The Week in Winston: Dash update, April 6-19

Truist Stadium in Winston-Salem

The Winston-Salem Dash opened the season on the wrong end of a 10-5 drubbing and then were rained out for the next four days; luckily, it was a cleansing rain, because when the sun finally shone through, it shone on a team hitting the hell out of the ball. 

Good news: The Dash are mashing. They’re monster mashing. They’re verging on graveyard smashing, to the extent that such a thing is legal. They are 7-2, and this is about as good a nine-game stretch as they’ve had in recent memory. Six regulars in the lineup are hitting over .300, some of them hitting well over .300, and they lead the 12-team South Atlantic League in home runs (15) and triples (five). Because of the early-season rainouts, they’ve played two fewer games than most other teams, making the cumulative stats that much more impressive.

The pitching has been not as good as the hitting, a black mark borne fairly evenly by starters and relievers and fairly unevenly between individual players. How that will shape up remains to be seen, most starters having only gone once and the rotation already experiencing some changes.

Top pitching performances

Kohl Simas, start: 5 IP, 6 H, R, BB, 6 K

Brooks Gosswein, start: 5 IP, 2 H, R, 0 BB, 7 K

Jerry Burke, two relief appearances: 5.1 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 9 K 

Everhett Hazelwood, three relief appearances: 6.2 IP, 3 H, R, 2 BB, 8 K

Ernesto Jaquez, four relief appearances: 6.1 IP, 2 R (1 ER), 2 BB, 5 K

Honorable mentions: Tommy Sommer pitched just three innings in his start but struck out eight. Adisyn Coffey has 2.2 innings over three games, with one walk as his only baserunner allowed.

Top hitting performances

Terrell Tatum (CF): 8-for-26, 3 doubles, 1 triple, 1 home run, 11 runs, 7 RBI, 12 walks, 7 strikeouts, 8 stolen base-1 caught stealing

Loidel Chapelli (2B): 10-for-22, 1 double, 1 triple, 2 home runs, 7 runs, 9 RBI, 3 walks, 5 strikeouts, 2 stolen bases

Alsander Womack (1B/DH): 13-for-32, 1 double, 1 triple, 2 home runs, 6 runs, 8 RBI, 2 walks, 5 strikeouts, 1 stolen base

DJ Gladney (1B/LF/RF/DH): 13-for-41, 3 doubles, 1 triple, two home runs, 7 runs, 12 RBI, 0 walks, 9 strikeouts, 1 stolen base

Wilfred Veras (RF/DH): 12-for-37, 4 doubles, 2 home runs, 8 runs, 8 RBI, 2 walks, 11 strikeouts, 1 stolen base-2 caught stealing

Shawn Goosenberg (1B/DH): 10-for-28, 1 double, two home runs, 5 RBI, 1 walk, 6 strikeouts, 1 hit by pitch, 6 stolen bases

Honorable mentions: Wes Kath, hitless his first three games and 7-for-22 with two home runs since. Jason Matthews, who has eight walks to four hits in six games. Ben Norman, who played five games before his promotion to Birmingham, going 5-for-16 with a double, two home runs, and three walks.

Weekly rundown

April 6

This was supposed to be an abbreviated three-game series against the hated Hickory Crawdads (Rangers affiliate), but instead was an even more abbreviated one-game opener. Starting pitcher Dylan Burns gave up six runs without getting an out in the second inning. Chase Plymell and Haylen Green gave up two runs apiece as well, although Ernesto Jaquez and Jerry Burke combined for four shutout innings.

The first Dash run of the season didn’t score til late; with two outs in the seventh, Alsander Womack drove in Wilfred Veras from a single with a base hit of his own.

In the eighth, DJ Gladney, still just 21 years old despite being drafted before COVID Year, drove in another run with another single as Kiwi Jason Matthews scored from a leadoff walk. Veras supplied a ground ball to bring in speedster Terrell Tatum from a bunt for the second run of the inning.

The first three runners of the ninth reached base, Loidel Chapelli’s first walk at the level leading the inning off, Womack singling him to second, and Ben Norman knocking him in. Poised for a big inning, a Matthews sacrifice fly produced the only other run, and the game ended with a 10-5 score.

April 11

Last season, the Dash were absolutely starved for pitching, so Jonathan Cannon’s five two-hit innings against the Cyclones (Mets affiliate) were a hopeful sign of a chang-ed team. Drafted in the third round last year, the righty saw very limited time in the low minors, so this will be the first real look anyone has at him in the pros. He held the Cyclones hitless until the fourth and scoreless until the fifth, when he wavered with a leadoff home run, walk, and double combining for two runs, although he did finish the inning.

The bullpen also held it together enough for the team to win. Everhett Hazelwood, occasionally brilliant and occasionally very hittable, struck out two and gave up a solo home run in two innings. Jaquez returned with a scoreless seventh, and 2022 16th-rounder Tristan Stivors earned his first professional save with a scoreless eighth.

Heavy is the head bearing the first home run crown of the season, but Loidel Chapelli bore it bravely. In game one, he’d batted sixth in the lineup, and here, five days later, he was bumped up to fifth. His fourth-inning dong scored Veras, who’d hit his first double at the level (although Veras does have three Double-A doubles, thanks to his time with Project Birmingham last year).

Various other Dash runs scored through such methods as Chapelli singling, then scoring on a passed ball, and the tried-and-true Gladney-fifth-inning-bases-nearly-clearing double.

The Dash only rustled up five hits, but every single one of them either drove in a run or scored eventually, beating the Cyclones 5-3.

April 12

The Dash outhit the ‘Clones 10-7 but beat them 12-7, working around eight walks by their pitching staff and pouring on the power for the victory. A full half of those free passes were issued by top prospect Norge Vera, who could not complete the first inning and was pulled after throwing 12 of 32 pitches for strikes. Haylen Green was able to escape the bases-loaded situation with a strikeout.

Heavy is the head bearing the second home run crown of the season, but Loidel Chapelli has a very strong neck, and he turned a 1-0 deficit into a 2-1 lead with one swing in the bottom of the first. Now batting second in the lineup, his blast drove in leadoff man Terrell Tatum from a full-count walk. As a reminder for those unfamiliar, Chapelli went deep eight times in 2022 in the Dominican Summer League in 46 games.

Ben Norman cut Chapelli’s team home run lead in half with a dong of his own in the second, which was helpful because the Cyclones soon scored their first run against Dash reliever Noah Owen. Going into the bottom of the fourth, it was 3-2 Dash.

Alsander Womack, mostly a second baseman in the past, appeared as designated hitter for the second time in a row (Chapelli manning second). He claimed the first Dash triple of the year and scored on shortstop Taishi Nakawake’s single. Terrell Tatum then went deep, the two-run blast putting the Dash up 6-2.

The single was not hit by Norman, who struck out.

Seemingly a comfortable lead, it instead served as a reminder about how quickly the winds can change in any game, but especially ones played below Double-A. Owen, on for his third inning of work, opened the fifth by giving up a triple, hitting a batter, balking in a run (6-3), then allowing a double (6-4) and home run (6-6). After retiring a batter, he was somehow allowed to walk one more and give up yet another single before Plymell was called in to replace him. Plymell also had trouble before the inning ended, a single adding one more run to Owen’s ERA (7-6 Cyclones).

Undeterred, the Dash small-balled the Cyclones to death with a golden sixth. Ninth-round pick Michael Turner, a catcher, bunt singled to his counterpart to lead the inning off. A Norman hit by pitch and a Nakawake walk loaded the bases with one out, and the Dash tied and retook the lead in the span of two batters. Tatum walked to force in a run (7-7), Chapelli put the Dash back up with a two-run single (9-7), and Gladney poured it on with a two-run base knock of his own (11-7). 

These were not doubles.

He showed off the wheels as well: after stealing second, he took third on an error and scored on a Veras sacrifice fly, the final run of the game for a 12-7 score.

Adisyn Coffey struck out three in his season debut and Jake Palisch extended his professional scoreless innings streak to six, stretching back to 2022, with a clean ninth.

April 13

Kohl Simas has been something of a sleeper prospect his entire career so far, signing as an undrafted free agent in 2021 and has been putting up intriguing results ever since (such as 82 strikeouts in 68 innings last season, although they accompanied a 4.24 ERA). He’s one of several players who’s spent time at Low-A in Kannapolis but also was selected for Project Birmingham in Double-A, so he has a weird smorgasbord of minor league experience that did not include High-A until now. The result was five innings of Simas mowing down Cyclones, limiting them to one run on six singles and a walk, striking out six. 

There is a note in the middle of the play-by-play log for the fifth that Simas exited with one out with a foot injury, but given that he appears to have finished the inning and that we’re still in mid-April before the college intern who will be operating Gameday full-time for the Dash has started, the veracity of the foot injury is also in doubt.

While Simas was busy giving the Dash the opportunity to build a lead, the Dash were busy building a lead for Simas to hold. Catcher Ivan González tripled in Veras from a double to score the game’s first run in the second. Not to be out-tripled, Chapelli tripled in Tatum from his own double in the third. Gladney followed up with a sac fly to make it 3-0 once Chapelli scored.

Simas gave up his run in the top of the fifth, but the Dash got it back three batters later, after Tatum walked, stole second (his fourth bag), took second on Chapelli’s ground out, and scored on Gladney’s double, pushing it back to a three-run lead at 4-1.

Back-to-back González and Norman doubles made it 5-1 in the sixth and a wild pitch made it 6-1, both of those runs quickly becoming welcome once lefty Jonah Scolaro entered in relief. All five of his outs were strikeouts, but he did give up a pair of runs in the seventh, narrowing the lead to 6-3.

The Dash got another insurance run in the eighth in an inning that could have been much bigger than it was; with one out and Goosenberg and Matthews on, they perfectly executed half of a double steal, Goosenberg making it to third but Matthews not making it to second. After Tatum then walked and stole second, Chapelli singled in one run, but Tatum ran into the out at home to end the inning at 7-3.

Ernesto Jaquez held down the house after Scolaro exited, allowing zero baserunners over 1.1 innings, and while Tristan Stivors might have made manger Lorenzo Bundy sweat with a two-run ninth, the Dash still pulled it out, 7-5.

April 14

The second loss of the Dash season was pretty much wrapped up after two innings, which is considerate of people who hate suspense. Drew Dalquist was bitten by the home run bug again, just three batters into his season before giving up his first three-run blast of the year. He finished out the inning and went two outs into the second before being removed for Liam Jenkins, who pitched so poorly that he was released two days later without making another appearance (zero outs, two hits, three walks, three wild pitches, four runs, one inherited runner scored). Jerry Burke came in and saved the day (from getting worse), but the result was that the Dash entered the bottom of the second down 8-0.

They did strike back in the second, like a dying animal, but like a dying animal, they didn’t do too much damage. Norman went deep for the second time, a two-run shot after a leadoff Kath walk. Gladney got on the board with his first dong of the year in the sixth, but 8-3 was the final score.

On the mound, Burke not only finished the second, he pitched three more scoreless innings, striking out six total. Hazelwood and Green also kept the Cyclones scoreless, but too late. Adding insult to injury—actually, injury to insult—was Chapelli exiting with a hand injury the half-inning after an awkward slide stealing second. There’s video, so this wasn’t a Gameday anomaly. Chapelli would be out until April 19.

April 15

Opening Day starter Dylan Burns swooped in for the win, but it was in relief, after giving up three runs in two innings. Luckily, those three runs were the bulk of the Cyclones’ output, and Burns and the Dash were able to survive the setback.

Evanston native son Brooks Gosswein, 2021 fourth-rounder, made his first High-A start of the season after struggling through five laborious efforts last year. Whatever he was working on in the offseason on seems to have paid off, as he walked none and struck out seven over five innings. Of the two hits he allowed, one was a solo shot in the second, the other a mere fourth-inning single.

As soon as Gosswein gave up that dong to lead off the second, Goosenberg retaliated with one of his own to lead off the bottom half of the inning, tying it up until the sixth and perhaps writing the first chapter of the baseball buddy comedy, The Goose and The Goss (Goss ’n’ Goose?). 

Anyway, that’s when Burns came in, getting two outs but also loading the bases with a pair of hits and a hit by pitch, then allowing a bases-clearing double to put Brooklyn up 4-1. 

Last year, that might have been unrecoverable, but last year, the team didn’t have DJ Gladney to whack a two-run homer in the seventh, and Wes Kath to duplicate the feat two batters later. Those blows supplemented a Womack RBI single for a 6-4 Dash lead and eventual victory.

Wilfred Veras threw a runner out at the plate from right field in the seventh. Adisyn Coffey and Jake Palisch again pitched back-to-back and were again scoreless.

April 16

The first two-dong day alert of the young Dash season was sent out for Alsander Womack on a presumably beautiful Sunday en route to a 10-4 win. Of the 10 Dash runs, eight scored in the sixth, seventh, or eighth innings. They entered the sixth with a bare 2-1 lead, if you can find it within your heart to believe it.

Tommy Sommer came off the injured list to start, and the 2021 10th-rounder was nearly as sharp as it’s possible to be: He finished just three innings, but of those nine outs, eight came via strikeout, with seven of those swinging. He did walk two and allow one hit, which did leave the ballpark, but it’s a good sign for a southpaw who should continue to climb the prospect rankings if he keeps striking out 75 percent of opposing batters. Somehow, he only threw 35 of 62 pitches for strikes.

The home run was in the top of the third; in the bottom Gladney put the team right back in it with a two-run single knocking in Keegan Fish and Taishi Nakawake, 2-1 Dash.

Brooklyn didn’t go down quietly, scoring a tying run off Chase Plymell in the sixth; Veras’ assist at third base from right field was a boon. Kath then made sure it wasn’t tied long, going deep for the second straight game, an encouraging sign for the 20-year-old and for the Dash, who led 3-2.

The Cyclones tied it again in the seventh against Jaquez, but that only seemed to inspire Dash bats—at least, Womack’s bat, which supplied his first dong of 2023 in the bottom of the seventh to make it 6-3, scoring Nakawake and Tatum. 

Similarly, Brooklyn scraped back another run off Jaquez in the eighth (6-4), but that merely unleashed the four-run Dash eighth: Goosenberg and Fish singled and were both driven in on Tatum’s first triple (8-4). This put Womack in perfect position to again a baseball out of the deepest part of the ballpark, which he did, making it 10-4 and doubling both his game and season dong output.

Tristan Stivors ably pitched the ninth, striking out two, but unfortunately for him, the eighth-inning outburst meant it was no longer a save situation.

April 18

Cannon was hit a little harder than he was in his first start, dinged for 10 hits, but still gave up just three runs over six innings pitched, good for a quality start. This was an offensive deluge for the Dash; Goosenberg picked up four hits (including a double and home run), and three apiece went to Gladney (double), Veras (double, home run), and Matthews (double). Overall, the team exploded for 18 hits.

And they started early—with two outs in the first, consecutive singles by Gladney, Veras, Kath, and Goosenberg and walks from González and Matthews put a three-spot on the board. Matthews and Goosenberg both doubled to add another run in the third, although Cannon gave up a home run in the bottom of the inning to make it 4-1.

Still leading 4-2 entering the sixth, a Veras double (his fourth), Kath single, and Goosenberg single made it 6-2 Dash, then a couple wild pitches sandwiching a González walk scored Kath for a 7-2 lead. Gladney got in on Veras’ outfield assist fun in the bottom of the sixth, limiting the Asheville Tourists (Astros affiliate) to one run by simply throwing the would-be second run out at home from left on a relay, 7-3 Dash.

A four-run seventh seemed to be doing damage for damage’s sake, although the runs would end up giving them some needed breathing room; the inning was highlighted by Veras’ three-run blast, which scored Tatum and Gladney after they doubled and singled, respectively. Tatum’s double had scored Nakawake from a hit by pitch, so the inning ended with an 11-3 Dash lead that Hazelwood did not cede any ground on in his relief outing.

In the top of the ninth, Gladney, Veras, and Kath all went down on strikes, but a wild pitch during Gladney’s strikeout allowed Goosenberg to still hit a two-run home run anyway, 13-3 Dash.

Jake Palisch’s ninth is available to those who know how to access the dark web. Suffice it to say that it did not go well, was not aided by a Veras error, and had to be finished by Coffey. However, with a 13-8 final score, a win is a win.

April 19

Whatever is going on with Norge Vera, hopefully it stops going on soon, but it doesn’t seem promising. For the second straight start, he could not finish the first inning. With two outs, both strikeouts, he gave up a single and walked the next two batters before being removed directly after Gameday shows the ever-mysterious “Injury Delay.” He threw 11 of 24 pitches for strikes. The righty has a total of just 55.2 professional innings since signing with the Sox two years ago.

Green walked in a run to give Asheville a 1-0 lead before retiring a batter, and the rest of the game was the Dash claiming and then continually adding to a lead they barely clung to. 

Unstoppable hitting machine Alsander Womack finally doubled for the first time this year, scoring Kath in the second inning (after going 0-for-11 in his first three games, Kath is on a five-game hitting streak over which he’s 7-for-22, although he has also struck out at least twice in every game he’s played). Walks to Fish and Matthews loaded the bases with one out, but the only other run that inning scored on a Tatum force out, putting the Dash up 2-1.

Unstoppable hitting machine Wilfred Veras homered to lead off the third (3-1 Dash), triply good timing as three doubles off of Noah Owen tied it at three in the bottom of the third. In the fourth, Tatum walked for the 11th time in eight games, stole his seventh base, and was courteously knocked in by Chapelli, who made a triumphant return to the lineup. Chapelli would later score on a wild pitch, 5-3 Dash.

Jonah Scolaro pitched for the second time this season and, like the first time, was weirdly good and bad. On April 13, he gave up two runs but also struck out five over 1.2 innings. Here, he went three full innings, again giving up two runs, but also striking out six (and walking none, an improvement over last time by one). He also threw three wild pitches, two of them directly accounting for his two runs allowed.

The Dash entered the sixth with a scant 5-4 lead and gave themselves a little bit of space. Matthews drew his eighth walk in seven games, stole second, and Tatum drew his 12th walk in eight. One double steal and Veras single later, both scored, 7-4 Dash; it was Tatum’s third steal of the game and eighth overall, tied for the league lead.

Scolaro’s last wild pitch put the final sore at 7-5 Dash. Jaquez went to 2-0 on the season with a one-hit seventh and eighth, and Stivors earned his second save with a scoreless ninth.

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Trooper Galactus

My guy Wilfred Veras is heating up!

jorgefabregas

Nice to see him living up to the hype his winter league team was giving him.

ParisSox

Wow. This was a great read. Excellent writing! And the team looks like studs. Call ‘em up!

Last edited 1 year ago by ParisSox
StockroomSnail

Everhett Hazelwood needs to make things happen, just because of his perfect western name.