Player Spotlight: Robert Maddox, first baseman. If roster expectations prove correct for 2012, the Dragons first baseman will be power-hitting Ohio native Robert Maddox. Maddox finished second in the Pioneer League in home runs in 2011 when he blasted 16 long balls in 63 games for the Billings Mustangs, averaging a homer every 16 at-bats. Maddox, from Euclid, Ohio near Cleveland, played at Villa Angela-St. Joseph High School, the same school that produced former Ohio State basketball star David Lighty and current Washington Redskins All-Pro linebacker London Fletcher. St. Joseph also produced football stars Desmond Howard, Elvis Grbac, Mike Golic (now co-host of ESPN's Mike and Mike in the Morning), and basketball star Clark Kellogg prior to merging with Villa Angela in 1990. Maddox was drafted by the Atlanta Braves after high school, but instead went on play at Ohio University. With the Bobcats, he led the Mid American Conference in home runs with 21 in 2010 and set a school record with 74 RBI in a 55 game season, the fourth highest total in the history of the conference. Maddox nearly made the Dragons opening day roster in 2011 before winding up at Billings. He appears to have a clear path to Dayton in 2012 after a strong season last year and should provide some tape measure blasts for fans at Fifth Third Field.
Congratulations to Mack Jenkins, longtime Cincinnati Reds minor league pitching coordinator and a frequent observer from the home dugout during games at Fifth Third Field, on his new assignment as Reds Assistant Pitching Coach. Jenkins has been a pitching coach in the Reds farm system since 1990 after concluding his career as a pitcher in the Reds organization. He had overseen the entire player development program for all Reds minor league pitchers over the past six seasons and in that role, typically made about four visits each season to Dayton.
Dragons on the Reds Roster: The Reds current 40-man roster includes 23 former Dragons players. They are pitchers Homer Bailey, Johnny Cueto, Carlos Fisher, Kyle Lotzkar, Logan Ondrusek, Jordan Smith, and Pedro Villarreal; catchers Ryan Hanigan and Devin Mesoraco; infielders Zack Cozart, Juan Francisco, Todd Frazier, Didi Gregorius, Paul Janish, Donald Lutz, Henry Rodriguez, Neftali Soto, Chris Valaika, and Joey Votto; and outfielders Jay Bruce, Chris Heisey, Denis Phipps, and Drew Stubbs. Additionally, former Dragons pitcher Jeremy Horst will be in camp with the Reds as a non-roster player. Dragons fans do not have to think back far to find recent players on the Reds roster. Lutz and Lotzkar played on the 2011 Dragons club, while Villarreal, Gregorius, and Rodriguez played in Dayton in 2010.
Game Times: Dragons 2012 game times have been set. All Monday-Saturday games will start at 7:00 p.m. All Sunday games in April, May, and June will start at 2:00 p.m. with one exception. The April 22 game will start at 4:00 p.m. to accommodate Midwest League travel restrictions for the first game of a new series (the first game of any series must start no earlier than 4:00). All Sunday games in July and August will start at 4:00 p.m. The final home game of the 2012 regular season is August 31.
Headed this Way: The team located one level below the Dragons in the Reds farm system is the Billings Mustangs, making it easy for Dragons fans to look ahead for future Dayton players. Billings had a solid 2011 season, finishing the year with a record of 44-32. They scored the second most runs in the Pioneer League and allowed the second fewest runs, nearly matching the Dragons fantastic feat of 2011 when Dayton scored the most runs in the league and allowed the fewest. Billings led their league in home runs and slugging percentage and their pitchers allowed the fewest homers in the league.
Local Talent: Centerville High School product Dan Jensen will contend for a spot on the Dragons 2012 pitching staff. The big 6'8" right-hander had a great year at Centerville as a senior in 2007, played one year at Sinclair Community College, and then spent three seasons at the University of Cincinnati. He had an excellent senior season in the spring of 2011 at UC as the team's top starting pitcher. The Reds drafted Jensen in the 20th round last June and assigned him to Billings, where he pitched mostly out of the bullpen after logging 89.2 innings in the spring. He went 1-2, 6.39 at Billings and will bring a fresh arm to spring training in March. He will try to become the first native of the Dayton metro area to play for the Dragons.
Recent regional products with the Dragons included Cameron Satterwhite (Moeller High School in Cincinnati) and Tommy Nurre (St. Xavier High School, Cincinnati) in 2010. Tyler Stovall (Moeller) played in Dayton in 2009. In 2008, West Chester's Matt Klinker (Lakota West High School) pitched for the Dragons. Going back a bit further, Wright State's Joe Powers, another Cincinnati native, played for the Dragons in 2002 and '05. Several other Cincinnati and Hamilton, Ohio natives have also played for the home team at Fifth Third Field.
For information on group outings for 2012, call the Dragons at (937) 228-2287. To be added to the Dragons Wait List for season ticket opportunities, go to daytondragons.com or call (937) 228-2287.