Results tagged ‘ Scott Merkin ’

Checking in with the big club

Erik Johnson will start the 2014 season in the White Sox rotation (Jody Stewart/W-S Dash).

Erik Johnson will start the 2014 season in the White Sox rotation (Jody Stewart/W-S Dash).

We are taking a quick break on our Carolina Countdown, which will resume later this week. In honor of our exciting announcement today, let’s check in on the White Sox with just six days until their opener and nine until the Dash’s Opening Day.

Erik Johnson makes the White Sox rotation: Right-hander Erik Johnson stormed through the White Sox minor league ranks, including a two-month stop in Winston-Salem. Chicago skipper Robin Ventura announced the rotation today, and the former second-round pick is in it.

This comment from White Sox beat writer Scott Merkin is important to note, too.

Whether the White Sox view Johnson as the fourth-best pitcher in the rotation or not, he will be in the mix to start the 2014 season. Good for Erik, who was an incredibly friendly, yet focused, pitcher during his time in the Triad. Big league hitters will hate seeing his slider.

Micah Johnson still in big league camp: Speedster Micah Johnson, who led all of Minor League Baseball in stolen bases last season, is still a member of big league camp. Only 33 players remain at this stage, which is an incredible accomplishment for a player who started last year in Low-A Kannapolis. Some thoughts via Twitter:

Johnson’s stolen base total in 2013 (84) is good for the second-most by a White Sox farmhand ever. Per these reporters and others, he will probably not be in a White Sox uniform on Opening Day, but his time may come much sooner than people expected this time last year.

A few other notes:
- Great stuff from our friends at FutureSox, who break down why Adrian Nieto made the White Sox, while Dash alum Kevan Smith did not.

- You won’t go hungry at U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago this year. Wow.

- Merkin continues his good work with a great feature on Dash alum Nate Jones’ memories from his first Opening Day.

We are into single digits in our countdown to baseball’s return to Winston-Salem. Stay tuned for continuing coverage.

- Brian

Spring (training) is in the air

Josh Phegley has some work to do to be Chicago's Opening Day catcher (Saul McSween/W-S Dash).

Josh Phegley has some work to do to be Chicago’s Opening Day catcher (Saul McSween/W-S Dash).

While we gear up for another temperature dip in Winston-Salem, the White Sox are chugging along in warm Glendale, Ariz., with their first spring training game just three days away. Here are some news and notes from an exciting time of the baseball calendar.

  • The White Sox first spring training game is Friday against the Dodgers, but the club will suit up for an intrasquad game later today. While many fans will pay attention to Jose Abreu’s first trip to the plate as a member of the organization, Dash fans should keep their eyes on the men throwing the pitches. Per Dan Hayes of CSN Chicago, Winston-Salem alumni Chris Bassitt, Chris Beck, Andre Rienzo and Scott Snodgress will pitch two innings Tuesday. Charlie Leesman, Brian Omogrosso and Jake Petricka are also expected to pitch in the game.
  • Speaking of Bassitt, Grantland’s Jonah Keri (one of the best baseball writers out there) offered up one non-roster spring invitee for each American League organization who intrigued him, and the 2013 Carolina League All-Star was the White Sox prospect. I encourage you to check out the full article here, but here was the most interesting line: The Sox hope Bassitt has the repertoire to eventually become a back-of-the-rotation starter, and at some point this season we could see his nasty sinker in the majors.”
  • Hayes also penned a story regarding the White Sox catching situation, and Tyler Flowers has the early advantage over 2010 Dash alum Josh Phegley. Phegley, in essence, replaced Flowers as the Sox catcher after thriving with Triple-A Charlotte during last season’s first half. However, Phegley did not light it up, and Flowers is likely to get the chance to bounce back from a tough 2013.
  • Micah Johnson led Minor League Baseball in stolen bases during his three-stop 2013 in Winston-Salem, Birmingham and Kannapolis, and Scott Merkin of MLB.com chatted with the likable infield prospect about the art of stealing a base. The best line? Johnson said this: “Really, it’s an art form, and it’s something you are born with. It’s an instinct you have.”
  • The Dash’s season begins in just 37 days! The schedule is set for every home and road game (along with first pitch times). I encourage you to check out our schedule downloads page, where you can equip yourself with our schedule for 2014.

We will keep you posted on the White Sox all spring long. Baseball is almost here!

- Brian

Chris Sale’s perfect game bid on Twitter

Dash alum Chris Sale had himself quite an outing tonight on ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball. If you know about it, relive the fun. If you have not heard about his effort, learn about it below.

Great effort, Chris. Here’s hoping the White Sox can pull off the victory over the Angels.

- Brian

Sale-ing through spring training

As we near the halfway point of spring training, many Dash alums are grabbing the headlines at White Sox camp in Glendale, Ariz.

Chris Sale had a 2.25 ERA in 4 appearances for the Dash in 2010.

Chris Sale had a 2.25 ERA in four appearances for the Dash in 2010, his first professional season.

Sale dominates in first outing since signing extension: Late last week, Chris Sale signed a $32.5 million contract extension that will keep him with the White Sox until at least 2017 and includes team options for 2018 and 2019. Sale followed that up with a win in his second outing of the spring Monday against Colorado.

The southpaw was efficient, allowing just one run on three hits, while needing only 58 pitches to get through five plus innings. The longest at-bat of the day was a seven pitch duel with catcher Yorvit Torrealba, who hit the seventh pitch out of the yard. Despite the home run, Torrealba had a lot of praise for the young lefty, telling MLB.com’s Scott Merkin:

“He throws almost sidearm, and his delivery is kind of weird, too. You’ve got to give credit to the guy. He’s got a good changeup and a nasty slider. The ball’s moving a lot, especially when he goes away to righties. It seems the ball keeps running away.”

Through two starts this spring, Sale is now 1-0 with a 1.23 earned run average.

Marcus Semien spent all of 2012 in Winston-Salem and impressed at Major League camp this year. (Steve Orcutt/W-S Dash).

Marcus Semien spent all of 2012 in Winston-Salem. (Steve Orcutt/W-S Dash).

White Sox make 10 roster moves on busy Monday: Following yesterday’s 3-1 win over Colorado, the White Sox made 10 roster moves. Among the moves, Winston-Salem alums Stefan Gartrell, Erik Johnson, Seth Loman, Marcus Semien, Scott Snodgress, Trayce Thompson and Keenyn Walker were all reassigned to minor league camp. Here are their stats with the White Sox in spring training:

  • Gartrell: 3-13 (.231), 1 HR, 3RBIs
  • Johnson: 3 outings, 6.1 IP,4 Ks, 8.53 ERA
  • Loman: 7-20 (.350), 2 HRs, 9 RBIs
  • Semien: 5-11 (.455), 1 HR, 4RBIs
  • Snodgress: 3 outings, 5.0 IP, 3 Ks, 5.40 ERA
  • Thompson: 0-14 (.000), 1 RBI, 1 SB
  • Walker: 5-20 (.250), 1 3B, 1 RBI, 1 SB

The White Sox also optioned RHP Nestor Molina to Double-A Birmingham and RHP Simon Castro and LHP Santos Rodriguez to Triple-A Charlotte. Rodriguez, a member of the Dash in both 2010 and 2011, appeared in four games and tossed two and two-thirds innings for the White Sox this spring.

Mitchell standing out for White Sox: In 11 games for the White Sox this spring, outfielder Jared Mitchell is hitting .393 with one home run and five RBIs. His speed his also been a major weapon, notes White Sox insider Dan Hayes:

Despite his impressive play this spring, Mitchell will be starting the season with Triple-A Charlotte, according to new White Sox General Manager Rick Hahn. Hahn did tell CBS Chicago’s Adam Hoge he doesn’t believe Mitchell’s time is too far away:

“The key for him will be when he gets to Charlotte to keep doing what he’s doing here. And if he’s able to put together a solid first half, it’s conceivable he could help us in the second half of this year and certainly he’s on track to help us in 2014.”

Whether or not Mitchell does make it to the South Side this summer, it certainly will not be too long before the Dash can count him among their big league alums.

- Rob

Spring Training Updates

Andre Rienzo and a few other former Dash hurlers are getting a longer look in spring training (Kevin Hartley/W-S Dash).

Andre Rienzo and a few other former Dash hurlers are getting a longer look in spring training (Kevin Hartley/W-S Dash).

Baseball is certainly in the air. Single-game tickets for the Dash’s 2013 season went on sale today, and White Sox pitchers and catchers have made their way to spring training, with position players slowly trickling in each day.

Here are a few stories of interest for White Sox and Dash fans coming out of Glendale, Ariz.:

Extended look for Dash pitching alums: Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune wrote about White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper’s plan to space out the work of the club’s rotation early on in spring training. Former Winston-Salem southpaw Chris Sale will make his first spring start March 1, which is six days after the Sox first exhibition affair. As a result, a few Winston-Salem alums will benefit, per Gonzales:

The planned delay allows Cooper and the Sox staff to take a longer look at prospects Erik Johnson, Scott Snodgress, Andre Rienzo and Simon Castro, as well as left-hander Hector Santiago, who currently is being viewed as more of a reliever but could start if Danks isn’t ready.

Gonzales also tweeted this about Johnson and Snodgress Tuesday:

It certainly is great to see a handful of former Winston-Salem arms receive some praise and attention in big league camp.

Mitchell likely ticketed for Triple-A: According to Scott Merkin of MLB.com, former Dash outfielder Jared Mitchell will probably begin the season in Triple-A Charlotte. However, the former first-round pick has improved with the offensive side of his game, and White Sox officials have noticed. Still, it looks like a return to the International League is in store for Mitchell:

“Stranger things have happened, but I don’t see us taking him come the end of spring,” said White Sox general manager Rick Hahn, who agreed with Mitchell in that simple repetition at the plate has helped him improve. “Instead, he’ll be playing on an everyday basis at [Triple-A] Charlotte, pushing us to hopefully bring him up based on his performance as the season goes on.”

Mitchell’s batting average climbed a bit over the last two seasons. He hit .222 in 129 games with Winston-Salem in 2011, while the LSU product mustered a .237 mark in 130 games between Double-A Birmingham and Triple-A Charlotte in 2012.

Gearing up for Arizona: A few other familiar faces to Dash fans are ready for their trip to spring training.

The season opens in exactly 50 days in Zebulon, with the home opener seven days later. Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone! Enjoy your time with that special someone.

- 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 whitesox.com 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

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