While most of the attention in St. Louis as far as baseball is concerned is focused at the Major League level, the Cardinals’ affiliates are making headlines of their own. Now it’s certainly understandable that the Cards’ pursuit of the NL Wild Card is the main focal point right now, but the Minor Leagues should never be ignored or neglected if you ask me. Okay, let’s get to the news.
With Saturday’s 6-3 victory over the Lansing Lugnuts, the Quad Cities River Bandits completed a three-game sweep to capture the Midwest League championship. It was the first time since 1990 (21 years) that the Cardinals’ Class A affiliate was able to take home the title. It should be noted that the River Bandits put together a perfect playoff run, winning all seven of their games over three series’.
In front of a home crowd of about 2,400 at Modern Woodmen Park, Quad Cities’ first baseman Jonathan Rodriguez drove in three RBIs in support of starting pitcher Trevor Rosenthal, who allowed three runs on five hits over six innings. He also stuck out seven to improve to 2-0 with a 1.80 ERA in the postseason. River Bandits’ outfielder Oscar Taveras also collected two hits and scored a pair of runs.
After the River Bandits cruised to the second best record in the regular season, manager Johnny Rodriguez was delighted to see it all pay off in the championship.
"It was an unbelievable run. You just don’t see 7-0 runs in the playoffs. It’s an unbelievable feeling because you don’t get many chances at it. That’s the biggest thing, the way they did it against three solid opponents. There’s one thing I write on my board on top of the lineup — competitive greatness. A lot of players are struggling and they don’t understand what pressure is. Be at your best when your best is needed. And this team took this to heart."
Let’s not forget that 18-year-old Oscar Taveras is currently the seventh ranked prospect in the Cardinals organization. Despite missing a month of the 2011 season, he hit .386/.444/.584 with eight homers, 62 RBIs, and 52 runs scored. The Cardinals have plenty of outfield depth at the moment, but if this youngster continues to improve in all facets of the game, he could work his way up the ranks quickly.
For more on the Minor League Baseball playoffs, click here.