Hartsock: Playoff-bound Dragons start second half with new faces

The Dayton Dragons have half of their season to play, but not really much left to play for and not as many familiar faces on board from the first half of the season.

The Reds announced today the promotion of Brantley Bell, James Vasquez and Luis Gonzalez from Dayton to High-A Daytona. Add outfielder T.J. Friedl, who moved up to Daytona over the weekend, and the Dragons are without half of their everyday lineup from the first half of the season.

“We’re going to keep doing what we’ve been doing the first half,” Dragons manager Luis Bolivar said. “We’re still going to play to win. We’ve got new guys on the roster but the motivation is going to go from now all the way through the playoffs.”

The Reds also promoted pitcher Ryan Hendrix to Daytona and sent right-hander Matt Blandino back to Billings.

Two of the four players who were added to the Dragons roster have played in Dayton. Right-handed pitcher Lucas Benenati started this season in Dayton before being sent back out to extended spring training.

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First baseman Kevin Franklin spend a month and a half with the Dragons in 2016. He went on the disabled list in August and never came back.

The Dragons clinched a spot in the Midwest League playoffs with a second-place finish in the first half of the season, which means they are not eligible to win the second-half race.

“We still gotta go out and compete and have fun,” All-Star catcher Tyler Stephenson said. “Who cares what happened in the first half, let’s win the second half. I know it doesn’t count but we want to win ever game we play.”

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