River Bandits Finish Historic Season
The Astros full season Single-A affiliate, the Iowan Quad Cities River Bandits, were swept in the first round of the playoffs earlier this week by Cedar Rapids Kernels. After losing the first game 5-2, the River Bandits fell 3-1 Thursday night to the Kernels. Despite the early exit, the River Bandits completed one of their most historic seasons since being part of the Astros organization.
In fact, MiLB.com recently reported that Quad Cities ranked No. 1 as a minor league market. Formally ranked 48th in 2013 by the Sports Business Journal, the River Bandits jolted to first place this year. Quad Cities beat out the other 385 teams across 48 leagues in MiLB.
The journal listed Quad Cities rising fan base and updated facilities as contributions to their high score. Modern Woodmen Park was recently voted as the No. 1 Minor League Ballpark by USA Today in 2013 along with 10Best.com to beat out Louisville Slugger Field by an estimated 2,000 votes. Built in 2007, the ballpark sits on the banks of the Mississippi River with easy access to the Centennial Bridge. The River Bandits also set two attendance records for the 56-year old franchise. The first record was 3,906 average fans per game in the ballpark’s 4,024 capacity (97% full). This record led to the second record with over a quarter of a million fans showing up in total for the season at 250,004 fans.
The River Bandits recent success on the field has also been a significant contribution in their jolt to No. 1 in the study. In 2013, the River Bandits posted an 81-57 record. Despite finishing just a game over .500 in 2014 (70-69), the River Bandits rebounded this year going 89-51 to enter into the playoffs.
The River Bandits also scored the most runs since 2012 with 659 runs this season. The pitching staff would allow just 452 runs. Joshua James would lead the River Bandits as the ace with a team-lead 116.1 innings pitched. James finished the season with a 7-4 record while posting a 2.63 ERA. Brock Dykxhoorn led the teams in wins with an 8-5 record while posting a respectable 3.88 ERA. Catcher Jacob Nottingham originally led the River Bandits high powered offense. Nottingham was later traded in the Astros pre-trade deadline deal with the Athletics to land the organization lefty Scott Kazmir. The River Bandits also lost Daniel Mengden in the trade package for Kazmir after going 4-1 with a 1.16 ERA.
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After Nottingham was traded, third basemen Nick Tanielu would lead the team in batting posting a .308 average while hitting six home runs. Catcher Jamie Ritchie would lead the team in home runs at the end of the year with eight (Nottingham hit ten homers before being traded). One of the Astros prized prospect, Derek Fisher (currently ranked the as the #8 prospect for the Astros) would play 39 games for the River Bandits in left field posting 6 home runs, 24 RBIs, and 8 stolen bases.
Despite exiting the playoffs too soon, the River Bandits look forward to 2016 season. With the current talent, rising fan base, and experience of this season the River Bandits will continue to improve.