Newest Reds prospect should aid Dragons’ struggling offense

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Newest Reds prospect should aid Dragons’ struggling offense

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Dragons center fielder Randy Ventura waits on a pitch during the fourth inning of a Midwest League game on Sunday afternoon at Fifth Third Field. Ventura joined the team on Saturday after being traded by the Braves to the Reds. Contributed Photo by Bryant Billing

Even with a new prospect in the leadoff spot, the Dragons didn’t get enough hits against Lansing on Sunday. The Lugnuts hit a two-run home run in the 10th to pull away to a 5-3 win and hand Dayton its ninth consecutive loss.

The Dragons are 13-30 in the second half of the season, and a decrease in run production is partly to blame.

The team averaged 4.66 runs per game in the first half, when they finished second in the Midwestern League Eastern Division and secured a playoff spot with a 41-29 record. That’s dropped to 4.14 runs per game in the second half. In the last 10 games, the team has averaged 2.4 runs.

Randy Ventura joined the team on Saturday and may help the Dragons improve at the plate. The Reds traded $1.25 million in international bonus slot money to the Atlanta Braves for Ventura, who was hitting .294 with a single-A affiliate in Rome, Georgia. He was 1 for 4 on Sunday with a double in the fourth inning and scored a run.

Game changer: Bruce Yari hit a home run to the lawn section in right center field to tie the game in the ninth, but Lansing’s Rodrigo Orozco answered with a two-run homer in the 10th off reliever Jesse Adams, who had allowed two runs over his previous 37 innings. It’s the first home run Adams (4-1) has allowed since May 30.

Dragons tales: Though Jose Siri’s hitting streak got attention in the last two weeks, almost all other batters in the lineup have struggled to hit. The team has hit .214 through the first five games of the seven-game homestand, and three players are hitting below .190 in their last 15 games.

Ventura could help improve the Dragons’ offense as the team prepares for the playoffs, which begin Sept. 6. Aside from his near-.300 average, he led Rome with 29 stolen bases and was second in runs scored (46).

“He seems like a pretty good kid,” Dragons manager Luis Bolivar said. “I talked to his manager (veteran minor league manager Randy Ingle), and he said he’s a good player who plays hard, runs well and is pretty smart on the base paths. It’ll be interesting to see how it turns out and how he performs here.”

Ventura is an outfielder and played in center field on Sunday, while Siri moved to right.

“It’s good to have quick guys in the outfield,” Bolivar said. “I hope they’ll do well working together.”

Ventura is 20 years old and signed with Atlanta in 2015. He’s from a small town near the center of the Dominican Republic and becomes the eighth native of the nation to join the Dragons.

“I think it’s nice to have some bit of familiarity being around guys from the Dominican,” Bolivar said. “He seems pretty mature and knows what he’s doing. My advice is to be himself and play the way he knows how to play.”

Which, Bolivar hopes, will help the team heading into their playoff series with West Michigan next month.

“Hopefully he’ll be that spark to light everything up and start a good streak,” Bolivar said.

• Siri was back in the lineup on Sunday and went 1 for 3. He was ejected in the seventh after slamming his helmet on the ground following a failed stolen base attempt.

On deck: Lansing and Dayton return to Fifth Third Field for the third of a four-game set on Monday night. Matt Blandino (1-4, 6.75 ERA) will start for the Dragons against Lansing’s Osman Gutierrez (4-8, 8.40).

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