Conatser making progress on the mound
By Marc Katz
Dayton Daily News
Thursday, July 10, 2008
Tallahassee Community College may not mean much to you and me, but it's where Ryan Freel played ball before going pro, so it gives current Dragons pitcher Derrick Conatser some cachet.
Of course, Conatser can point to his 2.86 ERA in 12 games for the Dragons entering Wednesday's game (July 9) if he wanted to show you what he can do.
Better than that, he can point to his previous 101/3 innings, during which he allowed only two runs. This from a guy who started the season at extended spring training.
"He had Tommy John surgery after his freshman year," Reds minor-league pitching coordinator Mack Jenkins said. "Then he pitched a lot of innings — in the fall and spring — when he came back. That's why we didn't pitch him much last year (in the Gulf Coast League), and he was going to stay at extended spring this year for awhile because of that."
Conatser — a 28th-round draft pick who commanded six-figure money since he was considering finishing his college career at a four-year school and the Reds liked his arm — didn't like extended spring training, but he understood.
"As bad as I didn't like it, it was good for me," Conatser said. "It helped me out. Pitching coach Rigo Beltran helped me out down there, and (pitching coach) Doug (Bair) helped me with my slider up here. Different coaches can help you with little things."
Youth will play
Reds farm director Terry Reynolds confirmed the organization is working to get younger — as are most organizations — and that shows up on the Dragons roster. Pitcher Kyle Lotzkar is just 18, third baseman Neftali Soto 19 and catcher Devin Mesoraco turned 20 last month. Also, pitcher Josh Ravin and outfielder Justin Reed are only 20.
That's about as young as the Dragons have ever been.
He liked hockey
Unlike fellow Canadian Joey Votto, who said he wanted nothing to do with hockey when he was growing up in Toronto, Lotzkar (from British Columbia) said he was a left winger until he figured out he had no future in the sport.
Lotzkar has something else in common with Votto. Both were teenagers when they first played in Dayton, and Lotzkar won't turn 19 until late November.
"Age isn't a factor when you're playing with (older guys)," Lotzkar said. "I came up here with a couple of guys from extended. You're not supposed to be friends with everyone."
Watching the team
Jerry Walker, Reds General Manager Walt Jocketty's assistant, and scouting director Chris Buckley are in town to assess the Dragons. Buckley said this year's Reds first pick in the draft, first baseman Yonder Alonso, is still a long way from signing.
"He hasn't played for awhile," Buckley said. "If he waits much longer, he won't be able to play this year."