Dragon Tales: Dragons Triumphant


The Dayton Dragons faced off against the Bowling Green (Ky.) Hot Rods last Saturday night and I had the privilege of enjoying the game in person.  Top Dragons pitching prospect Daniel Corcino was on the mound for the home team and lived up to his billing.  Over 6 innings he gave up 2 ER on 8 hits with a walk and 6 strikeouts.  Eight hits in 6 innings seems a bit high, but to be fair 4 of the singles, including all three in the 2nd inning, were impossible bloops that the Hot Rods barely put into play allowing the first run to score.  Corcino may not have had his best “stuff” but he did a very professional job of pitching a solid game and giving the Dragons the opportunity to win.

After three innings the Dragons had managed a single hit and it was a pop fly double by Yorman Rodriguez that fell between three defenders simply because the sun was so bright none of them could see the ball.  The bottom of the fourth started quietly with a pop out in foul ground by recent call up Ronald Torreyes and a walk by David Vidal.  This brought back to the plate 18 year old Yorman Rodriguez. 

Rodriguez seems to be an unknown quantity to a lot of people.  He started playing in the Reds organization in 2009 at the tender age of 16 and hails from Venezuela.  His 6’2″, 184 lb frame reminds you of Eric Davis not only in size but because of where the baseball landed when he finished with it in his second at bat.  He drilled the first pitch deep over the left field wall at least 425 feet from the plate.  Mind you this is a very conservative estimate based on what I could see visually, the ball went a long way and suddenly the Dragons and Mr. Corcino were up 2-1.

As Corcino cruised into the 6th inning he showed a little fatigue still hitting 95 mph with his fast ball but his control was not as crisp, offering up his first walk to start the inning.  after a fielder’s choice  sending the runner to second there was an interesting at bat by a Hot Rods player named Nicholas Shwaner.  The Dragons game wrap words it in this way, “Nicholas Schwaner singles on a ground ball to shortstop Billy Hamilton. Robby Price to 3rd.”  Innocuous and inconspicuous.  The play was not.  The ball was hit toward third and David Vidal did not have the range to make the play.  Hamilton, giving us the first taste of his blazing speed, ranged impossibly far to his right to get his glove on the ball preventing a game tying double.  I can not put into words how stunned I was that Hamilton even got to the ball.  I have often read about Hamilton as a defensive liability and what I witnessed was a raw talent blessed with inhuman speed attempting to come to terms with the opportunity to field balls no one else would even try to reach.  I am now convinced that at least a few of his far too many errors are caused by simply having more opportunities to field the ball as a result of his speed.  More on Hamilton as the game moves forward.

The stop by Hamilton kept the game at 2-1 for only two batters as the next hitter smacked a soft line drive to Hamilton followed by the fourth bloop single of the afternoon to right center to tie the game at two.  Corcino struck out the final batter he faced to end the 6th to leave the game and the outcome for the bullpens to decide.  Having just been offered my first taste of Hamilton’s speed imagine my excitement when he lead off the bottom of the inning by reaching first as the result of a base on balls.  Immediately the cat and mouse game began with Hamilton dancing far off the bag and the reliever Nate Garcia faking throws over to first till he didn’t fake and instead picked Hamilton off.  He does have a lot to learn.

The bottom of the 7th started oddly enough with Yorman Rodriguez, already 2-2 with a double and a home run, he is asked to drop a bunt down and he does it to perfection.  He finished the day 3-3 with 75% of the cycle complete.  I am curious if anyone ever hit for the cycle using a bunt single.  Unfortunately, Yorman was called out stealing 2nd in a questionable play and the game moved into the 8th.

Blaine Howell, known for his April successful marriage proposal during a game, flattened the Hot Rods tires once again and the game moved into the bottom of the 8th.  Tucker Barnhart lead off with a solid single followed by a strikeout of Theo Bowe bringing Hamilton back to the plate.  Hamilton hit into a tailor made double play or at least it would be for anyone else.  He managed to leg it out and reach first after the force of Barnhart at second giving Billy his second chance on the basepaths.  He did not disappoint.  After throwing over a couple of times the pitcher, Austin Hubbard delivered the pitch to his catcher but still suspecting attempted larceny the catcher called for a pitch out.  Billy Hamilton did not care and swiped the base anyway.  Now on second with two out the infield meets in a huddle to plan strategy but you can tell by their collective body language they are rattled.  Ronald Torreyes hits a grounder to shortstop Derek Dietrich who is distracted by Hamilton speeding by, turns to look at him approaching third and misplays the ball allowing Hamilton to score on the error.  Hamilton is a disruptive force at this level of the game.  As fielders become more assured in the field as Billy rises through the ranks this will not continue to be the case and he will need better command of the fundamentals to be successful but it is fun to watch now.  As I finish this article he leads all of professional baseball with 58 stolen bases just halfway through the season.  Billy said he would steal 100 bases this year and it seems like he has a reasonable chance to do just that, if he can continue to reach base.  For this to happen his hitting must improve and Delino DeShields seems to be hammering these lessons home.

The game ended with a little more drama as Drew Hayes came on giving up a lead off double just to keep us on the edge of our seats.  A ground out to Hamilton allowed the runner to move to third with only one out delivering my play of the game.  Lead off batter, right fielder Cody Rogers, steps to the plate for Bowling Green and hits the ball on the ground to a charging Dominic D’Anna at first base.  D’Anna has the presence of mind to look back the runner at third who was moving toward home and still has time tag out the runner preserving the lead.  The final out was a routine grounder to second and the Dragons win was complete.

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