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Scott says Dragons could compete 'in Class AA'
Dayton manager gets his Class A team's roster Thursday and is thrilled with the talent he sees.
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By Marc Katz

Staff Writer

Friday, March 30, 2007

SARASOTA, Fla. Donnie Scott was handed a Dayton Dragons roster Thursday morning, and he was ready to open the Class A Midwest League season on the back fields behind Ed Smith Stadium.

"I got butterflies right now," Scott said with a big grin. "And these are good butterflies, not nervous butterflies. With these butterflies, you want to go to the ballpark every day.

"You're going to like this team. This team has ballplayers."

By the end of the day, Scott was so excited by what he saw in an exhibition game against the Orioles, he spotted Scott Nethery, assistant general manager and senior director of pro scouting for the Reds, and gave him a hug.

"Everyone deserves credit for this group," Scott said. "From Rick Burleson (who managed Billings last summer) to the coordinators to the scouting department for signing these guys.

"This will be the best team we've had (in Dayton) since 2001, and it may be better. It may not have quite as much power, but the power is there. These guys know how to run the bases. They know how to hit, field. We've got pitching.

"This team could compete in Class AA. I'm telling you, this team has a chance to be real good."

The Dragons of 2001 had such future major-leaguers as third baseman Edwin Encarnacion and outfielder Wily Mo Pena, as well as slugger Stephen Smitherman (who also made the majors).

Pitchers Josh Hall, John Koronka, Dustin Moseley and Ryan Snare all made the majors from that team.

While there are still changes to be made Dayton's projected roster had 26 players, one over the limit the Dragons' starting lineup seems set.

Tony Esquer is expected to be the starting catcher with Logan Parker at first base, Justin Turner at second, Juan Francisco at third and Chris Valaika at shortstop.

The outfield will be Chris Heisey, Denis Phipps and Drew Stubbs.

Sean Watson, a relief pitcher last season, will start Thursday, on Opening Day at Fifth Third Field.

Most of those players were at Billings last year when the Mustangs won the regular-season Pioneer League championship, and 12 came out of last summer's first-year player draft, including No. 1 pick Stubbs.

"It's a more experienced bunch," said Reds Director of Player Development Terry Reynolds. "Most of them have played college ball in winning programs. The hitting stands out. The pitching is young and inexperienced. We'll see if it can keep up with the hitting."

Eight of the players Parker, Turner, Valaika, Francisco, Heisey, Phipps and pitchers Jordan Smith and Travis Webb leave today for Dayton and will suit up with the Reds for Saturday's 2 p.m. exhibition against the Marlins at Fifth Third Field.

The rest of the roster: catchers Eddie Rodriguez and Justin Tordi; infielders Jason Louwsma and Billy Rojo; outfielder Gerardo Cabrera; and pitchers Jamie Arneson, Darryl Thompson, Rafael Gonzalez, Lee Tabor, Misael DeJesus, Marcos Mateo, Pedro Viola, Ramon Geronimo, Jose Rojas and Robert Manuel.

Watson, Gonzalez, Manuel, Rojas and Cabrera spent part of last season with the Dragons.