Dayton Dragons pitcher Ricky Salinas was recently named the Cincinnati Reds Pitcher of the Month for June. The 25th round pick from Rice went 2-0 in five starts with a 1.03 earned run average and 22 strikeouts. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY MICHAEL COOPER

Dayton Dragons: Salinas named top Reds minor league pitcher for June

The Dayton Dragons’ hottest pitcher has been recognized by the big league club for his stellar performance.

Dayton right-hander Ricky Salinas was recently named the Cincinnati Reds Minor League Pitcher of the Month for June.

Salinas, a 25th-round pick from Rice in 2018, went 2-0 in five starts last month with a 1.03 earned run average. In 26.1 innings pitched, Salinas allowed three earned runs on 17 hits with seven walks and 22 strikeouts. Opposing hitters batted just .181 against him.

“I really wasn’t thinking much about it,” Salinas said. “I was just trying to do my job, go out there and get outs. It’s always fun to be get recognized for pitching well. There’s only a handful of months we’re playing, so to beat out a bunch of good guys for one of those months, it’s a really big honor.”

The last Dragons player to earn Pitcher of the Month honors was Reds 2017 first round pick Hunter Greene, who shared the honor last June with Pensacola’s Seth Varner.

The key to his success has been staying focused and throwing more strikes, Salinas said.

“I’m more confident,” he said. “If you get hit around, you’ve got to get ready for your next outing five days later. The main thing is just being confident and knowing you can compete at this level.”

Salinas mixes his pitches well and attacks early in the count, said Dragons manager Luis Bolivar.

“That’s what makes him so successful,” Bolivar said. “Nothing is going fast for him on the mound. He keeps his tempo and has confidence on the mound. He’s a good guy who works hard. Hopefully, all these experiences help him out and he can prove he can do it at a higher level. I’m very happy for him.”

Salinas uses three pitches — fastball, curveball and changeup — and has been able to throw them all for strikes. He wants to continue to impress in hopes of ending the season at a higher level.

“I’ve got room for improvement, that’s for sure,” Salinas said. “I’m trying to put myself in a position to get called up. I just gotta keep going, show everybody here that I can pitch and that I’m ready to go to the next level.”

Wednesday’s game: Pabel Manzanero had three hits and Mariel Bautista and Bren Spillane each homered as the Dragons beat the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers 6-2 on Wednesday night in front of 7,404 fans at Fifth Third Field. Dayton improved to 7-11 in the second half and 36-53 overall.

The Timber Rattlers took an early 1-0 in the first inning on an RBI single from Milwaukee Brewers 2019 fifth round pick Thomas Dillard, who was playing in just his second game since being called up on Monday.

Dayton tied the game in the third inning. Morgan Lofstrom led off the inning with a double and scored on an RBI fielders choice by outfielder Peterson Plaz, who recently joined the team from Greeneville on July 6.

The Dragons took the lead in the fourth inning on a two-run, 334-foot home run by Bautista.

Dayton added another insurance run in the sixth inning when Spillane hit a 387-foot home to left center field to make it 4-1.

Wisconsin’s Brent Diaz smashed a home run in the seventh inning to cut Dayton’s lead to 4-2.

Manzanero had a two-run double in the eighth inning, extending their lead to 6-2.

Dragons starter Eduardo Salazar allowed one earned run in four innings of work. Adrian Rodriguez picked up the win, allowing one earned run in three innings on the mound. Matt Pidich threw two scoreless innings, earning his second save of the season.

Called up: Two Dragons pitchers — Connor Bennett and Connor Curlis — were recently called up to high-A Daytona.

Bennett, the Dragons’ primary closer, is 12-for-14 on save opportunities this season. He hadn’t allowed an earned run since May 31.

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