That’s how White Sox Director of Scouting Nick Hostetler described the events coming from Winston-Salem, N.C., this past week.
They might be 700 miles away from Chicago, one-to-three years from making it to the big leagues, but what transpired on the field for the Winston-Salem Dash, the White Sox Class-A squad in the Carolina League should give White Sox fans a jolt of excitement — and plenty of hope, too.
Under new manager Omar Vizquel, the Dash won six games in a row with dominant pitching, clutch hitting and dramatic endings so off the charts you’d think their season was scripted by Disney.
“Omars in the Outfield,” joked Hostetler.
The Dash might not be ready for Hollywood just yet, but they did accomplish something else:
They gave the White Sox franchise its best week of baseball since Rick Hahn and company started their rebuild.
True, this all happened on minor league fields nowhere near the bright lights of the majors, but in every game several important pieces of the rebuild took the field and together showed all the promise and potential the White Sox have been talking about.
Kopech, Giolito, Lopez, Moncada, Jimenez and Hansen have all had their individual moments.
But this was different.
This was all that talk coming through in action night after night after night.
“It’s been a special week in Winston-Salem that we hope continues to grow this group together,” said Director of Player Development Chris Getz. “It’s a collection of some of our top players, and winning in the fashion that they have makes the development process more enjoyable for everyone. We’ve had very good pitching performances, clutch hitting, successful situational hitting and good defense. Needless to say, things have been clicking this past week.”
The top prospects playing on the Dash are Dylan Cease (from the Jose Quintana trade), Luis Basabe (Chris Sale trade), Dane Dunning (Adam Eaton trade), Blake Rutherford (Todd Frazier/David Robertson/Tommy Kahnle trade), plus international signee Micker Adolfo and 2017 second round pick Gavin Sheets.
The White Sox like it when their minor league teams win, but what they really want to see is development.
Here’s what is developing with the Dash through 11 games:
Cease: 1-1, 1.69 ERA, 4 BB, 12 K
Dunning: 1-0, 0.79 ERA, 2 BB, 16 K
And still waiting to play his first game with the Dash is Luis Robert, the White Sox third-ranked prospect, who’s out with a sprained thumb. He’ll probably make his debut sometime in May.
Pray for the Carolina League.
So, what did the Dash exactly do this past week that has everyone all excited?
Tied at 4 in the top of the ninth inning against the Myrtle Beach Pelicans (the Cubs Class-A affilliate), Basabe drove in the go-ahead run on a single. He advanced to second on the throw, stole third base and scored on a sac fly by Rutherford. The Dash won 6-4.
Merely scoring the winning run in the top of the ninth inning was by far the least exciting day of the week for the Dash. Read on.
When the news came across, it didn’t seem real. The Dash announced that nine-time NBA All-Star and Winston-Salem native Chris Paul bought a minority ownership of the Dash.
“I am excited to have the opportunity to become involved with a successful organization that has a positive impact on the community,” Paul said. “What could be more fun than being part owner of a Minor League baseball team in your hometown?”
That night, Basabe, Sheets and Joel Booker all had three hits, while starter Jimmy Lambert only gave up one unearned run on one hit in five innings. The Dash beat Myrtle Beach again 6-4. But wait. There’s more. A whole lot more.
Dunning set White Sox Twitter ablaze when he took a no-hitter into the seventh inning against Myrtle Beach. The sixth-ranked White Sox prospect ended up going 6 1/3 innings, gave up only two hits, with no walks and eight strikeouts. He said afterwards that James Shields showed him a different grip to use for his curveball during spring training. “That’s been a big plus for me so far,” Dunning said. The Dash swept the Pelicans 9-0. Take that, Cubs. Basabe had 3 more hits. Of course, he did. “Basabe has been showing off everything he can do to help a team win a game,” Getz said.
In their home opener against Carolina, the Dash provided the kind of late-game fireworks you rarely see, or never do. Tied at 2 with two outs in the bottom of the 10th inning, Joel Booker was on third base. Rather than rely on someone else to drive him in, he took matters into his own hands, shocking everybody in the stadium, by safely stealing home. A walk-off steal to win a baseball game. That was the kind of week it was for the Dash. However, this was merely a dress rehearsal for what would come over the weekend.
Fifth-ranked prospect Dylan Cease got the start vs. Carolina and was basically unhittable. He retired the first 11 batters he faced before giving up a two-out single in the fourth. Cease finished with six scoreless innings on only two hits while striking out five. The Dash won easily 8-1. Guess who had three more hits? Basabe.
Now to the craziest game of the week. It will probably be the wildest game of the season.
Not sure how you top this. The Dash trailed the Mudcats 5-0 in the bottom of the eighth inning. The game was seemingly over. Carolina went to the bullpen and the Dash made them pay. Did they ever. Winston-Salem hit FOUR HOME RUNS. Booker, Basabe (2-run shot), Adolfo and Yermin Mercedes did the damage. They scored five runs to tie the game.
They went to the 10th inning where the Dash won again. Not on another home run. That’s too easy. This is a dynamic bunch that finds creative ways to beat you. How about a suicide squeeze bunt? Booker laid it down successfully, scoring Yeyson Yrizarri. The Dash won their sixth game in a row.
Oh yeah, Basabe went 2-for-4. His other hit was a bunt single. The dude has wheels. Did I mention he might be the best defensive outfielder in their minor league system?
The Dash came back down to Earth. They finally lost a game, 6-2 to the Mudcats. But Adolfo homered, Rutherford stole 2 bags. Basabe went 0-for-4. He’s human.
So, that’s the week it was for the Winston-Salem Dash, a team loaded with talent. Who knows for how long? Double-A Birmingham will be calling soon for some of these guys. When will they reach Chicago? After weeks like this, maybe sooner than anyone thought.