Frisco skipper dishes on RoughRiders' talented roster

April 16th, 2023

HOUSTON -- The defending Texas League champion Frisco RoughRiders have the “most talented team in the Minors,” armed with four players on MLB Pipeline’s Top 100 Prospects list in outfielder Evan Carter (No. 36), infielder Luisangel Acuña (No. 65) and right-handers Owen White (No. 60) and Jack Leiter (No. 71). Frisco also features four other players on the Rangers’ Top 30 Prospect list in outfielder Dustin Harris (Rangers No. 7), infielder Thomas Saggese (No. 15), right-hander Tekoah Roby (No. 11) and fast-track reliever Marc Church (No. 19).

We caught up with Double-A Frisco manager Carlos Cardoza for a Q&A after the first week of Minor League games:

You kind of got promoted, getting to Frisco after being with the two A-ball affiliates. How was getting a first Double-A win for you?

Cardoza: “It was exciting, but I don't really look at it from that standpoint or any of that. I see it more as an opportunity and a responsibility, knowing that we're going to get to be around a lot of players that have come up through the A-ball levels and we just have responsibility to continue developing them and helping to carry out the plans we have as an organization at this level.”

You took over a team that was a really good team last year, they won the Texas League. Are there any unique challenges that come with that for you?

Cardoza: “I think every year is different, but one thing we've talked about as a group is that a lot of these guys, a lot of these players, were part of a championship winning team, so they have an understanding of what it takes. That part of it is exciting, and it's good, but at the same time, it’s just a blueprint. You still have to build it every year. That’s what we're trying to do this year again.”

You had a lot of these guys in A-ball as well. Is there anybody in particular who stood out to you early on this season, who maybe shocked you or just affirmed your own thoughts about him?

Cardoza: “I say no, but I say that because I believe we -- organizationally and as a staff, myself included -- we all thought highly of our guys. We see the potential, we see the ceiling, and that's what we're building towards every day. So it's good to see some of these guys get off to hot starts. But there isn’t really one guy that’s stood out, just because we think highly of them and we understand what the potential is in all of them.”

You won’t single anybody out, but I will, because that's my job. Evan Carter, obviously he's had a kind of crazy journey since he was drafted and now he's a top 30 prospect in baseball. What do you like about him and what makes him a special baseball player?

Cardoza: “It's everything that he can do physically on a baseball field. He can just about do everything and he enhances it always. The makeup and the aptitude, the game is never fast for him in the moment. It's never too big. I think we saw that last year in the postseason run with Frisco he had. He has taken a lot of what he learned in big league camp in Spring Training and he's continued to build off that.

“He's a very bright, very bright person. He graduated top of his class in high school. He's smart on and off the field. I will say the special thing about him is that he keeps things simple. I think in baseball, you have to do that to find the best version of yourself and to build on your strengths and have success. That's what I think is also unique about him is how smart he is, but also his ability to keep things simple for himself and everybody around.”

On the other side of the ball, you have two really good pitching prospects in Jack Leiter and Owen White. What have you liked about the two of them so far?

Cardoza: “I think the fact that they get to be in the same rotation and they get to compete with each other, in a very healthy sense, I think that it's always good for both of them. I think I want Jack and Owen to build off the successes they've had and the adversities they've had and continue to understand what makes them good. I think in both of their starts -- again, it's early -- but you saw steps forward taken as far as how they use their stuff, how they attack and the mindset they've been carrying to their preparation and competition. It's exciting to watch.”

Notable Frisco performances this week (April 11-16) 
Leiter (1 start): 4 1/3 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 4 BB, 7 K
White (1 start): 4 2/3 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 4 K
Carter (6 games): 10-for-23, 3 HR, 8 BB, 11 RBIs
Harris: (6 games): 6-for-23, 1 HR (grand slam), 7 BB, 5 RBIs
Acuña (6 games): 9-for-26, 3 BB, 4 RBIs