Third baseman joins short-handed Dragons
By Marc Katz
With a bunch of nagging injuries and first baseman J.D. Roberts on the disabled list, the Class A Midwest League Dayton Dragons brought in a player Monday. Joining the team in time to play third base was Angel Colon, from extended spring training.
Colon was a 35th-round draft selection last year.
With J.D. Reininger returning today from the temporary inactive list after a death in the family, it was thought the Dragons could get by a player short for awhile. However, not only have Roberts and Reininger been unavailable, catcher Craig Tatum continues to nurse a concussion, first baseman Bobby Mosby has a spur in his left heel and shortstop Paul Janish has an ankle sprain. All are day-to-day.
• Dragons' manager Billy Gardner Jr. entered the homestand with some bruising around his right eye. Last week in Fort Wayne, he was in the bullpen while the Wizards were taking batting practice and he didn't see a batted ball, which glanced off his sunglasses and face, leaving a three-stitch wound on his eyelid. He missed the start of the game, but was back by the fourth inning.
• Those bleak draft years following the Austin Kearns/Adam Dunn 1-2 punch in 1998 continue to plague the Reds, although the organization is starting to release its mistakes.
Arm problems did in 1999 No. 1 pick Ty Howington, and he was released during spring training. Then, last week, third baseman Mark Schramek, a supplemental first-round pick (No. 40 overall) in 2002, was released from Class A Sarasota.
Schramek hit .296 in 57 games with the Class A Dayton Dragons in 2003 — his first pro season, was elevated quickly to Class AA Chattanooga and has not hit well since.
Howington was 5-15 with a 5.27 ERA with the 2000 Dragons and was the franchise's opening day starter. He never moved higher than Class AA either.
A quick review of the other Reds' No. 1 picks since 1998: SS David Espinosa (2000), now an outfielder at Class AAA Toledo (Tigers) and no longer a top prospect; LHP Jeremy Sowers (2001), unsigned and now a top Cleveland prospect; RHP Chris Gruler (2002), rehabbing arm surgery; RHP Ryan Wagner (2003), already to the majors, but currently at Class AAA Louisville; RHP Homer Bailey (2004), making good progress at Sarasota; and OF Jay Bruce (2005) with the Dragons.
• Dreams have stayed alive for some former Reds' farm hands. The growing popularity of Independent Leagues has lured several players major league organizations have released.
Among former Dragons who expect to play with the Independents this season are Howington (Lincoln Saltdogs); pitchers Jared Sanders (Evansville Otters); Brad Morenko (Joliet Jackhammers); Josh Thigpen (Nashua Pride); Nate Cotton (Schaumberg Flyers); Anthony Boughner (St. Paul Saints); J.C. Huguet (St. Joseph Blacksnakes) and infielder Evan Conley (Calgary Vipers).
• Yep, former Dragons outfielder Noochie Varner is back in the organization after being released by Arizona. Varner was placed with Chattanooga, where he is hitting .220.
Former Dayton first baseman Randy Ruiz was released by the Class AA Wichita (Kansas City) team after hitting .217 with two homers and three RBIs in six games.