In the last three seasons at Modern Woodmen Park, the Quad Cities River Bandits have twice achieved the highest team honor as Midwest League Champions, and soon the brightest stars of the franchise's last three years may be shining on major league diamonds.
Seven River Bandits of the last three seasons are among the top 100 prospects in all of baseball, according to rankings by MLB.com announced Thursday night. Among the top 52 prospects are four players from the 2013 River Bandits squad, which matched the most of any team in Minor League Baseball last season. No other Midwest League team had more than one of the top 63 prospects play on its roster during the 2013 season.
Among other notes, 2013 All-Star shortstop Carlos Correa was the only one of the top 22 baseball prospects to spend the entire season on one minor league club's roster. Correa and 2013 All-Star pitcher Lance McCullers were the only top-100 prospects to spend the entire season as teammates on a Midwest League club's roster.
In their first year of a new affiliation with the Houston Astros, the River Bandits became the first Minor League Baseball club in history to have back-to-back No. 1 overall draft picks on the same team, as 2012 No. 1 overall pick Carlos Correa and 2013 No. 1 overall pick Mark Appel appeared together in the Quad Cities. Earlier this week, Correa and Appel were among five 2013 River Bandits to be ranked among the top seven prospects in the Houston Astros organization by Baseball America.
Below are the Quad Cities alumni among the top 100 prospects, according to MLB.com:
Oscar Taveras, No. 3 MLB prospect, No. 2 outfield prospect, No. 1 St. Louis Cardinals prospect
As a 19-year-old in 2011, Taveras won the Midwest League batting title by hitting for a .386 average in 78 games with the River Bandits. The native of Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic, was a key piece of the first Quad Cities team in 21 years to win a Midwest League Championship that fall. In 2012, Taveras won another championship and was the St. Louis Cardinals Minor League Player of the Year at Double-A Springfield. Injuries limited Taveras to 47 games - all but one at Triple-A Memphis - in 2013.
Carlos Correa, No. 8 MLB prospect, No. 3 shortstop prospect, No. 1 Houston Astros prospect
At 18 years old, the Santa Isabel, Puerto Rico, native led all Houston Astros full-season minor leaguers with a .320 batting average and was the youngest player on the Midwest League Postseason All-Star team in 2013. Correa was also the youngest player in the Midwest League All-Star Game and SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game in New York, where he was the first-ever River Bandits position player to appear while on the Quad Cities roster. He led the Midwest League with a .872 on-base-plus-slugging (OPS).
Mark Appel, No. 17 MLB prospect, No. 6 right-handed pitcher prospect, No. 2 Houston Astros prospect
The No. 1 overall pick of the 2013 draft made his Class-A debut with the River Bandits July 14 and made his final eight starts of his first professional season with Quad Cities. The Stanford University graduate earned his first three professional wins in a River Bandits uniform, including the playoff-clinching game Aug. 25. The Astros' top pitching prospect remained with the team for its playoff run to the sixth Midwest League Championship in franchise history.
Jonathan Singleton, No. 50 MLB prospect, No. 1 first base prospect, No. 4 Houston Astros prospect
Singleton started his 2013 season with the River Bandits May 28 and homered in each of his first three games. After his first six games with Quad Cities, he was promoted to Double-A Corpus Christi, where the Lakewood, Calif., native played 11 games before being promoted to Triple-A Oklahoma City for the entire second half of the season. Singleton is now on the Houston Astros 40-man roster entering spring training.
Lance McCullers, No. 52 MLB prospect, No. 5 Houston Astros prospect
The Astros' top pitching prospect entering the 2013 season and the team's first supplemental round pick of 2012 pitched his first full season with the River Bandits. At 19 years old, the Tampa, Fla., native was the starting pitcher for the Western Division in the Midwest League All-Star Game and earned his first six professional victories with Quad Cities. McCullers was third in the league with a 2.08 ERA in the first half, and he finished the year with 117 strikeouts, good for fifth in the Midwest League.
Kolten Wong, No. 58 MLB prospect, No. 1 second base prospect, No. 2 St. Louis Cardinals prospect
The Cardinals' first-round pick in 2011, Wong made his professional debut and played his first season with the River Bandits. In 47 games, he hit for a .335 average. The Hilo, Hawaii, native earned his first of two consecutive minor league championships with Quad Cities, which went 7-0 in the postseason in 2011. Wong advanced to Double-A Springfield in 2012 and Triple-A Memphis in 2013, before making his major league debut with St. Louis Aug. 16 and was part of the Cardinals' roster that reached the 2013 World Series.
Stephen Piscotty, No. 98 MLB prospect, No. 3 St. Louis Cardinals prospect
Selected in the first supplemental round of the 2012 draft by St. Louis, Piscotty played his first professional season with the River Bandits. In 55 games, the Stanford University product hit for a .295 average and assembled a 16-game hitting streak that was tied for fourth-longest in the Midwest League in 2012. He switched from third base to the outfield in 2013, when he hit .295 in 112 games for Class-A advanced Palm Beach and Double-A Springfield.
The River Bandits will open the 2014 Midwest League season at Modern Woodmen Park Thursday, April 3. A full schedule of home and road games for 2014 is available at www.riverbandits.com, and ticket plans for the 2014 season are now on sale.
UP NEXT: Call today to reserve a Valentine's Day dinner at Modern Woodmen Park for Friday, Feb. 14, or Saturday, Feb. 15. Couples can enjoy a gourmet four-course dinner in a private luxury suite or take in the spectacular views of the ballpark, Centennial Bridge, Mississippi River and downtown Davenport from a table in the glass-enclosed, climate-controlled Sky Deck. Reservations are due Thursday, Feb. 6, by calling 563-324-3000. To order ticket plans - with new lower prices - for next season, call the River Bandits box office at 563-324-3000 or visit www.riverbandits.com to download the season ticket order form. Season ticket and mini-plan packages start at just seven games and begin at less than $40. Call a River Bandits account representative today to choose your seats and get the details of our various mini-plan packages.
ABOUT THE BANDITS: Having just been named Ballpark Digest's winner of Best Ballpark Improvement in America under $1 million, the River Bandits ownership is making one of the biggest improvements to Modern Woodmen Park since the ballpark was first built back in 1931! A new Ferris wheel, standing 112 feet over the playing field, is opening this spring, along with a carousel, a new ride called a "Drop and Twist," an expanded zip line, and many other new games and attractions. In 2013, the team unveiled a new 220-foot long dual zip line, a rock climbing wall, and a number of new bounce houses. The team's major league affiliate, the Houston Astros, just saw all six of its affiliates reach the playoffs - the first time in a decade any MLB team can claim such success. The River Bandits were one of three affiliates to reach the championship round and one of two to win their league championship.