The White Sox have a win in the books and the minor league season is just two days away. The second minor league team preview is the Winston-Salem Dash of the High-A Carolina League.
The Opening Day ages of the players are in parentheses unless otherwise noted. For the hitters position is also listed.
Winston-Salem (2012 record: 87-51, first and second half division champs, league finalists)
Repeats: J.R. Ballinger (25 today, happy birthday), Chris Bassitt (24), Jarrett Casey (25), Justin Collop (24), Terance Marin (23), Steven Upchurch (23)
Up a level: Bryan Blough (23), Max Peterson (24), Daniel Webb (23)
From Great Falls: Chris Beck (22)
New to org.: Jeremy Erben (25)
Back from injury: Cody Winiarski (23)
Beck is by far the most notable name of this group. The second round pick in 2012 is skipping Kannapolis and the White Sox have been excited about him. Buddy Bell said the hurler is back to his best form, which made him a potential first round pick.
The rest of the starting rotation is less exciting prospect wise. Bassitt, Collop and Casey all made some starts for the Dash last season with varying success. Webb, who was once thought of as a decent prospect needs a strong season to get back on track, could also be in the rotation.
The bullpen is loaded with returners, which should please Dash fans, but there’s not much in the way of prospects. Marin is an interesting pitcher thanks to last year’s success and Winiarski had a strong rookie debut in 2011 before missing last season with a back injury.
The pitching staff has the experience to be very strong for the Dash, but there isn’t a lot to follow from a prospect standpoint. That said, Beck has a nice upside and could be one of the stars of the White Sox minor league season.
Repeats: David Herbek (IF, 24 today, happy birthday), Kevan Smith (C, 24)
Up a level: Grant Buckner (IF, 25), Chris Curley (IF, 25), Joe De Pinto (IF, 24 tomorrow), Joey DeMichele (IF, 22), Mark Haddow (OF, 25), Courtney Hawkins (OF, 19), Martin Medina (C, 23), Bill Rice (OF, 24)
Skipped a level: Brent Tanner (C, 25)
New to org.: Nicholas Giarraputo (IF, 24), Mark Tracy (1B, 25)
On the prospect front Hawkins is the obvious player to watch here. The unanimous top prospect in the system had a short stint with the Dash at the end of last year, including the playoffs, and showed well enough to force the Sox’s hand to assign him here again. It’s an aggressive assignment, but he showed he belonged at the level already. A promotion to Birmingham during the season doesn’t even seem out of the question.
DeMichele and Smith are also prospects worth following. DeMichele is also on a fast track after the 2012 draft. He had an impressive rookie summer, but he was only average in Kannapolis. Hopefully getting a full professional offseason will help him hit the ground running for the Dash. As for Smith, the 24-year-old is a noteworthy prospect because of his position. He showed up late last season for the Dash and will need to earn a promotion to AA midseason to remain a prospect.
The lineup should be very strong because the prospects aren’t the only bats that should put up numbers. Minor league vets, Curley, Haddow and Herbek profile to hit well for the Dash.
The Dash play in a hitter friendly park and have plenty of offensive talent to score plenty of runs. If they can get anything out of the pitching they should be headed back for the playoffs.
Top 25 Prospects: Courtney Hawkins (1), Chris Beck (10), Joey DeMichele (19), Kevan Smith (25)
Sleeper: Cody Winiarski