The Dayton Dragons finished the 2011 season with the best record in their league and the best record in the Reds system. In the first half of the season, the Dragons finished at 35-35 and out of the playoff race. The second half though was an entirely different story as something just seemed to click for Dayton. The Dragons went a half season franchise best 48-22 and won the division by 9 games. Overall the Dragons led the league in both runs scored and fewest runs allowed.

The Dragons went into the playoffs as the team who should have been the favorite as the best second half team in the league by a wide margin, but somehow did not have home field advantage while playing a wild card team from the first half due to some quirky rules of the Midwest League.  The team opened at home in a three game series and took the first game of the series after a rain out on the initial date. Game two looked like it was going to be the clincher for the Dragons who held a one run lead with 2 outs in the 9th inning before the Lansing Lugnuts hit a two run walk off HR to steal the middle game of the series. The Dragons came up one run short in game three of the series to lose in the first round. However the season has to be seen as nothing but a success for both the team and for the players.

Other team notes

  • Set the new All Time Pro Sports Consecutive Sell Out Record which now sits at 844 games.
  • Ballpark Digest named the Dayton Dragons the minor league Organization of the Year.
  • The pitching staff broke the Midwest League record for most strikeouts in a single season with 1292 on the year.
  • Set the franchise record for most wins in a season.

Top Position Prospect

I expect plenty of people to disagree with me on this, but I am willing to accept that. With all due respect to Billy Hamilton and Ronald Torreyes, I still think that Yorman Rodriguez is the best position prospect on the team. For an 18 year old, he held his own in the league and was trending upward before injuring his shoulder in July and wound up missing the rest of the season. He has all of the tools and despite some questions about his attitude, I believe he can be a special type of player. There is a large gap between where he is at now and where he could be one day, but he played the entire season at age 18 and flashed enough to really catch my eye.

Top Pitching Prospect

The Dragons had a bunch of dominating pitchers on their staff. While a lot of guys put up very good to great numbers, Daniel Corcino really stood out in terms of stuff from the rest of the group. He has drawn comparisons to Johnny Cueto for a few years now and this season he really began showing the promise to live up to the comparisons. The right hander went 11-7 with a 3.42 ERA in 139.1 innings pitched. He struck out 156 batters and walked just 34 on the season. His 156 strikeouts would have set a franchise record if his teammate Josh Smith hadn’t also broken and set the record with 166.

Among the League Leaders (must qualify)

  • Donald Lutz – 7th in Average: .301
  • Dominic D’Anna – 7th in OBP: .386
  • David Vidal – 7th in SLG: .498
  • Donald Lutz – 9th in SLG: .492
  • Billy Hamilton – 1st in runs: 99
  • Donald Lutz – 3rd in runs: 85
  • David Vidal – 3rd in runs: 85
  • David Vidal – 1st in doubles: 37
  • Billy Hamilton – 4th in triples: 9
  • Donald Lutz – 4th in HR: 20
  • David Vidal – 4th in HR: 20
  • David Vidal – 5th in RBI: 85
  • Donald Lutz – 10th in RBI: 75
  • Billy Hamilton – 1st in steals: 103
  • Jefry Sierra – 10th in steals: 30
  • Josh Smith – 1st in wins: 14
  • Daniel Corcino – 6th in wins: 11
  • Josh Smith – 10th in ERA: 2.97
  • Drew Hayes – 1st in saves: 22
  • Josh Smith – 7th in innings: 142.1
  • Daniel Corcino – 9th in innings: 139.1
  • Josh Smith – 1st in strikeouts: 166
  • Daniel Corcino – 2nd in strikeouts: 158
  • Daniel Renken – 4th in strikeouts: 141
  • Josh Smith – 3rd in WHIP: 1.09
  • Daniel Corcino – 8th in WHIP: 1.16

52 Responses

  1. MDRon

    This was, for me, the most fun team in the system to follow. They had speed, power, and pitching. That’s a nice combination. I really hope the powers that be keep the core group together. But I don’t want them to go to the Cal League. I’d rather they stay in Dayton, or make the jump to be Blue Wahoos.

  2. The Duke

    I can still agree with YRod as the top hitting prospect. His upside is so much higher and he hit pretty dang well for someone that should have been a high school senior. All the other top hitters have their flaws. Duran K’s a ton and is a lesser defender. Hamilton has little power and is still working on his contact tool, Torreyes is limited by his size in both hitting for power and it plays down his quickness as he needs more steps, Lutz is a below average to average 1B as of now and is 4 years older and Vidal has some size issues as well (albeit I think he is under rated considering he is a plus 3B and hit 20 HR at an age appropriate level in a pitchers league.

  3. GC

    So is YRod just an immature teenager or are there real makeup questions that could sabbotage the kids success?

    • Doug Gray

      That is the $64,000 question, isn’t it? Right now, I am leaning toward he is an immature teenager. I think it is far too early to write it off as anything else.

    • The Duke

      To be fair, he dealt with some stuff last year. Births, deaths and all 1000+ miles from home in a country where he barely speaks the language. I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt for 2011. If 2012 is the same way, then my alarms will be going off.

  4. MK

    Yorman turned 19 this August, if he were in the US he would not have been a high school senior, it would have been his second year out of high school, and it was his 3rd professional season. So the inexperience, youth argument is going to slowly lose credibility.

    If you were 16, and lived in an area where the average income is $8,000, and you received a couple of million, what would be your motivation. I know most kids would know they were set for life and not be real motivated.

    I watched him alot and he didn’t improve much. Like all the players, his hitting improved after the first couple of months which is typical for this league but did his game improve above his other teammates? No, in fact many improved more (Lutz, Vidal, Hamilton, Duran). His defense never improved, in fact from what we were told going into the season maybe it digressed.

    He reminded me of the kid in school who matured faster than his classmates and never had to work to be better than the competition. You know the guy in the 8th grade who shaved. But when he got to high school and the competition evened out he didn’t know how to flip that switch to work to stay ahead. You can’t teach that, it has to be inside you.

    I think the Reds have to be very concerned about this investment.

    For my money Tucker Barnhart is a much better prospect. He hit, caught and threw as well or better than any catcher in the Midwest League and still has room for growth in his game. Tucker had a great attitude. Billy is right there also. Can’t teach speed, also with a great attitude.

    Most improved poition player: Donald Lutz. I saw him in Spring Training and he might have been the worst first baseman I ever saw. By the end of the season he was above average, for the Midwest League. His offensive numbers speak for themselves but something that is missed in all discussions about him is his speed. He is ++ for his size. When we talk of Yorman becomming a professional at age 16 and Lutz playing his first baseball at age 16, he had quite and impressive breakout season.

    The pitchers who put themselves on the prospect radar? Drew Hayes and Daniel Wolford.

    • The Duke

      Second year out of high school? That means he would have graduated while still 16. Most post July birthdays get pushed into the next school year.

      • RickD in Chicago

        When you start school in the US depends entirely on the school system and the parents decision. The fact is he played the majority of the year as an 18 year old in Low A. He’s just another talented 5 tool player that is a long way away.

      • Stock

        I’ve always felt August birthdays go to kindergarden and September birthdays spend another year in preschool. Assuming this Yorman would have graduated and been drafted at age 17. He would have played his first season at age 17. This would have been his second. Best case scenario he is held back and graduates last May and this would have been his first full season. No way he is still in HS as many on this site say repeatedly.

      • RickD in Chicago

        Again, it totally depends on where you go to school not what you think the rules are. I was 18 my entire senior year of high school. My friend’s kids in Connecticut have a January 1st cut date. So, it’s entirely possible that he could have been a senior in high school this year.

    • Stock

      Good post Rick. I agree that by all rights this would have been his second full season. Attitude is a difficult thing to change. I hope it is Yorman being a teenager but have my doubts.

      I feel if you give Yorman a pass on the attitude you also have to give Torreyes a pass on hitting the wall. My guess is he worked harder in extended spring training than most if not all the players who were in full season leagues. His effort paid off with a great start at Dayton.

      Assuming this you have to give the edge to Torreyes.

      1. Torreyes is younger.
      2. Torreyes plays a more demanding defensive position and from what I have heard plays it well.
      3. Torreyes makes much better contact.
      4. Torreyes is a winner. I don’t think it is a coincidence Hamilton took off after Torreyes showed up. Likewise, Dayton doesn’t dominate the second half without Torreyes.
      5. Yorman has more power but if you consider the position the gap is not as wide as you would think.

      Because of intangibles I would consider Torreyes the better prospect. He will work harder than most(and Yorman will work harder than few), and sets a great example for his teammates. Yorman is the other direction. If you don’t think hard work can pay off big time look at Joey Votto.

      I didn’t realize Lutz didn’t start playing until age 16. That makes this year’s turnaround all the more interesting.

      Barnhart is no more than Ryan Hanigan.

      • Jake

        Agreed on Torreyes.

        If Barnhart’s ceiling is a Hanigan-type, that’s still pretty good!

      • Doug Gray

        I understand the reasoning for Torreyes over YRod. I just don’t see it. Without an ounce of doubt, Torreyes is a better player right now than Rodriguez is. But I just see so much more upside at the plate with Rodriguez. Maybe I am swayed too much by power in the bat, but Yorman swings the bat like he wants to crush the ball. Torreyes often swings it like he is trying to place the ball somewhere. Torreyes has more power than his size would indicate, no doubt. I have seen him get into a baseball and think that there was no way that dude just hit the ball that hard/far.

      • wanderinredsfan

        So, you haven’t seen Torreyes play, yet you are convinced he is a better prospect than Y.Rodriguez?

        And, 2B is not the more demanding of the two positions. I’ll take a CF prospect over a 2B prospect.

      • Stock

        I wouldn’t say I am convinced but feel he is a better prospect but feel he is a better prospect. It has been my experience that hard workers are always hard workers and a person who isn’t may work hard in streaches but will never achieve his full potential.

        Second I am not convinced Yorman is a CF. He has played more games in RF the last two years than CF. Third CF who can hit are much more prevalent than 2B. Per Fangraphs 3 CF have OPS% > 900, 7 greater than 800 and 19 are greater than 700. 0 2B have an OPS > 900, 6 > 800 and 11 > 700.

        Third many of us form opinions of prospects without seeing them play. You had no problem with Doug’s posts the last two days. He has seen few if any of the players from the rookie leagues.

        Finally, just because I disagree with Doug doesn’t mean I shouldn’t post. My guess is Doug appreciates all posts. I also think that past posts created by others who frequent this site have provided him insight he now uses to form his own opinions. I know the posts of others on this site and the other site I frequent have provided me insight.

        I admit I have always been higher on Torreyes than others. At the beginning of the year I had him in my top 10 prospects because I had heard about his work ethic, he was only 18 and his results were through the roof. Nothing has changed.

      • The Duke

        Torreyes is going to have to reprove himself at every level. Guys his size always do.

      • Ryan K

        I love Torreyes but he is 5′ 7″ and you only can become so good at that stature whether you believe it or not.

      • stock

        Joe Morgan was 5’7″ tall and all he did was become the best 2B of all time.

    • Scott in upstate NY

      Yes, I have similar sentiments/concerns with regard to Yorman. 16 years old just seems too young in my opinion to be signed to a professional contract. There has to be issues of homesickness these guys have to battle. 6 to 8 years of the baseball grind before realistically reaching the big time will burn out all but the best.

      I also echo your sentiments regarding Hayes and especially Wolford. I don’t think baseball has truely found a way to give middle relievers proper credit for their work other than holds. The Dragons pen was outstanding.

      One thing I noticed outside the boxscore about Lutz was he seemed to always have his head in the game -standing up on the dugout’s guardrail right next to Eric Davis soaking in every bit of wisdom he could from Davis. Seems very coachable.

      Love the “Season in Review” series Doug keep them coming.

    • Doug Gray

      Re: Yorman and not improving as much as his teammates….

      They all got a lot longer to improve in the second half than he did because he got hurt. Nearly every player on the team was better in the second half than in the first, most by a wide margin. Yorman was hitting better in the second half than he had in the first half, but he only had a month in the second half, while the other guys have 2 1/2.

      As for Tucker Barnhart being a much better prospect than Yorman…. I will just say that I strongly disagree with you there. Is he a better player right now? Perhaps. But his low ceiling is going to really hold him back in terms of prospect status. I like Barnhart, but his bat is very Ryan Hanigan esque. Nothing wrong with that, especially at a catcher, but the upside simply isn’t there.

      Lutz really did impress me with his improvements from when I first saw him to the end of the season.

      With Yorman being 19 in August, he has a birthday similar to my best friend, who turned 19 the August after we graduated from high school. So if his parent enrolled him the same way my best friend was enrolled, he would have been a high school senior this season and eligible for the MLB draft in June 2011.

      • MK

        I was born in August and graduated at 17 because I wasn’t HELD BACK.

        Jim Bowden, Old Leatherpants, spent years with the Reds acquiring 5-tool outfielders, how did that work out? Even when there wasn’t a need for them he acquired 5-tool outfielders. None panned out because they weren’t baseball players.

        In the end, who ended up being the better ballplayer, the 5-Tool outfielder (maybe Austin Kearns, the only one who really made it)or Ryan Hanigan the undrafted free agent? Similar comparison to Yorman and Tucker, only Tucker is a lot better at this stage than Ryan was.

        Having the physical tools is only part of the development process. You have to be a baseball player and grinder to make it, so far Yorman isn’t.

        I hope they both make it but if I had to bet $100 I am taking Tucker.

      • Doug Gray

        Sure, but you are looking at one of the most inept GM’s of all time when it came to drafting and developing players. It wasn’t only because he didn’t go after a mixed bag, but he was also limited in how much he could spend on players, how much he could spend on scouts to find those players, how much he could pay coaches to try to teach those players…. all of which were incredibly cheap due to the ownership at the time not caring for the developmental process.

        Plenty of guys were 5 tool players who worked out. Just like plenty of “grinders” never amount to anything due to a lack of true talent. There are a million things along the way that can make or break a guy. At young ages, I will always lean towards tools.

      • RickD in Chicago

        MK, well maybe your parents should have held you back because apparently you are incapable of reading previous posts that state the every State and every district have different rules pertaining to the birthdate a student can begin school.

  5. Joe

    Even if he was 2 years out the fact is he’s a youg kid, in a land where he doesn’t speak the language and the way of life is very different from where he grew up. His progress may be hampered by the language barrier. I’m sure they have translaters for the Spanish speaking kids but still a lot gets lost in the translation.

    Best way to describe this would be to go to a foreign country and try to live for a while. It’s a totally different ballgame. (Excuse the pun.)

  6. Alan Horn

    I’m starting to agree with others on the following additions to the lineup next season. Alonso LF, Francisco 3B, Cozart SS and Mesoraco C. Move Chapman to starting and resign Cordero(cheaper contract) to close. That should be quite a bit of punch added to the lineup. I would work Alonso in LF until he can play it in his sleep and work around his lack of speed as best as we can.
    That lineup will be cost effective and easily fit the Red’s budget. I also resign Phillips for a few years if the cost is reasonable. I would start Sappelt at AAA and have Frazier and Heisey in the mix all along.
    The main thing wrong with this year’s team is under performance, injuries and bad luck. I think, with rest, Arroyo will improve. That leaves Cueto, Leake, Chapman, Arroyo and Bailey/Volquez as your starters. You have Wood in reserve. That keeps Alonso around in case Votto walks in two years. It also keeps Grandal and Soto around. Janish backs up Cozart.

    • Krozley

      Not sure if Janish is needed anymore. Cozart plays good defense, so there is no need to have Janish when I believe Valaika has proved he can at least handle shortstop as a fill in and will hit better than Janish. Frazier could handle it in a pinch as well. Negron will be down there if a defensive shortstop is needed with Gregorious close as well. If Janish still has options, then he may be okay to have around as insurance, but if Cozart and Valaika are healthy, I would have them over Janish in 2012.

      • Alan Horn

        You are probably correct. Too many shortstops in the pipeline that can hit much better than Janish. Rojas is another Jannish if we need the defense. I wouldn’t want Valaika or Frazier playing full time at SS, but a backup role should work out ok. Gregorious isn’t far away.

  7. wanderinredsfan

    So, Who has more upside; Vidal or Lutz?

    Who do folks prefer going forward?

    • sagevic

      Right now wouldn’t you have to say Vidal just based on positional value?

    • Doug Gray

      Lutz has more upside. His power is very, very good. Positions make it a little closer. I think Vidal is a better prospect right now though.

    • The Duke

      I’m a Vidal homer. I think his ceiling is what he did in Dayton this season at the MLB level, but maybe a few more home runs because of GABP. Love his swing. A .280/.350/.500 3B with plus defense and 20-25 HR is hella valuable.

      Lutz is likely a 1B, maybe LF. He swings with anger in his heart though. When he gets solid contact, the ball gets punished.

  8. sagevic

    I’d be happy to have any of these players for the money the Reds have invested in them. None of them signed Bryce Harper type deals.

    YRod has all the talent in the world. He’s still a right-handed batting outfielder so he has to be better than good to really stand out in the Major Leagues. I wonder if the Club ever thought about having him switch hit, but with power potential I suppose it seemed to risky.

    Torryes and Hamilton play the infield so their shortcomings matter a lot less. If they can stick in the middle infield, then their offensive strengths will greatly outweigh their deficiencies. That’s the benefit of playing inside the diamond.

    • Doug Gray

      Even up the middle, you still need to hit. The bar is certainly lower than if you are a corner guy, but as Paul Janish has shown, you still need to be able to hit the ball to play every day.

      • sagevic

        I completely agree, I just think the baraometer for a middle infielder (or catcher for that matter) is different than for a 1st basman/ outfielder. I think Hamilton and Toreyes have to project to be better hitters than Janish is. Whether they ever make it to teh Majors is in doubt just because they are so far removed from it, but in terms of tools and projection, they’re certainly good enough offensive players if they can stick in the infiled. I don’t know if they could manage a position change.

      • Doug Gray

        Right now, I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if Hamlton becomes a Janish type of hitter. He simply doesn’t have power or a swing that is conducive to it. Janish also has much better contact skills than Hamlton has ever shown. Not that Hamilton will become that, but it wouldn’t surprise me in the least either. Torreyes is another animal altogether though.

  9. GC

    Juan Francisco, with 131 career mlb AB’s, now officially off Reds Top 10 Prospects lists. Finally.

    • The Duke

      Anyone else think it odd that after 6the years of playing state side he still needs an interpreter for an interview?

  10. MikeD

    I don’t see Francisco as the answer at 3rd base. His glove is not good and average pitching will get him out. Sure, he’ll hit some homeruns, but probably much like Willy Mo.

    • Alan Horn

      I don’t think we should sign Aramis Ramirez either. He is Rolan all over again. I think he will be 34 next season. He has been hitting around 25 HRs a season. His production and health are subject to go at any time. All of this for $16 million or more per year. Francisco is 2 for 2 so far tonight. Does anyone have his stats(including tonight) since he came up this month? His early season stats when he was used primarily as a pinch hitter are definitely bringing his overall numbers down(I don’t know exactly how much). His overall major
      league BA was around .280 before tonight’s game.

      • sagevic

        You cant get too excited over any one single play, but that showed range and accuracy he’s been absent in the past. If he can avoid mental lapses he does have the range to play third, something I didn’t believe he had previously.

        He still doesn’t take walks and probably will suffer against lefties and breaking balls, but he does seem to have improved his glovework.

  11. Alan Horn

    Cueto left the game after 3.2 innings tonight. He was pitching a shutout. Does anyone know if he has an injury?

  12. Kyle

    How close are Billy Hamilton and Ronald Torreyes as prospects?
    I don’t actually have a problem with Yorman being the best prospect on the team. He showed some surprisingly solid production for an 18 year old who hasn’t even scratched the surface. He seems like the kind of player who can absolutely breakout when he figures a few things out.
    I like the prospects of the pitching staff as well. I think Corcino looks like the only impact pitcher, but it’s not hard to imagine any of the other pitchers carving out a big league career of some sort.

    • The Duke

      At worst, Josh Smith will be a MLB reliever. His curveball is a MLB plus pitch right now and he has a respectable fastball that he could sit around 91-92 as a reliever and maybe wratch it up to 94.

  13. William

    The excuse of living in America has got to stop for these kids. After a full year (generally after about 6 months) they are completely adjusted. I moved to Russia and played baseball over there and I didn’t speak a lick of Russian, and there are more people in America that speak Spanish than there are people in Russia that speak English. Also, baseball is baseball no matter where you are at. When you come from a poorer country into America, you should have all the incentive in the world. If he hasn’t turned it on by now its pure lack of maturity, it has little to do with being in America.

    • Doug Gray

      I think it all depends on what you are dealing with too though. The culture along is different enough to make some people a little uncomfortable, even if they have been here for a while. But Yorman for example dealt with his grandmother and best friend dying on the same day in unrelated incidents and also had his first child. Being thousands of miles away from that can cause some lingering issues. That in no way has anything to do with a lack of hustle that has been talked about with him, but a lack of focus at all times? Sure, I will buy that.