With the Dallas Cowboys’ magical season coming to a close, there is perhaps no better time to take a look at the upcoming Frisco RoughRiders’ season. After all, pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training in just over a month.
Joey Gallo and Alex “Chi Chi” Gonzalez named Player and Pitcher of the Year
Slugging third baseman, Joey Gallo, has been named the Tom Grieve Player of the Year. This award should come as no surprise as Gallo finished just behind the Cubs’ top prospect Kris Bryant, for the Texas League’s home run title, with 42.
After splitting time with the High-A Myrtle Beach Pelicans and the Frisco RoughRiders, Gallo hit .271/.394/.615 with 42 home runs and 87 RBI. The only knock on Gallo is his propensity to strikeout, as he struck out 179 times over 537 total plate appearances.
Gallo will start the 2015 season at Double-A Frisco, and, should he curtail his strikeout rate, could see a promotion to Triple-A and a possible big league call up in September.
Future big league starter, Alex “Chi Chi” Gonzalez, was named the Nolan Ryan Pitcher of the Year. Like Gallo, Gonzalez impressed so much at High-A Myrtle Beach that he earned a mid-season promotion to Double-A Frisco.
After going 5-2 with a 2.62 ERA in 11 starts at Myrtle Beach, Gonzalez was able to duplicate that same success at Double-A. Over 14 starts with the RoughRiders (he also made a late-season relief appearance), Chi Chi went 7-4 with a 2.70 ERA, striking out 64 batters while walking just 25 over 73.1 innings pitched.
With an advanced feel for pitching and three pitches that he uses with success, Gonzalez is the type of talent that could jump straight from Double-A to the big leagues. Regardless, look for him to headline a solid Frisco rotation in 2015.
Under the Radar: C/1B J.T. Wise and SS Michael De Leon
Two of last year’s biggest surprises for the Frisco RoughRiders made it to the Double-A club in very different ways.
J.T. Wise, a former fifth round selection by the Oakland Athletics out of the University of Oklahoma, started the year in Independent ball, playing for Wichita Wingnuts. His contract was purchased by the Texas Rangers, who promptly sent him to Round Rock to become a member of the Triple-A Express.
After just one at bat for the Express, Wise was shipped to the Frisco RoughRiders. Joining the likes of Joey Gallo, Chi Chi Gonzalez and Jorge Alfarao, the 28-year-old Wise put together some excellent numbers over his two-plus months on the roster.
Wise produced the triple-slash line of .319/.389/.645 with 11 homers and 34 RBI. His hard work paid off, as he was named Texas League Player of the Week over August 25-September 1.
The chances are good he’ll star the season at Frisco and if he continues to stay hot, might find himself back at Triple-A, this time for more than one at-bat.
Wise’s junior by a decade, short stop Michael De Leon made the unlikely jump to Double-A last season at the tender age of 17 – 7 years younger than the average player at that level.
When you consider the fact that De Leon made his professional debut just months before his call up to Frisco, his promotion seems even more fantastic. De Leon flashed a good feel at the plate and a plus-arm over his 85 games playing for the Hickory Crawdads.
His leather was considered advanced enough to warrant a promotion to High-A Myrtle Beach, where he batted .292/.370/.542 with six RBI. After just seven games for Hickory, De Leon was promoted to the Frisco RoughRiders once the rosters expanded for the Texas League Playoffs.
De Leon’s Double-A debut had to be considered a success, as the 2014 International free agent signee singled once over his three at-bats. With soft hands and a bat that projects to be major-league average, the sky is the limit for the young native of Santo Domingo, in the Dominican Republic.
Look for De Leon to start the 2015 season alongside Wise at Double-A Frisco.