Charles Cutler is my choice for this year's Player of the Year for the River Bandits. He led the team with a .345 batting average in 242 at bats. The 23-year-old appeared in 66 games before his promotion to Palm Beach just after the All-Star break and was the only River Bandit named to the Midwest League All-Star team.
Charlie is a natural leader on the field and a great guy away from the game. When I asked him this summer about his desire to get promoted, he gave me a very direct answer. He said, "Of course I want to move up as soon as possible but I don't want to get promoted before I'm ready. I'm here to play baseball. I like it in Davenport, too! I got here, found a place to live and bought a truck for $300 on craigslist.com! You can't do that most places!"
I'm glad I had a chance to watch Charlie play and to get to know his parents and brothers while he was here. I'm pleased to name him as our Scout.com 2009 Quad Cities River Bandits Player of the Year.
There were several others who deserve to be mentioned here as runners up in this category, too. Alex Castellanos was here for most of the year and was a great, steady presence on the team. He hit .270 in over 300 plate appearances and helped guide the team from his spot at the hot corner.
Brett Lilley was only here for 60 games and his departure surprised a lot of fans but he has gone on to another great career. He didn't have stellar stats, but he brought passion to the game like none other. When he stepped to the plate everyone was watching, knowing that something was going to happen.
Among the players who were here for at least 60 games, Roberto Espinoza and Jarred Bogany also deserve recognition. These two young men are outstanding individuals on and off the field. I always want to see players get promoted, but I wouldn't be disappointed to see either of these guys return to Davenport in April.
Those who were here for more than 30 games and less than 60 fall into a separate category. If they had been here longer, any one of them could have gotten the nod for the Player of the Year, too. They include Travis Mitchell, one of the best athletes to play here this summer, and Jason Stidham—another firecracker on the field. Paul Cruz and Ryde Rodriguez left a lasting impression on fans here, too.
There are just a few others whose stay was very short in the Quad Cities this year who should be mentioned here. Chris Swauger earned an early promotion but before he left he showed skills that were beyond minor league baseball. Jermaine Curtis, D'Marcus Ingram, Xavier Scruggs, and Matt Carpenter each added their own gifts to the game and each would have been higher on this list if they had been here longer this summer. I would also put Rich Racobaldo on this list but he was just named as the Johnson City Player of the Year so you can read about him in that article.
As always, I have felt a great privilege and a true honor to have gotten to know 54 good young men this summer. I feel a connection to the game of baseball that is enhanced by my opportunity to get to know the players on and individual basis. I truly love this game! I'll see you all again in April!
Link to our entire series of Scout.com Cardinals Players of the Year representing the top relievers, starters and position players across the entire system.
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