Results tagged ‘ Mike Blanke ’

Barons ticketed for Southern League Finals

A year ago, Winston-Salem was involved in the Mills Cup Finals. Many of the Dash’s players in that playoff run a year ago, along with some members of the 2013 Dash, are heading to the highest stage in the Southern League.

The Birmingham Barons, the White Sox Double-A affiliate, punched a ticket to the Southern League Championship Series for the first time in 11 years. Birmingham accomplished this feat with a 7-4 victory in its winner-take-all clash with the Tennessee Smokies on Monday night.

In that Game 5 battle, Dash alumni shined for the Barons. Mike Blanke and Micah Johnson drove home a run apiece, and Jared Mitchell scored twice to cap a big North Division Series. Myles Jaye started the game, and Cody Winiarski collected the final four outs for a save.

Twitter was packed with some great tweets from some Barons players, many of whom made a stop in Winston-Salem en route to this Double-A postseason run.

The Southern League Championship Series pits the Barons and the Mobile BayBears, who host Game 1 and Game 2. The series begins Wednesday night, with the first of three possible home games for the Barons coming up on Friday night.

Good luck to the Barons, especially those former Dash stars who are now three wins away from a ring at the Double-A level.

– Brian

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

Five Dash alums reassigned to minor league camp

Jake Petricka dealt two scoreless innings in big league spring training (Steve Orcutt/W-S Dash).

Jake Petricka dealt two scoreless innings in big league spring training (Steve Orcutt/W-S Dash).

For many minor league players, spring training is an opportunity to get a taste of a big league atmosphere and pick the brains of those at higher levels. As camp progresses, some of these players are sent back to minor league camp for their own good (more at bats or innings to prepare for the season) and the team’s own good (big league players are gearing up for the season, too).

Today, the White Sox announced that five non-roster invitees to spring training, all of whom are Dash alums, have been reassigned to minor league camp: C Mike Blanke, RHP Jake Petricka, INF Tyler Saladino, C Kevan Smith and INF Andy Wilkins.

Here are their’ stats from big league spring training:

  • Blanke: 3 games played, 0-for-1
  • Petricka: 2 appearances, 2.0 innings, 3 hits, 0 runs
  • Saladino: 6 games played, 2-for-6, 1 run, 1 RBI
  • Smith: 2 games played, 1-for-1, 1 run
  • Wilkins: 4 games played, 3-for-9, 2 runs, 3 RBI

Obviously, statistics from a small sample size during spring training are not incredibly important, but these Dash alums performed well with many White Sox decision makers watching them. Congratulations to them.

The White Sox made one other move today: LHP Charlie Leesman was optioned to Triple-A Charlotte. Leesman, a 2010 Winston-Salem alum, did not appear in a game with Chicago in spring training.

The Sox still have 55 players remaining in big league camp, and many of them are Dash alums. We will keep you posted on any spring training transactions that take place.

– Brian

More Countdown Fun

I’ve had a blast coming up with the daily countdown to the 2013 season. Every number from 100 to 53 has been represented, and we went through some of them a few weeks back.

If you have missed any, 100-86 can be found here, and 85-53 is available below:

85 – In ’85, Winston-Salem won the CL title despite a regular season record of just 58-81. (Still counts!)

Keenyn Walker is a speedster with some gaudy stolen base numbers.

Keenyn Walker is a speedster with some gaudy stolen base numbers.

84 – This past season, right-handed pitching prospect Jake Petricka struck out 84 men while with the Dash.

83 – 1983 was the final year of the Winston-Salem Red Sox, the team with the most wins (1635) & Carolina League titles (5) in Winston-Salem history.

82 – Five years after playing in Winston-Salem, Hall of Famer Wade Boggs made his MLB debut in 1982.

81 – Mike Blanke, who earned a non-roster invite to spring training, had 81 hits a year ago in Winston.

80 – In the Dash’s 80th PA of the game, Chase Blackwood’s RBI single gave the Dash a 4-3, 20-inning win on May 19, 2010, against Myrtle Beach.

79 – Bill Slack, the winningest manager in W-S and CL history, was the 1979 Manager of the Year.

78 – Winston-Salem hit a league-best .278 in 2012.

77 – 2011 first rounder Keenyn Walker has 77 stolen bases in just 165 minor league games.

The Dash played 76 games on this beautiful field last year.

The Dash played 76 games on this beautiful field last year.

76 – The Dash played 76 total games at beautiful BB&T Ballpark last season.

75 – Chris Bassitt struck out 75 in his 91 innings last season in Winston-Salem.

74 – Fan-favorite Dan Black led the Dash with 74 hits at BB&T Ballpark in his MVP season.

73 – All-Star Michael Earley drove in 73 runs with the Dash in 2012 (T-4th in the CL).

72 – On July 4th, 2012, a single-game record 7,285 fans enjoyed a Dash game at BB&T Ballpark.

71 – MLB Hall of Famer Jackie Robinson started 71 games in 1956, the final season of his amazing 10-year career (this was the fact on January 31, Robinson’s birthday).

BB&T Ballpark hosted a record crowd on July 4 of last season.

BB&T Ballpark hosted a record crowd on July 4 of last season.

70 – In 70 innings pitched with the White Sox last year, rookie Hector Santiago posted a 3.33 ERA.

69 – In game 69 of 2012, the Dash clinched the 1st-half title with a 9-5 win at Wilmington June 16.

68 – On July 17, 1968, Ed Phillips tossed the first perfect game in CL history. It is still Winston-Salem’s only perfecto in franchise history.

67 – In 67 innings in Winston-Salem last season, Terance Marin recorded an impressive 2.42 earned run average.

66 – Reliever Kevin Vance boasted a 1.66 ERA in 11 outings with Winston-Salem in 2012.

65 – Winston-Salem was 65-23 when hitting at least one home run in 2012. This record was the best on the circuit.

64 – If you attended every regular season game at BB&T Ballpark in 2012, you watched an even 640 innings of baseball!

63 – Winston-Salem’s single-season batting average record is .363, set by 8-year MLB vet Ray Jablonski in 1951.

62 – All-Star Matt Heidenreich whiffed 62 batters with the Dash before a July trade to the Houston organization.

The Dash's offense did plenty of this in 2012.

The Dash’s offense did plenty of this in 2012.

61 – Winston led the Carolina League with a 61-22 mark when scoring first in 2012.

60 – In 1960, Ed Olivares hit 35 home runs for Winston-Salem, which still remains a single-season franchise record

59 – Both Marcus Semien and Brady Shoemaker drove in 59 runs for Winston-Salem last season.

58 – Carlos Sanchez, who is currently in big league camp with the White Sox, scored 58 times for the Dash in ’12.

57 – 57 different players suited up for the Dash in 2012, and they posted full-season Minor League Baseball’s best mark (87-51)!

56 – Outfielder Keenyn Walker led all White Sox farmhands with a combined 56 stolen bases between Low-A Kannapolis and Winston-Salem last year.

55 – Since becoming the Dash prior to the ’09 season, Winston boasts a .554 winning percentage (317-255). This includes regular season and postseason games.

54 – Trayce Thompson hit .254 with CL-bests in homers (22) and RBI (90) with the Dash a year ago.

53 – The Dash boasted 5 year-end All-Stars (Dan Black, Michael Earley, Carlos Sanchez, Brady Shoemaker and Trayce Thompson) and 3 midseason All-Stars (Earley, Shoemaker and Matt Heidenreich).

That’s another installment of “Countdown Catch-Up.” Stay tuned to our social media sites (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram) for the rest of our daily countdowns. The home opener is only 52 days away!

– Brian

Can A 2012 Alum Start 2013 In Chicago?

Carlos Sanchez has the best chance of any 2012 alum to crack the Opening Day roster (Steve Orcutt/W-S Dash).

Carlos Sanchez has the best chance of any 2012 alum to begin the season with the White Sox (Steve Orcutt/W-S Dash).

The White Sox announced their non-roster invitees to spring training yesterday, and 13 of the 20 players heading to Glendale are former Dash players.

Of those 13 players, nine contributed to the Dash’s 2012 run to full-season minor league baseball’s best record and a Mills Cup Championship Series appearance.

It is an honor for these players to receive an invitation to spring training, and the goal is to impress while with the “big boys.” However, it is important to note that highly-touted prospects who go to spring training are not normally true contenders to make a roster unless they have significant experience in Double-A or Triple-A.

The flurry of invitations still bring about a question: can any of these 2012 Dash alums wow the Sox enough to break camp with the big league squad?

First off, any player who ended the season with the Dash would need to make a three-level jump in order to crack the roster, which means C Mike Blanke, RHP Erik Johnson, SS Marcus Semien, C Kevan Smith, LHP Scott Snodgress and OF Keenyn Walker will be long shots.

This leaves three other 2012 Dash alums: RHP Jake Petricka, INF Carlos Sanchez and OF Trayce Thompson.

Petricka has been a highly-ranked prospect in the White Sox system for the last few years, but he did struggle a bit with both Winston-Salem and Double-A Birmingham. The Minnesota native has plenty of potential, but additional minor league seasoning is almost certainly necessary.

Trayce Thompson still may need some more time in the minors before heading to The Show (Steve Orcutt/W-S Dash).

Trayce Thompson still may need some more time in the minors before heading to The Show (Steve Orcutt/W-S Dash).

Thompson has all the tools, but he has taken some time to adjust to every level. In 2011, the former second-round pick started crushing Low-A pitching, and his ascension to the top of the home run and RBI totem poles in the Carolina League this season stemmed from his surge after the All-Star break.

While Thompson reached Triple-A for the postseason, he still likely needs some time in the International League to figure out how to hit at that level. Thompson will be in the big leagues at some point, but Opening Day 2013 seems a bit too early.

This leaves Sanchez, who jumped up prospect rankings with a tremendous 2012 showing. The 20-year-old led the CL in batting average among qualifiers before going to Birmingham, where he hit .370 in 30 games. This prompted a late-season bump to Charlotte.

In 18 games with the Knights (regular season and playoffs), Sanchez hit .237 (14-for-59) with seven runs scored. These numbers are not eye-popping, but the Venezuelan most certainly held his own at the minors’ highest level.

Sanchez’s name even came up in Scott Merkin’s story about the non-roster invitees on yesterday.

“Carlos Sanchez also could be a long shot in consideration for that utility infield job. But with the 20-year-old phenom having just two years of professional experience and 991 Minor League at-bats to his credit, the White Sox goal is to get Sanchez a full season of at-bats at Triple-A Charlotte during the 2013 campaign. He topped all White Sox Minor Leaguers with a .323 average and 169 hits in 2012.”

A “goal” can always be changed, and Sanchez certainly has plenty of momentum from last season. He is an underdog in the race for one of the elusive 25 spots on Robin Ventura’s Opening Day roster, but he appears to be in the running.

You never know. A great spring could open the door for a 2012 Dash alum to reach The Show in 2013. Good luck to Carlos and the rest of the former Dash players heading to Arizona next month.

– Brian

Playoff Perspective – Game 3

Scott Snodgress will pitch with the Dash facing elimination again Wednesday (Jody Stewart/W-S Dash).

In another tightly-contested playoff game, the Dash dropped a tough one to the Hillcats 1-0 Tuesday night in Lynchburg. As a result, Winston-Salem faces elimination Wednesday night in Game 4. Here is tonight’s analysis.


  • Let’s get this out of the way first. This series is not over.
  • OK, now that I said that, let’s also say this. Winston-Salem needs to find its offensive prowess from the regular season, or the series will be over. Obviously, Lynchburg’s pitching staff deserves plenty of credit to holding the Dash to seven runs on 17 hits in the first three games of this series. However, the Dash had spurts against every team during the regular season.
  • Lynchburg starter Gus Schlosser turned in 15 scoreless innings during his two playoff starts. Winston-Salem swingers were off balance all night, and that continued when Ryne Harper and Juan Jaime entered out of the bullpen. Only Marcus Semien had more than one hard-hit ball during Game 3.
  • Throw out their 9-0 win over Myrtle Beach in Game 3 of the Southern Division Championship Series, and the Dash have only mustered 12 runs in five playoff games. Pitching tends to be more valuable than hitting during the postseason, but this is still very surprising. Winston’s offense has been productive since the season opener more than five months ago.
  • The question moving into Game 4 is simple: does Carolina League Manager of the Year Tommy Thompson tweak the lineup? Outside of a shuffle between catchers Kevan Smith and Mike Blanke along with Smith and Cyle Hankerd’s switch in the order, Thompson has been consistent with his lineup decisions. It will be a fascinating decision for a man who has seemingly pushed all the right buttons during the 2012 campaign. This choice may ultimately define the season.
  • Even though the Dash face elimination Wednesday, fans have to feel good based on what Scott Snodgress and Chris Bassitt did in the SDCS. Those two starters held the Pelicans to three combined runs in the final two games of that set. They know exactly what this situation is like because they dealt with it less than a week ago.
  • Winston dropped to 4-7 following a scheduled off day this season. Fortunately, there are no more off days this season.
  • The Mills Cup Championship Series has not seen a winner-take-all Game 5 since 2005. This league is due for one, and the Dash are well-equipped to pull off the feat.

Keep the faith. Tomorrow is another day. Talk to you then.

– Brian

Playoff Perspective – Game 1

Steve McCray kept the Dash in Saturday’s game, but he and Winston-Salem ultimately lost (Jody Stewart/W-S Dash).

One night after an incredible SDCS finale, the Dash stumbled in Game 1 of the Mills Cup Championship Series. Lynchburg led the entire way in a 3-1 win over the Dash Saturday at BB&T Ballpark. Here are a few thoughts before the quick turnaround for Game 2 Sunday at 2 p.m.


  • Big league rehab assignments are always touchy subjects during the playoffs, but I have absolutely no problem with them. If Paul Konerko needed to work back from an injury, and the Dash were the only minor league affiliate playing, you better believe he would be in Winston-Salem. Sure, Andrelton Simmons was a big part of Lynchburg’s win tonight, but he is here to prepare for a return to the big leagues.
  • For the first time this season, Michael Lee did not allow a run in a start with the Hillcats. His off-speed stuff befuddled the Dash over six and a third innings. Lee was the difference in the game.
  • Even though Dash starter Steve McCray did not post his best start of the season, he kept Winston-Salem in the game. The former Tennessee Volunteer stranded seven runners and only allowed two runs in five innings, with one being Simmons’ leadoff homer. It could have been much worse for McCray, but the righty battled to keep his club in the contest.
  • The Dash struggled offensively for seven innings, but this offense has a special aura to it. When Michael Earley, Mike Blanke and Courtney Hawkins strung together three straight hits, it felt like the Dash were going to battle back. Obviously, it didn’t happen, but this is an offense that can strike in a hurry, and I’m guessing it will before this series concludes.
  • Speaking of Hawkins, the 18-year-old has driven in a run in all four playoff games, which is incredible considering the Dash only scored one run in both series openers. This youngster is the real deal.
  • Tomorrow is the 77th and final minor league baseball game at BB&T Ballpark in 2012. This facility has hosted 50 Dash victories, three walk-off wins, an incredible All-Star game and much more. It will be bittersweet to wrap up the home slate, but it is fitting that the Dash are playing in a meaningful game after an incredibly great 2012 campaign here in the Triad.

Keep the faith. The Dash go for a series-tying win tomorrow. Already can’t wait.

– Brian

One All-Star Ballot

Dan Black could finish the season atop the CL in many categories (Steve Orcutt/W-S Dash).

PLEASE NOTE: These selections do NOT represent the award winners in the Carolina League. This is merely my opinion on the end-of-season awards.

The Carolina League’s end-of-season All-Star Team should be announced sometime this week, and it is a vote involving media members, general managers and skippers. Here are my best guesses, along with a few others who deserve mention (in alphabetical order).

CATCHER: Braeden Schlehuber (Lynchburg)
The All-Star reserve earns this spot, but it was one of the toughest ones to pick. Winston-Salem’s Mike Blanke made a late surge and certainly could get this spot.
Close calls: Mike Blanke (Winston-Salem), David Freitas (Potomac), Evan Gattis (Lynchburg)

FIRST BASE: Dan Black (Winston-Salem)
He won’t win the triple crown in the CL, but he will come closer than anyone else. The Big Black Bear has been one of the circuit’s most consistent hitters all season long.
Close calls: Chris Garcia (Lynchburg), Travis Shaw (Salem)

Carlos Sanchez finally gets his All-Star selection (Dan Barber/W-S Dash).

SECOND BASE: Carlos Sanchez (Winston-Salem)
It was embarrassing that Sanchez did not make the All-Star team, but this should be a nice consolation. That, and being in Triple-A Charlotte now.
Close call: Tommy La Stella (Lynchburg)

SHORTSTOP: Xander Bogaerts (Salem)
Boston’s second-best prospect is now a Portland SeaDog, but he was a force offensively in the Carolina League.
Close calls: Nick Ahmed (Lynchburg), Marcus Semien (Winston-Salem)

THIRD BASE: Michael Almanzar (Salem)
Almanzar needed a second season in High-A ball, but he improved greatly from year one.
Close calls: Giovanni Urshela (Carolina), Christian Villanueva (Myrtle Beach)

OUTFIELDERS: Jackie Bradley, Jr. (Salem), Brady Shoemaker (Winston-Salem) and Trayce Thompson (Winston-Salem)
Bradley, Jr., and Shoemaker were the CL’s two best players in the first half, and Thompson boasted the most gaudy numbers on the circuit.
Close calls: Michael Earley (Winston-Salem), Jeremy Nowak (Frederick)

UTILITY INFIELDER: Travis Shaw (Salem)
It was tough to pick among many great players for this final spot, but Shaw was a key cog in Salem’s huge first half.
Close calls: Jesus Aguilar (Carolina), Ronny Rodriguez (Carolina), Semien

Michael Earley has had a huge first season in full-season ball (Steve Orcutt/W-S Dash).

UTILITY OUTFIELDER: Michael Earley (Winston-Salem)
Earley had a career year, and he definitely belongs somewhere on this list. He fits in well here.
Close calls: Kevin Keyes (Potomac), Nowak

DESIGNATED HITTER: Aaron Baker (Frederick)
With all of the great first basemen in the CL, Baker had to fight to get on this roster despite his big power numbers.
Close call: Jeremie Tice (Carolina)

STARTING PITCHER: Cody Buckel (Myrtle Beach)
Buckel’s 1.31 ERA in 13 starts was ridiculous, and he still places 14th in the CL in strikeouts despite playing in Double-A Frisco for much of the second half.
Close calls: Matt Barnes (Salem), Dylan Bundy (Frederick), J.R. Graham (Lynchburg), Gus Schlosser (Lynchburg)

RELIEF PITCHER: Ben Rowen (Myrtle Beach)
This was one of the tougher selections, but Rowen has been electric as a submarine specialist.
Close calls: Juan Jaime (Lynchburg), Mike Olmsted (Salem), Taylor Thompson (Winston-Salem)

Brady Shoemaker’s first half was enough to earn my MVP vote (Jody Stewart/W-S Dash).

MOST VALUABLE PLAYER: Brady Shoemaker (Winston-Salem)
Shoemaker carried the Dash past a loaded Salem squad in the first half. If he had been in the CL throughout the season, the Indiana State product could have posted some ridiculous numbers.

PITCHER OF THE YEAR: Cody Buckel (Myrtle Beach)
The numbers were just too good.

MANAGER OF THE YEAR: Tommy Thompson (Winston-Salem)
This isn’t even a conversation. If he isn’t the unanimous choice, voters don’t know what they are doing. Thompson has taken the Dash to the brink of minor league baseball’s best record despite significant turnover.

Agree? Disagree? Let me know.

But you have to like the fact that Winston-Salem paces the All-Star team with five representatives, plus the MVP and Manager of the Year.

– Brian

Johnson Takes No-Hit Bid Into Sixth

Dan Barber/W-S Dash

Dash starter Erik Johnson took a no-hitter into the sixth inning Sunday afternoon against Potomac at Pfitzner Stadium.

On his 71st pitch of the inning, Johnson surrendered his first hit of the day, a Francisco Soriano single to center on a first-pitch fastball. The only other runner to reach before that knock was Jason Martinson thanks to an error in the second.

Johnson’s no-hit bid matched the longest by a Winston-Salem hurler this season. Justin Collop also lost a no-hitter with two outs in the sixth inning at Myrtle Beach July 13.

A Dash hurler has taken a no-hitter into the sixth inning four times this season, but Winston’s opposition has mustered a hit during the sixth frame in all four instances.

Thanks to back-to-back homers from Dan Black and Cyle Hankerd plus a Mike Blanke RBI double in the top of the seventh, Winston-Salem leads this rubber match 4-0 at Potomac. Listen to the end here.

– Brian