Sports stats

 Dayton Dragons

Stovall, Stiffler Could Become Next Local Products With Dragons

December 22, 2008 - Midwest League (MWL1)
Dayton Dragons News Release

Former Dragons pitcher and Lakota West graduate Matt Klinker enjoyed an outstanding 2008 season with the opportunity to play in front of friends and family at Fifth Third Field. Klinker, from West Chester, is one of many stars that have given the region a reputation for being among the richest in baseball talent nationwide.

The next local products at Fifth Third Field are expected to be outfielders Tyler Stovall, a product of Moeller High School in Cincinnati, and Matt Stiffler, from Bellbrook High School. Both played with the Billings Mustangs in 2008, one level below the Dragons on the Reds organizational chain.

"It's a great baseball area, from the Reds and Dragons all the way to the little league level," said Klinker. "Indiana is the basketball state, northern Ohio is known for football, and in southern Ohio, baseball is king. There is great competition and a great level of talent."

The names from the region are big. They include Pete Rose, Mike Schmidt, Joe Nuxhall, Dave Parker, Bill Doran, Ron Oester, Dave Justice, Chris Welsh, Pat Tabler, Dave Burba, and Don Zimmer among many others.

Stovall's high school alone has produced a long list of stars headed by three great baseball families, the Griffeys, the Bells, and the Larkins. Ken Griffey Jr., Buddy Bell, and Barry Larkin all went on to play for the Reds. Bell's sons, David and Mike, also played in the major leagues, as did Larkin's brother, Stephen. Griffey's brother Craig, and another of the Bell brothers, Ricky, reached Triple-A. Another Moeller grad, Adam Hyzdu, also played for the Reds.

Stovall is an outfielder who was selected in the 20th round of the 2008 draft by the Reds out of Central Michigan University. He enjoyed a very solid first professional season with Billings of the Pioneer League, batting .333 in 38 games. Stovall added 10 doubles, three triples, and a home run in 147 at-bats.

Stovall began his pro career with an 11 game hitting streak. In those 11 games, he collected seven multi-hit games, and was batting .462 by the time he suffered through his first hitless game at the pro level. Stovall later added a 16 game hitting streak, and he had at least one hit in 32 of the first 35 games he played.

At Central Michigan, Stovall was the 2007 Mid American Conference Player of the Year when led the conference with a .391 batting average. He also led the MAC in runs batted in with 59 and base hits with 88 while finishing second in stolen bases with 20. He added six home runs and 15 doubles in 54 games.

Stovall returned to Central Michigan and had another good spring in 2008, though his average fell. He finished the season at .332 with six home runs, 15 doubles, and 47 runs batted in. He was selected 2nd Team All-Mid American Conference.

Stovall posted a 3.81 grade point average at CMU, majoring in personal financial management, and earned numerous academic honors including 2nd Team Academic All-American. He participated in numerous charity events at Central Michigan including Holiday Food Drives for the Red Cross Food Pantry, the Special Olympics Canoe Trip, and the Christmas Outreach Program.

Stiffler was a 27th round draft pick by the Reds last June out of Ohio University, where he was once a teammate of former Dragon Anthony Gressick. Stiffler was a 1st Team All-MAC selection in 2008 when he enjoyed a huge season, batting .354 with 18 home runs and 58 runs batted in. He led the conference in hits and runs scored while finishing second in home runs and third in runs batted in. He set schools records for single-season hits and total bases and also set the career record in triples. Stiffler was a chemical engineering major at OU.

After turning pro, Stiffler had some ups and downs at Billings, batting .225 in just 89 at-bats. He hopes to improve on his 2008 numbers with more experience at the pro level in '09.

• Discuss this story on the Midwest League message board...

Midwest League Stories from December 22, 2008

The opinions expressed in this release are those of the organization issuing it, and do not necessarily reflect the thoughts or opinions of OurSports Central or its staff.

OurSports Central