2022 White Sox affiliate preview: Winston-Salem Dash (High-A)

The South Atlantic League and Carolina League are back, but not where the White Sox farm system left them. The Winston-Salem Dash are now in the Sally League, and they’ll kick off the season by hosting the Crawdads from Hickory.

The Dash won’t miss the High-A East. They finished with a record of 43-76 in the South Division. It was a struggle as the club finished the year with a league worst run differential of -176.

The Dash are looking to get back on track this season, and BB&T Ballpark should be a prime destination for fans and scouts alike. Taking over as manager in Winston-Salem will be veteran skipper Lorenzo Bundy. The 62-year-old managed the Binghamton Rumble Ponies, the Double-A affiliate of the New York Mets last season. This is his first year working as a coach in the White Sox organization, but he’ll be flanked by names familiar to White Sox fans. In Bundy’s maiden voyage on the coaching front, Nicky Delmonico will take over as the hitting coach while Danny Farquhar returns to the Dash as pitching coach. Carson Wooten (athletic trainer) and Dan Morrison (strength and conditioning coach) are on board as well.

Here is how the Dash look to open the season and what to expect from the squad in 2022.

Opening day ages of the players are listed in parentheses.

Outfielders

The Winston-Salem roster is a talented one but the star attraction is definitely Cuban outfielder Oscar Colás. Signed by the White Sox in January for $2.7 million, he’ll be playing stateside in full season ball this year. The 6-foot-1-inch, 210-pound outfielder has endured an almost two year layoff from playing consistently but still earned some plaudits from scouts and evaluators during spring training. Hitting and throwing from the left side and possessing 30-homer potential, Colás is one of the best prospects in the organization. The 23-year-old seemingly projects in a corner but Chris Getz mentioned that he’d receive some time in center field as well.

Luis Mieses turned the corner in 2021. The 6-3, 180-pounder struggled with the Dash to start the season, rebounded at Kannapolis, then thrived in his return to High-A. The Dominican has significant power potential but he needs to be more selective at the dish. Mieses possesses a plus throwing arm despite below-average run times and profiles in a corner. The left-handed hitter launched 15 homers across both levels and posted a .227 ISO with the Dash. He returns to Winston-Salem, looking to propel himself to a spot in Double-A in short order.

The other outfielders on the roster are all returning to High-A as well. Duke Ellis was signed as UDFA out of Texas after the conclusion of the 2020 MLB Draft. The 24-year-old hits left-handed and plays stellar defense but has really struggled with the bat as a professional. Caberea Weaver has also been lauded for his speed and defensive ability after being selected in the seventh round of the 2018 draft out of a Georgia high school, but he, too, has problems at the plate. Rounding out the group will be 2021 16th-round pick Terrell Tatum out of North Carolina State. He played four games for the Dash after posting a 141 wRC+ in the Arizona Complex League last year. He’s also 22, stands 6 feet and 170 pounds, and bats and throws left-handed.

infielders

Bryan Ramos has performed to this point as a professional and will play the entire 2022 season at the age of 20. The Cuban infielder has caught attention from rival evaluators throughout instructional league action and during minor league spring training. Ramos possesses plus raw power and premium bat speed and the White Sox plan to use him at second base in addition to third. He pounder posted a 10 percent walk rate in 2021 as a 19-year-old in Low-A while collecting 13 homers, which was good for a 109 wRC+. The infielder is one of the highest-upside prospects in the entire system.

Ramos will be joined on the infield by 23-year-old Harvin Mendoza. The 6-2, 185-pound Venezuelan has played some outfield, but he profiles better defensively at first base. The rub is the lack of power Mendoza has displayed in games as a professional. The left-handed hitter displays patience and posted a 122 wRC+ in Kannapolis last year before struggling in 40 games with the Dash. He’s going to need to hit for more power to enhance his overall profile in 2022.

Rounding out the infield will be 22-year-old second baseman Shawn Goosenberg, 22-year-old minor league Rule Five selection Moises Castillo and 25-year-old New Zealander Jason Matthews. Goosenberg was selected in the 19th round of the 2021 draft out of Northwestern and played in 23 games in Low-A after torching the Arizona Complex League in a small sample. Sierra has been a glove-only type in the St. Louis Cardinals’ system and he’s down a level with the White Sox. Matthews is an interesting case. Having never played affiliated baseball before, the shortstop hit .351/.448/.551 with eight homers for the independent Great Falls Voyagers last season. He was named the International Player of the Year in the Pioneer League and he’ll get a shot in HIgh-A to start the season.

Catchers

Adam Hackenberg and Keegan Fish have both missed a lot of time due to injuries in their careers so far. Hackenberg is the top catching prospect in the organization and he joined the franchise via the 18th round of the 2021 draft. The 6-1, 225-pound Clemson product comes from obvious bloodlines and he has a chance to be a plus defender behind the plate. He was injured often in college and the White Sox feel very fortunate to have landed him late on day three. Hackenberg shows a plus throwing arm and he threw out 44 percent of base stealers during his debut in Kannapolis last year. He should get to average raw power in the future and he posted a 130 wRC+ with the Cannon Ballers to close out the year.

Fish asked for his release back in December and signed with the White Sox soon after the Marlins granted his request. The 5-11 190-pound switch hitter is still only 22 despite being drafted in the 13th round of the 2018 draft out of Lakota West High School in Ohio. With only 78 plate appearances in 2021 and 50 career games total, Fish has a lot to prove. He’s also displayed solid on-base skills but he needs to be healthy in order to make real gains. Tyler Osik is the third catcher in his return to Winston-Salem, where he really struggled last season. The 25-year-old converted to catcher from first base but then struggled with injuries after the transition. The right-handed hitting Osik posted great numbers in 2019 during his draft year.

Starting Pitchers

It’s often difficult to distinguish starters and relievers in any real fashion prior to the start of a season in A-ball. Andrew Dalquist and Matthew Thompson will make their High-A debuts after throwing for the Cannon Ballers last year. Sean Burke was taken in the third round of the 2021 draft and he’s in the rotation as well. Chase Solesky and Isaiah Carranza were also former draft picks of the organization and they’re expected to earn some starts in the Carolina League.

Thompson and Dalquist may get lumped together forever. They were both taken in succession in rounds two and three back in 2019 and both were given around $2 million to forego major college commitments. The 21-year-olds both struggled pitching in a tough environment with the Cannon Ballers in Low-A last year as well. Thompson posted a 4.85 FIP in 71.2 innings and walked way too many guys. Dalquist thew 83 innings and posted a 4.54 FIP while walking more than six batters per nin, which doesn’t match his scouting report.

Thompson, the 6-3, 195-pound righty out of Texas, is the most athletic pitcher in the system, and he’s stated that “adding a horizontal element” to his repertoire is an area of focus this year. He throws lots of four-seam fastballs but his curveball is his best pitch. He’s been too reliant on it in the past but he’s aware of the usage patterns. Dalquist has gained velocity since entering the system and possesses a smooth, low-effort delivery. The California native has added 20 pounds and both hurlers have lauded changes to the organization’s implementation of a new throwing program.

Burke was taken out of Maryland in the third round of the 2021 draft. Standing 6-6 and 230 pounds, he shows a four-pitch mix and deploys a well-rounded arsenal. After signing his professional contract, the righty threw 17 innings, including a 14 inning sample in Low-A where he averaged nearly 13 K/9 and posted a 3.21 ERA. Burke possesses an athletic delivery and he could move through the system quickly if there are no hiccups on the health front. The former Terrapin could finish the season in Birmingham.

Isaiah Carranza was rated as a top-200 draft prospect out of Azusa Pacific back in 2018 and the White Sox nabbed the right-hander in the 12th round. The 6-5, 180-pounder underwent Tommy John surgery almost immediately upon entering the system but he made it back in 2021. The 25-year-old had a tough time in Winston-Salem with the Dash and he’ll get another opportunity to start 2022. Solesky put up big strikeout numbers in Low-A last year but got hit around often. The former 21st-rounder out of Tulane will get an opportunity to rack up some innings as a 24-year-old with the Dash.

Relievers

The bullpen in Winston-Salem should be anchored by a former international signing and three recent college relievers selected in the 2021 draft. Yoelvin Silven has been listed as a top-30 organizational prospect for some publications this offseason. The 6-1 175 pound Dominican shows a fastball that touches 97 mph but he’s trying to improve an inconsistent slider. The 22-year-old posted a 2.77 ERA with the Dash last season.

Gil Luna Jr., Taylor Broadway and Theo Denlinger were all seen as Day 2money-savers during the 2021 draft but all three were impressive in fall instructs and during spring training. Luna Jr. is the latest lefty from longtime scout John Kazanas and despite a smallish frame (5-10, 173 pounds), he struck out 24 hitters in 15.1 innings last year. The ninth-rounder out of Arizona throws his fastball in the 94-96 mph range with a low release point and also likes to attack hitters with his changeup. The diminutive southpaw posted a 0.00 ERA across to levels after signing.

Broadway, a closer at Ole Miss, didn’t give up much during his professionla debut where he hurled 12.2 innings. Broadway is a 5-10, 205-pound bulldog on the mound with a closer’s mentality but his fastball carry is also pretty impressive. Denlinger is already 25, but he throws really hard and stuck out 31 batters in 16.2 innings last year. The 6-3, 240-pounder closed games for Bradley in college. He posted a 2.45 ERA with a fastball that hits 97 mph in 16.2 innings last year.

Cooper Bradford, Zach Cable, Edgar Navarro an Karan Patel are the other relievers that the Dash will utilize from the right side. Fraser Ellard, Trey Jeans, Ty Madrigal and Jesus Valles will close out the pitching staff throwing from the left side. Many of these assignments for pitchers are subject to change and multiple arms could move back and forth between starting and relieving throughout the 2022 campaign.

Overview

The Dash should be an exciting bunch with seven of the organization’s top 30 prospects in uniform. Colás’ utility in center field will be worth watching, but even if the playing time ultimately indicates that a corner profile is more realistic, watching him hit in the early going is the big draw. Ramos could be a big riser in prospect rankings and reports from spring training were positive. His ability to play second base could add to his profile.

Mieses really turned it on in his return to Winston-Salem to close out last season. He returns to the Dash to begin 2022 looking to propel himself to the Southern League as soon as he can. Catcher is a weak area in the system overall but internal evaluators are extremely high on Adam Hackenberg and the organization believes he’s a future big-league catcher. If they’re correct, people will become more familiar with him as the season moves along.

Matthew Thompson and Andrew Dalquist are looking to take the next steps in their development as future big-league starters and Sean Burke could move quickly in a similar role. While the relief corps is full of guys that offer interesting profiles on their best days, lefty Gil Luna Jr. is the most advanced of the bunch with a skill set that lacks the need for extended minor league team.

The Kannapolis Cannon Ballers have a very young squad again as well and some of them could earn promotions to Winston-Salem throughout the year. Another MLB Draft will commence in July and the Dash will get some reinforcements at that time as well.

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James Fox
James Fox
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ParisSox

This is a really good write up. Thank you. Especially appreciate the overview at the end.