This week I had an opportunity to ask some questions of Aaron Goldsmith who does the play-by-play for the Frisco RoughRiders, here’s what he had to say.
Rangers prospect Jurickson Profar has received a large amount of publicity recently and is constantly rumored to be a player other teams are trying to acquire in trades, Do you think we will see Profar in Frisco this season?
Selfishly I wish we would, but I really don’t see that happening. I think if he ended the season in High-A Myrtle Beach that alone would be very impressive. He’s only 18-years-old and, like Martin Perez, has so many people watching his progress and development. It’s a lot of pressure to put on a kid, but all indications so far show that he can handle it. Maybe we’ll get a chance to see him in 2012.
Is there any player in particular that has caught your eye that we should be paying attention to this season?
The ‘Riders lost so many talented players last season through trades and promotions. Engel Beltre has received lots of attention and enters the season as the Rangers No. 5 prospect. One player who might be below the radar and who can be a bit streaky is Joey Butler. For the last two seasons he’s led his team in games, hits, runs, and walks. In fact, his 143 hits last year were second most in the Rangers minor league system. We had a chance to watch catcher Jose Felix for about 30 games near the end of 2010. He won Rangers Minor League Defender of the Year and was terrific behind home plate for the ‘Riders. His bat will take some work at the Double-A level, but he’s a promising young player.
This year marks the second season with former Ranger great Steve Buechele at the helm, how do you feel he has performed as a manager and how have the players responded to him?
From my vantage point, Buechele has done a terrific job as Manager – especially considering he’s only done it now for two seasons. I’m yet to meet a player who doesn’t LOVE playing for this guy. They have so much respect for his knowledge and the fact that “he’s been there.” As a long-time major league veteran, Buechele doesn’t live and die by every pitch. He’s able to put a 140 game season into perspective and, from what I can tell, doesn’t overreact. When ‘Riders second baseman, Matt Lawson, was traded last July in the Cliff Lee deal, one of the first things he said to me was that he would miss playing for Buechele. That told me a lot.
The Texas Rangers experienced unprecedented sucess in the 2010 season, do you think this success hsa stirred up more interest in the RoughRiders?
I’ve heard some people argue that the ‘Riders received more attention in past years because Texas had struggled at the major league level and that the “excitement” was in the prospects buried in the minor leagues. Obviously the hard work of Rangers GM Jon Daniels and the rest of the front office has paid off and the Rangers now have a winning identity. Last year the Rangers had the second highest ranked farm system by Baseball America. Now because of trades and promotions to the majors, it’s ranked 15th. All that said, there were 10 former RoughRiders on the Rangers World Series roster. Now that Frisco is going into its ninth seasons as a franchise, I think that Rangers fans are able to better connect the dots and realize that a high percentage of those players in Arlington where once here in Frisco. Hopefully that translates into continued interest.
This will be your second season with the RoughRiders how do you feel Frisco and the Dr Pepper Ballpark compare to other Minor League teams and Stadiums?
Dr Pepper Ballpark is one of the most stunning minor league facilities that I’ve ever been in. It really is great to wake up every morning and know that I work at a ballpark as beautiful as this one. There are plenty of great facilities that deserve recognition throughout the minors, and Dr Pepper Ballpark is right up there with the best.
Working for the RoughRiders is very different than working for any other minor league team (I’ve previously worked for teams in Illinois, Cape Cod, and Portland, ME). The ‘Riders are owned by Mandalay Baseball Properties – a movie production company that owns six highly-successful minor league franchises (Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, Oklahoma City, Erie, Frisco, Dayton, Staten Island). Mandalay has a strong track record of success and, as a result, we have terrific resources from which to work from. Because of the leadership from the top, the RoughRiders are successful on the field and off.
What are you most looking forward to in this upcoming season?
I’m really looking forward to seeing how Martin Perez handles the pressures of being the No. 1 prospect. Engel Beltre is so much fun to watch play and I’m curious see how he’s developed as a hitter during the off-season. As of right now we don’t know what our roster will be so it’s hard to know who all we’ll have to start the season off. With that in mind, we ended that season last year with a number of guys who were fairly new to Double-A and my guess is that many of them will be back to start 2011. Witnessing how they gel as a club and how each individually respond to Double-A competition is always a fun experience that is typically difficult to predict. No matter what happens this season, I’m sure it will be another memorable one where I learn a lot and hopefully will be able to fall asleep on the late night bus rides!
Thanks to Aaron again for answering our questions and we’ll try to check back with him later in the year. Check our site tomorrow for my profile on the Rangers top prospect Martin Perez and I saved my questions about Perez for that post!