Tomorrow is a big day for the 190-plus Cincinnati Reds minor league players at spring training in Goodyear, Arizona. On Friday, Reds minor leaguers will be provisionally assigned to specific clubs and begin the Arizona portion of the spring game schedule. The Dayton Dragons will meet the Lake County Captains, the Cleveland Indians Single-A affiliate. The spring schedule will continue until the Dragons arrive in Dayton on March 29.
For minor league players, this is an opportunity to earn a job with one of the Reds four full-season affiliates (Dayton, Daytona, Chattanooga, and Louisville). Each of the four farm clubs will work with a 25-man roster limit during the season, allowing 100 players to earn spots on active teams. The Reds began camp with 172 minor league players in competition, and 18 more players have been sent back from Major League camp within the last week, bringing the total to 190. The Reds big league roster is still 20 players above the Opening Day limit of 25, so the number of players competing for those 100 minor league jobs will climb to over 200.
Over the next two weeks, minor league player assignments will be fluid. The group that opens the 2019 Midwest League season with the Dragons will likely be very different than the team that takes the field tomorrow against Lake County. As players are reassigned from big league camp to the minor league side throughout the month of March, players are moved from one "workout group" to another until rosters are set for the start of the year.
The first appearance in Dayton for the new 2019 Dragons team will come on Saturday, March 30 with the Dragons 20th Season Celebration Game (see more below). The Dragons will open the Midwest League season on Thursday, April 4th against the Bowling Green Hot Rods at 7:00 p.m.
Click on these links to view previews of Dragons catchers, first basemen, second basemen, and shortstops.
Today, we look at the potential third basemen for the 2019 Dayton Dragons. This is the fifth installment of an eight-part series previewing the team. Players listed here are candidates for positions on the 25-man Dragons season-opening roster.
This preview is an unofficial projection of possible roster candidates. Minor League rosters are not established until April 3. Spring training variables including performance, injuries, trades, and additional player acquisitions will impact the roster accordingly.
The Third Basemen
Click links on each name for career stats and player information.
Candidates: Juan Martinez, Leandro Santana.
Juan Martinez is a 20-year-old native of Venezuela with three years experience in the Reds organization. The Dragons featured a left-handed relief pitcher in 2016 named Juan Martinez, a different player than the one expected in Dayton in 2019 (there were actually six players named Juan Martinez in the Minor Leagues in 2018, including the two in the Reds organization).
Martinez, the third baseman, is one of six players on the Baseball America list of Reds top-30 prospects who are strong contenders to play for the Dragons in 2019. Martinez is ranked #22. He originally signed with the Reds as a 16-year-old following the 2015 season. He advanced fairly quickly in the Reds system and played at Billings in 2018, enjoying his best professional season. After not hitting a home run in 2016 or '17, he connected on eight with the Mustangs in 2018, batting .274 with a solid .470 slugging percentage. He was especially strong in the second half with Billings when he batted .298 in 33 games, connecting on six home runs with 28 RBI and a .509 slugging percentage. His defense at third base is reported to be strong. He is listed at 6'0", 180 lbs.
Leandro Santana spent the entire 2018 season with the Dragons, winning the Reds Minor League Community Service award for his active role in volunteering for player appearances in the Dayton area last season. Santana finished third on the Dragons in games played in 2018, trailing only Jose Garcia and Jeter Downs. Santana was the Dragons regular third baseman throughout the first half of the season and then moved across the diamond to play first base in the second half. After a strong season at Billings in 2017, Santana was never able to shake off a slow start in 2018 and finished the season batting .217 with nine home runs and 37 RBI in 113 games. He did play strong defense at third base, and when he moved to first base for the first time in his career, his defense was even better there. Santana is 22 years old. He is 6'2", 200 lbs.
Santana is one of the many players battling for a job in spring training. His experience in Dayton and his ability to play both corner infield spots will help him in his efforts to capture one of the 12 or 13 roster spots that will go to position players in Dayton in 2019.
Rylan Thomas was previewed with the first basemen in our 2019 Dragons prospectus. Thomas has the tools (mainly a very strong arm) to provide some level of optimism that he could handle a move to third base. He could see some time at third for the Dragons in 2019, though his primary position has been first base.
The Dragons will host their "20th Season Celebration Game" on March 30 at 2:00 p.m. at Fifth Third Field. The game will match the 2019 Dragons ("Team 20") against a team of Dragons alumni who are still playing in the Cincinnati Reds minor league system. Individual game tickets for the Dragons 20th Season Celebration Game, and all Dragons 2019 home games, are available now. Go to daytondragons.com/celebrationgame for tickets to the Celebration Game. For tickets to the Dragons regular season games, you can go to the Ticketing Tab at www.daytondragons.com, or Ticketmaster.com. You can also order by phone at (937) 228-2287. Additional information on the Dragons 20th Season celebration including videos on the 20 Greatest Dragons, special 20th Season merchandise, and Dragons alumni listings is available here: https://www.milb.com/dayton/team/20.
Again this season, all 140 home and road games can be heard on radio on WONE 980 AM and on the internet at wone.com and the Dragons Mobile App. Games can also be heard on HD Radio on 104.7 WTUI HD 2. The Dragons will again televise all Saturday and Sunday home games, plus a few Friday night games, on the Dayton CW.
There is a complete listing of all Minor League players in camp with the Reds here at RedsMinorLeagues.com: https://redsminorleagues.com/2019/02/14/cincinnati-reds-minor-league-spring-training-roster-for-2019/
The complete Minor League game schedule in Arizona is here: https://redsminorleagues.com/2019/02/15/cincinnati-reds-minor-league-spring-training-schedule-2/
Next up: Outfielders
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.