After lost season, Dragons excited ‘to get out there and get going’

Dayton Dragons center fielder Michael Siani watches his bunt attempt fly into the air during a game against the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers in 2019. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY MICHAEL COOPER
Dayton Dragons center fielder Michael Siani watches his bunt attempt fly into the air during a game against the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers in 2019. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY MICHAEL COOPER

Dayton opens the season Tuesday night at Great Lakes

The Dayton Dragons are back.

After a summer of no baseball in 2020, the Dragons open play in the High A Central League tonight at Great Lakes. Their home opener is 7:05 p.m. next Tuesday against Lansing at DayAir Ballpark.

“For me, the toughest part was just waiting to hear what the deal was going to be, when we were going to get out there and what it was going to look like every day,” said Dragons center fielder Michael Siani. “Just excitement to get out there and get going.”

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Jose Moreno replaces Luis Bolivar, who managed the Dragons from 2017-19. Moreno joined the Reds’ organization last year and has managed and coached in the minors and in winter leagues for 21 years.

“First of all, it’s great to be back on the field to try to help these kids develop after a year without any baseball,” Moreno said. “I’m very excited to be here in this great environment.”

Jose Moreno, Dayton Dragons manager
Jose Moreno, Dayton Dragons manager

Siani is one of 11 players returning to the Dragons from 2019. The reason is that the Dragons have moved up from the low-Class A level as a result of Major League Baseball eliminating 40 minor-league teams after the 2019 season. The Midwest League became the Central League at the high-A level.

Lyon Richardson, a second-round pick in 2018, is back with the Dragons and will start the opener. Richardson has been throwing in the high 90s late in spring training and has added a slider to his repertoire.

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The pandemic is still impacting the schedule. The season has been shortened to 120 games and is divided into 20 six-game series. Each series will be played Tuesday through Sunday and each Monday is an off day.

“It’s good for us that we don’t have to travel all the time,” Moreno said.

The six-game series will alternate home and away for most of the season. However, the Dragons will host back-to-back series June 8-20 and July 6-18. Long road trips are scheduled for June 22-July 4 and Aug. 3-15. The season concludes at home on Sept. 19.

Dayton will compete in the Eastern Division with the Fort Wayne TinCaps (San Diego Padres), Great Lakes Loons (Los Angeles Dodgers), Lake County Captains (Cleveland Indians), Lansing Lugnuts (Oakland Athletics) and West Michigan Whitecaps (Detroit Tigers). The Dragons will play only two series against Western Division teams: at South Bend and at home against Quad Cities in the second half of May. There will be no playoffs this season.

The Dragons’ roster includes three players rated as top 15 prospects in the Reds’ organization by Baseball America. Siani, a fourth-round draft choice, played for the Dragons in 2019 and is the team’s highest rated prospect at No. 10. He batted .253 with a .333 on-base percentage and 45 stolen bases in 2019.

The other top prospects are Richardson (No. 13) and fellow right-handed starter Noah Davis (No. 15). Richardson had a 4.15 ERA in 26 starts for the Dragons in 2019. Davis had a 3.19 ERA in 13 rookie league starts in 2019.

Others returning to the Dragons from 2019 are pitchers Eddy Demurias, Eduardo Salazar and Ricky Salinas; infielders Miguel Hernandez, Juan Martinez, Brian Rey, Bren Spillane and Jonathan Willems and outfielder Mariel Bautista.

TODAY’S GAME

Dayton at Great Lakes, 6:05 p.m., 980

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