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Series preview
great lakes At Dayton
july 13 - 181, 2021
The Dayton Dragons host the Great Lakes Loons, affiliate of the Los Angeles Dodgers at Day Air Ballpark in their sixth home series of the 2021 season. This is the third time the Dragons and Loons will face off this season, and the previous 12 games have gone well for the Dragons. Dayton took the season-opening series at Great Lakes five games to one and won the second series at Day Air Ballpark four games to two. The Dragons 9-3 head-head record with Great Lakes has helped their lead in the east division immensely as Dayton leads the Loons by 2.5 games. Tuesday’s game is the midpoint of the season, so if there was a first-half champion like previous years, the Dragons would have already clinched that title. Instead, in this shortened 120-game season, the top two teams in the High-A Central League regardless of division will play in a five-game championship series. As of now, the Dragons have the second-best record in the league (34-25) and would play Quad Cities. With the Loons close behind the Dragons in the division and overall league race, this week’s series is critical.
Dayton dragons
The Dragons have been excellent at home this season, posting a 19-11 record inside the friendly confines of Day Air Ballpark. This series is the second half of a 12-game homestand, after last week’s six-game slate against the West Michigan Whitecaps. Dayton won the first four games of the series, including two one-run victories, one two-run win, and 7-3 win on Friday. After reaching their best record of the season (34-23), however, the Dragons dropped both weekend games. The Dragons are a league-best 21-8 in close games this season (decided by one or two runs). Dayton also posted its best batting average in a six-game series this season at .300, which led the High-A Central League this past week. Multiple Dragons experienced strong series, including Quin Cotton (10-26), Mariel Bautista (4-11, 5 RBI), Victor Ruiz (8-19, 5 RBI), and Francisco Urbaez (11-22).
Francisco Urbaez has played a remarkable stretch of games over the past six weeks. In his last 34 games played, Urbaez is batting .365 and vaulted his batting average from .207 to .335. He now ranks second in the High-A Central League in batting average and on-base percentage. Urbaez began the season primarily as a back-up infielder, but has taken advantage of his opportunities and become a staple in the Dragons lineup as just a rookie. As an update on RHP and former Dragons star Graham Ashcraft, over his last seven appearances between Dayton and Double-A Chattanooga, Ashcraft has not allowed an earned run – a streak that is now at 43 innings. Twenty-three of those innings came with Dayton, while 20 of them have been with Chattanooga. Due to his outstanding performance, Ashcraft was recently named Reds Minor League Pitcher of the Month for the month of June. His arsenal features a 99 mph fastball with late movement and sharp-breaking off-speed pitches.

As an update on RHP and former Dragons star Graham Ashcraft, over his last seven appearances between Dayton and Double-A Chattanooga, Ashcraft has not allowed an earned run – a streak that is now at 43 innings. Twenty-three of those innings came with Dayton, while 20 of them have been with Chattanooga. Due to his outstanding performance, Ashcraft was recently named Reds Minor League Pitcher of the Month for the month of June. His arsenal features a 99 mph fastball with late movement and sharp-breaking off-speed pitches.
Photo of Francisco Urbaez
New players added to the team this week include RHP Ricky Karcher (from Low-A Daytona), RHP and former Dragons player Jesse Stallings (from ), and infielder Reyny Reyes (from Double-A Chattanooga). RHP Jake Gilbert was sent to the ACL Reds, while starter and the number 15 prospect in the Reds organization, Noah Davis, returned to the mound last week against West Michigan. Juan Martinez also returned from the injured list on Sunday after a knee injury. The Dragons starting rotation this week is scheduled to feature Carson Spiers (Tuesday), Lyon Richardson (Wednesday), Eduardo Salazar (Thursday), Noah Davis (Friday), Jacques Pucheu (Saturday), and Carson Spiers once again (Sunday).
great lakes loons
The Great Lakes Loons are coming off a win on Sunday, but lost four of their six games versus Lansing last week. The Loons entered last week just one half game behind the Dragons for first place in the High-A Central East Division but now trail Dayton by two-and-a-half games. Despite the four losses, the Great Lakes – Lansing series was tightly contested. Five of the six games were decided by two runs or less or went to extra innings. Since losing five of its first six games of the season to Dayton, the Loons are 31-23. Outside of games against the Dragons, Great Lakes is 29-18. The Loons remain a power-hitting team that ranks top-3 in the High-A Central in home runs (1st - 79), slugging (2nd - .430), and RBI (3rd - 306). The Loons are led by Justin Yurchak who has experienced a remarkable turn-around in his season. The last time Yurchak and the Loons faced the Dragons, he entered the series batting .137. Yurhchak now leads the High-A Central League with a .354 batting average and .445 on-base percentage. Since Great Lakes’ game on June 12th versus the Dragons, Yurchak is batting an astounding .495 with 19 multi-hit games in the last 30 games. The other top position player prospect for Great Lakes is Andy Pages, who is the 10th ranked prospect in the Dodgers farm system according to Baseball America. Pages has blasted 16 home runs this season, which ranks second in the High-A Central League.
Photo of Justin Yurchak Courtesy of The Journal Gazette