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

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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?

OF Joey Butler Claimed Off Waivers by St. Louis

ImageOutfielder Joey Butler, who was designated for assignment by the Rangers on Monday, has been claimed on waivers by the St. Louis Cardinals.

He spent most of the year with Round Rock, batting .291 (124-426) with 12 home runs and 51 RBI. His contract was purchased by the Rangers on August 5. He made his major league debut on August 7 going 0-1 as a pinch hitter. He saw action in eight games for the Rangers this season, batting .333 (4-12) with two doubles and a RBI.

Butler was originally selected by Texas in the 15th round of the 2008 June draft.

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A waiver is defined as a permission granted for certain assignments or for the unconditional release of a major league player.

A team asking waivers must notify the commissioner’s office by 2 p.m. ET Monday through Friday. The commissioner’s office will then notify all of the other teams of the waiver request. The other teams then have three business days to file a claim. If no team claims the player, the waiver is granted and the player may be assigned as the team desired. If a claim is filed, the team may withdraw the waiver request and keep the player if they so choose. Otherwise the player shall be assigned to the claiming team. If more than one team files a claim, the priority goes to the team with the worst record within the same league as the team filing the waiver request.

Waivers are required for assignment to the minor leagues for any player who does not have options remaining. (BaseballAmerica.com)

Express Way Developmental Program

Express Way Banner

We’re excited to announce a new 10-week development program led by Matt Kata & other former MLB players, scouts and performance specialists. “The Express Way Developmental Program” is designed to focus on the basic baseball fundamentals while incorporating advanced techniques and drills.

The deadline for registration is October 2nd, so call 512-238-2238 to register today!

Ryan-Sanders Baseball Adds Ryan-Sanders Sports Services to Company Portfolio

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Round Rock Express owner and CEO Reese Ryan announced Thursday the introduction of Ryan-Sanders Sports Services (“RSSS”) to the family of Ryan-Sanders companies. RSSS will serve as the umbrella for all food service and retail operations at Dell Diamond, as well as the management of the United Heritage Center and Ryan-Sanders Sports Turf Services.

“We’re excited at the opportunities presented by the creation of Ryan-Sanders Sports Services to improve the overall fan experience at Dell Diamond as we enter our 15th season,” Ryan said. “By bringing our concessions in-house and partnering it with our retail operations and the United Heritage Center, we hope to be able to offer the same level of service at the concession stands as our fans have experienced throughout the ballpark in seasons past.”

George King, Express Executive Vice President and General Manager, will step down from that role to take the reigns as President of Ryan-Sanders Sports Services effective immediately. Express Assistant General Manager Chris Almendarez will be promoted to General Manager of the Express, overseeing all business and baseball operations for the team. Express President Dave Fendrick remains in his position through the transition.

“Chris has been an integral part of this organization since he joined the Express and he’s a natural fit to step up and lead the business side of the team as General Manager,” Fendrick said. “I look forward to his leadership as the Express celebrates our 15th season.”

The newly formed sports services division of Ryan-Sanders Baseball will handle all of the catering, concessions and hospitality operations at Dell Diamond.

King, an East Texas native, joined the Express front office in 2010 following time as vice president and general manager of the Nashville Sounds. Prior to that, he spent 10 years in the Pacific Coast League office over two stints, most recently serving as vice president of business and operations. His professional baseball tenure dates back to 1995 with the Phoenix Firebirds; he held positions with several teams, including the San Francisco Giants. King was named director of baseball operations of Major League Baseball’s Arizona Fall League in 2000, following Hall of Famer Frank Robinson in that position. Prior to working in professional baseball, King served nine years in the U.S. Navy and was deployed in Japan for five years. He was awarded the Navy Achievement Medal for distinguished service. King and his wife Tiffany live in Round Rock with their four children.

Almendarez joined the Express front office in 2009 as a senior account executive. He was promoted to senior vice president/assistant general manager following the 2012 season. Prior to joining the Express, Almendarez, a Humble, Texas native, worked in pharmaceutical sales, serving as a professional sales consultant for SkinMedica Pharmaceuticals. A graduate of the University of Houston and former member of the Houston Cougars baseball team, he and his wife Jana reside in Round Rock with their two sons.

For more information on the Express, visit www.RoundRockExpress.com or call (512) 255-2255. Keep up with the Express on Facebook and Twitter!

2013 Season Highlights

Check out some of the highlights below about the 2013 season as well as the final season notes link!

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2013 Final Season Notes

• Five players had contract purchased by Rangers from Round Rock and made major league debut: OF Jim Adduci (9/1), OF Engel Beltre (6/23), OF Joey Butler (8/5), INF Chris McGuiness (6/6) and RHP Nick Tepesch (4/9)

• Seven Rangers conducted rehab assignments with the Express: DH Lance Berkman, RHP Neftali Feliz, LHP Matt Harrison, LHP Michael Kirkman, RHP Colby Lewis, RHP Alexi Ogando and RHP Joakim Soria

• The Express earned its 1,000th victory in franchise history with a 5-1 win over Tacoma on August 12

• OF Joey Butler was named the Rangers’ Minor League Player of the Month in April

• INF Alex Buchholz was named the Rangers’ Minor League Player of the Month in July

• Four Express named to the Triple-A All-Star game: RHP Cory Burns, OF Joey Butler, LHP Brad Mills, INF Yangervis Solarte

• Dell Diamond welcomed 12,911 fans on July 4 vs. Omaha, the third largest crowd in
franchise history

• Express turns first triple play in Triple-A franchise history in the top of the second on July 20 vs. Iowa (scoring: 5-4-3)

• Round Rock sets Triple-A franchise record with 20 runs in 20-2 win over Nashville (8/19)

• Express completed five walk-off wins, four on singles with one walk-off home run

• E-Train sets Triple-A franchise record with 10-game losing streak spanning from July 30-
August 9

• Three pitchers earned the PCL’s Pitcher of the Week honor: LHP Brad Mills (4/4-4/15), RHP Martin Perez (5/20-5/27) and RHP Evan Meek (7/15-7/22). INF Mike Bianucci garnered the only Player of the Week award presented to the Express (8/26-9/2)

• RHP Ben Rowen snaps a 29.2 innings scoreless streak spanning from May 6 to July 14 after allowing two unearned runs in the ninth in a 10-3 win at Omaha. The streak included time with the Express and Double-A Frisco RoughRiders

• 3B Mike Olt hits two home runs in the same inning (6/16), leading off the ninth with a solo shot before adding a two-run blast with two outs in the frame (Express rallies for eight runs in the ninth to defeat Oklahoma City 9-4)

• 2013  marked the second time in Triple-A franchise history that the Express finished with 70-plus wins and failed to make the postseason (2005, 74)

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INF/DH Mike Bianucci Named PCL Player of the Week

ImageROUND ROCK, Texas - Round Rock Express infielder/designated hitter Mike Bianucci was named the Pacific Coast League Player of the Week for the period of August 26th through September 2nd.   The Tucson Padres’ Burch Smith was named pitcher of the week.

Bianucci went 9-for-19 (.474) with three home runs, two doubles and eight RBI in five games over that span. He led the league with a 1.598 OPS and a 1.053 slugging percentage. In 56 total games this season, the former Auburn Tiger hit .281 (55-for-196) with 12 home runs and 46 RBI. Bianucci has previously been named player of the week in both the South Atlantic League and the California League.

For more information on the Express, visit www.RoundRockExpress.com or call (512) 255-2255. Keep up with the Express on Facebook and Twitter!

Eight Express Join Rangers Over Weekend

ROUND ROCK, Texas - The Round Rock Express sent eight players to the Texas Rangers over the past weekend as the major league rosters expanded to 40 players on September 1.

The following Express members will continue their seasons as a part of the Texas Rangers:

  • OF Jim Adduci (contract purchased September 1)
  • OF Engel Beltre (recalled September 2)
  • RHP Cory Burns (recalled September 1)
  • OF Joey Butler (recalled September 2)
  • C Robinson Chirinos (recalled September 1)
  • RHP Neftali Feliz (reinstated from ML rehab September 1)
  • LHP Michael Kirkman (reinstated from ML rehab September 1)
  • RHP Ross Wolf (recalled September 2)

Adduci, 28, will be in his first major league action after having his contract purchased on September 1. The left-handed hitting outfielder has spent time in the outfield and at first base for the Express in 2013, playing 127 games at the Triple-A level. Adduci led the Express in average (.298), runs (75), home runs (16), stolen bases (32) and was second in RBI (65). He finished the season with Round Rock by hitting safely in 13 of his last 14 games, including going 3-for-5 with a pair of doubles and a run scored in his final game in an E-Train uniform (August 30 at Omaha).

ImageBeltre, 23, hit .278 (10-for-36) with a double, two RBI and seven runs scored in 17 games with the Rangers this season. He played 94 games with the Express over the course of the 2013 campaign, hitting .292 (115-for-394) with seven homers, 34 RBI, 58 runs scored and 15 stolen bases at the top of the E-Train order. He finished off his Triple-A season by hitting in five straight games to end the year and had not hit below the .290 mark with Round Rock since June 18.

ImageBurns, 25, pitched in 38 games with the Express throughout 2013, saving a team-best 20 games which ranked him among the leaders of the PCL. The right-hander posted a 0-2 record and 2.15 ERA (37.2ip/9er) at the back end of the Round Rock bullpen. He racked up 48 strikeouts and finished 35 games for the E-Train. Burns also pitched in nine games for the Rangers, posting a 1-0 record and 1.64 ERA (11.0ip/2er) in two stints with the club. His last appearance with Texas came on July 21 against Baltimore.

ImageButler, 27, will be in his second stint with the Rangers after making his major league debut with the club on August 7. In two games with Texas, Butler went 2-for-4 with two doubles and two runs scored, making his first major league start on August 9 at Houston. Butler played 119 games with the Express, garnering the Rangers’ Minor League Player of the Month award in April. The 2012 Express MVP batted .291 (124-for-426) with 12 homers, 51 RBI, drew a team-leading 69 walks and led the team in on-base percentage (.395).

ImageChirinos, 29, has played in 10 games with the Rangers over the course of the 2013 season, batting .154 (4-for-26) with a pair of doubles and three runs scored. With the Express, the backstop batted .257 (68-265) with eight home runs, 40 RBI and 35 runs scored. He hit .279 (19-for-68) against left handers at the Triple-A level, but clubbed five homers off right-handed pitchers. After hitting .305 (18-for-59) in June, Chirinos combined to hit .204 (21-for-103) over the final two months of the season with the E-Train.

ImageFeliz, 24, was reinstated from the 60-day disabled list after completing his rehab assignment with the Express. Feliz underwent “Tommy John” surgery on August 1, 2012 and spent his 2013 campaign rehabbing with Round Rock. In six games with the Express, the right-hander did not allow a run, posting 8.2 scoreless innings. In his final outing with the E-Train, Feliz struck out a season-high four over a season-best 3.0 frames, facing 11 batters and throwing 41 pitches (28 strikes).

ImageKirkman, 26, opened the season with the Rangers and pitched in 25 games at the major league level before being placed on the DL retroactive to June 7 with a recurrence of a cutaneous lymphoma located in the area of his right triceps. The southpaw began his rehab assignment with the Express on August 2, making six appearances (five starts) with the E-Train. He went 2-3 with a 6.98 ERA (29.2ip/23er) at the Triple-A level but had allowed just seven earned runs over his last three outings (16.1ip). In his lone relief appearance, he tossed 5.0 scoreless innings and earned the win at Nashville (August 20).

ImageWolf, 30, made six starts with the Express from April 10-May 17 before joining the Rangers in his first stint. The right-hander made 21 appearances (three starts) for Texas over the course of the 2013 season, posting a 1-3 record and a 4.14 ERA (45.2ip/21er). He was optioned back to the Express on August 31 and pitched in one game (September 1 at Omaha) before being recalled on September 2. Over his brief time at the Triple-A level (seven appearances, six starts), Wolf went 1-1 with a 1.77 ERA (35.2ip/7er).

ImageFor more information on the Express, visit www.RoundRockExpress.com or call (512) 255-2255. Keep up with the Express on Facebook and Twitter!

Fan Friday

Happy Fan Friday Express Fans!

The 2013 home schedule has wrapped up and we’re blessed to say we have some of the BEST fans in professional baseball! Thanks for supporting your Round Rock Express and we can’t wait to see you at Dell Diamond on April 3, 2014 for Opening Day against the Oklahoma City RedHawks.

If you would like a chance to be featured on our weekly Fan Friday blog post, use our official hashtag (#RRExpress) on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, tag us on Facebook or email us at streetteam@rrexpress.com.

See you on the streets!

The Round Rock Express Street Team

Julia, Meredith and Westin

E-Train Pre-Game: 8/25 vs. Oklahoma City

The Express wraps up the 2013 home schedule tonight at 6:05 p.m. against the Oklahoma City RedHawks. In the series finale, southpaw Michael Kirkman will get the ball to try and hold off the hot RedHawks, winners of two straight.

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Express Lineup:

1. LF Jim Adduci

2. CF Engel Beltre

3. 2B Yangervis Solarte

4. RF Joey Butler

5. 3B Alex Buchholz

6. 1B Chris McGuiness

7. DH Mike Bianucci

8. SS Brendan Harris

9. C Eli Whiteside

LHP Michael Kirkman

RedHawks Lineup:

1. LF Trevor Crowe

2. 2B Jose Martinez

3. CF George Springer

4. 3B Brandon Laird

5. RF Jimmy Paredes

6. DH Japhet Amador

7. 1B Jon Singleton

8. C Rene Garcia

9. SS Raoul Torrez

RHP Jake Buchanan

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After a Mike Bianucci solo blast evened the score at one apiece, the RedHawks strung together a two-out rally in the fifth that plate four runs to take a commanding lead. Round Rock battled back in the bottom of the fifth with a pair of solo home runs from Brendan Harris and Jim Adduci, but an insurance run for Oklahoma City in the eighth gave the RedHawks a 6-3 victory.

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