The 2012 Dayton Dragons have yet to take shape but the leadership that will guide them in the coming season has been formally announced.
Delino DeShields Sr. again will manage the Dragons. Delino brings his 13 year Major League experience to the field. Managerially he led the Dragons to the best record in the MidWest League in 2011 and proved his ability in the clubhouse by guiding the improvement of Billy Hamilton, a player quite similar in abilities to those DeShields displayed at 20 years of age. I expect to see Billy spend a short amount of time in Advanced A on his way to AA ball in Pensacola this season, but Dragons fans will long remember the electricity he brought to the ballpark every time he stepped foot on the diamond.
Along the same line Alex Pelaez will also return as the Dragons hitting coach. He offered guidance to the most dangerous offensive club in the league in 2011 and the proof that both of these men made an impact on their young charges was the change in record from the first half to the second half of the season. The Dragon finished the first half of the season with just a 35-35 record in 4th place in an 8 team division. The second half of the season the Dragons learned team work and they began to learn how to win games finishing with a record of 48-22, good for a 9 game lead in their division and the best record overall in the entire league.
There is one change to the Dragons brain trust, it is the addition of a name quite familiar to Reds faithful over the years. That is Dragons new pitching coach Tom Browning. Browning, who on September 16, 1988 entered the lore of baseball by throwing the elusive perfect game. Browning spent last year coaching for the Reds organization in Arizona and it looks like this year he will have the opportunity to work with Rookie League sensation Tony Cingrani. Drafted in the third round of the 2011 June draft, left handed starter Cingrani hit the ground running and ended the season by winning recognition as the top starting pitcher in the Rookie league. Cingrani had switched to relief while at Rice University but has successfully switched back to a starting role in Billings. Now he gets to benefit from the wisdom of Tom Browning and I am excited to see the result.
Follow me on Twitter @JohnHeitz