Quad Cities Bandits Notebook: 2012 Week 4

Recognizing top April hitting and pitching performances on the St. Louis Cardinals' Midwest League affiliate.

It has been a cold and wet week for the Quad Cities River Bandits (13-10) who are holding on to a VERY narrow margin in first place in the Western Division. Because of my limited access to attend games this week, instead of doing a game by game recap, I'm going to summarize the month of April as the first month of the season comes to an end.

April hitting

Over the 23 games played, ten have been home games and the Bandits won six. Five players appeared in all 23 games. Nick Martini, Colin Walsh, and Matt Williams lead the team with 26 hits each. David Medina has had 23 successful trips to the plate. Anthony Garcia is the other player to appear in every game and he has 20 hits on the year. Luis Mateo got his 22nd hit on Monday.

Juan Castillo leads the team with a .328 batting average, followed by Tyler Rahmatulla at .300. Only two players are below .200 right now. Garrett Wittels has been frustrated at the plate and is only hitting .189. His frustration is visible when he doesn't get on base and he doesn't contain his excitement when he does make it. Jeremy Patton, a recent addition to the team, is finding his groove and working to improve his .129 average.

Colin Walsh has a very impressive presence at the plate. His OPS is currently 1.026 in 93 at bats. He is leading the entire league in this stat. Virgil Hill just arrived this week and has already rocketed to a .994 OPS. More than half of the hitters are over .750.

It seems that when the team gets home runs, they aren't balls that barely clear the fence. Tyler Rahmatulla recently hit one of the longest bombs that I remember seeing at Modern Woodmen Park. Luis Mateo is hitting the ball a lot harder this year, too. Each of the guys seems to have the ability to dig deeply and do what needs to be done when it is needed.

Colin Walsh receives my vote for Player of the Month in April. He has shown leadership on the field, has gotten the needed hits at crucial times, and is playing harder than any other position player on the team. I hope that the Cardinals front office will announce soon that they agree with me!

April pitching

I think it's more traditional for a report like this to begin with the starting pitchers but I can't. Heath Wyatt is just amazing me every time I see him throw. He only has 12 innings in 10 appearances, but he is still holding on to a perfect zero ERA. His submarine sidearm delivery is fun to watch and he's keeping opponents off-balance. The right-hander has only been credited with two saves, but I think that's more a function of the definition of a save. Wyatt deserves a promotion.

Having said that, it's difficult not to go straight to Tyrell Jenkins when talking about the starters. The real star for far this year, though, is Hector Hernandez. In four starts, Hector stands with a 2.01 ERA and a WHIP of 1.16. He has allowed less than one hit per inning.

Todd McInnis looks very impressive out there, too. He's the only starter who hasn't yet taken a loss. He has also pitched more innings than any starter including Dail Villanueva who has five starts. Todd has only allowed one home run and six walks.

The afternoon game on Monday was the first time I was really able to watch Villanueva work. He has a tall, thin build that doesn't look like he should be able to throw as hard as he does. I wasn't behind the plate so I can't comment on his pitch movement, but the South Bend Silver Hawks had a hard time figuring him out. When Dail gives up a hit, he settles in and does his best to keep the runner from advancing.

Tyrell Jenkins will pitch this evening against South Bend. This will be his fourth start as he was skipped one week. He's hitting the mid-90's even in the cooler weather. I usually take the game as it comes, but he has me anxious to see what he can do when it warms up. He's one of the pitchers with whom I've had a chance to talk and he's a very interesting young man. Watch my upcoming columns for more on what I've learned from him.

This was the first week that I've been able to see Brandon Creath, too. His last name rhymes with breath, not wreath. He uses his entire body to get power into this pitch. At 6'3", his kick is high anyway but his lead foot comes up beside his head on almost every pitch. Randy Johnson is taller by a long ways, but Brandon kind of reminds me of him.

Danny Miranda deserves a mention, even though most of his work has been done on the road and I haven't yet seen him work. His WHIP is only 1.20 and his ERA is an impressive 2.03.

I haven't seen enough of Sam Gaviglio to give an in-depth analysis, but he has qualities of Kevin Siegrist from last year. His control is very developed and I believe he's got the talent to make the show. Gaviglio starts in the second game Tuesday night so I'll have more to say about him in my next report. I'm also hoping to get a better look at Kyle Hald this week.

Those who are struggling are Willy Paulino and Robert Stock. Stock has shown the most improvement this month, though. He's still settling into the pitching role, so it's understandable.

It's hard to choose a Pitcher of the Month without breaking them into starter and reliever divisions. Since I don't like to do things the hard way, I'm nominating Wyatt for the Reliever of the Month and Hernandez for the Starter. I think Logan Billbrough would have been in the running, too, if he was still here (promoted to Palm Beach).

I hope you've enjoyed this slight deviation from my normal column style. As always, every week this season, I'm inviting you to let me know what you want to read here. Contact me on the insider's forum or send me a private message.

Thanks for reading!

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