Texas Rangers: Frisco RoughRiders
Only the Springfield Cardinals had more players (five) named to the team.
Loux, 23, is the second RoughRider to be named Pitcher of the Year, joining Blake Beavan in 2010. In 24 starts, Loux is 14-1 with a 3.50 ERA. He leads the Texas League in wins and is tied for second most victories in all of minor league baseball.
He suffered his only loss on June 22 against Corpus Christi, his first defeat in 11 months (when he was pitching for Myrtle Beach in the Carolina League). Loux is first in winning percentage (.933) and fourth in fewest baserunners/9 IP (11.50).
A former first-round pick out of Texas A&M by the Diamondbacks (sixth overall in 2010), Loux was granted free agency after Arizona failed to sign him. The Rangers signed the Houston native as a free agent on November 22, 2010.
Beltre, 22, has been Frisco’s regular center fielder and leadoff batter for most of the season. Through 127 games he is batting .262 with 16 doubles and career highs in home runs (16), triples (17), RBIs (54) and steals (36).
Olt, 24, played in 95 games for Frisco before being promoted to the Rangers on Aug. 2. With the Riders, Olt hit .288 with 28 home runs, 17 doubles, one triple and 82 RBIs. At the time of his promotion, he was leading all Double-A players in OPS (.877) and was tied for the second most home runs in all of the minors.
Profar, 19, was also named a Midseason Texas League All-Star. Through 123 games, the switch-hitter is batting .280 with 14 home runs, 26 doubles, seven triples and 62 RBIs. He is tied for fourth in the league in triples and is fifth in total bases (216). The youngest player in all of Double-A, he played against Olt in the Futures Game as the starting shortstop for the World Team.
Springfield outfielder Oscar Taveras is the Texas League Player of the Year, while Corpus Christi's Keith Bodie was honored as the Manager of the Year.
He has been turning heads ever since he first entered the Texas Rangers' lauded farm system in 2010. Mike Olt, his teammate and another top prospect for the Rangers, said he knew Profar was something special ever since he first saw him on the Rangers' rookie-league team in Spokane, Wash.
It is rare to find a young player with the sheer amount of raw talent, potential and humble attitude that Profar has. Many scouts have praised the shortstop/second baseman for the RoughRiders as a top-five prospect. ESPN.com's Keith Law ranked Profar as the second-best minor league prospect in baseball. Profar can also add a selection to the Texas League All-Star team and an invitation to the 2012 MLB Futures All-Star Game to his list of honors this season.
Profar will make his second consecutive appearance in the Futures Game on Sunday as part of the World Team. At 19 years old, Profar will be the second-youngest player in the game.
"It feels great," Profar said. "I was working hard to go back this year. I really liked it last year, playing with those guys. There are some great players out there, and to be part of it was a good thing. It's going to be fun."
Profar hails from Curacao, a small island in the Caribbean just north of Venezuela. Curacao, along with Aruba and Bonaire, make up the "ABC islands," which are constituents of the Netherlands. Curacao has produced many professional baseball players, including Andruw Jones of the New York Yankees and San Francisco Giants hitting coach Hensley Meulens. Profar said he is proud to be a part of that legacy.
"We are a small island, and to have good players like that is special," he said.
In his hometown of Willemstad, Profar got started with baseball at an early age. When he was 11 years old, he competed in his first of two consecutive Little League World Series, winning the championship in 2004. The trip to Williamsport, Pa., was Profar's first time in the United States. He said that competing on an international level in front of so many people was not only a great experience but also ultimately helped get him to where he is today.
As a member of the Rangers' Double-A affiliate, Profar has the fourth-best batting average among RoughRiders at .295 with 19 doubles, six triples, nine home runs and 39 RBIs while slugging .481. What stands out most is his speed on the base paths, indicative by his nine stolen bases this season, and his skills on defense.
"He comes better than advertised," manager Steve Buechele said. "He's a great kid that loves playing, and he's a heck of a baseball player. There were concerns about him jumping a level and coming here, but I think he's handled it as good as he possibly can. He's on the All-Star team, and he's played like an All-Star."
"He's just a great competitor," hitting coach Jason Hart said. "He's got great hand-eye coordination, twitch muscles, and his heart and competitive edge at the plate really put him over the top."
Another thing that gives Profar an advantage over many international players is that he has a firm grasp on the English language. In addition to his native Papiamento, he speaks three languages, a phenomenon that is extremely common in his home country.
"Some other people over there speak like 10 languages," Profar said. "We learn it in school. It’s something special, understanding what your managers and coaches are trying to do with you. It helps a lot."
Profar certainly puts his understanding of English to good use. Buechele said that Profar's coachability is just another one of his many positive attributes.
"He just eats up everything you teach him," Buechele said. "He's just a wonderful kid who wants to get better. He's not afraid to fail, and the best part about him is he's not afraid to be great either."
Like any great player, Profar puts all of his attributes toward one goal: helping his team win. Frisco sits in third place in the Texas League South standings and is looking to improve. Profar said he loves playing for Frisco and is willing to do anything to help the team, including playing multiple defensive positions.
"We're a great team," Profar said. "I've got great teammates. We play together as a team, and that's what you want. We're closer to Arlington here, so everybody kind of looks to us. That's why we have to play hard every day and try to win every day."
Temporary goals aside, there is no denying that the ultimate pinnacle for Profar, like any prospect, is getting called up to the major leagues. Although the Rangers may not need his position yet, he could be playing at a high enough level to be called up anyway.
"That's going to be special," Profar said. "That's what I’m working for, you know? I want to be over there, so that's why I'm working hard every day. We'll see what happens."
Profar said that when he does get that call, the first person he will let know is his grandmother, Victoria. Victoria raised him and is his most beloved relative. But she has yet to see him play in America.
"She's scared of an airplane, so she won't come," Profar said. "When I get to the major leagues, she will come for sure."
In that case, Victoria had better start getting over her fear. While Profar may be turning heads in the minor leagues today, it won't be long before he gets his chance to play on baseball's biggest stage. And that will be something special.
The right-hander had an OK outing in his debut, using a lively fastball ranging from 91-93 mph according to the stadium's radar gun, but a two-run third inning put a negative light on the evening. Buckel gave up two earned runs on five hits with three strikeouts and three walks in four innings of work. He threw 83 pitches, including 49 for strikes.
"My mechanics were kind of iffy through the first three [innings]," Buckel said. "I didn't locate the fastball very well, but I'm pleased to see when I don't have what I usually have on a night, I can still compete. I thought I competed pretty well. I can't wait to get back on the mound in five days and hopefully, have better stuff."
Buckel, who is 5-3 with an 1.31 ERA in 13 starts with Myrtle Beach, was selected as a Carolina League mid-season all-star. His ERA is the lowest in the minors. Buckel allowed no more than three runs in each start and zero or one run in nine of his Carolina League starts.
He was excited to hear he was being called up to the RoughRiders.
"I found out the first day after the All-Star break out in Myrtle," Buckel said. "I was really excited to get put here. ... It's a good atmosphere so far. The guys have accepted me, and I hope I can perform well for them."
Before the 2012 season began, Buckel was listed as Rangers' sixth-best prospect by Baseball America. The 6'1", 185 pounder was drafted by Texas in the second round of the 2010 June draft.
- SS Jurickson Profar
- 3B Mike Olt
- OF Engel Beltre
- C Zach Zaneski
- P Chad Bell
- P Jake Brigham
- P Justin Grimm (expected to be called up to the Rangers for a start against the Houston Astros on Saturday)
- P Barret Loux
Oswalt lasted 3 1/3 innings, giving up three earned runs and five hits with one walk. He threw 85 pitches, 55 for strikes.
"Breaking pitches weren't there tonight," Oswalt said. "Couldn't get my curveball over, and my slider was kind of flat. The biggest thing is getting the pitch count up. We got up to around 90 pitches, but it was a little quicker than I wanted it to be."
Oswalt got through the first two innings with no damage but ran into trouble in the third. The leadoff man reached after striking out on a wild pitch. A one-out double and back-to-back two-out hits led to a three-run inning.
Oswalt is scheduled to make his next start Sunday with Triple-A Round Rock, where he made his first two starts.
Read more about Oswalt's start here.
The eight-year veteran had Tommy John surgery on his left elbow Aug. 5. He has since built up the arm strength and with that comes confidence while playing for Double-A Frisco in the Rangers' minor league system. He's more than nine months removed from the major surgery, and there are no limitations.
|Brad Hawpe discusses his recovery from Tommy John surgery in Double-A Frisco and the Rangers' keys to success.
"That’s not a question for me anymore."
Hawpe was a guest last weekend on Rangers Magazine on ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM. He said there wasn't a specific moment when he felt he was over the mental and physical obstacles of elbow surgery. However, he credits his Frisco teammates for encouraging him to play long toss, which is something he used to do three days a week pre-surgery.
The 32-year-old has played in 893 minor league games, mostly with the Colorado Rockies organization, but he has also played for San Diego and Tampa Bay. Hawpe, a Metroplex resident, is a career .276 hitter with 124 home runs and 490 RBIs. Three of those home runs came as a pinch-hitter.
Getting back to his "calling card," Hawpe led the National League with 16 outfield assists in 2006 and was second the year before with 10.
While Hawpe is trying to get back to the big leagues, he has the pleasure of being a teammate of highly touted prospects who are looking to get to the majors for the first time. When I brought up Jurickson Profar, Hawpe delivered quite the scouting report.
"Most 19-year-olds are what, freshman in college? Most kids can't handle the level he's at and the attention he gets. That kid is going to be incredible," Hawpe said.
"I don’t know how else to put it. He’s going to be a star, in my opinion. Not just because of his talent. His talent is off the charts. His work ethic is good. His mindset is right. He’s a very positive kid, but what people may not know about him when they are looking at stats and trying to figure this and that out about him is he’s very intelligent. He’s a very, very, very smart kid. For a 19-year-old to carry himself and handle himself like he does, I mean I am thoroughly impressed by that kid."
Hawpe talked more about his health, the difference between his athletic ability before and after surgery, his relationship with the Rangers in spring training and thereafter, playing for and the importance of a manager like Buechele and the difference in minor league ball in present day compared to his rise to the big leagues.
He also talked about a major key to Rangers success. Listen to the podcast and find out what he thinks.
Bryan Dolgin is the host of Rangers Magazine as well as the host of the Rangers radio pre and post game shows on the Texas Rangers ESPN Radio Network & ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM. Follow him on Twitter: @RangersRadioBD
|Double-A Frisco manager Steve Buechele joins Rangers Magazine to talk about Mike Olt and other Rangers prospects.
Of course, it makes sense that Buechele is assisting in the development of a third baseman. He played more 1,200 major league games at third base from 1985-1995 and most of those years with the Rangers. Buechele was a solid defender, but he also knows how to develop the baseball mind from his own experiences.
When you think about Olt, you also have to think about who is at third base for the Rangers. It’s Adrian Beltre, and he is signed to a long-term contract. When Buechele was in the minors, Buddy Bell manned the hot corner for the Rangers.
“I think in this game, you never know what’s going to happen. Buddy was traded [to the Cincinnati Reds], and I got the call. You never know with injuries or trades. It’s just the way this game goes. I think sometimes it can be frustrating to a player, but sure enough when you are ready to make it to the big leagues and play in the big leagues, there will be a spot for you,” said Buechele, who was 23 years old when he received the call-up to the big leagues.
Odds are extremely against Beltre being traded, but Olt, who is 23, saw playing time at first base in spring training and will eventually play some first base with the RoughRiders. As we know from over the years, the Rangers have not been shy about trading quality minor leaguers to bolster the major league club. It will be interesting to follow the development of Olt.
Buechele also talked more about the versatility of position players, Jurickson Profar’s first taste of AA, how far Olt and Profar are from the big leagues, Brad Hawpe’s progress, Engel Beltre’s improvement, Joe Wieland’s MLB debut, Barrett Loux, Justin Grimm and Tim Murphy. Listen to the podcast.
Former Ranger Steve Buechele will try to lead the Class AA Riders to their third consecutive Texas League playoff berth.
Here are some notes from the release announcing the roster:
- Of the players currently listed on the Frisco roster, 12 have previously suited up in a Riders uniform. They are: Engel Beltre, Wilfredo Boscan, Jake Brigham, Fabio Castillo, Miguel De Los Santos, Jose Felix, Tim Murphy, Carlos Pimentel, Guilder Rodriguez, Tyler Tufts, Johan Yan and Corey Young.
- The 2012 RoughRiders hail from five different countries (United States, Dominican
Republic, Venezuela, Curacao and Mexico) and 11 states (California, Connecticut,
Florida, Indiana, Maryland, New Jersey, Ohio, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia and
- The average age of the roster is 23.5; the oldest player is OF Val Majewski (30) and the youngest is Profar (19).
|Frisco RoughRiders coach Steve Buechele talks about prospects, the transition from High-A to Double-A and dealing with the dog days of baseball season in the minors and majors.
Buechele, along with pitching coach Jeff Andrews, were able to “pass along” a couple of their pitchers earlier this season to the San Diego Padres in order to acquire reliever Mike Adams for the major league club. Adams pitched a scoreless relief inning in last night’s Rangers win against the Angels.
“The trades…part of you, when you lose a Robbie Erlin and a Joe Wieland all at one time, part of the trades you’re saying ‘gosh darnit, you just took 40 percent of my staff and these are the two guys we are leaning on,’ but the other half is that’s what we’re here for is to develop these young players and if they go in trades, they go in trades.”
In the interview, Buechele also talked about pitching prospect Robbie Ross, outfielder Mike Bianucci, third baseman Tommy Mendonca, outfielder Engel Beltre, the transition from High-A to Double-A and dealing with the dog days of baseball season in the minors and majors.
Follow Bryan Dolgin on Twitter @RangersRadioBD.
It’s a safe bet that young pitching would be part of any trade the Rangers make leading up to the July 31 trade deadline. On the recent edition of Rangers Magazine heard on 103.3 FM ESPN, I spoke to Jeff Andrews, who is the pitching coach for the Double-A Frisco RoughRiders. He certainly has noticed that his pitching staff is drawing the attention of scouts from other organizations.
|Frisco RoughRiders pitching coach Jeff Andrews talks about his staff with Bryan Dolgin on Rangers Magazine.
One of the pitchers who is likely drawing the attention of scouts is 20-year-old lefty Robbie Erlin. Andrews marveled about the makeup of this starting pitcher who made the jump from High-A Myrtle Beach to Frisco during this season.
“He’s pitched beyond his years, beyond his experience, with his mentality and with his composure and his strike ability with three pitches," Andrews said. "Having him every five days is a lot of fun. His side work is a lot of fun. He’s a sponge. He watches games intently. His stuff is not going to blow you away. He’s very polished for his age.”
Andrews is in his third season as a pitching coach in the Rangers system and his 26th as a minor league instructor. I’m told he is a guru when it comes to understanding and adjusting a pitcher’s mechanics.
During our Saturday morning conversation, Andrews also talked about 21-year-old right-handed starter Joe Wieland (who also made the jump from High-A to Frisco this season), 24-year-old right-handed reliever Justin Miller and 24-year-old right-handed reliever Tanner Scheppers. Check out the podcast of the interview.
Rangers Magazine is heard Saturday morning from 10-11 a.m. on 103.3 FM ESPN. Follow show host Bryan Dolgin on Twitter @RangersRadioBD.
Left-hander Martin Perez started the game for the RoughRiders and gave up three runs -- two earned – on three hits, walking two and striking out five in six innings of work.
Perez didn't allow a hit in the first three innings and struck out four of the first 10 batters he faced. He threw 62 of his 99 pitches on the night for strikes with his fastball averaging 93 mph.
However, Perez struggled to get through the middle of his outing. Perez allowed two runs -- one earned -- on two hits in the fourth and gave up a nine-pitch walk in the inning. Perez also allowed a one-pitch solo home run in the fifth with two outs.
“They made an adjustment to every pitch he was throwing and he lost a little bit of his command, but he was able to get back on track quickly,” his translator said through Perez.
Perez bounced back, getting four consecutive outs, including a strikeout to end the sixth inning and his night on the mound.
“Overall he feels great. Everything he’s worked since the beginning of the season has been paying off and he feels the plan he has right now is in good shape.” his translator said through Perez.
Right-hander Tanner Scheppers, recovering from a lower back injury, threw 28 pitches -- 12 for strikes -- in 2/3 of an inning during the eighth. In his second outing this season, Scheppers mixed in his fastball, curveball, change-up and slider but couldn’t find the strike zone with his pitches. Scheppers would leave the game with two walks, two strikeouts and a slider that hit a batter in the leg.
“I just didn’t have my off-speed stuff today,” Scheppers said. “I couldn’t get it to work for a strike and obviously falling behind on some guys, when that happens you’re not going to have the greatest results."
Josh Hamilton will continue his minor league rehab assignment at Triple-A Round Rock beginning Friday, the team announced.
Hamilton, who has been on the disabled list since sustaining a hairline fracture of his right humerus bone while sliding home April 12 in Detroit, was 0-for-3 with a walk, RBI, and two runs scored in his second game as DH on minor league rehab assignment Thursday at Double-A Frisco.
In two games with Frisco, Hamilton was 2-for-7 with a homer and three RBIs.
Hamilton is expected to be the DH for Round Rock in this weekend’s home series against Colorado Springs.
Nelson Cruz is also expected to play in Round Rock this weekend to continue his rehab assignment and play right field. He was placed on the 15-day disabled list May 7 (retroactive to May 4) with a strained right quadriceps muscle.
Cruz, out since May 4 with a strained right quadriceps, is expected to join the Rangers on Friday in Philadelphia.
Cruz was the designated hitter in the No. 3 spot in the RoughRiders' 3-2 win over the Midland Rockhounds at Dr Pepper Ballpark.
Highly touted pitching prospect Martin Perez struck out 10 batters in 7 2/3 innings for Frisco, but he lost his shutout by allowing two runs in the eighth. It was the first time Perez worked into the eighth inning in his pro career.
Cuban defector Leonys Martin, batting leadoff and playing center field, went 1-for-3 with a walk for Frisco.
With one out in the bottom of the eighth and the RoughRiders down 2-0, Cruz's double to left field knocked in Martin, who had walked to start the inning.
With Cruz at second, Tommy Mendonca belted his 10th home run to give the Riders a 3-2 lead.
The Rangers' Opening Day pitcher last season also walked two in his first start since returning from offseason knee surgery.
Leonys Martin went deep to center field in the fourth for his first stateside home run in Frisco's 11-2 win over Corpus Christi. He also had a two-run single in the sixth and is now 5-for-14 with six RBIs.
"It felt good," Feliz said through an interpreter. "My arm started to feel good, but when I wanted to locate my fastball I could."
Feliz has been on the disabled list since April 23 with right shoulder inflammation, something that bothered him when the season began. Feliz said after his outing that he's ready to return to the Rangers' bullpen, most likely Friday when the team returns home to begin a series against the New York Yankees.
Feliz started the inning with a 93 mile-per-hour fastball that was low and inside to leadoff hitter Blake Tekotte. Feliz allowed a single to right on a 2-2 pitch.
But Feliz responded by striking out the next three hitters. He got Jaff Decker swinging, Kyle Blanks swinging on a 1-2 pitch and James Darnell looking on a fastball to end the inning.
Feliz's fastball had plenty of pop and was in the mid-90s on most pitches. He threw one pitch in the dirt -- a 1-2 pitch to Decker --and two more were a little high.
Feliz's return will be a welcome site for the Rangers, who have seen his replacements struggle in the closer's role in his absence.
"I'm hurt, but it happens on every team with the bullpen struggling," Feliz said. "We just got to keep working hard to help the team."
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