The Quad Cities River Bandits and Houston Astros announced during the River Bandits game on Sunday afternoon that they will be extending their player development contract through the 2020 season. The extension guarantees the current partnership between the Midwest League River Bandits and American League Astros will last through the 2020 campaign. The current season is the sixth for the River Bandits as the Class-A affiliate of the Houston Astros.
Both organizations are coming off of championships in 2017, the Astros having won the World Series and the Bandits securing the Midwest League title. The current affiliation is the second distinct player development contract between Houston and the Quad Cities, the first coming in a six-year stretch from 1993 to 1998. Including 2018, the River Bandits have been affiliated with the Astros for 12 seasons. Seven of those seasons have resulted in playoff appearances and two have ended with Midwest League championships.
"The Midwest League Champion River Bandits are pleased to extend our Player Development Contract with the World Champion Houston Astros for another two years," said Bandits' owner Dave Heller. "We are two championship organizations, each playing in a championship community, each currently driving for another title, and we are a great fit together."
The River Bandits have seen Major League stars and current Astros such as Carlos Correa, Lance McCullers, and Alex Bregman hone their craft in the Quad Cities. Correa, a former first-overall draft choice, led the 2013 River Bandits to the sixth Midwest League Championship in club history. The 2018 River Bandits have had both the 2017 and 2018 first round draft picks of the Astros, J.B. Bukauskas and Seth Beer,on their roster this season.
Before the extension that was announced on Sunday, the Astros were already the second-longest tenured Midwest League affiliate in Quad Cities history. Only the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim have a longer history, partnering with Quad Cities for 25 total seasons over two separate stints between 1962 and 1992. Four former River Bandits have made their Major League debuts with the Astros this season. Those players are pitchers Cionel Perez, Framber Valdez and Josh James in addition to outfielder Kyle Tucker.
The River Bandits will play one more game to close out the regular season on Monday afternoon at 1:15 p.m. against the Peoria Chiefs. They will open a first round playoff series in Peoria on Wednesday, September 5 and return home for games two and three (if necessary) on September 6 and 7.
ABOUT THE BANDITS: 2018 marks the River Bandits' sixth year as the Single-A affiliate of the World Series champion Houston Astros and tenth anniversary season since regaining the River Bandits moniker, which in 2015 was voted a top-8 nickname in all of Minor League Baseball. The River Bandits anchor the Quad Cities sports market, which The Sports Business Journal named the top minor league sports market in the country in 2015 and second-best minor league market in its 2017 follow-up ranking. The River Bandits' charitable donations reached nearly $600,000 in 2017, including a $100,000 cash donation to Genesis Health Systems, an all-time record. In 2015 and again in 2017, the River Bandits earned Ballpark Digest's award for "Best Charitable Works" in Minor League Baseball, the only club to win that coveted award twice. For more information, visit www.riverbandits.com or contact Andrew Chesser at (563) 324-3000.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.