As IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve stated publicly, I expect the Dragons to be a much more competitive team this year than last. The talent in the organization is much better and itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s slowly moving itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s way up the ranks. Where last seasonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Dragons roster had many players who were undrafted free agents, this yearÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s roster has only a few.
On the pitching staff, the rotation is headed by 2 high draft choices from last yearÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s draft in Travis Wood and Zach Ward. Wood was very effective last year, but this will be WardÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s professional debut. Carlos Fisher is another 2005 draftee (11th round) who pitched at Billings last season. Valiquette hopes to have better luck this year in Dayton.
A couple pitchers of interest could be Terrell Young and German Melendez. Young was drafted in Ã¢â‚¬â„¢04 in the 10th round, but has only thrown 18 innings in 2 seasons. Another interesting story may be Melendez was originally signed by Houston in Ã¢â‚¬â„¢98 as a catcher, and seems to have been converted to the mound in Ã¢â‚¬â„¢04. He appears to have been was cut loose by the Astros after spending last season in Lexington.
The offense looks like it should be improved as BJ Szymanski and Paul Janish return and are joined by JD Reininger and JD Roberts who both put up an OPS over 850 in Billings and are joined by 2005Ã¢â‚¬â„¢s #1 draft pick, Jay Bruce, who put up an OPS over 800 in both the GCL and at Billings (at age 18). Gerardo Cabrera, who put up an 873 OPS for the GCL Reds last year, will probably hold the other outfield spot.
The Reds front office promised in today’s Cincinnati paper to make the Dragons more competitive. I think this team will be vastly superior to the product they put on the field last year.