With an Opening Day roster packed with future stars, the Frisco RoughRiders are looking to have an impressive 2017 season. This Double-A affiliate for the Texas Rangers now rosters eight of the Rangers’ future stars. These eight youngsters are all ranked in the top 30 of MLB.com’s top prospects within the Texas organization. Of these, four players stand out above the rest. These four could be the heart of a future Rangers team.
Yohander Mendez, LHP
Mendez is 22 years old. This lefty is poised to be the future of the Rangers’ rotation. Texas is not well-known for growing pitchers from within the organization. Hopefully, time with RoughRiders pitching coach Brian Shouse will build on Mendez’s already incredible abilities.
The Venezuelan-born pitcher started 10 games for Frisco in 2016. He finished with a 4-1 record and a 3.09 ERA, over 46.2 innings pitched. If these stats don’t do it for you, keep in mind one other thing. Mendez is the reigning Nolan Ryan Rangers Minor League Pitcher of the Year. He brings a lot to the table. The RoughRiders improve significantly with him on the roster.
Ariel Jurado, RHP
The 2015 Rangers Minor League Pitcher of the Year is back in Frisco. Jurado posted a 3.30 ERA over eight appearances with the RoughRiders last season. In 43.2 innings pitched for Frisco in 2016, he only gave up three homers and 10 walks. Jurado ranks as the No.4 Rangers prospect.
The biggest thing to note for Jurado is his sinker. He is getting an enormous amount of groundball outs with it. Combining High-A and Double-A ball in 2016, Jurado averaged 2.76 groundouts for every flyout. His sinker ranges between 92 and 94 MPH and moves around a lot. Frisco’s pitching coach, Brian Shouse, will look to help Jurado refine the other pitches in his repertoire. Jurado can’t afford to have hitters zeroing in on his sinker at every at-bat.
Connor Sadzeck, RHP
Sadzeck led Frisco pitchers in several categories last season. He had the most innings pitched, at 140 2/3, and the most strikeouts, at 133. Additionally, he led the RoughRiders in wins, earning 10 over his 25 games. What is the leading factor in Sadzeck’s success? It has to be his size. This 25-year-old righty stands a full 6’7” tall and weighs in at a whopping 240 lbs.
His large stature aids him in getting speeds over 100 MPH. That is quite impressive at any level of ball. Of the three top pitchers in Frisco this season, Sadzeck is the most likely to get called up to the Rangers rotation. Texas has a question mark when it comes to the No.5 starter in the rotation. If the team’s history of injuries and poor performance from the back-end starters persists, expect to see Sadzeck make it to the Major League roster.
Jose Trevino, C
The top prospect pitchers named above are in for a treat this coming season. They will all get to spend time with the 24-year-old catching prospect. The Corpus Christie native could very well be the future of the Texas Rangers organization. Trevino saw 109 games and 433 at-bats in 2016, all with Advanced-A High Desert. In that timeframe, he hit for a .303 average, had 30 doubles, nine home runs, and 68 RBIs.
Also, he won the Tom Grieve Rangers Minor League Player of the Year last season. Trevino was also a midseason and postseason All-Star in the California League. The Rangers have struggled at the catching position in the past (until the signing of Jonathan Lucroy). Trevino could very well be a cornerstone of the future Major League roster.
Eight players on the initial roster rank among MLB.com’s top 30 Rangers prospects: Yohander Mendez (No. 2), Ariel Jurado (3), Jose Trevino (7), Connor Sadzeck (11), Andy Ibanez (12), Michael De Leon (19), Scott Heineman (24) and Juremi Profar (27). Be sure to keep your eye on these players during the RoughRiders season. They are poised to propel Frisco to the top of the Texas League.
From RidersBaseball.com: Additional notes on the initial 2017 roster:
This year’s roster carries a championship pedigree with 16 players from last year’s California League championship team in High Desert and 13 players from Class-A Hickory’s South Atlantic League championship squad in 2015.
Nine members of the initial roster were part of the 2016 Riders roster, including seven pitchers.
Pitchers Connor Sadzeck and Yohander Mendez are on the Rangers 40-man roster.
Michael De Leon, 20, represents the youngest player on the roster, while 14-year-pro Adam Loewen, 32, represents the oldest player. De Leon previously played in a brief stint with the Riders during the 2014 season at the age of 17, making him the youngest player in team history.
Nine different countries of origin are represented on the roster: Canada, Curacao, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Mexico, Panama, Puerto Rico, United States and Venezuela.
21 players on the initial roster originally came up in the Rangers system, while six (Eric Aguilera, Clayton Cook, James Dykstra, Adam Loewen, Matt Lipka and Drew Vettleson) are new to the organization.
Outfielder Matt Lipka attended nearby McKinney High School and now resides in Frisco.
Infielder Juremi Profar is the younger brother of current Rangers player (and former Riders infielder) Jurickson Profar.