From today’s DDN, some interesting tidbits about Cincinnati’s low-A affiliate, the Dayton Dragons:

A feistier approach is only one way in which DeShields should stand apart from Todd Benzinger, who was not asked back by the Cincinnati Reds after two seasons. Unlike Benzinger, DeShields sees managing in Dayton as a means to an end. He hopes to work his way back to the big leagues and knows he must be prepared to handle an entire roster, including pitchers.

Toward that end, DeShields said he recently informed Dragons pitching coach Tony Fossas that his days of determining when to make pitching changes are over. Fossas, in addition to training the arms, had done this under Benzinger.

“I don’t know how Todd Benzinger or (two-term Dragons manager) Donnie Scott did it, but the manager handles the pitching staff,” DeShields said flatly.

(snip…)

“We’ll be exciting,” DeShields said. “We’re going to run, hit-and-run, bunt. I’m not going to sit back and get beat.”

And from this article:

According to Baseball America, the bible of the minor leagues, the Dayton Dragons could start the season with six of the Cincinnati Reds’ top 16 prospects and nine of the top 30.

Last season’s opening-day roster contained one player in the top 20. In 2009, the Dragons had none in the top 30.

It’s one reason new manager Delino DeShields, introduced at a Fifth Third Field press luncheon on Tuesday, can’t wait to get started.

“You had the (Chris) Heiseys and the (Joey) Vottos come through here,” DeShields said. “This is the next wave.”

(snip…)

Most intriguing is shortstop Billy Hamilton, ranked as the Reds’ No. 2 prospect behind pitcher Aroldis Chapman, who is already in the major leagues. Not since Jay Bruce in 2006 have the Dragons begun a season with a player this highly touted.

“He’s a humble, grounded kid who has a chance to be a game-changer,” DeShields said.

One scout called Hamilton, 20, the fastest player in professional baseball. The switch-hitter batted .318 last season and led the Reds organization with 48 stolen bases despite starting in mid-June.

Three others who played for DeShields and bear watching are:

• Venezuelan outfielder Yorman Rodriguez, 18, who batted .339 with 39 RBIs in 43 games and is listed as the Reds’ No. 5 prospect.

• Pitcher Kyle Lotzkar (ranked No. 10), who bounced back from a broken elbow in 2008 (with the Dragons) to make four starts for Billings last season, allowing one run in 20 innings while walking two and striking out 33.

• Second baseman Ronald Torreyes (No. 22), who dazzled with the glove and held his own with the bat at Billings and in a brief stint with the Dragons. “He’s a little dude,” DeShields said. “But he doesn’t swing the bat like a little dude.”

Torreyes and Hamilton are expected to form Dayton’s double-play combination.

Looks like the most promising season in Dayton since the Stubbs/Heisey/Valaika/Turner/Francisco/ group in 2007. As a partial season ticket holder, I can’t wait.