If there's one thing I have to get at a minor league game, it's a team set of baseball cards, no matter how old the cards may be. You may remember back in May I went to a Dayton Dragons game with a group from work. While there, I browsed the team shop and found a 2011 team set on the discount shelf for the measly sum of $4. I opened them at home, thumbed through them once, and then promptly stuffed them into a team bag and into a box. As I was doing some sorting and organizing last weekend, I came across them again and thought it would be fun to examine them and the players contained within, how they did that season, and perhaps who they are playing for now (if they're still playing that is).
Before looking at the players, let's have a look at the cards themselves. These were released more than likely towards the end of the season by a card company called Choice, which I've never really heard of before or since. Along with the basic white outer border, there's the green inner border which widens at the top for the team name, and at the bottom for the player name and position, which are all written in dark gold. The Dragons logo is on the bottom left.
|Image from TradingcardDB.com|
The backs are simple with a profile shot, name and vital stats in a green box, some career notes and minor league stats to date below that. The card number is in the upper right. With sets like this, cards are typically numbered in alphabetical order by last name and that's no exception here.
With all that out of the way now, let's look at the players themselves.
In 2011, Tucker Barnhart appeared in 97 games for the Dragons with a .273/.344/.387 slash line in what would be his only season in Dayton. In 2012, he graduated to A+ and Double-A ball, the year after that Triple-A, and made his Reds debut in 2014. Currently, he's the primary catcher for the Reds, displacing Devin Mesoraco who is once again beset by injury.
Chris Berset was the backup to Tucker Barnhart in 2011 and never made it to the majors. He reached as high as Triple-A Louisville in 2016. It seems that was his most productive year in the minors as well, having hit .249/.306/.294 is 85 games with the Bats that year.
Theo Bowe never reached above Double-A Pensacola during his 6-year minor league career in the Reds system. In 2011 with the Dragons, he appeared in 85 games with a .244 batting average, one home run, and 24 RBIs. He split 2012 between Dayton and High-A Bakersfield, graduated to Pensacola in 2013 and was out of baseball after that.
Jason Braun was drafted by the Reds in the 29th round of the 2009 MLB Amateur Draft. He toiled in the minors for a few seasons, having appeared with the AZL Reds, Billings, and Dayton in 2011 and was out of the Reds system after the season. The last record Baseball Reference has of him is 31 games with Schaumburg of the independent Frontier League in 2012.
When I was doing my research for this piece, I was surprised to find that Daniel Corcino was still kicking around the minors. Presently, he's an LA Dodgers farmhand with the Tulsa Drillers. He made 5 appearances with the Reds in 2014, 3 of which as a starter, and posted a 4.34 ERA with an 0-2 record over those 5 appearances. In 2011 for the Dragons though, he had probably one of his best seasons as a professional with an 11-7 record and 3.42 ERA over 26 starts that season.
Despite only appearing in 8 games for the Dragons in 2011, Tim Crabbe found himself with a card in this set. I'm guessing the main reason is probably because he spent the 2010 season there as well. Tim Crabbe was last seen in the minors with the Birmingham Barons in 2015 as part of the White Sox organization. Over his time with the Dragons from 2010-11 he had a 5-9 career record with a 4.12 ERA
Some of the players I've talked about so far I have a vague recollection of even though they never made it to the majors. Dominic D'Anna is not one of those. Appearing for 86 games with the Dragons in 2011, he hit a decent .286/.386/.422 but never advanced past high-A ball and was out of the Reds system by 2013.
Drafted out of Missouri State University in the 2010 Amateur Draft, Pat Doyle burned a path through the minors in 2011 that included 37 games with Dayton (6-4, 3.68 ERA), 2 games with the Carolina Mudcats (1-0, 19.29 ERA ... no that's not a typo), and one appearance with Triple-A Louisville where he posted a 9.00 ERA. I'm not sure what the reasoning for that trail of fire was but having an ERA that high at any level above A-Ball isn't good. Doyle was last seen with the independent Kansas City T-Bones in 2014.
Juan Duran was at one time a highly touted prospect. In 2011, he slugged 16 homers and had 71 RBIs in 104 games. He also struck out 152 times that year, which would probably explain the dismal .264 average. That seemed to be just about when he hit his stride as over the next three seasons, he would average 16 home runs a year while moving up the ranks and reaching as high as Double-A Pensacola in 2014, despite having over 100 Ks per season and not having an average reach over .270 during the same span. His power numbers took a dive the next season and he was out of the Reds system by 2016. He resurfaced this year with the Sussex County Miners of the Canadian-American Association.
No research is needed here as current Reds CF Billy Hamilton is probably the biggest name in this set. He stole 103 bases in 135 games in 2011. Not to be outdone, the next year he stole 155 bases between Bakersfield and Pensacola. Despite being drafted as a shortstop, he made the switch to the outfield before hitting Triple-A and has grown into arguably one of the best center fielders in the game today. As an aside, this particular card may have the best picture in the whole set as it captures Billy just as he's taking off to steal a base.
Drew Hayes was the closer for the Dragons in 2011 and had probably his best season as a pro. His ERA that season was an astounding 1.35, with 22 saves in 51 games and 89 strikeouts over 60 IP. Those are some crazy numbers. After that season, never again would Hayes finish a season with an ERA that low. In 2016, Hayes made it to the majors and appeared in 6 games with the Reds that amounted to an 8.38 ERA. After that brief stint at the beginning of the season, he was shipped back down and was released after the season was over. Currently, he's pitching for the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs of the Atlantic League.
Blaine Howell was in the bullpen for the Dragons in 2011 registering 9 saves and appearing in 47 games throwing 66 innings in those said games. Dayton must have had a good bullpen that year too because Howell had an ERA of 1.91 to go along with the 1.35 ERA of closer Drew Hayes. That was his best year in the minors because after that, he would have stints with the AZL Reds and High-A Bakersfield in 2012 and 2013, missing the 2014 season, and reappearing in Pensacola and Daytona in 2015 before he was ultimately released and showed up in the independent leagues with Evansville and Sussex County in 2015.
By the time 2011 rolled around, Ezequiel Infante was with his third stint with the Dragons and it would be his last in organized baseball, at least that I could find records of. I guess that makes this a sunset card of sorts. His 2011 run was not pretty to say the least, 16 games with an 0-2 record and 5.60 ERA over 17.2 innings. Yikes.
Since this is becoming more lengthy that I originally intended, I'll stop here and pick up tomorrow with the remaining 12 players.