Let’s take a look at how one of the Astros’ Single-A affiliates is starting the 2018 season.
The Astros‘ Single-A affiliate, the Quad Cities River Bandits, has gotten off to a slow start in 2018. A 1-4 record entering Thursday to be exact. The cold weather, though, did cause two out of the first four games to be postponed this season. Needless to state, the River Bandits have started the year kind of cold themselves. But a few of the bats are heating up.
River Bandits’ Bats Heating Up
Two of the first two games of the River Bandits’ 2018 season was postponed due to the cold weather. That was the official reason listed on the team’s website. So, it’s no shock that it has taken the offense a while to get started. Through the first two games actually played, the River Bandits collectively hit .206 with no home runs and only two extra-base hits. Not surprisingly, both games ended in losses.
But in the third game of the season, the bats woke up for 11 runs on nine hits, six of which were for extra bases. Six different batters scored hits and four of those had RBIs. However, the offense has been relatively stagnant in the two most recent games with three total runs.
J.J. Matijevic’s Bat Leads the Way
J.J. Matijevic had three hits during the River Bandits’ 11-run explosion on April 9th, raising his season batting average to .308 at the time with a 1.126 OPS. Small sample, sure, but worth pointing out. He also hit the first home run of the season for the Bandits in the third inning. After singling in the fifth inning, he added a second home run in the seventh inning. Not a bad day at the office for Matijevic.
Matijevic seems to have found a home in left field for now. He was the 75th overall pick in the 2017 MLB draft, coming in the Competitive Balance rounds on the first day. That pick was one of the picks the Astros “received from the Cardinals in the wake of the hacking scandal” per Brain McTaggart.
At the time, the Astros Director of Player Scouting and Development Mike Elias stated the following:
"“He’s played some second base at Arizona, he’s played some first, he’s played some left field. I don’t know what the defensive plan will be for him going forward. That’s something that we’ll evaluate once we get him in the field, but he’s a bat first.”"
Astros fans should be excited about Matijevic. As Elias also said:
"“We like his bat, we like his power, he can steal some bases here and there, and we just like what he’s done with the stick.”"
Up Next for the River Bandits
The River Bandits will finish their series against Kane County later on Thursday night before hitting the road. Their weekend series against Burlington will wrap up this upcoming Sunday before an off-day on Monday.
A home series against Peoria will take place from April 17th through April 19th. Let’s see if the cold weather doesn’t hamper the River Bandits much longer and the bats start warming up.
**Statistics and information courtesy of MiLB.com**