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Texas notes: Buckel relishing spotlight

Frisco right-hander ready for pressure of being a top prospect
April 16, 2013

Cody Buckel has been both a pitcher and a pitchman, but the Texas Rangers prospect, Frisco RoughRiders right-hander and aspiring actor has his attention firmly on the mound.

Buckel earned a second-half promotion to Frisco last year and was solid, going 5-5 with a 3.78 ERA, which only whetted his appetite for this season. However, when he wasn't trying to sharpen his delivery during the winter, Buckel found time to indulge his other talent -- acting -- in a spot for Dick's Sporting Goods.

Buckel was required to show his pitching form in the ad, so it wasn't much of a stretch for a guy who played Troy Bolton in the Simi Valley (Calif.) Royal High School production of High School Musical. But Buckel did enjoy his time in front of the camera.

"It was pretty exciting to go down and actually film something that I've been wanting to do, especially since it involved baseball. So it was a win-win," said Buckel, who worked on the shoot for three days and displays his pickoff move and his delivery in the atmospheric spot that puts the viewer into the game.

The experience may have been fun and fulfilling, but for Buckel it is too soon to consider acting as a fallback career or to daydream about the chance of supplementing a big league income through endorsements.

"Yeah, yeah sure," Buckel said, laughing off the idea he could someday command major endorsement bucks. "I just do it because it's fun."

When it comes to his day job -- baseball -- Buckel has plenty to think about this young season.

His first two starts weren't exactly the type of outings that draw rave reviews. Buckel only got through 2 1/3 innings and lost the season opener at Arkansas, 6-0, then lasted just 1 2/3 innings in the home opener, also against Arkansas, which the Travelers won, 6-3.

As a result, Buckel enters the week 0-2 with an 18.69 ERA and 11 walks to five strikeouts.

It is too soon to worry, Buckel said, but he admitted to over-thinking in his early starts.

"It wasn't that I was throwing really slow or didn't have good stuff," said Buckel, the Rangers' second-round selection (72nd overall) in the 2010 Draft. "It was more of a mentality thing of trusting your stuff and maybe being a little bit too defensive and falling into that defensive thing. So I was kind of getting a little picky with some pitches."

While he is working to pull it all together, Buckel does have some positives to emphasize. He was happy with a fastball that hit 96 mph on Opening Night and is pleased with his curve as well as the progress he has made with his changeup.

"All the pitches are there," said  Buckel, ranked as MLB.com's No. 72 overall prospect. "They're not necessarily flat -- it's just being able to trust myself throwing it."

Buckel may have put acting on the back burner, but in trying to fill his role on the mound he agreed there are lessons a guy can carry from the footlights to the ballpark lights.

"Obviously staying focused, staying in character," Buckel said. "Or staying in your mental focus on the mound. You've got to stay focused and know what you're doing."

In Brief

Traveling show: Arkansas Travelers left-hander Michael Roth had a good reason to miss Monday's start in Midland -- he was promoted directly to the Los Angeles Angels on Sunday and picked up the victory in a 5-4 win over the Houston Astros. Roth, who was 1-0 at Arkansas with five scoreless innings in his one appearance outside Rookie ball, pitched two perfect innings in his big league debut with four strikeouts. He was the Angels' ninth-round pick in last June's Draft.

Assorted skippers: The Texas League has four new managers this season: Tim Bogar (Arkansas), Kevin Riggs (Tulsa), Rich Dauer (San Antonio) and Aaron Nieckula (Midland). Among the veterans, Northwest Arkansas' Brian Poldberg is the dean as he enters his sixth season, making him the only manager the Naturals have had since relocating from Wichita.

Wild things: Midland and Arkansas combined for 19 runs on 25 hits and seven errors in Arkansas' 11-8 victory Sunday. The teams combined for 10 runs in the second inning alone. Arkansas' Matt Oye got the victory despite adding close to four points to his ERA as he allowed six runs (five earned) on 10 hits.

Todd Traub is a contributor to MLB.com.