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Texas notes: Sadzeck bouncing back

Frisco righty putting together solid season two years after surgery
August 16, 2016

Connor Sadzeck would've liked to have been sharper his last few starts, but overall he's accomplished what he set out to do in 2016.

"Solidifying myself as an arm in this organization," he said.

The need for that reassurance came after two tough years -- Tommy John rehab in 2014 and an up-and-down 2015 in his first year back from the surgery. This season, for the most part, has been as steady as he could have hoped.

Sadzeck has made every scheduled start with Double-A Frisco while compiling a 9-6 record, 4.17 ERA and 110 strikeouts (fourth in the Texas League) over 123 innings. The Rangers' No. 12 prospect has also tossed two complete games.

He was roughed up for seven earned runs Sunday and six earned runs Aug. 9, but he has produced better results in his 21 starts with the RoughRiders than he did in his short stint with Frisco last year as he worked his way back from surgery.

Sadzeck had a 9.61 ERA in six starts with the RoughRiders last year. This season, even with a rough August, has been a vast improvement for the 11th-round pick out of Howard College in 2011.

The catalyst for the bounce-back year, he said, was being added to the Rangers' 40-man roster in the offseason. The moment was so big for his career, Sadzeck remembers the exact date -- Nov. 20.

"That was weighing on my mind quite a bit toward the end of last year," he said, "kind of wondering if I'm going to be put on or not. They did put me on it, which I was grateful for, so I can kind of have that weight off my shoulders and go out and perform."

Sadzeck said learning to pitch with improved velocity has been an adjustment, too.

The Crystal Lake, Illinois, native has always been tall -- he's listed at 6-foot-7 -- but said he went into rehab in 2014 weighing about 215 pounds. The process gave him time to put on weight the right way, and now he's pitching at about 240.

Before surgery, Sadzeck said his fastball would reach the high-90s "once in a blue moon" -- but now it's consistently there. That velocity, however, was part of what led to his struggles in Frisco last year.

"I was throwing harder and I was trying to throw hard every pitch, as opposed to actually pitching," he said. "I think that's a big step I made this year -- learning how to harness that newfound velocity -- locating that pitch as opposed to throwing it up there."

With a spot on the 40-man roster and a bit more zip on his fastball, Sadzeck has also used a new pitch this year. He's mixed a fastball, curve and changeup over the course of his career but said he's throwing a more consistent slider this season.

"It's now become a serviceable pitch," he said. "It's always nice to have an extra pitch."

Sadzeck has ideas about how he wants the rest of the season to go, but he can already consider it more successful than the last two.

"I think first and foremost is finishing this year strong," he said. "Maybe it turns into a good opportunity as a September callup. If not, go into the offseason carrying a strong season into next year, and then try to make the team out of Spring Training."

In brief

Back for more: Andy Ferguson's 2015 season was so good he spent most of it at Triple A Omaha. However, a shoulder procedure in the offseason kept him from building on that early this year. After starting 2016 in the Arizona League and then moving to Class A Advanced Wilmington, Ferguson made his way back to Double-A over the weekend, pitching for Northwest Arkansas for the first time this season. The right-hander held San Antonio to one earned run on three hits and two walks and struck out four over five innings on Saturday.

Building on his lead: Midland's Matt Chapman has been among the Texas League homer leaders all season. The third base prospect built on that this week, belting three more homers to increase his total to 29 entering Monday. Chapman was hitting .346 with five homers and 15 RBIs in August, raising his average to .244. He was leading the league with 83 RBIs.

Close to his best: Northwest Arkansas outfielder Terrance Gore is likely to top the stolen base total he accumulated with the Naturals last season. He'd swiped a league-best 37 bases heading into Monday's action, just two fewer than his total last season before being promoted to Kansas City. Gore's 37 steals this year had come in 41 attempts.

Troy Schulte is a contributor to