Dragons first baseman Bren Spillane. Dayton defeated visiting Lake County 10-3 at Fifth Third Field on Friday, April 12, 2019. MARC PENDLETON / STAFF

Dragons’ Spillane putting work in lab to good use

In a game where failure is the norm, Bren Spillane had been able to avoid a lot of struggle…until he started getting paid to play baseball.

The Reds third-round draft pick in 2018, Spillane earned a hefty bonus on the strength of a strong junior season at the University of Illinois.

The big first baseman hit .389 for the Illini including 23 home runs and a slugging percentage of .903. He was named National Player of the Year by Collegiate Baseball, and then reality set in.

Spillane hit .236 at short-season Billings last summer, striking out 76 times in 148 at-bats.

The problems continued with the Dragons this spring. Spillane was hitting .150 when he was sent out to extended spring training in Arizona on May 16 to work things out.

Spillane spent two weeks having his swing analyzed in the Reds state of the art hitting laboratory where cameras and computers dissected every movement finding mistakes you just can’t see with the naked eye.

“I’ve never really been a part of anything like that,” Spillane said. “It was really cool to learn my swing and what needs to be changed.”

Spillane seems to be putting the work in the lab to good use at the plate, he’s hitting .306 in the second half of the season with 10 hits in his last eight games.

“There’s a difference between your work and the games. It’s a matter of applying that stuff in the workout and then going out there and playing with what you have that day.”

Hitting is tough enough concentrate on, then add the Reds trying to figure out where Spillane fits in the field. Bren has played first, third, and right field for the Dragons this season.

“Learning in pro ball is different,” Spillane said. “I’m trying to take this as a learning experience and apply what I’ve learned in the first half to the second half…and I know now what to do to get out of tough times like that.”

The entire Dayton lineup had issues at the plate Saturday night. The Dragons with only five hits in a 1-0 loss to South Bend to kick off a nine-game homestand. It was the ninth time this season the Dragons have been shutout, six of those have come at Fifth Third Field.

Things didn’t get any better for the home team on Sunday. Rain delayed the start of the second game of the three-game series for nearly 90 minutes, but the scoreless streak continued.

The Dragons best chance came to stop it came in the seventh inning when they were trailing 9-0. They loaded the bases with two outs on a single and two walks, but a routine fly ball to right field got the Cubs out of the inning.

South Bend won 10-0, as the Dragons fail to score for the 10th time this season. Seven of those shutouts have been witnessed by the home fans at Fifth Third Field.

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