June 2012

Familar Face Returns to Winston-Salem

The White Sox announced a roster move Saturday that sends a familiar face with a new role back to Winston-Salem. Salvador Sanchez arrives after pitching in three games last week, two appearances for Bristol and one with Kannapolis. In a corresponding move, the Dash have released Jake Wilson.

Sanchez hit .241 with five home runs and 58 RBI in 115 games as an outfielder for the Warthogs in 2008. He returned to the High-A level in 2009 and was a member of the inaugural Dash roster. Sanchez recorded similar numbers to his previous season, hitting .246 in 114 games. His power did increase; Sanchez upped his home run total to 16 and finished with 63 RBI.

Sanchez played 114 games for the Dash in their inaugural season (Brian Westerholt/Four Seam Images).

Sanchez’s journey through the minors has been unique. He was signed by the White Sox in 2004 as an outfielder and reached as high as Double-A Birmingham, even making the Southern League All-Star team in 2010. He never got higher than Double-A and signed as a free agent with the Rangers organization in 2010. Texas converted Sanchez to a pitcher but cut him before the season began. The White Sox resigned Sanchez and decided to keep him as a pitcher.

Sanchez’s path as a pitcher is slowly progressing. The Dominican Republic native appeared in just two games last season for rookie Great Falls, throwing an inning of work in both appearances and allowing one hit.

This season, Sanchez began in rookie Bristol where he pitched two perfect innings, one on June 21 and another on June 23. Sanchez made one appearance for Kannapolis, recording a scoreless inning of relief.

It has been a busy month for transactions for the Dash. There were 25 transactions over the course of April and May, while June has seen 29 moves made affecting Winston-Salem. The flurry of activity began on June 8 when Kyle Bellamy was promoted to Double-A Birmingham. Six other Dash players followed him to Double-A over the course of this month.

Andre Rienzo returned from his 50-game suspension on June 14 and was sent up after being reinstated. Daniel Wagner and Spencer Arroyo were promoted two days after the All-Star break, with Jake Oester right behind a day later. This week Nick McCully and Jon Bachanov continued the exodus of talent from the Dash bullpen to Birmingham.


Dash send another to Double-A

The White Sox announced two roster moves Friday morning that affect the Dash, which has been a trend lately. Winston-Salem has made plenty of moves, like this set or this one or all of these. Winston-Salem sends Jon Bachanov to Double-A Birmingham and receives Bryan Blough. Both men are relievers, although Bachanov recently returned to the bullpen after a stretch in the starting rotation.

Jon Bachanov compiled a 6-2 record in 18 appearances for the Dash (Jody Stewart/W-S Dash).

Jon Bachanov advances to the Double-A level for the first time in his career. Bachanov has persevered through an elbow injury that caused him to miss all of the 2008 season. He was drafted by the Angels in the supplemental round of the 2007 draft but did not make his first professional appearance until 2009. The White Sox signed him before last season, and Bachanov split his time between the starting rotation and bullpen for Kannapolis.

This year, Bachanov was one of the Dash’s most reliable pitchers. He began in the bullpen and made eight appearances in relief. The right-hander’s first start occurred May 10 when he pitched three innings in game two of a doubleheader against Frederick.

Bachanov’s magnum opus occurred five days later. Making the start in another back-half of a twin ball, Bachanov fired six scoreless innings, striking out a season-high nine batters. After nine starts he was placed back in the bullpen and made one final relief appearance, picking up the win after striking out three batters in two innings of work.

Bryan Blough arrives in Winston-Salem after making one appearance with the Dash last year. On August 31, Blough pitched an inning and a third against Salem, allowing five hits and two runs. Extended time in Winston-Salem should allow Blough to ease more comfortably into High-A baseball.

Blough was drafted in the 18th round of the 2011 draft out of Kennesaw State University. He also spent two years at Middle Georgia College, where he led the team in strikeouts his sophomore season.

During the first half of 2012 the right-hander made 26 appearances out of the bullpen for Kannapolis. He struck out 30 batters in 37 and one-third innings while converting six of 11 save opportunities.


Dash In The NBA Draft

Trayce Thompson does not have the same eyebrow style as Anthony Davis, but the two compare nicely (SAB).

Many sports fans will be focused on this year’s NBA Draft, which takes place tonight in Newark, N.J. How would the Dash fit into this year’s draft class? Let’s find out:

Trayce Thompson = Kentucky F Anthony Davis
The top prospect on the Dash’s roster, Thompson comes from a basketball background. His father Mychal was the first overall pick in the 1978 NBA Draft by Portland, and his brothers Klay and Mychel both have NBA experience. Davis will almost certainly join the list of top overall picks tonight when New Orleans makes the first selection.

Carlos Sanchez = Florida SG Bradley Beal
Sanchez is thriving as a 19-year-old in the Carolina League, while Beal is the target of many teams in the top 5 of the NBA Draft despite the fact that he turned 19 today. Both of these men have certainly piqued scouts’ interests.

Brady Shoemaker = Kentucky SF Michael Kidd-Gilchrist
One word describes both of these men: motor. Both Shoemaker and Kidd-Gilchrist work extremely hard and never stop hustling when in the heat of battle. Plus, they are very productive in their respective sports. After all, Shoemaker is a Triple Crown candidate, while MKG is likely a top 5 pick.

Dion Waiters even looks like Juan Silverio (USA Today).

Juan Silverio = Syracuse SG Dion Waiters
Both of these guys have plenty of potential while still having some untapped potential. Waiters plays the game with a smooth confidence, which is how Silverio mans third base. Plus, these two look very similar.

Jake Petricka = North Carolina F Harrison Barnes
Both of these young men have been highly touted, yet they have also had to go through some scrutiny based on their play lately. The reality is that both Petricka and Barnes will be solid talents at the next level. They just need to properly develop their abilities.

Michael Earley = Weber State PG Damian Lillard
Earley and Lillard were unknowns to Dash fans and NBA fans, respectively, a year ago. Today, both are extremely important to the fans involved. Earley earned a starting spot on the Carolina League All-Star squad after skipping Low-A, while Lillard was a late bloomer for a mid-major program. Earley is now on the radar of folks in the CL, while Lillard is projected as a top 10 pick in tonight’s draft.

Dan Black = Connecticut C Andre Drummond
This one is pretty simple. Black is big for baseball standards (6’5″, 240 lbs.), and Drummond is a banger inside the paint (6’10”, 270 lbs.).

– Brian and Mike

Dash Set To Square Off With Bundy

(Photo courtesy of the Frederick Keys).

Winston-Salem boasts the best offense in the Carolina League, with league-leading figures in batting average (.279) and runs per game (5.6). Tomorrow night at BB&T Ballpark, the Dash will have quite an assignment. Frederick right-hander Dylan Bundy, the fourth-overall pick in last year’s MLB Draft, is scheduled to start.

Bundy is 3-2 with a 3.42 earned run average in five High-A starts this season. The Tulsa, Okla., native began his minor league career in Low-A Delmarva, where he did not allow an earned run in 30 innings of work.

This will not be Bundy’s first appearance inside BB&T Ballpark. He tossed a scoreless sixth inning during the California-Carolina League All-Star Game eight days ago.

Winston has a highly-touted prospect taking to the mound, too. Righty Jake Petricka will start for the Dash.

Mike had a chance to chat with Bundy prior to the game Tuesday, and you can listen to that interview below. Also, tickets can be purchased for tomorrow’s game here.

– Brian

Dash Add One, Promote Two

The White Sox made three roster moves affecting the Dash Tuesday.  Nick McCully was promoted to Double-A Birmingham, Kyle Shelton was sent back to Triple-A Charlotte, and Kannapolis infielder David Herbek moved up to the Dash. Both McCully and Herbek advance to a new level in minor league baseball for the first time, while Shelton is back with Charlotte after spending a brief stint with the Dash for the second time this season.

Nick McCully earned his first promotion to the Double-A level (Steve Orcutt/W-S Dash).

McCully’s departure continues the exodus of talented arms from the Dash bullpen as he joins fellow relievers Leroy Hunt and Kyle Bellamy in Birmingham. McCully made 24 relief appearances for Winston-Salem and compiled a 4-3 record with a 2.89 ERA. He also converted five of his seven save opportunities.

This is McCully’s second year in the White Sox organization after being signed before the 2011 season. The St. Louis Cardinals drafted McCully in the ninth round of the 2009 draft and used him as a starting pitcher, but he was released after the 2010 season. Chicago’s idea to turn McCully into a reliever seems to have paid off.

Shelton played in one game for the Dash in his second stint with the team. He started at third on June 22 against Potomac and finished the night 1-for-3. The versatile Shelton, who can play almost every position in the field, took a few reps behind the plate as a catcher before batting practice on Monday.

Herbek joins the Dash after playing 43 games with Kannapolis this season. He batted .214 with 31 hits, nine RBI and 28 runs. Herbek was drafted in the 15th round of the 2011 MLB Draft out of James Madison University and spent last season playing for rookie-level Great Falls. Herbek hit .262 in 70 games and led the team in runs scored (52) and doubles (19). Baseball America also ranked him as the best defensive player in the White Sox 2011 draft class.

The Dash continue to lose pieces from their first-half Southern Division title, but such is the double-edged sword of minor league teams: good teams are going to lose their good players. With young talent in Kannapolis and the 2012 draft picks beginning their journey through the minors, Winston-Salem should be fine moving forward as the second half progresses.


Heidenreich Talks About His Gem

Winston-Salem blanked Salem 8-0 Monday night thanks to Matt Heidenreich’s complete game. Heidenreich faced two more than the minimum while scattering four hits.

Heidenreich is tied for the league lead with two complete games, but he has an eight-inning complete game and tonight’s nine-inning gem. All but one other Carolina League complete game–Potomac’s Matt Swynenberg’s nine-inning effort April 29 against Myrtle Beach–have been seven innings or less. In other words, this was a big deal.

We caught up with Heidenreich immediately after his 98-pitch masterpiece. Here are his thoughts:

– Brian

All-Star Interviews: Bradley, Buckel, Roach

As Mike discussed earlier today, many players we saw compete in the 2012 California-Carolina League All-Star Game at BB&T Ballpark have since been promoted to Double-A. During our pregame coverage prior to the Midsummer Classic last week, we chatted with three of them.

Salem outfielder Jackie Bradley, Jr., is now with Portland in the Red Sox system. Myrtle Beach ace Cody Buckel just debuted with Frisco on the Rangers’ farm. Finally, Lake Elsinore’s right-handed starter Donn Roach is now kicking and tossing for San Antonio within the Padres’ system.

Here are those three conversations. We will have some more All-Star interviews on the blog in the next few days.

– Brian

Midseason Promotions Around High-A Baseball

The Carolina League All-Star break occurs at approximately the same time as multiple other leagues around the minors. Thus, it becomes a popular time for promotions. The Dash sent Spencer Arroyo, Daniel Wagner and Jake Oester up to Double-A Birmingham the day after the All-Star Break and received Blair Walters from Kannapolis. While the Dash did not lose any of their three All-Stars to promotion, the same wasn’t true for all representatives of the California-Carolina League All-Star Game. Here are a few of the big names who have recently departed the High-A level.

Cody Buckel made his Double-A debut Sunday (Alex Yocum-Beeman/Frisco Roughriders).

Cody Buckel- The Rangers called up the 20-year-old Buckel the day after he pitched a scoreless second inning for the Carolina League All-Stars. Their 2nd round pick in 2010 led the league in every major statistical category for a pitcher. He finished with a 5-3 record and a 1.31 ERA. Buckel also had 91 strikeouts and a WHIP of 0.98. He made his Double-A debut Sunday night but picked up the loss after allowing five hits and two runs in four innings.

Buckel is a good friend of Trevor Bauer, the Arizona Diamondbacks top pick in the 2011 draft. Bauer was called up to the big league club Sunday night and will be the first member of the 2011 class to make it to the majors when he makes his debut Thursday night against the Atlanta Braves.

Jackie Bradley, Jr.- To the relief of every Carolina League pitcher, Jackie Bradley, Jr., was called up to Double-A Portland. The Red Sox center fielder set the tone for Salem in the leadoff spot, going on to record league bests in batting average, doubles, on-base percentage and walks.  In his first four games at the Double-A level Bradley Jr. is hitting .375 and has scored four runs. Outside of his offensive numbers, Bradley also has tremendous defensive range in center field.

Jeremie Tice- The Mudcats masher during the first-half of the season carried his big bat up to Double-A Akron. Tice was primarily a designated hitter for Carolina but spent a few games in left field and first base. In 52 games during the first half of the season, Tice hit .282 with 12 home runs, 47 RBI and a league-best slugging percentage of .580.   In three games with Akron, Tice is hitting .417 with a homer and five RBI.

Sugar Ray Marimon- The former Wilmington right-hander punched his way into Double-A after compiling a 4-2 record and 2.12 ERA in nine starts. Marimon struck out 60 batters and walked 18 in 68 innings. He will make his debut for the Northwest Arkansas Naturals Monday afternoon.

A few players from the California League were selected as All-Stars but had already been promoted from their High-A clubs. Most notably, Tony Cingrani of the Cincinnati Reds organization was sent from Bakersfield to Double-A Pensacola after compiling a 5-1 record and 1.11 ERA in the notoriously hitter-friendly California League. Cingrani also struck out 71 batters in just 56 and two-thirds innings. Cingrani has made four starts with the Double-A Blue Wahoos, with his best coming against Birmingham on June 8 when he pitched six scoreless innings, striking out nine batters.

Mid-season promotions change the dynamic of a team but are a necessary part of minor league baseball. The Dash lost many pieces from a title-winning first-half team, but, for the moment their three All-Stars remain on the roster. With each of the Southern Division teams losing key members, the Dash could be in line to win the second half as well.


Predicting Trayce Thompson’s Home Runs

Dash outfielder Trayce Thompson is tied for the Carolina League lead in home runs with 13, and two of them have been predicted.

We begin with his ninth home run of the season. Winston-Salem and Potomac played three innings before rain suspended play June 12. During the rain delay, this tweet made its way into the universe:

This twitter account is fake, which means that Thompson is not responsible for its tweets. However, someone is using it, and this person predicted a home run for the Dash outfielder.

Sure enough, when play resumed the next day, Thompson crushed a solo shot in the fourth inning, his next at bat. This fake account’s mastermind nailed it.

Let’s fast forward to yesterday’s 16-6 beatdown of the P-Nats. Thompson was at the plate in the seventh inning, and I called the shot on the air:

The Dash did score in all but one inning yesterday, so predicting offense wasn’t exactly like picking the Cubs to win the World Series. Still, pretty cool stuff.

Do you think Trayce will homer tonight? If so, you could add to the accurate predictions.

– Brian

Eating Lunch With Rollie Fingers

A group of Dash players had an interesting lunch this afternoon before coming to the ballpark. Hall of Fame reliever Rollie Fingers, who is signing autographs here in Woodbridge during tonight’s game, was at the same local barbeque restaurant. Not only did he chat with the players, but he picked up the tab for all of them. Check it out:

By the way, Fingers still has his famous mustache. He will be hanging out with fans tonight after kicking it with minor leaguers this afternoon. It sounds like Rollie gets it.

Finally, for your pleasure, here is Fingers. What a ‘stache.

– Brian