Frisco Roughriders season preview

DALLAS - Are you the type of baseball fan that just wants to get out to a couple games, drink some beer and eat some food that others would judge you for in any other setting?  The game isn’t as important as the atmosphere to you?  Would you hold season tickets just for the fun of it if it didn’t cost more money? 

What about fun games between innings like children riding inflatable hot dogs in a race, or people having dance contests?  Then you’re in luck (assuming you live in DFW and fall into this category) because we have, within our sprawl, the perfect experience for you. 

Are you fascinated by the maturation of a baseball playing prospect, or the want to sit alone amongst the crowd and keep score for a game that basically means nothing but is still baseball?  What about sitting behind home plate and noticing a few radar guns light up when that wiry pitcher who somehow throws 99 mph gets into the game?  If this is you, then we have the perfect experience for you.

Did I mention there’s a lazy river too? And it’s heated!

Frisco’s Dr. Pepper Ballpark and the Roughriders organization puts on a great night of entertainment at an affordable price for casual fans and baseball purists alike, it is truly special place. 

Since Chuck Greenberg’s purchasing of the club in 2014, and the subsequent redesign of the logo and renovations to the ballpark, it has been taken to a whole new level of entertainment. 

Regular minor league promotions  are tired and overrated, Frisco takes it to the next level.  They even had Jose Canseco out there hitting dingers last year!  Like Star Wars?  They had that too, complete with special uniforms (It’s happening again this year, too). 

Like ‘80s video games?  You guessed it.  They have even more fun stuff coming up this year and every DFW resident, baseball fan or not, needs to make at least one trip out to Frisco each season.

Enough with the promotions, what about the team?  After a tough season in the standings last year, is this year’s version of the Riders going to be any good?  Their pitching will keep them in a lot of games, so only time will tell.  Here are some things to know about the players starting the year there.

The Pitchers:

Without a doubt, the top of the Frisco rotation is the biggest thing to watch with three legitimate prospects leading the rotation including the No. 1, 3, and 6 prospects on WFAA’s own top 15 list.  Yohander Mendez, No. 1 on our list, will be joined by Ariel Jurado (No. 3) and Connor Sadzeck (No. 6) in a rotation that is sure to give the Texas League plenty of trouble, for as long as they are still in AA. 

It wouldn’t have shocked anyone to see any of these three, especially Sadzeck, start the year in AAA but 5th starter options and other major league depth quickly filled out Round Rock and AA gives each of these guys a chance to build innings and experience. 

Sadzeck seems set to open the season today, Thursday April 6th, but you’re sure to catch each of these guys at some point during the opening weekend and get a glimpse at the future of the Rangers’ pitching staff.

The Catcher:

Jose Trevino, our No. 10 prospect, was the Minor League Player of the Year last year for the entire Rangers’ organization.  Spending the entire year in High-A High Desert, Trevino enjoyed solid offensive No.s but his skillset behind the plate is what could have him in The Show sooner than later. 

The Corpus Christi native will get a chance to play in his hometown several times against the rival (Houston Affiliate) Corpus Christi Hooks during Texas League play. 

With Jonathan Lucroy in a contract year, and Robinson Chirinos signed for this year and next year, Trevino could force himself into a role as soon as 2018 if he continues to progress as a top flight catching prospect.  You can never have too many good catchers and hopefully Trevino can continue to develop as one for the Rangers.

The Infielders:

Led by the Cuban middle infielder Andy Ibanez (No. 14 on our list), the Riders have an infield chock full of flexibility. Ibanez can play three infield positions, and Michael De Leon has a nifty glove that will play at either middle infield spot. 

The other Jur. Profar (Juremi Profar) has played both corner infield spots but no one compares to the flexibility of Isaiah Kiner-Falefa who will see time at a couple infield spots as well as behind the plate.  In his first year as a part time catcher last year, Kiner-Falefa took to it well, showing the potential to serve as a true utility man in the future.

The Outfielders:

There are no marquee names here but Scott Heineman could be a name to watch.  The 4 year college player is only in his second full season of Pro Ball and had a solid season at High-A last year hitting over .300 and stealing 30 bags. 

Matt Lipka is a Mckinney native who is new to the Rangers’ system and provides additional flexibility having played a lot of Infield during his time in the Braves’ system.  Once a highly touted prospect, taken 35th overall in the 2010 draft by the Braves, he reached AAA in their system before being let go by Atlanta this winter and signed to a minor league deal by the Rangers in December.

Be sure to make it out to Frisco this year and have some fun and support these Rangers’ prospects as they try to climb through the ranks and become your next group of heroes in Arlington.

Are you planning to make it out to Frisco for some minor league action? Share your lazy river tales with Chris on Twitter @RealChrisRoland.

© 2017 WFAA-TV


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