Minor League Spotlight: Frisco RoughRiders

This post first appeared on BaseballDigest.com

The Frisco RoughRiders mirror their major league affiliate in a lot of ways. They’re named after a United States volunteer cavalry, along the same lines of the Texas Rangers being named in honor of the first state run law enforcement division of the country. They’re also relatively ‘young’ compared to the teams throughout their league, and they’ve reached the playoffs just three times, the same number of times as the Rangers. One major difference with that final point, is that the RoughRiders will reach the postseason in 2010 for the 4th time in their 8 year history. Interestingly enough, the big league club looks poised to join their Class AA affiliate in the postseason hunt as well. The RoughRiders have a lot to do with that, both through history as stepping stones of current players and recent trades that have changed the big leagues hopes for the better.

In 2003, the Texas Rangers moved their Double A affiliate to Frisco, Texas; just about an hour north of where the big league squad plays at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, Texas. Though the team is not even a decade old, there have been several future All Stars key players on the current 40 man major league roster that have put in time in Frisco before reaching the big leagues. Perhaps most notably today is C.J. Wilson, the current ace of the Rangers, who logged parts of three seasons with the RoughRiders before sticking with the big league club in 2006. In addition to Wilson, current Rangers include Ian Kinsler, Elvis Adrus, Julio Bordon and closer Naftali Feliz among the players that have spent quite a few games with the Double A Affiliate. The team has produced such talent, that during the off-season, Chris Moore of Examiner.com argued that the team should be bumped up to the Triple A!

There are a number of future MLB players that gained fame after leaving the organization as well. Former RoughRider Edinson Volquez won 17 games in his first season with the Cincinnati Reds following a trade, and John Danks provided a solid back end in the White Sox rotation during their 2008 postseason run. However, the most famous former Frisco RoughRider to date is arguably Armando Galarraga, the Oakland Athletics pitcher who lost a perfect game on June 5th of this year due to an umpire’s error.

It’s impossible for teams to judge exactly which prospects will end up being the next Armando Galarraga , but the Texas Rangers have shown they’re not afraid to take a gamble with pulling the trigger on trades that can help them right now. Earlier this season, the team traded Blake Beavan, Josh Lueke and Matthew Lawson along with prized future star Justin Smoak to the Seattle Mariners in return for an ace in Cliff Lee. The trade benefited the Rangers immediately, as Lee takes joins C.J. Wilson in a powerful 1-2 punch that looks to solidify the lead for the A.L. West title. This trade coupled with another that sent pitcher Evan Reed to the Florida Marlins for Jorge Cantu and a third trade of Tanner Roark and Ryan Tatsuko to the Washington Nationals for Christian Guzman has left the team dizzy.

The RoughRiders felt an immediate impact to their own playoff hopes, as their best pitcher, a quality reliever, and solid piece of their offense were shipped out to the Seattle Mariners. A team that dominated the Texas League with a 38-31 first half to clinch a playoff spot have since gone 23-28 during the second half of their season. Fortunately for Frisco fans, it seems as though the team might be pulling itself together despite the barrage of roster changes. Chris Moore highlighted a recent thrashing the RoughRiders gave the Tulsa Drillers.

Jason Cole of the Lone Star Dugout for Scout.com is another writer who follows the RoughRiders and highlights the entire organization. He has featured a number of interviews with prospects that have been part of big and small trades this season. Active on twitter, he is a must follow for anyone who wants to learn about exactly what makes up an intricate deal such as the one that sent three RoughRiders and Justin Smoak to the Seattle Mariners. In addition to his great articles, Cole tweets updates on all of the happenings throughout the Texas Rangers organization.

As the postseason nears, the Minor League Spotlight will keep tabs on how the RoughRiders’ shuffled roster shapes up. Follow along with the RoughRiders on Facebook and on Twitter @RidersBaseball!

Previous Spotlights:

Stay Tuned: Keep an eye on Baseball Digest.com for an all-new Minor League Spotlight next week!

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