River Bandits partnership with the Houston Astros extended.

Video Credit: WHBF - Published
River Bandits partnership with the Houston Astros extended.

River Bandits partnership with the Houston Astros extended.

The River Bandits and Houston Astros have extended their player developmental agreement and it is working great for both teams.

" (jay kidwell, reporting) i am with the houston astros general manager, mr. jeff luneau.

How exciting is this, to have another agreement with the quad cities river bandits, and you guys maintain a tremendous relationship?(jeff luhnow, houston astros general mangaer) we do.

For us, it's so important.

Our players come here, it's the first full season club that they hit.

And, a lot of them go straight from here, almost to the big leagues.

Like alex bregman, he played here last year.

He's on our team, now.

Carlos correa a few years ago.

We have nine players that have played here that have reached the team, and a couple with other teams. (jay) anything in particular that the river bandits do that makes you most pleased?(jeff) there's a lot of support here.

Our players get everything they need to continue to develop.

The fans are very supportive.

They come and they cheer on our players.

The league is a great, competitive league.

So, there's really nothing missing.

It's a very important step for our players, both domestic and international.

(jay) it has been very impressive to see the pipeline, and the quality of players that we have been able to see here that are now down at minute maid park.

It is really something.

Talk about those carlos correas, those lance mccullers, some of the terrific players that you are playing everyday in houston.(jeff) well for a lot of those players, the most time they've spent in the minor leagues has been right here in the quad cities.

And, they came very prepared.

We have nine rookies on our team right now, and that doesn't even include carlos, who's younger than all nine of those rookies.

We're a very young team that's going to be good for a very long time, and part of that reason is they did a very good job developing when they were here.(jay) carlos seems to be a young man that really gets it.

Sounds like he's given some talks to some of the other minor league teams in the astros affiliate.

What do you see with him?

Obviously, the talent on the field is incredible, but sounds like there's a lot more to it than that.(jeff) there sure is.

He's mature, not only in terms of baseball, but he's mature in terms of life and the way he looks at his future and helping others and giving back.

Really if you had to model the ideal baseball player on and off the field, he comes pretty close.

(jay) i believe lance mccullers does a lot of animal shelter work, if i'm correct on that.

Sounds like you've got a good group of players down there.

(jeff) we do, and i think that tradition translates to here.

I know a couple of our players are out in the community today, even after a long extra-inning game last night.

And, we want them to do that.

We want them to want to do that.

I think that's the most important thing.

We want them to want to give back to the community, because they get so much support from everybody.

(jay) what are you most notably hoping players get out of their time here in the midwest league?(jeff) i think the most important thing is that they work on their skills that they feel are going to be needed, that we feel are going to be needed to succeed in the big leagues.

Because, like with alex and like with carlos, they may not spend much time at the levels above this.

So, they need to be ready to compete once they leave here.(jay) when you roll into town, how much interaction do you have with the players and the manager?

(jeff) plenty.

I visit with the manager before and after the games.

Today, i'm going to talk to the players and give them some messages that i want them to hear.

I met most of them at spring training, a couple of them slipped through the draft that i didn't see yet.

But, it's important that they recognize this is an important step in that the general manager comes here.

Last year was the first year i didn't come since i was general manager of the houston astros, and i really want to make it an annual tradition to come here and support the team and the players.(jay) is there any overriding message that you could share with us that you try to let the players know?

That you could be down there at minute maid park down the road as well.(jeff) i think we have so many good examples of tyler white, a 33rd round pick who's in the big leagues now.

Guys from the first, all the way to the 33rd round that have played here in the last few years and made it.

So, every single person in that room has a chance to make it.

They just have to keep working hard, developing, listening to their teachers, and hopefully they'll get a chance.(jay) the astros are really an unbelievable story.

Years ago, obviously not a lot of success.

But, how you have drafted well and how the team has drafted well and risen is just really probably a textbook example of how a team can get it done.(jeff) we've been fortunate.

It's been a lot of hard work, getting the team to where it is today.

But, i think the benefit of it is this team is young.

It's going to be good for the next 5-10 years, and we're going to take our shot of winning hopefully more than one championship.(jay) what do you enjoy most about your job?

It's got to be a blast.

I mean, i love coming to baseball games and that's just a portion of my job.

You get to do it all the time.(jeff) yeah, spending a couple of days in the quad cities.

Beautiful ballpark overlooking the mississippi, watching the players.

It doesn't get any better than that."

" (jay kidwell, reporting) well, here's the man that makes baseball happen all summer long in the quad cities, mr. dave heller.

Dave, exciting news today with the houston astros.

What does this mean for baseball fans in the quad cities?(dave heller, quad cities river bandits owner) it means they can keep seeing future major league stars right here in the quad cites.

And, some major league rehabs along the way too.

I love to bring major league players to the quad cities.

I love to bring future stars to the quad cities.

That's what the astros have been giving us, and that's what we're looking forward to continuing.(jay) the track record is amazing.

Carlos correa, lance mccullers, just to name a couple.

But it has been quite the rosters we've seen here over the years.(dave) yes, as i've been saying, the astros have been sending us future stars.

Not just major league players, but stars.

And, for a little kids who grow up here in the quad cities that can say, "i met carlos correa, i got my picture with carlos correa, i got a ball signed by lance mccullers, i have an autograph from vincent velasquez," those are great!

Alex bregman, i mean so many stars that they've sent here.

(jay) i remember a few years ago, when lance mccullers was joining me for a live shot on opening day, and we were talking afterwards.

You were saying, "he's going to be a star."

And obviously, no question he is.

That's the type of stuff you see here.

What separates the astros from other teams?

Do the astros just seem to have an extra beat with things?

They seem to really take a priority in their minor league franchises.

(dave) well, i think jeff luhnow and his staff just draft really well.

They have really gotten player development down to a science.

They've given us their best players.

And, that's why it's been such a great partnership.

(jay) what do you love about doing what you do here?

Every summer, this place is just the buzz.

It's the place to be during the summer months.

The smile on your face says it all, but how much do you love being the man with the river bandits?(dave) i love, more than anything, seeing young boys and girls have big smiles on their faces when they come to modern woodmen park.

And, if we can entertain families, and we can give them three hours of just pure, fun family time at a very affordable price, then we've really achieved our mission.(jay) one of the things i love is coming up the stairs, coming up the entrance.

Virtually every single night, this man is there, greeting folks.

That's impressive.(dave) well, i love this community.

I love everybody in it.

The people here are the best people anywhere, jay.

And, i 'm just very flattered to be a part of this

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