It was not the season that Winston-Salem was hoping for, going 56-83, which was the club’s worst overall record since 2002 and the worst for the franchise since becoming the Dash at the beginning of the 2009 season. However, the Dash did have some key players who led the league in various categories, so not all was lost.
At the plate, Nick Basto and Mason Robbins led the Carolina League in hitting. Robbins averaged .314 and had 62 RBIs. Basto, who started the 2016 season with the Birmingham Barons before switching to the Dash, finished with an average of .306 which was second on the circuit. Basto added 12 home runs, and 60 RBIs. The pair of outfielders should both be in Birmingham in 2017.
As far as the other offensive regulars, there wasn’t a ton to get excited about. 26-year old journeyman Gerson Montilla did hit 13 home runs, one of the highest totals in the White Sox system. Hunter Jones stole 31 bases in 41 attempts during his time with the Dash.
One area of strength among the position players was their defense. Robbins led the Carolina League in outfield assists, throwing out a whopping 19 baserunners. Outfield mate Jones made recurring highlight reel plays as well. Cleuluis Rondon continued to flash some leather as well, though he did make 20 errors.
Jordan Stephens, the right-hander for the Dash, pitched an incredible 2016 season. He ended with a 3.45 ERA and had 7 wins. Stephens left his legacy in the strikeout column with 155 strikeouts, finishing tied for 12th in the Minor Leagues. 155 strikeouts is the most for a Dash pitcher since they became the Dash in 2009. The last pitcher to strike out more batters for this franchise was in 1997. In the Carolina League, 2012 was the last time that a pitcher struck out more than 155 batters. Stephens will likely be climbing up prospect lists this offseason.
Matt Cooper was outright dominant in his time as a starter with the Dash, leading all of minor league baseball in strikeouts after his first 13 starts and walking very few batters. Cooper took his 3.36 ERA to AA too, but went to their bullpen. Thaddius Lowry came into his own in 2016. He bumped up his strikeout rate to 6 per 9, posted an ERA around 4, and continued avoiding walks as the 21-year old refined his repertoire before being promoted to AA Birmingham late in the year. Spencer Adams continued his development as well, and was similarly promoted during the year.
In the bullpen, flame-thrower Connor Walsh sliced and diced Carolina League hitters, striking out more than a batter per inning and allowing just 6.4 hits per 9.
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