Results tagged ‘ Yordano Ventura ’

Ace Ventura: From the Texas League to the World Series

Ventura cardWhen Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura takes to the mound at Kaufmann Stadium tonight with the hopes of an entire fan base weighing on his slim frame, he can take comfort in one indisputable fact: at least he won’t have to face Brett Nicholas in tonight’s Giants lineup. While the former RoughRiders first baseman, who played his college baseball in the Show Me State, won’t be confused with Buster Posey or Hunter Pence, he is one of only 13 players who have a perfect 1.000 batting average in multiple at bats against Ventura. Nicholas was a perfect 2 for 2 versus the hard-throwing righty in Ventura’s sole Texas League start against the RoughRiders back on April 7, 2013 while pitching for the Royals-affiliated Northwest Arkansas Naturals.

I remember talking with Frisco hitting coach Jason Hart about Ventura before the game and he (based on what he saw in spring training) compared him to Pedro Martinez, an observation that has been made on Fox’s World Series telecast over the past week. I even wrote in my game notes that day that the 5’11”, 178 lb. native of the Dominican Republic had been nicknamed “Lil Pedro” (despite being about ten pounds heavier than the future Hall of Famer). Looking at their age-23 seasons, the comparison is even more apt. In 1995, when Pedro was 23 and throwing for the Expos, he went 14-10 with a 3.51 ERA, 174 strikeouts, 66 walks (in 194.2 innings), 123 ERA+ and a 3.90 FIP. As for Ventura’s 2014: 14-10, 3.20 ERA, 159 strikeouts, 69 walks (in 183 innings), 125 ERA+ and a 3.60 FIP. Lil Pedro, indeed.

On top of being a heralded prospect (ranked #3 going into the 2013 season by Baseball America), he had a killer nickname: Ace Ventura. Of course, it works on a baseball level in addition to a pop culture one, though I would doubt if Yordano knows if Finkle is Einhorn or not (he wasn’t even three years old when the pet detective hit theaters).

As for Ventura’s outing against the ’Riders, it was a solid start to begin a season that would later see him make his major league debut. After a perfect first inning, he allowed a single to Nicholas in the second before inducing a double-play ball off Alex Buchholz’s bat. He finished the inning with a strikeout of Chih-Hsien Chiang and tossed another scoreless frame in the third, yielding a harmless two-out single to Teodoro Martinez.

With pre-knuckleballin’ Kevin Pucetas putting up zeros in his first three innings, the ’Riders finally got to Ventura in the fourth. Hanser Alberto nicked his countryman for a single to right field and moved up to second on a deep flyout by Jared Hoying. Then Nicholas lined a 1-0 pitch down the left field line for a run-scoring double to get Frisco on the scoreboard. Two pitches later, he scored on a single by Buchholz to make it 2-0 .

Ventura came back with a 1-2-3 fifth inning to mark the end of his day. The 72-pitch outing featured five strikeouts and no walks over five frames. Ventura was let off the hook for a loss thanks to Naturals runs in the fourth and fifth innings, but Alberto’s sac fly in the sixth pushed the RoughRiders ahead for good in a tightly played 3-2 victory.

That sunny day in Springdale, Arkansas sticks out because it was the only time I saw Ventura pitch until catching him in a Royals uniform on television later in the season (because Frisco and Northwest Arkansas play in different divisions, the teams don’t match up frequently). He looked as sharp as advertised, with a fastball that hit triple digits on the RoughRiders’ radar gun several times in addition to a hard curveball and a solid changeup. While there were questions as to whether or not his body could hold up to be a starting pitcher, he certainly looked the part of a starter that afternoon and since hasn’t made anyone think twice about Kansas City’s move to keep him away from the bullpen.

(Fun fact about that game: the only other future major leaguer to play in the contest to date was 2014 Ranger Ben Rowen, who earned a hold by tossing a scoreless eighth inning for the ’Riders.)

The hope here is to see Ventura pitch well enough for the Royals to win and get us all to a Game Seven tomorrow night. Then maybe we can ask someone who was in the Texas League in 1999 to write a retrospective piece on Tim Hudson’s three starts that season for the Midland RockHounds.

A look at the scorebook from Yordano Ventura's start against the Frisco RoughRiders on April 7, 2013.

A look at the scorebook from Yordano Ventura’s start against the Frisco RoughRiders on April 7, 2013.

  • Alex

‘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)

The ‘Riders are 2-2, eyeing a winning record

Solid win for the ‘Riders yesterday to improve to 2-2. A breakout performance from Brett Nicholas (3-for-4, 1 R, 2 2B, 1 RBI) led the way offensively, but it was Kevin Pucetas (5.0 IP, 2 ER, 5 H, 3 K, 0 BB) that gave Frisco a chance. The right-hander made the longest start of the season for the RoughRiders before handing it over to the lights out bullpen for four scoreless innings for the 3-2 win.

Today the ‘Riders go back to work against the Naturals who are now 0-4 on the year. First pitch scheduled for 7:00 p.m from a cloudy and gusty Springdale.

Matchup:

Carlos Pimentel (0-0, 0.00 ERA):

Pimentel spent a full season with Frisco, posting a 2-2 record and a 3.03 ERA in 32.2 innings as a starting pitcher. He faired better out the pen (6-1, 2.26 ERA in 55.2 innings).This will be his second appearance after a scoreless, one-hit frame Friday in rescheduled season opener in North Little Rock. This will be Pimentel’s third consecutive year starting the season at the Double-AA level and fourth straight season to play for Frisco. In each of the last three years he has been better. After a brief but rough stint for the RoughRiders in 2010, he followed up a 7-9 record and posted a 4.74 ERA in 2011 before his breakout year one season ago. This is Pimentel’s seventh season in the minors, but the Dominican right-hander is still only 23 years old. (read more in today’s game notes, linked below).

J.C. Sulbaran (- -,  -.– ERA)

Sulbaran makes his 2013 season debut tonight against the RoughRiders. He came to the Royals system in a trade from the Reds with Donnie Joseph in exchange for reliever Jonathan Broxton. Sulbaran is repeating the Double-A level. He went 7-7 with a 4.04 ERA, posting 111 strikeouts and 22 walks in 19 starts (104.1 innings) in the Southern League as a member of the Reds organization. He didn’t fair near as well in his brief stint in the Texas League after the trade, going 0-4 with a 7.62 ERA, 24 strikeouts and 22 walks in six appearances (26 innings) for Northwest Arkansas. He throws a low-to-mid-90s fastball, a curveball and a changeup. (read more in today’s game notes, linked below).

Sunday’s Highlights:

Going the distance: ‘Riders starter Kevin Pucetas gave Frisco their longest start of the four-game season. His five innings topped the previous high coming from another of the elder statesmen on the roster, Ryan Feierabend, who threw 4.0 innings in the second-half of the doubleheader on Friday.

Pitching machines: Pucetas was really hitting his spots last night. He tossed 49 of his 72 pitches for strikes (68%). He paled in comparison to his mates out of the bullpen though. Randy Henry threw 22 of his 27 in the zone (81%), Ben Rowen missed only twice (6 of 8, 75%) and Ryan Rodebaugh, who closed the game, found the zone 8 out of 10 times (80%).

Getting off the schneid: Frisco is batting just .210 as a team through four games but there are few black holes in the lineup. 1-9 are producing in any given game. Teodoro Martinez (#9 spot in the order yesterday) and Zach Zaneski (#7) both tallied their first hits of the season on Sunday. That leaves only Alejandro Selen who has yet to record a hit (0-for-5). He also hasn’t played in the field. He will DH for the third time today. Guilder Rodriguez, a career .258 hitter, leads the team in hits (5), home runs (1) and batting average (.556).

Bringing the heat: Royals prospect Yordano Ventura was throwing gas against the ‘Riders last night. Ventura is the highest ranked player by Baseball America on the Naturals roster, 85th in all of baseball, fourth among Royals farmhands and second among their pitching prospects. Credit Frisco. They squared him up a number of times, turing around on upper 90s heat. He left with the game tied at 2-2 after five innings. Frisco tagged him for five hits but also struck out five times and didn’t walk against him.

Where in the world is Orlando Calixte?: The Royals most MLB-ready infield prospect got the day off yesterday. The shortstop will DH today. Orlando Calixte was ranked in the top ten prospects in the Carolina League last season and is in his first season of Double-AA ball. Adalberto Mondesi, son of former big leaguer Raul Mondesi, is considered to have a slightly higher ceiling than Calixte but is lower down in the Royals system. Mondesi is playing at Class-A this season after his first year in pro ball at the Rookie level and is only 17 years old. Calixte (21 years old) has decent gap power and a good eye. He is certainly a player to look out for tonight.

Or getting caught in the rain: Ok, this reference was a stretch. What do you want from me? Not quite yet in mid-season form. Anyway, cup-of-tea big leaguer Manny Pina reacquainted himself with his former organization last night. The backstop for the Naturals spent four years in the Texas system before being traded to KC in exchange for the erratic Daniel Gutierrez in 2009.

And some other news, notes, thoughts, and links:

Turn on the bright lights: Leury Garcia made his major league debut Saturday. He batted for Berkman in the 8th inning of an 8-4 deficit. The former RoughRider struck out in his only plate appearance, taking strike three from Angels reliever Kevin Jepsen.  The Rangers utility infielder made the big league team out of camp after hitting .292 with 31 steals in Frisco in 2012.

Big League moves: On the day the Rangers open a series against the Rays, they made a trade with Tampa as well. Texas acquired Robinson Chirinos Monday and then DFA’d Jeff Beliveau, whom the Rangers had claimed from the Cubs in December. Chirinos had DFA’d the catcher at the end of Spring Training, so unless they traded him, he would either have been open to league-wide waivers or the Rays would have to release him. He came to the Rays via the Cubs, who dealt him, along with Hak-Ju LeeChris ArcherSam Fuld and Brandon Guyer in exchange for Matt Garza, Zach Rosscup and Fernando Perez in January of 2011. Chirinos didn’t do much at the major league level in his debut in 2011 (.218/.283/.30 in 60 PA) and is coming off an injury that kept him out in 2012. The 28-year-old Venesulan has a decent minor league track record though. He has been assigned to AAA Round Rock; his last time at that level, in 2010, he mashed the ball for the Iowa Cubs, socking three home runs in 15 games. 

Mute the TV, crank up your laptop speakers: I know the Rangers are on tonight, but it doesn’t mean you can’t baseball-multitask. Today’s game can be heard here or if you are on an iPad or iPhone, click here. You can also watch the games with the audio feed simulcast by purchasing a subscription to MiLB.tv. First pitch is scheduled for 7:00; broadcast airs at 6:40 with the pregame show.

Don’t miss out! Tickets are left…but not many for Thursday’s home opening contest at Dr Pepper Ballpark. Frisco looks for revenge against the Arkansas Naturals who took two of three from the ‘Riders to open the season. Top-ranked Frisco prospect Cody Buckel is expected to get the ball for the fighting Buecheles. He looks to bounce back from his Opening Night loss in North Little Rock.

Read ‘em and share ‘em: The first Monday edition of the game notes are here! 

- Nathan

Baseball term of the day: tater - a home run.

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