Plenty to Look Forward to in RoughRiders 10th Season

by Dan M | Posted on Friday, March 23rd, 2012

By: Alex Vispoli & Jarah Wright

Baseball is just around the corner, and the 2012 season for the Frisco RoughRiders get underway on April 4 with an exhibition game against the two-time defending champions of the American League, the Texas Rangers. The ’Riders hit the road from April 5 – 10 to start the regular season and return to Dr Pepper Ballpark on April 12 for their home opener. Another exciting season is almost here and this preview will get fans ready for another summer of Frisco fun.

 

Home on the Range

 

The RoughRiders’ major league parent club makes another trip to Dr Pepper Ballpark, as the Texas Rangers come to Frisco to play the ’Riders in an exhibition game on April 4. The Rangers are coming off a 96-66 season and a second straight World Series berth. Several former RoughRiders played significant roles for the Rangers last season, including Ian Kinsler, Mitch Moreland, Elvis Andrus, Neftali Feliz, Matt Harrison, Derek Holland, and former Ranger C.J. Wilson. This game is part of a series of exhibition contests for the Rangers, as they will also play the Triple-A Round Rock Express on April 2. Opening Day for Texas is on April 6 against the Chicago White Sox in Arlington.

 

Bue-Yeah!

 

Former Rangers third baseman Steve Buechele is returning for his third season as manager of the RoughRiders. Last season, Buechele, affectionately known as “Bue,” led the RoughRiders to a 79-61 record and a second-straight playoff berth. Frisco lost in the divisional round of the postseason to eventual TL champion San Antonio. This season Buechele is poised to pass Tim Ireland’s record for most managerial wins (needs 8 more wins to break record).

 

Live Long and Profar

 

The prospect Rangers fans are most excited to see in Frisco this season is 19-year-old shortstop Jurickson Profar. The slender Curacao native is coming off an MVP season in the South Atlantic League in 2011, during which he hit .286 as the leadoff batter for the Hickory Crawdads with 12 home runs, 65 RBI, and 23 steals. MLB.com named Profar the seventh-best prospect in all of baseball. The Rangers have not announced where he will start the season, but Profar is expected to step into a RoughRiders uniform at some point in 2012.

 

Olt Overcoming Obstacles

 

Power-hitting infield prospect Mike Olt should make his way to Frisco this season, perhaps by Opening Day. Olt spent the 2011 season with the Myrtle Beach Pelicans, the Advanced-A affiliate of the Rangers. His terrific start to the season was halted by a broken collarbone that he suffered in a home plate collision, resulting in two months of rehab. Olt returned to play with the Pelicans on August 20 and finished the final 15 games of the regular season.

 

The 2010 first-round draft pick is known for his powerful bat and posted strong numbers before the injury, hitting .286 batting average with 10 home runs, and 34 RBI in 54 games. A third baseman by trade, he has also gotten some playing time on the opposite side of the diamond at first base during spring training. Olt was also named one of the Rangers Top Ten Prospects by Baseball America this season, ranking fourth.

 

A Decade of Memories

 

This season, the ‘Riders are celebrating their tenth anniversary. Construction of Dr Pepper Ballpark began in February 2002 and the first game was held on April 3, 2003 before a sellout crowd of more than 10,000 fans. A tribute to the unique fan experience and architecture, Dr Pepper Ballpark was named the Best New Ballpark for 2003 by BaseballParks.com.

 

Over the course of the last nine seasons, the RoughRiders have won accolades both on and off the field. The team has been to playoffs six times and won the Texas League Championship in 2004. Dr Pepper Ballpark also hosted the Texas League All-Star Game in 2005 and 2009. In 2007, the RoughRiders were named the top Double-A franchise, winning the Bob Freitas Award by Baseball America. Frisco has been the top-drawing Double-A team across Minor League Baseball and last season welcomed its five millionth fan to Dr Pepper Ballpark.

 

Renny’s Records

 

With a breakout season in 2011, hopes are high for Renny Osuna. The 26-year-old Venezuelan has joined the RoughRiders during the 2009 season and has steadily improved his numbers each year. With Osuna’s single in the first inning on August 10, he became the new ‘Riders all-time hits leader, passing Steve Murphy’s record of 319 base knocks. He ended the 2011 season with 153 hits, good for the third on the ‘Riders single-season list; he trailed only Joaquin Arias (157 hits in 2005) and Craig Gentry (155 hits in 2009). Osuna has posted 347 hits in his time with Frisco and is also tied with Emerson Frostad with 131 RBI, the most in any RoughRiders career.

 

Family Fun for All

 

The Dr Pepper Ballpark experience would not be complete without mentioning the first-class fun that takes place when the game is taking a break. The between-innings entertainment that has become a staple of RoughRiders games returns, with a few new twists added to the mix this season. With an inventory of more than 120 games, contests, and skits, no fan will see the same entertainment show at any of the 70 home games this season. Mascot Deuce and his cousin Daisy are back, as well as the Junior Diamond Dancers who will perform on the dugouts for a fourth straight year. Fireworks will follow every Friday night game and kids can run the bases every Sunday at Dr Pepper Ballpark. There are few other wrinkles to this year’s entertainment offerings, like a Mariachi Band on Cinco de Mayo. To find out what else is in store at ’Riders games this season, fans will have to see for themselves as we celebrate ten great years of Frisco RoughRiders baseball.