Results tagged ‘ frisco roughriders ’

Top 12 Games of 2012 (No. 11)

TOP 12 GAMES OF 2012
Throughout the fall, we’ll take a look at the top 12 games of 2012. Today, we look at Game No. 11 on our list. Click here to read about Game No. 12 and nine others that were considered for the list.

No. 11
Sept. 1:  Express 6, at Oklahoma City 3
It was the last victory in a rather subpar year, but it was a good one to end on. Round Rock plated five runs in the top of the ninth to erase a 3-1 deficit and all but end Oklahoma City’s playoff hopes. The RedHawks were eliminated the following day despite winning the season’s penultimate game.

Julio Borbon reached on an error to start the game and later scored on a wild pitch. However, that was the extent of Round Rock’s offensive production until the ninth inning. Oklahoma City wrestled away the lead with a three-run second, but the RedHawks managed only three hits the rest of the way.

Ryan Spilborghs’ RBI double started the five-run ninth. Later, Borbon delivered a bases-loaded, two-run single that proved to be the game-winning hit. Luis Hernandez followed with a two-run triple for good measure.

Borbon’s ninth-inning single was his 158th of the season, breaking Mark Saccomanno’s 2008 franchise record.

The game may have gone somewhat unknown – the 142nd game of the season and on the road can be that way. But it capped a stretch in which the Express went 9-3, and it was Round Rock’s 26th victory in 38 games after July 25.

 

ENGLE IN THE OUTFIELD
Congratulations are in order for Frisco center fielder Engel Beltre, who Friday was named a 2012 Minor League Baseball Rawlings Gold Glove Award winner. Although not as prestigious as its major league equivalent, the minor league award is more difficult to win. Consider: There are 30 major league teams and 120 full-season minor league teams.

Beltre, 22, played 119 games in center and committed only one error with 12 outfield assists. He led all Double-A outfielders with a .997 fielding percentage. Beltre was deemed the “Best Defensive Outfielder” in the Rangers’ farm system by Baseball America prior to the 2012 season. He also was rated the Texas League’s best defensive outfielder in the publication’s “Best Tools” issue in August. A mid-season and postseason Texas League All-Star, Beltre hit .261 with 13 homers, 55 RBI, 80 runs scored and 36 steals. He also finished second in the minors with 17 triples.

Originally signed by the Red Sox out of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, in 2006, Beltre was acquired by the Rangers along with David Murphy in the Eric Gagne trade one year later.

Expect to see Beltre at The Dell Diamond in 2013.

News and Notes (Sept. 11)

FRISCO VIES FOR TEXAS LEAGUE CROWN
Texas Rangers Double-A affiliate Frisco begins play in the 2012 Texas League Championship Series tonight. It will be a rematch – of sorts – of the 2011 World Series as the RoughRiders face St. Louis Cardinals affiliate Springfield Cardinals. First pitch is scheduled for 7:08 p.m. CDT at Hammons Field in Springfield, Mo.

It is a best-of-five series with Game 2 scheduled for 7:08 p.m. Wednesday at Springfield. The series then shifts to Frisco’s Dr Pepper Ballpark for Friday’s 7 p.m. Game 3 and continues Saturday (7 p.m.) and Sunday (7 p.m.) if necessary. The Texas League Championship Series can be heard online at www.ridersbaseball.com.

Frisco got a boost to its roster this morning as it was announced that catcher Mike Napoli will join the RoughRiders on a rehab assignment. He is expected to be with the RoughRiders for at least the series’ first two games.

RoughRiders catchers – Jose Felix and Zach Zaneski – combined to go 2-for-10 (both singles) in Frisco’s three-game sweep of Houston Astros affiliate Corpus Christi in the division series. First baseman Chris McGuiness led the RoughRiders’ offensive attack, going 6-for-12 with two doubles and four RBI. Val Majewski (3-for-6, home run, three runs), Tommy Mendonca (3-for-10, run) and Guilder Rodriguez (3-for-9, two RBI) – each of whom played for the Express this season – also were strong contributors.

However, Frisco dominated Corpus Christi on the mound, outscoring the Hooks 14-7. RoughRiders hurlers posted a 2.33 ERA with 21 strikeouts against eight walks and held Corpus Christi to a .206 average. Game 3 starter Nick Tepesch was most dominant, yielding only three walks and one hit over seven scoreless innings with four strikeouts. Wilmer Font and 2012 Express member Ross Wolf finished Frisco’s 5-0 win.

Leury Garcia and McGuiness had consecutive RBI singles in the sixth inning, and the Riders added three insurance runs in the top of the ninth on a Rodriguez RBI single and Engel Beltre’s two-run double.

Highly touted right-hander Cody Buckel starts tonight’s championship series opener for the RoughRiders. The 20-year-old and 2010 second-round draft selection was 10-8 in the regular season, splitting the year between Class A-Advanced Myrtle Beach (5-3) and Frisco (5-5); he posted a sub-3.00 ERA for the season with 159 strikeouts in 144.2 innings. Buckel did not pitch in the division series. He was considered the Rangers’ sixth-best prospect entering the season by Baseball America and has risen quickly through the system, going 8-3 with a 2.61 ERA for Class-A Hickory last season in his first full professional season (he pitched four games for the AZL Rangers in 2010).

Buckel faced Springfield once this season – a June 29 loss at Hammons Field when he allowed six runs (five earned) on seven hits and two walks over 6.1 innings. It was not smooth transition to Double-A for Buckel, who was 1-5 with a 4.45 ERA (16 ER/32.1 IP) in his first six games with Frisco (he worked six shutout innings July 4 at Arkansas in the lone victory). However, Buckel was 4-0 with a 3.19 ERA (13 ER/36.2 IP) in his final seven outings. Runs allowed in his final four starts:  one, one, none, none (21.2 IP).

Tepesch is scheduled to start Game 2, followed by right-handers Barret Loux and Wilfredo Boscan. Frisco has not announced a potential Game 5 starter, meaning 2011 and 2012 Express member Neil Ramirez is at least a possibility.

Frisco won seven of 12 meetings with Springfield in the regular season, going 2-4 at Hammons Field.

 

PCL CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES
The Pacific Coast League Championship Series opens tonight as the Reno Aces (Diamondbacks) host the Omaha Storm Chasers (Royals). Omaha (83-61) won the American Northern Division by 16 games, while Reno (81-63) won the Pacific Northern Division by six games. Sacramento (86-58) had the PCL’s best record for the second straight season, but failed to return to the PCL Championship Series for a second straight season.

Omaha, however, is back to defend its 2011 league crown. Only one franchise has won back-to-back PCL titles since 1998 – Sacramento accomplished the feat twice (2003-2004, 2007-2008). The only other franchise to win consecutive PCL crowns since Albuquerque’s three-year run 1980-1982 was Edmonton (1996-1997); seven years later, the Edmonton franchise was purchased by Ryan Sanders Baseball and the Round Rock Express joined the PCL.

For the first time since 2005, both division championship series went five games. Omaha got three field goals a touchdown to edge Albuquerque 16-7 in Sunday night’s series finale at the ever-offensive Isotopes Park. (One night earlier, the Isotopes used four field goals to nab a 12-10 victory.) In all seriousness, the Storm Chasers scored at least once in eight of nine innings Sunday night (we’re still not sure what happened in the anomalous sixth inning).

Meanwhile, Mike Jacobs’ three-run homer sparked a four-run seventh inning as Reno defeated Sacramento 7-4 in Sunday’s series decider at Aces Ballpark. The homer, which snapped a 3-3 tie, was off Merkin Valdez – a member of Round Rock’s 2011 division-title squad. That was not the only Express tie in the game; Reno’s starter was none other than Brett Tomko, who was 9-6 with the E-Train last season. Furthermore, Aces shortstop Wladimir Sutil played for Round Rock in 2010 while both were members of the Astros organization.

Omaha right-hander Jake Odorizzi (11-3, 2.93 ERA) faces Reno right-hander Trevor Bauer (5-1, 2.85 ERA) in tonight’s championship series lid-lifter.

Reno wielded the league’s most potent lineup this season, including PCL Player and Rookie of the Year Adam Eaton. In fact, the Aces posted three of the league’s four best individual batting averages in Eaton (first, .381), Ryan Wheeler (second, .351) and Jake Elmore (fourth, .344). However, that trio combined to go hitless in the division championship series. Eaton was busy hitting safely in each of his first five major league games with the Diamondbacks (four multiple-hit outings). Wheeler was promoted to Arizona in mid-July, and Elmore has been with the Diamondbacks since early August.

On the other hand, Omaha was fifth in team average (.290) and third in staff ERA (4.24). The Storm Chasers have the bulk of both their lineup and rotation intact for the postseason. Omaha hit .323 with nine homers and 8.8 runs per game against Albuquerque. Former Express member Jason Bourgeois was 7-for-24 with two triples, a homer and five runs scored in the division series; he was one of six Chasers with at least six hits in the five-game series.

Given Omaha’s rotation of Ryan Verdugo (12-4, 3.75 ERA), Nate Adcock (8-6, 5.53 ERA) and Doug Davis (9-4, 4.66 ERA) behind Odorizzi and a deep bullpen, we like the Storm Chasers in four games. The series begins with a 9:05 p.m. CDT first pitch tonight at Aces Ballpark.

 

FORMER EXPRESS MEMBERS IN THE MAJOR LEAGUES
Several former Express members currently are in the majors with organizations other than Texas. Here is a look at a few; we’ll check in with others throughout the remainder of the season.

If at some point this season you’ve caught a Baltimore Orioles game and thought, “Hmmm. This team looks familiar,” you were onto something. Eight 2012 Orioles played for the Express in 2011:  catcher Taylor Teagarden, infielders Chris Davis and Omar Quintanilla, outfielder Endy Chavez, and pitchers Tommy Hunter Darren O’Day, Zach Phillips and Pedro Strop.

Teagarden (.119, two homers, five RBI) spent the season’s first three months on the disabled list but returned to the O’s in mid-July. Quintanilla (.240, three homers, 12 RBI) began the season in the Mets organization; he spent the first two months with Triple-A Buffalo before a 29-game stint in New York. The Orioles nabbed Quintanilla in mid-July. Chavez (.190, two homers, eight RBI) has been on the disabled list since early August.

Davis (.256, 24 homers, 67 RBI) has split time between first base and the outfield, playing in 118 of Baltimore’s 140 games. How good was he with Round Rock last season? Well, Davis had the same number of homers and one fewer RBI in 48 games. Then again, Davis does have a 1-0 record and a 0.00 ERA in one relief outing with the Orioles this year.

Hunter (4-8, 5.85 ERA) has started 20 games for the Orioles abut worked in relief in each of his last two outings. He has surrendered 32 homers, tied for third in the American League. O’Day (7-1, 2.22 ERA) has been one of the league’s best bullpen arms; he’s allowed one run since July 19 – a stretch of 19.1 innings over 21 outings (0.47 ERA). Phillips (0-0, 11.57 ERA) spent nearly the entire season with Triple-A Norfolk (2-2, 3.17 ERA, seven saves), rejoining the Orioles last week; he’s pitched only three games with Baltimore. Strop (5-2, 2.26 ERA, three saves) has struggled of late, allowing eight runs over 12.2 innings in 16 games since Aug. 1 (5.68 ERA).

Baltimore arguably is baseball’s biggest surprise this season. The Orioles are one game behind the Yankees in the American League East standings entering tonight’s game against Tampa Bay (one game back of Baltimore). Furthermore, the O’s currently are in the lead for the American League’s second wild card spot.

A lot has changed in Charm City over the past 24 months. The Orioles went 66-96 and finished 30 games back in last place in 2010. Last year, former Rangers manager Buck Showalter took over the helm. After a 69-93 record in 2011, Showalter has the Orioles in legitimate postseason contention with what would be at least a 20-game turnaround even if the Birds go 11-11 the rest of the regular season.

All this begs the question:  When will the Orioles fire Showalter?

Confused? Check in next time for the explanation.

News and Notes (Sept. 7)

2012 EXPRESS MEMBERS STILL IN ACTION
Several 2012 Round Rock Express members still are in action this season. The current Texas Rangers roster features eight 2012 Express members:  pitchers Michael Kirkman, Roy Oswalt, Martin Perez, Tanner Scheppers and Yoshinori Tateyama, catcher Luis Martinez, infielder Brandon Snyder and outfielder Leonys Martin. Additionally, the Rangers roster includes outfielder Craig Gentry, who was an Express member last season. Other current Rangers who rehabbed with the Express this season are pitchers Alexi Ogando and Koji Uehara and infielder Mitch Moreland.

Meanwhile, Double-A Frisco is alive and well in the Texas League playoffs (more on that below). Former Express members Val Majewski, Tommy Mendonca, Guilder Rodriguez and Justin Grimm have seen action through the RoughRiders’ first two games of the playoff games. Right-hander Neil Ramirez also is on Frisco’s active roster.

 

ROUGHRIDERS BUILD 2-0 SERIES LEAD
Rangers Double-A affiliate Frisco is one win away from reaching the Texas League Championship Series. The RoughRiders lead their division series against Houston Astros affiliate Corpus Christi 2-0, winning both home games in dramatic fashion.

Wednesday, the RoughRiders got a one-out RBI double from Chris McGuiness that scored Leury Garcia with the winning run in the bottom of the ninth as Frisco edged Corpus Christi 6-5. The RoughRiders got hits from all nine starters, including former Express members Tommy Mendonca (1-for-4, run), Val Majewski (2-for-3, RBI, run, walk) and Guilder Rodriguez (1-for-3, RBI, walk). One of Majewski’s hits was a second-inning leadoff homer that tied the game 2-2. The RoughRiders plated three runs in the third to take a 5-2 lead before the Hooks posted solo spots in the sixth, seventh and eighth innings to tie the game.

Frisco got another walk-off win Thursday night as Garcia blasted a two-out solo homer in the bottom of the ninth for a 3-2 victory. Rodriguez walked to open the ninth and moved to second on an Engel Beltre sacrifice bunt. Rodriguez then was caught trying to steal third with Garcia at the plate. Garcia, however, had the last laugh as he deposited a Ryan Rodebaugh 2-1 offering over the fence down the right-field line. Mendonca (1-for-2) and Rodriguez (0-for-2) both walked twice; Majewski scored the game-tying run as a pinch-runner in a two-run eighth. Justin Grimm worked two scoreless innings in relief for the RoughRiders, scattering a pair of hits with two strikeouts and no walks. Corpus Christi designated hitter Drew Locke, who played for the Express in 2010, was 0-for-4.

The best-of-five series now shifts to Corpus Christi’s Whataburger Field. Game three features former University of Missouri right-hander Nick Tepesch on the mound for the RoughRiders against Hooks right-hander Ross Seaton. Tepesch was 6-3 with a 4.28 ERA in 14 starts and two relief outings for Frisco during the regular season. He began the 2012 season with Class A-Advanced Myrtle Beach, where he was 5-3 with a 2.89 ERA in 12 starts. Seaton was 8-8 with a 4.07 ERA in 25 starts for the Hooks during the regular season.

Frisco has not announced starters for the final two games of the series should they be necessary. However, projections have Neil Ramirez going in game four and right-hander Cody Buckel in the series finale. Ramirez began the season with the Express and struggled through 15 starts (6-8, 7.66 ERA) after a promising Round Rock showing in 2011. He was reassigned to Frisco in late June and went 2-5 with a 4.20 ERA in 12 starts and one relief appearance with the RoughRiders. Like Tepesch, Buckel started the season with Myrtle Beach; he was dominant with the Pelicans, going 5-3 with a 1.31 ERA and 91 strikeouts over 75.2 innings in 13 starts. Buckel was promoted to Frisco in mid-June and was 5-5 with a 3.78 ERA and 68 strikeouts over 69.0 innings in 10 starts and three relief outings with the RoughRiders.

 

FORMER EXPRESS MEMBERS ELSEWHERE
Pitchers Mark Hamburger and John Gaub, both of whom were Express members in 2012, completed their seasons with other Triple-A squads.

Hamburger, who was Round Rock’s pitcher of the year in 2011, was acquired by the San Diego Padres upon his mid-June release from the Rangers. However, he was not with the Padres long, going 0-2 with a 7.50 ERA in one start and four relief outings with Triple-A Tucson. Hamburger was released in mid-July and nabbed by the Houston Astros, who assigned him to Triple-A Oklahoma City. There, Hamburger was 1-1 with a 4.71 ERA in 17 relief appearances. His lone victory was Aug. 19 at Round Rock when he worked one and one-thirds scoreless innings with one strikeout and one walk in the RedHawks’ 5-2 win.

If you blinked in late May and early June, you likely missed Gaub’s stint with the Express. The veteran lefty started the season with Triple-A Durham (Tampa Bay Rays) of the International League and was released May 20. The Rangers signed him three days later and assigned him to Round Rock, where did not record a decision or allow a run in five relief outings – the first four of which were on the road. Gaub threw 12 pitches in an Express uniform at The Dell Diamond, those coming in one perfect inning June 5 against Albuquerque. He was released shortly thereafter and acquired by the St. Louis Cardinals, who assigned him to Triple-A Memphis. Gaub spent the remainder of the season with the Redbirds, going 0-3 with one save and a 6.68 ERA in 33 relief appearances. He pitched in three games against the Express, including a scoreless inning July 13 at The Dell Diamond.

 

FORMER EXPRESS MEMBERS IN THE MAJOR LEAGUES
Several other former Express members currently are in the majors with organizations other than Texas. Here is a look at a couple; we’ll check in with others throughout the remainder of the season.

Luis Cruz (Express 2011) began the season with Triple-A Albuquerque (Los Angeles Dodgers) and hit .381 with eight homers, 46 RBI, 31 doubles and three triples in 74 games with the Isotopes. He was promoted to the Dodgers in early July and did not look back. His call-up was due to an injury to starting shortstop Gordon Dee. Cruz moved to third shortly after the Dodgers’ trade for Hanley Ramirez, who returned to shortstop after playing third with the Miami Marlins. (Remember all the ballyhoo surrounding his move to third when the Marlins acquired Jose Reyes in the off-season?) Cruz is hitting .306 with four homers, 30 RBI and 15 doubles in 54 games with the Dodgers. After leading Dodgers regulars with a .333 average in August, Cruz is off to an 8-for-20 start in five games this month (he had four hits Monday against San Diego). In fact, his August average tied for the National League’s seventh-best mark that month. Cruz has done most of his damage in key situations, hitting .352 with runners in scoring position.

Cody Ransom (Express 2006-2007) made it to the majors for the sixth consecutive season and the second straight with Arizona. This is his 10th big-league season with five organizations (Giants, Astros, Yankees, Phillies, Diamondbacks). Ransom started the 2012 campaign with the Diamondbacks Triple-A affiliate Reno Aces, hitting .294 with two homers and nine RBI in 10 games before joining the Diamondbacks, for whom he played 17 games (.269, four homers, 12 RBI). He was claimed on waivers by Milwaukee in mid-May but struggled with the Brew Crew (.196, six homers, 26 RBI in 64 games). Arizona reclaimed Ransom off waivers last weekend, and he was 1-for-3 with two walks and a run scored in his first game back Monday night.

Promotion Candidates: July Edition

Photo Credit: Alex Yocum-Beeman, Frisco RoughRiders

By Andrew Brown

Round Rock, Texas – Last month we gave a report of several players we thought may get called up from Double-A Frisco and see time up in Round Rock. In some cases (four to be exact) we were dead on. Justin Grimm, Chad Bell, Fabio Castillo, and Joe Ortiz all got the nod to come pitch for the Express. In a few other cases we were a little off. On that note, we will try again this month to highlight a few names that Round Rock fans may see playing in the Dell Diamond this year.

*** Position Players ***

3B/1B Mike Olt – This one seems inevitable. Olt is leading Double-A in homers this year with 27, and is in the top 10 in pretty much every offensive category. Simply put, Olt is destroying Double-A pitching and has proven himself ready for a new challenge. When he is called up (and it really is a matter of when rather than if) it will be because he has earned it, not because the Express need him. As it is now, Bobby Jones already has a tough task of juggling all of the infielders, trying to get them equal playing time, and once Bianucci gets back his job will be even tougher. Throwing Olt into that equation would make the Express skippers job a nightmare.

That being said though, it would be a great problem for any manager to have. Olt would be an instant upgrade over any Express bat (maybe with the exception of Brad Nelson right now), and would provide an offensive spark to a team that, until just recently, has seemed to struggle at the plate all summer. Olt may stay down in Double-A a little bit longer than expected though as they try to move him around different positions and experiment with him at first base and in left field. Olt’s path to the big leagues will not be rushed, especially now that the Texas Rangers front office has made it pretty clear that he is almost as close to untradable as Jurickson Profar (Nolan and JD refused to part with Olt in exchange for Zack Greinke, which is what landed him in LA).

Even if the Rangers decide to take their time with Olt, I just simply cannot see a situation where he is not sporting an Express jersey at the end of the season. He is just too good for Double-A pitching and is ready for a new challenge. Estimated Arrival Time: Mid/Late August.

SS Jurickson Profar – I almost hate to write this, because I hate to get anyone’s hopes up. Heck, I hate to get my own hopes up. I just do not think, despite how phenomenal he is, and despite how well he has played this year, and despite how quickly he has adjusted to the Double-A level of play, there is anyway we see Profar in Round Rock this season.

Like Olt, he would be an immediate upgrade over anyone we have (that’s not to say anything about our middle infield, but just a comment on how amazing Profar is) but the Rangers are in absolutely no rush to move him up. And I completely agree with them. Profar is only 19, and already in Double-A. Why rush him up to Triple-A? Especially when he is blocked at the MLB level for a while, barring some kind of big move of Kinsler to the outfield or (God forbid) a trade of Andrus.

On top of that, the Express have now begun an experiment of trying Greg Miclat at shortstop (and to be honest he looks surprisingly good at the position, displaying a strong enough arm to make many of the throws). With this, it looks like the organization is committed to keeping Profar down in Frisco for the rest of the year. Estimated Arrival Time: Start of the 2013 Season.

*** Pitchers ***

RHP Barret Loux – Loux has been hurt this year which has been a road block in his path to Round Rock. But let’s get one thing straight: this guy is a stud. Loux has posted a record of 12-1 this season, while striking out 77 batters in 93.1 innings. Keeping Loux down in Frisco will be tough, but it may have to happen. Grimm and Bell have already secured spots as starters in Round Rock, and with the Rangers’ expected addition of a starting pitcher before tomorrow’s trade deadline, Martin Perez’s return to the Dell Diamond also seems inevitable. Jackson has a pretty secure spot in the rotation as well, which leaves on opening for all of the promotion candidates. Even that is not a sure this, considering how well Greg Reynolds pitched in his last start. Loux will get a serious look though, and if he does not end up with the Express this season, it will likely be due to his health set backs this season. Estimated Arrival Time: Start of the 2013 Season.

RHP Neil Ramirez –  Ramirez began the season with the Express, as well as a ton of expectations. Ramirez was one of the Rangers’ top five prospects at the beginning of the year, and got started in Round Rock this season with the idea that he would continue to dazzle the way he had at lower levels and maybe receive a shot at pitching in Arlington at some point. Ramirez struggled though to start the year, seeing a dip in his velocity and experiencing issues with his control. He appeared to be on the upswing after getting a chance to work with Greg Maddux, but was demoted to Frisco anyway. Since being moved a level down, Ramirez has rediscovered his mojo, and is dominating again. Because he started the year at the Triple-A level, I would expect to see him back in Round Rock this season. Especially because of how he has bounced back in Frisco. Estimated Arrival Time: Mid/Late August/After the Trade Deadline

Chad Bell Q & A

Express Tracks writers Will Weinstock and Andrew Brown talked with LHP Chad Bell about his most recent start and the different grips he uses on his pitches. Bell is 3-3 with a 4.46 ERA in Round Rock and his next scheduled start is tomorrow at Memphis.

Projections Part II

By Will Weinstock

Two weeks ago I wrote an article chronicling who I think will be in the field E-Train on opening day in 2013. Now I am taking my shot at trying to figure out which pitchers will be manning the five-man rotation and closing out the end of ballgames next season.

RHP Justin Grimm: Unquestionably, the 23-year-old out of the University of Georgia is having the best season of any pitcher in Rangers farm system. In 13 starts at Double-A Frisco he was 8-3 with a 1.87 ERA. Even more impressive is that in nine of his 13 starts he gave up one earned run or less. The Rangers brass thought so much of how well he was pitching that they called him up to the big leagues when injuries ravaged the pitching staff in Arlington. In his first start June 16 he went six innings and gave up three earned runs on six hits, struck out seven and walked none. Grimm makes his second start tonight against the Detroit Tigers. Once everyone is healthy he will most likely come down to Round Rock to finish out this season and start out 2013.

RHP Barret Loux: The Arizona Diamondbacks drafted Loux with the sixth pick in the 2010 draft. After taking a physical, the medical staff saw some red flags and did not want to take the risk signing him. Through a unique rule, the Rangers were able to sign him as a free agent and a first round talent fell in the Rangers lap.  Loux has been absolutely dominant this season at Double-A Frisco posting an 11-1 record with a 3.87 ERA. Not only will Loux be in Round Rock to start next season, but don’t be surprised if he makes the jump to Triple-A before 2012 is over. Coming into the year MLB.com ranked Loux as the Rangers 17th best prospect and his strong play has positioned him to be considered one of the better pitching prospects in the system.

RHP Neil Ramirez: Coming into the year, no one would have been surprised if Ramirez was in Arlington at some point if he pitched well. However, that has not come close to happening yet. In his first 14 starts Ramirez posted an 8.02 ERA, opponents were hitting .285 against him and he had given up home runs in 10 straight games. Last Wednesday he seemed to turn the corner against the Cubs by working at a quicker pace. In that outing he only surrendered three earned runs on two hits and struck out a season-high eight batters. The strong start was not enough to save Ramirez from a demotion to Double-A Frisco two days later. The coming months will be important for Ramirez as he will need to make the necessary mechanical changes to get back to his form of last season (4-3, 3.63 ERA at Triple-A). One thing Ramirez still has going for him is he just turned 23-years-old.

RHP Jacob Brigham: On most Double-A rotations Brigham would be a star, but with Loux, Grimm, and Cody Buckel all having spent time in Frisco this season, he has been overlooked. The 24-year old is 3-4 with a 4.40 ERA in 15 starts with the RoughRiders. June has not been so kind to Brigham (1-2, 6.14 ERA in 5 starts) and it could push back an arrival to Round Rock in 2012. And Brigham might not be in the Rangers plans because of the amount of arms in front of him. Nevertheless he has the potential to pitch in the big leagues and will contribute to the Express in 2013.

LHP Chad Bell: Barring injuries the first four pitchers listed are locks to be in Express starting rotation to when the 2013 season kicks off. The last starter is truly anyone’s guess. I do not think the Rangers are going to rush 20-year-old stud Buckel (5-3, 1.31 ERA in 13 starts at Advanced-A) or push a struggling Tim Murphy (3-7, 6.51 ERA in 13 starts at Double-A). My best guess is recent promotion Chad Bell, who started the season as a reliever in Class A-Advanced Myrtle Beach and has now become a starter, gets the nod. In three minor league seasons Bell has never been a full time starter. He got his first start this season at Double-A Frisco May 19 and since then he has been 2-2 with a 3.89 in seven starts. It is a small sample size but if Bell can make the jump to facing Triple-A hitters, he will stick in Round Rock.

Closer: RHP Matt West: West has one of the more intriguing careers of any pitcher in the Rangers system. He was drafted in 2007 as a third baseman, but after four up and down seasons he was moved to the mound. He made such an impression after the transition that the Rangers put him on the 40-man roster. West has been compared most with Jason Motte, the closer for the St. Louis Cardinals, because he has a compact build and throws power stuff. The problem for West is his inability to stay healthy as he didn’t debut this season until June 17. He has only made three appearances above short-season but once he gets healthy, look for him to move quickly through the Rangers farm system.

Obviously in baseball anything can happen. Of course, trades, injuries, performance and free agent signings can change my projections at a moment’s notice. Throughout the season I will continue to give updates to the 2013 projections. 

Promotion Candidates – June Edition

Credit: Alex Yocum-Beeman, Frisco RoughRiders

By Wade Hilligoss

Round Rock, Texas – Before the season, we took a look at the guys in Double-A Frisco who might have a shot to see Round Rock in 2012. We were right on some (Bianucci, Mendonca), wrong on some (Jonathan Greene, Engel Beltre) and on others we were pretty close (Yan). But now it’s June, and the landscape of the Rangers minor league system has shifted a little. Below are a few candidates for promotions to Round Rock, with predictions on when they will come aboard the E-Train.

***POSITION PLAYERS***

3B/1B Mike Olt - Where to start… how about 18 home runs in 55 games? Or a .413 OBP in his first exposure to the higher levels? Or how about 48 RBI at the 40 percent point of the season? Sure, he has some work to do. He could cut down on the K’s (63). He could drive the ball to the gaps more (11 2B). But no matter how you spin it, Olt may be the best offensive player in the Rangers system right now.

I recently asked an Express pitcher who played with him in Spring Training if he could play at this level. He said, “Absolutely. He could play in the big leagues right now, actually. There’s just no hurry and he’ll be here eventually.” That’s high praise.

The one thing to think about is where Olt fits in right now. If he comes to Round Rock he takes away at-bats from Mike Bianucci, Ryan Spilborghs, Tommy Mendonca and Brad Nelson. Also, the Rangers are pretty set at 3B and 1B for the near future so there is no reason to push him. Scott Lucas of the Newberg Report and Rangers Rundown pointed out on our podcast this week that they could keep Olt in Double-A to have him work on learning first base and left field. But Olt is also the only only in the system who dictates how fast he moves along. If he keeps pumping homers into the Frisco night air, he should don the white and blue this year. Estimated arrival: Late July.

SS Jurickson Profar – The other high-profile prospect in the RoughRiders infield, Profar has been outstanding considering he is only 19. He is hitting .291 with six home runs and 26 RBI in 56 games, but what is truly impressive has been his ability to get on base consistently. His on-base percentage has hovered around .360 and he had a 50-game on-base streak already this year. Since he is only 19, and since the Rangers have long-term solutions at second base and shortstop, Profar can take his sweet time to learn all he can while in the minors.

Consider this the likely scenario: Profar finishes 2012 with Frisco, has a decent spring with the big league club and spends all or most of 2013 with the Express. He then makes his debut after rosters expand and is ready for opening day 2014 at age 21 and has six years of control with Texas remaining. Sound good? This may be what Jon Daniels has in mind. However, injuries and stellar play can speed things up or slow them down. For now Profar is a RoughRider, but 2013 will be a lot of fun in Round Rock. Estimated arrival: Start of 2013.

C Zach Zaneski – Zaneski is an intriguing prospect. He played well at Advanced-A Myrtle Beach in 2011 and so far in 2012, he’s been a force at the place in Frisco (.338, 3 HR, 14 RBI, 15K/10BB in 20 games). His defense is not ready yet, and with Dusty Brown and Luis Martinez entrenched with the Express, he is not needed yet. Catchers usually need more time than other position players to develop, so an appearance by Zaneski could happen due in to injury, but he’s most likely not destined for a long-term stay with the Express until next year. Estimated arrival: Start of 2013.

***PITCHERS***

RHP Jacob Brigham – The 24-year-old had a decent 2011: 6-6, 4.49 ERA, 114 K in 114.1 innings, including 14 starts. His start to 2012 has been even better: 2-2, 3.68 ERA, 60 K, 16 BB in 67.2 innings, including 11 starts. Some thought he might have a chance to see Round Rock early thanks to his 40-man roster status, but with Roy Oswalt and three other young pitchers in the Express’ rotation, he’ll have to wait his turn. Estimated arrival: Late August 2012.

RHP Barret Loux – Loux has been nothing short of amazing so far in 2012. He is 11-0 in his first 12 starts with 62 K’s to only 20 BB’s. If anyone is to bust through the barrier from Double-A to Triple-A, it could first be Loux if he keeps up his stellar performance. Estimated arrival: Mid-July 2012

RHP Justin Grimm – The third arm in the Frisco trifecta, Grimm has been just as good, if not better than his rotation-mates above. He is 8-3 with a sparking 1.67 ERA in 70.0 innings. He also has 59 K’s to go along with a .237 opponent batting average. Grimmm is considered by some to have the highest upside of these three, but he may be third in line to snag a promotion. However, each has their own strengths and weaknesses and any of the three could leapfrog the other. It may also depend on who’s turn it is the rotation if somebody goes down in Round Rock.  Estimated arrival: August 2012

RHP Carlos Pimentel – Sometimes left out of the conversation, Pimentel has had a promising 2012 as well. In 13 games (five starts) he has a 2.91 ERA with 44 K’s to 24 BB’s . The K/BB seems a tad high right now, but he will be given every chance to work it out before a promotion. Estimated arrival: Start of 2013

LHP Chad Bell - The bullpen at Round Rock has been a constant stream of pitchers for the last two seasons. This year, there was little change until recently. However, what change their is often results in other major league-quality arms or Triple-A veterans coming in to provide depth. Johan Yan has been the only promotion from Frisco this season, and we may not see any more barring injury in 2012. Bell has pitched well enough (1-0, 2.12 ERA, 27 K 34.0 IP)  that he could get a look this season, but he may be well to keep it up in hopes of making his PCL debut next season.  Estimated arrival: Start of 2013

LHP Joe Ortiz - This is another guy, like Bell and Pimentel, who has pitched well (1-2, 2.88 ERA, 22K) but has to pay his dues and work on some things before he sheds the red and black for good. Estimated arrival: Start of 2013

RHP Fabio Castillo – Castillo has appeared in 62 games for Frisco over the last three seasons. He is not in the same boat as the previous bullpen guys simply because he is further along in his development. Castillo debuted with Frisco in 2010 and looked over-matched, but promising in 3.2 innings. He put up a 6.36 ERA in 2011 but showed flashes of something good many times. This season, he is 2-1 with a 2.51 ERA in 17 games. The next logical step for the 23-year-old may be to push him to Round Rock to see what he has there. It could be the bench mark for how much he has progressed before they potentially lose him as a minor league free agent. Estimated arrival: Late August 2012.

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