Just because the NBA D-League’s Texas Legends are in full-swing, temperatures have dipped below freezing, and the Super Bowl is just a few days away, doesn’t mean that things aren’t happening in the fabulous world of Minor League Baseball.
Sure, no games are being played, but plenty of Frisco RoughRiders have found themselves in the news recently. Although the 2014 minor league season is still two months away, it’s always fun to peer into the future—especially when it is one as bright as what the Riders (and Texas Rangers) have in store.
2B Rougned Odor
Middle infielder Rougned Odor was not only named the Tom Grieve Player of the Year, he was also ranked by MLB.com as the minor league’s second-best 2B. If not for some dude named “Jurickson Profar,” we would all be hearing MUCH more about this exciting 19-year-old native of Venezuela.
Ever since the aforementioned Jurickson Profar found a home on the big league roster, there had been controversy over who should be the Texas Rangers’ everyday second baseman—Profar or Ian Kinsler. Last November, when the Rangers bid adieu to Kinsler in order to acquire Prince Fielder, it seemed as though any potential conflict over the keystone spot had been laid to rest. However, with Rougned Odor in the mix—and dominating at every rung of the minor league ladder—get ready for more second sack speculation.
The 5’11” native of Venezuela is on the fast track to superstardom. Odor has plus-speed with excellent instincts on the basepaths. In other words, Odor is not prone to run himself into outs as some speedy youngsters are apt to do.
“Roogie” as he is known across Ranger Nation, has hit at every level he has reached since his introduction to professional baseball in 2011 at Spokane in the Northwest League. Although he needs to see more pitches in order to gain better count leverage, when Odor swings good things usually happen. Fans of the Frisco RoughRiders that yearn to see Odor play ball in their own backyard had better act quick—as he has an outside chance at making the big league roster as a utility infielder should he put together a strong Spring Training.
2013 Statistics @ Frisco: .306/.354/.530 6 HRs 19 RBI
RHP Luke Jackson
Hard-throwing right-hander, Luke Jackson, took home the Nolan Ryan Pitcher of the Year Award. Like Odor, Jackson dominated at Double-A Frisco after earning a late-summer promotion from Single-A Myrtle Beach. South Florida’s loss was Frisco’s gain in both cases.
Jackson was taken with the 45th overall pick in the 2010 MLB Amateur Draft. At 6’2″ and 185 lbs, the 23-year-old righty still has a frame capable of adding more weight to help prepare for the grueling summer months. Thanks in part to his strong showing in Frisco last season, Jackson has bypassed top-prospect Cody Buckel as the prize pitcher of the Rangers’ deep farm system.
Look for him to start the 2014 season at Double-A Frisco, but should he continue to ascend towards his considerable ceiling, he could find himself in the Texas Rangers bullpen come mid-season.
2013 Statistics @ Frisco: (2-0), 0.67 ERA, 27 IP, 13 H, 0 HR, 0.926 WHIP, 10 K/9
LHP Alex Claudio
As a former 27th round draft pick in the 2010 MLB June Draft, the odds were against Alex Claudio becoming a prospect much less a possible big league reliever. But after earning this year’s Reliever of the Year Award, Claudio has done just that.
Just 22 years old, LHP Alex Claudio will be entering his fourth minor league season this spring. The side-winding Puerto Rican uses his wiry frame and deceptive delivery to strikeout batters out at an exceptional clip—10.4/9IP over his two stops in 2013.
Like Odor, Claudio could challenge for a spot on the major-league roster should he impress during his Spring Training invitation.
2013 Statistics @ Frisco: (1-5), 2.84 ERA, 31.2 IP, 28 H, 2 HR, 1.232 WHIP, 8.2 K/9
Prospect Joey Gallo 9th ranked 3B in all of Minor Leagues
No, Joey Gallo is not a member of the Frisco RoughRider’s—not yet at least. If he continues to pound the ball as he has over the last two seasons, Double-A will be just a phone call away.
To say that Hickory Crawdads third baseman Joey Gallo has some thunder in his bat is like saying that former New England Patriot Aaron Hernandez has a few legal issues. Across two leagues in 2013, Gallo mashed 40 home runs; and reached that absurd number in just under 400 at-bats.
Drafted with the 39th pick of the 2012 MLB Amateur Draft as a third baseman, Gallo touched 98MPH on the gun as a high school pitcher, but his large frame and slow feet make him destined for a trip to the opposite corner of the infield. When discussing Gallo, though, defense rarely sneaks into the conversation.
Gallo’s bat is peppered with plenty of pop; the only issue is that his swing contains a ton of miss in it too. Gallo struck out 172 times in 2013. However, should Gallo learn to be more patient at the dish, he could be a prime candidate for promotion to Frisco by mid-season.
2013 stats @ Hickory: .245/.334/.610 38 HRs, 78 RBI, 165 K’s
Be sure to check back right here on Lifestyle Frisco for all of the latest off-season news about your Frisco RoughRiders!