The Minor League farm system for any Major League franchise is intended to serve dual purposes. They must field teams that allow the serious prospects in the organization to gain experience and learn their craft. Each farm system may have 20-30 real prospects that might have a chance to see time on a Major League roster. The deeper into the system you go and the younger the true prospects become. As the Single A affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds organization, the Dayton Dragons are surprisingly blessed with talented young players. Here at the Blog Red Machine we have recognized excellence on the Dragons with the Dragon of the Week. As the season has progressed from April through July, 8 Dragons players have earned this honor.
- Tucker Barnhart
- Billy Hamilton
- Billy Hamilton
- David Vidal
- Stalin Gerson
- Ronald Torreyes
- Donald Lutz
- David Vidal
Baseball Prospectus, in their preseason analysis of the Reds farm system included 3 Dragons players among the top 15 prospects in the organization. They are (9) Yorman Rodriguez, (10) Billy Hamilton, and (15) Juan Duran.
But really when we look at this team, four levels removed from the Major Leagues, how many of them legitimately have what it takes to make it?
Dominic D’Anna, 22: Dominic is a solid player on this Dragons team. He probably has a limited ceiling as a first baseman who has just 8 home runs. He does seem to be a strong performer in clutch situations with 58 RBIs so he is certainly worth watching. He is currently on the 7 day DL . Prognosis: On the Fence
Billy Hamilton, 20: Speedy Billy Hamilton. He currently has 78 steals this season to lead not just the Dragons team and the MidWest League, he continues to lead all of Minor League (and MLB) baseball. According to the Game Notes for tonight’s Dragons tilt, “No other Minor League player has recorded more than 78 steals in a season since 2006, when Eric Young of Asheville stole 87.” And Billy still has 27 games before the season is over. He has raised his batting average from .199 on May 27th to .255 today. Adding 56 points to your batting average from June to August is a solid improvement. The other struggle that Hamilton faces is in the field. Reading stats on a page though offers a different perspective from seeing Billy play. He occasionally muffs balls that no mere mortal would ever get close too adding errors BECAUSE of his speed, not in spite of it. As he gains experience and control of his body, these errors will not be as common I am guessing. Hamilton is on track to be on the Reds by 2014. Prognosis: Prospect!
Donald Lutz, 22: I am impressed with Lutz, but not sure if he is getting enough time in the field. He is tough against right handed pitching and is hitting for power. He has had a number of highlights during the second half of the season including hitting for the cycle on July 21 and had a grand slam last week. He has a future in baseball but needs to work hard keep moving up. Prognosis: Prospect
Frank Pfister, 24: Frank has been everywhere in 2011. He has 98 at bats in Dayton, 11 in Bakersfield and even 3 in AAA Louisville but he is never given a starting role. His batting average has fallen to .153 as of this writing. My impression is that the Reds see him as a minor league fill-in and his chances of a pro career are limited. He will celebrate his 25 birthday later this month and is the oldest player on the Dragon’s roster. Prognosis: Place Holder
Ronald Torreyes, 18: The diminutive Torreyes turns 19 September 2nd and is hitting .361 in 47 games since being called up from Billings. He was named by the organization their player of the month for July. I would rate him the second best offensive prospect on the Dragons roster given his age and production. At 5’9″ and 140 pounds he will probably need to fill out a bit. Prognosis: Prospect!
David Vidal, 21: Third basemen David Vidal has come on strong over the last two months. Since June 25th, Vidal has hit .350 raising his batting average from .267 to .302, He has 17 home runs, a team leading 71 RBIs and 67 runs scored. He also leads the team with an OPS of .896. Prognosis: Prospect!
Theo Bowe, 21: Bowe just celebrated his 21st birthday but has struggled throughout the season. The one thing Theo has going for him is his batting average versus left handed pitchers at .316. Aside from that without a dramatic improvement soon he will not move past Class A. Prognosis: Placeholder
Juan Duran, 19: The towering outfield prospect is a player to be reckoned with, some of the time. His inconsistency has been troubling and with a .247 batting average there is a great deal of room for improvement. His is third on the team with 56 RBIs, but leads the team with 132 strikeouts. Considering his age, and the fact that he is 6’7″ while weighing just 205 pounds, a little strength work and time in the batting cage should help him on his path. Prognosis: Prospect
Jaren Matthews, 22: Twitter star Matthews has not had the season expected of him. Batting just .218 he seems to have fallen off the map after a good year in 2010. Can he right this ship? Only time will tell. Prognosis: Placeholder
Drew Poulk, 23: Poulk just returned to the team after being sent down to Billings where he performed well. He had an excellent game last night driving in the tying run in the 7th inning and the winning run in the 9th for the Dragons 5th consecutive win. He needs to continue this kind of success and he may be able to move up in the organization. To early to tell if he has what it takes for the Majors but I tend to doubt it. Prognosis? Placeholder
Yorman Rodriguez, 18: Top prospect Rodriguez has had a tough month. He is languishing in his 2nd visit to the disabled list. He was truly starting to produce when the first injury occurred to his shoulder, hitting .351 in 12 games in July. An example of his development are his monthly strikeout totals. He struck out 21 times in 79 (26.6%) at bats in April, 36 times in 88 (40.9%) at bats in May. In June he began to improve with 19 Ks in 76 (25%) at bats and in July just 8 Ks in 37 at bats (21.6%). Prognosis: Prospect
Jefry Sierra, 21: Sierra has improved of late with increased playing time due to Rodriguez’ injury. He has hit .364 in August going 8-22. Not much to go on but it is an improvement. Still and all, I consider him to have only limited chances of making it into the Major Leagues. Prognosis: Placeholder
Tucker Barnhart, 20: On a team with a few small players, Barnhart is the smallest standing just 5’8″. Normally, while a disadvantage in range or power, small size can be compensated for with other tools such as speed. At the catcher position things are a bit different. If there is a collision at the plate his small stature could be a factor limiting his effectiveness. A broader concern is the prolonged slump he has been on since May. I really like his attitude and catching ability but I think physical factors will limit him. Having Grandal and Mesoraco above him in the system won’t help either. Prognosis: Placeholder
Chris Berset, 23: As the backup to Barnhart, that alone probably says all you need to hear about Berset. With an OPS of .572 there is little offensive upside to Chris this season. He is effective defensively but not enough so to move him beyond the Minor Leagues. Prognosis: Placeholder
I will continue this evaluation later this weekend by exploring the Dragons pitching staff.
Follow me on Twitter @John Heitz