Could 2013 Produce Best Dayton Dragons Outfield Ever?


Over on Reds Minor Leagues, the trio Doug Gray proposes as the starting outfield for the 2013 Dayton Dragons will be, um, good to say the least. I dare say, it could be the greatest in Dragons history provided they perform up to expectations, of course.

And I don’t say that lightly either. Why? I can recall the outfield from Dayton’s inaugural season in the Midwest League. In particular, the corner outfielders. You may be familiar with them: Adam Dunn and Austin Kearns. Funny thing is that 2000 wasn’t the year Dunn “took off” either. That would be the following year. But Kearns, who was dubbed AK-27 during his year in Dayton, lit up Fifth Third Field on a regular basis. I honestly can not recall attending a Dragons game and see Kearns go hitless.

And this trio of which Gray speaks? They have a couple of things in common. All were taken in the 2012 draft. All were the starting outfield in Billings last season as well.

June 9, 2012; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Gelalich celebrates after defeating the TCU Horned Frogs 4-1 in game two of the Los Angeles super regional at Jackie Robinson Stadium. UCLA earned a trip to the college world series with the win. (Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports)

Jeff Gelalich – Gelalich was the second player Cincinnati selected in the supplemental round and #57 overall. The Philadelphia Phillies had picked him in the 41st round in 2009, but Gelalich elected to attend UCLA. He burst on the national spotlight in his junior season as he triple slashed .316/.428/.482 with 11 home runs and 48 RBI. He also crossed the plate 56 times and helped the Bruins to a PAC 12 title and College World Series appearance.

Gelalich struggled with a hand injury while in Billings, and some believe that sapped some of his power. Others thought Gelalich would project as more of a contact hitter. Either way you want to look at it, he only managed 2 home runs for the Mustangs. Gelalich has also taken a couple PAs with the big boys in Goodyear going 0-for-1 with a walk.

Jesse Winker – Winker was the Reds other supplemental pick in the 2012 draft where he was selected #49 overall. Personally, I was a little surprised he was still on the board. Some believe Winker to be the Reds best pure hitting prospect within the organization. While he was in Billings last year, he would do little to deter that thought as he triple-slashed for .338/.443/.500 with 5 homers and 35 RBI.

Here’s a brief take on Winker.

Winker walked 40 times (14.5%) last season which led the Mustangs. With that does come the 50 whiffs (18.2%) he amounted. That, too, led Billings. Since some think Winker is the Reds best hitting prospect, why not compare those to the Reds best hitter of today (as unfair as that might sound): Joey Votto.

During Votto’s minor league career (including rehab stints) his walk rate was 13.4% and whiff rate was 22.1%. And for the record, Votto’s career whiff rate in the bigs is 18.3% while his career walk rate is 14.0%.

Before you think I’m getting carried away and comparing the two, I’m not in any way. Their walk and whiff rates were all I was pointing to in this.

June 9, 2012; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Amaral is safe at third base in the 8th inning in game two of the Los Angeles super regional against the TCU Horned Frogs at Jackie Robinson Stadium. UCLA won 4-1 and earned a trip to the college world series with the win. (Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports)

Beau Amaral – The least known of the trio, Amaral was also a teammate of Gelalich while at UCLA. Amaral has baseball in his blood as his father Rich played in the majors for 10 seasons as a member of the Seattle Mariners and Baltimore Orioles.

Amaral doesn’t have the pop of the other two, but he does possess some speed (20-for-22 in steals in ’12, 30-for-50 in his UCLA career) and is a good fielder with good range. In his junior season as a Bruin, Amaral compiled a triple slash of .313/.389/.433 and was 13-for-19 in thefts. He also scored 63 runs in the 64 games in which he played.

Last season as a Mustang, Amaral posted a triple slash of .295/.355/.376 and scored 55 runs in 57 games. If Amaral is playing, odds are he’s getting on base and scoring, too.

Amaral also has a pair of plate appearances in the big league camp going 1-for-2.

Again, if Gray’s projections hold to form, the Dayton Dragons should be a contending team for the 2013 Midwest League title. And I say that with confidence. Wait until you see who Gray has projected as the starting staff.