Results tagged ‘ Myrtle Beach Pelicans ’

Game #14 Preview – Dash vs. Myrtle Beach

Game #14 – Home Game #7
Winston-Salem Dash (4-9) vs. Myrtle Beach Pelicans (6-7)
Wednesday, April 20 – 7 p.m.
BB&T Ballpark (Winston-Salem, NC)

GAME BACKGROUND:

Behind Toby Thomas’ walk-off single in the ninth, Winston-Salem stunned Myrtle Beach 6-5 to end its five-game losing streak. The Dash now go for their second series win of the season against the Pelicans on Wednesday night.

STARTING LINEUP:

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Marcus Davis has hit safely in seven games in a row (Jody Stewart/W-S Dash).

Hunter Jones – CF
Toby Thomas – 2B
Gerson Montilla – 3B
Nick Basto – 1B
Marcus Davis – DH
Brett Austin – C
Louie Lechich – RF
Ryan Leonards – SS
Michael Danner – LF
Jordan Stephens – RHP

DASH DOTS:

  • Thomas’ heroics ended Winston-Salem’s worst home start since BB&T Ballpark opened in 2010 (0-5). The Dash also avoided the longest single-season home losing streak since entering this downtown facility. Winston-Salem has endured five home skids of five games, but the club has avoided a six-game funk. Since 2010, the Dash’s 245-181 (.575) record at home is the best in the Carolina League.
  • Three of Winston-Salem’s four victories this season have come in its last at-bat. The Dash plated eight in the 13th inning at Lynchburg on Opening Night (April 7) before plating a pair in the ninth at Myrtle Beach on April 13 to break a 2-2 tie. Thomas did deliver the Dash’s first walk-off hit since July 4, 2015, when Omar Narvaez sunk Frederick with a single in the 11th inning.
  • Thomas is one of multiple Dash hitters who have shined as of late. He is riding a five-game hit streak, during which the Alabama native is 8-for-21 (.381) with two RBIs and four runs. The only Winston-Salem hitter with a longer streak is Marcus Davis, who has hit safely in seven in a row (9-for-29 [.310], seven RBIs, two runs). Also, Nick Basto stands third in average (.367) and fourth in hits (18) on the circuit.
  • Winston-Salem has played 13 games thus far this season, and 11 of them have been decided by one or two runs. The Dash are just 3-8 in those games, but all three of those victories have come against the Pelicans. Dating back to the start of the 2015 season, Winston and Myrtle have split 34 meetings (including postseason). Each of the last nine clashes have been either one- or two-run affairs. These two clubs still have three more series in the first half, with the next one set for May 2-4 in the Triad.
  • Even though the Dash are just 4-9, they have received strong pitching from most members of their staff. The Dash’s 3.65 earned run average is fourth-best in the CL. Only once has a Dash starter surrendered more than two earned runs, and the rotation boasts a 3.08 ERA. Out of the bullpen, Connor Walsh had not given up a hit in his first 8.1 innings in High-A before Yasiel Balaguert went deep in the eighth on Tuesday.
  • Following Wednesday’s rubber match against Myrtle Beach, the Dash hit the road for a four-game set against the first-place Salem Red Sox. Salem dealt the Dash just their fifth home sweep in BB&T Ballpark’s seven seasons this past weekend. The four games were decided by a combined six runs. The Red Sox finished a perfect road trip with a sweep-clinching win at Carolina on Wednesday afternoon. Salem, who has not won a first-half crown since 1988, will enjoy at least a three-game lead in the division standings when the series begins Thursday.
  • The Dash claimed a rubber match win against the Birds last Wednesday at TicketReturn.Com Field with a 4-2 win.
  • Starter Jordan Stephens has worked exactly four innings in his first two High-A outings.
  • The Dash have committed three errors in their last two games after just one over their previous eight.

BROADCAST INFORMATION:

Wednesday’s game will be broadcast live on wsdash.com/broadcast and the TuneIn Radio app. It is also available via MiLB.tv (subscription required). The Pregame Dash will begin at 6:45 p.m., with the first pitch at 7 p.m.

-Joe

Game #13 Preview – Dash vs. Myrtle Beach

Game #13 – Home Game #6
Winston-Salem Dash (3-9) vs. Myrtle Beach Pelicans (6-6)
Tuesday, April 19 – 7 p.m.
BB&T Ballpark (Winston-Salem, NC)

GAME BACKGROUND:

Despite back-to-back home runs from Marcus Davis and Brett Austin in the eighth, Winston-Salem dropped the opener of its three-game series with Myrtle Beach 6-4 on Monday night at BB&T Ballpark. The Dash search for their first home win of the season on Tuesday against the Pelicans.

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Toby Thomas smashed a season-high three hits against Myrtle Beach on Monday (Jody Stewart/ W-S Dash).

STARTING LINEUP:

Hunter Jones – CF
Toby Thomas – 2B
Gerson Montilla – 3B
Nick Basto – 1B
Marcus Davis – DH
Louie Lechich – RF
Chris O’Dowd – C
Mason Robbins – LF
Cleuluis Rondon – SS
Thad Lowry – RHP

DASH DOTS:

  • The last three times Winston-Salem has hit back-to-back home runs, the Pelicans have been in the other dugout. Davis and Austin’s offensive exploits marked the first time the Dash had gone back-to-back in the regular season since July 7, 2013, when Rangel Ravelo and Courtney Hawkins did it at BB&T Ballpark. However, Trey Michalczewski and Keon Barnum did string together consecutive home runs in the first inning in Game 1 of last year’s Southern Division Championship Series.
  • At 0-5, Winston-Salem is off to its worst start at home since BB&T Ballpark opened in 2010. If they lose tonight, the Dash will post their longest single-season skid in the downtown facility’s history. Winston-Salem did have a nine-game skid from the final five home games of 2014 through the first four of last season. The Dash are currently mired in the fifth single-season home losing streak of five games, all of which have occurred since August of 2013.
  • In the second half of 2015, the Dash were 26-10 (.722) in games decided by one or two runs. While some thought this would even out down the stretch last year, the recalibration seems to be taking place now. All but two of the Dash’s first 12 games have been decided by one or two runs, and the Dash are 2-8 in those contests.
  • On Monday night, a Dash starter permitted more than two earned runs for the first time all year. Matt Cooper, who had logged five innings and gave up two earned runs in each of his first two outings, let three come around in a losing effort against the Pelicans in the series opener. The Dash’s rotation owns a 3.05 earned run average and has spun 56.0 total innings, or exactly four and two-thirds innings per game.
  • The Dash’s lengthy errorless streak came to an end Monday. Before a ninth-inning error on a pickoff attempt, Winston-Salem had recorded 58 consecutive innings without an error, a streak that began after Cleuluis Rondon’s throwing error in last Tuesday’s fifth inning at Myrtle Beach. In the last nine games, the Dash have posted just two defensive miscues after a league-worst 10 in the first three games of 2016. Winston-Salem’s .975 fielding percentage is good for fourth-place on the eight-team circuit.
  • Even though the Dash could only scratch out four runs Monday, multiple hitters posted big nights. Toby Thomas amassed three hits for the first time in his High-A career. With a pair of knocks, Davis pushed his hitting streak to six, which is now the longest active run on the club. Nick Basto’s seven-game surge ended due to an 0-for-3 showing. Still, Basto remains in the top 10 in the Carolina League in hits (4th; 16), total bases (T-9th; 22), RBIs (T-9th; 8), at-bats (T-10th, 46) and batting average (10th; .348).
  • Low-A Kannapolis suffered an 8-7 loss at West Virginia in 16 innings on Monday. The game took five hours and one minute, the third-longest in franchise history and the longest in the White Sox system, clipping the Dash’s season opener in Lynchburg by two minutes.
  • Since the start of 2015, the Dash and Pelicans have played 33 times, and Myrtle Beach owns a 17-16 edge.

BROADCAST INFORMATION:

Tuesday’s game will be broadcast live on wsdash.com/broadcast and the TuneIn Radio app. It is also available via MiLB.tv (subscription required). The Pregame Dash will begin at 6:45 p.m., with the first pitch at 7 p.m.

-Joe

Game #12 Preview – Dash vs. Myrtle Beach

Game #12 – Home Game #5
Winston-Salem Dash (3-8) vs. Myrtle Beach Pelicans (5-6)
Monday, April 18 – 7 p.m.
BB&T Ballpark (Winston-Salem, NC)

GAME BACKGROUND:

Even though Salem only outscored the Dash by five runs in this past weekend’s four-game set, the Red Sox earned a sweep, finishing it with a 3-1 victory on Sunday afternoon. The Dash look to regroup on Monday night against the Pelicans.

STARTING LINEUP:

WEB-KAN-Jacob-Morris

Jacob Morris threw two hitless innings in his first appearance with the Dash on Sunday (Ray Marsden).

Hunter Jones – CF
Toby Thomas – 2B
Ryan Leonards – 3B
Nick Basto – 1B
Marcus Davis – DH
Brett Austin – C
Louie Lechich – RF
Mason Robbins – LF
Cleuluis Rondon – SS
Matt Cooper – RHP

DASH DOTS:

  • As a result of Sunday’s victory, Salem clinched the fifth sweep for an opponent in BB&T Ballpark history. It also marked just the second four-game sweep for a visitor, joining Carolina’s brooming from August 22-25, 2014. The Red Sox became the first team to sweep the Dash multiple times since the downtown facility opened in 2010. Winston-Salem had not been swept at BB&T Ballpark until its 82nd regular season series in mid-August of 2013. The Dash have earned 23 series sweeps at BB&T Ballpark.
  • In the first three games of their series with Salem, the Dash had ample run-scoring chances but simply did not take advantage of enough of them. The Dash left 31 runners from Thursday to Saturday and went 7-for-36 (.194) with men in scoring position. However, the Dash only left two men aboard on Sunday, and they had one at-bat with men in scoring position.
  • Nick Basto has hit safely in seven consecutive games, one shy of the longest 2016-only active hitting streak in the CL. During this stretch, the Davie, Fla., native is 11-for-29 (.379) with five RBIs and four runs scored. Overall this season, Basto is tied for second in hits (16), tied for fifth in total bases (22) and RBIs (8) and tied for sixth in batting average (.372) in the Carolina League.
  • A starting pitcher’s main responsibility is to keep his club in the game, and Winston-Salem’s rotation has done just that in 2016. Dash starters collectively own a 2.82 earned run average, and none have permitted more than two earned runs in an outing thus far this season. On Sunday, Spencer Adams limited Salem to one run over five innings, during which he struck out eight (one shy of a career-high). The rotation has averaged only about four and two-thirds innings per start, but this is common early in the season because pitch ceilings are lower than normal.
  •  Winston-Salem’s defense struggled mightily in its first three games of the season. The Dash logged 10 errors, including five in the final game of that stretch (April 9 at Lynchburg). Since then, the Dash have only committed one error in their last eight games (Cleuluis Rondon throwing error on Tuesday at Myrtle Beach). The Dash, who were well behind the rest of the CL in fielding percentage through three games, have jumped all the way to third place (.975).
  • For a second season in a row, the Dash have begun their home slate at 0-4. Winston-Salem kicked off its work at BB&T Ballpark in 2015 with three losses to Myrtle Beach and a defeat at the hands of Carolina before snapping their streak. Unless the Dash knock off Myrtle Beach on Monday, they will match the longest single-season home skid in BB&T Ballpark history, which was last suffered from June 16-20, 2015.
  • Offensively, the Dash did not strike out, and they did not coax a walk on Sunday. Before the game, Winston was averaging 9.1 strikeouts and 3.1 walks per contest.
  • The Dash took two of three against Myrtle Beach last Monday through Wednesday.
    These two teams have split their last 32 regular season and postseason games since the start of the 2015 season.

BROADCAST INFORMATION:

Monday’s game will be broadcast live on wsdash.com/broadcast and the TuneIn Radio app. The Pregame Dash will begin at 6:45 p.m., with the first pitch at 7 p.m.

-Joe

 

Game #7 Preview – Dash at Myrtle Beach

Game #7 – Road Game #7
Winston-Salem Dash (2-4) at Myrtle Beach Pelicans (3-3)
Wednesday, April 13 – 7:05 p.m.
TicketReturn.Com Field (Myrtle Beach, SC)

GAME BACKGROUND:

Behind six sensational innings from Spencer Adams, Winston-Salem edged Myrtle Beach 4-3 on Tuesday night at TicketReturn.Com Field. Adams, who turned 20 today, scattered six hits in what was the longest start from a Dash hurler in 2016. Winston-Salem goes for their first series win of the season on Wednesday.

STARTING LINEUP:

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Cleuluis Rondon (above) turned 22 years old on Wednesday. He shares a birthday with pitcher Spencer Adams, who turned 20 (Andrew Dye/ W-S Journal).

Hunter Jones – CF
Louie Lechich – RF
Gerson Montilla – 3B
Nick Basto – DH
Marcus Davis – 1B
Brett Austin – C
Michael Danner – LF
Toby Thomas – 2B
Ryan Leonards – SS
Matt Cooper – RHP

DASH DOTS:

  • Dash first baseman Nick Basto continues to shine in the first week of the season. On Tuesday, the former fifth-round pick went 3-for-4, including an RBI triple in the third inning. Basto has collected at least two hits in four of his five starts, and his .455 batting average (10-for-22) is second-best in the league. He only trails Carolina’s Keith Curcio (.462) among qualifiers. Last year, Basto did not record his 10th hit of the season until May 5, his 24th game.
  • Not much has separated the Dash and Pelicans in recent meetings. Tuesday marked the two clubs’ fourth consecutive one-run game. Eight of the last nine have been decided by one or two runs, with Myrtle Beach enjoying a slight 5-4 advantage during this stretch. Since the start of 2015, the Dash and Birds have met 31 times, and Myrtle Beach owns a slight 16-15 edge.
  • While the Dash’s starters have been outstanding during this series, the bullpen has scuffled. Winston-Salem’s starting duo of Blair Walters and Adams has blanked the Birds over 10 combined innings of work. On the flip side, the Dash’s bullpen has permitted eight runs (all earned) in seven and a third innings (9.82 ERA).
  • Myrtle Beach’s Jonathan Martinez will make his fifth start against Winston-Salem on Wednesday. Most recently, Martinez won the deciding Game 3 of last year’s Southern Division Championship Series (6.0 IP, 2 R-ER). In three regular season outings against the Dash, the righty boasted a 1.13 ERA (16.0 IP, 2 ER). On Opening Night, Martinez limited Frederick to one run in five innings en route to the victory.
  • Following Wednesday’s rubber match at Myrtle Beach, the Dash will begin the seventh season inside BB&T Ballpark. Winston entertains the Salem Red Sox for a four-game set that kicks off Thursday night. Since the beautiful downtown facility opened in 2010, the Dash boast a 244-176 (.581) home record, the best in the Carolina League during that span. However, the Dash have not won their first home game since 2012, a 1-0 victory over Carolina.
  • In addition to Adams, infielder Cleuluis Rondon is celebrating a birthday, his 22nd.
  • Even though they have only committed one error in their last three games, the Dash still pace the circuit in defensive miscues with 11, one more than both Carolina and Lynchburg.
  • In his first professional start on Friday at Lynchburg, Matt Cooper gave up just two runs over five innings. He had made 59 relief appearances with the Sox system before transitioning into a starting role.

Wednesday’s game will be broadcast live on wsdash.com/broadcast and the TuneIn Radio app. The Pregame Dash will begin at 6:50 p.m., with the first pitch at 7:05 p.m.

-Joe

Game #6 Preview – Dash at Myrtle Beach

Game #6 – Road Game #6
Winston-Salem Dash (1-4) at Myrtle Beach Pelicans (3-2)
Tuesday, April 12 – 7:05 p.m.
TicketReturn.Com Field (Myrtle Beach, SC)

GAME BACKGROUND:

Myrtle Beach took advantage of four walks in the bottom of the ninth to stun the Dash 5-4 at TicketReturn.Com Field on Monday night. Winston-Salem has now dropped four in a row since winning their season opener against Lynchburg, and three straight against the Pelicans dating back to last year’s SDCS. The Dash look to right the ship tonight against the 2015 Carolina League Champions.

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Connor Walsh has spun two scoreless appearances for the Dash this season (Ray Marsden/ Kannapolis Intimidators).

STARTING LINEUP:

Hunter Jones – CF
Louie Lechich – RF
Gerson Montilla – 3B
Nick Basto – 1B
Marcus Davis – DH
Mason Robbins – LF
Chris O’Dowd – C
Toby Thomas – 2B
Cleuluis Rondon – SS
Spencer Adams – RHP

DASH DOTS:

  • The Dash never trailed on Monday night until Ian Happ’s walk-off, two-run double, which is pretty remarkable considering Winston-Salem’s pitching staff dished out 11 walks throughout the contest. This marks the club’s highest single-game walks total since May 26, 2011, at Kinston (12). Entering Tuesday, Winston-Salem paces the Carolina League with 29 walks, 10 more than the next-closest squads in this category (Lynchburg and Myrtle Beach).
  • After claiming the season opener in 13 innings at Lynchburg, the Dash have lost four in a row. Thus, Winston-Salem is off to its first 1-4 start since the 2005 Warthogs, a team that did win its sixth game to move to 2-4. If the Dash drop Tuesday’s middle match at Myrtle Beach, they would record a five-game losing streak in the month of April for a third straight year. In April since 2014, Winston-Salem is just 19-29 (.396).
  • Monday’s matchup was the first between the Dash and Pelicans since last year’s Southern Division Championship Series, which concluded with back-to-back Myrtle Beach wins by a single run. These two clubs have played some very close games since the end of last season. Including the regular season and postseason, seven of the last eight contests in the series have been decided by one or two runs. Myrtle Beach is 5-3 during that span.
  • Dash infielder Nick Basto did earn a measure of revenge with a fourth-inning blast to left-center. It was Winston-Salem’s second home run of the season, joining Brett Austin’s three-run bomb in the 13th inning Thursday at Lynchburg. Basto, who has recorded a multi-hit game in three of his four starts this season, was the 27th out in both playoff losses at Myrtle Beach a year ago. This season, Basto is tied for eighth in the CL in average (.389) and tied for second in RBIs (5).
  • Right-hander Connor Walsh has struck out five in four scoreless innings in 2016.
  • The Dash, who only lost four games when leading after eight innings last season, dropped their first such game of this year on Monday.
  • Spencer Adams spun four innings and gave up three runs (two earned) in his first outing Thursday at Lynchburg.

BROADCAST INFORMATION:

Tuesday’s game will be broadcast live on wsdash.com/broadcast and the TuneIn Radio app. The Pregame Dash will begin at 6:50 p.m., with the first pitch at 7:05 p.m.

-Joe

Game #5 Preview – Dash at Myrtle Beach

Game #5 – Road Game #5
Winston-Salem Dash (1-3) at Myrtle Beach Pelicans (2-2)
Monday, April 11 – 7:05 p.m.
TicketReturn.Com Field (Myrtle Beach, SC)

GAME BACKGROUND:

Winston-Salem limited Lynchburg to just three hits Sunday afternoon, but Greg Allen’s speed was the difference in the Hillcats’ 2-0, series-clinching victory at Calvin Falwell Field. The Dash will try to end their three-game slide on Monday against the reigning Carolina League champion Myrtle Beach Pelicans. The Pelicans knocked out Winston-Salem in last year’s Southern Division Championship Series, before sweeping Wilmington in the Mills Cup Finals.

Blair Walters

Blair Walters will make his first start for the Dash since 2012 (Brian Westerholt / Four Seam Images).

STARTING LINEUP:

Hunter Jones – CF
Louie Lechich – RF
Gerson Montilla – 3B
Nick Basto – 1B
Marcus Davis – DH
Brett Austin – C
Michael Danner – LF
Toby Thomas – 2B
Cleuluis Rondon – SS
Blair Walters – LHP

DASH DOTS:

  • The Dash’s three pitchers on Sunday turned in strong efforts. In his first outing above rookie ball, Jordan Stephens minimized damage over four innings. He gave up two runs (one earned) and walked four. Out of the bullpen, Nolan Sanburn matched a career-high in both innings (three) and strikeouts (four), and he faced the minimum. Southpaw Andre Wheeler followed with a perfect eighth. He has whiffed six in his first three frames of 2016 (two on Sunday).
  • Once again this year, Winston-Salem struggled in its first series. The Dash have not won their first set since 2011 (took two of three at Kinston). In the five years since, Winston-Salem is just 5-13 (.278) in its first series. However, the club has bounced back nicely in its second series during this span. The Dash are 8-3 (.727) in those games, all of which have come on the road. Last season, Winston-Salem dropped three of four at Frederick before winning a three-game series at Potomac.
  • Dash third baseman Gerson Montilla went hitless in his first nine at-bats, but he has bounced back with a knock in five of his last eight chances, including a three-hit effort Sunday. He joins Nick Basto and Michael Danner as the only Dash hitters with three-hit games in 2016.
  • For the first time since 2012, southpaw Blair Walters will pitch for the Dash. The White Sox selected Walters in the 11th round of the 2011 Draft, and then dealt him to Houston as part of a deal for big league right-hander Brett Myers in July of 2012. Walters pitched for the Astros and Braves organizations before rejoining the White Sox earlier this month. Monday will mark Walters‘ 43rd appearance and 35th start in the CL.
  • Winston-Salem and Myrtle Beach will do battle for the first time since last September’s thrilling Southern Division Championship Series. The Dash knocked off the Pelicans at BB&T Ballpark in Game 1 before the Birds rallied to win the series thanks to a pair of one-run victories on the Grand Strand. Myrtle Beach went on to sweep Wilmington en route to its first title since 2000. Eight active players on the Dash’s current roster suited up for last year’s SDCS. These two teams split their 26-game regular season series a year ago, and they will play 27 times in 2016.
  • Right-hander Michael Ynoa, a key cog in the Dash’s bullpen a year ago, earned his first promotion to the Major Leagues, the White Sox announced Sunday.
  • Ynoa replaced outfielder Adam Eaton, who was placed on the Paternity List. He was 0-2 with a 2.61 ERA in 28 relief efforts last year with Winston-Salem. Ynoa was returned to Birmingham on Monday after Eaton rejoined the White Sox for their road series at Minnesota.

BROADCAST INFORMATION:

Monday’s game will be broadcast live on wsdash.com/broadcast and the TuneIn Radio app. The Pregame Dash will begin at 6:50 p.m., with the first pitch at 7:05 p.m.

-Joe

Dash announce 2016 starting rotation

With the season opener in Lynchburg only one day away, the Dash have announced their starting rotation to begin the 2016 season:

Thursday at Lynchburg: RHP Spencer Adams
Friday at Lynchburg: RHP Matt Cooper
Saturday at Lynchburg: RHP Thad Lowry
Sunday at Lynchburg: RHP Jordan Stephens
Monday at Myrtle Beach: LHP Blair Walters

If everything goes accordingly (and weather cooperates), Lowry will get the start in the Dash’s home opener on April 14 against Salem.

The 19-year-old Adams, who is the third-best prospect in the White Sox system according to multiple outlets, earns the nod for Opening Day.  The right-hander made 24 starts between Kannapolis and Winston-Salem last season and posted a 2.99 ERA. Adams is the youngest player on Winston’s roster by more than a year.

Lowry joins the Winston-Salem rotation after spending 2015 with Low-A Kannapolis. The 21-year-old led the South Atlantic League last season in innings (150.2) and the Intimidators in wins (12).

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Thad Lowry led the Intimidators in innings and wins last season.  He is scheduled to pitch the Dash’s home opener on April 14. (Ray Marsden/ Kannapolis Intimidators)

Walters begins his 6th year of pro ball as the only southpaw in the rotation. Similar to Lowry, Walters pitches to contact.  After fanning 8.4 hitters per nine innings over the first three years of his career, that average has dropped to 5.9 in the last two seasons. Interestingly, his ERA has dropped as well:

2011-13: 5.34
2014-15: 2.93

The 26-year old is no stranger to the Dash organization. He started five games for the Dash in 2012 before getting shipped to Houston (in a package for big leaguer Brett Myers). After spending time in the Astros and Braves systems, he is now back in the White Sox organization.

Cooper and Stephens do not have any starting experience in the Minor Leagues, but both were starters in college.

As a senior at the University of Hawaii in 2014, Cooper posted a 1.60 ERA in 15 starts. Stephens, who begins his first full season of pro ball, dazzled during his collegiate career at Rice. As a sophomore in 2013, he led the Owls in innings (118.2) and finished third on the team in ERA (2.43).  With Stephens about two years removed from Tommy John surgery, the organization is ready to unleash their 2015 fifth-round pick in an expanded role.

Be on the lookout for our preview of the season opener. We’ll have it on the blog Thursday. You can catch the action on 600 AM-WSJS and the TuneIn App.

-Joe

2016 Carolina Countdown: Myrtle Beach Pelicans

Believe it or not, the Dash’s season starts in just 14 days! To get you ready, we’ll be previewing every team in the Carolina League. Stay tuned over the next few days as we examine each of the Dash’s seven Carolina League foes.  Yesterday, we examined the future Cleveland Indians. Today, we take a look at the Myrtle Beach Pelicans!

Introduction: After a 15-year drought, the Pelicans returned to glory by winning the Carolina League championship in 2015. Myrtle Beach is now in its 18th season in the CL and second as an affiliate with the Chicago Cubs. Previously, this franchise was known as the Durham Bulls. The name changed following the 1997 season as a result of the expansion of the Triple-A International League into Durham, where the new franchise assumed the “Bulls” name. After spending 1998 in Danville, Va., as the Danville 97s, the team moved into their new stadium, Coastal Federal Field (now called TicketReturn.Com Field at Pelicans Ballpark), in 1999. Before their association with the Cubs, the Pelicans were affiliated with the Texas Rangers and Atlanta Braves.

Last Season: The Pelicans took home their third league championship last year, sweeping the Wilmington Blue Rocks three games to none in the Mills Cup Finals.  In the Southern Division Championship Series, Myrtle Beach knocked out Winston-Salem two games to one. The Pelicans also finished with the best overall record in the league (81-57, .587).

Outfielder Mark Zagunis was one of the best hitters for Myrtle Beach last season. The Virginia Tech product hit .271/.406/.412 with eight home runs and 54 RBIs. Zagunis was named a 2015 year-end All-Star, along with infielder Chesny Young.

Jonathan Martinez dominated on the mound for Myrtle Beach, posting a 9-2 record with a 2.56 ERA in 23 games. The 21-year old was also the winning pitcher (6IP, 5H, 2ER, 0BB, 3SO) in the deciding third game against the Dash in the SDCS.

Manager: Buddy Bailey takes over in 2016 for his first season at the helm with the Myrtle Beach Pelicans. This will be his 28th season as a manager and 11th with the Chicago Cubs. The 58-year old spent the previous four seasons as the manager of the Double-A Tennessee Smokies. Before his time in Tennessee, Bailey managed the Dayton Cubs for three seasons, helping guide them to a 2011 Florida State League Championship.

The longtime minor league vet has ties to the Carolina League, both on the field and in the dugout. A 16th round pick out of Lynchburg College in 1979, Bailey spent part of the 1982 season with the Durham Bulls (who were in the league at that point). He would later manage the Lynchburg Red Sox during the 1991 and 1992 seasons, going a combined 144-130 (.526).

Pitching coach Anderson Tavarez also begins his first season with Myrtle Beach, while hitting coach Mariano Duncan comes back for a fourth season. Duncan won two World Series championships as a player, one with Cincinnati (1990) and the other with the New York Yankees (1996).

System: A common question around baseball this offseason is whether or not this is the year the Cubs finally break their 108-year title drought?

The team is fresh off a 97-65 season, during which they reached the NLCS for the first time since 2003. They return Jake Arrieta, the 2015 NL Cy Young winner who went 22-6 with a 1.77 ERA, along with a bevy of young power hitters. Kris Bryant, the 2015 NL Rookie of the Year, mashed .278/.365/.481 with 20 home runs and 77 RBIs in his first season in the show. He’ll anchor the middle of the lineup alongside first baseman Anthony Rizzo, shortstop Addison Russell, and world beater Kyle Schwarber

President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein and GM Jed Hoyer went to work this offseason trying to upgrade an already stacked team. They signed OF Jason Heyward to the richest contract in franchise history, at eight years and $184 million. That wasn’t all: the squad added jack-of-all-trades infielder Ben Zobrist and starting pitcher John Lackey.

 

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Expectations for the Cubs are sky-high in 2016 (Photo by Sports Illustrated).

 

With a lot of their top prospects now in the big leagues, the farm system is not as heralded as it once was. According to Baseball America, the Cubs have only the 20th –best prospects in the league. Still, the team has six of the top 100 prospects in baseball.

After getting a cup of coffee with the Pelicans last season, there is a good shot Gleyber Torres (MLB.com’s 28th best prospect)  will play in Myrtle Beach during the 2016 season. The 19-year old shortstop hit .293/.353/.386 with three homers between Low-A and High A.  Another prospect to keep an eye is catcher Willson Contreras. Rated the 50th best prospect by MLB.com, the 23-year-old led the Double-A Southern league in batting average with a .333 mark. He also smashed eight home runs and posted an on-base percentage of .414 in 454 at-bats.

Best Promotion: Jeez-Louise, there’s a lot to pick from. Here’s a couple of my favorites: “Pirate Night” (July 22), where fans dressed as a pirate can be entered for a chance to win prizes; “Face Your Fears Night” (August 12), where fans will have to overcome their fears in return for prizes; and “Animal House Toga Part Night” (August 18), where fans can win prizes if they dress in a toga.

Fun Fact: HBO used TicketReturn.Com at Pelicans Ballpark for season three of their series Eastbound & Down. The main character Kenny Powers, played by Danny McBride, stars on a minor league team called Myrtle Beach Mermen. The Pelicans now sell Mermen jerseys at their Pro Shop and online at MyrtleBeachPelicans.com.

tv-eastbound__down-2009_2013-kenny_powers-danny_mcbride-tshirts-s03e01-myrtle_beach_mermen_shirt

The one and only Kenny Powers (played by Danny McBride) spent time in Myrtle Beach during season three of the HBO series ‘Eastbound and Down’.

Pelicans in Winston-Salem: The Dash host the Pelicans four times during the season: April 17-20, May 18-20, July 4-7, and July 16-19.

After a break for the holiday weekend, we will preview the Potomac Nationals on Monday! Happy Easter!

-Joe

Dash Top 10 – #1: First playoff clinch at BB&T Ballpark

The Winston-Salem Dash’s 2015 season is in the books, and Dash fans enjoyed many incredible moments. We whittled them down to this year’s Dash Top 10.

Previous moments:
#10 – Four-homer outburst sinks Salem
#9 – Fulmer debuts with Winston-Salem
#8 – Peter’s 14-game hitting streaks
#7 – Heidenreich named CL Pitcher of the Year
#6 – Dash win at Debbie D. Harllee Ballpark
#5 – Winston reclaims first on wild pitch
#4 – Dash power past Pelicans in SDCS Game 1
#3 – Dykstra’s dominant no-hitter
#2 – Narvaez’s walk-off on July 4

Moment #1 – August 29
Dash punch postseason ticket at home

Playoff Social MediaThe Dash have enjoyed tremendous success since moving into BB&T Ballpark in 2010. Winston-Salem has won division titles, advanced to the Mills Cup Finals, produced Major League players and posted strong attendance numbers.

However, BB&T Ballpark had never been the site of a win that clinched a playoff berth–until this season.

After the fact, the second half looks like a 68-game celebration. The Dash stood in first place for all but one day after the All-Star break. Winston-Salem recorded a remarkable 17-3 mark in one-run games. The club’s 45-23 record was the best second-half record in this league since 1987.

Entering play on August 20, though, the Dash were in second place and led Carolina by just 2.5 games for the Southern Division’s final playoff spot. It was far from certain that Winston-Salem would even make it to the postseason, let alone deliver one of the best halves in recent Carolina League memory.

The late-season surge started with the club’s walk-off wild pitch against Myrtle Beach on August 20. Over the next three days, Winston swept Carolina to extend its playoff advantage over the Mudcats to 5.5 games.

Following a rain-shortened two-game split at Myrtle Beach, the Dash returned to BB&T Ballpark for the final home set of 2015. Winston-Salem’s playoff magic number stood at six with four games against the Keys before a week-long road trip.

A team will take a playoff clincher wherever it can get it. Heck, the 2010 Dash officially wrapped up a playoff spot while on the bus. Still, a clinch at home is the preferred method.

It was not a likely scenario when that final home series began. Even if Winston were to sweep the Keys, Lynchburg would need to hand Carolina at least two losses. At the earliest, a Saturday night clinch was possible, but that would only happen with three straight Dash wins and Mudcats losses.

On Thursday, the Dash nipped Frederick 5-4, while Lynchburg’s seven-run ninth sunk Carolina 8-2.

On Friday, the Dash cruised past the Keys 6-3, and Lynchburg posted a more conventional 8-2 win over the Muddies with runs in four different innings.

So, on Saturday, the Dash had an opportunity to clinch at BB&T Ballpark, and they did not waste it.

For a third straight night, the Hillcats helped out the Dash (while also improving their playoff positioning). Lynchburg blanked the Muddies 2-0 in Zebulon.

The Dash seized the lead right away thanks to an Adam Engel leadoff home run. From there, Brandon Brennan and Brian Clark combined on a three-hit shutout, while the Dash tacked on three more runs for a 4-0 victory.

It was a dominant effort from a red-hot team with many players who had never tasted the Minor League postseason.

“That was incredible,” Dash manager Tim Esmay said after the game. “That was one of the moments right there.”

“They never panicked. They never lost their way. We never pointed fingers. The guys stayed pretty connected, and that’s why they are where they’re at right now.

“It’s very special to me,” Engel said. “Every time you get to do something like this, what we got to do tonight, it’s never going to be the same twice. I love this team, and I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.”

The Dash would take eventual champion Myrtle Beach to the brink in a thrilling Southern Division Championship Series before eventually falling by one in the deciding third game. Even though the team fell short of a record 12th Mills Cup, Winston-Salem watched a thrilling run that culminated in a playoff clinch at home.

Another Dash Top 10 is in the books. Stay tuned throughout the offseason for more news and notes.

– Brian

Dash Top 10 – #5: Dash reclaim first place on wild pitch

The Winston-Salem Dash’s 2015 season is in the books, and Dash fans enjoyed many incredible moments. We whittled them down to this year’s Dash Top 10, which we will unveil over the next two weeks.

Previous moments:
#10 – Four-homer outburst sinks Salem
#9 – Fulmer debuts with Winston-Salem
#8 – Peter’s 14-game hitting streaks
#7 – Heidenreich named CL Pitcher of the Year
#6 – Dash win at Debbie D. Harllee Ballpark

Moment #5 – August 20
Dash grab first place with walk-off wild pitch

Keon Barnum scored on a wild pitch to stun Myrtle Beach in one of the Dash's biggest wins of 2015 (Jody Stewart/W-S Dash).

Keon Barnum scored on a wild pitch to stun Myrtle Beach in one of the Dash’s biggest wins of 2015 (Jody Stewart/W-S Dash).

In the second half, Winston-Salem entered every day with at least a share of first place except for one–August 20.

It was an improbable turnaround for the Dash, who resided in the Southern Division’s basement for the final 50 days of the first half. In half two, Winston-Salem started with five consecutive wins and never looked back, except for that day in mid-August.

One day prior, Winston-Salem squared off with Myrtle Beach in a doubleheader, with the Pelicans just a game-and-a-half back of the Dash in the standings.

Despite a strong start from Yency Almonte, Myrtle Beach took down the Dash 4-1 in the opener, during which Winston mustered only three hits. The nightcap was even more frustrating, as the Dash spoiled a bases loaded, one-out opportunity in the eighth before giving up a pair in the ninth on two bases loaded walks.

Thus, a one-and-a-half game lead became a half-game deficit. Winston’s 55-day run atop the Southern Division, the club’s longest during the Dash era, came to an end after this lengthy doubleheader.

The series finale on August 20 did not begin very promisingly for Winston-Salem. Myrtle Beach posted a three-run first inning and led 4-2 through seven. However, Nolan Earley pulled the Dash within one on a double and scored on an Eddy Alvarez single to knot the score at 4-4 in the eighth.

Earley stepped up once again in the ninth, this time with the bases loaded and two down. In this case, though, Earley did not have to be the hero. Myrtle Beach reliever Michael Heesch uncorked a wild pitch, and slugger Keon Barnum, not known for his speed, “ran as fast as I could” to the plate to score the game-winning run.

For two games and seven innings of that series, Myrtle Beach outplayed Winston-Salem, but the Dash rallied for one of their many single-run victories during the second half. In fact, Winston was 17-3 after the All-Star break in games decided by one run.

That walk-off win marked the second and final “lead change” in the division standings. Winston-Salem only spent one day in the second half outside first place, and the club immediately responded with this victory, one of 14 in the Dash’s final 17 games.

Even though the Dash did not finish the deal in the postseason, there was no doubt about the top team in the Carolina League during the season’s second half. Winston’s 45-23 record was the circuit’s best half two mark since 1987.

The Dash’s late-season surge started thanks to that come-from-behind win less than 24 hours after the toughest day of the second half.

Speaking of the Dash and the Pelicans, our fourth-best Dash moment of 2015 also involved a battle between these two clubs. We’ll talk to you on Tuesday.

– Brian

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