Results tagged ‘ xavier scruggs ’

Really?

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 www.RiverBandits.com 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.

New-look Bandits

A pitchers’ duel went againt the Bandits last night, but we’re back in Burlington for a Sunday afternoon game.

Quad Cities is a whole new team since Monday’s roster overhaul. Xavier Scruggs and Jermaine Curtis are leading a new-look lineup that has averaged 6.2 runs and eight extra-base hits per game since the roster shakeup. Suddenly, this lineup packs a pretty good punch.

The other big thing is that the pitching was already starting to come around. River Bandits starters are 5-3 with a 2.04 ERA and just 10 walks over their last 10 games. The bullpen has been nearly as good. If you haven’t seen Jonathan Gonzalez pitch out of the bullpen yet, he’s shown the ability to throw three pitches for strikes and he hasn’t allowed a hit in six innings since joining the River Bandits.

And remember, Quad Cities is just one game out of a playoff spot with 28 to play. This team figures to play some exciting baseball down the stretch.

Quick injury update: Kevin Thomas had to leave Saturday night’s start in the second inning after getting struck by a line drive. Though he’s got a pretty good bruise to show for it, he will more than likely be able to make his next start on Thursday in Kane County.

I’ve gotta run. Daytime baseball – heat index is 100 degrees in Burlington today – awaits.

Who are these guys?

Monday was a day unlike any other that I have seen since I began working in baseball. Which, by the way, is one of the reasons I love this business. Whether its on the field or off it, you never know what the next day will hold. Every day brings new challenges and keeps you on your toes.

Yesterday, there were 14 transactions made affecting the River Bandits roster. After I sent out the official moves, I had about 10 responses from my peers around the league, all of which featured some sort of sarcastic yet witty comment. Seven new players officially joined the team, while seven others left town.

And from the first pitch fired off by Kevin Thomas last night, you could feel the new-look River Bandits getting a burst of adrenaline. Not only did Thomas throw seven dominant innings, but Quad Cities exploded for six runs in the first and led by as much as 9-0 in a blowout win. New first baseman Xavier Scruggs made the biggest splash of all, clubbing a pair of two-run homers to the delight of the excited crowd.

There are just 33 games left, and the Bandits are right in the thick of the playoff race.

But in addition to the tremendous boost provided by the seven new River Bandits, the flurry of roster moves also gave me a moment to reflect about the human side of the game. It is easy for fans to forget, after all, that the players between the white lines are real people, just like you and me. For them, baseball is more than a game – it is their livelihood, their future, their hopes and dreams.

For a player, there is nothing more rewarding than earning a promotion. Matt Carpenter, Arquimedes Nieto, Osvaldo Morales and Jose Garcia all moved up to Palm Beach. Conversely, a demotion can be pretty demoralizing for the guys. Jon Edwards, Travis Mitchell and Kyle Conley were all sent down to Batavia. What is sometimes difficult for players to realize, however, is that there is a difference between a promotion and a setback.

For example, one of the players that joined the River Bandits yesterday was Jermaine Curtis, a third baseman that was sent down from Palm Beach. But you have to remember that Curtis was just drafted last summer, and he skipped the Quad Cities in the first place when he started the season with Palm Beach. A shortstop named Tyler Greene immediately comes to mind. After initially skipping this level, Greene was struggling at Palm Beach and was sent down to the Quad Cities midway through the 2006 season. He went on to hit 15 homers and drive in 47 runs in 59 games in the Midwest League, and broke spring training the next year at Double-A – staying right on track. As many of you likely already know, Greene made his big league debut earlier this season and has played 41 games for the Cardinals.

What I guess I’m trying to say is that it is important not to lose sight of the bigger picture. Today’s setback may simply be a short-lived one, and in the grand scheme of things may even turn out to be a positive. Just ask Tyler Greene.

 

By the way… T-minus two days, 11 hours and 57 minutes until the Professional Pillow Fight League rolls in on Thursday! (Sorry, couldn’t resist.)