In recent years, the Quad Cities River Bandits roster has featured many of the St. Louis Cardinals' top prospects, and the team's Opening Day roster boasts yet another. In the last four seasons, eight of the Cardinals' top 10 prospects according to Baseball America
have appeared in the Quad Cities, including top-ranked pitchers Shelby Miller
and Carlos Martinez
, 2011 first-round pick Kolten Wong
, and now-Cardinals pitchers Lance Lynn
and Eduardo Sanchez
. Now in 2012, the Quad Cities will make it nine of the top 10 as they welcome 19-year-old right-handed pitcher Tyrell Jenkins
, currently rated as the Cardinals' sixth-best prospect by Baseball America
, as one of 21 new players on the Opening Day roster.
"When our fans come to Modern Woodmen Park, they will see the next generation of Cardinals stars," said team owner Dave Heller. "Former River Bandits helped to contribute to the Cardinals' miraculous World Series win last season, and there's no doubt that many of those who brought the 2011 Midwest League title to the Quad Cities will go on to great success in the major leagues in the very near future. The good news for Quad Cities is this year's team looks to be every bit as good as last season's championship club. There's no doubt the River Bandits will be an exciting club to watch in 2012."
The River Bandits will defend their 2011 Midwest League Championship with a roster that includes five players who appeared in the Quad Cities in 2011, as well as 21 new River Bandits, including Jenkins, the Cardinals' 2010 first supplemental round draft pick. A non-roster invitee to Cardinals camp this spring, Jenkins spent last season with the Cardinals' rookie-level affiliate Johnson City Cardinals, who won their second straight Appalachian League Championship in 2011. In the regular season, Jenkins went 4-2 with a 3.86 ERA (eighth in the league) in 11 starts, and his 8.84 strikeouts-per-nine-innings ratio ranked second in the league. His 55 strikeouts were second on the Johnson City squad. He started the playoff opener for Johnson City and took the loss against the Danville Braves. Johnson City then rallied to win the next four games and claim the Appalachian League title.
First-year manager Luis Aguayo's pitching staff will also include several of Jenkins' teammates from Johnson City's championship squad. Appalachian League postseason all-star lefthander Kyle Hald, who went 7-0 with a 1.84 ERA and a team-high 63 strikeouts, will be on the staff, as will right-handed relievers Logan Billbrough and Heath Wyatt, who combined for 13 saves in 2011. Brandon Creath and Willy Paulino each appeared in one game for Johnson City. The staff will include 2011 draft picks Sam Gaviglio (fifth round), Danny Miranda (eighth) and Todd McInnis (25th), as well as Ethan Cole, Dail Villanueva and Hector Hernandez, the winning pitcher in the River Bandits' 2011 regular season finale. Also returning to the Quad Cities is Robert Stock, who will begin his minor league pitching career after spending the last three seasons as a catcher in the Cardinals organization. Stock spent time with the River Bandits in each of those seasons, including the entire 2010 campaign.
Returning River Bandits also include catcher Juan Castillo, who appeared in 13 games for the Quad Cities in April and May last season before a call up to advanced Class-A Palm Beach. Infielder Luis Mateo was second in hits on the 2010 River Bandits team, and he made three appearances at third base for the Quad Cities last season. Infielder Colin Walsh appeared in 97 games the last two seasons for the River Bandits and is the only player on the Opening Day roster who appeared in the 2011 Midwest League playoffs, during which he hit .500 (7-for-14) in four games.
A total of nine 2011 draft picks, including three position players, are on the Opening Day roster. Beginning their first full season in the Cardinals organization will be outfielder Nick Martini (2011 seventh round) and infielders Matthew Williams (15th) and Tyler Rahmatulla (34th), who was named to the Appalachian League postseason all-star team.
In addition to Castillo, the catchers will be Jesus Montero and Adam Lewis, who signed a free agent contract with the Cardinals in February. The infielders include Mateo, Rahmatulla, Walsh and Williams, as well as Garrett Wittels and Roberto De La Cruz. Joining Martini in the outfield are Anthony Garcia, David Medina and Roberto Reyes.
"Our fans will again be treated to some of the most anticipated talent in the Cardinals' minor league system," said General Manager Stefanie Brown. "The 2012 River Bandits will be a great show at Modern Woodmen Park this season!"
The roster remains subject to change prior to Opening Day on Thursday, April 5, at Modern Woodmen Park. First pitch is set for 7 p.m., and the starting pitchers have not yet been announced.
UP NEXT: The River Bandits season opens Thursday, April 5, with a pregame parade celebrating the 2011 Midwest League Championship before the 7 p.m. game against the Kane County Cougars at Modern Woodmen Park. Get your tickets now to watch the River Bandits in 2012. Single-game tickets are on sale at the River Bandits box office at Modern Woodmen Park, by phone at (563) 3-BANDIT and online at www.riverbandits.com. Season ticket and mini-plan packages start at just seven games and begin at less than $50. Call a River Bandits account representative today to choose your seats and get the details of our various mini-plan packages.
ABOUT THE BANDITS: After four years of ballpark improvements, the River Bandits and the City of Davenport last summer unveiled some of the most impressive enhancements to Modern Woodmen Park yet. A brand new, state of the art, high definition 20' x 35' video board went live on June 7, and the newly enclosed glass Sky Deck on the suite level of Modern Woodmen Park was completed last August. Those improvements, in addition to new flood protection, a new front plaza, and a new parking lot directly across the street from the ballpark, are quickly making Modern Woodmen Park one of the premier facilities in all of Minor League Baseball. More improvements are scheduled for this coming season!
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.