Rey continues hot hitting, but Dragons fall to Lansing

Dayton starting pitcher Eduardo Salazar tosses to first base for an out after being hit the leg by a line drive during Sunday's game against Lansing at Day Air Ballpark. jeff Gilbert/CONTRIBUTED
Dayton starting pitcher Eduardo Salazar tosses to first base for an out after being hit the leg by a line drive during Sunday's game against Lansing at Day Air Ballpark. jeff Gilbert/CONTRIBUTED

Brian Rey’s name does not appear on any Cincinnati Reds’ top prospects lists. But news of his hot bat and highlights have been all over social media during the first two weeks of the High-A Central League season.

Dayton Dragons fans got to see Rey in person this week for the first time since 2019. That Brian Rey batted .281 in 66 games for the then-Low A Dragons. He hit nine homers, batted in 40 runs and had a .789 OPS.

This Brian Rey? He’s still 5-foot-11 and 170 pounds, but he’s swinging a bat that leads the league in almost everything, including each of the triple crown categories: .450 batting average, six home runs, 16 RBIs. He also leads with 18 hits, a 1.467 OPS, a 1.025 slugging percentage and is fifth with a .442 on-base percentage.

“He’s a real confident hitter right now,” said Dragons development coach Darren Bragg, who was filling in for manager Jose Moreno who traveled Sunday to Arizona for his son’s high school graduation on Monday. “When you’re like that as a hitter you try to ride it as long as you can. If it’s up to him, he’s going to be riding that for the next five, six years.”

When the Dragons – the second-highest scoring team in the league – entered the ninth inning Sunday scoreless and down three there was heightened hope in the dugout and stands because Rey was due up third. Jacob Hurtubise was hit by a pitch with one out. Then Rey did what his dugout expected with a double down the left-field line to score Hurtubise.

But Mike Siani and Jose Tello struck out and the Dragons lost 3-1 to Lansing, snapping a three-game win streak and settling for a split of the six-game series. The Dragons (8-4) fell into a share of first place in the East Division with Lake County.

“I saw a baseball game that was well-played and well-pitched,” Bragg said. “We just didn’t get that one hit with a guy in scoring position – we didn’t have a lot of opportunities.”

The Dragons were held to four hits by four Lansing pitchers. Rey had three of them. He extended his hitting streak to 10 games when he swung at a 3-0 pitch to lead off the first inning and beat out a high chopper to the third baseman. He singled to left with two out in the sixth and was thrown out trying to stretch it into a double.

Rey was the league’s batter of the week May 3-9 with a .333 batting average, four homers and 12 RBIs. He played in five of the six games this week against Lansing. He was 11 of 19 for a .579 batting average with two homers and three RBIs and will be a candidate for batter of the week again. He’s walked only once, but also only struck out twice.

“While you’re seeing the ball well and feeling it, get greedy and get as many hits as you can,” Bragg said. “He’s seeing the ball so well usually when he swings at it he puts the ball in play.”

Lansing scored twice in the fourth against starter Eduardo Salazar (1-1) with two out on a double by Austin Beck followed by a single by Ryan Gridley. They added a run in the eighth on a bases-loaded walk.

The Dragons’ other hit Sunday was a two-out double in the fifth by Mariel Bautista. Bren Spillane followed with a walk but was picked off first by catcher Drew Millas to end the inning.

TUESDAY’S GAME

Dayton at South Bend, 7:05 p.m., 980

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