Astros Minors: River Bandits Still Struggling

Oct 9, 2015; Kansas City, MO, USA; A general view of a ball and glove on the field before the Kansas City Royals and the Houston Astros play in game two of the ALDS at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 9, 2015; Kansas City, MO, USA; A general view of a ball and glove on the field before the Kansas City Royals and the Houston Astros play in game two of the ALDS at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports /

Astros Class-A Report: Quad Cities River Bandits (June 26-July 2)

The Quad Cities River Bandits lost three of the first four games of the second half as they continue to search for the winning formula. They are fourth in the Western Division standings as of this writing, with a 5-5 record.

Bandits’ hitters have raised the team average over the course of the season, now up to .241, ninth best in the league. This is the lowest team batting average since the 2009 season, despite the fact that outfielder Myles Straw and infielder Arturo Michelena are hitting well above .300, and Astros #4 Prospect, Kyle Tucker is hovering around that mark.

On the plus side, Quad Cities is second in the Midwest League in triples with 30, one behind the West Michigan Whitecaps (Tigers). Osvaldo Duarte leads the River Bandits with six (third in the league), followed by Straw, Tucker, and Aaron Mizell (now with Lancaster), all with four. Eleven River Bandits have at least one triple (including Brooks Marlow, recently promoted to Lancaster).

Bandits’ hitters have struck out 682 times in 2016, fourth highest in the league. They are second in stolen bases, yet first in caught stealing. Unfortunately, the team is no better than mid-pack in other offensive categories.

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Pitching is also suspect, as River Bandit hurlers are sixth in most hits and runs allowed, third in most earned runs, fifth in home runs and walks allowed, and third worst in WHIP. Yes, they have lost several top pitchers to promotion. However, it is the nature of minor league baseball that the top performers move up in the organization. So far, the remaining pitchers and those brought up from lower levels have not made the necessary adjustments to pull the River Bandits back to winning ways.

That said, this team does have considerable talent on offense, defense, and on the pitching staff. Naturally, fans want their team to win. However, the purpose of the Minor Leagues is player development first, and winning teams second. As every Minor League fan knows, the first concept doesn’t always translate to a winning team record.

Other notes:

  • On June 26, Hector Roa hit his third triple in his 10th game since joining the River Bandits.
  • RHPs Justin Ferrell and Juan Santos had rough outings on June 26. Ferrell started against Wisconsin and had a 1-2-3 first inning before it all came apart. In the second inning, he gave up six hits, three of them home runs, and eight earned runs before being replaced by Santos. The reliever then gave up two doubles, a walk, a single, and two more runs before getting the third out on a strikeout.

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  • C Marlon Avea was moved on June 25 from Quad Cities to Corpus Christi. He spent time with the River Bandits in 2015 and has jumped several times between Quad Cities and Tri-City (Short Season, Class-A) this season. Avea has been in the Astros organization since 2010 when he was 17.
  • Albert Abreu (#10 prospect) got the win on June 27, with five strong innings, allowing only three hits and two walks. #16 prospect Franklin Perez got the save with four innings, six hits, four runs, and one walk.
  • LHP Matt Bower struck out eleven and walked none in six innings on July 1 against Kane County. He gave up two runs on five hits and was behind 2-1 when Ferrell replaced him in the seventh.
  • In the same game, Straw went 5 for 5, while the other eight Bandits batters managed only four hits between them. After that performance, Straw is hitting .412 in his last ten games, .333 for the season. With his hitting and outstanding defense, he is making a strong case for promotion to Lancaster, and being added to the Astros Top 30 Prospects list.

Other Prospects:

  • Astros #5 prospect Daz Cameron had four hits on June 27 for Tri-City, including a triple and a home run. He struck out only once. Three nights later, he went 3-4, with an RBI, a walk, and no strikeouts, and then two more hits on July 1. If Daz really has his swing together, he will soon be moving up in the organization.
  • #14 prospect Gilberto Celestino is hitting .316 in his last ten games for the DSL Astros Orange (Rookie). He had at least one hit in seven of those games, and five 2-hit games in that span.
  • Miguelangel Sierra (#15 prospect) hit his third home run of the season on July 1. He is hitting only .219 for Greeneville (Appalachian League, Rookie), but is showing some pop.

Next: Astros: Can the Upgrades Come from Within for the Astros?

Quad Cities went 4-3 this week. Next week, (July 3-9), the River Bandits play one game to finish the road trip at Kane County. Then they start an eight-game homestand with four against Beloit and the first two of four games hosting the Clinton LumberKings.

***Stats from Baseball-Reference and***