Astros Class-A Report: Quad Cities River Bandits (April 3-9)
Kyle Tucker (#4 Astros prospect) and Daz Cameron (#5), outfielders picked by the Houston Astros in the 2015 Amateur Draft, began the 2016 season with the Class-A Quad Cities River Bandits of the Midwest League this week. Several other promising players join them on a team that hopes to approach last year’s success when they won 88 games and reached the playoffs.
Tucker, 19, was the Astros second of their two first-round draft picks in 2015, the fifth overall pick. He is the younger brother of Astros outfielder, Preston Tucker. Cameron, also 19, the son of former big leaguer Mike Cameron, was the third Astros choice, and 37th overall. Both began their professional baseball careers last summer with the Astros Gulf Coast Rookie League team and then moved up to the Greeneville Astros of the Appalachian (Rookie) League.
Tucker and Cameron will have as a teammate another Astros Top 30 prospect, #11 Albert Abreu. The 20-year-old right-handed pitcher signed with Houston in 2014 and spent that season with the Dominican Summer League (Rookie) Astros. Last season, he threw 46.2 innings for Greeneville, posting a 2-3 record, 2.51 ERA, with 21 walks and 51 strikeouts.
Position players: Brooks Marlow, 2B (.255, 6 HR, 31 RBI), Dexture McCall, 1B (.295, 4 HR, 37 RBI), Aaron Mizell, OF (.263, 4 HR, 36 RBI), Johnny Sewald, OF (.289, 1 HR, 28 RBI), and Bobby Wernes, 3B (.346, 0 HR, 29 RBI). Wernes won the batting title in 2015 for Tri-City in the short-season Class-A New York/Penn League.
The River Bandits had one of the highest winning percentages in all of baseball in 2015, winning 88 games, most in the Midwest League, and second among Astros minor league franchises (the Corpus Christi Hooks won 89).
Omar Lopez, who managed Class A Lancaster last season, will manage Quad Cities this year. Lopez was at the helm for Quad Cities in 2012-2013, winning the league championship in 2013. Lopez’ staff includes Chris Holt, pitching coach, and Joel Chimelis, hitting coach. Josh Bonifay, last year’s Midwest League Manager of the Year, was initially slated to return to Quad Cities, but will instead manage the Greeneville Astros.
The River Bandits dropped their 2016 season opener on April 7 at Cedar Rapids, 12-4. Sewald drove in three runs, had one hit, and stole two bases, while catcher Anthony Hermelyn had two hits, including a double, two walks, and scored twice. Tucker had one hit, while Cameron went hitless, but walked twice. Starter Rogelio Armenteros went four innings, gave up five hits, two runs, and struck out five, taking the first loss of the season.
The next night, they lost again, 6-2. Starter Jose Hernandez pitched four innings, giving up four runs on four hits and three walks while striking out four. Thome threw two hitless innings in relief, followed by Abreu, who gave up just one hit in 2.2 innings and struck out seven against only one walk.
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The River Bandits went 0-3 to open the season after the Saturday home opener at Modern loss to Cedar Rapids at Modern Woodman Park. Tucker and shortstop Osvaldo Duarte each had two hits while Cameron and 1B Pat Porter drove in the only two Quad Cities runs. Starter Chris Murphy got the loss, giving up four hits, four runs, three walks, and striking out three. Reliever Ryan Deemes threw two perfect innings, striking out two.
- OF Ryan Bottger was released on March 28. Bottger hit .218 in 103 games in 2015 with Quad Cities.
- RHP Jose Montero was also released on March 28. He had one win and a 4.50 ERA in 16 innings with the River Bandits last season.
- The 2015 River Bandits drew 250,004 fans, good for 7th place in the Midwest League. According to MiLB.com, the league broke the previous attendance record, drawing an impressive 4.23 million, proving that Minor League Baseball is alive and well.
This week, (April 10-16) the River Bandits finish out the home opening series with Cedar Rapids. Then comes a three-game set in Peoria, and the first three of a four-game series at home against Kane County.
**Statistics via MiLb.com**
**Cover photo courtesy of @QCBanditPhotog**