WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — Jonathan Stiever started off indomitable in his first High-A start, and although that wavered slightly as he got further into the game, he was still very impressive overall in a 3-1 Dash victory. Stiever was the fifth-round draft pick from last year, spending 2018 with Great Falls and all of 2019 up to this point with Kannapolis. He was called up at the All-Star Break and finally had his turn in the rotation on Monday night in front of a robust crowd (for a Monday).
I admittedly came into this game not knowing a lot about Stiever, other than he was a high-round pick in 2018 and he was better than his Kannapolis numbers would indicate. So you can imagine my surprise when he was pumping 95-96 mph in the first inning, touching 98. I will never be able to tell you what’s a curve or what’s a slider from the seats, but I can tell you that he hooked a nasty couple of offspeed pitches into the zone for two early strikeouts. He also made a very good, athletic catch on a bunt pop-up by the first batter of the game.
When he did start allowing baserunners, almost none of them reached on hits to write home about. The first batter who reached found himself on first base thanks to a Mitch Roman error at short, and Stiever/Evan Skoug immediately caught him stealing in a picture-perfect execution to end the third inning. The second reached in the fourth inning on a dinky ground ball that Zach Remillard, who’s been manning third as of late, got to and got over to Jameson Fisher at first base what looked like a half-step ahead of the runner; the umpire disagreed and it became the first Pelicans hit of the day.
— Julie Brady (@DestroyBaseball) June 24, 2019
After a flyout, this was followed up by a deep double, which was probably the only well-hit Pelicans ball of the day. The run scored and Stiever gave up another infield single to the next batter, but lest ye be concerned, he got the next two outs (popout, groundout) with no trouble. He also completed the rest of his outing with pretty much no trouble, just one more double and a final infield single, neither of which scored. His final line: 7 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 7 K. It’s just one start, but every start starts somewhere (Gandhi said that).
— Julie Brady (@DestroyBaseball) June 25, 2019
The Dash honestly didn’t fare much better against Pelicans starter Javier Assad, but they got the hits where they needed to. Craig Dedelow was the star here, first doubling in the second (his 11th) and coming around to score on a JJ Muno sac fly. He was back at it in the seventh — he and the right field concourse are close friends by now, and he met it again with his 10th dinger of the year, putting the Dash up 2-1. Skoug added an insurance run, grounding out to score Muno, who reached after getting hit by a pitch (for the second time). Steele Walker also got hit by a pitch, in the back, and looked to be in some pain, but stayed in the game and even stole a base.
Thanks to Stiever, the bullpen didn’t have to do much work, but they did do a little. Bennett Sousa pitched the eighth, walking one. This was just his third appearance with the Dash since being promoted from the Intimidators; he’s only struck out one over 3.2 innings, but expect to see that number increase. Will Kincanon navigated two walks, supported by a double play, to close things out in the ninth. Kincanon has been with Winston all year and is creeping up on his career high in innings pitched — he’s at 29 after today (and a 1.86 ERA to go with it), with the high being 34.2 last season in Kannapolis, and has showed no signs of wavering. In fact, he’s only given up one earned run over his last 10 appearances, spanning 13.2 innings, good for a 0.66 ERA in that time.
Kade McClure looks to follow up his own stellar home debut on Tuesday at 7 pm.
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