Pumpkin Carving, Express Edition

Halloween is just one week away and that means there’s only one weekend left to hit the pumpkin patch and pick out the perfect pumpkin. We’ve helped you out a little bit and come up with the perfect thing to carve to express your love of baseball: the iconic E-Train!

Click here to download the stencil: Small, Medium, Large

Follow these step-by-step instructions to get a great looking design on your pumpkin just in time for the ghoulish holiday!

1. Purchase a pumpkin. We have three different sizes of the stencil available depending on if you get a big, medium or small pumpkin. We went with a medium one.

Here's our medium-sized pumpkin.

Here’s our medium-sized pumpkin.

2. Gather your tools. Here’s what you’ll need, besides the pumpkin: the E-Train stencil printed out, a scraper to get out the “guts” of the pumpkin, a simple pumpkin carving tool and a pointed object. We used nails for the pointed object, but you can also use a push pin, toothpick, safety pin, etc. You just need something that will make small holes on the pumpkin. Please use caution when working with the pointed object. Kids, leave this up to an adult.

Here are our supplies (L-R): Scraper for the guts, carving tools, E-Train stencil. Not pictured is the nail we used.

Here are our supplies (L-R): Scraper for the guts, carving tools, E-Train stencil. Not pictured is the nail we used.

3. Tape your stencil to the pumpkin to hold it steady.

Here's our stencil taped to the center of the pumpkin.

Here’s our stencil taped to the center of the pumpkin.

4. Using the pointed object, poke small holes around the outline of your stencil. This will create an outline for you to carve when you take off the printed stencil. (Note: just mark where the four bolts are located because you won’t actually carve those out.)

Poke small holes around the outline of your design.

Poke small holes around the outline of your design.

5. This is where it starts to get messy. Cut a hole around the stem at the top and clean out all of the guts. A scraper tool comes in really handy here because the cleaner you get the inside now, the less you have to clean out at the end. (Don’t forget you can save the pumpkin seeds for a fun snack! Here’s a simple recipe to roast them.)

Time to clean this pumpkin out!

Time to clean this pumpkin out!

6. Once you’ve removed the guts, remove the stencil off the front of the pumpkin. You might want to have a pencil handy to “connect the dots.” Also, keep your stencil handy as a reference to make sure you connect the right dots.

7. Time to carve! Using a carving tool, follow the outline of the dots and carve your pumpkin. We suggest starting with the four bolts which are actually just etched in the surface and not fully carved. Then carve out the six pillars at the bottom. Then move on to the outline of the E-Train. Remember to not carve all the way through the white spaces or else your entire design will fall through. You don’t want all your hard work to go to waste, do you? When you’re done, it should look something like this:

Here's our finished design!

Here’s our finished design!

The lines don’t have to be perfect and ours certainly weren’t. Once you’re done with the whole design and have removed the cutout pumpkin pieces the whole thing really comes together. Good luck and happy carving!

Bonus step: Get a tea light candle and drop it in the middle. Have an adult light the candle and enjoy your handiwork!

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween!

Familiar Faces in the ALCS/NLCS

While we’ve been breaking down former Express players in the Division Series, it’s time to move on to the Championship Series in both the American and National Leagues. The battles are between the Kansas City Royals and the Baltimore Orioles in the American League and the San Francisco Giants and St. Louis Cardinals in the National League. With the Royals (Omaha), Giants (Fresno and now Sacramento going into 2015) and Cardinals (Memphis) affiliates in the Pacific Coast League, we’ve seen a lot of familiar faces come through Dell Diamond in the opposing dugout. Here’s a list of some of those names you might recognize:

Those who played for the Express, counting rehabbers:

Nelson Cruz
Tommy Hunter
Bud Norris
Darren O’Day
Hunter Pence

Those who played against the Express:

Baltimore:
Kelly Johnson
Adam Jones
David Lough
Jimmy Paredes
Nick Hundley

Kansas City:
Jason Vargas
Yordan Ventura
Kelvin Herrera
Danny Duffy
Salvatore Perez
Eric Hosmer
Christian Colon
Alcides Escobar
Mike Moustakas
Alex Gordon
Lorenzo Cain
Jarrod Dyson
Josh Willingham
Billy Butler

San Francisco:
Jeremy Affeldt
Jean Machi
Yusmerio Petit
Ryan Vogelsong
Andrew Susac
Joaquin Arias
Brandon Belt
Brendon Crawford
Joe Panik
Travis Ishikawa
Michael Morse

St.Louis:
John Lackey
Lance Lynn
Shelby Miller
Randy Choate
Marco Gonzalez
Pat Neshak
Michael Wacha
Tony Cruz
Matt Adams
Matt Carpenter
Daniel Descalso
Kolten Wong
Pete Kozma
Matt Holliday
John Jay
Randall Grichuk
Oscar Taveras

Thanks to Express broadcaster Mike Capps for the research lead on this.

Off-season Roster Updates

With the amount of roster moves (203) we officially had this season, it’s kind of hard to think that there might be any left to make this offseason. But where there’s a will, there’s a way and the following six players were outrighted to Round Rock:

-3B Kevin Kouzmanoff

-C/1B J.P. Arencibia

-P Pedro Figueroa

-P Wilmer Font

-OF Engel Beltre

-INF/OF Guilder Rodriguez

Additionally, the Cubs clamied P Joseph Ortiz on waivers.

Since being outrighted, both Kouzmanoff and Arencibia have elected free agency and are going to test the market.

207, 208, 209…

Postseason: Giants vs. Pirates – Express Edition

The NL Wildcard play-in game took place last night between the San Francisco Giants and the Pittsburgh Pirates. There was one former Express player in both dugouts with OF Hunter Pence (2007) wearing the victorious black and orange and RHP Mark Melancon (2010) donning the Pirates’ black and yellow. The Giants have another former Round Rocker in their system, RHP Juan Gutierrez (2007) who was reassigned before the beginning of the postseason. Gutierrez and Pence were teammates for a grand total of 23 games on that ’07 squad (April 5 – 27, August 18).

060207 #152 Pence

Good luck to Hunter as the Giants continue on in the postseason!

Postseason: A’s vs. Royals – Express Edition

The MLB postseason starts tonight with the AL wild card play-in game between the Rangers division rivals the Oakland A’s and the Kansas City Royals. There are three former Express players on the A’s active roster and none on the Royals. There were a total of six former E-Train players who played with the A’s at some point this season… and none on the Royals. This might be the only time we say this, but go A’s!

Here’s the list of all six with the current players bolded:

P Fernando Abad (2010)

OF Craig Gentry (2011)

RR EXPRESS Gentry_Craig 2011-d OKC 62 Garner

P Josh Lindblom (2013)

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P Brad Mills (2013)

Brad_Mills_Credit_BS

INF Andy Parrino (2014)

Andy_Parrino

C Geovany Soto (rehab – 2014)

Who are you cheering for tonight?

Rangers Farmhand to the … Super Bowl?!

That’s not a typo… as I’m sure you’ve heard by now.

Russell Wilson's Rangers baseball card.

Russell Wilson’s Rangers baseball card.

Rangers minor leaguer (and current Express infielder) Russell Wilson is headed to the Super Bowl. Oh, he’s also the star quarterback of the NFC Champion Seattle Seahawks.

The multi-sport talent was originally drafted by the Colorado Rockies and hit .229 in 315 career at-bats, reaching Class-A in 2010 and ’11.

The Rangers selected Wilson in the Triple-A round of the 2013 Rule Five draft at the Winter Meetings, placing him on the Express roster. We haven’t made Wilson’s jersey up yet since that whole football thing seems to be working out pretty well for him now.

Either way, best of luck to the Rangers farmhand as he prepares to play on football’s biggest stage.

More from the Austin-American Statesman: http://www.mystatesman.com/news/sports/baseball/russell-wilson-pops-up-on-express-roster-but-baseb/nchnX/

More from MLB.com: http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article/mlb/rangers-pick-nfl-qb-russell-wilson-in-rule-5-draft?ymd=20131212&content_id=64621900&vkey=news_mlb

 

Where Are They Now? 2013 Edition

The off-season is full of moves on both the minor and major league side. This off-season is no different. Take a look and see where some of your favorite Express players from 2013 have landed:

Free Agents:

Collin Balester – Pirates

Joe Benson – Marlins

Travis Blackley – Japan

Jake Brigham – Pirates

Aaron Cunningham – Cubs

Ryan Feierabend – Rangers

Brendan Harris – Dodgers

Kyle McClellan -

Evan Meek -

Carlos Pimentel – Cubs

Scott Richmond -

Nate Robertson -

Yangervis Solarte – Yankees

Eli Whiteside – Cubs

Ross Wolf – Korea

Johan Yan – Rangers

To follow along with all of the off-season signings with the Rangers and Express, both past and present, click here!

Former Express Manager Bobby Jones Promoted to Major League Staff

Congrats to (the now former) Express manager Bobby Jones who will join the Rangers major league staff for 2014 as an assistant hitting coach. Bobby had an overall record of 229-203 (.570) in his three seasons as Express manager (2011-13). Round Rock made one playoff appearance with him at the helm in 2011. He spent a total of 11 seasons as skipper of the Rangers Triple-A affiliate, eight of those with Oklahoma City.

ImageThe Rangers made the coaching staff announcement today in the following press release:

RANGERS HIRE BENGIE MOLINA AS FIRST BASE COACH AND CATCHING INSTRUCTOR;

PROMOTE BOBBY JONES TO ASSISTANT HITTING COACH TO FINALIZE

2014 MAJOR LEAGUE COACHING STAFF

Jamie Reed named Senior Director of Medical Operations; Kevin Harmon promoted to Head Trainer

Arlington, Texas — The Texas Rangers announced today the hiring of former catcher Bengie Molina as first base coach and catching instructor.  The team also promoted Triple-A Round Rock Manager Bobby Jones to assistant hitting coach to complete the 2014 coaching staff. 

Additionally, longtime trainer Jamie Reed has been named senior director of medical operations and Kevin Harmon has been promoted to head trainer.

Molina, 39, spent the 2013 season as the assistant hitting coach for the National League-champion St. Louis Cardinals, his first coaching job since completing a 13-year major league career with the Rangers in 2010.  Acquired by Texas in a July 1, 2010 trade with the San Francisco Giants, Molina had a postseason average of .293 (12-41) with 2 home runs and 8 RBI in the Rangers’ run to a first-ever World Series appearance that year.  His last major league game came as the Rangers’ catcher in Game 5 of the 2010 World Series.  Molina hit for the cycle with Texas on July 16, 2010 at Boston’s Fenway Park, when he became just the eighth player since 1900 to hit a grand slam as part of a cycle.

A career .274 hitter for the Angels (1998-2005), Blue Jays (2006), Giants (2007-10), and Rangers (2010), the two-time Gold Glove Award winner was the starting catcher for Anaheim’s 2002 World Series champion club.  He is the older brother of Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina and Rays catcher Jose Molina.

Jones, 64, will be in his third stint on the major league staff, as he served on Johnny Oates’ staff in 2000 and 2001 (third base coach, first base coach) and again under Buck Showalter for the 2006 campaign (first base coach, outfield instructor).  The 2014 campaign will be the 27th season as a coach or manager in the Texas organization for Jones, who is one of the longest-tenured members of club’s baseball operations.  In 24 years as a minor league manager, he has compiled a 1656-1621 record and led his teams to 12 postseason berths, amassing the most games and victories of any manager in the history of the Texas organization.  Originally selected by the Washington/Texas franchise in the 1967 June draft, Jones made his major league debut with the Rangers in 1974.

Reed, who will be in his 12th season with the Rangers, will oversee all medical aspects of the organization on the major and minor league levels.  He will travel on both the major and minor league sides of the Rangers’ system.  Reed previously worked in both the Tampa Bay (1997-2002) and Baltimore (1982-96) organizations and had a stint as President of the Professional Baseball Athletic Trainers Society.

Harmon will be in his 10th season with the Rangers and his first as head trainer.  In addition to his work as a trainer, Harmon has also served as a strength and conditioning coach in a career that began in 1986 spanning stints in the Atlanta, Baltimore, and Tampa Bay organizations.

#30#

Friday’s Top 5

Happy Friday!

As the division series kick-off and continue today, we can’t technically call it the “baseball off-season” just yet. However it is the off-season for the Express and all of Minor League Baseball.

Every Friday during the Express off-season, we’re going to introduce “Friday’s Top 5.” It will be the top five of a bunch of different categories all pertaining to the 2013 season. We’ll have the top five games, top five players, top five crowds, top five pitchers, top five hitters, etc. As we close in on next year and start pumping up our celebration of the Express’ 15th season, we’ll start going further back in time and might even expand it to a top 10 to accommodate all that has happened the past 14 seasons.

Talk around the office today is surrounding the Express 2013 team MVP so today’s top five is going to be five candidates for team MVP this season. It was tough to narrow it down with so many contributors on so many different levels, but we couldn’t make this a top 50 so we had to draw the line somewhere. So here, in no particular order, are the five biggest vote-getters in the front office:

1. Joey Butler

Image

OF Joey Butler was the team MVP for 2012 and with the year he had this year, he’s definitely a strong candidate for the honor again in 2013. His .291 average was third on the team (min. 200 AB) and he ranked in the top three in four other categories: runs (71- 2nd), hits (124 – 3rd), HR (12, t-2nd), total bases (186, 3rd). He was fourth on the team in two other categories: RBI (51) and doubles (26). He saw time at every outfield position and filled in a DH. On top of all that, he made his MLB debut on August 7 as a pinch hitter (he recorded his first ML hit on 8/9 – a double).

2. Jim Adduci

Adduci

OF/1B Jim Adduci led the club in a handful of categories: batting average (.298), runs (75), home runs (16), total bases (219) and stolen bases (32). He finished the season in the top five in another bunch of categories: games (127 – 2nd), at-bats (473 – 2nd), hits (141 – 2nd), doubles (24 – 5th), triples (3 – 3rd), RBI (65 – 2nd), walks (65 – 3rd), OBP (.381 – 2nd), SLG (.463 – 2nd). His 32 stolen bases were also tied for second-most in the PCL. While he mainly saw time in the outfield (95 games), he filled in at first base for 33 games after the injury bug didn’t leave many other options available at that position. A 10-year MiLB veteran, Adduci finally got his much-deserved cup of coffee with September call-ups. He made his MLB debut on September 1, going 1-2 and starting at LF.

3. Josh Lindblom

Josh Lindblom

RHP Josh Lindblom was one of the Express’ most consistent starting pitchers. He was 8-4 with a 3.08 ERA (108.0ip/37er) in 20 appearances (18 starts). He led the team in wins and had the fewest losses out of all starters. He gave up the fewest hits among starters (86) and allowed the second-fewest walks (31) while striking out the second-most batters (79). His 1.08 WHIP was the lowest among Express starters as well. Lindblom made a handful of appearances with the Rangers this season (in three call-ups), going 1-3 with a 5.46 ERA (31.1ip/19er) over eight games (five starts).

4. Cory Burns

Cory Burns

RHP Cory Burns was Express-closer extraordinaire. In 38 appearances, he converted 20 of 23 save opportunities which was 16 more than the next closest reliever in the E-Train bullpen. His 2.15 ERA (37.2ip/9er) was second-lowest among relievers with at least 20.0 ip. He allowed just 15 walks while striking out 48. He made three trips up to Arlington this season to join the big league club, going 1-0 with a 3.18 ERA (11.1ip/4er) in 10 appearances out of the bullpen.

5. Yangervis Solarte

Yangervis Solarte

INF Yangervis Solarte was a true utility man this season. He name was on the lineup card at 2B, 3B, SS, LF and DH. In 133 games with the Express, Solarte batted .276 (5th best on the team) with 31 doubles (T-1st), 12 homers (T-2nd) and 75 RBI (1st). He was also among the team leaders in total bases (219 – 1st) and runs (66 – 3rd). Solarte also ranked third in the PCL in at-bats (526). He is the only Express player on this list to not get playing time in Arlington this season, but his time is due.

Former Express in the Postseason

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It’s the best time in baseball when the postseason really gets underway. The Wild Card games were fun and all, but now it’s time to start the real chase for the World Series ring. With the NL division series starting in mere moments, I wanted to take a quick look at where some former Express players landed in the postseason.

Boston Red Sox (vs. Tampa Bay Rays):

Boston has two former Express players in catcher Mike Napoli (2011) and pitcher Koji Uehara (2012). Napoli had a brief four-game rehab stint in Round Rock in 2011 while Uehara threw 3.0 innings over three appearances in 2012.

Atlanta Braves (vs. Los Angeles Dodgers):

Infielder Chris Johnson played for the Express in 2008-10. He spent 30 games with the Express in 2008, batting .218 with one home run and nine RBI. He spent most of the 2009 season in Round Rock, batting .281 with 38 extra-base hits and 42 RBI in 104 games. In 2010, he appeared in 38 games, batting .329 (49-149).

Pittsburgh Pirates (vs. St. Louis Cardinals):

Pitcher Mark Melancon was in the Express bullpen for three games in 2010, going 1-0 with one save over 4.1 innings.

Tampa Bay Rays (vs. Boston Red Sox):

LHP Wesley Wright went 4-1 with a 4.65 ERA (69.2ip/39er) in 15 games (14 starts) for the E-Train in 2010. In 2009, he went 2-1 with a 3.32 ERA (19.0ip/7er) in 13 appearances (1 start).

 

Which former Express players are you rooting for this postseason?

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