There is some affiliation news to report, as the Quad Cities River Bandits (Low A; Midwest League) have extended their player development (PDC) with the Houston Astros. The agreement runs through the 2018 season.
River Bandits owner Dave Heller and Astros General Manager Jeff Lunhow affirmed the two-year extension with a joint press conference Tuesday at Modern Woodmen Park. The extension guarantees the current partnership between the Midwest League River Bandits and American League Astros will last through the 2018 season. The 2016 season marks the fourth consecutive season of Quad Cities partnering as the Class-A affiliate of the Houston Astros.
The 2016 River Bandits are fighting for the third playoff berth in four seasons as an Astros affiliate, beginning in 2013 with a Midwest League Championship. 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. Entering 2016, there had been nine overall seasons as partners with Quad Cities reaching the playoffs five times.
“The Astros are a first-rate organization from top to bottom, and we at the River Bandits are delighted to continue our relationship with them,” said Heller. “They’ve consistently delivered championship level clubs and star players to the Quad Cities, and they are committed to player development. They’ve been great partners, and they are building a loyal following here in the Quad Cities. We are excited to extend our affiliation with them for another two years.”
The River Bandits have seen Major League stars such as Carlos Correa, Lance McCullers, Joe Musgrove 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 2016 River Bandits opening day roster featured three of the top-10 prospects in the Astros organization: No. 4 Kyle Tucker, No. 5 Daz Cameron and No. 10 Albert Abreu. More top prospects from the 2016 draft have already been added to the River Bandits roster with No. 27 Jake Rogers (third round, Tulane) and No. 28 Stephen Wrenn (sixth round, Georgia) joining the club.
“The Houston Astros and Quad Cities River Bandits have formed a strong partnership that we are excited to continue for years to come,” Luhnow said. “Our players and staff benefit from their time in Quad Cities, and we will continue to strive to field competitive teams year in and year out.”
Before the extension announced Tuesday, 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. Entering the 2016 season, 304 former Quad Cities players had reached the Majors. Seven more former Bandits have made their MLB debut this season, including five for the Astros: Bregman, Tony Kemp, Musgrove, A.J. Reed and Tyler White.