DAVENPORT, IOWA (June 5, 2019) — The Midwest League released the rosters for the 55th annual Midwest League All-Star Game on Wednesday morning. River Bandits position-players Austin Dennis, Jeremy Pena, Cesar Salazar, and Trey Dawson as well as pitchers Austin Hansen and Matt Ruppenthal have been selected to represent the Western Division in the midsummer classic. The game will take place on Tuesday, June 18, at Four Winds Field in South Bend, Indiana. The all-star rosters are voted on by the field-managers of the league's 16 teams.
Dennis, the only position-player chosen as a starter, was a 20th-round selection by the Astros in the 2018 draft out of Middle Tennessee State University. The versatile defender is batting .288 with 19 runs batted in 42 games this season. He has reached base safely in 18 consecutive games.
Pena, a 3rd-round pick from Maine last season, leads the River Bandits and ranks in the top-10 in the Midwest League in batting-average, runs batted in, stolen bases, and runs scored. He had a 15-game hitting-streak come to an end on Tuesday, the longest of the season for a Bandits player.
Salazar has been the River Bandits primary-catcher this season, playing in 30 games behind the plate. He has helped guide pitchers to an earned-run average of 3.36 in 257.1 innings at catcher. The 7th-round draft-choice out of Arizona is also batting .261 with 3 home-runs and 21 RBI.
Dawson has played all over the field defensively, seeing action at second-base, third-base, shortstop, left-field, and center-field this season. He has collected 3 home-runs and 23 RBI as well. Dawson was chosen out of the University of Kentucky in the 15th round of the 2018 draft.
Hansen has been dominant on the mound this season. He owns a 4-1 record and miniscule 0.86 earned-run average this season in nine appearances. The right-hander has allowed a run in only one of his appearances. The 8th-round pick from Oklahoma has not allowed a run in his last 33.2 innings on the mound, a modern River Bandits record. Opponents are batting just .140 against him.
Ruppenthal was selected by the Astros in the 17th round of the 2017 draft out of Vanderbilt, but missed most of the 2018 season with injury. He has posted a 2-0 record and 2.29 ERA in nine games, four of them as the starting pitcher. In 35.1 innings of work he has struck out 43 hitters and walked just 17. He has limited opponents to a .172 batting average.
The River Bandits are in first place in the Western Division of the Midwest League with 12 games left in the first-half. The top-two teams at the end of the first half will secure a berth in the postseason. They are in Peoria on Wednesday night with first-pitch at 6:35PM and are expected to return to Modern Woodmen Park for a four-game weekend series beginning on June 7. For ticket information, call (563) 324-3000, visitriverbandits.com or stop by the box office at Modern Woodmen Park.
ABOUT THE BANDITS: The 2019 season marks the River Bandits’ seventh year as the Class-A affiliate of the Houston Astros and the twelfth-anniversary season of regaining the River Bandits moniker, which was voted a top-8 nickname in all of Minor League Baseball in 2015. The River Bandits anchor the Quad Cities sports-market, which The Sports Business Journal, in their latest rankings, named one of the top-two minor-league sports-market in the country. Each year, the River Bandits donate three annual all-tuition-paid college-scholarships, a value of approximately $85,000, as part of the Bandit Scholars Program, which has been in place since 2009. Charitable contributions surpassed $600,000 in 2018, including a $100,000 cash-donation to Genesis Health Systems; in 2015 and again in 2017, Ballpark Digest awarded the Bandits its “Best Charity Campaign” of the year, making the River Bandits the only team to win that coveted award twice.