White Sox

Carolina League playoffs: Winston-Salem vs. Kinston

Carolina League playoffs: Winston-Salem vs. Kinston

Tuesday, Sept. 7, 2010
2:00 PM

By Kevin T. Czerwinski
CSNChicago.com

Winston-Salem has had one of the most potent offenses in the minor leagues this season. Kinston has had the best pitching staff if the Carolina League for much of the year. Beginning Wednesday the two teams will get the chance to see which squads forte is stronger as the two teams meet in the opening round of the Carolina League playoffs.

The Dash has been dominant all season while the Tribe has been scrambling to play catch up for months. Will Winston-Salems offense get the better of Kinstons pitching? Heres a closer look at what to expect when these two teams collide.

Winston-Salem Dash vs. Kinston Indians
Best of Five beginning Wednesday

Regular-Season Series
The Dash won 13 of 20 meetings. Winston-Salem swept a four-game series in June against the Indians at home but the teams have split six games since. The Dash posted a team ERA of 3.36 in the 20 games while Kinstons team ERA for the season series was 4.16.

HEAD-TO-HEAD
Winston-Salem
The Dash had four players reach double digits in RBIs in the 20 games. Jon Gilmore 12, Seth Loman 11, Andrew Garcia 11 and Brandon Short 11 were all effective against the Tribe. Loman hit .333 in 69 at-bats while Gilmore hit .316 in 79 at-bats. Short also had three homers but he struck out 20 times in 72 at-bats. Jason Bour appeared in five games and hit .412. Kyle Bellamy, Nevin Griffith and Charlie Leesman each won a pair of games. Dylan Axelrod was 0-1 with a 2.01 ERA in six games two starts, striking out 23 in 22 13 innings.

Kinston
Kyle Bellows hit .286 with a homer and 14 RBIs. He had 20 hits and drew seven walks. Lucas Montero hit .259 in 18 games but he also drew 13 walks and had a .412 on-base percentage. Karexon Sanchez had an active 16 games against the Dash. He hit only .214 with seven RBIs but draw 12 walks, steal two bases and strike out 19 times.

ON THE MOUND
Winston-Salem
Despite leading the league with 81 victories, the Dash hurlers were sixth in the league with a 4.04 ERA. The 64 homers allowed, however, were a league low. Terry Doyle finished sixth in the league with a 3.71 ERA while Nate Jones finished 10th at 4.08 and second in the league with 11 victories. He was tops in the league in games started 28 and innings pitched 152 13. The bullpen was largely nondescript though Tyson Corley did post a 1.79 ERA and collect 10 saves, doing most of that after an unsuccessful stint with Birmingham. Greg Infante had been the clubs first-half closer but was promoted mid-year to the Barons.

Kinston
While the Tribe didnt make many dents in the league leaders when came to offense they certainly didnt have that problem in the pitching department. Kinston led the league in ERA 3.31, shutouts 13 and saves 48. They were also the only team to allow fewer than 600 runs 535. Joseph Gardner led the league with 12 wins and batting average against .199 and finished second with a 2.65 ERA. He was third with a 1.11 WHIP, third with 7.65 strikeouts per nine innings and was tied for second with fewest base runners allowed per nine innings 11.33. TJ McFarland was second in the league with 11 victories and fourth with a 3.13 ERA. Though TJ House was 6-10, he was eighth with a 3.91 ERA. His undoing was his control he finished second with 61 walks. Cory Burns topped the league with 30 saves. Matthew Longwell led all Carolina League relievers in strikeoutsnine innings 9.32, fewest walksnine innings 2.25 and fewest base runners allowed 9.48 per nine innings.

PITCHING MATCHUPS
Game One: RHP Terry Doyle 8-8, 3.71 vs. LHP T.J. McFarland 11-5, 3.13
Game Two: RHP Dylan Axelrod (8-3, 1.99) vs. RHP Austin Adams 6-1, 1.53
Game Three: RHP Nate Jones (11-6, 4.08) @ RHP Joe Gardner (12-6, 2.65)
Game Four: RHP Stephen Sauer 8-10, 4.89 vs. TBD
Game Five: LHP Joe Serafin 3-4, 5.63 vs. TBD
If necessary

AT THE PLATE
Winston-Salem
The Dash led the league with a .288 batting average this season. It was the sixth-best average among all the full-season minor league clubs. So, it only makes sense that Winston-Salem placed five players among the top 10 in batting. Currently, Brandon Short is listed as the league leader at .316 but will likely be bumped down to second. Eric Hosmer played half most of the season at Wilmington and hit .354 but finished shy of qualifying for the batting title by three at-bats. The league will likely add on the three at-bats and hed still win the title by plenty. Short, meanwhile, remains on the disabled list with an oblique injury. He hasnt played since Aug. 17 and may return for a finals appearance if the Dash get that far but even that is doubtful. Jon Gilmore hit .312, was tops with 177 hits and was third with 80 RBIs. Ozzie Lewis hit .300 but batted only .200 in his last 10 games. Seth Loman hit .292 eighth and was second in the league in homers 25, RBIs 88, total bases 264 and slugging percentage .514. He also got hit by a pitch a league-record 30 times and was tops on the circuit with 88 runs scored. Eduardo Escobar, who has since moved on to Birmingham of the Southern League, was 10th in the league in hitting at .285.

Kinston
The Tribe received a healthy influx of talent throughout the season from Lake County, which earned a playoff berth in the first half of the Midwest League season. Among those who made the move were catcher Chun-Hsiu Chen, who hit .320 in 52 games for Kinston after hitting .312 in 58 Midwest League games. He had six homers and 30 RBIs and hit .327 over his final 33 games. Bo Greenwell, son of former big leaguer Mike Greenwell, also made jumped from Lake County to Kinston, hitting .292 with 21 RBIs after the move. He hit .310 with 36 RBIs prior. Rounding out that group is Jeremie Tice, who hit .283 with five homers and 28 RBIs after hitting .282 with nine homers and 51 RBIs in the Midwest League. Kyle Bellows grounded into a league-leading 22 double plays to go along with his 10 homers and 66 RBIs. Karexon Sanchez also had 10 homers and drove in 51 runs but whiffed 114 times. Abner Abreu struck out 130 in 409 at-bats once every 3.15 ABs.

NOTES
Frederick Baltimore and Potomac Washington will square off in the other opening-round series. Winston-Salems Joe McEwing has been named as the Carolina League manager of the year each of the last two seasons. He led the Dash to the playoffs last year as well but Winston-Salem was eliminated in the opening round. The Dash are 47-21 at BB&T Ballpark, including going 9-1 against Kinston there this season. When the Tribe won their lone game at Winston-Salem this year, it snapped a 17-game losing streak on Dash home turf. This is Kinstons first appearance in the playoff since 2007. Kinston has won seven Carolina League titles, the last of which came in 2004. The Tribe has been a Cleveland affiliate since 1987 and last year marked the first time that they failed to reach the playoffs in consecutive seasons. Outfielder Trayce Thompson was promoted from Kannapolis on Tuesday and added to the Dash roster.

Kevin Czerwinski can be reached at ktczerwinski@gmail.com.

Luis Robert highlights White Sox prospects as Arizona Fall League concludes

Luis Robert highlights White Sox prospects as Arizona Fall League concludes

The Arizona Fall League wrapped up on Thursday for White Sox prospects and the overall results were mixed.

Perhaps the most important thing from the seven-week season is that Luis Robert began to show his potential. After injuries limited him to just 50 games in 2018, his first season playing in the U.S., Robert added 18 games and 79 plate appearances against much more experienced players in Arizona.

Robert, still just 21 and the second-youngest hitter on the team, hit in his first 14 games in the AFL and tallied a hit in 16 of his 18 games. He did this while missing over a week in the middle of the season due to a hamstring injury. The Cuban outfielder’s final numbers are .324/.367/.432. He had five walks, which isn’t an inspiring total, but he kept the strikeouts down at 13.

One of the things that still hasn’t shown in games very often is Robert’s power. He didn’t hit a home run in the 2018 minor league season, but it’s possible his thumb injury was affecting his ability to hit for power. Robert’s power didn’t come through much in the AFL, but there was definitely improvement. He hit two home runs and had two doubles, but this home run last week was definitely seductive.

The AFL isn’t make or break for prospects. Adam Engel hit .403/.523/.642 in the AFL in 2015 and hasn’t shown the ability to hit in the majors yet. Still, Robert showed flashes of his potential with the bat while also causing chaos on the base paths with five stolen bases in five attempts.

Robert was one of seven White Sox minor leaguers who played for the Glendale Desert Dogs. Glendale finished the season 12-18.

The next biggest hitting prospect on Glendale was Luis Alexander Basabe. Basabe struggled in his time in Arizona, but did show some of what has makes him an intriguing prospect.

Basabe hit just .180, but did draw 12 walks in 63 plate appearances. The 22-year-old isn’t known for hitting for average. He is a career .258 hitter in six minor league seasons, including a .251 mark in Double-A in the second half of 2018. However, if he can draw walks at a high rate while bringing good speed in the outfield, he can have some value.

Overall, hitting .180/.333/.180 is a disappointing stint, but there was at least one positive with the walk rate.

Laz Rivera rounded out White Sox hitters with a line of .215/.271/.246. Rivera had solid stints at both levels of Single-A in 2018, his first full season of pro ball, but the AFL showed he may find the adjustment to Double-A a tough one.

On the pitching side the only marquee name was Zack Burdi, but he got shut down early in the season. He made only five appearances (4 2/3 innings, 3 unearned runs, 5 strikeouts, 1 walk, 2 hits), but Rick Hahn said there’s nothing to be concerned about.

Tanner Banks (4.43 ERA, 10 strikeouts, 5 walks, 30 hits in 22 1/3 innings), Zach Thompson (2.70 ERA, 15 strikeouts, 6 walks, 10 hits in 13 1/3 innings) and Danny Dopico (6.57 ERA, 15 strikeouts, 12 walks, 10 hits in 12 1/3 innings) also pitched for Glendale. All three will be 25 or older when 2019 rolls around.

White Sox free-agent focus: Josh Donaldson

1115_josh_donaldson.jpg
USA TODAY

White Sox free-agent focus: Josh Donaldson

This week, we’re profiling some of the biggest names on the free-agent market and taking a look at what kind of fits they are for the White Sox.

The White Sox third baseman of the future is?

That's a question without an answer at the moment, with the long-term prognosis for the hot corner a mystery in the wake of a pair of Achilles tears suffered by 2017 first-round pick Jake Burger earlier this year. There were already questions floating around, though not necessarily inside the White Sox organization, about whether the heavy-hitting Burger could play third base on a regular basis. Now, thanks to those injuries, those questions have been amplified.

Yolmer Sanchez is coming off a disappointing season offensively and doesn't appear to be a long-term solution. Yoan Moncada might move over there this spring considering that middle infielder Nick Madrigal (this year's first-round choice) could be quickly making his way toward the majors. Past that, though, there's not a surefire third-base prospect like there are at many other positions throughout the White Sox farm system.

And so attention has naturally turned to external solutions. Colorado Rockies MVP candidate Nolan Arenado is a free agent next winter, and plenty of fans have their sights on adding him as the finishing piece this rebuilding effort needs to vault the White Sox into the realm of perennial contenders. But this winter has its own multi-time All-Star third baseman in Josh Donaldson. Any takers?

The focus has been on the South Siders' reported interest in Bryce Harper and Manny Machado, the two biggest fish in this free-agency pond, but don't forget Donaldson is just three years removed from an MVP campaign with the Toronto Blue Jays, when he slashed .297/.371/.568 with 41 home runs and 123 RBIs. Donaldson's got four top-eight MVP finishes to his name, including the win in 2015. Harper and Machado have three top-eight MVP finishes combined, including Harper's win in 2015.

In an insanely productive four-year stretch from 2013 to 2016, Donaldson slashed .284/.375/.518 with 131 homers and 413 RBIs.

But it's the last two seasons, heretofore unmentioned, that have made Donaldson less attractive than the Harpers, Machados and Arenados of the world. He played in only 113 games in 2017, still smacking 33 home runs and driving in 78 runs in that injury-shortened season. Then last season, he played in only 52 games, getting dealt from Toronto to the Cleveland Indians late in the summer. Though 52 games is hardly enough to judge a season on — let alone a player's future performance — his numbers plummeted, his slash line dipping to .246/.352/.449 and his home-run total to just eight.

Whether or not teams believe Donaldson's best days are behind him thanks to a pair of injury-riddled seasons remains to be seen. But one inarguable fact is his age. He'll be 33 on Opening Day 2019. Does that line up with the White Sox long-term plans? Not as well as the 27-year-old Arenado, of course. But Arenado's going to be a popular guy next winter, so would it be wise to put all the eggs in the Arenado basket?

Donaldson might not fit in the White Sox contention window, but he's got one heck of a track record and could bring some big-time production to whichever lineup he joins for 2019.