Dashing Around Baseball-May 1

The baseball season is officially a month old next week, but the changing of the calendar serves as a good marker to take stock of a team’s progression through the season. In edition to highlighting the significant news in the Carolina League and White Sox system, this edition of Dashing Around Baseball will analyze the seven other Carolina League teams and offer a quick prediction for how they will fare this month.

Call-up Season-Minor league teams evolve throughout the season with the inevitable rise and fall of players through their organizations. We have hit the point where early season performers are being rewarded with promotions.

Gattis hit nine home runs and 29 RBI in 21 games with Lynchburg (Jason Getz/Atlanta Journal Constitution)

Lynchburg’s Evan Gattis was leading the Carolina League in batting average, home runs, RBI, hits and extra base hits before being called up to Double-A Mississippi Monday.

Gattis also had a slugging percentage of .821, (anything in the .600 range is considered elite). We had already started engraving his name in the Home Run Derby Trophy for the California-Carolina League All-Star Game, alas he likely will not be in Winston-Salem come June 19th.

Myrtle Beach lost reliever Chad Bell to Double-A Frisco after the left-hander compiled a 1-0 record and 1.59 ERA in four appearances with the Pelicans. Bell struck out 12 batters in 11.1 innings.

The Mudcats also lost one of their best arms when southpaw T.J. House was bumped up to Double-A Akron. House went 2-0 with a 1.44 ERA in four starts with Carolina, striking out 26 batters in 25 innings. He is scheduled to debut tonight (Tuesday) for the Aeros.

May Musings-As the month progresses, Brian and I will delve more into first-half division championship contenders and give input on players who will be critical to their team’s chances. For now, here is a quick breakdown of each team:

  • Carolina-At the start of the year, the Mudcats had one of the best pitching staffs in the league with Clayton Cook, Mike Rayl and House. Now, Cook is on the DL and House is in Double-A. Center fielder Tyler Holt is hitting .347 and has a league-leading three triples to anchor the Carolina offense.
  • Frederick-The defending Mills Cup champions have struggled to emerge from the departure of a core of stars to Double-A. Salvation could arrive in the form of top prospect Dylan Bundy, who has pitched to near perfection at the Low-A level.
  • Lynchburg-The Hillcats are tied with the Dash for the fewest losses in the league thanks to a five-game win streak to open the season. Lynchburg has a gaping hole in production with the departure of Gattis, but the middle infield combo of Nick Ahmed and Tommy LaStella have the bats to keep the offense afloat.
  • Myrtle Beach-Arguably, the Pelicans have the best rotation in the Carolina League. The Pelicans 3.14 ERA is the lowest in the league. Cody Buckel, following in the form of best friend Trevor Bauer, has compiled a 2-1 record and 1.65 ERA in five starts. The Pelicans offense has talent, but is extremely young and has struggled so far at the plate.
  • Potomac-The Nationals are struggling but injuries have stripped this team of its best players. Anthony Rendon was the best player in the league before suffering an ankle injury, while highly touted pitchers Matt Purke and Robbie Ray are rehabbing prior injuries in extended spring training. When healthy, Potomac could be dangerous.
  • Salem-The rotation received a huge boost with the recent arrival of Matt Barnes. The Red Sox top pick in 2011 posted a 0.34 ERA in five starts with Low-A Greenville. Barnes also has laser-like control with 42 strikeouts to just four walks in 26.2 innings.
  • Wilmington-The Blue Rocks were inept at the plate for most of the month with one of the lowest slugging percentages in all of Minor League Baseball.  But Wilmington put together a four-game win streak to climb into second in the Northern Division. The lineup has the ability to break out of its slow start.

Around the Farm

2011 Dash alum Jared Mitchell is batting .341 for the Barons this season (Steve Orcutt/W-S Dash)

  • MLB’s White Sox beat writer Scott Merkin provides a comprehensive recap of the first month of the season for the White Sox. Jake Peavy’s dominance has led a reliable Chicago rotation. Peavy turned in back-to-back complete games in his last two outings and is holding batters to a .162 average.
  • The Knights have made the biggest news off the field as the proposed stadium in uptown Charlotte is becoming a near reality. The Knights recently announced a founding partner and naming rights deal for the ballpark.
  • Jared Mitchell is in the midst of a breakout season for Double-A Birmingham. The former White Sox top draft pick has a league-leading 20 RBI in 24 games. He also leads the league with a .471 on-base percentage and five triples.
  • Kannapolis recently lost seven-straight games and has fallen six games back of first in its division. One bright spot is Ross Wilson. The infielder is batting .341 with four home runs and and 13 RBI’s in 11 games with the Intimidators. Wilson also had a career night on Friday, hitting three home runs and driving in eight of the nine Intimidator runs in a 9-5 win.

Thanks for taking the time to Dash Around the Baseball. Keep checking the blog for updates on the Dash’s eight-game win streak. Tune into the Pregame Dash at 6:50 tonight to see if the Dash can continue their streak.

-Mike

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