In 2014 the Dayton Dragons rotation featured four prospects that ranked in the Top 10 of the Cincinnati Reds prospects list with right handers Nick Travieso, Sal Romano and eventually Nick Howard being joined by left hander Amir Garrett. That group was very strong for Dayton last year, and while the current rotation may not be as highly touted they are off to one heck of a start.
The current Dayton rotation is made up of four right handers and a left hander. 20-year-olds Tyler Mahle and Mark Armstrong, both righties, are joined by Tejay Antone and Wyatt Strahan. Left hander Seth Varner rounds things out. The rotation is a mix of two high school draft picks from 2013 with Mahle and Armstrong combined with three college starters from the 2014 draft.
The five starters have a combined ERA of 3.07 through 120.1 innings (coming into the game on Monday night). They have given up their fair share of hits, allowing 137 over their games started, but they are keeping the ball in the park (just six home runs allowed) and limiting the number of walks allowed (just 24) while missing plenty of bats (101 strikeouts).
Left hander Seth Varner has yet to walk a batter this season and has 24 strikeouts through his first four starts. He’s faced 96 batters in that span. He’s the oldest pitcher of the group, but he’s off to an outstanding start.
Mark Armstrong is the youngest of the bunch, he won’t turn 21 until the end of November, and he’s also got the lowest ERA of the group as well. His 2.31 ERA is more than a full run lower than the league average and he’s walked just four batters while striking out 20. He also hasn’t allowed a home run thanks to a high rate of groundballs induced so far.
Wyatt Strahan, the 22-year-old 3rd round pick from last season, has a 2.45 ERA through his first five starts. He’s walked 10 batters this season, by far the most among the group, in 25.2 innings pitched to go along with 19 strikeouts. Like Armstrong, he’s been successful by keeping the ball in the park (just two homers allowed) and by keeping the ball on the ground with a high groundball rate.
Tejay Antone has posted an ERA of 2.78 through four starts and 22.2 innings pitched. He’s walked just four batters with 17 strikeouts. The 21-year-oldÃ‚Â is following a similar path to the others, finding plenty of success early on by limiting the walks and keeping the baseball in the park. Antone has not allowed a home run yet this season and has an incredibly high 62% groundball rate so far.
Tyler Mahle is another one of the young guns in the rotation. He’s had some struggles in the ERA department, currently sitting at 4.72 on the season through five starts. His peripherals have been strong, walking just six batters and striking out 21 over 26.2 innings with three home runs allowed. Like the other right handers in the rotation, Mahle’s been a big groundball pitcher as well.
While we are just under a month into the minor league season, the group taking the mound to start the games for Dayton is off to a very good start. Hopefully for the Dragons they can continue to find success as it’s helped lead them to a winning record through Monday night.