Globe iconLogin iconRecap iconSearch iconTickets icon
High-A Affiliate
The Official Site of the Dayton Dragons Dayton Dragons

Dragons 2024 Preview, Part 8: Relief Pitchers

Andrew Moore with the Dragons in 2023.
March 28, 2024

Dayton Dragons 2024 Team Preview: Part 8—Relief Pitchers By Tom Nichols The Dayton Dragons will open their 24th season in the Midwest League at Day Air Ballpark on Friday, April 5th against the Lansing Lugnuts at 7:05 p.m. The opening night contest against Lansing is the first of 66 home

Dayton Dragons 2024 Team Preview: Part 8—Relief Pitchers

By Tom Nichols

The Dayton Dragons will open their 24th season in the Midwest League at Day Air Ballpark on Friday, April 5th against the Lansing Lugnuts at 7:05 p.m. The opening night contest against Lansing is the first of 66 home games for the Dragons in 2024, and the start to a 132-game season. Over the month of March, we will provide an eight-part positional preview of the candidates for the Dragons 2024 roster. For information on Dragons season tickets, group tickets, or single-game tickets, go to or call (937) 228-2287.

Spring training for potential Dragons players is currently underway in Goodyear, Arizona. Triple-A Louisville will begin their season tomorrow (Friday, March 29). Other Reds affiliates, including the Dragons, will play a spring schedule through March 31. The Dragons will arrive in Dayton on April 2.

This is the finale of an eight-part series previewing the 2024 Dragons. Players listed here are candidates for positions on the Dragons season-opening roster.

This preview is an unofficial projection of possible roster candidates. The Dragons roster will not be established until April 2. Spring training variables including performance, injuries, trades, and additional player acquisitions will impact the roster accordingly.

The Relief Pitchers

Click links on each name for career stats and player information.

Candidates: Owen Holt, Carson Rudd, Zach Maxwell, Jacob Heatherly, Andrew Moore, Brody Jessee, Tanner Cooper, Luis Mey, Brock Bell, Easton Sikorski, Joseph Menefee, Simon Miller, Graham Osman.

The bullpen is the most difficult element to project in terms of roster assignments within the entire farm system. In 2023, there were four relief pitchers who seemed destined to begin the season with Double-A Chattanooga, but because of a logjam (more players at one position than roster spots available), all four opened the year back with the Dragons. Those four pitchers, Donovan Benoit, Jake Gozzo, Vin Timpanelli, and Braxton Roxby, all eventually made their way to the Lookouts in Chattanooga.

The same scenario could repeat in 2024. It is possible that several pitchers who played in Dayton in 2023 could return to the Dragons this season due to the crowded bullpen picture with the Double-A club. Specifically, Owen Holt, Zach Maxwell, Carson Rudd, and Jacob Heatherly, could go either direction to start the 2024 campaign. All four appeared in Major League games for the Reds this spring. All four are profiled below. The Dragons figure to start the year with approximately 10 relief pitchers. Here are brief profiles of each candidate.

Owen Holt spent virtually the entire 2023 season working out of the Dragons bullpen, appearing in 36 games. He posted an ERA of 4.42 and struck out 73 hitters in 59 innings. Holt has an interesting background as a former quarterback at Harvard who made a decision prior to the 2020 season to try out for the Harvard baseball team. He made the team, but the pandemic caused the cancellation of the season, and in the Ivy League, the 2021 season was also cancelled. So Holt transferred to a junior college in his hometown of Houston to play baseball while continuing to take on-line classes at Harvard, and he caught the eye of a Reds scout. The Reds selected Holt in the 16th round in 2021. He is a 24-year-old right-hander with the potential to continue improving.

Carson Rudd also spent all of 2023 with the Dragons, working as both a starter and reliever. Rudd pitched to an ERA of 4.64 in 21 games (15 starts) with the Dragons. Rudd played at Stanford University. He was not selected in the five-round draft in 2020 but signed with the Reds as a free agent. He is a 25-year-old right-hander.

Zach Maxwell is one of the hardest throwers in professional baseball and is the highest-rated prospect on this list. Maxwell reached 101 mph several times with the Dragons in 2023. He appeared in 13 games out of the Dayton bullpen, posting an ERA of 4.56 after working in 21 games with Single-A Daytona and finishing his time there with an ERA of 3.79. Overall in 2023, Maxwell struck out 96 hitters in just 61 innings combined between Dayton and Daytona. Maxwell is a product of Georgia Tech and was a Reds sixth round draft pick in 2022. He is a 23-year-old right-hander.

Jacob Heatherly is an example of the power of perseverance. The Reds drafted Heatherly in the third round in 2017 out of high school in Cullman, Alabama when he was one of the top high school prospects in the country. But injuries wiped out most of four seasons of Heatherly’s career from 2019-22 as he compiled just 17 total innings during that period. Heatherly returned to the mound in 2023 and the left-hander looked like a prospect with the Dragons. Throwing in the mid-90’s, he started the season in Daytona and pitched in 27 games, finishing with a 2.78 ERA. After a promotion to the Dragons, he made seven more relief appearances and posted a 2.70 ERA. He finished the year with four strong innings with Double-A Chattanooga. Combining his numbers at all three stops, he ended the year with 91 strikeouts in just 53 innings while giving up only 26 hits, outstanding numbers across the board. Opponents combined to hit a paltry .144 against him for the year. He is a 25-year-old left-hander.

Andrew Moore was acquired by the Reds in the trade that sent all-star starting pitcher Luis Castillo to Seattle in 2022. The trade also brought former Dragons Noelvi Marte and Edwin Arroyo, both blue-chip prospects, to the Reds organization. Moore is a flame thrower and with the Dragons in 2023, he was part of a rare feat. In back-to-back innings of a game in Fort Wayne, two different Dayton pitchers, Moore and Zach Maxwell, reached 100 mph with their fastballs. Moore got a late start in 2023 due to an injury. He pitched in 10 games with the Dragons, posting an ERA of 5.52 with 20 strikeouts in 14.2 innings. Moore played at one of the top junior college programs in the nation, Chipola College in Florida, and was Seattle’s 14th round draft pick in 2021. He is a 24-year-old right-hander.

Brody Jessee had one of the best seasons of any reliever in the Reds farm system in 2023, though it was shortened a bit by injury. Jesse, one of the few Alaska natives in professional baseball, pitched collegiately at Gonzaga and was a 10th round draft pick by the Reds in 2022. Last season, he spent most of the year at Single-A Daytona, posting a fine ERA of 1.84 with a high strikeout ratio (43 K’s in 29 innings). He was promoted to the Dragons at the very end of the season and got into one game, pitching two innings while allowing one run with five strikeouts. He is a 23-year-old right-hander.

Tanner Cooper started the 2023 season with the Dragons but missed a significant amount of time with an injury. He pitched just 11.2 innings with Dayton and then pitched to a 4.50 ERA at Daytona in 26 innings, where he was used as both a starter and reliever. Cooper was one of the best two-way junior college players in the nation at Finger Lakes Community College in New York before being selected by the Reds in the 35th round in 2019. He is a 24-year-old right-hander.

Luis Mey is one of the hardest throwers in the Reds organization, frequently reaching 100 mph with his fastball. Mey has spent the last three seasons with Single-A Daytona and battled injuries in 2023, posting a 5.40 ERA in just 16.2 innings with 16 walks and 18 strikeouts. Mey was signed as an international free agent out of the Dominican Republic in 2018 but is still just 22 years old. He is a right-hander.

Brock Bell is the younger brother of former Dragons infielder Brantley Bell and the son of former MLB all-star (and former Reds bench coach) Jay Bell. Brock Bell has pitched in the Red Sox organization since being drafted in the seventh round out of junior college in Florida in 2019, but he missed two full seasons due to injury in 2021 and ’22. He came back in 2023 and spent most of the season with the Red Sox High-A club, the Greenville Drive, where he posted an ERA of 2.72 in 24 relief appearances. He was selected by the Reds in the Minor League phase of the 2023 Rule 5 draft. Bell is a little older than most High-A pitchers at age 26 but could start in Dayton in light of the fact that he has missed so much development time due to injury.

Easton Sikorski was a teammate of former Dragon Blake Dunn for three years at Western Michigan University. The Reds selected him in the 17th round of the 2022 draft. He pitched at Single-A Daytona as the closer for the Tortugas in 2023 and put up good numbers, posting a 3.41 ERA in 17 games with six saves, allowing only 20 hits in 29 innings with 33 strikeouts. Sikorski is 24 years old and is a right-hander.

Joseph Menefee is a left-hander who played college baseball at the University of Texas and was drafted by the Reds in the 20th round of the 2022 draft. He spent the entire 2023 season at Single-A Daytona and worked in 31 games out of the bullpen, posting a 5.48 ERA. He struck out 66 hitters in 47.2 innings.

Simon Miller is a draft pick from last summer, taken in the 12th round of the University of Texas at San Antonio, where he spent three seasons. He had a tremendous year as a reliever in 2023, going 8-1 with a 2.30 ERA and 11 saves. He earned All-American honors from five different organizations and was the Conference USA Pitcher of the Year. He is 23 years old and pitches right-handed.

Graham Osman is a left-hander and could be a candidate for the Dragons starting rotation or bullpen. He was drafted last summer in the 10th round by the Reds out of Long Beach State University, where he spent only one season after pitching for three years at Arizona State. Osman was Long Beach State’s second best starter in 2023, going 6-2 with a 4.60 ERA. He pitched briefly at Daytona late last season, allowing just one earned run in five relief appearances.

This concludes our 2024 Dragons preview. Play Ball!