Dayton, Ohio-The 17th year for the Dayton Dragons provided many highlights. Here are some of the stories that made 2016 another great year for the Dragons with the links to the stories.
Click here for a printable version of the Dragons 2016 Year in Review
Awards & Milestones
The Streak Marches On
The Dragons consecutive game sell-out streak continued through the 2016 season. After the final home game on September 3, the streak now stands at 1,177 consecutive sold-out regular season games, an all-time record for sports in North America (see more on the sell-out streak below).
For the 11th consecutive year, the Dragons led all Minor League Baseball teams below the Triple-A level in attendance (130 teams). And for the 17th time in the Dragons 17 years of operation, they finished in the top 10 among all Minor League teams and first among all Single-A teams. In 2016, the Dragons attracted 548,574 in total attendance (8,188 per game over 67 home dates) to finish seventh in all of Minor League Baseball (160 teams). The other nine teams in the top 10 were all Triple-A clubs. The Dragons 17-year attendance total of 9,993,269 puts them in position to reach the 10 million mark on Opening Day of the 2017 season. http://www.milb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20160914&content_id=201338990&fext=.jsp&vkey=news_t459&sid=t459
Dragons VP Brandy Guinaugh Wins MiLB Woman Executive of the Year Award
Dragons Vice President of Sponsor Services Brandy Guinaugh was selected as the 40th Rawlings Woman Executive of the Year, as announced by Minor League Baseball. The award is a national honor given to one person selected from the nominees from each of the 16 leagues in Minor League Baseball. Guinaugh received her award at the Baseball Winter Meetings Awards Luncheon on December 5 at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center just south of Washington, D.C. She was named in September as the Midwest League's Female Executive of the Year. Since 1976, the Rawlings Woman Executive of the Year Award has been presented annually to a woman who has made outstanding contributions to her club or league, or to baseball.
A 12-year veteran of the Dragons, Ms. Guinaugh is responsible for the execution, delivery, and fulfillment of the organization's sponsor agreements and suite contracts. She is also responsible for the coordination of over 50 non-baseball stadium events. These events range from simple ballpark outings, like Donatos Movie Night, to large-scale productions like the Dragons Subway 5k Fun Run, our Hometown Heroes program, Anthem Home Run For Life, Ford Honor Them, and our Dragons MVP program. Guinaugh oversees the Dragons sponsor services staff along with the development, creation, and production of all sponsor-related marketing materials and promotions. These duties include the management of local radio and television broadcasts; sponsorship-related direct response newspaper ads; design, print, and delivery of our game night program; interfacing with the Dragons Creative Department on the development of LED and LCD animations; and the creation of customized, year-end annual reports provided to sponsors as proof of performance. http://www.milb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20161108&content_id=208390508&fext=.jsp&vkey=news_t459&sid=t459
Additional stories from the Dayton Daily News on Brandy's award: http://www.mydaytondailynews.com/sports/tom-archdeacon-dragons-actor-turned-director/ZKQ2ytY1nJDcKq5BS1k11L/
Dragons Earn Midwest League Award for Support of Military, Veterans
The Dragons were selected as the Midwest League winner of the Charles K. Murphy Patriot Award for outstanding support of and engagement with the United States Armed Forces and veterans, both at the ballpark and in the community.
For many years, the Dragons have included local military programs into their season-long schedule of events and promotions. Highlights in 2016 included the Dragons Hometown Heroes Program and Celebration Nights through their partnership with the Dayton Development Coalition, which has become a tradition at Fifth Third Field. As part of this program, the Dragons host a family of a deployed Airman from the Dayton community for each of their 70 home games, and on two special nights, the focus of the entire game is based on honoring our local service men and women from WPAFB and the Springfield Air National Guard, filled with American-themed activities that celebrate local military.
The Dragons also partnered with the Dayton-Area Ford Dealers again in 2016 for the Ford "Honor Them" program. The program told the stories of community veterans as they were honored on the field. Additionally, the Dragons honored Lt. General Richard Reynolds and the Gunlock Family as Dragons Community All-Stars, sponsored by Vectren. Their focus was fundraising to help build a new Fisher House on the Dayton VA Medical Center Campus. The Dragons also continued their long partnership with the Dayton VA Medical Center with an event honoring over 600 veterans and active military and their families at a Dragons game.
Dragons Shed Long wins Reds Minor League Hitter of the Year
Dragons 2016 second baseman Shed Long was selected as the Cincinnati Reds Minor League Hitter of the Year. With the Dragons in 2016, Long played in 94 games, batting .281 with 11 home runs and 45 runs batted in. He was promoted to Daytona on July 26 and hit even better there, batting .322 with four home runs and 30 RBI in 38 games. Overall in 2016 between Dayton and Daytona, Long played in 132 games, batting .293 with 15 home runs and 75 RBI.
Dragons Groundskeeper Britt Barry Wins Sports Turf Managers Association Contest
Britt Barry, the Dragons Sports Turf Manager, won the STMA's Fourth Annual Mowing Pattern contest for his intricate design of the outfield grass on Opening Day at Fifth Third Field. STMA said Barry "managed to strike the perfect balance of safety, playability and visual appeal" with his mowing pattern featuring a large Dragons logo bordered by a checkerboard effect in the center field grass. http://www.sportsfieldmanagementmagazine.com/the-latest/newsmakers/fourth-mowing-pattern-contest/
Expanded Netting Announcement
With fan experience and safety in mind, the Dragons announced expanded netting in the seating area beginning in the 2017 season. Currently, protective netting extends from the home plate side of the Dragons dugout on the third base line to the home plate side of the visitors' dugout along the first base line, protecting seating in sections 108 to 111 behind home plate. The new, expanded netting will protect the seating areas of section 104 through section 116. Additionally, all existing netting will be raised approximately five feet in order to better shield fans seated in the club level and luxury suites. http://www.milb.com/content/page.jsp?ymd=20160816&content_id=195861692&fext=.jsp&sid=t459&vkey=
New Television Partner
The Dragons announced a new television broadcast partnership with Dayton's CW (WBDT-TV) in 2016 that included 25 game telecasts from Fifth Third Field in high definition. All games were broadcast over the air on Channel 26 and were also available on Time Warner Cable Channels 13 and 1013. Legendary Reds pitcher Tom Browning served as color commentator on some broadcasts. Others who were part of the 2016 broadcasts included Jeff Reboulet, a Kettering native whose 12-year Major League career made him one of the most accomplished players ever to come out of Montgomery County. WDTN TV-2 Sports anchors Jack Pohl and Hutch Konerman also provided commentary for numerous games. The telecasts featured state-of-the-art high definition production quality with seven camera positions, slow-motion replays, player interview clips and the Dragons Hermes award-winning information graphics package. Meanwhile, for the sixth straight year, the Dragons broadcast every home and road game on WONE 980 AM (Fox Sports 980). http://daytonscw.com/2016/03/21/daytons-cw-to-broadcast-dayton-dragons/
On the Field: Season Review
Top Draft Pick Nick Senzel Joins Dragons
Nick Senzel, the second overall selection in the 2016 draft and the highest draft pick for the Cincinnati Reds in 33 years, joined the Dragons after the draft and lived up to his lofty expectations. Senzel, a product of the University of Tennessee, arrived on July 1 and produced one of the finest two-month periods for a hitter in Dragons history. Senzel's .567 slugging percentage was the highest in Dragons history for any player appearing in at least 50 games, edging Austin Kearns' mark of .558 in 2000. Senzel's slugging percentage would have ranked first in the Midwest League if he had reach the required number of plate appearances to qualify, and his .415 on on-base percentage would have ranked second while his .329 batting average would have tied for third. Senzel collected 33 extra base hits in 58 games with the Dragons (23 doubles, three triples, seven home runs), the best ratio of extra base hits per game in Dragons history among players to play in at least 50 games. Jay Bruce, with 63 extra base hits in 117 games in 2006, had the previous best mark. http://www.milb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20161014&content_id=204715114&fext=.jsp&vkey=news_t459&sid=t459
Other Premium Draft Picks with the Dragons in 2016
In addition to Senzel, the Dragons roster in 2016 also featured many of the top draft picks over the last two seasons by the Cincinnati Reds. With two first round draft picks and three second round picks from the last two drafts, the 2016 Dragons featured some of the Reds top prospects.
- Tyler Stephenson, the Reds first round pick in 2015 out of Kennesaw Mountain High School in Georgia, was on the Dragons opening day roster and spent most of the season with the Dragons despite battling a wrist injury.
- Chris Okey, the Reds second round draft pick in 2016 out of Clemson University, arrived on the same day as Senzel and blasted six home runs in his first month with the Dragons.
- Tony Santillan, the Reds second round pick in 2015, also spent part of the 2016 season with the Dragons, showcasing his blazing fastball that has been clocked as high as 101 mph during his professional career. He reached double-digits in strikeouts in two of his seven starts with the Dragons.
- Tanner Rainey, taken just after Santillan as a Reds second round draft pick in 2015, spent the entire season with the Dragons, featuring a fastball that was clocked as high as 99 mph at Fifth Third Field.
The Dragons season began on April 5 and concluded on September 3. Here are some of the facts and statistics:
Longest Sell-Outs Streaks in Professional Sports History
No. Team League Years
1,177 Dayton Dragons Minor League Baseball 2000-current
820 Boston Red Sox Major League Baseball 2003-'13
814 Portland Trail Blazers National Basketball Association 1977-'95
662 Boston Celtics National Basketball Association 1980-'95
610 Chicago Bulls National Basketball Association 1987-'00
Dayton Dragons 2016 Recap
Final Record: 47-93
First Half: 21-49 (8th in Eastern Division)
Second Half: 26-44 (Tied-7th in Eastern Division)
Final Attendance: 548,588
Per Game Attendance Average: 8,188
2016 Dragons Midwest League All-Star Game Participant:
Ariel Hernandez, Relief Pitcher (replaced due to promotion)
Tanner Rainey, Starting Pitcher
Midwest League Batter/Pitcher of the Week
Franderlin Romero: MWL Pitcher/Week, April 25-May 1 (1-0, 1 GS, 7.2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 12 SO)
Wendolyn Bautista: MWL Pitcher/Week, August 22-28 (1-0, 1 GS, 9 IP, 0 R, CG ShO)
2016 Dragons Team Leaders
Batting Average (qualifier; min. 378 plate apps.): Shed Long, .281 (Nick Senzel, .329 with 249 plate apps.)
Home Runs: James Vasquez, 14
Runs Batted In: James Vasquez, 66
Stolen Bases: Brantley Bell, 23
Games Played: James Vasquez, 130
Victories: Ty Boyles/Jose Lopez, 6
Earned Run Average (qualifier; min. 112 IP): Jose Lopez, 3.97
Saves: Sarkis Ohanian, 13
Games Pitched: Manuel Aybar, 40
Innings Pitched: Austin Orewiler, 131
Dragons among Midwest League Leaders
Slugging Percentage: Shed Long, .457, 6th
Saves: Sarkis Ohanian, 13, Tied-2nd
Strikeouts Per/Nine Innings (Starting pitchers): Jose Lopez, 8.97, 3rd
Strikeouts Per/Nine Innings (Relief pitchers): Manuel Aybar, 11.64, 1st
Lowest Opponent's Batting Average (Relievers): Manuel Aybar, .210, 3rd
The Craziest Play of the Year
The home game on August 11 will be remembered for one of the craziest double plays ever seen in a professional baseball game, earning ESPN SportsCenter's Play of the Day. In the top of the fourth inning, South Bend's P.J. Higgins hit a line drive that struck Dragons pitcher Alex Webb, changed directions and deflected off base umpire Isaias Barba, redirected toward the second base bag, was fielded on the bounce by Dragons shortstop Luis Gonzalez, who stepped on second and threw to first to complete the double play. The play appeared on the front page at ESPN.com and was picked up by CBS Sports for all of their platforms. It has been seen by more than 474,000 viewers on the Dragons Twitter page, and more than 589,000 on Facebook, topping the one million mark in those two combined social media outlets alone. Here is the link: https://twitter.com/DragonsBaseball/status/763898972557631488
Notable Dragons Performances
- On August 22, the Dragons battled back from a late 10-3 deficit to beat Lansing 11-10 in what many fans called the most exciting Minor League game they had ever seen. The Dragons scored five runs in the seventh inning and one more in the eighth to pull to within one run at 10-9 heading to the bottom of the ninth inning. After the first two batters were retired on strikeouts, Brantley Bell delivered a single to start the game-winning rally. Red-hot Nick Senzel drew an intentional walk, and James Vasquez followed with a game-tying single to drive in Bell. Chris Okey sent the crowd into an uproar with a base hit to center field that drove in Senzel to end the game. It was the largest comeback in a Dragons victory since 2013. http://www.milb.com/multimedia/vpp.jsp?content_id=1082712683&sid=t459
- The Dragons put together a late-season home winning streak that came within one game of matching the all-time franchise record. On August 13, the Dragons pounded first half East Division champion South Bend, 13-0, igniting a home winning streak that reached nine consecutive games. The winning streak included numerous dramatic victories including an August 14 win against South Bend when five-foot-eight utility man Josciel Veras connected on a game-tying home run with one out in the bottom of the ninth to open the door to a Dragons win in the 10th when James Vasquez singled in Nick Senzel from third base for the "walk-off" victory. The winning streak also included a four-game sweep of the Fort Wayne TinCaps. The Dragons won the first three games of a four-game series against Lansing, leaving them one win short of the club record of 10 straight home victories, but they fell to the Lugnuts in the series finale.
- On April 26, Dragons pitcher Franderlin Romero provided one of the finest pitching performances ever turned in at Fifth Third Field. Romero came within four outs of a no-hitter and did not allow a hit or walk until the final batter he faced in the game, a single to left field by Kane County's Jose Queliz with two outs in the eighth inning. Romero struck out 12 of the 25 batters he faced in the game and was honored as the Midwest League Pitcher of the Week.
- On June 10, the Dragons exploded for an 11-1 win over Fort Wayne. The Dragons connected on three home runs in one inning when Mitch Trees, Tanner Rahier, and James Vasquez all went the distance in the sixth. For Vasquez, the home run was part of a stretch in which he hit six long balls over a 14-game period.
- On August 26, Dragons starting pitcher Wendolyn Bautista fired the first nine-inning complete game shutout by a Dragons player in eight years. Bautista shutout the Bowling Green Hot Rods, allowing just four hits and no walks while striking out seven to earn Midwest League Pitcher of the Week honors. Prior to Bautista's gem, the last Dragons pitcher to toss a nine-inning shutout was Enerio Del Rosario on August 28, 2008 at Lansing.
- Dragons outfielder Daniel Sweet gets the "waste no time" award for 2016. On August 27, Sweet hit the very first pitch of the game for a home run at Bowling Green. Sweet also put together a 12-game hitting streak in August, the longest of the year by a Dayton player until Luis Gonzalez finished the season by hitting safely in the final 14 games.
- Reliever Sarkis Ohanian put together one of the most amazing two-month stretches of complete domination by a pitcher in Dragons history in June and July. During those two months, Ohanian made 21 relief appearances and notched 10 saves, allowing just six hits while striking out 42 batters and walking only five in 22 innings. Opposing batters went a combined 6 for 74 against Ohanian during the two months.
- Dayton reliever Ariel Hernandez rose from completely under the radar to become a high-level prospect during his time with the Dragons in 2016. Let go by both the Giants and Diamondbacks, Hernandez featured a fastball in the 95-98 mph range along with one of the sharpest curve balls in all of Minor League baseball. In 18 games with the Dragons, Hernandez allowed Midwest League batters to hit just .107 against him. They collected only 11 hits in 31.1 innings against him, and 40 of the 103 batters he faced were strikeout victims. Hernandez was selected to play in the Midwest League All-Star Game in Cedar Rapids but was promoted to Daytona just prior to the game. He was added to the Reds 40-man roster following the season.
Other 2016 Highlights at Fifth Third Field
Hometown Heroes Celebration Nights: Two times during the 2016 baseball season, the Dragons partnered with the Dayton Development Coalition and their partners to pay tribute to all service men and women associated with Wright-Patterson Air Force Base and the Springfield Air National Guard Base. Festivities included the playing of the national anthem by Wright Brass, the presentation of the colors by the Wright Patterson Air Force Base Honor Guard, a showcase of equipment used in evacuation missions, and swearing in ceremonies for a group of local Air Force recruits. Dates were May 21 and August 13.
Home Run for Life: Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield and the Dragons teamed up to provide five children battling serious medical conditions with once-in-a-lifetime opportunities during Dragons games. Each honoree got to take an honorary home run "lap" around the bases of Fifth Third Field during a game, high five the players from both teams, and receive an honorary bat from Dragons manager Dick Schofield. Dates were May 25, June 15, July 13, July 27, and August 17.
Community All-Stars: For the fourth straight year, the Dragons Community All-Stars Program, sponsored by Vectren, honored individuals who have gone above and beyond to improve the quality of life in the Miami Valley. Five of the Community All-Stars appeared on the field during a game with a tribute video telling their story. Dates were May 13, June 13, July 18, August 13, and August 25.
Honor Them: For the third year in 2016, the Dragons partnered with Dayton Area Ford Dealers to honor Miami Valley veterans at Dayton Dragons games. The Honor Them program was a season-long tribute to local veterans. Five veterans received a special honor at Dragons games. Dates were May 1, May 22, June 12, July 17, and August 14.
High School Baseball: For the 11th consecutive season, the Dragons played host to high school baseball at Fifth Third Field. In April and May, 32 area high school teams participated in 17 games and raised over $30,000 for their athletic programs.
Subway Dragons 5K: For the fifth time, the Dragons and SUBWAY® partnered for a 5K run around downtown Dayton on July 23.
- Boy Scout Overnighter: May 13
- Home Build on the Plaza in partnership with Habitat for Humanity and Coldwell Banker Heritage Realtors: May 21
- Girl Scout Overnighter: July 15
- Dragons Experience Youth Baseball Clinics: June 30-July 1; July 21-22
- Heidelberg's Great American Beer Tasting: August 6
- Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Health & Fitness Carnival: August 14
- Donatos Pizza Movie Night: August 20
- Fifth Third Bank College Prep Night: September 28
Six "Walks" at Fifth Third Field in 2016
Miami Valley Down Syndrome Association: September 17
American Heart Association: September 24
JDRF One Walk Dayton: October 1
Walk to End Alzheimer's: October 8
Making Strides Against Breast Cancer: October 15
Free to Breathe Walk: October 22
National Entertainment Acts at Fifth Third Field
The Dragons home schedule in 2016 featured nine national entertainment acts. They included:
May 14: Team Zoom Canine Entertainment
June 24: Team Zoom Canine Entertainment
June 25: ZOOperstars
June 26: BirdZerk!
July 29: Olate Dogs
July 30: The Famous San Diego Chicken
July 31: Team Zoom Canine Entertainment
August 18: Team Zoom Canine Entertainment
August 25: Jesse White Tumblers
In the News
Dayton Daily News columnist Tom Archdeacon authored a story entitled "Dragons Medina's Journey 'Something out of the Movies," which detailed Medina's numerous attempts to escape from his native Cuba to play baseball in the United States. The story, which included details of Medina spending his 18th birthday in a Mexican prison after being detained during an escape attempt, was picked up by many newspapers and websites across the nation. Go to this link for the story: http://www.mydaytondailynews.com/news/sports/archdeacon-dragons-medinas-journey-something-right/nrm7z/
For the 17th straight year, the Dragons utilized community non-profit groups to operate the concessions stands for every Dragons game at Fifth Third Field. With a percentage of each game's concessions revenue donated back to the non-profit groups who operate the stands, approximately $300,000 was raised in 2016 for those groups. Over the Dragons history, approximately $5.1 million has been donated to local non-profit groups. More than 40 non-profit organizations participate in the program.
Former Dragons who Made Major League Baseball Debuts in 2016 (81 total since 2000)
Drew Hayes, Cincinnati Reds
Steve Selsky, Cincinnati Reds
Layne Somsen, Cincinnati Reds
Robert Stephenson, Cincinnati Reds
Daniel Wright, Cincinnati Reds
Wandy Peralta, Cincinnati Reds
Major League Injury Rehabilitation Assignments with the Dragons in 2016
Anthony DeSclafani, Starting Pitcher, April 29 vs. Clinton at Fifth Third Field
The Dragons continued to expand into social media in 2016. The Dragons Facebook page climbed to over 40,500 "likes" while the Dragons Twitter page jumped to over 10,500 followers.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.