Quad Cities River Bandits Notebook: Week 23

The Midwest League finals begin Wednesday for Ryan Copeland and his River Bandits teammates.

For the first time since 1990, before the team was called the River Bandits the first time, the Quad Cities team has a chance to win a league championship. If they get the desired result this weekend, this will be their fifth championship in the Midwest League's 55-year history.

Oscar Taveras received a well-earned League batting title this week. Although he didn't have enough plate appearances for the recognition, his batting average was high enough that even when 31 at bats were added with no hits he still beat the second place hitter by 25 points. Congratulations, El Fenomeno!

More congratulations go out this week, too, to Stefanie Brown. She was named the new general manager of the Quad Cities River Bandits. She is one of the youngest GM's in all of minor league baseball. Many here have high hopes for her success. Kirk Goodman will be stepping down from the position soon to explore new opportunities.

One big surprise this week was the exclusion of Seth Blair from the playoff roster. He certainly didn't have the kind of summer that anyone hoped he would have. He is probably the one who is most disappointed. It will be interesting to see how he spends the off-season and how he performs in Florida in February and March. I wish him the best.

This week, instead of writing a game by game recap which is already available in Josh Jones' daily minor league notebooks, I want to write a little bit about what I have observed in some of the players since the beginning of the playoffs. It's a totally subjective view but I hope it adds a little to your understanding of how I see this game.

Ryan Copeland has taken each day as it comes. He is part of the best pitching staff in the League and is one of the most happy-go-lucky guys I know. If he's pressuring himself to excel, he's not showing it at all.

Trevor Rosenthal is the definition of professionalism. The day after he threw the most impressive game of the summer - a four hit, complete game shut out - he was back on the field before the game working out hard. When I congratulated him on his great game, he deflected the praise to his teammates. I will seriously be surprised if he's not on a track to become a Major League all-star some day.

Anthony Ferrara presents himself as the classical southern gentleman- he always uses "sir" and "ma'am" when speaking to others. When he takes the mound, he sets aside the gentleman and becomes a monster. Ferrara has had some off nights but he always gives his all. Another way I judge a person's character is to watch him interact with my puppy. Anthony lights up when Finnigan starts wagging his tail. He's one of the good ones.

Boone Whiting continues to be the picture of concentration. He controls games like few pitchers I've ever seen at this level. I can easily imagine that he has a daily routine that he observes without deviation.

Zack Russell has had more losses this year that any other starter but that hasn't gotten him down. He approaches every game with grit and determination. He's smart about the game and he's got a good future in it.

Cody Stanley plays with his whole heart. When he strikes out, he shows his disappointment in himself. When he gets a hit, you can see the fist pumps on base. He's a perfectionist. In this case that's a positive thing. He loves this game and he's good at it.

Even though I haven't seen him play in the post-season, Kleininger Teran is always cheering the team. He has an everlasting smile that makes a person feel good just seeing him across the stadium.

Jonathan Rodriguez is the power of the team. He comes up with big hits when they are needed and he seems to be one of the natural leaders on the team. On and off the field, he is a presence that instills confidence.

Oscar Taveras is Oscar. He has more fun playing the game than most Little Leaguers. I can't help but grin when he shows how much he loves what he does. The other side of that coin was mentioned above - the fact that he gets hits more consistently than any other player in the league. To say that he has a future in baseball would be like saying that the Pope has a future in church work - he's already there.

Packy Elkins has had an up and down year. Sunday's game was a down but he'll rebound and have a great final round. He's one of the older guys on the team and is a quiet leader. There's nothing real flashy about Packy; he's just a very dependable presence on the team.

Kolten Wong has been the glue that keeps this team together, I think. His arrival was a catalyst that was needed for the playoff run. His skills have already surpassed this league but it has been good to have him here for the last couple of months.

Nick Longmire is another one of those quiet presences who comes through with the huge plays when the team needs the boost. His walk off homer in Sunday's game was just one example of his ability to make the game. He's also very humble about his big hits and very quick to credit the entire team for great games.

I'll write a little more about other players next week. By the time I submit my next report, we'll have a new Midwest League Champion. The crown has gone to an Eastern team for the last two years. I think it's about time to bring it back to the West.

On Monday night, Lansing won the East Division title so they will have Tuesday off as the Bandits drive there for games one and two of the Championship Series. Congratulations to all the teams who made it to the playoffs.


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