How many times has Katz recycled that article? The Reds obviously promote their players because they hate the Dragons and want them to lose...we get it already.
How many times has Katz recycled that article? The Reds obviously promote their players because they hate the Dragons and want them to lose...we get it already.
Philippe Valiquette (ok, he was #31)
And of course there is also the trio of pitchers who performed outstanding with the Dragons last year for nearly the entire season - Jeremy Horst, Matt Klinker and Luis Montano. Of course there was also Enerio Del Rosario who had a lot of success there as well.
Heck, in 2007 the Dragons had Valaika, Turner, Stubbs, Cozart, Francisco, Heisey and Parker. The pitching staff had Jordan Smith, Sean Watson (who tore through that league as a starter), Pedro Viola, Ramon Geronimo, Daryl Thompson, Misael DeJesus...
It seems to me that talent hasn't really been an issue in Dayton. They have had some good players come through there recently.
Hugs, smiling, and interactive Twitter accounts, don't mean winning baseball. Until this community understands that we are cursed to relive the madness.
I did a quick run-through of other Midwest League rosters, and I haven't found one yet which has zero BA top 30 players for the parent club. Most of the rosters have multiple high draft picks, while this Dragons' roster is pretty bare. Though knowing Katz's writing, I highly doubt he did that much research on his own. I think he's just sick of the Dayton fans packing the stadium every year, yet not having a consistent team on the field.
IMO, other organizations go through the same promotions, so it should even out over the course of the season.
New Dragons ready to roll in 2009
By Marc Katz
Wednesday, April 08, 2009
DAYTON — Every locker space had a new, sleeveless white jersey with a sewn-on name as the newest Dayton Dragons arrived Tuesday. April 7, for an afternoon of meetings, picture-taking and a workout under the lights at Fifth Third Field.
Among the sights and sounds:
• In the coaches' room, pitching coach Tony Fossas wrote out the points he wanted to make to his pitchers.
• In the clubhouse, shortstop Miguel Rojas — a magician, it is said, with the glove, but a .183 hitter last year at rookie Billings, Mont. — unpacked his bats, several of which he had taped together.
"It was my first year in the United States," said Rojas, a Venezuelan. "It was also my first full year. I'll hit better."
• At his locker, left-hander Matt Fairel learned his first pro assignment will be to start Thursday on the Dragons' opening night. Fairel, a Florida State product, told scouts he wanted to return to school, but would sign for the right money.
Fairel was still on the board when the Reds drafted in the 35th round, and it cost them $250,000 to sign him. That's fourth-round money.
"I signed late, so I didn't play (pro) last year," Fairel said. "I wanted to play pro ball. I grew up dreaming of this."
• In the runway leading to the field, catcher Kevin Coddington cleaned his shin pads.
Coddington has been to Dayton before as a member of the Illinois-Chicago team that played Wright State in the Horizon League.
Todd Benzinger, a former big-league player, is managing for the first time, and when it was pointed out that the Dragons don't seem to have any published top prospects, he said it didn't matter.
"I played nine years in the majors and I never made one of those lists," Benzinger said. "I think we have good players. I think there are prospects who just don't make those lists.
"These guys don't think of themselves as not being prospects. It doesn't sit well with them. They have talent, and that will take them to the next level."
True, the Dragons aren't rich in top prospects, but they have a lot of players who should perform well. When Lotzkar and Sulbaran join the team, their pitching might even be dominant, so the big questions for me are third base, shortstop, and possibly the bullpen.
Jordan Wideman should be considered one of the top defensive catchers in the league, and his bat is constantly improving. Kevin Coddington, a 44th-round draft pick, managed to hold his own in Billings last season and should, at a minimum, manage to make consistent contact.
Kyle Day looked pretty good at Billings last season, and Humberto Sosa did pretty well in the GCL, so between the two of them, at least one of them should put up solid numbers.
Cody Puckett was one of the best hitters in the Pioneer League last season. He's already looking like a steal of a draft pick. Although Jose Gualdron doesn't do much exceptionally well, he's a good, all-around ball-player and would be a solid everyday second baseman in A-ball if Puckett weren't around.
Frank Pfister is overly-aggressive at the plate and probably the biggest question mark in the starting lineup.
There are big questions about Miguel Rojas' bat, but his defense should help compensate. Still, it's an area of concern.
Tony Brown put up big power numbers at Billings last season, and the Reds paid above-slot money for him, so you know they like him. Brandon Menchaca had an excellent debut, but 2008 was a disaster for him. If he rebounds, the Dragons will have a very crowded outfield.
Dave Sappelt is one of my favorite prospects. He's a five-tool guy who slipped down in the draft due to his size, but so far, his lack of size hasn't taken anything away from his production.
Of everyone in the lineup, you might say Byron Wiley put up the best numbers in 2008. It should be interesting to see how well his power and plate discipline transfer to the MWL. Tyler Stovall, the Cincinnati native, surprised some people last season, and if he produces like he did at Billings, the Dragons will have yet another excellent option for the outfield.
Matt Fairel might be the top prospect on the team while Oscar Castro and Leo Astorga had very good numbers in 2008. Lance Janke got hit around a bit in his debut, but it wouldn't be unreasonable to expect him to do a Matt Klinker-type turnaround. Overall, Curtis Partch's numbers with the Dragons were mediocre, but he has apparently been rapidly improving ever since he got there, so a better year is to be expected. Josh Ravin has been downright horrible ever since he signed, so I see him being moved to the bullpen, but there's talent there, so the Dragons will be in for a treat if the light ever comes on. Juan Carlos Sulbaran and Kyle Lotzkar are due to come to the team before long, which should result in huge upgrades over anyone who struggles.
Scott Gaffney throws some serious heat and reminds me a lot of Josh Roenicke. As long as he gets the ball over the plate, he should dominate. Aguido Gonzalez was ridiculous in relief last season, and even if he only pitches half as well, he should be solid. Mace Thurman had one of the buzz-worthiest debuts of all Reds prospects last season. He was very impressive, and if he builds on last season, he might end up as one of the Reds' best pitching prospects. Drew Bowman has disappointed thus far, but if he turns things around, the Dragons will have a big left-hander who could make a huge impact down the line. Mike Bohana probably wasn't as good as his numbers indicated, but nonetheless, he had an excellent K/BB ratio and forced a lot of groundballs, so you have to like his potential. Jordan Hotchkiss hasn't done much that would be described as 'eye-opening', but he's been serviceable everywhere he's gone, and I'm sure he'll do fine as a Dragon.
The Dayton starting rotation could be very good in a couple weeks when Juan Carlos Sulbaran and Kyle Lotzkar join the team. Evan Hildenbrandt could join them too.
Juan Carlos Sulbaran
Evan Hildenbrandt/Josh Ravin
20-year old Oscar Castro is a potential sleeper. He throws a sinker around 90 mph and has room to add more velocity (6-foot-2, 165 pounds) and he also mixes in a changeup and curveball. He's worth keeping an eye on.
2009 Dragons roster
Updated 1:06 AM Thursday, April 9, 2009
Matt Fairel, 6-3, 210, BL, TL, age 21, Draft R35, 2008, Florida State, 12-2, 3.79 ERA in college last season. First professional season.
Josh Ravin, 6-4, 195, BR, TR, age 21, Draft R5, 2006, 2-8 with 7.19 ERA at Dayton and 0-1 with 10.50 ERA at Billings last year.
Curtis Partch, 6-5, 200, BR, TR, age 22, Draft R26, 2007, Merced Junior College, 5-11 with 5.00 ERA at Dayton last year.
Leonardo Astoga, 6-2, 175, BR, TR, age 23, free agent 2004, from Santa Elena, Bolivar, Venezuela, 4-1 with 2.98 ERA at rookie Billings last year.
Oscar Castro, 6-2, 165, BR, TR, age 20, free agent, 2005, from Culican, Sinola, Mexico, 4-2 with 4.14 ERA at Billings last year.
Aguido Gonzalez, 5-10, 185, BL, TL, age 22, free agent 2007 from Palo Negro, Aragua, Venezuela, 1-0 with 1.77 ERA and 6 saves last season at Dayton after allowing no runs in 12 combined outings at Sarasota and Billings.
Mace Thurman, 6-1, 180, BL, TL, age 22, Drafted R17, 2008, McClennan CC and Baylor, 2-0 with 2.97 ERA in 16 appearances between Billings and Dayton last year.
Andrew Bowman, 6-4, 190, BR, TL, age 23, Draft R23, 2007, Arizona State and Nebraska, 0-1 with 2.45 ERA at Dayton after going 3-4 with combined 5.36 ERA at two rookie stops.
Lance Janke, 6-2, 190, BR, TR, age 22, Draft R14, 2008, San Diego Christian College, 3-2 with 5.60 ERA last year at Billings.
Mike Bohana, 6-1, 180, BR, TR, age 23, Draft R26, 2008, Kennesaw State (Ga.) University, 0-4 with 3.42 ERA at rookie Gulf Coast and Billings last year.
Scott Gaffney, 6-3, 190, BR, TR, age 23, Draft R12, 2007, Penn State, 1-2 with 6.00 ERA at Billings last year.
Jordan Hotchkiss, 6-4, 210, BR, TR, Age 23, Draft R31, 2007, Brevard College, N.C., 1-3 with 4.01 ERA in Billings last year.
Kevin Coddington, 6-4, 205, age 21, Draft R44, 2008, Illinois-Chicago, hit combined .277 with 0 HR, 7 RBIs at two rookie stops last year.
Jordan Wideman, 5-11, 200, BR, TR, age 20, Draft R11, 2007, from Mississauga, Ontario, Canada, .254 with 1 HR, 22 RBI at rookie Billings last year.
Kyle Day, 5-11, 200, BL, TR, Draft R12, 2008, Michigan State, hit .268 with 1 HR, 11 RBI at rookie Billings last year. Will mostly DH.
Jose Gualdron, 3B, 6-0, 160, BR, TR, age 21, free agent, 2005, from Maracaibo, Zulia, Venezuela, hit .282 with 2 HR, 17 RBIs at rookie Billings last year.
Frank Pfister, 6-1, 205, 3B, BR, TR, Age 22, Draft R17, 2008, Emory University, hit .236 with 0 HR, 14 RBIs in rookie Gulf Coast League last year.
Cody Puckett, 5-10, 185, 2B, BR, TR, age 22, Draft, R8, 2008, Cal State-Dominguez Hills, .270, 8 HR, 29 RBIs at three stops last year, including 0-for-7 at Class A Sarasota.
Miguel Rojas, 6-0, 150, SS, BR, TR, age 20, free agent, 2005 from Los Teques, Miranda, Venezuela, hit .183 with 1 HR, 21 RBIs at Billings last year. Considered to have best fielding hands in organization.
Humberto Sosa, 5-11, 195, 1B, BR, TR, age 23, free agent, 2005 from Beracruz, Mexico, converted from catcher, .304 with 3 HR, 22 RBIs at Gulf Coast League and no hits in 7 at-bats at Dayton last year.
Brandon Menchaca, 5-11, 195, BR, TR, age 23, Draft R13, 2007, University of Delaware, hit .176 with 5 HR, 25 RBIs at Dayton last year.
Tyler Stovall, 6-1, 210, BR, TR, age 23, Draft, R20, 2007, Central Michigan, .333 with 1 HR, 16 RBIs at Billings last year.
Byron Wiley, 5-11, 205, BL, TL, age 22, Draft R22, 2008, Kansas State, .328, 5 HR, 37 RBI at Billings last year.
David Sappelt, 5-9, 195, BR, TR, age 22, Draft R9, 2008, Coastal Carolina, .299 with 7 HR and 35 RBI at Billings last year.
Tony Brown, 6-0, 190, BL, TL, age 21, Draft R23, 2006, Okaloosa-Walton College (Niceville, Fla.), .283 with 12 HR, 47 RBIs at Billings last year.
Manager Todd Benzinger; pitching coach Tony Fossas; hitting coach Tony Jaramillo
Dragons start year with lot of potential
Pitching, defense and a winning history could add up to strong start.
By Marc Katz
Staff Writer Updated 12:45 AM Thursday, April 9, 2009
DAYTON — Pitching, a sharp shortstop and a little history of winning at rookie Billings, Mont., are expected to be the backbone of the Dayton Dragons this season.
Tonight, April 9, the team opens season No. 10 at Fifth Third Field with fireworks to follow the game.
Who are the first wave of 25 players on the roster?
• Pitching may be the strong point of this team, with starters Matt Fairel (a lefty) and right-handers Josh Ravin, Curtis Partch, Leonardo Astorga and Oscar Castro rounding out the starting rotation.
Ravin and Partch were here last year, each performing poorly at first. Partch finished strong, while Ravin was sent back to Billings.
“Last year was just a huge pileup of different things,” said Ravin, who might be the hardest thrower on the team. “I was lost. I started to ask myself, ‘What do I need to do to throw strikes?’ ”
One thing was to become more serious about the game.
“My dad’s a plumber,” Ravin said. “I don’t want to do that.”
Pitching coach Tony Fossas said a closer has not yet been decided upon, although lefty Aguido Gonzalez should be in the mix. Gonzalez recorded six saves and a 1.77 ERA in 15 games with the Dragons last season.
• Shortstop Miguel Rojas is one to watch — in the field. He gets rave reviews by coaches for his defense, but needs to bulk up his offense.
“I’m going to try to move him around the order,” manager Todd Benzinger said. “He always batted ninth last year, and you begin to think of yourself as a No. 9 hitter.”
• Humberto Sosa has made the move from catcher to first base. He hit well at Billings last year, but didn’t project as a catcher.
• Second base belongs to Cody Puckett, who was All-California Athletic Association at California State-Dominguez Hills before playing at three stops in the Reds’ lower minors last season.
• Jose Gualdron and Frank Pfister are the third basemen, although Gualdron can play second and short.
• Look for Tony Brown, Dave Sappelt and Byron Wiley in the outfield, with Brandon Menchaca and Tyler Stovall as backups. Kyle Day, a former catcher, will mostly be used as a DH.
• Kevin Coddington and Jordan Wideman will share catching duties. Both are considered strong defensively, but so far have shown little power.
Current Dragons won in ’08
20 were promoted from Billings, the Pioneer League champion.
By Marc Katz
Staff Writer Updated 1:06 AM Thursday, April 9, 2009
DAYTON — While their pedigree might not be the best — Baseball America ranks not one of them among the top 30 prospects in the Cincinnati Reds organization — they have shown a winning way.
Of the 25 players who tonight, April 9, begin the Dayton Dragons’ 10th season in the Class A Midwest League, 20 played at Billings, Mont., last season, and Billings won both halves of the Pioneer League championship. In the first half, the rookie-league Mustangs were 23-15. In the second half, they were 19-17.
Billings has been good before and transferred winning ways to Dayton — in 2006 the Mustangs were a whopping 51-25 overall, and the next year’s Dragons were 78-62 — so there are plenty of high expectations entering 2009.
“At Billings, they hit for average and got on base,” first-year Dragons manager Todd Benzinger said. “Learning traits are something you learn in the minor leagues. These guys play well. They mesh well together. And I think they’re talented guys.”
Catcher Kevin Coddington, who spent the last week of last season in Billings, came from a winning team at the University of Illinois-Chicago, which won the Horizon League in his only season there.
“I think winning goes hand-in-hand with development,” Coddington said. “If you focus on team, you are going to have success. It’s always helpful to get guys with that kind of an attitude. When I was in school, you had to win. Anything else was unacceptable.”
Outfielder Byron Wiley said he wants the same attitude he saw last season.
“We expect to win day in and day out,” Wiley said. “Everyone I’ve seen (on the team) is a good ballplayer. When you go out and prove yourself, you can prove how good you are as a team.”
It will take Dayton fans awhile to find out. Although the team plays its first three games at home, there are only four more home games in April. There are 16 home games in May.
A lot of this Roster played at Billings last year. Wasn't Billings pretty good?
Dragons just want to follow Benzinger's lead
By Tom Archdeacon
Staff Writer 11:42 PM Thursday, April 9, 2009
The Cincinnati Reds had been on board the charter for a while — ready to fly off to Oakland and the third game of the 1990 World Series — but the plane wasn’t budging from the gate.
“We couldn’t figure out why and then, all of a sudden, coming down the aisle is Marge and her dog,” Todd Benzinger said shaking his head. “She was having each player touch Schottzie for luck. Some guys were like — ‘naah’ — but we all had to do it.”
Such was life playing for Marge Scott, the eccentric Reds owner, who doted on her ever-present, always-slobbering St. Bernard.
“But hey,” Benzinger said with a smile, “you can’t say it didn’t work.”
The underdog Reds swept the Oakland A’s in four games.
Before making his professional managerial debut in the Dayton Dragons season opener Thursday night, April 9, at Fifth Third Field Benzinger said he wouldn’t be borrowing any of Marge’s stunts.
Maybe he ought to reconsider.
The Dragons had a rough night, giving up 17 hits and making three errors in a 14-3 loss to the Great Lakes Loons.
Then again a Schottzie tale wouldn’t strike a chord with his players — most were toddlers in 1990. But another remembrance from that trip sure might.
The fact that Benzinger, the Reds first baseman in 1990, has a bulky World Series ring — not to mention a big league resume that spans nine years and five teams — carries weight with the Dragons.
“They want to be where I was,” he said quietly as he sat in his clubhouse office before the game. “When I was in their shoes, I wanted to soak up anything I could from someone who had big league experience.
“I remember when I went to spring training with Boston and I’d see guys like Carl Yastrzemski, Ted Williams and Johnny Pesky — there was something about how they handled themselves and what they said that made you want to listen. Now don’t think for a second I’m putting myself in those guys’ category, but there are some similarities.”
After he was released by the New York Yankees in 1995, he was mostly removed from the game except for brief instructional stints with the Kansas City Royals and the Reds and then, last summer, managing a team of college players, the Cincinnati Steam.
His main sidelines job the past decade has been coaching high school girls basketball in the Cincinnati area.
While he said he’s gleaned some things from several of the big league managers for whom he played — including Lou Pinella, Pete Rose, Hal McRae, Tommy Lasorda and Dusty Baker — he said one thing has carried over from girls hoops.
“Guys will find out, for a baseball manager, I don’t do a lot of cussin’,” he said. “I never did a whole lot anyway, but when you’re coaching girls basketball you cut it way down.”
More outings like Thursday night and that may change.
Meet the Dragons: Josh Ravin
Staff Report 10:07 PM Saturday, April 11, 2009
Josh Ravin, RHP, 6-4, 195, 21 years old from Tarzana, Calif.
Claim to fame: Part of the Chatsworth High School team that was National Champion in 2003 and 2004 setting a state record with 54 consecutive wins. Made second-team All-State as a senior in 2006.
Quote: “I actually lost the game that ended that winning streak, and I started the state championship games as a junior and senior and lost both of them.”
Still, he was good enough to be drafted in the 5th round of the 2006 draft, and while he struggled in his first three seasons, he was spot-on Friday night, allowing no runs in six innings.
Favorite food: “Chicken. Any kind. Doesn’t matter. I never get tired of chicken.”
Favorite movie: “’Dumb and Dumber.’ I love Jim Carrey. He’s my favorite actor.”
Advice for President Obama: “I’d have to say, get out of the war.”
Best feeling: “When you succeed. Throwing strikes. Getting guys out. Winning.”
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