Ducks Down Dash; Don't Doubt Dedelow

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C.  The Winston-Salem Dash found themselves in a hole early on last night that they were unable to climb out of, and if that’s not relatable, I don’t know what is.

The Dash this season look much different from the Dash last season; in fact, the Dash from last season look a lot like the Barons from this season, except hitting much more poorly than they did last season. Holdovers in the Winston lineup are Nick Madrigal and Zach Remillard; Jameson Fisher also returns to the team after spending last season with the Barons in AA. JJ Muno and Yeyson Yrizzari are also lurking around for another stint in Winston, although they did not play last night.

And what a night it was! Jake Elliott was on the mound, making his second start of the season for the Dash. Elliott was a 15th round pick in 2016 and spent the vast majority of his two full seasons since then appearing out of the bullpen for Kannapolis. His ERA was under 3.00 both years, with 10.3 K/9; he started exactly one game last season. 

This year, he’s doing both to mixed effect. Sloppy defense and quiet bats did him no favors, but he also did himself no favors as the dreaded leadoff walk came around to score on a home run in the first inning. Two runs would have been enough to deadlock the Dash all night, but the Down East Wood Ducks didn’t stop there, taking advantage of defensive miscues, bad calls, and eminently hittable fastballs to run the score up to 9-2, scoring multiple runs off of three of the four Dash pitchers to appear. 

Elliott exited after two innings and 46 pitches (23 strikes), a final line of 2.0 IP, 2 H, 3 R (2 ER), 2 BB, and 2 K. He was replaced by Jorgan Cavanerio, who was released by the Seattle Mariners three days ago and signed with the Sox literally yesterday. Cavanerio has kind of a violent delivery and was consistently between 85-93 mph on the stadium radar gun. His first two innings, the 3rd and 4th, went smoothly with no baserunners, but the wheels came off in the Wood Ducks half of the 5th. After a single, error, groundout, wild pitch, single, single, double steal, fly out, and a double, Cavanerio had given up three runs and deepend the Dash deficit to 6-2.

Then Codi Heuer, last year’s pick from the 6th round, came in throwing heat. Heuer is 6’5” and generously listed at 195 pounds, and he makes throwing 96-97 mph look easy. He threw two excellent innings, marred only by what was probably a Quite Painful HBP. 

Heuer was replaced by Austin Conway, who was drafted in the later rounds last year and had a pretty good start to his professional career, in a limited sample size. He is not having the same results this season, in an even more limited sample size. While he gave up no runs in the six innings he pitched for Kannapolis this season, close to the exact opposite is true in Winston. His first appearance saw him fail to record an out while walking three and giving up three runs (one earned); he completed an inning in his second but gave up two runs. Today, he gave up a single, double, and run-scoring wild pitch before recording an out, which was a screamer directly at shortstop Remillard. This was followed by a triple and a single before Conway was able to close the inning with the score 9-2. To his credit, he bounced back nicely in the ninth, striking out two and walking one; the damage was done, but the damage didn’t really matter here.

The Dash made three errors, which is probably generous scoring. One came from catcher Carlos Perez during the second at-bat of the game, an attempt to catch a runner stealing that ended up peacefully rolling to a stop in shallow center field. One came from Tate Blackman at the hot corner, a grounder that was handled nicely but ended up in the first-base dugout. One came from Cavanerio on a pickoff attempt that ended up in the first-base bullpen. The game ended before anyone could try to accidentally throw a baseball over the fence in right. The team also gave up three stolen bases, two on the aforementioned double steal.

So it wasn’t a great day in the field, but don't worry -- it also wasn’t a great day at the plate. Twice the Dash had the first two runners of the inning on base; the first time, the next three batters struck out swinging (sounds like the White Sox, all right), and the second time saw a bases-loaded groundout by Jordan George turn into a double play by virtue of the first-base umpire blowing the call.

Zach Remillard was responsible for two of the team’s six hits, with Craig Dedelow, Steele Walker, Jordan George, and Blackman all contributing. Indeed, the Dash’s two runs came off the bat of Dedelow. For those who may be unfamiliar with BB&T Ballpark, which is really probably only a handful of people in the world, there’s a very short fence in right field, maybe four feet tall and relatively shallow. Dedelow ignored this fence and dropped a home run onto the concourse 20 feet above. Like many of the Dash — like many of the Sox prospects not named Luis Robert this year, really — he’s had a slow start to the season, but the bat is coming around and his dongs are not cheap.

Nick Madrigal contributed to the madness by getting hit on the wrist with a pitch; he shook it off and played the role of distractor on the basepaths immediately thereafter. Walker, the other top-30 prospect in the lineup, squirted a grounder through the right field side for his single.

Otherwise, it was a night the Dash would rather forget. To be fair, baseball is very hard (something everyone should repeat to themselves ten times before saying a player at any level sucks), and they were facing a tough opponent in Rangers prospect Jason Bahr. Bahr, chosen in the 5th round in 2017, has only given up seven earned runs in the 30.1 innings he’s thrown this year. Nobody else out of the Wood Ducks bullpen was doing the Dash any favors either, like Joe Barlow and his 0.54 ERA or the amazingly-named Josh Advocate and the four runs he’s allowed this year.

In any event, the machine grinds on and the Dash will be back tonight at 6 p.m. It’ll be John Parke on the mound looking to wipe clean the memory of a sloppy, early-May game. We’ve all had those days and we can only hope for better ones ahead.

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