While the Winston-Salem Dash finished the season with a distinctly worse overall record than the Kannapolis Cannon Ballers at 60-66, they had the organization’s best shot at the postseason playoff picture. They led the South Atlantic League South Division for just about the entire first half of the season before a late collapse, and that foreshadowed second-half pain.
The Dash posted a 26-37 record in the second half, mostly due to a pitching shortage. The offense was fine, and a little less reliant on overqualified veterans than the Ballers for their production.
The pitching dragged them down. Only the Asheville Tourists were worse at run prevention, and they play their home games in a historic Altoids tin.
The Dash had similar second-half issues last year, but at least they could blame Project Birmingham for taking so many White Sox prospects who should’ve been ticketed for High-A over the last several weeks of the season. There are no such organizational excuses this year. It’s supply chain all the way down — or, in this case, up.
Jacob Burke: The 11th-round pick in 2022 followed up his encouraging professional debut with an even better first full pro season. Starting his season on May 11, he hit .315/.416/.512 and reached base in every one of the 35 games he played with Kannapolis, and eventually ran that streak to 52 over his first few weeks with the Winston-Salem Dash. He cooled off a bit towards the end, which could just be natural variance or a little bit of fatigue from a hair-on-fire style of play over a full season, not to mention 18 HBPs. He’s playing in the Arizona Fall League, so the White Sox must think he has more to offer.
DJ Gladney: After flashing some in-game power potential despite serious swing-and-miss issues in Kannapolis, Gladney made his Winston-Salem debut and got off to a dream start. He hit .321/.349/.667 with seven homers and 25 RBIs over his first 19 games in April, and the 22 strikeouts over 84 plate appearances represented a significant improvement. He also finished on a high note, posting a .999 OPS over 18 games in August. In between was a mess, but an injury might’ve had something to do with it, because he hit just .171/.254/.256 with one homer over 31 games spanning June and July before going on the injured list, so his fortunes improved after the break. Another injury cut short his season before September arrived. There’s still a lot of noise in his profile because of the missed time and the low walk rate, but he cut his strikeout rate by 5 percent while seeing gains in power at the plate at High-A in his age-21 season, so his prospect case remains quite open.
Loidel Chapelli: Like Gladney, Chapelli started hot and ended hot, with a little bit of a malaise in the middle. Unlike Gladney, he didn’t miss noticeable chunks of time. He played in 106 games and racked up 466 plate appearances in his first full pro season, during which he hit .254/.361/.411. The power is surprising for a guy who is listed at 5’8″ and 187 pounds — 10 homers,. six triples, 20 doubles — and he added 26 stolen bases on top of that. It’s not quite enough to sustain a 25 percent strikeout rate, but some of those K’s are a byproduct of his willingness to work deep counts (61 walks). It’s the kind of fine line that might not hold up against Double-A pitching, but it was a fine stateside debut for the 21-year-old Cuban on the offensive side. My bigger question is where he plays defensively. He was an outfielder when he played in Cuba and Mexico, but the White Sox have played him exclusively at second base since signing him, and it still doesn’t look close to natural for him.
Brooks Baldwin: I wrote about him in late August, and the last two weeks of the season sustained the intrigue. Baldwin, a 12th-round pick out of UNC Wilmington in 2022, put together a fine first full season, hitting .269/.349/.460 with 15 homers, three triples, 15 doubles and 22 stolen bases over 93 games. What’s more: His production jumped after the White Sox promoted him to Winston-Salem in early August, where he also played shortstop as his primary position for the first time in his career. He’s still slightly old for the level. He turned 23 shortly after joining the Dash, and if that 2023 season line was evenly distributed between the A-ball levels, I’m not sure I’d be writing about him. But by hitting .327/.375/.495 in High-A while moving up the defensive spectrum, he’s doing what he can to compensate.
Wes Kath: He didn’t belong in Winston-Salem, but the 2021 second-rounder spent the whole year there regardless, hitting .193/.275/.311 with a whopping 168 strikeouts over 389 plate appearances. Eric Longenhagen said before the season that Kath’s draft stock might’ve been inflated by the reduced competition he faced in Arizona during the pandemic disruptions, and there’s nothing to suggest otherwise so far.
Michael Turner: He hit .309/.430/.441 for the Dash with more walks (64) than strikeouts (58). Even when you account for the fact that he’s 24 and the White Sox drafted him out of Arkansas in the ninth round in 2022, he still aced the assignment given to him. He probably should’ve been given a shot at Birmingham, but the midseason acquisition of Edgar Quero limited playing time behind the plate.
Norge Vera: Injuries limited Vera to 15 innings over 10 appearances spread out early and late, but the innings he pitched were mostly awful. He walked 21 batters over those 15 innings while throwing a fastball that sat in the low 90s. Next season will be his age-24 year, and he’s thrown just 50 stateside innings, few of them impressive. He went from top-10 prospect to non-prospect in a hurry.
Juan Carela: Carela came over from the Yankees in the Keynan Middleton trade, and while he had some ups and downs over six starts with the Dash, he was ultimately able to finish off another successful season under the radar. He threw 116 innings of 3.58 ERA ball in the South Atlantic League between Hudson Valley and Winston-Salem, striking out 136 against 43 walks. He gets by without less than overpowering stuff, but the lack of a plus changeup might make lefties a tougher task when he reaches Birmingham.
Andrew Dalquist: Dalquist repeated Winston-Salem in 2023, and he repeated his total of appearances with 22. These only covered 62 innings, a drop of nearly 30 innings from the year before, because his walk rate became untentable. He issued 49 over 62 innings, the primary contributor to a 7.69 ERA, and unlike Jared Kelley, a move to the bullpen didn’t change his outlook.
Tyler Schweitzer: The fifth-round pick out of Ball State in 2022 made his professional debut in 2023, and he checked off some boxes by throwing a reasonably effective 107⅓ innings between Kannapolis and Winston-Salem. He posted a 3.94 ERA and struck out 121 batters against 45 walks, all of which is good enough for an age-22 season. Winston-Salem posed a far greater challenge, especially when it came to control …
- Low-A: 67.2 IP, 62 H, 5 HR, 21 BB, 76 K
- High-A: 39.2 IP, 32 H, 5 HR, 24 BB, 45 K
… so if you want to take it as an early sign that his stuff won’t hold up as a starter against higher levels sooner than hoped, you’d have your reasons. That’d echo the draft-day concerns, which said his stuff might play up better out of the bullpen, but the Sox may as well see what he looks like at Winston-Salem at the beginning of a season, rather than at the end of a career-long one.