The Quad Cities River Bandits’ Opening Day roster includes four top-30 Houston Astros prospects, including RHP J.B. Bukauskas, and nine players who were on the roster when the team won the Midwest League Championship Series last year.
Bukauskas, ranked by Baseball America as the No. 4 Astros prospect, was drafted with the No. 15 overall pick last year. He has drawn comparisons to Astros starter Lance McCullers Jr., who pitched for Quad Cities in 2013. BA says Bukauskas had the best slider in the 2017 draft class, but relied on it too often in college. He also throws a fastball in the 91-95 mph range, but has better command of his slider. BA projects his ceiling as a starter or a closer-level reliever. He only pitched 10 innings in short-season last year, so this will be his first full season as a pro.
Eight of the first 11 draft picks made by the Astros last year are on the Quad Cities roster. Bukauskas is one of them. Another is outfielder J.J. Matijevic, a second-round supplemental pick who is ranked by Baseball America as the No. 26 prospect in the Astros farm system. BA says his best attribute is that he’s a pure hitter for average, with the potential to hit for average power, too; however, he also has below-average speed and isn’t expected to be better than average as a defender.
The other top-30 Astros prospects on the River Bandits roster are shortstop Jonathan Arauz (No. 23) and RHP Cristian Javier (No. 25), who are from Panama and the Dominican Republic, respectively. Arauz began last season on the suspended list (50 games for methamphetamine), then batted .220 in 36 games with the River Bandits before finishing the season in the short-season New York-Penn League, where he batted .264 in 33 games. Javier also returns after going 2-0 with a 2.39 ERA, 47 strikeouts and 15 walks in 37.2 innings pitched (eight games/seven starts) for the River Bandits last year.
In addition to Javier and Matijevic, there are seven players who are returning to Quad Cities after playing in the Midwest League postseason last year: pitchers Patrick Sandoval, Robert Corniel, Yohan Ramirez and Carlos Sanabria, outfielder Bryan De La Cruz, and infielders Marcos Almonte and Cody Bohanek.
Here is the entire Opening Day roster for the River Bandits:
Pitchers: J.B. Bukauskas, Yohan Ramirez, Tyler Ivey, Parker Mushinski, Cesar Rosado, Cristian Javier, Patrick Sandoval, Peter Solomon, Colin McKee, Robert Corniel, Adam Bleday, Carlos Sanabria, Cole Watts
Catchers: Michael Papierski, Gabriel Bracamonte
Infielders: Jake Adams, Cody Bohanek, Jonathan Arauz, Marcos Almonte, Roman Garcia, Adrian Tovalin
Outfielders: Jake Meyers, Corey Julks, J.J. Matijevic, Bryan De La Cruz
Quad Cities has an entirely new coaching staff this season. You can read about them here.
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