Frisco starting rotation: Alec Asher (THU), Andrew Faulkner (FRI), Jake Thompson (SAT), Jerad Eickhoff (SUN), Victor Payano (MON).
The Frisco RoughRiders today announced the details of the pre-game ceremonies for Opening Day on Thursday, April 9 versus the Arkansas Travelers at Dr Pepper Ballpark. Dallas Cowboys linebacker Sean Lee will throw out the ceremonial first pitch prior to the 7:05 p.m. game, which will mark the official debut of massive ballpark upgrades, the RoughRiders’ new uniforms and the team’s first-ever dynamic promotional schedule.
When Chuck Greenberg and Scott Sonju purchased the Frisco Roughriders last summer, not many people could have guessed how soon the big changes would be taking effect. It took him one off season to give the club an entire new look and feel. The uniforms are brand new, President Teddy Roosevelt is the face, and several new improvements to Dr Pepper Ballpark are in store for the 2015 season. Top it off with names like Joey Gallo, Jake Thompson, Jorge Alfaro, and Nomar Mazara on the roster, and you have a recipe for one heck of a Friday Night this summer. As part of our kickoff for Minor League Monday, it’s time to break down and preview just about everything that’s set to debut this year.
For starters, gone are the old red and black unis that this writer actually thought was a decent look. In with the new scorched red and powder blue colors. Greenberg mentions that the parent club Rangers main colors are red, white, and blue, so this is their own unique spin to stick to that combination. Along with the new unis are the Smiling Teddy, and Swinging Teddy logos. Obviously, as the former leader of the Roughriders, Teddy Ballgame is the obvious choice for face of the club. Most minor league teams only have three uniforms- a home, away, and an alternate. Chuck thinks a little big bigger, and thus Frisco will have four this year as he adds an extra alternate. Of course you can find all the new gear you can ever want in (you guessed it) the brand new team store located behind home plate.
Speaking of a new team store, there’s many more improvements that Chuck and company have added to the park to make the experience enjoyable for everyone. To start, there’s a huge new Intouch Grille that moves from the old location to the left field line. It provides founders club members a better view of the game, and more of a feeling of still being in a ballpark than a sports bar with the open patio area. I had access to this nifty amenity one night and I had to get up and head to home plate for another frosty adult beverage thus missing the action. This new location eliminates that headache. Next they plan a big time area for the kids that get burnt on the game after five innings because they don’t recognize anyone on the field from the guys on their walls or baseball cards. The crew has combined all the playground areas together to give it a carnival atmospheric vibe. What kid doesn’t like a carnival? Even adults may wander over as they have activities like Cornhole planned. Perhaps my favorite addition will be that food trucks are coming. That’s right, food trucks. Different local companies will be pulling in to that same area and serving up their specialties. To top it off, a huge sports bar is in the works that anyone may walk up and use. I mean if the park has food trucks it has to have a bar right? I’m sure Chuck still has some surprises left in store for us along with several awesome promotions scheduled including the addition of Dallas’ own Michael Gruber running “Thirsty Thursdays’. Ready to get up to Frisco yet?
If the juicy talent is what tickles your fancy, the Riders will have plenty of that too. Frisco has generally fielded a good team, but the 2015 bunch has a chance to be really special as long as JD doesn’t ruin it and do something like promote them to the next level. The best modern day Minor league team may be the AAA Albuquerque squadron back in 1981 when they had a ho hum .712 winning percentage. I don’t think this club will be doing something like that, but with this roster, there is no reason to think a playoff trip isn’t obtainable by winning the first half division and then topping it off by winning the second half.
The regular lineup will begin primarily looking like Jorge Alfaro C, Drew Robinson 1B, Tyler Pastornicky 2B, Luis Mendez SS, Joey Gallo 3B, Nick Williams LF, Jake Skole CF, and Nomar Mazara RF. That is a lot of power hitting lefties. Feel good story Guilder Rodriguez is also scheduled to be on the roster as he will start the year on the DL. I imagine he will be almost acting as a player coach as the kids soak up his stories from his time with the big club last year. Just imagine an opposing pitcher’s mindset when he sees he has to navigate a Williams, Mazara, Gallo, and Alfaro middle of the order.
The starting pitching will include Jake Thompson, Andrew Faulkner, Alec Asher, Jerad Eickhoff, and Victor Payano. If you read SDI’s top prospect countdown, then you should be very familiar with Jake, but don’t sleep on Faulkner or Asher. The latter got a bit of major league taste when he came in relief against the Mets on Saturday, and was touched up, but he still slots in as a decent 40+ FV prospect. The bullpen will feature former big time prospect Cody Buckel, who is back from Australia and wants another chance to get back to prior form. Perhaps the switch from Starter to Reliever will do some good. Other bullpen pieces include Jose Leclerc, Will Lamb, Josh McElwee, Jesus Pirella, Francisco Mendoza, Kyle Lotzkar, and Chad Bell.
The Frisco Roughriders were honored as Forbe’s 4th most valuable minor league franchise back in 2012, and with everything that’s happened in the past year, it would not surprise me if they ended up in the top five this year. Gallo will be hitting long homers, Thompson tossing sexy sliders, and the scouts will be aplenty. Frisco has always had fantastic attendance and with all the new changes, perhaps Chuck should have added more seats to accommodate the growing number of fans that will be packing the stands.