Monday Minors Recap: Week 4

Kannapolis Intimidators, A-ball (10-14)

After a terrible 0-6 week 3, Kannapolis started week 4 off with more of the same, losing 2 of their first 3 in Augusta, before coming alive over the weekend with 3 wins in 4 days backed by 29 runs scored. The winning spurt – started in Augusta and completed in Rome, Georgia – continued earlier this morning at the Intimidators coasted to a 7-0 win in the morning getaway game.

The Intimidators experienced a couple more roster moves this week as Stephen McCray got the call up to Winston-Salem. The 24 year-old lefty had pitched well in 15.2 innings for Kannapolis, allowing only 4 runs 10 hits and 3 walks while striking out 14. McCray was back and forth between the rotation and the bullpen in Kannapolis, but his first appearance in Winston-Salem was a start. It was marred by some errors by his teammates, but he still finished with no earned runs in 4 innings pitched.

Myles Jaye was called up from extended spring training to fill McCray’s spot on the roster. He hasn’t pitched in Kannapolis yet. The 20 year-old former 17th round pick played for the Bluefield Blue Jays – the Toronto Blue Jays’ Appalachian League Rookie Affiliate – last season and compiled a 3.00 ERA with 49 K’s in 54 innings over 13 appearances.

One of last week’s moved players, who had a bunch of space devoted to him in my writings as well as in an excellent user comment, has had a hot start so far in Kannapolis. Ross Wilson, a 2011 Sally League all-star, was moved from Winston-Salem back to Kannapolis and has flourished in his renewed playing time. Wilson has played in 11 games since coming from the Dash and is hitting .341 with a .491 OBP, .732 slugging percentage, 4 home runs, and 13 RBI. Talk about mashing. Wilson seems to be somewhat blocked in the White Sox system right now, so he may need to display some patience, but his domination of A-ball must have the White Sox scrambling for ways to give him more chances.

The Intimidators have May Day off while they return home after their long week on the road. They start a 3 game set against Augusta on Wednesday before hosting Hickory for 4 starting Saturday.

Winston-Salem Dash, High A-ball (14-8)

What a week for the Dash. After having their Sunday game last week soaked with rain, the Dash set themselves on fire with a 7 game winning streak. The run has put the Dash in command of the Carolina League Southern Division as they now are in first place by 1.5 games. The pitching was good for the week, allowing only 21 runs, and the offense was spectacular with 56 runs scored: a whopping 8 run per game average.

It has been difficult up to this point to avoid talking about Andre Rienzo and Brady Shoemaker in the space every week. And yes, Riezno had another good start last week as he allowed just one run in 5 innings and struck out 8. Finally though, some more Dash players are starting to elevate their contributions. Michael Earley, who had a good start to the season, pushed his numbers up to great with a ridiculous 11 hits, including 3 home runs, and 10 RBI in the last 6 games. Earley now has a .942 OPS along with his 15 RBI. The catcher position has become a source of offense for the Dash as well. Primary backstops Miguel Gonzalez and Michael Blanke – owners of .794 and .806 OPS’s respectively – came alive in the last week. Helped out by Gonzalez’s 5 RBI game on April 25, the two catchers had 10 RBI during the week to go along with their 15 hits. Obviously, many teams struggle to get much offense from the catching positions, so the Dash have a big advantage in these two going forward.

Dash relievers have also started to compile some impressive numbers. Take a look the ERA’s on these bullpen options: Justin Collop at .071, Jon Bachanov at 3.21, Nick McCully at 2.38, Kyle Bellamy at 2.53, Leroy Hunt at 0.84, and Chris Bassitt at 0.87. Most managers hope for 1 or 2 really great guys to use at the back of the bullpen and shut down an opposing team late. Dash manager Tommy Thompson has 6 of those options.

The Dash will look to stay hot as they hit the road this week for 4 games with the Potomic Nationals. On Friday, they return home for a 3 game set with the Salem Red Sox.

Birmingham Barons, AA (14-11)

Compared to the Dash, the Barons look like a bunch of sluggards in week 4. Compared to any other kind of reasonable expectations, their 6-1 record for the week is a rousing success. After splitting the last two against Mississippi on Monday and Tuesday, the Barons stormed into Montgomery and handed the Biscuits their second 5-game sweep of the season. The Barons outscored the Biscuits 39 to 17 in the series.

Two players I’ve already discussed a lot in these pages are continuing to hit well: Jared Mitchell still has “holy cow” type numbers, and Drew Garcia’s bat continues to do great work, but a couple of other players have also seen their numbers tick upwards. Tyler Saladino, one of Garcia’s middle infield partners, has his OBP up to .406 along with a .782 OPS. A middle infielder capable of getting on base at that rate is already very valuable, but when you ad in Saladino’s 7 steals in 8 tries, the White Sox have to be excited about the tools Saladino is displaying. Saladino really lit up Montgomery this week, collecting 9 hits in the last 4 games.

Cameron Bayne hasn’t been talked about in any Monday Minors Recap yet, but his pair of winning starts in the last week merit him mention. Now boasting a 3-0 record and a 2.70 ERA in 5 starts this season, Bayne has been a big piece of the Baron rotation. The Honolulu native isn’t without fault – he’s walked 21 hitters in only 26.2 innings – but at 24 he’s still not too old for AA and has ultimately been able to prevent runs from coming across the plate. A drop in the number of walks he’s handing out could put him on the White Sox serious radar.

The Barons get a day to return home today and they won’t have to get back on the bus for quite a while. A 10-game homestand starts Tuesday with 5 games against the Jacksonville Suns. On Sunday, the Barons begin a 5 game series with the Tennessee Smokies.

Charlotte Knights, AAA (13-11)

The Knights stayed in 2nd place in the International League South Division – behind the league leading Gwinnett Braves – with a 3-3 record this week. After losing 2 of 3 to the 17-7 Braves, Charlotte headed up to Syracuse and won 2 of their first 3 against the Chiefs.

After a rough start to the season – he gave up 7 runs in his first start of the season – Terry Doyle has seen his numbers creep back down. In fact, Doyle hasn’t given up an earned run in his last two starts, spanning 12 innings, and has his ERA down to 3.63. Doyle also has 16 K’s in those 2 starts and now has 23 in 22.1 innings this season. Combined with the fact that he has only 5 walks, Doyle is starting to look like a serious candidate to help some major league team’s bullpen.

Dylan Axelrod was discussed in this space two weeks ago, and his hot start has paid off in the way all AAA players hope it will: a call to the bigs. White Sox reliever Jesse Crain hit the disabled list on Saturday, and Axelrod was given the call to fill Crains spot in the bullpen. Axelrod, who pitched 18.2 innings in the show last year, has appeared once so far for the White Sox. He pitched 2.1 innings against Boston on Friday and gave up 1 run on 3 hits and a walk while striking out 2. Crain’s injury is “retroactive” from April 21, meaning he is eligible to be removed from the DL on May 6, but he isn’t a lock to return as soon as he’s eligible, so Axelrod may have several more chances to prove himself before somebody has to losees roster spot to Crain.

Charlotte finishes off their series in Syracuse tonight before continuing their road trip with 4 games in Lehigh Valley and 2 games, starting on Friday, back in Gwinnett.

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