How to train the Dragons

A couple of stories from the Dayton Daily News about the Midwest League affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds and their new manager Delino DeShields.

#1 Will Dragons be more exciting this season?

A feistier approach is only one way in which DeShields should stand apart from Todd Benzinger, who was not asked back by the Cincinnati Reds after two seasons. Unlike Benzinger, DeShields sees managing in Dayton as a means to an end. He hopes to work his way back to the big leagues and knows he must be prepared to handle an entire roster, including pitchers.

Toward that end, DeShields said he recently informed Dragons pitching coach Tony Fossas that his days of determining when to make pitching changes are over. Fossas, in addition to training the arms, had done this under Benzinger.

“I don’t know how Todd Benzinger or (two-term Dragons manager) Donnie Scott did it, but the manager handles the pitching staff,” DeShields said flatly.


The Dragons, who last season finished 53-85 and endured a record 24-game home losing streak through the guts of the summer, will be taking delivery on a new set of players, many of whom DeShields managed as rookies in Billings, Mont., last season.

“We’ll be exciting,” DeShields said. “We’re going to run, hit-and-run, bunt. I’m not going to sit back and get beat.”

#2. ‘Next wave’ excites DeShields

According to Baseball America, the bible of the minor leagues, the Dayton Dragons could start the season with six of the Cincinnati Reds’ top 16 prospects and nine of the top 30.

Last season’s opening-day roster contained one player in the top 20. In 2009, the Dragons had none in the top 30.

It’s one reason new manager Delino DeShields, introduced at a Fifth Third Field press luncheon on Tuesday, can’t wait to get started.

“You had the (Chris) Heiseys and the (Joey) Vottos come through here,” DeShields said. “This is the next wave.”


Most intriguing is shortstop Billy Hamilton, ranked as the Reds’ No. 2 prospect behind pitcher Aroldis Chapman, who is already in the major leagues. Not since Jay Bruce in 2006 have the Dragons begun a season with a player this highly touted.

“He’s a humble, grounded kid who has a chance to be a game-changer,” DeShields said.

One scout called Hamilton, 20, the fastest player in professional baseball. The switch-hitter batted .318 last season and led the Reds organization with 48 stolen bases despite starting in mid-June.

The Rattlers go to Dayton this year, June 3-5.

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