Results tagged ‘ midwest league ’

Down to Two

Good morning everyone!

The River Bandits season may be over, but the Midwest League playoffs have been pretty exhilarating. The championship series starts tonight, with Fort Wayne playing host to Burlington at Parkview Field.

It should be a great match-up. Fort Wayne got to this point thanks to a 10th-inning walk-off homer in the deciding game against Great Lakes last night, and is looking to finish up a storybook season. The rebranded TinCaps boasted the best regular season record in all of Minor League Baseball while setting new attendance marks in their brand new downtown ballpark – which is a magnificent facility, by the way. They’ve got the one of the league’s best pitchers in strikeout king Simon Castro, as well as one of the league’s best young players in 19-year-old Jaff Decker.

But don’t look past Burlington. The defending champs have been one of the hottest teams over the last month and are powered by a number of potent bats and one of the league’s best bullpens. Jason Taylor – who was part of last year’s championship squad – hit a two-run homer in the first inning last night, providing all the offense in a 2-1 win over Cedar Rapids in the rubber match of the Western Division finals.

To get to this point, there have been more walk-offs and exciting finishes than I can remember in past years. How about Great Lakes’ Jaime Pedroza? All he did was launch a game-winning homer in the 10th inning of game three to help the Loons past West Michigan in the first round, and then save the day with a game-tying three-run homer in the bottom of the ninth in game two against Fort Wayne to spark a four-comeback, 11-10 win in 11 innings. Or Peoria’s Chris Huseby? With the game on the line against Cedar Rapids, the talented closer issued four walks and hit a batter to force in the game-tying and game-winning runs to end the Chiefs season and help the Kernels move along.

No shortage of action in this post-season. I can’t imagine things will be any different now that the league is whittled down to two. Enjoy!


Four homers, 16 runs batted in and a 1.185 slugging percentage. Really? In his first seven games in the Midwest League?

On Monday, Xavier Scruggs – the River Bandits new first baseman – was named the Midwest League Player of the Week. In his first week. After missing the first two months of the season with a left bicep injury and playing just a handful of games with short-season Batavia.

All he did was lead the league in hits (15), home runs, RBI, slugging and extra-base hits (8). That’s all. Oh, and he also hit .556.

Not only has Scruggs been dominant in his first week of Midwest League action, but he has also stayed humble. You don’t here him barking about how well he is playing or admiring one of his four long home runs. He told me today that, while he has always beleived in his abilities, even he was a bit surprised at the gaudy numbers he has put up already.

A lot of guys would be trying to make up for lost time after being sidelined for two months to start the year. But Scruggs – who likely would have started the 2009 season with Quad Cities had it not been for an injury incurred while swinging a bat during spring training – is not afraid to go the other way with an outside pitch or stay patient and draw a walk despite potential RBI opportunities standing on the basepaths.

Take a listen to the conversation I had with Xavier after batting practice this afternoon, which will air on my pre-game show tonight: 081009 – Xavier Scruggs.WMA. On WYEC 93.9 FM or streaming through for those of you keeping track.

By the way, how about a special mention for new third baseman Jermaine Curtis? Had it not been for Scruggs’s monster week, Curtis may very well have been named the league’s best position player. His six doubles, four stolen bases and nine runs scored led the league, and he also was among the league leaders with seven extra-base hits (T-2), a .606 on-base percentage (3), an .833 slugging percentage (3) and a .458 batting average (5). Not bad. Curtis was a fifth-round pick out of UCLA in the 2008 draft.

No wonder the River Bandits have won five of their last eight games.