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It's Opening Day for the Dayton Dragons

The Dayton Dragons
Jason Reynolds

The Dragons season starts tonight, and they have some surprises in store...

This year's team will feature six of the Cincinnati Reds top prospects, including switch-hitter Elly De La Cruz, who is just 20 years old but looks ready to be the face of a team. He hit .296 in low-A last year and opened spring training with a grand slam.

In addition to new faces, there will be new bases. This year, the bases on the field will be bigger, which should increase scoring and safety.

There's also a pitch clock to keep the game moving. Pitchers will have 14 seconds to throw the ball when the bases are empty and 18 when a runner is on base.

Pitchers will only have three chances to pick off a baserunner. If they fail on the third try, the baserunner will advance.

Last but not least, "the shift" will no longer be allowed.

But some things will stay the same, like the Dragons' mascots—Heater and Gem—and the skits and hijinx between innings.

Dragons Executive Vice President Eric Deutsch says the team likes getting fans involved, and one of his favorite events is the toddler race, because "it’s predictably unpredictable when you have some little ones who are just learning to walk and racing is involved."

The game starts at 7:05 p.m. at Day Air Ballpark downtown.

Dayton Dragons
Juan Samuel and Elly De La Cruz meet the press before the Dayton Dragons opening day. De La Cruz should be a fan favorite this year. He's known for the locket on his necklace, which carries a picture of his mom.