Quad Cities Bandits Notebook: 2012 Week 1

The Midwest League season began with a 1-2 opening series for the defending champion River Bandits.

It has been a good week in Davenport, despite the Quad Cities River Bandits dropping the opening series to the Kane County Cougars (Royals). In order to take some late-night pressure off of the writer and the publisher, this year's reports will cover games played Monday to Sunday in any week. This report is covering April 5-8, the only games played so far.

Thursday, April 5: QC 10, KC 11

Tyrell Jenkins, the opening night starter, looked better than it shows on paper. His fastball is registering 92-93 right now. When I talked to him before the season started, he said that he expects it to be mid-90's by mid-summer. He has a well-controlled curve and is working to improve his change up. Thursday night, Kane County hit more foul tips than I could count, but the chart keepers were keeping up and Jenkins was pulled after just 1.1 innings. He was charged with five of KC's runs but only one was earned. We'll see much better things from him later this summer.

Robert Stock also made his professional pitching debut on Thursday night and he also had a rough outing. He gave up four earned runs (and one unearned) on four hits. Stock has a good change up and is working to improve his fastball which is sitting at 90-92 mph. When I asked about his transition to pitching, he said it is going well. Stock had to start by re-developing his pitching arm by throwing hard every day to get back his stamina. Then he started working to improve his pitches. I believe Stock will be one of the most-improved players by mid-summer.

The rest of the relievers looked pretty good on Thursday. Ethan Cole allowed one unearned run but was impressive with his slider and curveball. Dail Villanueva and Danny Miranda held the Cougars scoreless. Miranda told me that he has a good change up but is working on his slider and his fastball. He described Nick Martini as a "vacuum" in the outfield, no letting anything drop if there is any way to play the ball.

Offensively, Luis Mateo was hitting the ball hard and had good plate control; he had three hits Thursday. Matt Williams, Juan Castillo, and Roberto De La Cruz also had two hits each. Errors committed early in the game were the Bandits' undoing for the opener. At one point Williams tried to reach under his legs to get a ball that was three feet behind him - the result of trying to turn two before he got the first one. I'm chalking up the five errors that night to "the jitters" and I doubt that we'll see another night like that one.

Friday, April 6: QC 8, KC 0

The first shutout of the season made the River Bandits look a lot better than they did in the opener. Hector Hernandez had six K's in 5.0 innings and although he allowed five hits, none of them mattered on the scoreboard. I didn't get a chance to talk to Hector but I hope to interview him sometime soon. If you have any questions that you want me to ask, please message me on the forum (sport61201).

On Friday, Brandon Creath and Logan Billbrough got the job done as middle relievers. Creath threw two innings and allowed just one hit, no runs; Billbrough gave up two hits in one inning but struck out three. His fastball is clocking at 89-92 mph. Heath Wyatt is the one who impressed me the most on Friday. He has a sidearm release that looks like he lets go of the ball about six inches off the ground and it works its way up to the strike zone.

Juan castillo was the big bat of the night on Friday with three hits in four at bats. De La Cruz went 2-for-5 again. The fourth inning was the big one for the evening as the Bandits scored six runs when wild pitches, passed balls, and throwing errors became the curse of the Cougars.

Saturday, April 7: QC 3, KC 7

Cold and rain were not what anyone wanted for the start of the game on Saturday. Todd McInnis made the start on a blustery evening. He threw 5.0 pretty good innings, allowing two runs on seven hits while striking out four. His fastball is high 80's to low 90's on the team gun and he has good command of his slider. All 29 of his pitches were in the strike zone or they were swung at in ball territory.

Willy Paulino took the loss as he allowed three runs, all earned, in 1.0 innings. KC had a runner on third (after a triple) and the next batter put the ball out of the park. Ethan Cole allowed a run in each of his two innings and Heath Wyatt maintained his 0.00 ERA to close the game.

There weren't many highlights for the Bandits at the plate on Saturday. Luis Mateo had a triple and a double, as both went to the center field wall. Roberto Reyes made his Davenport debut with a two-hit night. The fans are going to like it every time the stadium announcer calls Tyler Rahmatuuuuuuuuulla's name. Garrett Wittels hasn't looked very impressive yet but he's going to have a break out year here.

In the three games, the Bandits had 107 at bats, 21 runs and 27 hits for a team batting average of .252 on the young season. The 21 runs put the club in first place in the league but Kane County's 18 runs were enough to win two of the three games. In the series, Juan Castillo hit .625, Roberto Reyes .500, and Luis Mateo .417. David Medina, Garrett Wittels and Jesus Montero have been held to no hits. On no more than five innings pitched, it's a bit unfair to list any pitching stats this early in the year so I'll hold off on that for a week or two.

The team is on the road this week for three nights in Peoria and four nights in Cedar Rapids. Both of them are commuter trips. It's 99 ½ miles to Peoria and 75 to Cedar Rapids, so the guys will be getting a lot of windshield time this week. The Bandits will have a three-night stand against Clinton next week before heading east to Dayton and Bowling Green, the longest road trip (in miles) of the summer.

Every week this year I'll be closing my column with an invitation to contact me on the forum at sport61201 with any questions or suggestions that you have for this weekly column. I want this to be what you want and I'll do my best to accommodate your requests.

Thanks for reading!

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