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Dragons 2024 Team Preview, Part 4: Shortstops

Trey Faltine with the Dayton Dragons in 2023
March 15, 2024

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

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 next four weeks, 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 is currently underway in Goodyear, Arizona. There are approximately 165 minor league players in competition for roster spots within the Cincinnati Reds organization. Each Reds minor league team will play a spring schedule through March 31. The Dragons will arrive in Dayton on April 2.

This is part four 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. Minor League rosters are not established until April 2. Spring training variables including performance, injuries, trades, and additional player acquisitions will impact the roster accordingly.

The Shortstops

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

Candidates: Victor Acosta, Trey Faltine.

It would be difficult for any club in all Minor League Baseball to match the prospect status the Dragons have put on the field at the shortstop position at Day Air Ballpark in recent years. For the second half of the 2021 season, the Dragons shortstop was Matt McLain. In 2022, Elly De La Cruz manned the shortstop spot until he was promoted to Double-A in July. When De La Cruz left Dayton, Noelvi Marte took his place. In 2023, Edwin Arroyo was the Dayton shortstop. Skipping ahead to present day 2024, McLain is the expected Reds starting second baseman after a tremendous rookie season in the major leagues in 2023. De La Cruz is one of the most talked about young players in baseball and will be the Reds starting shortstop on opening day. Marte opened spring training as the projected Reds starting third baseman before a suspension changed the plan. And Arroyo was selected as the best major league prospect in the Midwest League in 2023, the same honor given to De La Cruz the year before. Arroyo has had an eye-opening spring training in 2024, looking like a future big league star.

The Dragons have another good prospect as a candidate to play shortstop in 2024 in Victor Acosta. He is ranked by Baseball America as the Reds 18th best prospect, while slots him in at #20. Acosta was acquired by the Reds at the trade deadline in 2022 from the San Diego Padres in exchange for big leaguer Brandon Drury, who had been the surprise star of the Reds ’22 season and was eventually given the Silver Slugger award as the top-hitting utility man in the National League that year. The Reds struck gold with many of their trades in 2022 in terms of acquiring young talent, and Acosta is the youngest of the players picked up by the Reds in mid-season deals. He will be just 19 years old for the first two months of the 2024 season.

Acosta, a native of the Dominican Republic, spent the entire 2023 season at Single-A Daytona, appearing in exactly 100 games while batting .251 with two home runs and 12 stolen bases as one of the youngest players in the league. He will be one of the youngest, if not the youngest player in the Midwest League if he makes the Dragons roster in 2024. Acosta had to shake off a slow start at Daytona. He was batting just .164 a month into the season. Over his final 79 games, he hit a credible .274 in a pitcher’s league with a .764 OPS (the Florida State League’s overall batting average in 2023 was .239 and the average OPS was .715). describes Acosta this way: “A switch-hitter, Acosta has shown the ability to swing the bat well from both sides of the plate with quick hands and bat speed, though he was a bit better from the left side with Daytona last year. While he keeps the strikeouts relatively in check and draws walks, he can get overly aggressive at times because he has such strong contact skills. He’s never going to be a huge power guy, but there were some good exit velocities coming off his bat in 2023, and he has the chance to find his way to some extra-base thump in the gaps.”

Baseball America looks at Acosta as a possible utility type in the future, saying: “Acosta is an above-average defender at shortstop and even better at second base. He hasn’t been asked to play third, but his hands, feet, and arm would be solid there as well.”

Trey Faltine served as the Dragons utility infielder in 2023, spending the full season in Dayton. Faltine’s defense is truly elite all over the infield, prompting Baseball America to name him as the “Best Defensive Infielder” in the entire Reds organization. He struggled with strikeouts with the Dragons in 2023 and finished the year with a batting average of .103 in 64 games, adding three home runs.

Faltine did have a productive college career with a strong program at the University of Texas. He played three years for the Longhorns (2020-22), starting all but one game at shortstop during his college career. Faltine helped Texas to the 2022 College World Series and a final ranking of #8 in the nation. He enjoyed his best offensive season at UT in 2022, batting .282 with 15 home runs while starting all 69 games at shortstop. His biggest hit was a game-winning walk-off home run to break 10-10 tie vs. Air Force, April 20, 2022. Faltine was a star pitcher at Travis High School in Richmond, Texas and played for USA Baseball’s 18 & under team in 2018 (teammate of former Dragon Tyler Callihan), winning a Gold Medal at the Pan American Championships.

Faltine could again fill a utility role with the Dragons in 2024, but he would hope to win the starting shortstop job out of spring training and improve on his 2023 season. Faltine has some big supporters among the player development staff within the Reds organization who feel he has the potential to hit.

Next up: Third Basemen