Results tagged ‘ Marcus Semien ’

Opening Day roster breakdown

The Dash just released their 2015 Opening Day roster, so let’s delve a little deeper into some of the names to know for the upcoming season:

CJ Beatty was with Winston-Salem for a brief time in 2014 (Jody Stewart/W-S Dash).

CJ Beatty was with Winston-Salem for a brief time in 2014 (Jody Stewart/W-S Dash).

Winston-Salem Natives:
OF C.J. Beatty & INF Chris Jacobs

Last season, Beatty became the first Winston-Salem native to suit up for the club in the Dash era. The outgoing Beatty is back for more at BB&T Ballpark this summer, and he will be joined by Jacobs, another Winston-Salem native.

Both players have taken a winding road to get to this point. Beatty was originally drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals back in 2009 before being released by the organization following the 2010 season. The North Carolina A&T product spent four seasons in various independent leagues before hooking on with the Chicago White Sox in 2014. Meanwhile, Jacobs was a 2007 selection of the Los Angeles Dodgers and played seven seasons in their system before getting released this winter and signing with the White Sox.

The Corner Mashers:
INF Keon Barnum & INF Trey Michalczewski

Two of the Dash’s main power sources in 2015 figure to come from the corners of their infield. Both Barnum (supplemental first round, 2012) and Michalczewski (7th, 2013) were highly drafted by the White Sox coming out of high school. The Dash are hoping each player can build off their 2014 campaign, when the pair combined to drive in 135 runs. The switch-hitting Michalczewski was ranked by as the eighth-best prospect in the White Sox organization, while the lefty-swinging Barnum is 29th.

Returning Relievers:
RHP Brad Goldberg, LHP Sean Hagan, RHP Zach Isler, LHP Jefferson Olacio

Dash pitchers fanned the most opposing batters (1,087) in the Carolina League last season, and at least four of them will be back with the club in a bullpen role in 2015. Pitching coach J.R. Perdew also returns for a fourth consecutive season. Since Perdew rejoined Winston-Salem for his third tenure with the franchise in 2012, the club possesses a team earned run average of 3.85, which is third-best in the Carolina League during that span.

Why Walk?
RHP Tony Bucciferro & RHP James Dykstra

Speaking of returning pitchers, both Bucciferro and Dykstra come back to the Dash in 2015. If either right-hander is on the mound, expect opponents to try to swing away; the duo combined for 140 strikeouts against just 22 walks last year with Winston-Salem. The ability of each to pound the strike zone and pitch efficiently should help rest the bullpen and keep arms fresh throughout the year.

A 2012 Bounce-back?
LHP Matt Heidenreich & OF Keenyn Walker

Both Heidenreich and Walker turned in promising seasons for the Dash back in 2012. The pair are hoping that starting the 2015 campaign in Winston-Salem can help both them and the club rekindle the magic of 2012, when the Dash went 87-51 and finished 13.5 games better than any other team in the Carolina League. Heidenreich, a 2009 fourth-round pick, and Walker, a 2011 supplemental first rounder, both have the talent to make it happen.

The 2014 Draft Class:
LHP Brian ClarkLHP Jace Fry INF Jake Peter

Three members of the White Sox 2014 draft class will open the season with a full-season club for the first time. Clark and Fry figure to be critical on the pitching side, while Peter should open the year as the Dash’s starting second baseman. How the trio adjusts to the rigors of a 140-game schedule will be key to how much success Winston-Salem enjoys in 2015.

The Brother:
RHP Robinson Leyer

Euclides Leyer pitched in 34 games for the Dash a year ago, but in 2015, it’s up to his brother Robinson to carry on the family name in a Winston-Salem uniform. When you might see the name “Leyer” on the back of the Dash uniforms, however, may be slightly different this season. Euclides worked only as a reliever with the Dash, while Robinson has been a starter throughout his professional career, something that will continue with the Dash in 2015.

The New Guy:
RHP Michael Ynoa

One of the newest members in the entire White Sox organization is Ynoa, who was packaged along with big league RHP Jeff Samardzija in the December trade that sent Dash alums INF Marcus Semien, RHP Chris Bassitt, C Josh Phegley and INF Rangel Ravelo from Chicago to Oakland. Ynoa received the largest contract the A’s had ever given out ($4.25 million) in 2008 and was ranked a top 100 prospect twice before injuries derailed his career. Maybe a fresh start in a new organization is what it takes to get the talented right-hander back on track.

Familiar Fielding Faces:
OF Nick Basto, OF Adam Engel, INF Justin Jirschele & INF Cleuluis Rondon

This group helps makes up nine of the 10 infielders and outfielders on the Dash’s Opening Day roster who played for the club last season. How they are able to use their past experience in the Carolina League will be crucial to determining if the Dash can return to the postseason.

The Catching Duo:
C Omar Narvaez & C Jeremy Dowdy

The 2014 Dash Opening Day roster featured three backstops, so playing time for both Narvaez and Dowdy should be easier to find than the 2014 trio had last year. It will be interesting to see how much manager Tim Esmay platoons the pair if they are both able to get ample rest, as Narvaez bats from the left side while Dowdy is a right-handed hitter.

The Intriguing Southpaw:
LHP Andre Wheeler

Wheeler didn’t pitch full-time until his final year at Texas Tech in 2013 but has steadily put up impressive numbers in his first two professional seasons. Originally drafted as an outfielder by the Dodgers out of high school, Wheeler can be a crucial part of the 2015 Dash if he continues to build on his success pounding the strike zone with his high-voltage stuff.

The Tall Guys:
RHP Jose Brito & LHP Jefferson Olacio

At six-foot-seven, both Brito and Olacio share the distinction of being the tallest players on the Opening Day roster. The height of both hurlers may be the same, but how they pitch is completely different. The 210-pound Brito is a finesse pitcher, hoping to lure opponents into chopping the ball into the ground, while the 295-pound Olacio tries to overpower opposing batters.

Stay tuned for a preview of the season opener in Frederick on Thursday!

– Scott

The other side of the Samardzija trade

Most White Sox fans are thrilled about the proceedings at the Winter Meetings. The Sox have been the “it” team of the week thus far by signing Yankees closer David Robertson and trading for Oakland righty Jeff Samardzija.

Within the latter of those two transactions, the White Sox had to surrender some significant talent. On behalf of the entire Dash organization, I would like to wish good luck to the four players included in the blockbuster deal: right-handed pitcher Chris Bassitt, catcher Josh Phegley and infielders Rangel Ravelo and Marcus Semien.

All four of these players spent a significant amount of time in Winston-Salem and were tremendous both on and off the field. Even though they are no longer members of the White Sox system, I hope Dash and Sox fans continue to root for them in Oakland.

Here are some thoughts from Twitter as this deal came to be:

Some players in the White Sox system weighed in as well:

Indeed, good luck to those who are now Athletics. Winston-Salem fans will be tracking your careers.

– Brian

A look around the White Sox system

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)

Former Dash star Jordan Danks (right) is ready to fill in for Avisail Garcia in the White Sox outfield (photo via

Former Dash star Jordan Danks (right) is ready to fill in for Avisail Garcia in the White Sox outfield (photo via

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 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 other BB&T Ballpark looks pretty darn good, too (photo via Charlotte Knights).

The other BB&T Ballpark looks pretty darn good, too (photo via Charlotte Knights).

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 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.

– Dave

Recapping the weekend around the system

The rainy off-day for the Dash means that it’s a perfect time to scroll through the White Sox system to see how the teams and some former Dash players are doing.

Chicago White Sox (3-3):

Chris Sale dazzled in his start against the Royals on Sunday, tossing eight scoreless innings while striking out six. Following his outing, Sale told, “You know what you’re getting when you face a team like this and a starter like James (Shields). You’ve just got to bear down and give it everything you’ve got.” Sale is now 2-0 on the season with a 1.76 ERA on the young season.

Marcus Semien has received plenty of congratulatory high fives so far in 2014 (Ed Zurga via

Marcus Semien has received plenty of congratulatory high fives so far in 2014 (Ed Zurga via

Infielder Marcus Semien has started all six games, playing at second base and third base. With Gordon Beckham recovering from an oblique injury, the Chicago Sun-Times discussed Semien’s attempt to convince White Sox management to keep him in the lineup.

Erik Johnson struggled in his first start with the South Siders this year, allowing seven runs against the Royals on Friday. Fellow Dash alum Jake Petricka also pitched in that contest. Johnson spoke with the Chicago Tribune following his start, and you can read about that here.

Nate Jones, who pitched with Winston-Salem from 2008-10, allowed four runs in two outings and failed to retire a single batter. He was sent to the disabled list on Friday with a strained hip muscle, and could miss more than two weeks. Before he was placed on the DL, Jones told CSN Chicago’s Dan Hayes about his discomfort.

Charlotte Knights (3-1):

Dylan Axelrod, who pitched for the Dash in 2009 and 2010, had a solid outing against Norfolk on Sunday, allowing just one run in five innings while striking out seven batters. The Knights won that game, 2-1.

Former White Sox slugger Jim Thome will be tossing the ceremonial first pitch at Charlotte’s home opener in their new ballpark on Friday, April 11 against Norfolk. Thome, who played with the Knights in 1993, spoke with about his time there.

Birmingham Barons (1-2):

The defending Southern League champions won their opener against Montgomery before losing two straight games. Following a rainout on Sunday, the Barons are playing a doubleheader against the Biscuits today to conclude their five-game opening series.

Former Dash infielder Micah Johnson is off to a hot start in Birmingham, hitting .462 with a home run, two RBIs and four runs scored in three games. Johnson was recently featured on prior to Opening Day.

Kannapolis Intimidators (2-2):

The Intimidators split their opening weekend series with Greenville and return to Kannapolis for their scheduled home opener against Hickory tonight.

Tyler Danish, a second-round draft pick of the White Sox last year, shined for Kannapolis in their Friday night victory over Greenville. The 19-year-old pitcher struck out six over five innings while allowing no earned runs.

That’s your look around the White Sox system. The Dash will take the field again Tuesday night at Salem, trying to cool off a Red Sox team that started 2014 with a weekend sweep of Myrtle Beach. All three games of that series are scheduled to begin at 7:05 p.m. Join Brian Boesch for the Pregame Dash at 6:50!

– Dave

Johnson’s catch, Sale’s start and much more

The White Sox are already two weeks into their exhibition slate in Arizona, and some former Dash players are doing their best to impress the big club.

Infielder Micah Johnson is not only batting .455 and leading the team in runs scored this spring, but the 2013 Dash alum is also turning some heads with his defense. Johnson made this spectacular diving catch against the Brewers on Monday:

That catch made SportsCenter’s Top 10 Plays at #4. Pretty impressive stuff.

A few former Winston-Salem hurlers are throwing well in Glendale. Southpaw Charlie Leesman has posted a 1.69 ERA in 4 Cactus League appearances, tossing 5.1 innings while striking out 5 batters. Despite those numbers, the 2010 Dash alum was optioned to Triple-A Charlotte on Wednesday, possibly because he has minor league options remaining on his contract. However, the strong spring showing should keep Leesman on the White Sox radar for the future.

Righty Erik Johnson has thrived in two starts this spring, garnering a 2.57 ERA while striking out 7 batters in 7.0 innings. The 2012 Dash standout is making a bid to join the White Sox rotation in 2014, and manager Robin Ventura has taken notice. “With what he did last year and so far what you see, you like what you see,” Ventura recently told CSN Chicago.

Johnson is also getting some attention for his demeanor off the mound. Check out this recent Chicago Sun-Times article for more on that, which includes comments from fellow White Sox prospect and former Dash teammate Marcus Semien.

Four years ago, Chris Sale was in Winston-Salem. On Opening Day2014 , he will be on the hill for the White Sox.

Four years ago, Chris Sale was in Winston-Salem. On Opening Day, he will be on the hill for the White Sox.

Finally, here are a few roster notes. First, the Sox have tabbed Chris Sale as their Opening Day starter for a second straight year. The 25-year-old, who made his professional debut with the Dash in 2010, says he appreciates the opportunity, per this article: “As much as you sit here and say ‘Treat it like another start,’ it’s the first one of the year and you are obviously going to be amped up for it and excited for it.”

The White Sox also made several roster moves on Wednesday involving Dash alumni. Outfielders Jared Mitchell and Trayce Thompson were optioned to Double-A Birmingham, while catcher Miguel Gonzalez, pitcher Scott Snodgress and outfielder Keenyn Walker were reassigned to minor league camp. This is common during Spring Training, as youngsters get a chance to work with the big club. Here’s hoping these men use their experience well while continuing to climb the minor league ladder in 2014.

– Dave

Johnson, Semien honored by Baseball America

Marcus Semien won the Southern League's MVP award in 2014 (Steve Orcutt/W-S Dash).

Marcus Semien won the Southern League’s MVP award in 2014 (Steve Orcutt/W-S Dash).

Most outlets believe the White Sox farm system has improved significantly over the last couple of years. Even though a system is not completely defined by its top few players, boasting multiple top-flight prospects goes a long way in public perception.

Baseball America released its Top 100 Prospect List in advance of the 2014 season, and the White Sox claimed four of the players on the list. A year ago, Chicago only had one Top 100 farmhand (Courtney Hawkins at 55).

This year, a pair of Dash alumni represented the White Sox. Righty Erik Johnson, who is a favorite to corral a rotation spot in The Show, checks in at 63, while fellow Cal product Marcus Semien, a versatile infielder who had a monster 2013 season, is at 91.

Two newly-acquired prospects rounded out Chicago’s representatives. Free agent signing Jose Abreu, who figures into Chicago’s big league plans this year, was the top-ranked White Sox product on the list by collecting the 29 slot. Matt Davidson, who came over from Arizona in the Addison Reed trade during the offseason, is at 72.

For comparison, here is how the White Sox stacked up to other big league clubs represented in the Carolina League on the Top 100 Prospect List:

Atlanta (Lynchburg) – 2
Baltimore (Frederick) – 3
Boston (Salem) – 8
Cleveland (Carolina) – 3
Kansas City (Wilmington) – 4
Texas (Myrtle Beach) – 5
Washington (Potomac) – 1

Outside of Boston’s significant lead, the White Sox are right there, especially when you consider Texas had two of the last four players on the list. Regardless, the reality is that Chicago’s system is on the upswing, and the talent that could come through Winston-Salem in 2014 is impressive, too. Fans should not be surprised to see even more newcomers on this list from the White Sox system in 2015.

– Brian

Two White Sox farmhands make MLB’s Top 100

Erik Johnson is one of two White Sox on MLB's Top 100 prospect list (Jody Stewart/W-S Dash).

Erik Johnson is one of two White Sox on MLB’s Top 100 prospect list (Jody Stewart/W-S Dash).

MLB released its Top 100 prospects Thursday night, and a pair of White Sox prospects qualified for the list.

Right-hander Erik Johnson placed 70th on the list, while newly-acquired infielder Matt Davidson slotted 80th. Last season’s lone White Sox qualifier, outfielder Courtney Hawkins, did not make this year’s Top 100.

At the end of the 2012 season, Johnson was Winston-Salem’s ace, posting a 2.74 earned run average in eight starts down the stretch. Last year, the former California Golden Bear dominated between Double-A Birmingham and Triple-A Charlotte to the tune of a 12-3 record and a 1.96 ERA.

Johnson earned a September promotion to Chicago, where he went 3-2 with a 3.25 ERA in five impressive starts. He will not be a prospect for long because “Puma” has a great chance to be in the Sox rotation on Opening Day.

And hey, if this baseball thing does not work out for Johnson, he could always go into sales. Check out the great video below of Johnson and former Dash shortstop Marcus Semien making sales calls for the White Sox, courtesy of

The White Sox acquired Davidson from Arizona for former Winston-Salem flamethrower Addison Reed. Davidson also figures to play in Chicago for some or all of the 2014 season. He hit .237 with three homers and 12 RBIs in 31 games with the Diamondbacks late last year.’s Top 20 White Sox prospect list is available here (which does not jive with the Top 100 countdown, as Davidson tops the group). An impressive 12 players on this list have played in the Triad at some point in their minor league journeys.

– Brian

FutureSox releases prospect list

Two weeks ago, Baseball America released its Top 10 White Sox prospect list. While this list is one of the most well-regarded compilations nationally, our friends at FutureSox put together the best list on the internet among White Sox-only sites. FutureSox’s preseason Top 25 is out, and the Dash are well represented.

Of Chicago’s 25 best prospects, a whopping 13 have played in Winston-Salem at some point in their minor league career. This number includes eight alums in the Top 12.

I encourage you to check out the entire list, which includes justification for the top 10 players. Here is the placement of the 13 former Dash players:

2. RHP Erik Johnson
4. INF Marcus Semien
6. OF Courtney Hawkins
7. RHP Chris Beck
9. INF Micah Johnson
10. OF Trayce Thompson
11. RHP Daniel Webb
12. INF Carlos Sanchez
15. RHP Jake Petricka
16. LHP Scott Snodgress
18. RHP Chris Bassitt
21. INF Rangel Ravelo
23. RHP Myles Jaye

A few notes from this list:

  • If it weren’t for the signing of Cuban slugger Jose Abreu, Erik Johnson would be the top prospect. The exciting thing for White Sox fans is that both should be in Chicago in April.
  • It has been quite a 12-month period for Marcus Semien. At this point last year, he was coming off a solid season in Winston-Salem. Very few people could have predicted his quick rise near the top of the Sox prospect rankings, but he was one of the hardest workers I have seen in my two seasons here in Winston-Salem. I’m thrilled for him.
  • This time last year, Carlos Sanchez was the hot prospect. Sure, he did not wow in 2013, but the Venezuela native is still only 21 years old. He is still a legitimate prospect in the system despite coming back to earth a bit in 2013.
  • I’m happy to see Chris Bassitt appear on a prospect list. I think people were waiting to see if his strong end to the 2012 season as a starting pitcher would carry over into last season, and it certainly did. He should also appear on Baseball America’s Top 30 rankings, which will come out later this offseason.
  • Do not be surprised to see both Rangel Ravelo and Myles Jaye continue to climb from the low 20s. Both had strong efforts in 2013, and if they can find similar success in Double-A, they will garner even more praise.

As always, thanks to the guys at FutureSox. Matt Cassidy, one of the site’s main writers, visited Winston-Salem late last season and compiled some great videos. They do a great job with their coverage, and I encourage you to check out all their content here.

The first 2014 White Sox prospect list

Micah Johnson is one of six newcomers on Baseball America's White Sox Top 10 Prospects list (Laura Marshall/W-S Dash).

Speedster Micah Johnson is one of six newcomers on Baseball America’s White Sox Top 10 Prospects list (Laura Marshall/W-S Dash).

Baseball America is, in many ways, the bible of baseball prospects. Few publications examine Minor League Baseball more thoroughly than Baseball America, which has released its 2014 White Sox Top 10 Prospect list.

Over the last few seasons, Baseball America has been critical of the White Sox system, but the publication believes that the system is making significant progress:

For the first time since at least 2000, when the White Sox had the game’s No. 2 farm system, the organization has prospect depth.

How can one best illustrate this depth? Let’s take a look at Baseball America’s Top 10 list from this time last year and compare it to this year’s.

2013 White Sox Top 10:
1. OF Courtney Hawkins
2. OF Trayce Thompson
3. INF Carlos Sanchez
4. RHP Erik Johnson
5. OF Keenyn Walker
6. LHP Scott Snodgress
7. RHP Andre Rienzo
8. INF Keon Barnum
9. OF Jared Mitchell
10. RHP Chris Beck

2014 White Sox Top 10:
1. INF Jose Abreu
2. RHP Erik Johnson
3. INF Tim Anderson
4. INF Matt Davidson
5. INF Marcus Semien
6. INF Micah Johnson
7. OF Courtney Hawkins
8. OF Trayce Thompson
9. RHP Chris Beck
10. OF Jacob May

Only four members of the 2013 list appear on this year’s edition. This reflects the benefits of the transactions the White Sox have made much more than the struggles of a few of these players over the last 12 months.

Not only have these players impressed the White Sox and other baseball people, but many of them have produced at or near the top of the organization. Three of the current Top 10 have played in the big leagues, with Jose Abreu likely to play much of next season on the South Side. Excluding Abreu, only Tim Anderson and Jacob May have yet to play in High-A, and both could start in Winston-Salem in 2014.

Beyond the Top 10 rankings, Baseball America’s “Best Tools” and “Top 15 Players 25 and Under” lists, which can also be viewed here, feature more of Chicago’s minor league depth.

The White Sox had a tough 2013 in The Show, but the farm system should instill plenty of hope in the fan base for 2014 and beyond.

– Brian

The sun has set in Arizona

Stephen McCray shined in six starts during the AFL season (Dan Barber/W-S Dash).

Stephen McCray shined in six starts during the AFL season (Dan Barber/W-S Dash).

The Arizona Fall League came to an end over the weekend, and many Dash alumni performed well during the six-week prospect showcase. Eight White Sox prospects helped the Glendale Desert Dogs to a 13-16-2 record, and seven of them have called Winston-Salem home at some point during their minor league career.

Here are those seven players’ stats from the AFL:

RHP Chris Bassitt:
1-0, 0.90 ERA, 10.0 IP, 1 R/ER, 9 K in 10 appearances

INF Micah Johnson:
.320, 6 RBI, 6 R, 3 SB in 6 games (injured in middle of season)

LHP Charlie Leesman:
0-1, 1.74 ERA, 10.1 IP, 3 R, 2 ER, 6 K in 7 appearances (1 start)

RHP Stephen McCray:
2-2, 2.57 ERA, 21.0 IP, 10 R, 6 ER, 9 K in 6 starts

OF Jared Mitchell:
.304, 5 HR, 11 RBI, 12 R, 6 SB, 1.005 OPS in 20 games

INF Marcus Semien:
.156, 2 HR, 8 RBI, 9 R in 21 games

RHP Kevin Vance:
0-0, 2.13 ERA, 12.2 IP, 3R/ER, 13 K in 10 appearances

A few of these players weighed in on Twitter after wrapping up the 2013 season about two months after most minor leaguers.

It was quite a showing for the White Sox in the AFL. Now, the countdown to the 2014 season has begun for everyone in baseball. We will keep you posted on all of it as winter approaches. Stay tuned.

– Brian


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