Dashing Around Baseball-April 16

The 2012 schedule is still quite young, but after nine games we are starting to understand a little more about the current edition of this Dash squad and how the Carolina League is shaping up in the early part of the season. The Dash have lived on the road to start the season, with six of the first nine games away from BB&T Ballpark. I’m writing this en route to Myrtle Beach where the Dash begin a three-game set against the Pelicans. Brian had to practically drag me on the bus because who would ever want to go to Myrtle Beach? (Yes, this will probably be one of the best road trips of the year). Brian and I are going to try to make it to one of the many tourist traps and hit up a mini-golf course at some point during the trip. A thorough breakdown is forthcoming, but for now, let’s catch up with the Carolina League and White Sox organization.

Promotional Prowess-Minor League baseball is home to some of the most unique promotions in sports, and the Carolina League is no exception. Three teams held promotions this past week that bordered on the lines of wacky, and makes you wonder…how did they come up with that? Sunday was the 100th anniversary of the Titanic sinking and, in commemoration of the occasion, Potomac let women and children enter the game 15 minutes before the men. The Nationals also gave away an iceberg to a fan. I’m not really sure about the logistics of iceberg gifting, but it certainly is a one of a kind promotion.

It has become an annual tradition in Salem, but the “Night of Elegance” is an event one will only see at a minor league ballpark.  The Red Sox wore tuxedo t-shirt jerseys Saturday night in their game against Myrtle Beach. Salem did beat Myrtle Beach 8-6 that night, so it seems the tuxedo promotion was effective.

Hillcats Hype-Nine games into the season, Lynchburg has established itself as the best hitting team in the league. The Hillcats are a Carolina League best 7-2, in a large part due to the slugging power of Evan Gattis. The catcher had five hits and six RBI Sunday against Potomac. He leads the league in seven statistical categories including batting average, home runs, and RBI. Gattis also has a remarkable background and his journey to Advanced-A ball has certainly been atypical.  By no means is Gattis on the fast track to the majors, but his quick start to the 2012 season has certainly helped push Lynchburg to an early lead in the Northern Division.

Mound Mastery-The early part of a season generally favors pitchers as position players get acclimated to hurlers who have an effective arsenal of power pitches and breaking balls. The Dash saw one of those men Sunday in Mudcats starter T.J. House. The southpaw has a WHIP of 0.62 and 17 strikeouts, both of which are league bests. The Dash did squeeze out four hits and managed to score four times, albeit unearned runs, against House. It will be good practice moving forward as Winston-Salem faces Cody Buckel Tuesday night. The sixth best prospect in the Rangers organization is second behind House in every major pitching category. Buckel has a 0.00 ERA and 16 strikeouts in 10 innings of work this year.

Around the Farm

  • The White Sox took two of three from the Tigers and sit a half-game back of the defending AL Central Champions. Chris Sale made his first two starts in the Chicago rotation this past week. The 2010 Dash member pitched 6 2/3 innings of one-run ball to get the win on April 9th over Cleveland. He did give up three runs in five innings Sunday, and received the loss against Detroit.
  • The Knights are off to a slow start and at 4-7 sit last in the International League South Division. Top catching prospect Josh Phegley hit a three-run home run Sunday in a 4-3 loss to Norfolk. Phegley is batting .312 on the season.
  • Birmingham won three-of-five from Huntsville and began a five-game stretch at Chattanooga with a win Sunday. Nestor Molina, the #2 prospect in the White Sox organization, struck out seven batters and threw eight innings of three-run ball to get the win for the Barons.
  • Kannapolis took three-of-four from Lexington to move into a four-way tie for second place in the South Atlantic Northern Division. The series started in splendid fashion for Keenyn Walker. The 5th best prospect in the organization went 5-for-5 with five RBI in a 9-4 win. Walker is ranked as the second-best position prospect in the White Sox system.

Matt Heidenreich pitches tonight for the Dash against the Pelicans. He threw five shutout innings April 11 at Frederick and picked up the win in the 13-0 thumping of the Keys. Pregame coverage starts at 6:50 p.m. with first pitch slated for 7:05. Thanks for reading. We’ll talk to you this evening.

-Mike

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