More math on deck this offseason for Dragons

Dayton's Michael Siani during a game this season. Jeff Gilbert/CONTRIBUTED
Caption
Dayton's Michael Siani during a game this season. Jeff Gilbert/CONTRIBUTED

How will Jacob Hurtubise spend his baseball offseason? Tutoring high school students in math and chemistry in his hometown of Zionsville, Indiana.

“It’s one of those things minor-leaguers have to do,” he said.

After earning a degree in Operations Research (akin to applied mathematics) at West Point, Hurtubise is well-educated to tutor in such subjects. But as a professional baseball player, Hurtubise and his fellow minor-leaguers, including fellow outfielder and Dayton Dragon Michael Siani, the studying never ends.

And as players in the era of analytics and complicated sabermetric equations, baseball has become even more measurable in learning to apply what the numbers tell you to what is expected of you on the field.

“It’s pretty cool to learn the math side of everything that I do on the baseball field,” said Hurtubise, who just completed his first season as a pro after a college career at Army. He began the season ranked as the No. 41 prospect in the Reds’ organization.

Siani was drafted out of high school in 2018 and played for the Dragons in 2019 when Dayton was a Low-A affiliate. Dayton became a High-A affiliate this season and Siani returned for his second season. He is currently rated as high as the No. 12 Reds prospect.

“I think there’s good things and bad things,” Siani said of analytics. “You have to have the knowledge of the idea of what you’re looking at because if you don’t really know how to read it and how to incorporate it into your game it’s not really going to help you. I need to understand it in a better way and be able to use it more to my ability.”

Hurtubise’s offensive strengths are speed and getting on base. This season he batted .283 with a .413 on-base percentage and stole 39 bases.

“That’s how I help the team,” Hurtubise said “Other guys are going to be more focused on slugging percentage or OPS. Knowing yourself as a player and knowing what statistics are important for you – for me walks, on-base percentage all play into each other.”

During the middle of the season Hurtubise experimented with trying to hit more doubles and triples. He still hasn’t hit a home run in his life. During the final month he turned his focus back to getting on base.

“I think my game is fun,” he said. “I think it’s exciting and I think it works in this game even as we might think that the game is moving more towards home runs and power guys.”

Siani is a similar player with a little pop (six homers this season) and is known for his defense in center field. He batted .213 this season with a .321 OBP, sharing the leadoff spot with Hurtubise, and stole 30 bases. He knew he had an inconsistent season at the plate.

“Having a better second half than first half is definitely a plus,” Siani said. “The stolen bases are great, defense is good, getting healthy again with my arm after not being able to start the season in the outfield is a plus.”

Siani will soak up all he can from the numbers and look for ways to refine his approach as a hitter to generate more hard-hit balls.

“Cleaning up an approach and sticking with it every at-bat and not coming off it is important,” he said. “And just getting a little bit stronger, a little bit faster and growing into myself a little bit more.”

Moreno’s future: Dragons manager Jose Moreno led the Dragons to only their eighth winning season with a 65-55 record and a share of the East Division title. Many Dragons managers have stayed in Dayton for multiple seasons, but it will likely be a while before the Reds announce next season’s staffing of minor-league teams.

“I’m very proud of the coaching staff we have here that did an excellent job to develop those kids,” Moreno said. “So whatever happens next we have to wait to see what the decision is from the front office.”

Outfielder Quin Cotton spent the entire season in Dayton and called Moreno a great clubhouse leader.

“He’s the man,” Cotton said. “He helps out with every American, every Latin guy. Having a bilingual manager is so huge.”

Nichols update: Dragons broadcaster Tom Nichols missed 22 games this season to spend time with his mother who lost her battle with cancer on Sept. 11. During his previous 12 seasons with the Dragons, Nichols had missed only a handful of games.