Quad Cities River Bandits 2017 Record: 79-59
It was a highly successful year for the Astros lowest-level full season club, as they finished with the second best record in the Midwest League behind only West Michigan’s 91-45 mark. The River Bandits won the West division by five games with a rotating roster, as is often the case with Single-A clubs. Only three players topped 100 games played with Quad Cities, with the departed Daz Cameron topping the team with 123 games played. In total, 21 position players had 100+ at bats for the River Bandits and 16 pitchers made at least 10 appearances.
The heart and soul of the team for much of the year was the core group of Daz Cameron, Ronnie Dawson, Chuckie Robinson and Carmen Benedetti, all of whom boosted their stock this season with their strong performances for the club- though Cameron is obviously no longer part of the Astros system. In all likelihood, the latter three will all start the year with Buies Creek in 2018.
In the playoffs, the favorite West Michigan was knocked out in the first round by Reds affiliate Dayton, paving the way for Quad Cities to earn their third title in the last seven seasons. After close series in the first two rounds ending in 2-1 wins over Peoria and Cedar Rapids, The River Bandits rolled over Fort Wayne in the finals, sweeping the TinCaps 3-0 by a combined score of 23-5, including a 12-2 romp in the clinching 3rd game. Needless to say, it was a highly successful year for the club, who will likely add significant talent from the 2017 draft class next year as they seek to repeat as champions.
Hits- Daz Cameron (123)
Doubles- Chuckie Robinson (32)
Triples- Daz Cameron (8)
HR- Chuckie Robinson (15)
RBI- Chuckie Robinson (77)
AVG- Carmen Benedetti (.332)
OBP- Carmen Benedetti (.446)
Innings Pitched- Carson LaRue (100.2)
K- Carson LaRue (95)
Saves- Erasmo Pinales (6)
Wins- Carson LaRue (12)
Notable Small Sample Players
Yordan Alvarez’s exploits with the River Bandits were well documented, the young slugger posted a 1.125 OPS in 32 games with the club to earn a fast promotion, earning him significant national attention and a Futures Game appearance.
Cristian Javier is a player who will likely continue to garner more attention within the system. The promising starter posted a 47/15 K/BB ratio in his 7 starts (8 appearances) to go with a 2.39 ERA. Just 20 years old, Javier will likely be on most organizational prospect lists and could earn an aggressive assignment to Buies Creek based on his performance in 2017.
Patrick Sandoval was a former overslot draft pick who has battled injury to this point in his career but put together a solid campaign in 2017. The 20 year old lefty had a 48/16 K/BB ratio in 40 innings in Quad Cities, his longest stop of the year. He carries mid-rotation upside.
Jesus Balaguer, a signing out of Cuba, was an absolute dynamo out of the pen in 2017. With the Bandits, he put up 29 strikeouts in just 18.2 innings, though he did walk 10 in that stretch. He should be a fast riser if he can keep the free passes to a reasonable level, as minor league hitters have had no answer for his stuff to this point.
The River Bandits will likely add top draft picks JB Bukauskas, Corbin Martin and JJ Matijevic to the mix next season, which should make for an exciting core to start the year. Notable pitchers Patrick Sandoval and Cristian Javier could potentially be assigned to Quad Cities to start next season. As is always the case with single-A clubs, it is virtually impossible to tell exactly how the roster will shake out, but given the depth of the Astros system it is hard to imagine that the team won’t be in contention for another MWL title next year as they add a new crop of talent.