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Dragons 2024 Team Preview, Part 7: Starting Pitchers

Hunter Parks with the Dragons at Day Air Ballpark in 2023
March 26, 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 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 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 seven 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 Starting Pitchers

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

Candidates: Rhett Lowder, Ty Floyd, Hunter Parks, Ryan Cardona, Javi Rivera, Kevin Abel, Johnathan Harmon, Bryce Hubbart, Jared Lyons.

When Major League Baseball developed a standard weekly schedule in 2021 featuring six consecutive games against the same opponent, it led to some organizations implementing a starting pitching rotation featuring six different hurlers, each starting one game per week. Other organizations stayed with the more standard five-man rotation, which would allow the Tuesday starter to come back on Sunday. Of course, it is up to each organization to make a choice between the five-man or six-man rotation. The Reds utilized a six-man rotation in Dayton for most of 2022 before switching to a five-man rotation in 2023. They will face the same decision in 2024 and could start one way before changing the plan at any point afterwards. We do know that five or six pitchers will be designated as starters when the Dragons open the season on April 5.

The biggest name on this list is Rhett Lowder, the Reds first round draft pick in 2023, and the seventh overall selection in the draft. After Lowder agreed to contractual terms with the Reds last summer, he was assigned to the Dragons, but as an inactive player. Lowder had already accumulated 120 innings at Wake Forest in 2023, and the Reds felt that was plenty. So he traveled with the Dragons and became accustomed to the everyday life of a professional pitching routine, but was never activated. There was talk late last summer that Lowder would open the 2024 season with the Dragons, but credible media reports this spring out of Arizona have stated that Lowder would likely begin his professional career with Double-A Chattanooga. The Reds will make the decision. Obviously, Dragons fans would love to see him in Dayton.

Lowder had an incredible 2023 season at Wake Forest, going 15-0 with a 1.87 earned run average in what could be fairly described as one of the finest years by a starting pitcher in college baseball history. Lowder was selected as a First Team All-American by both Baseball America and Collegiate Baseball. He was named Atlantic Coast Conference Pitcher of the Year and was named ACC Male Athlete of the Year. Lowder, 22, is a native of North Carolina and was an outstanding student in high school as a member of the National Honor Society. Lowder is the Reds #2 prospect on most every list, behind third baseman Noelvi Marte.

Ty Floyd was the second pick of the 2023 draft by the Reds, selected in the supplemental first round as the 38th overall selection. He played college baseball at LSU and was a key contributor to their run to the 2023 national championship. Like Lowder, Floyd did not pitch professionally after signing with the Reds in 2023, logging 91 innings during the college season. He gained national attention last summer when he struck out 17 batters in eight innings (while walking only one) in the first game of the best-of-three College World Series finals against the University of Florida, breaking the school record for most K’s in a CWS game.

Floyd went 7-0 with a 4.35 ERA in 19 games (17 starts) for LSU in 2023, notching 120 strikeouts in 91 innings. He is a native of Rome, Georgia. Floyd is ranked as the Reds #12 prospect by (MLB Pipeline) and #11 by Baseball America. The Reds are certain to push Floyd slowly and carefully, and because he has no baseline at the pro level, his starting point in 2024 is still a little uncertain.

Hunter Parks spent the entire 2023 season with the Dragons and could start the ’24 campaign back in Dayton. Parks showed plenty of potential in 2023 but sometimes struggled with one bad inning per start. He made 22 starts for the Dragons, going 3-7 with a 4.18 ERA with 88 strikeouts in 80 innings. Parks was selected by the Reds in the eighth round of the 2021 draft out of Florence-Darlington Technical College, where he made a conversion from position player to pitcher. Parks, a right-hander, will turn 23 in late April and is a native of York, South Carolina. Parks is not currently ranked among the Reds top 30 prospects, but he has the potential to break out as a solid prospect. He throws hard and is improving as he gains experience.

Ryan Cardona spent most of the 2023 season at Single-A Daytona and had a strong season while being utilized as both a starter and piggy-back reliever. He pitched to a 3.10 ERA in 81 innings at Daytona while notching 106 strikeouts and allowing just 52 hits. He made two late-season starts in 2023 with the Dragons. Cardona is a product of Marist College in New York and was a 19th round draft pick by the Reds in 2021. The 22-year-old right-hander is a native of Livingston, New Jersey.

Javi Rivera entered the 2023 season with great expectations but saw his season short-circuited due to injury. Rivera enjoyed an excellent 2022 season at Single-A Daytona, posting a 2.81 ERA in 74 innings with 88 strikeouts, and then was impressive after a late-season promotion to the Dragons. But he threw just 43 innings in 2023 for the Dragons with a 4.01 ERA. He allowed only 36 hits and struck out 36. He is a candidate for a strong bounce-back season in 2024. Rivera, a product of Florida International University, was a 20th round draft pick by the Reds in 2021. The 24-year-old right-hander was born in Puerto Rico before moving to St. Cloud, Florida as a youth.

Kevin Abel split the 2023 season between Dayton and Daytona. Abel achieved national recognition as a college freshman at Oregon State in 2018 when he tossed a two-hit shutout over Arkansas in the biggest game of the season, the deciding contest of the finals of the College World Series to lift his team to the national title. Abel battled injuries later in his college career before being drafted by the Reds in the seventh round in 2021. He tossed 40 innings last season at Single-A Daytona, posting an ERA of 4.69 while striking out 61, an exceptional ratio. He moved up to the Dragons and worked another 31 innings, finishing with an ERA of 6.32. Abel is not a hard thrower, but he does possess outstanding secondary pitches and could show improvement in 2024 as he continues to build back up from previous injuries. Word out of Arizona this spring is that Abel has looked very good.

Johnathan Harmon spent most of the 2023 season at Daytona before earning one start during the final weekend of the season with the Dragons. In his first full season of professional baseball in 2023 at Daytona, Harmon put up a 3.97 ERA in 88 innings, striking out 92. Harmon, 23, is a Louisiana native. The right-hander played college baseball at Northwestern State University in his home state and was drafted by the Reds in the 13th round in 2022. He looked good in his only outing with the Dragons in 2023, limiting a playoff-bound Fort Wayne team to one run in four innings.

Bryce Hubbart is a very interesting candidate for the Dayton rotation because of the huge success he enjoyed in a strong college conference with Florida State University. Hubbart a 22-year-old left-hander, went 8-3 with a 3.32 ERA with the Seminoles in the ACC in 2022, notching 96 strikeouts in 76 innings including numerous double-digit strikeout performances. The Reds were impressed enough with Hubbart to draft him in the third round in 2022. He struggled to throw strikes with Daytona in 2023, issuing 49 walks in 45 innings with a 4.96 ERA. His past success makes him a name to follow in 2024.

Jared Lyons spent the 2023 season at Daytona but missed part of the year with an injury. He posted a 3.69 ERA in 54 innings, striking out 65. The 23-year-old right-hander played college baseball at George Mason University in the Atlantic 10 Conference, enjoying his best season in 2021 when he went 6-2 with a 3.73 ERA to earn First Team All-Conference honors. He has actually already pitched in Dayton. On April 16, 2021, he started for George Mason at the University of Dayton and earned the win against Jayson King’s Flyers, striking out 11 in six and two-thirds innings while surrendering two earned runs. He was drafted in the 14th round in 2022 by the Reds.

One final name to consider for 2024 is the youngest player on this list, 19-year-old left-hander Adam Serwinowski. The South Carolina native has just 28 innings of professional experience, all at the rookie level with the Arizona Complex Reds, and it would seem unlikely that he would skip over Daytona and begin the year with the Dragons. But even if he does not open the 2024 campaign in Dayton, Serwinowski could be a candidate for time in the Gem City later in the season. Of the players listed in this starting pitcher preview, only Lowder and Floyd, the top two draft picks in 2023, appear higher on the prospect lists than Serwinowski. Baseball America reports that Serwinowski reaches 97 mph with his fastball and that the pitch is hard to pick up due to his funky delivery. And they rank his curve ball as highly as his fastball, both at 60 on the scouting scale of 20-80. Serwinowski struck out 43 batters in just 27 innings in 2023 with the ACL Reds. A teenage lefty who is 6’5” and already reaching 97 mph is going to draw some attention.

Next up: Relief Pitchers