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Series preview
fort wayne At Dayton
september 14 - september 19, 2021
The Dayton Dragons host the Fort Wayne TinCaps, affiliate of the San Diego Padres, at Day Air Ballpark in their final regular season series of the 2021 season. The Dragons have six game against Fort Wayne to complete the 120-game season that began on May 4th. Entering the series, Dayton is 59-55 after a 3-3 series split at Lake County. Only the top two teams in the High-A Central League (regardless of division) make the championship series. Dayton trails Cedar Rapids by four games in the chase for the second playoff spot. Great Lakes is three games ahead, while Lake County is in front of the Dragons by two games. The Dragons need to win at least four of the six games this week to have a chance at a playoff berth, while also getting help from the other contending teams.
Photo of James Free
Dayton dragons
Last week’s series featured some very strong moments for the Dragons in a 3-3 split at Lake County. In Dayton’s final road series of the season, the Dragons won games two, four, and five. The most exhilarating win was in game two on Wednesday, when the Dragons rallied down 1-0 entering the eight inning. James Free tied the game with a solo home-run in the eighth to ultimately force extra innings. The Captains had a runner on third base with just one out in the 10th, but relief pitcher Stevie Branche escaped the threat. Dayton rallied to scored three runs in the 11th which sealed the game. One of the top performances from last week came from starting pitcher and recent call-up James Marinan. The Dodgers 4th round pick in 2017 twirled six scoreless innings, striking out 11, and allowing just one hit. Marinan is schedule to start on Thursday this week for the Dragons. This season, the Dragons lead the overall series with Fort Wayne 10-8. Dayton and TinCaps have split the last two series, but the Dragons won the only other home series against Fort Wayne 4-2. Over the course of those 18 games, Fort Wayne outscored Dayton by 17. The Dragons have batted .254 against Fort Wayne this season. It’s the first meeting between the two teams at Day Air Ballpark since June 15th-20th.
Roster changes continued this past week for Dayton as left-handed pitcher Evan Kravetz was placed on the injured list. Most recently on Thursday, RHP JC Keys was promoted to Chattanooga for the second time this season. Keys posted a 3-2 record and a 4.70 ERA with Dayton in 38.1 innings. Outfielder Mariel Bautista was activated from the injured list on Thursday. Bautista had not played since August 8th and made his return on Sunday. Bautista is batting .245 in 34 games with the Dragons this season. James Marinan was promoted on Thursday as well from Low-A Daytona. In 13 outings and 10 starts with the Tortugas, Marinan posted a 1-6 record and 5.30 ERA. Marinan was selected by the Dodgers in the 4th round of the 2017 draft and was traded to Cincinnati in July of 2018. Marinan is 22 years old from Boynton Beach, Florida.
The Dragons roster includes eight players ranked among the best prospects in the Reds organization. Michael Siani was listed by Baseball America as the “Best Athlete” and “Best Defensive Outfielder” in the Reds organization entering the season and is currently ranked as the Reds 12th best overall prospect. Other Dragons players ranked by in the top-30 are Matt McLain (#4), Mat Nelson (#10), Lyon Richardson (#14), Christian Roa (#15), Bryce Bonnin (#16), Ivan Johnson (#17), and Allan Cerda (#18). Eight top-18 prospects is the most Dayton has had at one time all season long.
Former Dragons starting pitcher Eduardo Salazar now leads the High-A Central League in ERA and has compiled enough innings in the league to meet the minimum number to qualify over a full 120-game season (96 IP is the minimum number for a season; Salazar has 98). Salazar, now with Double-A Chattanooga, compiled a 3.49 ERA with the Dragons. Only one pitcher in Dragons history has led the league in ERA; Josh Hall in 2001 at 2.65.
fort wayne tincaps
Fort Wayne is 54-60 this season and tied for last place in the East Division with Lansing. The TinCaps have not been above .500 since the first week of the season and were officially eliminated from playoff contention last week. Tirso Ornelas leads the High-A Central League in doubles with 31 and has been with Fort Wayne since the start of the season – he’s played 101 games. Ornelas and Justin Lopez (.241 BA and 9 HR) are the top two players who have been with Fort Wayne all year. 2021 Golden Spikes award winner and Padres 3rd round picko out of Arkansas Kevin Kopps is the Padres top pitching prospect on the roster (#25 according to top 30). He has thrown eight scoreless innings in eight appearances out of the bullpen. Catcher Brandon Valenzuela is the 19th ranked prospect in the Padres farm system and is batting .290 with five RBI through his first 10 games with the TinCaps.
Photo of Tirso Ornelas Courtesy of Jeff Nycz / Mid-South Images