Results tagged ‘ Kannapolis Intimidators ’
The 2016 season is almost a week old in the Minor Leagues, while the White Sox season is into its second week. Let’s take a look at some of the storylines around the organization.
MLB: Chicago White Sox (5-2)
The parent club has gotten off to the best start in the organization. It’s extremely early (I’ll be saying that a lot), but the Sox lead the Central Division by a half-game. One of the biggest reasons for this has been pitching. Chicago has a team ERA of 2.76, good for the third-best mark in the American League.
Former Dash left-handers Chris Sale (2010) and Carlos Rodon (2014) have started strongly. Sale is 2-0 with a 3.86 ERA in his first two starts, while Rodon threw seven strong innings in a tough-luck loss against the A’s on Wednesday. This Fangraphs article details why Rodon is likely to break out this year.
On the position player front, it’s fair to say outfielder Adam Eaton has had a memorable start. Through seven games, he leads the team in batting average (.417), on-base percentage (.481), and hits (10). Also, his wife Kate just gave birth to the couple’s first child. In this Chicago Tribune article, Eaton discusses his new life as both a father and a professional baseball player.
Right-hander Michael Ynoa, who pitched for the Dash last season, was called up while Eaton was on paternity leave. He became the 32nd player in Dash era to reach the majors. He was sent back down to Double-A without making an appearance, but he seems to be on the precipice of his first big league appearance.
Meanwhile, designated hitter Jose Abreu continues to destroy baseballs. He leads the team with two home runs, along with new third baseman Todd Frazier.
Triple-A: Charlotte Knights (1-4)
Unlike the White Sox, pitching has been the Achilles heel for the Knights thus far. Charlotte gave up seven earned runs on Monday in a loss to Norfolk to balloon their team ERA to 6.14, the highest mark in the International League. The squad has smashed a league-tying five home runs, though, with former San Francisco Giants catcher Hector Sanchez crushing two of them.
Outfielder Jason Coats, who spent a majority of 2014 with Winston-Salem, leads the team with a .455 batting average. He also tops the IL with 10 hits.
Double-A: Birmingham Barons (1-4)
Outside of a extra-inning victory on April 9 against Jacksonville, it has been a rough go for the Barons to begin 2016. Like Triple-A Charlotte, Birmingham has the highest team ERA in its league.
Some of the players who had integral roles in the Dash’s trip to the postseason last year have gotten off to slow starts. Shortstop Eddy Alvarez, outfielder Adam Engel, third baseman Trey Michalczewski and catcher Omar Narvaez are a combined 14-for-72 to begin the season. No need to stress though. We have seen what these players can do as the year progresses.
One of the most noteworthy members of the 2015 Dash in Birmingham is right-hander Carson Fulmer. Even though his first start was a bit rocky, the White Sox 2015 first-round pick left a strong impression on the organization during spring training.
Low-A: Kannapolis Intimidators (2-3)
After dropping their first three contests, the Intimidators have won two straight. They collected 10 runs in their series finale against Hickory on Sunday and then followed that up with a 2-1 victory against Delmarva on Monday.
One of the standouts so far is outfielder Tyler Sullivan. Normally known for his defense, the Intimidators’ leadoff man has a .421/.542/.579 batting line with three stolen bases through the first five contests.
Thanks for reading! We’ll have preview of tonight’s game against Myrtle Beach coming very shortly.
The Dash led 1-0 and were threatening for more in the sixth inning of their contest in Frederick on July 25. With two outs and the bases loaded, Keys manager Orlando Gomez walked out to the mound and took the baseball from his starting pitcher, southpaw Luis Gonzalez. Gonzalez had been strong, surrendering just one run on two hits in 5.2 innings. The reasoning behind the move, though, was simple: With right-handed hitting Jeremy Dowdy strolling to the plate, Gomez wanted right-hander Jimmy Yacobonis in the game.
Gomez’s decision worked to perfection. Yacobonis struck out Dowdy to end the threat, and the Keys would later win the game 2-1 in 11 innings.
It’s impossible to know what would have happened had Gonzalez been left in the game. But the numbers, while unavailable at the minor league level, strongly support Gomez’s decision. During the 2015 season, MLB right-handed hitters have batted .259/.326/.414 against southpaws. However, when facing fellow righties, that slips to .249/.303/.391.
It’s been even more pronounced for left-handed batters in The Show. Against opposite-handed pitchers, lefties have posted a .256/.321/.406 line that slips to .240/.303/.351 against hurlers of the same handedness.
While most managers in the Carolina League won’t play match-ups nearly as often as Gomez does for personnel reasons, Winston-Salem manager Tim Esmay doesn’t really have to worry about doing so. Behind his bullpen’s incredible second half, during which Dash relievers have recorded an earned run average of 1.83, has been the ability of his relievers to get both righties and lefties out.
Former Dash right-hander Peter Tago mainly used a curveball as a secondary pitch during his first four years of professional baseball after being drafted by the Colorado Rockies in the supplemental first round, 47th overall, in 2010.
However, upon arriving to White Sox Spring Training in February after being taken in the Triple-A phase of the Rule V Draft, Tago worked with Dash pitching coach J.R. Perdew and Kannapolis pitching coach Jose Bautista to develop a slider. The results have been staggering: During the four years Tago spent in the Colorado system, lefties bashed him to a .276/.406/.408 tune. However, across Kannapolis, Winston-Salem and Birmingham this season, left-handed batters have only hit .211/.302/.276.
“It’s just an easier pitch for me to throw as far as secondary to lefties,” said Tago, who was promoted to Double-A Birmingham on July 25. “It’s hard and it’s not easy to pick up out of my hand as compared to when I was throwing a curveball previously in my career.
“It’s based off the fastball – I can throw it with the same arm speed and same arm action as my fastball, and that is what gets the hitter to commit.”
Brian Clark’s effectiveness out of the bullpen this season has earned him a few spot starts as the year has worn on. The driving force behind that success is the ability of the left-hander to deal with right-handed hitters, whom he faces much more often on the bump. Clark, who has held righties to a .215/.311/.249 line while lefties have batted .254/.342/.284, credits that success to his slider.
“One of the most successful pitches I have as of late is a back-foot slider to a righty, where it just drops in right below their hands and almost hits them in the foot,” Clark said. “If they swing, it’s almost impossible to hit. I was also able to throw the slider backdoor, coming around out of the strike zone and coming back in on the plate to righties, who usually take that pitch for a strike.”
Since the Dash offense has scored three runs or fewer in more than half its contests this year, the Dash have needed their pitching staff to come through to make a run at the postseason. After a 3.62 ERA in the first half, Winston-Salem pitchers have registered a 2.54 ERA in half two. Winston-Salem owns the league’s best second-half mark at 24-15. Had it not been for a bullpen slinging hard sliders to retire both righties and lefties, the story might be much different.
On Friday, we reviewed the first month of the season for the Dash (they did lead the Carolina League in ERA). Today, we will examine the rest of the Chicago White Sox system to see how their Aprils went, starting from the top:
Chicago White Sox (MLB): An offseason that saw the White Sox acquire RHPs Jeff Samardzija and David Robertson, LHP Zach Duke, 1B Adam LaRoche, OF Melky Cabrera and UTL Emilio Bonafacio led to some believing that Chicago would contend in the American League. However, the White Sox struggled in the season’s first month and the rumbling has already begun about rebuilding around this core for 2016.
That being said, the core is the envy of nearly every team in baseball. Jose Abreu has mashed to a 126 wRC+, while Avisail Garcia has been a surprise to match that production so far. Meanwhile, the White Sox lineup has seen LaRoche (87 wRC+), Cabrera (75 wRC+), Alexei Ramirez (46 wRC+) and Adam Eaton (36 wRC+) get off to slow starts, meaning this talented lineup should start to turn things around and get hot at any moment.
The same could be said about the Chicago pitching staff. Both Chris Sale and Jose Quintana have posted ERAs above 5.00, with Samardzija currently at 4.78. The White Sox have also brought up top prospect and former Dash LHP Carlos Rodon, who has pitched to a 2.76 ERA in 6.1 innings thus far.
Although the White Sox are currently 7.0 games behind the Tigers, nearly everything has gone wrong for them so far, and turnarounds from what was supposed to be one of the deepest lineups and best starting pitching trios in baseball could make Chicago a team that makes a run later in the year.
Charlotte Knights (AAA): April saw Charlotte storm to a 13-7 start to take the early lead in the International League South division. Former Dash INF Carlos Sanchez has put together one of the best performances in all of Minor League Baseball. The 10th-ranked prospect in the White Sox system according to MLB.com, Sanchez is batting .407/.432/.582 with 10 doubles, two home runs and 15 RBIs. Nearly half of those RBIs came in a May 2 game against Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, when Sanchez went 4-for-4 with two homers and a double to drive in seven runs. That capped a run that saw Sanchez reach base in 10 straight plate appearances, recording a hit in nine of those.
Former Dash OF Trayce Thompson, the No. 19 White Sox prospect, has raked to a .326/.365/.517 tune with three triples, two home runs and 11 RBIs thus far. On the mound, RHP Erik Johnson, who pitched for Winston-Salem in 2012, leads the club with a 3-1 record and 2.04 ERA, fanning 19 in 17.2 innings.
The flip of the calendar to May also saw the White Sox release OF Jared Mitchell. The 2010 first-round pick was batting just .050 this season for Charlotte and was a .205 hitter with 10 homers in 144 Triple-A games.
With a record of 14-9, the Knights are enjoying the perch of the division by one game over the Durham Bulls (Tampa Bay Rays).
Birmingham Barons (AA): Like the Dash, the Barons had an up-and-down opening month of the season, finishing an even 10-10. Former Dash INF Tim Anderson, who is now the top-ranked prospect in the Chicago system with Rodon in the bigs, has stolen 11 bases and batted .309 with 13 RBIs in the early going. Meanwhile, 2014 Dash members Jacob May (.337/.378/.424, 10 SB) and Jason Coats (.340/.354/.532, 9 2B) reinforced an offense that ranks in the top half of the league in both batting average and slugging percentage. Coats did earn a late-April bump to Charlotte thanks to his strong production.
In the rotation, Frankie Montas and Myles Jaye, who both pitched in Winston-Salem last year, have helped lead a pitching staff that is just four off the lead for most strikeouts in the Southern League. Montas has a 2.63 ERA and 16 strikeouts in 13.2 frames, while Jaye is 2-1 with a 3.65 ERA and 20 punchouts against six free passes in 20.1 innings.
The Barons are currently 2.5 games behind the Tennessee Smokies (Chicago Cubs) in the Southern League’s North Division.
Kannapolis Intimidators (A): Former Dash manager Tommy Thompson and his Intimidators did not have a winning or losing streak of more than two games throughout April. LHP Jordan Guerrero (No. 29 White Sox prospect) has gotten off to a ridiculous start to the campaign. Guerrero has the sixth-best ERA (0.69) in all of Minor League Baseball, while his 0.77 WHIP ranks 18th. The southpaw is 3-0, has given up just 15 hits in 26.0 innings and fanned 26 against only five walks.
The Kannapolis offense has posted the third-best average and slugging percentage in the South Atlantic League. INF Chris Curley’s 20 RBIs lead the club, and he has hit .281/.326/.551 while smashing a team-high nine doubles and five roundtrippers. C Brett Austin, Rodon’s roommate at NC State, is batting .333/.453/.548 with three triples, and former Olympic silver medalist Eddy Alvarez has slashed .301/.396/.422 with six steals.
The Intimidators’ 10-13 record has them at the bottom of the SAL Northern Division, 6.0 games behind the Hickory Crawdads (Texas Rangers).
Stay tuned for our Dash game preview as they wrap up a four-game set Monday with the Wilmington Blue Rocks.
The Dash’s roster looks a bit different now than it did when the club was concluding its road trip in Lynchburg on Monday. Here is a look at what the White Sox announced Tuesday morning:
- RHP Brandon Hardin promoted to Double-A Birmingham from Winston-Salem
- RHP Myles Jaye assigned to Winston-Salem from Double-A Birmingham
- INF Zach Voight promoted to Winston-Salem from Low-A Kannapolis
- INF Nick Basto assigned to extended spring training from Winston-Salem
Hardin thrived in the back end of the Dash’s bullpen. He posted a 1.32 earned run average in 13.2 innings over 14 outings. The former Delta State product concludes this stint with Winston-Salem by recording a streak of seven consecutive scoreless outings, during which he logged four saves. He becomes the sixth Dash player promoted to Double-A or Triple-A thus far this season.
Jaye rejoins Winston-Salem after beginning the season with the Barons, which is where he finished the 2013 season. Jaye started the final game of Birmingham’s run to the Southern League Championship, a deciding Game 5 against Mobile last September. Thus far this season, Jaye struggled in the SL, posting an 0-6 record to go along with a 6.32 ERA. However, the former Toronto farmhand was stellar with the Dash in 2013. He went 9-6 with a 4.11 ERA in 20 starts in the Triad.
Voight will play in the Carolina League for the first time. In 26 games with the Intimidators, Voight hit .237 with one homer and eight RBIs. A 20th-round pick in 2012, the Denton, Texas, native led all White Sox farmhands with a .320 average and a .417 on-base percentage with rookie-level Great Falls a year ago.
Basto has been strong at the plate for Winston-Salem thus far this year. He leads all qualifying hitters on the club with a .293 average, and he also has driven in 20 runs.
Stay tuned for a full preview of Tuesday’s homestand opener with Potomac.
Four days ago, the Dash went through a double promotion, with Tyler Danish joining Winston-Salem from Kannapolis when Mike Recchia jumped to Double-A Birmingham.
On Monday morning, the White Sox announced a similar move, this time within the Dash’s bullpen. Right-hander Bryan Blough is heading to Double-A for the first time. In a corresponding move, southpaw Jose Bautista is set for his first stint in the Carolina League.
Blough has been with Winston-Salem since August of 2012, when he joined the Dash during their push to the Mills Cup Finals. He was an integral part of the Dash’s bullpen during that stretch run, and he became the Opening Day starter for Winston-Salem in 2013. Blough led the CL and finished second in the Minor Leagues with 172.2 innings pitched. He also paced the league in starts (28) and finished tied for the top spot in wins (11).
This season, Blough returned to the bullpen and posted a 1.93 earned run average in 13 appearances. He also logged four saves in five tries.
Bautista boasted a 0.92 earned run average in 10 appearances out of the Intimidators’ bullpen this year. The Dominican Republic native struck out 26 in 19.2 innings. He signed with the White Sox as an international free agent in 2009.
The Dash are enjoying their only day off this month on Monday. Winston-Salem embarks on an eight-game, seven-day road trip Tuesday.
Right-hander Tyler Danish will make his High-A debut Sunday afternoon against Frederick. Here are a few crazy notes on Danish in advance of his first effort in a Dash uniform:
- Danish has not given up a run in his last 22 innings, a streak that dates back to April 23.
- He has never given up more than one earned run in any of his first 22 Minor League appearances.
- His 0.71 earned run average is third among qualifying Minor League pitchers and second among current Minor Leaguers.
- Since the start of 2013, Danish boasts an ERA of 0.39. This includes his senior season of high school, when he did not surrender an earned run in 94 innings.
Danish will join us on the Pregame Dash at 1:45. You can catch the interview on wsdash.com/broadcast. Here are a few snippets from a great chat with the newest member of the Dash.
On what kind of pitcher he is:
“I’m an aggressive one. Just go out in the zone, get early swings and get early ground balls.”
On the pitch that needs the most work:
“I definitely need to work on my slider. I get a little behind on it, release it behind my head. It makes it just spin and it doesn’t move much. So, I’ve been working on trying to get out in front on my slider a lot more.”
On his time with Kannapolis:
“That team was fun to be around. It felt like a team atmosphere. We had fun every single time we went out there. That team likes to play and likes to play hard, so I’ll hopefully see some of those guys up here. It was just a fun team to be around altogether.”
On his first impressions of BB&T Ballpark:
“This is five-star for me. This is probably one of the best parks I’ve seen in the Minor Leagues. It’s an amazing place. It was breathtaking when I got here.”
Stay tuned for a full preview of Sunday’s series finale between Winston-Salem and Frederick.
Minor Leaguers’ primary goal is to advance in their organization. Two White Sox farmhands have jumped a level, the club announced Thursday. Tyler Danish, Chicago’s second-round pick in 2013, has joined the Dash from Low-Kannapolis, while fellow righty Mike Recchia is heading to Double-A Birmingham for the first time in his career.
Danish sizzled in the South Atlantic League to the tune of a 3-0 record and a 0.71 earned run average. The Florida native boasts the lowest ERA among active, qualifying Minor League pitchers. Chase Anderson does still qualify with a 0.69 ERA, but he was recently promoted to Arizona from Double-A Mobile.
Though he was strong in all seven outings with Kannapolis, Danish dominated in his final four efforts. He concluded his time with the Intimidators by rattling off 22 consecutive scoreless innings dating back to April 23.
In 22 career appearances in the Minor Leagues, Danish owns a 0.93 ERA (seven earned runs in 68 innings). The 19-year-old was drafted out of Durant High School in Plant City, Fla.
Danish will take Recchia’s spot in the rotation; therefore, the righty is slated to begin his High-A career Sunday at home against Frederick.
Recchia also thrived in seven starts before his promotion. He went 4-3 with a 2.90 ERA, which is good for the ninth-lowest mark in the Carolina League. The Worth, Ill., native also sits second in the CL and fourth in all of High-A baseball with 47 strikeouts.
This time last season, Recchia was in independent baseball with the Windy City ThunderBolts. The White Sox inked him to a deal in June, and he made 12 starts with the Dash from early August of 2013 until his final outing Tuesday in Myrtle Beach. He went 5-3 with a 3.71 ERA, capping his time in the CL with back-to-back seven-inning showings.
A key to Recchia’s success this season was his ability to shut down the first batter of the inning. He pitched 40.1 innings, which means he started 41 frames. Only five of those 41 leadoff hitters reached against him (three singles, one walk and one hit by pitch).
Fans can hear from Recchia on tonight’s Pregame Dash, which begins at 6:45 on 600 AM-WSJS in Winston-Salem. Stay tuned for a preview of tonight’s series lid-lifter against Frederick, which will be posted here on the Dash Board later today.
Two days after receiving left-hander Sean Bierman from Low-A Kannapolis, the Dash have added another former Intimidator southpaw to their bullpen. Sean Hagan will make his first trip to High-A, the White Sox announced Saturday morning. To make room for Hagan, the Sox placed right-hander Brandon Hardin on the disabled list, retroactive to Thursday.
A 31st-round pick from 2013, Hagan spent all of last season with short-season Great Falls, amassing a 6.19 earned run average in 17 relief efforts. He broke camp with Kannapolis and performed well in four outings. The St. John’s product surrendered just two runs in seven and two-thirds innings against South Atlantic League hitters.
Hardin, who has been a strong arm in the Dash’s bullpen over the last 12 months, has also made four appearances thus far this season. In three and a third innings, the Pinckneyville, Ill., native has given up just one run. Hardin’s last outing was last Saturday at Wilmington.
With the moves, the Dash’s roster sits at the Carolina League maximum of 25 players, along with four men on the disabled list. Stay tuned for a full preview of tonight’s game between the Dash and Salem Red Sox.
The Dash’s roster has not changed much thus far this season, but the White Sox did announce a pair of promotions affecting the Winston-Salem bullpen on Thursday afternoon. Evan Crawford has jumped up to Double-A Birmingham after two efforts in the Carolina League, while fellow southpaw Sean Bierman has earned a spot in the Dash’s clubhouse after starting the season in Low-A Kannapolis.
Crawford, who logged 10 appearances with the Toronto Blue Jays in 2012, joined the White Sox organization via the Triple-A phase of the Rule 5 Draft. He tossed two and two-thirds innings with Winston-Salem over two outings and surrendered two runs (one earned) on one hit. He will head to the Double-A level, where he has made 80 appearances over his seven-season minor league career.
Thanks to this promotion, the Dash have added another left-hander in Bierman, who made two starts with the Intimidators to begin the season. Bierman, who went 0-1 with a 7.00 earned run average in those efforts, was 11-8 with a 3.00 ERA in 31 outings with the Tampa Bay organization. He came over to the White Sox from the Rays as one of the players to be named later in the Jesse Crain trade, which was agreed to in July and completed in October.
As a result, the Dash’s roster remains at 25, with 13 of those men being pitchers. Winston-Salem aims to avoid a sweep at the hands of the Frederick Keys tonight at 7. A full preview is on the way later.
Each team in the system is at least 10 games into the season, so let’s spin around the organization and see how each team is doing thus far this season.
MLB: Chicago White Sox (7-6)
Chris Sale improved to 3-0 this season after Friday’s outing against the Indians, but the White Sox bats played a big role in the outcome. Sale grinded through five innings, allowing three runs and six hits while striking out five. The ace spoke with the Chicago Sun-Times following his start.
Infielder Marcus Semien has played well of late, recording hits in nine of his last ten games. Among those was this solo homer on Sunday against Cleveland:
In this whitesox.com article, learn more about Erik Johnson’s standing in the Chicago pitching rotation. Plus, Semien takes part in Jackie Robinson Day festivities on Tuesday and who Sale credits for the development of his changeup:
Thanks to the season-ending shoulder injury to Avisail Garcia, outfielder Jordan Danks was called up from Triple-A Charlotte to help fill the void. The Dash alumnus spoke with CSN Chicago about the opportunity:
Triple-A: Charlotte Knights (6-6)
Catcher Josh Phegley is off to a solid start in 2014. His .286 batting average currently ranks second on the team among qualifying players, and he has scored four runs in eight games.
The Knights opened their sparkling new Uptown Charlotte facility, the second BB&T Ballpark, on Friday night against the Norfolk Tides. For a recap of their historic evening, click here.
Double-A: Birmingham Barons (5-5)
The defending Southern League champions won three of five games against the Jacksonville Suns to reach the .500 mark. The Barons were washed out at Mobile on Monday night, so a doubleheader is on tap this evening.
Former Dash outfielder Trayce Thompson was recently profiled on MiLB.com talking about some of the valuable lessons he learned during Spring Training with the White Sox.
Low-A: Kannapolis Intimidators (4-7)
The Intimidators were swept in a four-game series at Greenville this weekend, the last contest a heartbreaking 5-4 setback to the Drive in 14 innings. Kannapolis looks to regain its footing this week in Hickory. That series opener was also postponed, so the Intimidators and Crawdads will play two this evening.
Infielder Cleuluis Rondon continues his development at the Low-A level. The Venezuelan native, who celebrated his 20th birthday on Sunday, is batting .298 with six RBIs, three runs scored and three stolen bases in 11 games.
Stay tuned for a preview of tonight’s homestand opener against Frederick.