2014 Kannapolis Intimidators season preview

Next up in our team previews is the Low-A South Atlantic League affiliate Kannapolis Intimidators.

The Intimidators, like the rest of the White Sox affiliates, start Thursday and they will also be hosting the season opener. Greenville visits CMC-Northeast Stadium with the first pitch scheduled for 6:05 p.m. Central time.

The Opening Day ages of the players are in parentheses unless otherwise noted. For the hitters position is also listed.

Kannapolis (2013 record: 61-76, no playoffs)

Pitching

Repeats: Storm Throne (23), Andre Wheeler (22)

From Great Falls: Jose Bautista (22), Jose Brito (23), James Dykstra (23), Sean Hagan (23), Andrew Mitchell (22), Jake Sanchez (24)

From Bristol: Tyler Barnette (21), Tyler Danish (19), Robinson Leyer (21)

New to org.: Sean Bierman (25), Dylan Chavez (23 on April 16)

Six 2013 draft picks grace the Kannapolis pitching staff. The highest pick of the group is second rounder Tyler Danish. Danish will have some expectation considering where he was drafted and some of the hype around him saying he can be a quick mover for a high school draft pick. The Sox have moved players quickly in the past, but a high school pitcher starting his first full season in Low-A is already an aggressive assignment. It would likely take total domination for him to get a midseason promotion to Winston-Salem unless he was just joining the Dash for a playoff run.

Fourth rounder Andrew Mitchell struggled in Great Falls (47 K, 30 BB, 4.50 ERA in 56 IP), but has a chance to make an impression with a professional offseason under his belt.

Sixth rounder James Dykstra hasn't gotten a lot of attention, but that's because he was a college senior that only pitched 5.2 innings upon joining Great Falls. Dykstra will have a more prominent role this season as part of the starting rotation. Barnette (14th round), Wheeler (15th) and Hagan (31st) are also a part of the 2013 draft class.

Leyer and Bierman are also in the rotation. Bierman came over as part of the Jesse Crain trade, but is already 25 so if he has any prospect value he won't be in Kannapolis for long.

Hitting

Repeats: Jeremy Dowdy (C, 23), Cleuluis Rondon (SS, 20 on April 13), Tyler Williams (3B, 23), Kale Kiser (OF, 24)

From Great Falls: Danny Hayes (1B, 23), Tyler Shryock (IF, 23), Zach Voight (IF, 23), Adam Engel (OF, 22), Jacob Morris (OF, 23)

From Bristol: Trey Michalczewski (3B, 19), Carl Thomore (OF, 21)

New to org.: Omar Narvaez (C, 22)

Five more draft picks are among the hitters. Seventh rounder Trey Michalczewski showed some of his potential with Bristol, but this could prove to be a tough assignment for him. Don't be surprised if he struggles a bit, especially early in the season.

Shryock (12th round), Hayes (13th), Engel (19th) and Morris (24th) were also 2013 draft picks. Morris had the best pro debut last year by blasting 12 home runs for Great Falls. He also struck out 97 times so it will be interesting to see how his game translates at a higher level.

A pair of infielders carry a bit of intrigue as well. Rondon, who came over in the Jake Peavy trade, will be looking to show some improvement with his bat after posting a .513 OPS in 29 games with Kanny last season. He is more known for his glove, but the bat needs to progress as well. The other to watch for is Voight. He's already 23, but he had an OPS over .900 each of the past two seasons in Great Falls. In those two seasons he had 60 walks against 57 strikeouts. If you're looking for a sleeper, Voight could be it.

Top 25 Prospects: Tyler Danish (8), Trey Michalczewski (19), Adam Engel (22)

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