May 2012

Throwback Thursday – 3rd Edition

People have asked if the Dash’s pitching staff dresses better than any other in minor league baseball? We’ve already seen the Dash sport some awesome outfits this season.

If you missed it, Nick McCully, Justin Collop and Kyle Bellamy started the trend with these outfits in Lynchburg. A few days later, J.R. Ballinger, Jake Petricka and Chris Bassitt tried their luck with a new wardrobe.

Today, five hurlers may have set a new standard in baseball fashion.

From left to right, Jake Petricka, Kyle Bellamy, Nick McCully, Justin Collop and Chris Bassitt (Mike Lefko/W-S Dash).

Please give the guys some critiques in the comments section, and we will pass them along. The Dash are looking good on and off the field, that’s for sure.

- Brian

Collop Can’t Lose

Justin Collop recorded his fifth win of the season Wednesday night in his second start for the Dash.  The win pushes his record to 5-0 on the year. Collop has earned a win in eight straight decisions, which means it has been more than a year since he suffered a loss. Primarily used as a reliever for the Dash in 2012, Collop is familiar working as a starter.

Justin Collop is 5-0 with a 3.06 ERA for the Dash in 2012 (Jody Stewart/W-S Dash).

The Wayne, Michigan native was drafted in the sixth round of the 2009 draft. Collop was a two-year starter at the University of Toledo and initially brought into the White Sox system as a starting pitcher. He made seven starts with rookie-level Great Falls before suffering a groin injury. The remainder of the 2009 season was spent pitching out of the bullpen.

Collop returned to the rotation in 2010 for Kannapolis making 26 starts for the Intimidators. He finished with a 9-12 record but to just look at that number would not illustrate the highs that foreshadowed the start of a successful pitching run. Collop compiled three complete games during the 2010 season and averaged five strikeouts an outing.

The 2011 season began in Winston-Salem where Collop suffered losses in his first three decisions. Yet, since May 28, 2011, Collop has not suffered a defeat. His final two starts for the Dash in 2011 were wins, including a six-inning, one-hit gem over Frederick June 24. In fact, the only setback Collop suffered was a right arm injury that shelved him for over a month. Collop returned from injury in August and was sent to Kannapolis where he compiled a win and two saves.

The bullpen has been Collop’s home this year for the Dash, but he has made two starts for Winston-Salem, going four innings on May 19 and five Wednesday night. He also was a de facto starter on May 25, earning a win in five innings of work when Dash starter Jake Petricka left after being hit in the elbow by the first batter of the night. Whether it is the bullpen or the rotation, Collop has been a steady arm for the Dash this season.

The Dash look to take 4-of-5 from Frederick tonight before heading into a big weekend series against division rival Carolina. Join us starting at 6:45 for the Pregame Dash, with first pitch slated for 7:00.

-Mike

Mr. BB&T Ballpark

Kyle Shelton played an integral role in Tuesday night’s 8-7 win over Frederick. Shelton blasted a two-run home run in the fifth inning and then tripled and scored the game-winning run in the eighth to give the Dash their 100th regular season win at BB&T Ballpark. The win marked a third major milestone that Shelton has been a part of at BB&T Ballpark.

The Charlotte native was on the Dash roster in 2010 and played in the inaugural game at BB&T Ballpark.  Shelton spent the entirety of 2010 in Winston-Salem and finished with a .301 average, four home runs and 31 RBI in 68 games.

Kyle Shelton recorded a win in his professional pitching debut (Caleb Pardick/W-S Dash).

Shelton started the 2011 season in Winston-Salem. He etched his name in Dash lore during one of the most memorable games in the history of the Carolina League. On May 19, 2010 the Dash and Myrtle Beach engaged in an epic, 20-inning contest. With the bullpen exhausted, Shelton came on to pitch in the top of the 20th inning. He allowed a leadoff single but worked around it to retire the next three batters. The Dash won in the bottom of the inning and Shelton recorded a win in his professional pitching debut. He also hit a home run in the second inning in the game.

Tuesday night’s game was Shelton’s 4th start with the Dash this season after he was activated off the DL and reassigned from Triple-A Charlotte. The timely occurrence allowed the longtime Dash member to be a part of another significant milestone in the young history of BB&T Ballpark. As the Dash continue to thrive at home, the achievements will continue to grow.

For now though, Kyle Shelton has become synonymous with the signpost memories of BB&T Ballpark.

-Mike

Former Dash arms Sale, Doyle record big outings

Chris Sale compiled a 2.25 ERA in four innings with the Dash in 2010. (Dave Bilbrough/WS-Dash).

The White Sox organization is starting to reap the benefits of Dash alums who are making significant impact in Chicago and across the higher levels of the system. Two former Winston-Salem hurlers turned in spectacular outings on Memorial Day. Chris Sale and Terry Doyle both picked up wins in impressive fashion on Monday.

Sale’s blink-and-you-missed-him appearance in Winston-Salem during the 2010 season characterized his meteoric rise to the majors, becoming the first player from the 2010 MLB Draft to reach the big leagues. The White Sox moved him out of the bullpen and into the rotation to begin the 2012 season. On Monday, Sale delivered his finest performance to date, striking out 15 Rays batters in seven and one-third innings of work.  The 15 punchouts are one shy of a franchise record 16 by Jack Harshman in 1954 against Boston. Even more special for Sale is that fact he grew up in Lakeland, Fla., and became a Tampa Bay fan when the team joined MLB.

Terry Doyle pitched in 31 games with the Dash over the course of the 2010 and 2011 seasons (Kevin Hartley/WS-Dash).

Doyle’s performance Monday was equally impressive but might have been lost on the national landscape because it occurred at the Triple-A level. A member of the Dash in 2010 and 2011, Doyle took a no-hitter into the eighth inning before yielding a one-out double. He exited after giving up the hit, leaving after seven and one-third innings and getting the win for Charlotte against Minnesota’s Triple-A squad, the Rochester Red Wings.

It is a bit of redemption for Doyle, who was not protected by the White Sox and selected by the Twins in the Rule 5 draft in the offseason but was shipped back to Chicago after he didn’t make Minnesota’s major league roster. Doyle is 4-3 with a 3.05 ERA in nine starts this season with the Knights.

Speaking of good pitching, Matt Heidenreich is on the mound tonight for the Dash. The right-hander has been Winston-Salem’s most effective starter this season and brings a streak of 16 scoreless innings into the game.

Pregame coverage starts at 6:45 with the Pre-Game Dash, and first pitch is slated for 7:00.

-Mike

Last Chance to Vote Bolt to Round Two

VOTE FOR BOLT HERE

Voting for the first round of the “Mascot Madness” tournament ends tomorrow night at 11:59 p.m., and Bolt is locked up in a tight race with Clearwater’s mascot, Phinley.

You can vote up to 25 times for Bolt, so be sure to help Bolt live up to the title of “everyone’s favorite mascot.”

If Bolt advances to the second round, the opponent will be either Muddy the Mudcat (Carolina Mudcats) or Strike the Sasquatch (Northwest Arkansas Naturals).

Phinley has proven to be quite a challenge, and the vote is close. Be sure to help Bolt move on to round two!

- Brian

Petricka Set to Start Monday

(Steve Orcutt/W-S Dash)

Three days after a scary incident at Carolina, Dash right-hander Jake Petricka will return to the mound for game one of this afternoon’s doubleheader with the Frederick Keys.

On the fourth pitch of Petricka’s Friday start against the Mudcats, Tyler Holt hit a line drive off Petricka’s right elbow. He tried to stay in the game, but the fifth-best prospect in the White Sox system (according to Baseball America) could not throw a warm-up pitch and headed for the clubhouse.

Petricka had a noticeable bruise on his right elbow after the game, but he said it felt OK after initial pain in the minutes following the play. The righty was aiming to make his next start, and the elbow healed so quickly that he will pitch two days early.

Ryan Buch will start the nightcap this evening against the Keys, with Matt Heidenreich putting his 16-inning scoreless streak on the line Tuesday. Then, Justin Collop takes to the hill Wednesday, and Spencer Arroyo concludes the set Thursday.

- Brian

Semien’s Cinderella Story

Marcus Semien (right) helped Cal reach last year’s College World Series (George Nikitin/Associated Press).

A “Cinderella Story,” the sports term for an underdog who defies all odds. With their entire program on the line, the University of California baseball team took this term to a new level in their 2011 season. Dash shortstop Marcus Semien helped the Golden Bears shock the nation by not only saving the program but also making it to the College World Series.

At the beginning of his junior season at Cal, Semien received the sudden announcement that this would likely be the last year of baseball for the Golden Bears.

“I was more worried about the freshmen and sophomores,” the shortstop said about his reaction to the news. “I didn’t want them to have to transfer.” However, three of his teammates did leave the Golden Bears.

The rest of the team had a daunting task ahead of them to save the program. They needed to raise 10 million dollars in order to sustain the program for the long term.

However, the team could not raise the money themselves. “It was more the people behind the scenes, like the parents and alumni, that helped [raise the money],” Semien said.

While their supporters were busy fundraising, the Cal baseball team had to concentrate on the season. Cal had a 7-0 shutout and a 6-5 walk-off victory in their opening series against Utah, creating a small preview of their soon-to-be remarkable season.

Midway through their season, Cal baseball was reinstated after raising over $9 million in pledged donations. But the program’s good fortunes did not stop there. Cal finished with a record of 30-21 overall and 13-13 in the Pac-10 conference, which is known to be a very strong league in college baseball.

The Golden Bears would not settle for just a solid regular season. They had one more thing set on their mind–Omaha, the site of the College World Series.

“That had always been our goal,” Semien said.

The Golden Bears celebrate their trip to Omaha (Photo courtesy of Golden Bear Lair).

Their road to Omaha wasn’t an easy one. Cal lost to Baylor in the first round of regional play, throwing them into the losing bracket. The Golden Bears did emerge from the losers bracket, defeating Alcorn State, Rice and Baylor in the process.

Thus, Cal earned its way to the Super Regionals against Dallas Baptist, eventually sweeping the series in Santa Clara, Calif. “We were just an hour away from our home,” Semien said. “So it was pretty much our crowd. It was a pretty fun Super Regional.”

And then there was Omaha. By this time, the Golden Bears had already captivated every sports fan in the nation with their story. “We knew we were the underdogs and we had a lot of fans behind us up there,” Semien said.

Losing their first game 4-1 to top-ranked Virginia once again pushed the Bears into the losers bracket. Like during their Regional Championship, the Bears stayed alive for another game after beating Texas A&M 7-3.

Their dream of a national championship fell short, though, when they faced Virginia once again in the second round. The Golden Bears lost 8-1 and the “Cinderella Story” came to an end.

Cal may not have won a national championship, but they did give Semien a season he will never forget.

“Making it to Omaha and playing in front of 25,000 people, it was the best feeling ever,” Semien said. “Especially with everything we went through that year.”

- Costner Merrifield

Dash Duo to DL, North Carolina Native to W-S

Marcus Semien takes an 18-game hit streak to the DL (Steve Orcutt/W-S Dash).

It has been a busy two days for the Dash in terms of roster moves. First, we start with the bad news.

Dash shortstop Marcus Semien was officially placed on the disabled list Friday, and the move is retroactive to May 23. However, Semien has not played since May 12 due to a right shoulder injury.

Semien was arguably the Carolina League’s hottest hitter when he went down with the injury during a road trip in Lynchburg. Semien still owns an 18-game hitting streak, which is the CL’s longest this season. It is also tied for the third-longest streak in Dash history, which dates back to the 2009 season.

Right-handed reliever Taylor Thompson joined Semien on Winston-Salem’s disabled list today after appearing in Friday’s 7-5 victory in Carolina. The Montgomery, Ala., native suffered a right triceps strain during his outing.

Winston-Salem added a White Sox farmhand who had been on the disabled list in Triple-A Charlotte. Kyle Shelton, who can play all four infield positions in addition to left and right field, is back with the Dash after spending parts of three seasons in Winston-Salem.

Shelton, who is a native of Charlotte, did play four games with the Knights and went 1-for-12 (.083). He has not played since May 17. Last season, Shelton hit .263 with a homer and nine RBI in 17 games with the Dash.

Here’s a fun fact on Shelton from 2010. He not only pitched in Winston’s 20-inning game with Myrtle Beach, but he earned the victory after starting the game at second base and eventually moving to left field.

The Dash and Mudcats continue this 3-game series tonight at 6:15. Join us at 6:00 for the Pre-Game Dash here. Talk to you then.

- Brian

Petricka Leaves Game in First Inning

Winston-Salem starter Jake Petricka exited Friday night’s game against the Carolina Mudcats after Tyler Holt lined a ball off Petricka’s right elbow.

Holt’s line drive came on Petricka’s fourth pitch of the outing. After trying to walk off the injury for a few moments, Petricka headed briefly for the dugout before walking to the clubhouse.

Fellow right-hander Justin Collop relieved Petricka, who had been pitching well lately. The former second-round pick had worked through six innings in each of last three starts, with the most recent pair of outings resulting in quality starts. Petricka, who is the fifth-best prospect in the White Sox minor league system, entered Friday with a 3-3 record and a 4.50 ERA.

Both Dan Black and Juan Silverio have homered tonight for the Dash, who lead 2-0 in the third inning. Listen live to the action here.

- Brian

All-Star Countdown: Visalia Rawhide

Our preview of potential California League All-Stars concludes today with a look at the Visalia Rawhide (High-A Affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks). The Rawhide is right in the middle of the North Division, but just a game over .500. Visalia did catch the attention of all of Minor League baseball back on May 15, when the team scored 26 runs in a win over the High Desert Mavericks. Outside of that eye-popping final score, the Rawhide are a team that has received solid contributions from its offense and pitching staff. With the help of Visalia broadcaster Donny Baarns, here are a few players likely to fill out the roster for the California League in Winston-Salem.

LHP Andrew Chafin - Arizona selected three pitchers in the first round of the 2011 draft and while Chafin might not yet get the hype of fellow arms Trevor Bauer and Archie Bradley, the 43rd overall pick has dominated the California League. Baseball America puts Chafin as the 13th best prospect in the system, and the left-hander has shown why in the first half of the year. He has a 3-0 record and 3.20 ERA in the hitter-friendly league. Chafin also ranks second in the league with 66 strikeouts.

“He utilizes his wipeout slider, which is the best in the Arizona system and possibly one of the deadliest in the minors,” Baarns said. “He can throw it with different tilts and locations in different situations and is particularly brutal against lefthanders.”

LHP David Holmberg - This is a familiar name for White Sox fans. Holmberg was selected by Chicago in the 2nd round of the 2009 draft and spent that season in rookie-level Great Falls, compiling a 2-2 record with a 4.73 ERA.  He was included in the 2010 trade which sent Daniel Hudson to the Diamondbacks for Edwin Jackson.

This season, the left-hander has a 6-3 record with a 3.25 ERA and a strikeout to walk ratio of 5-to-1. He has recorded a win in each of his last five starts. Baseball America lists Holmberg as the sixth best prospect in the Diamondbacks organization.

“He has been steady and consistent as Visalia’s number one starter by keeping the ball low in the zone and inducing ground balls while also racking up strikeouts,” Baarns said.  “He has also shown the ability to make in-game adjustments when he does not have his best stuff.”

SS Chris Owings -The Diamondbacks first pick in the 2009 draft (41st overall) is hitting the ball well in his second season at the High-A level. The shortstop is batting .325 with 62 hits, nine home runs and 21 RBI. Baseball America ranks Owings as the seventh best prospect in the Arizona system.

The Diamondbacks have high expectations for Owings to be a mainstay at the big league level. “He has made great strides at the plate this year while showing great tools at shortstop,” Baarns said. “Arizona considers him a possible successor to Stephen Drew in the future.”

Any shortstop in the California League not named Billy Hamilton is unlikely to start in the All-Star Game, but Owings will certainly be a strong candidate to be in attendance.

Thanks for following along with our California League All-Star previews. The All-Star ballots will be out shortly and in a few weeks we will know the definitive list of players who will be in Winston-Salem for the 2012 All-Star Game festivities.

Meanwhile, the Dash begin a big series tonight in Zebulon against the Carolina Mudcats. First pitch is slated for 7:15. Join us on the Pre-Game Dash starting at 7:00.

-Mike

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