The 2008 season was an interesting one for the Dayton Dragons. The opening night roster featured highly-regarded shortstop Todd Frazier, a supplemental first round draft pick the previous year; and power-hitting third baseman Brandon Waring, one of the top home run hitters in college baseball in 2007. On April 21, Zack Cozart was added to the roster. On May 7, Frazier was promoted to Sarasota and catcher Devin Mescoraco joined the club.
The Dragons went 21-14 over their first 35 games and resided in first place on May 13. But Dragons pitchers went into a collective slump over the remainder of the first half and the team finished a disappointing 28-40.
The second half began with a 13-inning win over Great Lakes on a walk-off home run by Waring at Fifth Third Field, and the momentum generated from that win helped the Dragons to a 3-0 start to the half. After another rough stretch, the Dragons put together a seven-game winning streak that improved their record to 14-11, and two weeks later, they were 24-15. The Dragons went on to win the second half Eastern Division wildcard slot and then swept Lansing in the first round of the playoffs before losing to South Bend in the semi-finals. A Dragons team that had struggled through a 28-game stretch in May in which they went 5-23 had bounced back to give the fans one of the most exciting seasons in club history.
Improved pitching in the second half was one of the Dragons keys to success. One of the hurlers who helped carry the club to the playoffs was a slender control artist from the Dominican Republic known as "Rosey" to his teammates. The nickname was a derivative of his last name, but it just as easily could have been sourced from his friendly, upbeat personality. Enerio Del Rosario helped the Dragons to the playoffs and less than two years later, he was the first player from the 2008 Dragons to reach the Major Leagues. He was the 42nd Dragons player to get there.
Del Rosario opened the 2008 season in the Dragons bullpen and was outstanding. In only one of his first eight outings was he scored upon, and his ERA on April 22 was 1.38. He had four saves, a win, and only one walk in the eight games, enough for manager Donnie Scott and pitching coach Doug Bair to get permission from the Reds to move him into the starting rotation.
Over Del Rosario's first six starts, he continued to pitch as well as he had in the bullpen. Not a real hard thrower at the time, Del Rosario was not generating a lot of talk among the pro scouts who visited Fifth Third Field, but his ERA kept getting better. On May 23, after 14 appearances with the Dragons, his ERA stood at 1.59. The Reds promoted him to Sarasota.
Del Rosario returned to the Dragons on July 11, just as the team was beginning to hit its stride. His first outing back featured three scoreless innings as he earned a save. Less than a week later, he was back in Sarasota after an injury created a need for a pitcher with the Florida State League club. He returned to the Dragons on August 12 as the club was trying to nail down a playoff berth.
Del Rosario made three starts over the remainder of the season with the Dragons and won them all. On August 28 at Lansing, he gave the Dragons one of their finest pitching performances in years. In a game that lasted just one hour, 59 minutes, Del Rosario's pinpoint control was too much for the Lugnuts. He tossed a nine-inning, five-hit shutout. Over the next four seasons, Dragons pitchers would throw a total of two complete games, and both came in seven inning games as complete games by Minor League pitchers have become almost non-existent.. Del Rosario's nine-inning masterpiece on August 28, 2008 was the last time a Dragons pitcher remained in a game for nine innings. He struck out 10 and walked no one in a Dragons 2-0 victory that sent the Dragons to the playoffs.
Del Rosario got the start in game two of the first round playoff series and beat Lansing again, allowing just one earned run in seven innings. The win closed out the series and sent the Dragons on to the second round. Del Rosario was the scheduled game three starter in that series with South Bend, but the Silver Hawks closed out the set in two games.
Del Rosario's final statistics with the 2008 Dragons included a record of 5-2 and a microscopic ERA of 1.16 over 70 innings. He issued just 11 walks all year.
Del Rosario enjoyed a great 2009 season that saw him pitch dominant baseball at three different levels as he finished the year with Triple-A Louisville. His combined numbers over 50 games featured a record of 3-1 with a 1.68 ERA and 12 saves. Following the season, he was added to the Reds 40-man roster.
On May 24, 2010, Del Rosario made his Major League debut with Cincinnati. He stayed with the club through mid-June, appearing in nine games and going 1-1 with a 2.08 ERA. As the Reds headed to the 2010 playoffs, they made some moves to beef up their big league bench for the stretch run and removed Del Rosario from the 40-man roster. Realizing that he would not clear waivers, a requirement to stay in the organization, his contract was sold to the Houston Astros.
Del Rosario appeared in 54 big league games with the Astros in 2011, going 0-3 with a 4.58 ERA. He pitched in 19 more games with the Astros in 2012 without a win or loss with a 9.00 ERA. He is presently on the Astros Triple-A roster.
Seven members of the 2008 Dragons have reached the Major Leagues. Del Rosario was the first, and the 42nd in Dragons history.
Click Here for Enerio Del Rosario's Major League statistics, photos, and video highlights.
Click Here for Enerio Del Rosario's Minor League statistics.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.