Burlington pitcher Connor Riley was in familiar territory last week when the Bees visited the Quad-Cities River Bandits.
An eighth-round pick of the Angels in the June draft from South Carolina-Aiken, it was just a little more than two years ago when the righthander was finishing up his career at Black Hawk College.
“This seems like home,’’ Riley said. “I’ve pitched here a couple of times against St. Ambrose and all week, it’s been good to see some familiar faces.’’
Braves coach Arnie Chavera, former Black Hawk assistant and newly-named West Virginia volunteer assistant Dallas Burke and a number of former junior college teammates were in the stands at Modern Woodmen Park for games last week between the Bees and River Bandits.
Riley, who worked out of the bullpen in his first three Midwest League appearances after going 2-0 with a 2.03 ERA in nine relief appearances for short-season Orem, didn’t take the mound against Quad-Cities.
He made his first professional start the following night in Burlington, working scattering five hits over four innings while not factoring into the decision for the Bees in a game against Kane County.
“To get called up to the Midwest League, to be pitching close to home, it’s been a great way to begin my career,’’ Riley said. “Coming back here, it’s made me think a bit about how far I’ve come. A lot of what I learned at Black Hawk is why I’m here today.’’
Riley arrived at Black Hawk from Marmion Military Academy in Aurora, Illinois, saying he recruited Black Hawk as much as it recruited him.
“It was where I wanted to be. The baseball, the education, it was the right mix for me at the right time,’’ Riley said. “I kind of had to talk coach Chavera into it, but he gave me the chance I needed and I couldn’t have worked out better.’’
Growth in the weight room preceded growth in his game.
He credits Chavera, Burke and other Black Hawk staff members with positioning him for success once he arrived at South Carolina-Aiken, where he became the highest-drafted player from the NCAA Division II program since Rich Batchelor was taken by the White Sox in the seventh round of the 1988 draft.
“The two years I spent at Black Hawk were the best two years of my life,’’ Riley said. “I learned to pitch there, how to use my pitches to my advantage. The coaches believed in me and taught me that if there was a goal out there I wanted to achieve, that I should go for it.’’
Riley did just that, leading him to his current assignment.
“Things couldn’t have worked out better and while I know I have a lot of work yet to do, things are off to a good start,’’ Riley said. "The process now is that day-to-day work of trying to get better and become more consistent. There's always something to work on.''
LumberKing dealt: Clinton infielder Luis Rengifo has been sent by the Mariners organization to the Rays as part of a four-player trade which sent major-league pitcher Ryan Garton to Seattle.
Batting .250 through 102 games, Rengifo ranked second in the Midwest League with 29 stolen bases and was second among LumberKings players with 12 home runs this season.
Rengifo is the second Clinton player to be traded this season, following a move which sent pitcher Brandon Miller to the Marlins.
Streak stopped: The longest hitting streak in professional baseball this season came to an end at 39 games Friday when Dayton’s Jose Siri went 0-for-3 with a walk in his final at-bat during a 4-2 loss to Great Lakes.
Siri hit .341 during his Midwest League-record streak which started June 22. He had 13 homers, 12 doubles, three triples and 32 RBI during the streak.
Main Street best: LeLacheur Park, the home stadium of the Lowell Spinners franchise owned by Quad-Cities River Bandits owner Dave Heller and his Main Street Baseball organization, has won Ballpark Digest’s voting as the best short-season ballpark in the nation.
The win comes after the River Bandits’ Modern Woodmen Park finished second in voting earlier this summer for the best Class A baseball stadium in the country, an award the facility received in 2015.
Weekly honors: Cedar Rapids’ Clark Beeker was named Monday as the Midwest League pitcher of the week after working 8.2 shutout innings Friday in a start against Kane County.
Beeker did not factor into the decision, exiting a scoreless game after giving up four hits and striking out seven batters in a walk-free start.
Third baseman Jared Walker of Great Lakes was named the player of the week after going 8-for-18 with four home runs and 11 RBI in five games last week.
Alumni report: J.D. Davis, a .303 hitter for Quad-Cities in 2014, collected a single while making his major-league debut Saturday for Houston.
The third baseman who was promoted from AA Corpus Christi to AAA Fresno last month was a third-round pick of the Astros in the 2014 draft.
He is among eight former River Bandits currently on Houston’s active 25-man roster.
BY THE NUMBERS
43: League-leading outfield assists recorded by Beloit, including a pair by Josh Vidales in a Saturday game against Quad-Cities
743: River Bandits franchise record for runs in a season set in 1999, a mark Quad-Cities is on pace to break this season with its current league-leading collection of 614 runs
TODAY: vs. Beloit, 6:30 p.m., Dew for Tuesday, Military Discounts, $2 Busch Light Night
THURSDAY: at Cedar Rapids, 6:30 p.m.
FRIDAY: at Cedar Rapids, 6:30 p.m.
SATURDAY: at Cedar Rapids, 6:30 p.m.
SUNDAY: at Cedar Rapids, 6:30 p.m.
MONDAY: vs. Peoria, 6:30 p.m., Modern Woodmen Half Price Night, River Bandits cap giveaway
TODAY: vs. Peoria, 6:30 p.m., Sweet and Salty Tuesday
THURSDAY: at Beloit, 7 p.m.
FRIDAY: at Beloit, 7 p.m.
SATURDAY: at Beloit, 7 p.m.
SUNDAY: at Beloit, 2 p.m.
MONDAY: vs. Kane County, 6:30 p.m., Mariners Monday