Whether it’s picking up bats, loading up buses or interviewing a prospect for a blog, I’ve proudly been involved with the Frisco RoughRiders in some capacity since 2009. This year I’ll be covering them for the first time in a big platform here with 27 Outs Baseball and really can’t wait to share my exciting tales at Dr. Pepper Ballpark with you.
Since their inception in 2003, the Riders have been one of the premiere organizations in Minor League Baseball. Purchased by the Greenberg Sports Group last season, things have gone from great to historically impressive with the club. Always an exciting ticket in a great location with a team aided by the prominence of the Texas Rangers’ farm system, day-to-day operations went to a whole other level under the leadership of Owners Chuck Greenberg and Scott Sonju, Executive Vice President/General Manager Jason Dambach and many others.
Embracing the uniqueness of Minor League Baseball, 2015 was a year of many record accomplishments for the Frisco RoughRiders. Again leading all Double-A franchises in attendance, they set a franchise record for fans on May 8th and broke their own new mark on June 12th, which also happened to be “Salute to Full House Night.”
With Dave “Uncle Joey” Coulier in attendance, “Full House Night” was just one of many promotions the Riders hosted during the 2015 season. The club also installed a beautiful 2,763-square foot high-definition scoreboard in left-center field, and revealed a brand new logo along with new uniforms.
Upping their own ante, Greenberg, Dambach and company have an incredible amount of fun prepared for 2016.
Promotions so far include appearances from Jose Canseco, Erik Estrada (CHiPs) and Ernie Hudson (Ghostbusters). They will have eight themed jersey nights including Game Boy, Top Gun and Ghostbusters jerseys being worn by the players. The sky is the limit after the team wore these last year.
Not even mentioned among the many, many festivities the team has planned are the Steve Harvey-inspired “Runner-Up Night,” “Christmas in July,” “Olympics Night,” “State Fair of TexasNight” and it’s 2016 so of course there’s going to be a “Super Hero” and “Star Wars” Night!
The biggest news out of them all is the new Choctaw Lazy River. Having drawn front page headlines from TMZ Sports, Sports Illustrated, Fox Sports, and MLB Network to literally just name a few, the first-of-its-kind pool is sure to be a big…splash. Had to.
Darren Rovell of ESPN said of the new attraction, “the Frisco RoughRiders have been the top-drawing Double-A franchise for the past 13 years. A new lazy river that the team is building should solidify that status for years to come.” He added that “there are other water structures in sports, but they won’t compare to what is in Frisco.”
The 3,000-square-foot, 68,023 gallon behemoth is only going to add to what is one of the most exciting, interested, respected and diverse operations in all of professional sports. The Lazy River is expected to be completed by June 2016.
What you don’t have to wait until June for is the on-field material. Yes, let’s talk about the players.
Once again one of the top Farm Systems in all of baseball, the Texas Rangers will have plenty of top prospects on display at Double-A Frisco. Even though 2015 graduates like Joey Gallo andNomar Mazara have moved up and players like Nick Williams and Jorge Alfaro have moved on in trade, the team still possesses several future projected Major League players.
At the top of the list is outfielder Lewis Brinson. The 21-year old hit .291 in 28 games after his call-up from High-A High Desert. Brinson got a brief taste of Triple-A but is widely expected to start the season in Double-A, as is Ryan Cordell, whose position is still “TBD” and appeared at five different positions last season. Pitcher Luis Ortiz (2014 first round pick), infielder-turned-maybe-catcher Josh Morgan and tantalizing first baseman Ronald Guzman are among many names who could make the jump to Double-A this season.
There’s excitement everywhere you look with the Frisco RoughRiders, on and off the field. The Riders begin their season on April 7th in Northwest Arkansas (Kansas City Royals) and open up play at Dr. Pepper Ballpark on April 14th.