From our friend Tom Nichols:

Tom says that he believes Cincinnati’s Low-A affiliate, the Dayton Dragons, will keep 3 “pure” outfielders and 3 guys that will also see some time somewhere in the infield. He then goes into who he believes the candidates are for the roster this year.

Yorman Rodriguez is the one player among the nine on the list above who would seem to be a sure bet to start 2011 in Dayton….Rodriguez played at Billings in the Pioneer League in each of the last two seasons, appearing in almost the exact same number of games both years. In 2009, he was only 16 years old for most of the season and batted .219. Last season, still the youngest regular in the league, he raised his batting average 120 points to .339. He added two home runs and drove in 39 runs in 43 games. He also stole 12 bases. Rodriguez is very athletic with excellent arm strength, good speed, and the potential to hit for power. He is expected to be the Dragons opening night center fielder.

Along with Billy Hamilton, this is the other guy I’m really excited about seeing. And he’ll only be 18 years old, which is amazing when you think about it.

(Juan) Duran has exactly 500 at-bats over his three years playing professionally, roughly the equivalent of one typical full season. His career batting average is .214. He has connected on seven home runs and driven in 56 runs. He has struck out 170 times. He did enjoy his best season in 2010 at Billings when he batted a career-high .244 with six homers as he began to show the progress that the Reds hope will continue in 2011. At this point, he looks like a likely candidate to start in left field or right field for the Dragons on opening night.

I disagree with Tom here. I think Juan will stay in Arizona for extended ST and MAYBE come up a little later. I also wouldn’t be surprised to see him out there until Billings begins the season in June. I don’t think he’s ready for A ball and the Reds have too much invested to kill any confidence he might have when he’s still only 18. There is no need to rush him at this point.

Jefry Sierra has made the move from second base to center field over the past year….Sierra will be 20 years old on opening day, still young by Midwest League standards. His speed is a great tool. He stole 22 bases in Billings last season in just 58 games, and he certainly could combine with Dragons shortstop Billy Hamilton to give the Dragons two serious base stealing threats in the batting order. Sierra hit .336 with the Gulf Coast League Reds in 2009 but dropped to .247 with Billings last season. He does not have a career home run.

Tom sees Sierra as a 4th outfielder, but his speed might get him into the lineup. He might be the CF with Rodriguez going to RF.

Other outfielders mentioned are Donald Lutz, Dayne Read, Kurtis Muller, Stephen Hunt, Theo Bowe, and Jaren Matthews. He says that Lutz might end up being the starting 1B.

Read, Muller, Hunt, and Bowe all sound like fun players to watch. Sounds like a good combination in the outfield of speed, defense, offense, and hard-nosed “hustle” guys.