Stuart Fairchild’s name didn’t command much fanfare during the 2017 MLB Draft.
The Cincinnati Reds selected the Wake Forest product in the second round (38th overall), 36 spots after the organization took high school phenom Hunter Greene, and six picks after Dragons’ teammate Jeter Downs was selected.
His selection flew under the radar then, yet Fairchild’s game has been anything but silent to those paying attention.
Through May 31, Fairchild was batting .300 with 19 extra-base hits, 31 RBIs and 14 stolen bases.
The smooth-operating style in which Fairchild carries himself was on display again during the Dragons’ 8-3 win against the West Michigan Whitecaps during the shortened seven-inning second game of a doubleheader at Fifth Third Field on Thursday.
After back-to-back home runs by Miles Gordon and Michael Beltre in the bottom of the first, Fairchild came to the plate and belted a double off the left-field wall.
In his next at bat, Fairchild went opposite field, sending a triple to the right-field wall. Average runners would probably have been held to a double. Fairchild cruised into third with ease.
The Seattle native, who grew up rooting for the Mariners and Ichiro Suzuki, bats cleanup, hits for average and runs like the wind, yet he flies under the radar. With a teammate such as Greene, who just so happens to be one of the top prospects in baseball, that’ll happen.
Quietly being one of the Dragons’ best offensive players suits Fairchild just fine, though.
“I like it, it takes the pressure off for sure,” he said. “But I know the Reds still value me and I’m just trying to get better.”
Fairchild, who has four homers, said he had never hit clean-up before this season. He’s not a typical power hitter by the home-run measurements, but he did hit 17 home runs during his final season with Wake Forest.
He said when everything is going right for him at the plate, he’s squaring up the ball and hitting line drives.
“[Home runs] are not really my game. I’m just going to do what I do well,” he said. “If you get guys on base and you hit a double or a single you still drive in runs that way.”
Dragons manager Luis Bolivar said Fairchild’s combination of speed and ability to hit the ball to the gaps has been huge for the Dragons.
“A guy who hits the ball and runs around the bases, when you see that, you enjoy that,” he said.
After finishing rookie ball, Fairchild played in the instructional league last fall. From there he showed up to Spring Training five weeks early for what he described as “Mini Camp” before embarking on his first professional camp.
Overall, he spent nine weeks in Arizona before joining the Dragons, and his work ethic hasn’t gone unnoticed.
“He knows what to do and he works hard and he trains himself very well,” Bolivar said.
Dragons’ tales: Gordon and Beltre’s homers marked the first time Dayton hit back-to-back home runs since since Aug. 30, 2017, when Taylor Sparks and Johnson Sansone dialed up deep balls.
Whitecaps 10, Dragons 1: Already facing a seven-run deficit, reliever Adrian Chacon struggled to get four outs as the starter in the resumption of Wednesday’s suspended contest.
Chacon faced an uphill battle immediately, starting the game with two runners on base.
Whitecaps’ outfielder Garrett McCain sent a two-out, two-strike single into center field to add two more runs to West Michigan’s total.
Chacon found trouble by his own doing in the top of the sixth. After getting two quick outs, he walked the next two batters with McCain on deck.
The Whitecaps outfielder had Chacon’s number again, sending another RBI single into center, brining the lead to 10-0.
Dayton’s bats looked like they had washed away with the rain until Downs hit a 341-foot sole home run to left field in the bottom of the ninth.
Prior to that, the Dragons’ lone hit belonged to Fairchild, who singled in the bottom of the fourth before the game was suspended on Wednesday.
Next game: The Dragons open a series against Lansing on Friday at Fifth Third Field. Packy Naugton (3-4, 5.13) will start for Dayton against Lansing’s Turner Larkins (3-4, 4.28).