November 2009

Fun With Videos!

I was reading a story today about how Minor League Baseball teams are increasingly using videos to keep fresh content coming during the off-season.

While a number of teams have joined the party over the last few months, the River Bandits have been ahead of the curve in their video production for quite some time.

Because everybody loves funny videos, I encourage you to visit “Bandits ON DEMAND!!!” – a page on the River Bandits website dedicated to the best video content the club has to offer. Personally, I think some of the 30-second spots under Bandits Commercials offer the best laugh-per-second ratios (see: “This is River Bandits Baseball”). The “I’m on a Berm” music video and the Roofman series (“Origins of Roofman” and “Roofman’s Villain”) are also must-sees.

You can also see some of what we have to offer on the team’s exclusive YouTube channel. We have even started an off-season video series appropriately titled “There is No Off-Season” that will be keeping fans (and front office staff, of course) entertained between now and April.

Its good stuff and I encourage you to have some fun with it!

Mauer 2nd QC’er to win MVP!

Congratulations to Joe Mauer, who won the American League MVP Award  today in nearly unanimous fashion.

And deservedly so. Did you know he is the first player to lead his league in hitting, on-base percentage and slugging since George Brett did it with the Royals in 1980? He hit .365/.444/.587, leading all of baseball in hitting and on-base percentage while only Albert Pujols (.658) and Prince Fielder (.602) had better slugging numbers. Wow. I’m not sure there is any more dominant of a way to take home the hardware. He received 27 of a possible 28 first-place votes. The only exception was reporter Keizo Konishi of the Kyodo News who decided to vote for Miguel Cabrera. Go figure.

Of course, we must also take this moment to reflect on the historical impact on the Quad Cities. Mauer spent the 2002 season with the Bandits, hitting .302 with 23 doubles and 62 RBI in 110 games as a 19-year-old in his first full season. Not a bad start for the St. Paul native that was drafted first overall the previous season.

Oddly enough, the real star of the 2002 River Bandits was Jason Kubel. He hit a blistering .321 while blasting 17 homers and driving in 69 runs in 115 games.

Just one year earlier, the River Bandits were led by another of their teammates – Justin Morneau. Morneau, then just a young 21-year-old from Canada, hit .356 and slugged .597 with 12 homers, 31 extra-base hits and 53 runs batted in after just 64 games. He beat Mauer to the punch, winning the AL MVP Award in 2006.

Those two are now the only former River Bandits that have gone on to win MVP awards in the major leagues. Although we can give a round-about shout-out to former QC manager Keith Mitchell, whose cousin Kevin was the NL MVP with the Giants in 1989. OK… maybe that’s a bit of a stretch.

Sill, you’ve gotta love a quick timeout for This Day in Bandits History!

Summertime in November

First off, I have to apologize. It has been too long. I have been a bad blogger… and by that I mean I haven’t been doing much blogging at all.

So I’m back! Here we are in November, and it’s like 60 degrees outside. I’m pretty sure the Quad Cities didn’t get the memo saying it’s supposed to be snowing by now. I say we all help keep the secret and see how long it lasts…

But while the baseball season we are all familiar with is in hibernation, there is a lot of good ball being played in winter leagues right now. For those of you who are as nerdy as I am when it comes to the minor leagues, I highly recommend following Jeff Luhnow on Twitter. I don’t think there are too many big league farm directors out there tweeting from the stands, but Jeff has got some great real-time scouting updates from wherever he may be at the moment.

Most recently, that was at the Arizona Fall League, where eight of his Cardinals farmhands (six of which are former QC’ers) are playing for the Surprise Rafters. OF Tyler Henley is leading the way with a .310 average and a .524 slugging percentage through 12 games, following up a great season in Double-A with a strong fall league. C Bryan Anderson (.265) and RHP Mike Parisi (2-1, 3.50) are both making up for lost time after their 2009 regular seasons were primarily lost to injury. For those two, just having them on the field and staying healthy is the important thing. OF Daryl Jones is also out there doing his thing, although the exciting prospect is off to a bit of a slow start.

But the AFL is as loaded this season as it has been in recent memory. The top two picks in the 2009 draft – RHP Stephen Strasburg (3-1, 5.28) and OF Dustin Ackley (.295) – are both making their pro debuts in Arizona this fall. They are joined by four other college picks from the Top 15 of the June draft, including No. 7 LHP Mike Minor (1-0, 2.31), No. 8 RHP Mike Leake (0-2, 2.31), No. 10 RHP Drew Storen (2-0, 0.93, 2 sv) and No. 12 RHP Aaron Crow (0-2, 7.94).

Former Peoria Chiefs lefty Donald Veal may be offering the most surprise, shaking off a reputation of wildness and leading the league with a 0.54 ERA to go along with a 3-0 record and more than a strikeout per inning. OF Grant Desme was a Kane County Cougar this past season, but is leading the AFL with 10 homers – double his closest challenger – and hitting .370 in the prospect-laden league.

No doubt, the Arizona Fall League is a great test to see where prospects stack up to the best in the game. Many of these names will be coming to a big league ballpark near you in 2010 and 2011. And it’s always a blast to see these guys working their way up!