Friend of The Nation Tom Nichols starts his Dragons preview series today:

Twenty year old Tucker Barnhart hit .306 for DeShields at Billings in 2010 and is penciled in as the Dayton starter in ’11. Barnhart was drafted by the Reds in the 10th round in 2009 out of Brownsburg High School in suburban Indianapolis (he was the highest-drafted player in the state of Indiana). He likely would have gone much higher in the draft if not for the fact that Barnhart had signed a national letter of intent to play at Georgia Tech and expectations were that he would pass up the opportunity to turn professional. But the Reds were able to get a deal done and bring Barnhart into the system….

Barnhart stayed above the .300 mark for virtually all of the 2010 season. He is a switch-hitter, a very valuable quality for a catcher. He has not yet shown any power with no career home runs in pro ball (159 at-bats), though he did hit more than 30 home runs as a four-year starter in high school. Defensively, Barnhart threw out an outstanding 51 percent of attempted base stealers in 2010, a number that would have easily led the Pioneer League if he had not finished three games short of the minimum to qualify. He did lead all P.L. catchers in assists.

and the others:

Chris Berset … was Barnhart’s teammate at Billings after he signed with the Reds as a 2010 20th round draft pick. Like Barnhart, Berset is a switch-hitter….

After turning pro, Berset split time with Barnhart at Billings and batted .244 with one home run and nine runs batted in. Ironically, he hit .300 when batting left-handed but was 0 for 16 batting right-handed to drag down his average. As he did in college, Berset was effective in shutting down the running game, nailing 41 percent of would-be base stealers.

Trey Manz was the designated hitter and third catcher at Billings in 2010 and actually accumulated more at-bats (137) than either Barnhart (111) or Berset (86). When in the lineup, Manz often batted in the cleanup spot in the Billings batting order. However, after a strong professional debut season in 2009, he slumped to .241 in 2010, adding three home runs and 16 RBI. He struggled to make contact, striking out 40 times over those 137 at-bats. Manz was the Reds 26th round draft pick in 2009 out of the University of South Florida.

Sounds to me like we’ll have a couple of defensive catchers that probably won’t hit much. I’m sure the pitching staff will enjoy having catchers that throw this well.