeat Midland 10-5 at Citibank Ballpark.

How did the prospects do?

Frisco’s Opening Day Roster contained six prospects in the Baseball America Rangers Organization top 30:  RHP Cody Buckel (8), RHP Roman Mendez (13), IF Hanser Alberto (15), RHP Wilmer Font (22), RHP Neil Ramirez (23) and RHP Randy Henry (29). Joe Benson, ranked 19th in the Minnesota Twins organization by Baseball America to open the season, joined the RoughRiders in late May.

Cody Buckel - Buckel last pitched for the ‘Riders in May. He has been in Arizona at extended Spring Training trying to sort out control issues ever since. Rangers Rehab Pitching Coordinator Keith Comstock updated us on Buckel last home stand. You can hear my interview with him from ‘Riders on the Record.

Roman Mendez – Mendez is out for the season after undergoing surgery in May to repair a stress fracture in his elbow.

Wilmer Font – No longer with the RoughRiders, Font was promoted to the Round Rock Express on June 29.  The Venezuelan right-hander has a team-high ten saves and sported a career best 1.41 ERA with the RoughRiders in 26 appearances this season. Over his last four RoughRiders appearances he allowed just two hits and issued three walks in 4.1 innings with no runs scored against him and fanned eight. In ten June innings, he allowed one run on four hits and six walks, striking out seventeen. He went three-for-three in save chances and posted a 1-1 record over the month.

Hanser Alberto – After a .162 hitting May, Hanser improved only slightly in June, hitting .213. He also committed another six errors. He walked only once in 83 plate appearances. He did club four of his ten extra-base hits on the season during the month with two doubles, a triple and a home run. 

Neil Ramirez – Neil was rocky in May but bounced back with a fantastic June. In five starts, he went 4-0 with a 2.25 ERA. In 28 innings, he fanned 35 and walked only eight. He is 7th in the Texas League in ERA, 2nd in wins (9), first in strikeouts (106), fourth in WHIP (1.08) and first in batting average against (.190). He also was the winning pitcher in the All-Star game, throwing a perfect first inning. He doesn’t have much more to prove in the Texas League. Ramirez pitches tonight, and if you are dead-set on seeing him here in Frisco, you should come out sooner than later; it seems hard to imagine him staying in Double-A much longer if he keeps pitching like he did in June.

Randy Henry – Henry was activated off the disabled list on June 13 from an ulnar nerve injury in his right elbow that caused him to miss over a month. This blog’s selection for ‘Riders Hurler of the Month in April was not quite as dominant when he first returned but the numbers are still excellent. In six outings, Henry tossed 5.1 innings, allowing five hits and one walk. He surrendered no runs, earned or otherwise, and struck out four. He also collected his first Texas League save of the season.

Joe Benson – Not officially on the top 30 list of Rangers prospects by Baseball America, he probably would be if he was Rangers property to begin the season. After a torrid start to his RoughRiders career, Benson was hampered by a groin injury in June and is still on the disabled list. He played in just three games during the month. On June 9, he pinch hit for Chih-Hsien Chiang in the ninth inning, knocking a triple in what was then a tie game against the Midland RockHounds. He later scored in the inning and served as the difference in a 4-3 win. Benson went 0-for-3 before a fifth inning ejection the following night and 0-for-2 the next evening before leaving with injury. He hasn’t seen the field since then (June 11).

Happy July and go RoughRiders!

- Nathan

Baseball term of the day: bill in addition to meaning the visor of a ballcap, “bill” refers to a game on the schedule (and why a “twin bill” is another term for a doubleheader)

(term from The Dickson Baseball Dictionary)

The second RoughRiders Roundtable of the season is here!

The latest episode of RoughRiders Roundtable Podcast is now posted.  You can find the entry by clicking here.

Alex Vispoli, Nathan Barnett and Jason Cole of Lone Star Dugout –along with producer Ted Price – team up to discuss the ups and downs of the ‘Riders’ first half of the 2013 season.

In the season’s second episode of the podcast (#11 overall), the three talk about Frisco’s first baseman Brett Nicholas and outfielder Teodoro Martinez.  Nathan also speaks with newcomer outfielder Joe Benson on his start in the Rangers system.  The pitching of reliever Wilmer Font and the injury of Roman Mendez are also discussed.

We will post a link to each RoughRiders Roundtable here on the Insider Blog. You can also subscribe to the podcast on iTunes or by linking the RSS feed to your device or RSS reader.

-Ryan

Baseball term of the day: pound the pavement-To swing at and miss a pitched ball

‘Riders in Review: May 2013

The RoughRiders spent ten days in April in first place in the Texas League South Division. After a 14-11 first month, the ‘Riders entered May in second place and only one game back of Corpus Christi. The team improved in May, going 18-11, yet spent just one day in first (May 4, tied for first at 17-12) and finished the month two games behind the Hooks who went 19-10 during May. Two games into June, with 14 games to play in the first half, Frisco sits three games back now, tied for the furthest out of first the team has been all season long and the first time they have been this far behind since May 15.

Texas League Rankings for the Month of May

Record: 32-22 overall, 18-11 in May (2nd in Texas League), home: 10-5, road: 8-6, vs. division: 10-9

Runs: 125 (4th)

Average: .247 (6th)

On-base percentage: .306 (7th)

Stolen bases: 38 (2nd)

Home runs: 32 (T-2nd)

ERA: 4.12 (5th)*

Strikeouts for: 255 (1st)

Walks allowed: 114 (T-7th)

Avg attendance for the year: 7315 (1st)**

RIDERS REVIEW Record Runs AVG OBP SB HR ERA K BB Avg. Att. TD
April 14-11 107 .250 .297 19 17 2.87 208 84 7060
May 18-11 125 .247 .306 38 32 4.12 255 114 7315
Season 32-22 232 .248 .302 57 49 3.54 463 198 7315

TL IN MAY Record Runs AVG OBP SB HR ERA K BB Avg. Att. TD
Corpus 19-10 180 .278 .353 23 36 4.12 185 85 5,449
FRISCO 18-11 125 .247 .306 38 32 4.12 255 114 7,315
San Anto. 16-12 124 .265 .344 39 25 3.70 212 72 4,002
Arkansas 15-12 109 .257 .318 21 24 3.79 185 81 4,478
Springfield 14-13 143 .263 .352 26 29 3.60 235 69 4,440
Midland 14-15 148 .273 .345 28 30 4.85 200 96 4,405
Tulsa 10-18 124 .236 .310 29 32 4.18 164 90 5,741
NW Ark. 6-21 85 .226 .286 14 22 4.55 207 114 4,787

*Frisco 4.121, Corpus 4.116

**Attendance numbers as of June 3, 2013 so are slightly in addition to May totals

Awards

Carlos Pimentel earned Texas League Pitcher of the Week this month, but two players stood out in front of him in May.

‘Riders Slugger of the Month

Brett Nicholas (.340/.410/.650, 22 R, 8 2B, 1 3B, 7 HR, 18 RBI, 9 BB, 0 SB)

052713 Nicholas web article

The self-proclaimed non-home run hitter blasted a team-leading seven long balls in the month of May. In fact, no one else has seven all season (Teodoro Martinez, honorable mention for Slugger of the Month has six this season including five in May). Nicholas led the RoughRiders in batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, runs scored, home runs and tied for the most RBI (18 – w/ Chih-Hsien Chiang). His eight doubles trailed only Chiang who clubbed ten in May. Entering June, he trails just three Texas Leaguers in home runs and RBI and is third in runs scored. Nicholas scored at least one run in 13 of the 18 ‘Riders wins in May and drove in runs in ten of those 18.

‘Riders Hurler of the Month

Ben Rowen (1-0, 0.55 ERA, 4/4 SV/SVO, 16.1 IP, 13 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 0 HRA, 19 K, 4 BB, 0 HB, 1.04 WHIP, .220 BAA)

060413 blog rowen

Had Carlos Pimentel not finished the month with his worst outing of the season, he might have been the selection, but it is hard to argue with honoring Rowen. Not only was Rowen dominant, but he was asked to throw more often than anyone else on the club and still did not falter. Rowen’s 15 appearances were most in the month of May not only by a RoughRiders pitcher, but all of the Texas League (Matt Stites and Kevin Quackenbush of San Antonio were second with 14). In fact, only Mitch Stetter of the Salt Lake Bees (Triple-A LAA) made more appearances in May (16) than Rowen among all affiliated minor leaguers (excludes the Triple-A Mexican League). Only a half-dozen Major Leaguers made more.  Twice on the most recent homestand Rowen came into a bases-loaded jam in the ninth inning and got the job done. The only times he was scored upon came on May 1, when he allowed an unearned run on a single after San Antonio got a single, a stolen base, and a throwing error to put Anthony Contreras at third base. The other time came in a 7-1 ballgame on May 6 in the ninth. He finished May unscored upon in 12 straight outings and has run the streak to 13 in June with his scoreless outing this past Sunday.

Official Texas League Players of the Week:

April 29 – May 5: P – Jake Buchanan (Corpus Christi); B – Xavier Scruggs (Springfield)

May 6-12: P – Yordano Ventura (Northwest Arkansas) ; B – Anthony Aliotti (Midland) 

May 13-19: P – Matt Oye (Arkansas); B – Kalian Sams (San Antonio)

May 20-26: P – Carlos Pimentel (Frisco); B – Angelys Nina (Tulsa)

May 27 – June 2: P – Murphy Smith (Midland); B – George Springer (Corpus Christi)

Punching Bag of the Month

San Antonio SS Jeudy Valdez

Valdez put together a spectacular month of May, hitting .320 (9th in the TL), with 11 XBH, 13 RBI, and four stolen bases. His .320 batting clip is his best average for a month in his two seasons with the Missions (excluding a .364 effort in the three-game 2012 September). If it weren’t for the RoughRiders, the Dominican shortstop might have been the best player in the league in May. He went just 4-for-25 (.160) against Frisco in May. Two of those hits were doubles, but it hardly makes up for his lack of production against ‘Riders pitching. Valdez hit .375 against the rest of the Texas League. To add insult to injury, Valdez committed three of his six May errors against Frisco, two of which came in a 3-1 RoughRiders win on May 2. Those two blunders led to two unearned runs in the two-run contest.

Best Moment of the Month

Frisco hits six home runs vs Tulsa – May 31, 2013 - Just barely squeezing into the month of May, this game was, without a doubt, the most of headline-filled contest of the season to date. Alexi Ogando made his only rehab start for the Rangers, and it took him just 54 pitches to get 18 outs. He threw 12 pitches in the first two innings combined, but the offense stole the spotlight. First, Joe Benson hit a home run in his first at-bat of the ballgame, his fourth in six games with the RoughRiders. In the fourth, Chih-Hsien Chiang, Ryan Strausborger, and Odubel Herrera hit back-to-back-to-back home runs off Drillers starter Christian Bergman. In ten starts, Bergman had allowed six home runs this season and never more than one in any outing. He served up five in six innings against the ‘Riders on this day. Teodoro Martinez finished him off with his sixth home run, a fifth long ball of May, with a one-out solo blast in the fifth inning. Martinez’ career high in home runs is six, and he nearly eclipsed that mark in the month alone. For Herrera, it was his first home run on the season and first in 53 games. Then, off the bullpen, in his first game back from the disabled list, Mike Olt blasted a home run that landed in the seats so quickly he was probably still in the batter’s box when it left the yard.

Bonus award: The You-Say-This-is-a-Summer-Sport Award

On Thursday, May 2, the RoughRiders hosted the San Antonio Missions in 45 degrees. Well, that was the game-time temperature…officially. Some websites reported 41 or 42 degrees. Wind chill was in the 30s. Steve Buechele wore a jacket to coach third base for the first time in his career: “that was the coldest game, by far” since he joined the Texas League as a manager in 2009. Just as incredibly, Frisco won the game despite the fact that Ryan Rodebaugh was making his first career start. He pitched well enough but not long enough for the win, firing three scoreless, one-hit innings. Frisco surrendered just one hit in the 3-1 win.

How did the prospects do?

Frisco’s Opening Day Roster contained six prospects in the Baseball America Rangers Organization top 30:  RHP Cody Buckel (8), RHP Roman Mendez (13), IF Hanser Alberto (15), RHP Wilmer Font (22), RHP Neil Ramirez (23) and RHP Randy Henry (29). Joe Benson, ranked 19th in the Minnesota Twins organization by Baseball America to open the season, joined the RoughRiders in late May.

Cody Buckel - Buckel made one appearance in May before leaving the club for extended spring training. The right-hander was moved to the bullpen after an 0-4 record with an 18.00 ERA in five starts. He made one outing out of the ‘pen that proved a relief role would not solve his 2013 issues (0.1 IP, 1 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 3 BB, 1 WP). He has been in Arizona since.

Roman Mendez – Mendez didn’t allow an earned run in April. He began May with four innings of perfect relief work before finally being touched up for his first blemish to his ERA on May 10 against Corpus Christi. After three more scoreless outings, he ran into his toughest appearance of the year. In the eighth inning of an already-out-of-hand contest in Springfield on May 22, the first three batters reached off the Dominican right-hander. He allowed four runs on three hits and two walks in the frame. On May 28, Mendez threw nine straight balls. After the ninth consecutive toss out of the zone, he bent over in pain and subsequently left the ball game. Days later, he had season-ending surgery to a stress-fracture in his right elbow, the same surgery that ended his 2012 season.

MiLB.tv, courtesy of Scott Lucas

MiLB.tv, courtesy of Scott Lucas

Hanser Alberto – Hanser came streaking into the month of May in the midst of an eight-game stretch that took his average from .228 to .298 to finish April. On May 1, the ‘Riders shortstop was hitting .298. On June 1 he was hitting .224. It wasn’t a good month for Alberto (.162/.229/.232). Although he did hit his first two Double-A homers, he also committed six errors in the month. 


Wilmer Font – Like most of the Frisco staff, May was not as kind as April for Font. Hard to improve upon his April though (0.83 ERA, 0.73 WHIP). Over nine appearances, Font collected four saves with a 2.45 ERA. Over his eleven innings, he allowed eight hits and walked 12 for a 1.81 WHIP, indicating that Wilmer was a bit lucky during May. The good news is that all three of his earned runs came in one outing (5/18 vs SA: 0.2 IP, 3 H,  3 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 0 K). For the first time this season, however, Font his 100 mph on the radar gun, doing so to close the combined one-hit shutout against Springfield on May 23.

Neil Ramirez – Ramirez looked like the Arlington-bound, hard-throwing, hammer-curve hurling right-hander of 2011 this April. He looked mortal this past month, but there are still encouraging signs. Despite being hit much harder in May (.209 BAA May; .130 BAA April), Ramirez allowed just 6.4 H/9 innings in May, which is in-line with his fantastic 2011 stint with the ‘Riders. He walked fewer batters as well (14 BB in 33.2 IP May; 15 BB 24.1 IP April). The biggest difference was the home run ball. Nothing left the yard against Ramirez in April, while five of the 24 hits he allowed in May were homers. He is still allowing home runs at a respectable level this season, you just hope that May is not the beginning of a downward trend in that category. Looking his FanGraphs page, it seems Neil had trouble getting men out when had to pitch out of the stretch last season (50.9 % LOB). He is doing a better job of that this season, although the .240 BABIP seems unsustainable.

Year Tm Lev W L ERA GS IP H ER HR BB SO WHIP H/9 HR/9 BB/9 SO/9
2011 3 Teams 5 3 3.12 25 98.0 77 34 7 44 119 1.235 7.1 0.6 4.0 10.9
2011 Myrtle B. A+ 0 0 0.00 1 4.2 1 0 0 1 9 0.429 1.9 0.0 1.9 17.4
2011 Frisco AA 1 0 1.89 6 19.0 13 4 1 8 24 1.105 6.2 0.5 3.8 11.4
2011 Round R. AAA 4 3 3.63 18 74.1 63 30 6 35 86 1.318 7.6 0.7 4.2 10.4
2012 2 Teams 8 13 6.28 27 123.1 125 86 18 47 108 1.395 9.1 1.3 3.4 7.9
2012 Frisco AA 2 5 4.20 12 49.1 47 23 6 16 45 1.277 8.6 1.1 2.9 8.2
2012 Round R. AAA 6 8 7.66 15 74.0 78 63 12 31 63 1.473 9.5 1.5 3.8 7.7
2013 Frisco AA 5 2 3.57 11 58.0 34 23 5 29 71 1.086 5.3 0.8 4.5 11.0
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 6/4/2013.

Randy Henry – Henry didn’t allow an earned run in April. He pitched twice in May and both times gave up an earned run. The more alarming part of that sentence is that he pitched just twice in May. He has been out with injury and was placed on the disabled list in mid-May. He seems far from returning as well. He has yet to begin throwing off a mound.

Joe Benson – Not officially on the top 30 list of Rangers prospects by Baseball America, he probably would be if on the Rangers 40-man roster to begin the season. Benson hit just .162 with four extra-base hits (0 HR) in May for the Rochester Red Wings (Triple-A MIN). Four days after he played his last game as a Twins farmhand, he homered in his first game as a Texas minor leaguer. Claimed off of waivers by Texas on May 25 and assigned to Frisco, Benson homered in his first three games as a RoughRider from May 26-28. In his first six games with Frisco, Benson went 7-for-18 (.389), clubbed four home runs, a triple, drove in six, and walked twice. The outfielder who is out of options is off to a great beginning in his fresh start. You can learn more about Joe’s story from our post on him last week.

Happy June and go RoughRiders!

- Nathan

Baseball term of the day: subway slinger submariner; a pitcher who throws underhand or sidearm

(term from The Dickson Baseball Dictionary)

‘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.

Screen Shot 2013-05-24 at 11.50.44 AM

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

‘Riders on the Record: a PA legend, the Art of Catching, and a Rangers rehabber

‘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.  

From a road trip ending chat with the manager, to the stories of one of the longest-tenured RoughRiders employees, and a few things in between, this week provides a great variety of voices for ‘Riders on the Record. Highlights include Wilmer Font talking about his slider and changeup, John Clemens’ impressions of Cal Ripken Jr. as a minor league ballplayer, and Rangers Catching Instructor Hector Ortiz explaining the developmental ladder of catching in the Texas system.

Happy Sunday and enjoy!

Sunday, May 12, 2013 – Manager Steve Buechele


In their Sunday conversation, Alex asks ‘Riders manager Steve Buechele about the state of the rotation and the taxed bullpen. Fresh off a temporary stint as the Rangers first base coach while the team was in Houston, Buechele shares his experiences from the weekend and talks about his offseason interview with the Colorado Rockies for their managerial opening. (w/ Alex Vispoli)

Monday, May 13, 2013 – 1B Brett Nicholas


First baseman Brett Nicholas, carrying the team offensively the last few ballgames talks about his career high home run output. Struggling against lefties, Nicholas explains how he can get better in that department and how is he has been better over his career against lefties. (w/ Nathan Barnett)

Tuesday, May 14, 2013 – RHP Wilmer Font


Frisco flamethrower Wilmer Font joined us for the first time this season and talked about where he feels physically at this early point in the season. He explains his mix of pitches, how and when he uses them, and the plan moving forward with his secondary stuff. He also talks about his relationship with Martin Perez, who, at the time, was on the ‘Riders roster on his way back from a wrist injury sustained in Spring Training. (w/ Nathan)

Wednesday, May 15, 2013 – Public Address Announcer John Clemens


John Clemens is celebrating his tenth season as the Frisco RoughRiders public address announcer. A lifelong fan and student of the game, John is rich with stories and talks about his days in minor league baseball in the Northeast when he saw Cal Ripken Jr. as a young player. He explains how he got into the business and who inspired him. (w/ Nathan)

Thursday, May 16, 2013 – OF Teodoro Martinez


Teodoro Martinez, after a slow start, has emerged as one of the most consistent ‘Riders hitters. Coming off his first multi-homer game of his career, he talks about his improved approach over the last month. He talks about his relationship with his family, including his brother Jose who plays minor league baseball in the Braves system. (w/ Nathan)

Friday, May 17, 2013 – Rangers Catching Instructor Hector Ortiz


Rangers Catching Instructor Hector Ortiz was kind enough to join us for the pre-game show during the home stand to talk about the progression of Tomas Telis and the development of catchers in the Rangers system. He spoke briefly about top Rangers catching prospect Jorge Alfaro, playing in Hickory, as well as the general path of catchers in the system: how they move up and what plateaus they need to reach to go from level to level. He also explains the role of new special assistant Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez. (w/ Nathan)

Saturday, May 18, 2013 – MLB Rehabber, RHP Justin Miller


Justin Miller sits down with Nathan Barnett after his first professional inning since 2011, beginning his rehab appearances coming back from Tommy John surgery. A standout for Frisco in 2011, Miller missed the entire 2012 season after undergoing surgery in April of 2012. He talks about his rehab program, how each step went, and where he feels physically now that he is back out on a mound. (w/ Nathan)

- Nathan

Baseball term of the day: wingthrowing arm, usually used in reference to a pitcher’s arm

‘Riders in Review: April 2013

A month into the books, and the ‘Riders are off to a solid start. As we began May yesterday, the RoughRiders sat at 14-11, tied for the best record in the Texas League with the Midland Rockhounds. As we settle in to the month of May (despite the temperatures in the 40s today!), it’s time to a quick look back at how we got to where we are are:

April Overview

Texas League Rankings

Record: 14-11 (T-1st), home: 8-3, road: 6-8, vs. division: 6-7

Runs: 107 (3rd)

Average: .250 (3rd)

Home runs: 17 (5th)

ERA: 2.87 (3rd)

Attendance: 7060 (1st)

8661122665_34b207715a_b

OF Jared Hoying‘s second season in Frisco is off to a great start

Awards

The ‘Riders were kept of out of the Player of the Week honors in the Texas League in April, but it doesn’t mean we can’t give out our own honors.

‘Riders Slugger of the Month: Jared Hoying (.293/.363/.543, 12 R, 7 2B, 2 3B, 4 HR, 15 RBI, 10 BB, 3-4 SB)

Hoying started a little slow, especially in the run production department, as he didn’t pick up his first RBI until the fifth game of the year, but Hoying was far and away the ‘Riders best overall hitter. Jared finished the month third on the team in hitting (behind Rodriguez, Alberto), second in OBP (Rodriguez) and first in SLG. His three steals also tied him for second most of the team.  His game of the month came on April 16, a 14-7 RoughRiders come-from-behind win at home. Hoying went 3-for-4 with a double, a walk and 5 RBI, tying a career high for him (he knocked in five in a game in 2010 as a member of the Spokane Indians).

‘Riders Hurler of the Month: Randy Henry (0-0, 0.00 ERA, 18.1 IP, 13 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 1 HRA, 20 K, 1 BB, 1 HB, 0.76 WHIP, .200 BAA)

Henry didn’t start a game for the ‘Riders in the month, but the way he pitched during April, he seems primed for a spot in rotation if the Rangers want to move him into that role. He was moved to the rotation in Myrtle last season and didn’t fair as well as he did in the ‘pen, so we will see. He dominated the Texas League in April coming in as a reliever. His low 90s fastball with cutting action ate up left-handed hitters who went just 3-for-25 against the right-handed pitcher with one double and nine strikeouts.

Randy Henry was a force in April, his month of his RoughRiders career

RHP Randy Henry was a force in April, his month of his RoughRiders career

In total, of the 13 hits allowed, only four went for extra bases, three doubles and the one home run, which, luckily for Henry came after a misplayed foul pop-up off the bat of Tommy Medica, thus the sterling ERA.

Like Hoying, Henry’s best outing came on April 16 against the Northwest Arkansas Naturals. Coming into a 10-7 ‘Riders lead in the fifth, Henry retired 12 of the 13 batters he faced. Only Naturals leadoff man Brett Eibner beat Henry, rapping a single to start his third inning of work.

Official Texas League Players of the week:

April 4-14: P – Burch Smith (San Antonio Missions); B – Matt Long (Arkansas Travelers)

April 15-21: P – Asher Wojciechowski (Corpus Christi Hooks); B – Brett Eibner (Northwest Arkansas)

April 22-28: P – Jarrett Grube (Arkansas Travelers); B – Mike O’Neill (Springfield Cardinals)

Punching Bag of the Month:

Northwest Arkansas’ J.C. Sulbaran – In two starts against Frisco, the Naturals’ starting pitcher went 0-2 with an 11.08 ERA. He didn’t make it past five innings in either start, and in 7.2 IP, he surrendered 10 hits, three of them long balls, on the way to 10 earned runs against his ledger. The rough start meant a role change, as Sulbaran was relegated to the bullpen after just two starts. Things have continued south for him since then as well.

Best Moment of the Month:

With honorable mentions to Guilder Rodriguez‘s win in the 17-inning contest, the six-game winning streak and the dramatic 9th inning finish Tuesday night, this month’s Moment of the Month comes from the bat of Brett Nicholas. The RoughRiders, in the midst of a four-game losing streak, the longest of April, had not led in the stretch of four games. They hadn’t scored in 15 innings. Down 3-0, with the bases loaded in the 7th inning of the April 28 tilt against the Corpus Christi Hooks, Nicholas launched his second career grand slam and fifth home run of the season, past the Kroger Pool Zone in right field. The blast gave Frisco a 4-3 lead, and they held on for the win. The ‘Riders won their next two games as well, to finish the month on a three-game winning streak.

How did the prospects do?

Frisco’s Opening Day Roster contained six prospects in the Baseball America Rangers Organization top 30:  RHP Cody Buckel (8), RHP Roman Mendez (13), IF Hanser Alberto (15), RHP Wilmer Font (22), RHP Neil Ramirez (23) and RHP Randy Henry (29).

Cody Buckel - Cody had a month to forget in April. Entering the season as the top prospect in the system on the ‘Riders roster, Buckel went 0-4 with an ERA of 18.00 in five starts. His only no-decision came in the RoughRiders 14-7 come from behind win. The good: In nine innings, Buckel struck out nine batters. The bad: He walked 25, hit three batters and threw just 118 of his 270 pitches for strikes (44%). He had issues commanding any of six pitches, and the lack of fastball command put him behind most hitters in the count. At the end of the month, the Rangers made the decision to move Buckel to the Frisco bullpen.

Roman Mendez – Mendez was extremely sharp to begin the season, and like Henry, finished his April with a perfect ERA. Mendez completed the first month with a 1-0 record, an ERA of 0.00, and ten strikeouts in his 11.1 innings of work. The good: In three of his seven outings Mendez kept the opposition hitless, including a two-frame appearance in San Antonio April 23. In his first four outings, he didn’t walk a batter. The bad: The last two trips to the mound for Mendez were less encouraging. He gave his first run (unearned) his last time out in the month. In his last two outings combined, he issued four walks in four innings of work, hit a batter, and threw just 29 of his 63 pitches in the zone (46%).

At just 20 years of age, Alberto is dazzling with the glove.

At just 20 years of age, Hanser Alberto is dazzling with the glove.

Hanser Alberto – Alberto showed flashes of the offensive ability in the first two weeks, but it was few and far between. Through his first nine games, Hanser was hitting just .156 and after his first 15 games played, the batting average still left something to be desired at .228. Alberto finished the month well, (.298/.307/.357) scoring ten runs, driving in ten, with a double and two triples. He struck out just eight times and walked twice.  The good: Alberto found something to finish the month. He showed decent patience in the first part of 2012 playing for the Hickory Crawdads in Class-A (18 BB, 62 games), but that walk rate can be attributed as much or more to raw pitchers in the South Atlantic League, struggling with command than it does to a patient eye from Alberto. Stretching back to 2012, Alberto has gone 55 games and 239 plate appearances (props to Alex for the mad research skills) without a walk. On April 23, Alberto drew the walk to end that streak, and went 2-for-4 in the process, with a run and an RBI (his eighth). Alberto hit .455 in the seven games to end the month with two walks, three RBI and just one strikeout, raising his batting average from .228 to .298. He also got a hit in each game of that stretch. Alberto’s glove has also been excellent–he’s the best shortstop I’ve had the chance to see in the league so far. The bad: he still chases breaking balls, especially sliders away, and that accounts for most of eight April strikeouts. Although the eye is improving, it still has a ways to go (2.3% BB rate in April). It’s getting better though, and he’s the youngest player in the Texas League, second youngest in all of Double-AA baseball, older than only the Orioles top prospect Dylan Bundy.

Wilmer Font – The hard-throwing, hulking Venezuelan is up to his old tricks again in 2013. His first outing of May was probably his roughest of the year, but April was excellent. He posses a heavy mid to upper 90s fastball with sink, a slider and a developing changeup. He finished April with a record of 0-1, with a 0.82 ERA in eight appearances, and he notched three saves. He allowed just two hits in 11 innings, walking 6 and struck out 17. The good: Font has swing-and-miss stuff and we saw it in April. He strikeout rate (42.5%) was the best on the team and behind only Springfield’s Kevin Siegrist (51.2%) among pitchers with at least five innings of work. The bad: The second hit Font allowed this season was a home run. And it cost Frisco the game in a 2-1 loss in San Antonio on April 25.

Neil Ramirez – Arguably the most pleasant surprise of April was Ramirez. The former supplemental first round pick of the Rangers, Ramirez seemed on the fast track to the majors before a disappointing 2012. He pitched well in April, going 2-0 with a 2.22 ERA in five starts. He’s struck out 29 batters and walked 15 in 24.1 innings. The good: Ramirez didn’t allow much contact and he did he wasn’t hit hard. He led April in opponents’ batting average, as the opposition hit just .130 off him. Ramirez fired four straight starts of 5 innings or more, and he didn’t allow more than three hits in any of his five outings. The bad: you’d like to see Ramirez walk a few less hitters. He’s actually walking more batters per nine innings (5.5) than he has has in any year of his career; that tells you how unhittable the righty was in April.

Randy Henry – Discussed above. If you want to stretch for the bad: it’s that he allowed that one home run. No one is complaining with what the Arnett, Oklahoma native did in his first month of Double-A baseball, except maybe left-handed hitters that have had to face him.

Happy May and go RoughRiders!

- Nathan

Baseball term of the day: dewdropa slow curveball

‘Riders have a winning record: Frisco 4 – Northwest Arkansas 3

For the second straight game, the RoughRiders beat the Naturals by a run, or you know, as the LA Times refers to it, a “point.” Brett Nicholas hit a three-run homer in the first. The Naturals tied the game, but Frisco never trailed. A Jared Hoying RBI-triple in the fifth proved the difference, scoring Guilder Rodriguez, who was productive at the plate again (1-for-3, 2 R, 1 BB). That made it 4-3, and that was your final. Carlos Pimentel struck out nine in what was, by most accounts, the best RoughRiders start of the season. You can read the details and check the box scores here. Frisco wraps up the series from Springdale, Arkansas tonight at 7:00 p.m.

Power surge: For the first time this season, the ‘Riders played in a game with two home runs. Nicholas hit the one for Frisco. Brian Fletcher hit his second long ball of the season for the Naturals. Frisco has two home runs on the year now, with Nicholas joining Rodriguez as the only players with a deep fly.

Balking not running: Naturals starter J.C. Sulbaran was called for a balk last night. It was the second straight ‘Riders game with the rare play. Frisco starting pitcher Kevin Pucetas was called for the infraction in the third inning Sunday. The two teams have stolen one base combined in the two games. Not often you see more balks than steals in a series. Still a game to go Tuesday, though.

Let him catch!: Guilder Rodriguez played 3B last night for the ‘Riders. The super-utility man has played every position but catcher now for Frisco. It was the first time he has played at the hot corner in a RoughRiders uni. He has played third twice for the Rangers Triple-A affiliate Round Rock and has played  there 21 times now in his pro career. Yes, he has pitched. Twice in fact. Both outings came last year for Frisco.

Gunnin’ em: Tomas Telis has been a force behind the plate with his arm. He gave up a steal in the fifth last night but one of the plays of the game came from his right arm in the bottom of the 8th. Orlando Calixte drew a seven-pitch leadoff walk. The next batter, Fletcher, hurt himself fouling off a Wilmer Font heater and was lifted from the game. There was a few minute delay while Fletcher was being attended to. Telis, relatively young for a catcher at this level (21), was ready to go out of the timeout. Trying to catch the ‘Riders napping, the Naturals sent Calixte on the first pitch after the pause in the action, and Telis was ready, gunning him down with a bullet to second baseman Odubel Herrera. The Frisco catcher is 4-for-6 catching attempting basestealers this season. In the early going, he has thrown out more runners than anyone else in the Texas League.

The Tale of Two Series: Frisco and Northwest Arkansas came into the series tied for the league-lead in walks allowed after the first three games (18). Neither walked a batter Sunday. Northwest Arkansas walked three last night. Frisco didn’t walk a batter until Calixte drew one on Font. Frisco had gone 22 innings without issuing a free pass.

A run!  A run! My kingom for a run!: The ‘Riders have played three consecutive one-run games. The 4-3 extra-innings loss Saturday has been followed up by two one-run victories over the Naturals. Frisco won 3-2 on Sunday.

A swing and a miss: Royals prospect Brett Eibner went 0-for-4 last night and accounted for four of the thirteen strikeouts for Frisco pitching. The centerfielder is 0-for-8 in the series and now 0-for-20 on the season with ten strikeouts. He does have a lone walk.

Lucky sevens: The seventh inning proved pivotal again last night in the RoughRiders’ successful work to hang on to a one-run lead. Last night it was Roman Mendez who squeaked out of a jam. After surrendering a lead-off double to Whit Merrifield, he got the next three out in order to keep the lead intact. It was Randy Henry Sunday, who got out of a second-and-third no-out jam in the same frame of a one-run game as well.

From the Big Club:

#95: The 95th RoughRiders player to make the big leagues after his time in Frisco dazzled last night. Joe Ortiz came on for the Rangers in the toughest jam of the game, with two on in a 3-1 game and just one out in the sixth inning. He shined in the high-pressure spot getting two ground balls. He retired all five batters he faced, in fact, working a perfect seventh inning as well.

And soon to be #97: Nick Tepesch (pronounced TEP-ish, by the way) is expected to have his contract purchased by the Rangers today from Triple-A Round Rock. He will make the start against the Tampa Bay Rays in his big league debut. Tepesch went 6-3 with a 4.28 ERA for Frisco in 2012 and had a great spring with Texas. His appearance will put the ‘Riders three players shy of 100 major league alums. He will also be the third former ‘Rider to debut this season (Ortiz, Leury Garcia).

- Nathan

Baseball term of the day: solitaire – a single.

Rangers Spring Training Links – 2/20/2013

Before the season, most knew that Jurickson Profar would one day reach the big leagues.  Few expected it to happen in 2012 as a 19-year-old. (Alex Yocum-Beeman/RoughRiders)

Jurickson Profar is already more accomplished than most 20-year-olds. (Alex Yocum-Beeman/RoughRiders)

Opening Day for the RoughRiders is a mere 43 days away and baseball fans in the Metroplex are itching to see the ‘Riders and Rangers in action once again.  As a primer to get ready for the season, we’ll be posting semi-regular batches of links to stories by the local media about the Rangers, giving you a one-stop shop of sorts for all your Rangers news & notes.  With today marking the 20th birthday of 2012 ‘Riders shortstop Jurickson Profar, today seemed as good a day as any to start filling you up with Rangers info.

Richard Durrett of ESPNDallas.com has stories about one of the youngest players in big league camp, former ‘Riders infielder Leury Garcia, and one of the oldest players in Lance Berkman.  I know there’s been abundant talk about Garcia’s versatility, but there probably needs to be some pumping of the brakes regarding his ability to play outfield.  While he is a premium defensive player whether he’s at second base or shortstop, he is still inexperienced in the outfield and will need a lot more time out there before he can be considered a credible option on any sort of basis at the big league level.  He’s a great piece for the Rangers to have, nonetheless.

Jeff Wilson (Fort Worth Star-Telegram) notes that the Rangers hope that their success on offense will start at the top with former RoughRiders Ian Kinsler and Elvis Andrus setting the tone for the rest of the lineup.  Drew Davison gets to know former Montreal Expos draftee Collin Balester, who hopes to make an impact in the bullpen this season.  Josh Hamilton is certainly not going to win any popularity contests around these parts, and Gil Lebreton gets Biblical to start his column chastising the former Rangers slugger.

The Dallas Morning News’ Evan Grant has some notes on yesterday’s first intersquad scrimmage, including some Yu Darvish observations and an injury update on 2012 ‘Riders reliever Wilmer Font.

Anthony Andro (Fox Sports Southwest) also recaps Darvish’s performance, with the Japanese right-hander getting a good crack about Andrus’ defensive miscue.  Matt Mosely wonders if Hamilton is crazy like a fox for making his DFW “baseball town” comments.

Finally, T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com explores Matt Harrison’s roots on Tobacco Road in the small town of Creedmoor, North Carolina.

- Alex

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 55 other followers