Last night marked my first attendance at a Frisco RoughRiders game this season. But I have an excuse: I lived in Houston this summer completing an internship and the commute to and from Dr. Pepper Ballpark or The Globe would have been … lengthy. And no, the Rangers did not visit the Astros at Minute Maid Park the entire time I lived in Houston. Oh the humanity!
When I returned to DFW, I packed my stuff again and set sail for Frisco, the land of Joey Gallo. And it was sublime.
According to MLB.com’s Prospect Watch, six of the Texas Rangers’ top ten prospects call Frisco home – for now. Which is to say: There is some big-time talent on Highway 121.
However, the talented personnel offers only half of the Frisco experience. In 2009, Baseball America named Dr. Pepper Ballpark, home of the Frisco RoughRiders, the 5th best Minor League stadium and 2nd best among AA clubs. With new ownership in tow – namely Chuck Greenberg, former owner of the Texas Rangers and current owner of the Rangers’ Hi-A Myrtle Beach Pelicans – the quality of Minor League baseball in Frisco will only increase.
So get out to Frisco before Joey Gallo, Jorge Alfaro, Nick Williams, Chi Chi Gonzalez, Jake Thompson, and Nomar Mazara take their talents to Arlington. Plus, you can tell your friends I saw them first.
Now to last night’s game against the San Antonio Missions.
Starting pitcher Jerad Eickhoff started rocky, surrendering a homer to the Missions’ Corey Spangenberg on the second pitch of the game. Eickhoff would settle down and finish seven innings while giving up another 3 runs.
Second-baseman Odubel “Doobie” Herrera leads the Texas League batting title chase by a considerable margin and showed why last night. Doobie squared up a handful of pitches and collected 3 hits. Business as usual.
DH Trever Adams contributed a 2-run homerun in the first inning.
The prodigious Joey Gallo added 2 hits including a double to accompany his 2 strikeouts. Gallo struck out both times on soft curves – his kryptonite. Gallo’s batting average recently started its decent, sinking into the high .240s, which means Texas League pitchers are starting to figure him out. Any chance of a call-up in September should be quashed – needs more seasoning and no room on the 40-man roster.
Catcher Jorge Alfaro turned in his best game at the AA level behind the dish. In the sixth inning with a runner on first, Eickhoff buried a pitch in the dirt. Alfaro blocked the pitch, which caromed back toward the mound and the runner took off for second. Alfaro popped out of his stance, retrieved the ball, spun, and fired a strike to second. Out. Alfaro looked like he had no shot to get the runner but had one of the best throws to second I have ever seen. Very Pudge-esque.
Outfielder Nomar Mazara showed why scouts are clamoring over him. Mazara, who will not turn 20 until next season, collected a couple of singles and kept his batting average in the .300 range. Mazara also bobbled a grounder in right field, allowing a runner to score.
The star of the night, outfielder Nick Williams, exemplifies the high-risk, high-reward prospect. At 20 years old with a lanky frame, Williams looked like a little leaguer who is playing two or three age groups older than his actual age. Nevertheless, Williams delivered. Looking odd in the 3-spot in the lineup, Williams capped a 3-run rally in the 8th inning with a 2-run single.
Keone Kela came on for the save in the 9th and flashed 99 mph, sitting around 95 mph. When Kela located his fastball, it was unhittable. Kela then went to his off-speed pitches and walked the bases loaded. Kela got a strikeout and a short pop-up to earn the save. That’s so Feliz.
Bottom line: Get out to Frisco before the season is over. You don’t have to be Teddy Roosevelt to support the RoughRiders.