Quad Cities River Bandits Report: 05/22/08

Our Scout.com Quad Cities beat reporter Jon P. returns with his weekly report on the St. Louis Cardinals A-level Midwest League club. This week, we feature an interview with former first-round draft pick, shortstop Pete Kozma.

The River Bandits were on a roll this week. Then they ran into Jason Alper and Justin Sassaman—in my opinion the worst umpiring duo ever to disgrace the game. If you're a fan of Midwest League baseball, keep your eyes open for these two. They have single-handedly rewritten the rules of baseball and they call it according to their rules—not those that the rest of us enjoy. I understand that players have to overcome poor umpires and find a way to win but there was no opportunity to figure out any pattern. When you have the two opposing managers, Steve Dillard and Ryne Sandberg, charging the ump at the same time, you know something is seriously wrong.


OK, I'm done venting. The River Bandits are now standing at 23-20, third in the Western Division of the MWL. They have added a couple of spark plugs lately in Tommy Pham and Francisco Rivera. Pham has been here for nine games now and has five home runs—three of those being lead-off bombs to start the game. Rivera has a very smooth, natural swing that can only be described as "pretty." Paul Vasquez is hitting .318 in 44 at bats. Josh Wilson is throwing a great fastball and maintaining a 1.50 ERA.


This week I was able to sit down for a few minutes with a very impressive young man. He has all the tools he needs and he is learning to use them all. I was also privileged to meet part of his family in Burlington. Here's what I talked about with Pete Kozma.


Jon: Pete, let's start with a baseball question. What are you working on most to improve in your game this year?


Pete: Hitting. Keeping up a solid defense. Hitting.


Jon: What's your favorite color?


Pete: Orange.


(I'm starting to think this guy is a man of few words!)


Jon: Where do you go to school?


Pete: Owasso (OK) High School. Class of 2007.


Jon: What other player on the River Bandits are you most like, as far as playing style?


Pete: Mike Folli. I think that's why we work well together. It's good to have someone to work with.


Jon: What is your best moment in baseball so far?


Pete: Last year in the Oklahoma State 6A championship game I hit a home run. It ended up being the only run that was scored in the game and we won.


Jon: What's the best thing about playing minor league baseball?


Pete: I get to play everyday!


Jon: Who was your baseball idol when you were a kid?


Pete: Omar Vizquel


Jon: What's your favorite meal?


Pete: I like seafood.


Jon: Your favorite childhood team?


Pete: The Detroit Tigers.


Jon: Do you have any superstitions?


Pete: Never step on the lines! Never step on the lines!


Jon: What number do you want to wear when you get to the Majors?


Pete: If I'm in the show, I don't care what number I wear!


Jon: What's your favorite drink?

Orange juice.


Jon: What do you like to do during the off-season?

Pete: Just hang out. I like to spend time with family and friends.


Jon: Do you have any tattoos?


Pete: None.


Jon: Any phobias?

Pete: None!


Jon: If you were a car, what kind of car would you be?


Pete: I'd be a '69 Mustang!


Jon: What's your favorite baseball movie?


Pete: "Field of Dreams".


Jon: What is your name brand choice for your sports gear?


Pete: It's got to be Rawlings.


Jon: What intro song would you choose if they played them here at Modern Woodmen Park?

Pete: They usually play "Headstrong" by LL Cool J for me.


Jon: Is there anything else you want Scout.com readers to know about you?

Pete: Not really. I'm just a regular guy.


Jon: Thanks, Pete. I'd agree; you are honestly a regular guy.



Deal this week


As mentioned above, Tommy Pham is on fire. Nick Additon is maintaining his hot streak from the mound. Chuckie Fick threw a great game Wednesday night once he got the first inning "ick" under control. Matt Arburr is moving in the right direction, but he still has room to improve.


No deal this week


Cardoza Tucker, Jr. has built his ERA all the way up to 8.71, although part of the increase here can be attributed to the two umps named above. Wayne Daman went on the DL with some shoulder pain, retroactive to May 19.


On the radar this week


I'm watching Mark Diapoules. He had a rough start this week but shows great promise to improve. Charlie Kingrey is building a lot of steam—when it breaks loose, it's going to be big. Mike Folli still has a lot of potential that will make him a great player. As the weather here continues to warm, it's only going to get better.



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