Results tagged ‘ Dan Black ’

Coats’ MVP case

Jason Coats (right) is a contender to win Winston's fourth straight MVP award (Jody Stewart/W-S Dash).

Jason Coats (right) is a contender to win Winston’s fourth straight MVP award (Jody Stewart/W-S Dash).

Outfielder Jason Coats has earned a well-deserved promotion to Double-A Birmingham after turning in one of the best seasons by an offensive player in the Carolina League this season.

Even though he will spend his final few weeks in the Southern League, Coats is on a short list of MVP contenders here in the CL. He is likely the Dash’s best chance to continue an incredible streak. Winston-Salem has claimed the league’s Most Valuable Player award in each of the previous three seasons.

No team had accomplished this feat since Lynchburg rattled off four consecutive MVPs from 1983-86. Here is how Coats’ numbers compare to those of the last three MVPs in the Dash purple:

2011 – Ian Gac: .279, 33 HR, 96 RBIs
2012 – Dan Black: .315, 17 HR, 88 RBIs
2013 – Chris Curley: .280, 24 HR, 92 RBIs
2014 – Jason Coats: .291, 15 HR, 72 RBIs

Coats’ promotion is a huge step for a tremendous player, and it is what Minor Leagues ultimately want. However, this jump to Double-A prevents Coats from logging 20 more games in Winston-Salem. Gac, Black and Curley all started and finished their MVP seasons in High-A.

If you extrapolate Coats’ numbers out over these final 20 games, you would get 18 homers and 85 RBIs, which are both right in the range of the MVP trio listed above.

Fortunately, though, Coats is not fighting against those numbers and players. He is competing with the current crop of Carolina Leaguers. The Allen, Texas, native leaves the Carolina League while still leading the way in hits (125), doubles (35), total bases (209), and games played (115).

He is currently in the top 10 in the three triple crown categories listed above: ninth in batting average, tied for fourth in home runs and second in RBIs.

Coats has superior numbers to most players in the Carolina League. His main competition figures to come against Myrtle Beach’s Joey Gallo, who dominated this league, but only for two months. He hit .323 with 21 homers and 50 RBIs in just 58 games, leading the Pelicans to an emphatic first-half Southern Division title.

However, Coats has a tremendous case, and one that could lead Winston-Salem to history. For now, we thank the former TCU star for all he brought to the Dash. Maybe he will leave us with a parting gift in a few weeks when the MVP award is announced.

– Brian

A 2012 encore?

Tommy Thompson will don the Dash purple again in 2014 (Steve Orcutt/W-S Dash).

Tommy Thompson will don the Dash purple again in 2014 (Steve Orcutt/W-S Dash).

The 2012 season was a special one in Winston-Salem. Thanks to the White Sox 2014 field staff assignments, the three leaders of that squad are back for another go-around this summer.

Tommy Thompson will lead the Dash this season, with pitching coach J.R. Perdew and hitting coach Gary Ward also returning to the Triad.

The Dash’s 2012 season was one for the record books. Here are some of my favorite stats from that season:

  • The Dash finished with the best record in full-season Minor League Baseball (87-51-1), narrowly edging out the Asheville Tourists (Low-A, Colorado) and the Indianapolis Indians (Triple-A, Pittsburgh) for the top mark.
  • This record is good for the second-best mark in the 110-year history of the franchise. Only the 1950 Winston-Salem Cardinals (106-47) had a better record. That team is the best in the history of the Carolina League.
  • Thompson won the circuit’s Manager of the Year Award, which was Winston’s third in the previous four years. Dan Black collected the club’s second straight Most Valuable Player honor.
  • The Dash went 15-3-3 in home series and never suffered a sweep at BB&T Ballpark. Winston-Salem’s 48-23 home record was the best in full-season Minor League Baseball.
  • Five players from that squad have already advanced to the big leagues, while 14 others have made it to Triple-A since appearing on that team.
  • These three men led the Carolina League past the California League 9-1 in the 2012 California-Carolina League All-Star Game. That victory snapped the Carolina League’s three-game losing streak in the series.

There is no question that Tommy, J.R. and Gary will have a tough time replicating the success they shared during the 2012 season. However, Winston-Salem fans have to be excited about what their reunion could mean for the Dash in 2014.

– Brian

Prospect All-Stars, Top 20 rankings

Adam Heisler and four Dash teammates from 2013 on the Organizational All-Star roster (Jody Stewart/W-S Dash).

Adam Heisler and four Dash teammates from 2013 appeared on the White Sox Organizational All-Star roster (Jody Stewart/W-S Dash).

October is a time for reflection in the baseball world. Fans and organizations can look back at what happened this past season and how the system looks moving forward.

The 2013 season was a productive one for many White Sox prospects, and honored some of these players on their Organizational All-Star team. One player represented each position, and five of them played in Winston-Salem for part or all of this season:

Catcher – Kevan Smith
Second baseman – Micah Johnson
Third baseman – Chris Curley
Outfielder (1 of 3) – Adam Heisler
Relief pitcher – Daniel Webb

Four other alumni appeared on the All-Star team:

First baseman – Dan Black
Shortstop – Marcus Semien
Left-handed starter – Spencer Arroyo
Right-handed starter – Erik Johnson

In other words, nine of the 12 players on this All-Star team have played in Winston-Salem, and two of the remaining three thrived at lower levels and are on track to play at BB&T Ballpark soon.

So, what did the 2013 season do for these All-Stars and others in Chicago’s system? released their offseason Top 20 White Sox prospect list, and half of them have played in Winston-Salem during their professional careers.

Erik Johnson headlines this list as the Sox top prospect, and he joins Micah Johnson (3), Courtney Hawkins (4), Marcus Semien (5) and Scott Snodgress (6) as a Dash alumni quintet in the top six. Only Tim Anderson, the White Sox first-round selection this year and a player on the Dash’s radar for 2014, is among the six best prospects in the system without a trip to Winston.

You can view the entire list here, which features six Dash alumni in the top 10.

More prospect rankings will be published throughout the offseason, but it is always fun to take a look as they are released.

– Brian

Top 10 of 2013 – #3: Curley named CL’s MVP

Chris Curley received his MVP award in the Dash's home finale August 30 (Jody Stewart/W-S Dash).

Chris Curley received his MVP award in the Dash’s home finale August 30 (Jody Stewart/W-S Dash).

Previous Top 10 Moments:
#10: Dash clinch winning record
#9: Comeback in Delaware
#8: 17 runs in six innings
#7: Buckner sets RBIs record
#6: Attendance record on July 4
#5: Beck, Blough toss gems
#4: Four alumni jump to MLB

Moment #3 – August 29
Four alumni promoted to big leagues

After the 2010 season, the Braves released Chris Curley. The Kentucky native remained in professional baseball by signing with the independent Florence Freedom in his home state. During the 2011 season, Curley thrived in the Frontier League but was disappointed when no affiliated organization called.

Curley admitted that he stopped worried about rejoining Minor League Baseball in 2012. He just played for the love of the game. Sure enough, he did get another chance with the White Sox in early July, and his good work with Kannapolis in the regular season and Winston-Salem in the playoffs earned him a spot on the Dash’s 2013 roster. Curley rewarded the organization with the best season of his career.

By themselves, Curley’s offensive numbers are tremendous:
.280, 24 HR, 92 RBI, 149 H, 251 TB, 90 R, 14 SB

When comparing those statistics to his peers, one has to be even more impressed. Curley led the Carolina League in homers, RBIs, runs, total bases and hits. In all of High-A baseball, which includes the offensive-heavy California League, the Campbellsville University product was sixth in homers, tied for sixth in RBIs, tied for sixth in total bases, tied for seventh in runs and ninth in hits.

There is no question that Curley was the most complete offensive performer in the Carolina League in 2013, and managers, general managers and media members voted him the circuit’s Most Valuable Player. Not only was this honor an incredible one for Curley, but it was a landmark achievement for the Dash’s franchise as well.

Curley’s efforts yielded Winston-Salem’s third consecutive MVP award. The Dash became the fourth organization in CL history to boast the league’s top honor in three straight seasons, which is one shy of the league record (Lynchburg, 1983-86).

Last year, Dan Black hit .315 with 17 home runs and 88 RBIs en route to the MVP. Black helped the Dash post the best regular season record in full-season Minor League Baseball. Ian Gac began the impressive streak in 2011. Gac went yard 33 times, two homers shy of the single-season Winston-Salem record, and drove in 96 RBIs.

Another year, another league MVP for the Dash. Curley was a stabilizing force within the Dash’s lineup, and he was rewarded for his efforts.

Check out the Dash Top 10 tomorrow for our second-best moment of 2013. It was a BB&T Ballpark first. Talk to you then.

– Brian

Notes from around the system

Former Dash shortstop Marcus Semien was named a Double-A Year-End All-Star (Steve Orcutt/W-S Dash).

Former Dash shortstop Marcus Semien was named a Double-A Year-End All-Star (Steve Orcutt/W-S Dash).

The minor league regular season wraps up Monday, so playoff races are winding down while All-Star teams are announced. It is no surprise, then, that there has been plenty of activity within the White Sox system. Here are some notes:

  • Triple-A Charlotte concludes its 24-year run at Knights Stadium in Fort Mill, S.C., this weekend. The Knights will move to the second BB&T Ballpark in Minor League Baseball for next season. The new facility will be in downtown Charlotte, and the organization is already gearing up for the big opening.
  • At the Double-A level, a pair of 2012 Winston-Salem alumni were honored earlier today. First baseman Dan Black and shortstop Marcus Semien have earned spots on the Southern League’s Year-End All-Star team. The 2012 Carolina League MVP, Black is hitting .289 with 17 homers and 81 RBIs, numbers that are very similar to his efforts here in the Triad last year (.315, 17 HR, 88 RBIs).
  • Prior to his promotion to Triple-A earlier this month, Semien was an MVP candidate in the SL. The former California star hit .290 with 15 homers and 49 RBIs in 105 games with the Barons. Since joining the Knights, Semien is a .246 hitter with four long balls and 14 RBIs.
  • Plus, Semien’s 108 total runs between Birmingham (90) and Charlotte (18) are good for a share of the top spot in all of Minor League Baseball. He is tied with highly-touted prospects Byron Buxton (Minnesota) and Chris Taylor (Seattle) in this category.
  • In short-season baseball, Great Falls continued their impressive playoff streak Friday night. In their regular season home finale, the Voyagers clinched a postseason berth for the seventh consecutive season with an 8-7 victory over Billings.
  • Thus, Great Falls will join Birmingham as White Sox affiliates in the playoffs. Like the Dash, Charlotte, Kannapolis and Bristol will not be vying for a league crown next week.

Winston-Salem will open a three-game set in Wilmington tonight at 6:05. Stay tuned for a preview of the Dash’s final series opener of the season.

– Brian

Game 128 Preview – Dash at Potomac

Game #128 – Road Game #65
Winston-Salem Dash (24-33, 62-65) at Potomac Nationals (37-20, 79-47)
Wednesday, August 21 – 7:05 p.m.
Pfitzner Stadium (Woodbridge, Va.)


The Dash won back-to-back games at Frederick to earn a series split. Now, Winston-Salem heads to Potomac for the first of three against a Nationals squad that has won 10 in a row.

Bryan Blough leads all of High-A baseball in innings pitched (Jody Stewart/W-S Dash).

Bryan Blough leads all of High-A baseball in innings pitched (Jody Stewart/W-S Dash).


Micah Johnson – 2B
Joey DeMichele – SS
Chris Curley – 3B
Kevan Smith – C
Courtney Hawkins – CF
Mark Haddow – DH
Josh Richmond – RF
Jeremy Farrell – 1B
Grant Buckner – LF
Bryan Blough – RHP


  • Bryan Blough leads the Carolina League and High-A baseball with 151.2 innings pitched thus far this season. Blough has a 14-inning lead on Frederick’s Zach Davies for the top spot in the CL, while he is three and a third innings better than Stockton’s Tanner Peters for the lead among High-A hurlers.
  • Chris Curley paces the CL in home runs (23) and RBIs (89), hits (140) and runs scored (83). He also leads Salem’s Keury De La Cruz by 43 for the league lead in total bases with 238. Curley is trying to become the third straight Dash slugger to earn the league MVP honors, joining Ian Gac (2011) and Dan Black (2012).
  • Winston-Salem has a stranglehold over the RBIs leaderboard in the Carolina League. Four of the top eight run producers on the circuit play for the Dash: Curley (89, 1st), Jeremy Farrell (67, 6th), Kevan Smith (63, 7th) and Courtney Hawkins (62, 8th).
  • The only season series battle that is still up for grabs for the Dash is their 20-game season set with Potomac. Thus far in 2013, Winston-Salem is 7-6 against the P-Nats, who have won 10 in a row entering Wednesday. However, Potomac has claimed five of the first seven meetings at Pfitzner Stadium.
  • The P-Nats have a .627 winning percentage, which is just shy of the Dash’s mark from last season (.630). It proved to be the best winning percentage among the 120 full-season Minor League Baseball teams.


The Pregame Dash begins at 6:50 p.m. and features a chat with Winston-Salem manager Ryan Newman. Fans can listen live here.

– Brian

Breaking down the CL MVP race

With less than four weeks remaining in the 2013 regular season, the race for the 2013 Carolina League MVP is heating up. With that in mind, it is time to break down some of the leading candidates as we head down the stretch:

Chris Curley has been the most consistent hitter in the CL in 2013 (Steve Orcutt/W-S Dash).

Chris Curley has been the most consistent hitter in the CL in 2013 (Steve Orcutt/W-S Dash).

INF Chris Curley (Winston-Salem)

Unlike a few of the other candidates, Chris Curley has been in the CL for the entire 2013 campaign. In 109 games with the Dash, Curley is leading the circuit in several offensive categories, including home runs (22), RBIs (82), hits (127), runs (78) and total bases (219). He has also been valuable from a defensive standpoint, playing in 68 games at shortstop and 30 at third base.

While other parts of the Winston-Salem lineup have been hit by injuries or slumps, Curley has been extremely consistent. Manager Ryan Newman can pencil him in to the number three spot in his lineup everyday and expect offensive production and solid defense.

That consistency could be what pushes him past others in the running who have been moved up to Double-A or have not had as many opportunities to help their team. It also helps that Curley plays on the team with the best offense on the circuit, with the Dash averaging 5.3 runs per contest. If Curley wins, it would make him the third straight Dash swinger to collect the honor after Ian Gac (2011) and Dan Black (2012) won the CL MVP over the past two seasons.

Cody Anderson has been one of the top pitchers in the CL in 2013 (

Cody Anderson has been one of the top pitchers in the CL in 2013 (

RHP Cody Anderson (Carolina)

While some more well-known names like Francisco Lindor and Tyler Naquin have put up some big numbers for the Mudcats this year, Anderson gives his team a very good chance to win every time he takes the mound. The righty has posted an 8-4 record with a 2.84 ERA, good for second among qualifying starters in the league this year. Anderson is in the hunt for the Carolina League Pitcher of the Year award with the likes of former Winston-Salem’s Chris Beck and Myrtle Beach’s Luke Jackson.

Carolina is also 12-10 in Anderson’s 22 starts, which isn’t overly impressive until you see that their record in games he doesn’t start is just 34-56. Lindor and Naquin are great players in their own right, but Anderson is a major reason the Muddies are in pole position for the second playoff spot in the Southern Division.

Robby Hefflinger mashed 21 home runs before the Braves moved him up to Mississippi (

Robby Hefflinger hit 21 home runs before the Braves moved him up to Double-A Mississippi (

OF Robby Hefflinger (Lynchburg)

In the first half, Hefflinger was arguably this league’s most feared hitter. The former seventh rounder was hitting .286 and led all of the CL in homers with 21 when he left for Double-A Mississippi near the end of June. His slugging average (.579) is more than 40 points higher than the next-closest Carolina League swinger.

However, he has not played a game for Lynchburg in more than a month. Still, one could make a compelling case that his departure has shown just how valuable he was. The Hillcats finished in second place in the first-half Northern Division standings and now find themselves in the basement in half two.

19-year-old Rougned Odor tore his way through the CL this season (

19-year-old Rougned Odor tore his way through the CL this season before he was promoted (

INF Rougned Odor (Myrtle Beach)

Odor has put up some very good numbers by any standards in 2013, but when you factor in that he’s just 19 years old and was playing in High-A for the first time this season, those numbers look even better. The Venezuela native hit .303 in 99 games for the Pelicans and formed the best defensive middle infield duo in the league with shortstop Luis Sardinas before they were both promoted to Double-A Frisco last week.

Odor leads the CL with 33 doubles and remains in the top five in stolen bases (27), extra-base hits (42) and total bases (170). While he may not quite have the numbers of Curley, it definitely does not hurt his case that Myrtle Beach has the best overall mark in the Southern Division this year and is just 1-5 since he was promoted on August 1.

Winston-Salem begins a six-game road trip tonight at LewisGale Field against the Salem Red Sox. Check back later for our preview of this evening’s series opener.

– Rob

Minor league road trips through TV, Twitter

Double-A Birmingham’s roster boasts plenty of Dash alums, and a handful of them were featured in a great video piece by WVTM-TV, the NBC affiliate in Birmingham. A reporter tagged along with the Barons on a road trip to Huntsville, the shortest trip for the Barons in the Southern League.

You can view the insightful story here, with thoughts from former Winston-Salem stars Dan Black, Mike Blanke, Salvador Sanchez and Trayce Thompson.

Speaking of travel stories, Low-A Kannapolis enjoyed quite a journey last night and through much of this morning. The Intimidators made one of their longer trips of the season from Delmarva, Md., to Charleston, W.Va. According to Google Maps, the trip is about seven hours, but it seems like it took a bit longer than expected…

As a veteran of driving through the West Virginia mountains, I can relate to their tribulations. They will try to overcome their bumpy ride tonight against the West Virginia Power, Pittsburgh’s Low-A club.

Fortunately, Winston-Salem’s return trip from Zebulon is only a journey of two hours and 15 minutes. Based on some of these stories, we are very thankful for that. The Dash aim for a win in the finale of their eight-game, nine-day road trip tonight at 6:15. Stay tuned to the blog for a preview.

– Brian

8 Dash alums named SL All-Stars (EDIT: Now 9)

Dan Black and seven other Dash alums are Southern League All-Stars (Steve Orcutt/W-S Dash).

Dan Black and eight other Dash alums are Southern League All-Stars (Steve Orcutt/W-S Dash).

UPDATE (2 p.m. Wednesday): Birmingham closer Taylor Thompson was added as a replacement to the roster, so the Barons now have nine Southern League All-Stars, all of whom played in Winston-Salem. Thompson, who suited up for the Dash from 2010 to 2012, is 3-1 with a 2.42 ERA and 11 saves in 28 appearances. The rest of the post from Tuesday is below.

Propelled by plenty of Winston-Salem alums, Double-A Birmingham rolled to a first-half Southern League North Division title.

Eight men who contributed to that postseason run, all of whom donned the Dash purple prior to their climb to Double-A, have been named SL All-Stars, the league’s office announced Tuesday afternoon.

Here are the players, followed by their year(s) with the Dash and their 2013 numbers with the Barons:

1B Dan Black (2012): .283, 8 HR, 52 RBIs in 78 games
C Mike Blanke (2012): .257, 5 HR, 33 RBIs in 52 games
RHP Erik Johnson (2012): 8-2, 2.23 ERA, 74 Ks in 14 appearances (all starts)
RHP Ryan Kussmaul (2010-11): 2-1, 2.20 ERA, 33 Ks in 19 appearances
RHP Nick McCully (2012): 7-2, 2.63 ERA, 45 Ks in 17 appearances (10 starts)
SS Marcus Semien (2012): .263, 7 HR, 29 RBIs in 80 games
LHP Scott Snodgress (2012): 8-7, 4.97 ERA in 16 appearances (all starts)
1B Andy Wilkins (2011): .288, 10 HR, 49 RBIs in 67 games

Both Johnson and Wilkins will not participate in the Southern League All-Star Game because they have been recently promoted to Triple-A Charlotte.

The 2013 Southern League All-Star Game will be played on July 17 at The Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville, home of the Jacksonville Suns.

– Brian

Still plenty of positives

Dan Black is shining for Double-A Birmingham after a tremendous 2012 in the Triad (Steve Orcutt/W-S Dash).

Dan Black is shining for Double-A Birmingham after a tremendous 2012 in the Triad (Steve Orcutt/W-S Dash).

Even though the Dash have dropped three in a row, there are plenty of positive notes to hit on during this Tuesday afternoon. How about an optimistic set of Dash Dots? Last time we did that, Winston-Salem mustered a sweep at Frederick (proof here). Here’s hoping for a similar result.


  • Dating back to last season, Winston-Salem outfielder Adam Heisler has reached base in 34 straight games, which is tied for the second-longest current streak in Minor League Baseball. High Desert’s Jamal Austin has reached safely in 38 straight games, while Nashville’s Scooter Gennett also has a 34-game run.
  • Heisler made his way aboard in the final three contests of 2012 with rookie-level Great Falls before finding his way on base in all 31 games thus far this season (19 with Low-A Kannapolis and 12 with Winston-Salem). Heisler has hit safely in 27 of these 34 games, and he owns a .303 (40-for-132) average with 15 RBIs and 23 runs scored during this streak.
  • Winston-Salem leads the Carolina League in fielding percentage (.976), and the Dash are tied with Potomac for the fewest errors on the circuit (28). The Dash stumbled out of the gates defensively, amassing 10 errors in the first four games and 21 in the first 14. Since then, though, the Dash have only made seven defensive miscues in their last 17 games.
  • Dash alum Jordan Danks hit a game-winning home run in the eleventh inning against Kansas City Monday, helping the White Sox avoid a sweep against the surging Royals. It was Danks’ first homer of the season.
  • In that ballgame, Addison Reed, who shined with Winston in 2011, earned his 11th save. He also has a win, which means that Reed has had some factor in the decision in 12 of the White Sox first 13 wins.
  • How about the start for Double-A Birmingham? The Barons are a Southern League-best 20-10 on the season, including a 13-2 record at home. Birmingham just wrapped up a five-game sweep of Chattanooga over the weekend with a thrilling 16-14 win Sunday afternoon.
  • Multiple 2012 Dash alums are at or near the top of the SL in a handful of offensive categories. Dan Black is currently leading in batting average (.340) and RBIs (25) and sits second in hits (35). He is only two behind fellow Baron and former Winston-Salem player Marcus Semien, who tops the league in hits with 37. Trayce Thompson also has the second-most runs (24) on the circuit.
  • On the pitching side, Steve McCray and Scott Snodgress are two of five pitchers in the SL who have won four games this season, while Erik Johnson (third, 1.30) and Spencer Arroyo (ninth, 2.36) are in the top 10 on the circuit in earned run average. Taylor Thompson is tied for third with five saves thus far this season, too.
  • Vine is one of the newest social media platforms, and both Dash players and Dash fans are having fun with it. Check out Courtney Hawkins’ clips from the Dash’s MVP Education Day at BB&T Ballpark last Saturday. Plus, Dash fan Eric Martinez sums up a Saturday night game here.

The Dash try to avoid losing their fourth straight home game, something they have only done once in BB&T Ballpark history, tonight at 7 against Frederick. Pregame coverage begins at 6:45 here.

– Erika, Rob and Brian


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