The Winston-Salem Dash played 132 games in 2022 and went 58-74, winning 15 more games than last year in 13 more games played and bringing up their winning percentage from .361 in 2021 to .439 this year. Their record was good for fifth place out of six in the division and 10th of 12 in the South Atlantic League overall.
Here’s the monthly breakdown by record:
- April: 13-7
- May: 9-17
- June: 15-11
- July: 9-15
- August: 9-17
- September: 3-7
Yikes. Even with the precarious May, though, the team spent much of the first half of the season near or just above .500, finishing the half at 33-33 on June 23. They even started out 9-6 in the second half.
Then Oscar Colás was promoted to the Barons on July 12 and the Dash went 16-35 for the rest of the year. After the rest of their top prospects were also raptured to Double-A on August 23 as part of Project Birmingham, the Dash went 5-13.
At the plate, the team was pretty unremarkable, with a slash line of .244/.330/.374. Notably, they struck out less than every team in the league other than Hickory (classic!!) and stole fewer bases than every team other than Brooklyn. Of their 115 team stolen bases, incredibly, 50 of those were swiped by outfielder Duke Ellis.
They did grow a bit more remarkable towards the end of the season, not in the way you’d want, as they were one-hit twice in two and a half weeks. The first of those was a no-hitter until Bryan Ramos singled with one out in the ninth and the second one was a no-hitter until Caberea Weaver singled with one out in the ninth.
It was on the mound, though, where things consistently fell apart for the Dash. The Sox system is notably thin when it comes to both starting and relieving and the dearth of talent shone through like a black sun. Thirty-nine separate players made pitching appearances, although two of those were position players and 12 threw 10 or fewer innings.
Dash starting pitchers led the league in losses with a record of 17-51, had a collective ERA of 5.44 and WHIP of 1.48 (both league highs), struck out just 476 over 541 innings (league low in strikeouts), and walked 240 (second-most in the league).
The bullpen comparatively fared much better, with a 4.60 ERA (only the fifth highest) and, like the starters, a 1.48 WHIP (fourth). They struck out 645 over 603 innings, fifth in the league, and walked 321, third most. Hilariously, their record was 41-23.
Despite everything, there were still plenty of players who took positive steps and who are just Brimming With Potential, should they just be able to access it consistently/stay healthy/find their control/etc/etc. We’ll take a look at who stood out this year, for better or worse.
Steps forward – position players
Oscar Colás (CF): At 23 years old and with significant foreign league experience, perhaps Colás could have skipped the High-A stage instead of spending 59 games definitively proving over and over again that he didn’t belong there. At the plate, the worst thing that can really be said about him is that it would have been nice to see him hit more than seven home runs (he went on to smash double that in just 51 games for the Barons and two more in seven games for the Knights). With 13 doubles and three triples, he still led the team in slugging, slashing .312/.369/.475. He walked 22 times and struck out 54.
Over the month of June, he batted .384/.421/.556 with four doubles, two triples, three home runs, and 17 RBI, then was still in a Dash uniform for seven more games (8-for-27) before finally getting the call up one level.
Colson Montgomery (SS): It would have been hard to ask for a better full-season debut for the 2021 first-rounder. Montgomery, who will turn 21 in February, arrived in Winston near the end of June riding a 32-game on-base streak and sporting a Kannapolis slash line of .324/.424/.477 in 45 games there.
That on-base streak swelled to 59 games before snapping in early August, and Montgomery, who spent much of the season banged up, ran out of steam near the end. He finished his time with the Dash with an 0-for-14 before promotion to the Barons. Overall, in 37 High-A games, he batted .258/.387/.417 with five home runs, 26 walks, and 26 strikeouts—so even when he was struggling with the bat, his eye stayed consistent.
Bryan Ramos (3B): Ramos, who hit .244/.345/.415 as a 19-year-old in Kannapolis in 2021, opened the 2022 season with a .403/.449/.653 April before nosediving for most of May and June. Instead of being resigned to a “well, he’s young” year, though, Ramos’s adjustments started paying off by July; from July 1 through August 21, his last game before promotion, he batted .296/.368/.486, rehabilitating his overall slash line with the team to a more-than-adequate .275/.350/471.
Ramos was also the runaway team leader in home runs with 19 in 99 games (including two two-home-run games); Luis Mieses was the next closest with 12. He walked 40 times and struck out 71. Despite going 13-and-4 in stolen base attempts last year, he ironically only ran once with the Dash, successfully stealing a single base (he was later caught stealing in his sole attempt with the Barons).
Tyler Osik (DH/1B/C): A standout offensive year was what Osik needed after two lost seasons, one to the pandemic and one to injury, and that’s exactly what he produced. Serving primarily as the designated hitter but seeing some time behind the plate and at first, Osik hit .310/.390/.463 over 89 games before being Project Birmingham’d, slamming 10 home runs and hitting for the cycle once in the process. He also threw one scoreless inning, pitching ably around two hits to finish out a 19-5 loss.
The main thing going against Osik is the combo of his age and position, unless he can stick at catcher (although, there’s always an outfield corner…). He was 22 years old when he was drafted in the 27th round in 2019 and the injuries have significantly hampered what would likely have otherwise been quick upward progress. At 25, he was over two years older than the league average in 2022. He’s got time to catch up, but should ideally be in Charlotte pretty quickly in 2023.
Luis Mieses (RF/LF): Convincingly leading the entire White Sox farm system in doubles (and only one behind José Abreu’s organization-leading 40), the 22-year-old Mieses took some steps in the right direction in 2022. His walk rate remained low and strikeout rate high, but he was patient enough at the plate for a .281/.324/.448 slash line over 106 games. He supplemented his 34 Dash doubles with 12 home runs, and with three more dongs once he was promoted to the Barons, he matched his 2021 output in that regard.
Mieses is also capable of reeling off impressive stretches of multi-hit games; he hit safely in 75 separate games total, with 33 of those being multi-hit.
Duke Ellis (LF/CF): Ellis more or less carried the team through June on his speed alone. He stole five bases in 12 games in April to warm up, then stole 15 between May 3 and May 24 without being caught. The perfect streak wouldn’t stand as he went 10-for-13 in June attempts; he hit .309/.380/.452 with 30 stolen bases in 34 attempts in 62 games through June 30. Even as the bat cooled off a bit, he stole 12 of 15 bases in July and eight of nine in August before becoming a Baron. Overall, he swiped 50 bags and was caught eight times.
Ellis, 24, was also a little older than league average and reeled off a 7-for-22 in limited time up in Birmingham, so it’ll be interesting to see where his legs take him in 2023.
Others: Moisés Castillo kind of came out of nowhere (“nowhere” = offseason waiver claim) and hit .281/.388/.323 over 47 games in his age-22 season, virtually all of those split between second base and shortstop. Alsander Womack, son of Tony, got more playing time as the season went on and ended up with a .272/.363/.396 line in 76 games, mostly at second but some at third. Terrell Tatum played in just 32 games before being suspended for a positive amphetamine test, but he did bat .255/.371/.418 with 20 walks and 10 stolen bases in just 32 games.
Steps forward – pitching
Chase Solesky (SP): It would be unfair to not put a spotlight on Solesky, who started more games and threw more innings than anyone else on the team in 2022, the glue of a pitching staff held together with… glue, mostly.
In a vacuum, a 4.49 ERA over 110.1 innings with just 80 strikeouts and 31 walks might not look too impressive, because it’s not. However, of his 24 starts, he completed at least the fifth inning 16 times and the sixth five times (something that, given the minor-league schedule wackiness over the last few years, lower pitch counts in general for starters in lower levels, his short stint on the Injured List, and the state of the Sox system specifically, actually is pretty impressive). He allowed one or fewer earned runs in eight of those 16 longer starts.
Matthew Thompson (SP): Similarly, Thompson’s end-of-year numbers aren’t stellar, but he contributed a lot of innings to a starting rotation that really needed innings. He ended up striking out 73 and walking 29 with an ERA of 4.70 over 84.1 innings spanning 18 games started. Thompson pitched five games where he went at least five innings and gave up zero runs.
Tommy Sommer (SP): Drafted in the 10th round in 2021, Sommer pitched very well in 14 starts for the Cannon Ballers and even more very well in nine starts with the Dash. The 6’4” southpaw threw 47.2 innings while finishing the season with the Dash, and only gave up 14 runs total while doing so, walking 14 as well and striking out 42; his ERA was 2.64 and WHIP was .944. Of those nine starts, he walked one or fewer batters in five of them.
Vince Vannelle (RP): Vannelle, who was signed as an undrafted free agent shortly before the start of the season, appeared in 24 games for the Dash and allowed any earned runs at all (never more than two) in just five of them. In total, he allowed six earned runs in 29.2 innings, walking nine and striking out 31. It is not necessary to look up how many runs he allowed in how few innings with Birmingham to bring his season ERA from well below two to 3.40.
Trey Jeans (RP): By the time Jeans had appeared twice this season, he had allowed five runs (one earned!) in two innings. Like with Vannelle, those two outings ended up being two of just five times all season where Jeans gave up runs at all. The lefty, who turns 27 in January, struck out 34 in 21.2 innings, walking 10 and allowing six earned runs, good for a 2.49 ERA. The season was a huge improvement over his 2021 with the Dash, when he finished with a 5.94 ERA over 57 innings (25 walks, 64 strikeouts). Like Vannelle, Jeans was also promoted to the Barons near the end of the year and also struggled significantly.
Cooper Bradford (RP): This was also a repeat season in Winston for Bradford, the 13th-round pick from 2019. Last year, he ended the season with 42 earned runs allowed in 47.2 innings and his ERA was nearly eight. This year, he cut that ERA more than in half, threw 11 more innings, and gave up 17 fewer earned runs. He’s still got a ways to go–he still walked 28 in 58.2 innings—but is notable for such a sharp improvement.
Others: Sean Burke wasn’t in Winston for long, making just five starts. He struck out 31 in 28 innings and walked 12 with a 2.89 ERA before joining the Barons, where his results where not so good (73 IP, 4.81 ERA, 33 BB, 99 K). Luis Amaya made the most of his 46 innings with the franchise before electing free agency; he had a 3.33 ERA and struck out 62 but also walked 26. Garrett Schoenle, between all levels this year, was lethal in relief, sporting a 2.04 ERA in 35.1 innings from the bullpen while striking out 43 and walking 17, but fell apart every time he started, going 0-7 with a 5.26 ERA in 49.2 innings, 58 strikeouts to, again, 17 walks. Cristian Mena, 19 and a new arrival to many prospect lists, had three excellent starts, one good one, four bad ones, and two short ones, then was a Baron.
Harvin Mendoza (1B): Mendoza, who has also elected free agency after six seasons in the Sox minors, hit .291/.366/.390 between Winston and Kannapolis in 2021. In 102 games this year, all with the Dash, he hit .182/.273/.298, although he did still manage 10 dongs and even two triples.
Adam Hackenberg (C): Hackenberg set standards high on Opening Day by socking two home runs, but overall, he struggled at the plate, ending up with a .231/.328/.343 line in 78 games. While certainly still salvageable, it’s not a movement in the right direction from the .320/.382/.440 he posted in 27 games in his first pro season last year.
Drew Dalquist (SP): The 2019 third-rounder went 3-9 and struggled in almost all of his 22 starts for the Dash this year. He was relentlessly punished by the long ball, scorched for 22 home runs over 90.2 innings. In 11 starts between mid-June and mid-August, he threw 45 innings that contained 16 home runs.
Amazingly, the 3-9 record is a replica of his record last year for the Cannon Ballers. While he did experience a downtick in walk rate between seasons (from 14.2% in 2021 to 12.8%), there was a larger downtick in strikeout rate (from 20.1% in 2021 to 16.6%). Over 190 career innings, Dalquist now has a 6-20 record with a 5.73 ERA and 69 strikeouts up against 53 walks.
Others: Pretty much all other pitchers. It was grim.
Oscar Colás is good. The position players you would expect to play well played well, and so did some position players you might not expect to. The pitchers, for the most part, horribly underperformed. C’est la vie.
I’m genuinely intrigued by Tatum and Ellis. Both have good on-base skills and aggressiveness on the bases along with good outfield defense that should help them ascend the system quickly as older prospects need to. I think Ellis may have additional power to tap into as well and may be an undrafted gold strike.
Tatum also got a bit of time in AZFL. Limited but did extend the season for him.
Ellis sounds like what I had hoped James Beard would become. Perhaps he could develop into the next Adam Engel down the line. Sounds like a really good find so far.