With the completion of the 2013 World Series, the Reds will likely consider several former Dragons as additions to their 40-man roster.
Catcher Corky Miller and pitcher Greg Reynolds have been removed from the roster. Pitchers Bronson Arroyo, Nick Masset, Manny Parra, and Zach Duke; infielder Cesar Izturis; and outfielder Shin-Soo Choo are all free agents. That will reduce the roster to 34 players, leaving six available spots to fill (unless some of the free agents are quickly re-signed).
Players on the 40-man roster are protected by the organization from being selected in the Rule V Draft in December. Players with fewer than four years of Minor League experience (or fewer than five years of experience for players who signed their first contract before their 19th birthday) are not eligible for the Rule V Draft and need not be placed on the 40-man roster to be protected, so do not expect to see names like Robert Stephenson, Seth Mejias-Brean, and Jesse Winker added at this time. It is also worth noting that players on the 40-man roster, even if they fail to make the big league club out of spring training, are the mostly likely candidates for call-ups after the season begins.
One year ago, the Reds filled their openings on the 40-man roster by adding seven players, all former Dragons. They were pitchers Carlos Contreras, Daniel Corcino, Ismael Guillon, Curtis Partch, and Josh Ravin; and outfielders Donald Lutz and Yorman Rodriguez. All but Ravin remain on the Reds 40-man roster. Partch and Lutz played for the Reds in 2013.
Some of the former Dragons who are likely to be considered to be added to the 40-man roster for 2014 include catcher Tucker Barnhart, outfielders Ryan LaMarre and Junior Arias; shortstop Devin Lohman, and pitchers Chad Rogers, Drew Hayes, Josh Smith, Tim Crabbe, Jamie Walczak, Daniel Renken, and Pat Doyle.
Here are the qualifications of the players just mentioned:
Tucker Barnhart (2011 Dragons): One of the best defensive catchers around, Barnhart played for Delino DeShields at Class-AA Pensacola in 2013 and batted .260 with three home runs. He is a switch-hitter. He was the Reds 10th round draft pick in 2010 out of Brownsburg (Ind.) High School.
Ryan LaMarre (2010 Dragons): Highly-regarded since he was drafted in the second round in 2010 out of the University of Michigan, LaMarre got off to a rough start with Pensacola in 2013 but finished strong. He was batting .226 at the all-star break and completed the year at .246 with 10 home runs and 22 stolen bases. He is a good defensive center fielder.
Junior Arias (2012-'13 Dragons): Arias made the move from third base to center field in 2013 with excellent results. He spent the first three months of the season with the Dragons and had the look of an all-star, exhibiting the best combination of power and speed in the organization. He hit .284 with 10 homers and 40 steals in 72 games before moving up a level to Bakersfield. He held his own there and finished the year with a combined 15 home runs and 60 stolen bases. He was signed as a free agent before the 2009 season out of the Dominican Republic.
Devin Lohman (2011 Dragons): Lohman offers strong defense as a middle infielder. He played at Pensacola in 2013 and hit .236 with eight homers and 16 steals. He was the Reds third round draft pick in 2010 out of Long Beach State University.
Chad Rogers (2011 Dragons): Rogers started the season at Pensacola and was outstanding in 13 starts, posting a 2.20 earned run average that led the league at the time. He moved up to Triple-A Louisville and made 12 more starts there, going 5-5 with a 4.22 ERA. Rogers was an excellent reliever in Dayton but has been a starter over the last two seasons. He is currently pitching well in the Arizona Fall League against high-level competition. Always known for being bitten by a shark in the summer of 2010, Rogers was drafted that summer out of Galveston Junior College and has progressed rapidly.
Drew Hayes (2011 Dragons): Hayes was the Dragons all-star closer in 2011 and has spent the last two seasons at Pensacola. A hard-thrower, he appeared in 51 games in 2013, going 4-3 with a 5.43 ERA. Like Rogers, he has had an excellent year so far in the Arizona Fall League. He was an 11th round pick in 2010 out of Vanderbilt.
Josh Smith (2010-'11 Dragons): Smith and Daniel Corcino provided the Dragons with a pair of aces in their starting rotation in 2011 when Smith was dominant enough to earn the honor of starting pitcher for the Eastern Division team in the Midwest League All-Star Game. He pitched at Pensacola in 2013 and had another strong year, going 11-9 with a 3.26 ERA. No starting pitcher has been more consistent in the Reds system over the last three seasons, when Smith has earned a combined 34 victories. Smith was a 21st round draft pick in 2010 out of Lipscomb University in Nashville.
Tim Crabbe (2010-'11 Dragons): Crabbe had a solid season in 2013, spending most of the year with Pensacola (7-8 with a 3.27 ERA as a starter) and finishing strong in Louisville (one earned run in 12.2 innings). He was a 2009 14th round pick out of Westmont (Cal.) College and has battled control issues at times, but seemed to turn the corner in 2013. He was eligible for the Rule V draft in 2012 but was not selected and the Reds may not want to expose him again after he progressed nicely this summer.
Jamie Walczak (2010-'11 Dragons): Walczak was an outfielder in college and has come along slowly in professional baseball as a pitcher but has always flashed exceptional potential. A reliever, he pitched at Bakersfield in 2013 and was virtually unhittable there before moving to Pensacola. His 3.82 ERA in Double-A ball was not bad, but his strikeout totals (43 in 33 innings) offered an indication of developing talent. He was a 15th round draft pick in 2009 out of Mercyhurst (Penn.) College.
Daniel Renken (2010-'11 Dragons): Renken tied the Dragons club record in 2011 when he struck out 14 batters in a game. He spent 2013 at Pensacola and went 6-9 with a 3.99 ERA. He had moments of greatness, including one three-start stretch in July when he allowed a total of one run over 18 innings on just eight hits. He was a 25th round draft pick in 2010 out of Cal State Fullerton.
Pat Doyle (2011 Dragons): Doyle returned to Bakersfield for a second season in 2013 and was outstanding out of the bullpen, going 4-1 with a 2.97 ERA and 11 saves in 50 games. He was selected in the 24th round in 2010 out of Missouri State University.
Many of the players on this list were key members of the 2011 Dragons club that set a franchise record for victories, going 83-57 for DeShields. The Dragons pitching staff in 2011, under the direction of Tony Fossas, set the all-time Midwest League record for strikeouts in a season, keyed by the efforts of Smith, Corcino, Renken, Hayes, Rogers, Doyle, and others such as Blaine Howell and Daniel Wolford. The shortstop on that Dragons team, of course, was Billy Hamilton, who is already on the 40-man roster. Another key member of that club, second baseman Ronald Torreyes, is now in the Astros organization after being traded in the deal that brought Sean Marshall to the Reds.
Some prospects that will wait one more season before their experience levels would make them eligible for the Rule V Draft (and thus be candidates to be protected on the 40-man roster) include pitchers Drew Cisco and James Allen, infielder Ryan Wright, and outfielder Kyle Waldrop. Blue chip prospect Robert Stephenson would not have to go on the 40-man roster until after the 2015 season unless, of course, he is called up to the Reds before then.
There could certainly be other players not profiled above who are also considered by the Reds for the vacancies on the new 40-man roster.
Other notes: A familiar name was on the list of recent free agent signings by the Reds. Jefry Sierra, the Dragons center fielder for large parts of the 2011 and 2012 seasons, has been re-signed as a pitcher. Sierra always displayed an exceptional arm in center and will now get his chance on the mound.
Lastly, best of luck to the following former Dragons who were released by the Reds after the 2013 season ended: outfielder Adam Matthews, pitcher Abel De Los Santos, and catcher Danny Vicioso. Matthews made a big splash with the Dragons in July when he belted a grand slam home run on his very first swing as a member of the Dayton club, then put down a bunt single with his second offering. He was later sent back to Billings when Reds 2013 number one draft pick Phillip Ervin joined the Dragons.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.