The Texas Rangers aren’t the only team opening up the baseball season this week. Right down the highway in Frisco, it’s time for the Roughriders to also play ball.
There’s no shortage of talent on the Rangers Double-A team this season. The roster includes Nolan Ryan Rangers Minor League pitcher of the year Yohander Mendez and the Tom Grieve Rangers Minor League Player of the Year in catcher Jose Trevino.
There are eight players on the Opening Day roster who are among MLB.com’s Top 30 Rangers prospects, including 20-year old Ariel Jurado, the Rangers 2015 Minor League Pitcher of the Year. Mendez and Connor Sadzeck are also on the Rangers 40-man roster. Needless to say, the Roughriders have plenty of pitching talent on this year’s staff.
“I think it’s unlimited,” said manager Joe Mikulik. “You’ve got three guys that if I had a crystal ball, I could see them all starting in the big leagues. Obviously, we want them to start for us and help us win a championship as they mature along the way.”
Sadzeck will be making his first career Opening Day start. The big righty led the pitching staff last year with 10 wins and 133 strikeouts in just over 140 innings of work.
“It will be fun,” said Sadzeck. “I’m really looking forward to it, being able to kind of set the tone for the season. It means a lot to me from that aspect.”
Meanwhile, the stock keeps rising for Trevino, who hit .303 with 30 doubles, nine home runs and 68 RBIs at Advanced-A High Desert last season. The 24-year old also got some valuable experience behind the plate with the Rangers during spring training recently when he worked with both Yu Darvish and Cole Hamels either in a game or during a bullpen session.
“At that point, they know what they are fixing and what they’ve got to do,” said Trevino. “It’s just being there and they are going to ask you ‘Hey what do you see? What do you got? I’m like ‘Hey man, front side leaking a little bit, not staying back, release is a little off’, something like that. There are a few words for pitchers that you can check them right back into gear.”
The Opening Day roster also included third baseman Juremi Profar, the younger brother of current Rangers infielder Jurickson Profar. Mikulik plans on using Profar, along with others on the roster, at different positions to add flexibility to the lineup. It’s also a move to help increase the value of those players in the organization, similar to what the older Profar is doing with the big league club.
The Roughriders open their season on April 6 against the Springfield Cardinals at Dr. Pepper Ballpark. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. in Frisco.