Dragons announce season-opening roster, Opening Day set for Thursday

By Tom Nichols / Dayton Dragons

The Dayton Dragons announced their 2019 Opening Night roster today, in conjunction with the Cincinnati Reds. The roster includes 27 players, two above the Midwest League limit.

Two players on the roster will not be active on Thursday night when the Dragons open their season at Fifth Third Field against the Bowling Green Hot Rods at 7:00 p.m. Additional changes could be made in the event of injuries or additional player acquisitions. 

The Dragons roster matches the roster announced last week for the Dragons 20th Season Celebration Game, with two additions. The roster includes the Cincinnati Reds second, third, fourth, and fifth round draft picks from 2018 (2018 first round pick Jonathan India previously played for the Dragons). The roster also includes seven players who are ranked among the Reds top-30 prospects by Baseball America, a high number compared to most seasons. Two additional players are ranked among the Reds top-30 by MLB.com or Fangraphs.com. 

The Dragons roster includes 14 pitchers, three catchers, six infielders, and four outfielders. Seven of the 25 players have previously played for the Dragons (Connor Bennett, Andy CoxAdrian RodriguezJared SolomonJesse StallingsErnesto Liberatore, Shard Munroe).

Pitchers: Connor BennettRyan Campbell, Andy Cox, Jhon De JesusEddy DemuriasAlexis DiazJacob HeatherlyJames MarinanJulio PintoLyon Richardson, Adrian Rodriguez, Eduardo Salazar, Jared Solomon, Jesse Stallings.

Catchers: Ernesto Liberatore, Pabel ManzaneroJay Schuyler.

Infielders: Bren SpillaneJonathan WillemsMiguel HernandezJuan MartinezDylan HarrisClaudio Finol.

Outfielders: Mariel Bautista, Michael Siani, Reniel Ozuna, Shard Munroe.

The consensus top-rated prospect for the 2019 Dragons is center fielder Michael Siani, who is ranked by Baseball America as the #8 prospect in the Reds system, and the second highest-rated outfielder on the list behind former Dragon Taylor Trammell. Siani was the Reds fourth round draft pick in 2018 out of William Penn Charter School in Philadelphia. In the fall of 2017, he led the USA Baseball 18 & Under national team to a perfect 9-0 record in World Cup play and was selected to the all-tournament team. 

Siani is considered an exceptional defensive center fielder with excellent speed who is still developing as a hitter. In his first season of professional baseball in 2018 with Greeneville in the Appalachian League, he faced older competition but still spent almost the entire season above the .300 mark. He finished the year at .288 with two home runs in 46 games.

First baseman Bren Spillane was one of the top hitters in all of college baseball in 2018 at the University of Illinois, where he won the Triple Crown in the Big Ten Conference and was picked by Collegiate Baseball newspaper as the national “Player of the Year.” He produced one of the biggest seasons in the history of the Big Ten, batting .407 with 22 home runs and a .944 slugging percentage that led the nation. He was the Reds third round draft pick in 2018.

Pitcher Ryan Campbell was an outstanding college hurler at the University of Illinois-Chicago, where he was selected 2018 Third Team All-American by the National College Baseball Writers Association and the 2018 Horizon League Pitcher of the Year. He posted a 1.53 ERA to rank fourth in the nation among NCAA Division I pitchers in 2018.

Utility infielder Dylan Harris hit over .400 in three of his four college seasons. He closed out his college career in 2018 as the all-time hits leader in the history of the Sunshine State Conference. He played at NCAA Division II Nova Southeastern and broke that school’s single-season record for base hits in 2018. Harris hit .314 at Billings in his first professional season.

Outfielder Mariel Bautista has produced three straight seasons in the Reds organization with a batting average of over .300. In 2018, he hit .330 at Billings to lead the team and added eight home runs while posting an outstanding .541 slugging percentage. Bautista was selected as a Pioneer League All-Star outfielder and is ranked as the Reds #16 prospect by Baseball America.

Blurbs on other selected 2019 Dragons players:

Lyon Richardson, starting pitcher: Reds second round draft pick in 2018 out of Jensen Beach High School in Florida…Highest-drafted player on the Dayton roster…As a high school senior in 2018, he posted a record of 7-0 with a 0.58 ERA…He had committed to play at the University of Florida before signing with the Reds…Ranked as the Reds #11 prospect by MLB.com; #13 by Fangraphs, and #17 by Baseball America.

Jacob Heatherly, starting pitcher: One of the most highly-regarded high school pitchers in the entire 2017 draft…As a senior at Cullman High School in Alabama in 2017, he went 10-1 with a 1.11 ERA and struck out 116 batters in 70 innings…Reds third round draft pick in 2017…Ranked as the #12 prospect in the Reds organization by MLB.com. Baseball America ranks him #23, and Fangraphs has him ranked #29. 

James Marinan, starting pitcher:   Starred at Park Vista High School in Lake Worth, Florida, where he went 8-1 with a 0.84 ERA as a senior in 2017…Ranked by Baseball America as the 59th best prospect in the 2017 draft…Planned to play college baseball at the University of Miami, where he would have been a teammate of Jeter Downs had both players not signed professionally…Drafted in the fourth round in 2017 by the Los Angeles Dodgers…Acquired in 2018 by the Reds in a trade with LA…Ranked as the #19 prospect in the Reds system by Baseball America; #20 by MLB.com, and #26 by Fangraphs.

Jared Solomon, starting pitcher: Coming off an outstanding 2018 season with Billings…Was 4-2 with a 2.27 earned run average in nine starts when he was promoted to Dayton at the start of August…Was leading the Pioneer League in ERA at time of promotion to Dayton…Played collegiately at Lackawana College in Pennsylvania…Drafted in the 11th round by the Reds in 2017.

Jay Schuyler, catcher: Posted big years at the University of San Diego in 2017 and ’18…Broke out as a sophomore in ’17 and hit .352 with six home runs in 54 games, posting a .926 OPS…Enjoyed a similar season as a junior in 2018 and batted .342 with seven home runs, starting all 55 of his team’s games…Also selected Academic All-Conference in 2018.

Pabel Manzanero, catcher: Served as the clean-up hitter in the Billings lineup in 2018…Hit .291 in 66 games with nine home runs including two in one game on July 23…Has hit at least .290 in three of his last four professional seasons…Also saw extensive action at first base in addition to his primary position of catcher at Billings.

Jonathan Willems, second baseman: The next Dragons hitter from the island of Curacao, following Didi GregoriusCalten Daal, and Hendrik Clementina…Ranked as the Reds #26 prospect by MLB.com…In 2018, played for the Reds affiliate at Greeneville, batting .263 and connecting on eight home runs after hitting just one in his first two seasons of professional baseball.

Miguel Hernandez, shortstop: Rated by Fangraphs as the #25 prospect in the Reds farm system…Signed with the Reds as a 16-year-old in the summer of 2015…Came to the U.S. for the first time in 2017 with the Goodyear Reds in the Arizona League, batting .314…Played with Greeneville in 2018, batting .301 in 60 games, including .344 in final month.

Juan Martinez, third baseman: Ranked as the #22 prospect in Reds organization by Baseball America…Originally signed with the Reds as a 16-year-old prior to 2016 season…After not hitting a home run in 2016 or ’17, he connected on eight with Billings in 2018, batting .274 with a solid .470 slugging percentage. 

Dragons on the Baseball America Reds Top-30 Prospect List:

#8 Michael Siani

#16 Mariel Bautista

#17 Lyon Richardson

#19 James Marinan

#22 Juan Martinez

#23 Jacob Heatherly

#30 Bren Spillane

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