5 things to know about the Dayton Dragons

Dragons manager Luis Bolivar (right) congratulates Hector Vargas after a solo home run last season. MARC PENDLETON / STAFF

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Dragons manager Luis Bolivar (right) congratulates Hector Vargas after a solo home run last season. MARC PENDLETON / STAFF

Dayton’s longest-running minor league hit makes its annual delayed baseball start next week when the Dragons begin their 18th season at the Bowling Green Hot Rods in Kentucky on Thursday.

The Dragons’ parent club Cincinnati Reds opened their season on Friday, March 30. Those players who didn’t make the big-league club Opening Day roster were assigned to affiliated minor-league levels, including the Class A Dragons.

The Dragons’ roster likely won’t be announced until Sunday, when the team and coaching staff return from spring training at Goodyear, Arizona.

»RELATED: Bolivar gets early invite to spring training

Here’s five things to know about the Dragons:

1. Home base: That remains Dayton's Fifth Third Field. The location, at the corner of Monument Street and North Patterson Boulevard and abutting RiverScape Metro Park and Webster Station, has become a popular downtown fun-for-all spot.

The Dragons’ home opener is 7 p.m. Saturday, April 7 also against the Hot Rods. That will be the first of a season-opening, six-game home stand to begin Midwest League play.

2. The players: The recent trend has been for 12-15 Dragons to return from the previous season. That has worked well, especially with Dayton coming off its deepest playoff run in club history, a spot in the 2017 Eastern Division championship series.

»RELATED: Fifth Third Field gets extra netting

3. Who's on first? As a long-running abundance of Dragons fans know, it doesn't matter. The relative close location to Cincinnati that former Reds majority owner Marge Schott loved to hate has evolved into an ideal home for minor-league baseball.

Fans flock to Fifth Third Field not knowing who these teens and young twentysomethings are on the field. For proof, every game that has been played at Dayton has been a sellout, dating back to the debut 2000 season.

That’s an all-time North America sports record, spanning 1,246 sellouts. More than 10 million fans have had tickets scanned at Fifth Third Field.

The Dragons drew an average crowd of 8,039 last season. That’s not University of Dayton men’s basketball status, but good enough to crack the top 10 of all 160 minor-league baseball teams, the other nine of which were Triple-A.

4. The watch is on: The next great hope is always a hot topic among Reds fans. Playing for the Dragons means Dayton fans usually get the first glimpse. That should include Hunter Greene.

There’s been as much hype about the 18-year-old phenom from Stevenson Ranch, California, as any prospect. Appearing on the cover of Sports Illustrated prior to last year’s draft ensured that. It’s certain he’ll play for the Dragons this season. Not so certain is when that begins and for how long.

5. The main man: Luis Bolivar, 36, is a comfy fit. He grew up with the Dragons, first as a player and ML All-Star (2003-04), then as the first former Dragon to join the coaching staff as a hitting instructor (2014-16). Last season he succeeded Dick Schofield, becoming the team's ninth manager.

»RELATED: Bolivar to succeed Schofield as Dragons manager

Born and raised in Venezuela, he is a hit with the youthful Dragons, especially among the many Latin-based prospects. He became a U.S. citizen in midseason last year and resides in Vandalia with his wife Kelly and four children.

Bonus thing to know: All Dragons games will be aired live on WONE-AM (980). There also will be 25 home games that will be televised live on Dayton’s CW (WBDT-TV) on channel 26.1, Spectrum channels 13 and 1013, Direct TV and Dish Network channel 26.

First games to be televised are the home opener and the next day’s game at 2 p.m.


DAYTON DRAGONS

Season opener: Thursday at Bowling Green Hot Rods

Home opener: Sat., April 7 vs. Hot Rods, 7 p.m.

Manager: Luis Bolivar

Radio: WONE-AM (980)

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