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  • Round Rock Express

    Tepid Participation ‏@TepidP

    Round Rock starts the season with 8 on the road. Anthony Ranaudo gets the start in the opener, w/Edwards, Patton, & Claudio in the 'pen.

    Round Rock Express

    Round Rock Express, I have faith in you this year. The last couple of seasons have been treacherous for top prospects in Round Rock. Last year the PCL smacked Luke Jackson in the mouth to the tune of a 10.35 ERA in 40 innings. The year before it was Mike Oltís eyes hanging up a now predictable .197 average. But no more! Chi Chi will break the Round Rock curse of Nolan! I apologize. I saw the opportunity and I had to take it. Chi Chi will start off the season a touch north of Austin and hopefully wonít be shattered by Kris Bryant in his first and last 2 weeks as a regular for the Iowa Cubs. If Chi Chi pitches anything like he did this weekend, he will force himself up to the majors in no time. No time coincidentally is how much time Iíd like to see him spend in AAA. Sadly, JD never returned my calls or random shoutouts to his twitter alter ego (assuming he follows me). I look forward more to the possible mid season call ups than the current roster, but Iím still fascinated by Hanser Albertoís magic leather. While the bullpen is loaded, the bench looks a little thin. This roster will probably change several times between Monday and Wednesday, but the big name dudes are relatively set in stone. Here are some of the major storylines to watch for in Round Rock this year.

    What happened to Luke Jackson last year?

    2015 will be an integral season in Luke JacksonĎs development. Last year Jackson dominated Texas League hitters and earned himself a promotion down 35. After that, things turned sour for Luke. AAA hitters donít swing quite as freely as AA ones. Jackson found that out the hard way. The BB/9 were more than doubled, and his HR/9 actually quadrupled after the promotion. This burrito loving man has looked different in spring training than the burrito loving man of 2014. His willingness to use his changeup more often, coupled with the emergence of a passable slider, helps his profile as a starting pitcher. From the video Iíve seen of Lujax, his mechanics appear more consistent. This was one of the main problems ailing Luke last year. Another correction writers noted about Jackson was his newfound ability to slow down the game instead of letting it get out of hand in key moments. If Luke repeats his 2014 season, a bullpen role is a near certainty. I donít expect that to be the case. Look for Jackson to regain the moxie he had in Frisco and push to steal starts from Nick Martinez.

    Chi Chi flippin Gonzalez.

    I donít need to say any more. But I will. Chi Chi Gonzalez will start a game for the Texas Rangers this season. If you didnít watch Chi Chiís outing on Saturday, you missed an absolute beauty. The biggest knock on Gonzalez is that he doesnít strike out enough hitters. When I talked with him last year, he was more concerned about missing barrels than missing bats entirely. Every pitch he throws has movement, nothing is straight. This induced many a ground ball, but scouts and observers didnít think Chi Chi could reach back and K hitters when he really needed to. In 18.2 spring training innings, Chi Chi racked up 23 strike outs. Yes, I know for the most part spring stats donít mean anything, but I watched him carve up hitters for eight Ks in five innings Saturday, and I couldnít look away. As much as we would love to see Gonzalez in the opening day rotation, we all know he could use a little polish in AAA finishing school. Donít worry though, Chi Chi will be in Arlington before you know it. He will be worth the wait.

    Bullpen Bonanza

    As optimistic as I am about the Rangerís chances in 2015, the main reason I hold my hopeful tongue is because of the bullpen. I liked what I saw from Spencer Patton last year in limited big league action, as well as this spring. Patton has good promise (thanks, Royals), but needs to refine his command before heís ready to be an MLB bullpen regular. Iím disappointed, but not surprised at Claudioís demotion from big league camp. If Claudio is going to earn one of those limited lefty roles in the bullpen, heís going to have to learn to be more effective against lefties. His herky jerk delivery hides the ball well from righties, but allows lefties to pick it up early on in the delivery. I donít have faith in Ross Detwiler as a lefty specialist reliever. It isnít a role heís ever been in. Detwiler would have more success as a starter, where heís been the majority of his career. The bullpen is the most likely place for a AAA call up, so a successful Round Rock pen would mean great things for the Rangers.

    Other Notes

    When will Joey Gallo get here? Iím uncertain since Thad Levine never returned my snap chats, snail mail, smoke signals. Look for a similar time table to last season. If Gallo tears up Frisco early on, I wouldnít be surprised to see the front office wait a couple months to send him down south. If Joey sees Arlington before September, things are either in the crapper, or Joey has become a transcendent being who made a deal with the baseball Gods to be able to hit high inside heat. Who is Jared Hoying? Jared is a man who, if not for DeShieldsí speed, would be on the 25 man roster. He is a poor manís Joc Peterson. Jared doesnít draw as many walks, and isnít as aggressive on the bases, but he is overlooked by many. Why isnít Adam Rosales in Round Rock? Well, Greg Tepper, itís because you angered Jon Daniels somehow. Hanser Alberto has one of the slickest gloves in the minors, and isnít bad at the dish either. If he has a solid beginning of the season, or there is a significant injury to an infield starter not named Prince (knock on wood), Hanser could see time in The Show for a good portion of the year. Also, Iím not sure what to blame Michael Choiceís struggles on besides Billy Bean/Aís magic. There are legitimate reasons I will get into at a later date. If youíd like to know now, send me a morse code message, a homing pigeon, a tweet @80gradewhitt.

    Whether the Rangers win 50 or 150 games this year, Iím going to enjoy the heck out of watching the farm this year. We will be with you all year squealing over ever Gallo bomb, Jorge back pick, and Nick Williams walk. All three of them. Rangers start in a few hours and the farm starts up on Thursday. Baseball is here and summer is within reach. So letís plant our rears on those bleachers before the Texas sun sets them ablaze. Letís go out and earn that opening day sunburn that puts us in a baseball frame of mind. Letís settle in for the long haul because finally: Itís time.

    The Oklahoma City Dodgers kick off the season Thursday against the Round Rock Express at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark. Jacob Unruh and Jenni Carlson preview the opening game and talk about the excitement around the Dodgers brand.

    Some names to keep an eye on according to Unruh: OF Scott Schebler, INF Kike Hernandez, P Joe Wieland, and opening night starter (and former Oklahoma State pitcher) Scott Baker.

  • #2
    The Texas Rangers and the Round Rock Express announced the Triple-A affiliate's 2015 roster Wednesday afternoon prior to the 2015 season opener in Oklahoma City.

    The Opening Day roster features a 25-man active roster of 13 pitchers, three catchers, five infielders and four outfielders. Pitchers Ross Ohlendorf and Nick Tepesch will start the season on the seven-day DL.

    Returning from the 2014 season are pitchers Tepesch, Edwar Cabrera, Luke Jackson, Alex Claudio, Jon Edwards, Spencer Patton, and Jimmy Reyes, catchers Brett Nicholas, Chris Gimenez and Tomas Telis, and outfielders Jared Hoying, Ryan Strausborger and Michael Choice. Pitcher Ross Wolf returns to Round Rock after spending last season in South Korea and pitcher Wandy Rodriguez is back in Round Rock for the first time since 2006.

    New to the roster are pitchers Alex "Chi Chi" Gonzalez, Cody Kendall, David Martinez, Ohlendorf, Juan Perez, and Anthony Ranaudo, infielders Trever Adams, Hanser Alberto, Kyle Blanks, Tommy Field and Ed Lucas, and outfielder Carlos Peguero.

    The 2015 roster features just three players who are playing at the Triple-A level for the first time in their careers: Gonzalez, Adams and Alberto. The veteran-heavy roster features 15 players with Major League experience: Cabrera, Edwards, Martinez, Ohlendorf, Perez, Ranaudo, Rodriguez, Wolf, Blanks, Choice, Field, Gimenez, Lucas, Peguero and Telis.

    Three players on the Opening Day roster were named Rangers top 20 prospects: Gonzalez (5), Jackson (8) and Ranaudo (11).

    Gonzalez and Choice were both first round selections with Gonzalez going 23rd overall in the 2013 MLB June Amateur Draft and Choice going 10th overall by Oakland in the 2010 amateur draft.

    Players hail from 12 different states including three native Texans in Ohlendorf, Field and Choice and three different countries outside of the U.S.

    The average age of the roster is 27.29 years old with the youngest player, Alberto Hanser, entering the season at the age of 22 and the oldest player, Wandy Rodriguez, at 36.

    First-season Express manager Jason Wood joins the staff after managing at Double-A Frisco this past season. Prior to Frisco, Wood was the manager at High-A Myrtle Beach from 2011-2013 earning numerous accolades, including a nod from Baseball America as the Carolina League's top managerial prospect in 2012 and 2013.

    Starting Rotation Solidified for Opening Series

    Anthony Ranaudo will be the Opening Day starter for the Express in Oklahoma City with Luke Jackson pitching in game two, Wandy Rodriguez in game three and Alex Gonzalez in game four. Ross Wolf is slated to start the first game of the Colorado Springs series.

    A mixture of veteran experience and youthful excitement make up the starting rotation. Ranuado, Rodriguez and Wolf have all seen action in the big leagues, while Jackson and Gonzalez bring young arms to the rotation. Jackson played his first year of Triple-A ball last season and this year will mark Gonzalez's first appearance at the Triple-A level.

    Ranaudo made his way to Round Rock via a trade with the Boston Red Sox on January 27, 2015. The righthander went 4-3 with the Red Sox last year and had a 4.81 ERA with 15 strikeouts. Luke Jackson returns to Round Rock after a solid start in Frisco last season and 11 games for the Express this past summer. Wandy Rodriguez signed as a Free Agent with Texas on April 6, 2015 and makes his return to Dell Diamond where he pitched for the Express in 2004, 2005 and 2006 as a member of the Houston Astros organization. After impressing the organization in Frisco last year, Alex Gonzalez gets his first crack at Triple-A action. Gonzalez went 7-4 with the RoughRiders in 2014 with a 2.71 ERA and 64 strikeouts in 14 starts. Ross Wolf is back stateside with the Express after a season in South Korea. Wolf pitched for Round Rock in 2012 and 2013, starting six games in 2013.


    • #3
      Willie Nelson bobblehead giveaway coming to Round Rock


      • #4

        Scott Lucas ‏@scottrlucas
        Anthony Ranaudo retired 15 of 19, walked 0, K'ed 6 on 76 pitches in Texas AAA debut. Round Rock nursing a 1-0 lead on Gimenez SF.

        Tepid Participation @TepidP
        Tanner Scheppers completely overpowering tonight. Yowza.


        • #5
          RHP Anthony Ranaudo worked five scoreless innings for Triple-A Round Rock in a 2-0 win over Oklahoma City (Los Angeles Dodgers.) Ranaudo had no walks with six strikeouts.


          • #6
            LHP Wandy Rodriguez prepped for a possible return to the majors by allowing one hit in five innings for Triple-A Round rock in an 8-2 loss to Oklahoma City (Los Angeles Dodgers.) The hit was a homer by Chris Heisey, who has major-league experience. Rodriguez did not walk a hitter and threw 72 pitches.



            • #7
              RHP Spencer Patton took over for Cabrera in the seventh inning and continued to protect the lead. Patton went 2.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB and 5 K. Patton's eighth inning was particularly critical as he shut down the side in order with each batter striking out swinging.



              • #8
                Right-handed pitcher Jerad Eickhoff has been promoted to Triple-A Round Rock and has been replaced by fellow righty hurler Cody Kendall on the Frisco RoughRiders' active roster. The player transactions were announced today by the Texas Rangers.

                This marks the first Triple-A assignment for Eickhoff, 24, who was added to the Rangers' 40-man roster this past offseason. A member of the RoughRiders for parts of the past three seasons, Eickhoff made two starts for Frisco this year and was 1-0 with a 2.70 ERA (3 ER/10 IP), 14 strikeouts, three walks, seven hits allowed and a .194 batting average against at the time of his promotion. In 35 career games (34 starts) for the RoughRiders, the Evansville, Ind. native went 12-10 with a 4.52 ERA (97 ER/193.1 IP), 171 strikeouts, 69 walks and 170 hits allowed. He led the Texas League in strikeouts last year with 144, was third in innings pitched (154.1), fourth in WHIP (1.17), second in batting average against (.226), third in strikeout rate (8.33/9 IP) and fourth in fewest baserunners per nine innings (10.92).

                Kendall, 25, is receiving his first promotion to Double-A, though he did pitch in two games for the Express earlier this season. Kendall went 0-1 with a 13.50 ERA (5 ER/3.1 IP), one strikeout, three walks and five hits allowed. He was assigned to extended spring training following his stint with Round Rock. The right-hander spent all of 2014 pitching out of the bullpen for the Rangers' two full-season Single-A affiliates, Hickory (29 games) and Myrtle Beach (nine games). Overall, the Sanger, Calif. native posted an 8-3 record with a 1.11 ERA (7 ER/56.2 IP), 51 strikeouts, 16 walks, 44 hits allowed and a .211 batting average against. He was a mid-season All-Star in the South Atlantic League and saved seven games for the Crawdads. Following the season, he pitched for the Surprise Saguaros in the Arizona Fall League and was named to the AFL Rising Stars Team. Kendall was drafted in the eighth round by Texas in 2012 out of Fresno State University.



                • #9
                  Jerad Eickhoff.......


                  • #10
                    Andrew Cockrum ‏@Andrew_PCL
                    Round Rock's Jerad Eickhoff has his no-hit bid end with 1 out in 9th via Matt Long's HR.


                    • #11
                      The Rangers' No. 21 prospect carried a no-hitter into the ninth inning in his first game in the Pacific Coast League, matching a career high with 11 strikeouts, as Round Rock downed visiting Colorado Springs, 7-2.

                      "I'm kind of at a loss, really," Eickhoff said after giving up two runs on one hit over 8 1/3 innings. "I'm kind of shocked still. I was just trying to go out there and execute pitches, keep my defense on their toes, throw strikes. I was able to keep them off-balance enough to get good results on the scoreboard."

                      The 24-year-old right-hander was dominant from the outset, facing the minimum through five innings while issuing his first of two walks in the third. He erased the leadoff free pass when Bryan Petersen was caught stealing second to end the inning.

                      Eickhoff (1-0) littered the box score with strikeouts, recording at least one in seven of his eight full innings, thanks in part to a lively breaking pitch.

                      "My curveball as of late, the past month, month and a half out of Spring Training, has felt really good," he said. "Getting that over early in the count to the hitters opened up the floodgates, I guess you could say. It allowed me to get them off my fastball, finish them with the curveball and finish guys with the high fastball, too. That curveball was really key for me."

                      "You don't even acknowledge the fact that you're mowing them down," he said. "I was just trying to execute pitches, focus on each pitch. It was just a really individual process for each pitch and it was able to culminate into throwing eight strong."



                      • #12
                        Texas Rangers move Luke Jackson into relief role at Triple-A Round Rock



                        • #13
                          Tepid Participation ‏@TepidP
                          MIchael Choice has homered in his first at-bat of Game 2 for Round Rock. The microwave is on.

                          Scott Lucas ‏@scottrlucas
                          Michael Choice shows a good arm in left, nearly catching a runner at 2B, then muscles a pitch over LCF fence. He's an OF in Round Rock.

                          Tepid Participation ‏@TepidP
                          Michael Choice (.218) with an RBI single for Round Rock. 7 for his last 13, and I can't tell you how badly I want this to continue.


                          • #14
                            The plan for Rua is to make him more versatile.

                            ďWeíll play him in left field, at third base, even second base,Ē Express Manager Jason Wood said. ďThe more positions Ryan can play, the more valuable he becomes.Ē

                            Rua is all for it. ďIím bigger (6-2, 205) than most second basemen, but I played there in the low minors,Ē he said.

                            Does he have a favorite?

                            ďWhatever position gets me on the field,Ē he said.

                            Ruaís body started filling out in 2013 when he had a breakthrough power season, hitting 32 home runs and driving in 91, mostly with Single-A Hickory. Last year he won a Texas League home run derby contest and finished with 18 homers, 74 RBIs and a .306 average split between Double-A and Triple-A.

                            The Rangers promoted him in September, and he kept hitting, batting .295 with 14 RBIs in 105 at-bats.

                            ďIíve worked on my swing to make it more efficient and improved my leverage, which helps the power,Ē Rua said. ďIíve also gotten a lot of good advice from veteran like Adrian Beltre and Prince Fielder. Hopefully, I can get back up there with them soon.Ē

                            Late Friday: Tomas Telis had four hits and Brett Nicholas hit a home run and drove in three as Round Rock ended a 4-4 trip with a 9-5 win over Reno. Rougned Odor raised his average to .349 with two hits and two RBIs.



                            • #15
                              J.P. ‏@Jaypers413
                              Round Rock's Anthony Ranaudo's line - 7 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 7 K.

                              Odor 2 for 3 now .360