The following information was provided by our hometown team, the Winston-Salem Dash, as a recap of their 2016 season which ended on Monday. To view a full, downloadable recap with complete team statistics, click HERE.
Robbins, Basto Lead CL in Average
For the second time in five years, Winston-Salem boasts the top two hitters in the Carolina League. Mason Robbins posted a .314 average, while Nick Basto finished with a .306 mark. Only one other qualified CL hitter (Frederick’s Aderlin Rodriguez, .308) posted an average above .300. The Dash also finished one-two in the league’s batting average pecking order, when Carlos Sanchez (.3151) edged Dan Black (.3146) for the top spot. Winston-Salem is one of two full-season Minor League teams with the top two qualified hitters in their league. Las Vegas, the Triple-A affiliate of the New York Mets, has the top three in the Pacific Coast League: T.J. Rivera (.353), Brandon Nimmo (.352) and Gavin Cecchini (.325).
More Strikes than a Bowler
Dash right-hander Jordan Stephens submitted an outstanding 2016 season, especially in the strikeout column. Stephens paced the Carolina League and finished tied for 12th in all of Minor League Baseball with 155 strikeouts. Mudcats righty Matt Withrow finished second in the CL, but he was 24 off the pace. The former Rice University star finished 18 shy of the Minor League leader (Milwaukee farmhand Brandon Woodruff) and six away from fourth place. In his final three starts of 2016, Stephens gave up just two runs (both earned) on nine hits in 15.0 innings, during which he struck out 29 batters.
Stephens’ 155 strikeouts represent the most by a Winston-Salem hurler during the Dash era (2009-present). The previous record belonged to J.B. Wendelken, who whiffed 129 in 2014. No pitcher in franchise history had collected more than Stephens’ 2016 total since Carlos Chantres fanned 158 for the 1997 Warthogs. Stephens’ total is also the highest by a Carolina Leaguer since Lynchburg’s Aaron Northcraft whiffed 160 during the Hillcats’ championship season of 2012.
Part of a Productive Rotation
Stephens was the only member of the Dash’s Opening Day starting rotation to remain with Winston-Salem throughout the year, and he did not disappoint with his aforementioned strikeout success. He also finished second amongst CL qualifiers in earned run average (3.45). Only Pitcher of the Year Trevor Clifton of Myrtle Beach had a better mark (2.72). The other four starters all reached Double-A Birmingham by the end of the year. This includes Midseason CL All-Star Matt Cooper, who led the Minor Leagues in strikeouts after his final outing with Winston-Salem (95 through June 13). Despite missing the entire second half, Cooper still finished in a tie for 13th on the circuit in strikeouts. Also, ranked prospects Spencer Adams and Thad Lowry made second-half jumps to the Southern League and finished with 2016 ERAs around four (Adams – 3.98; Lowry – 4.07).
Eight Alumni Reach Major Leagues
Over the course of the 2016 season, eight men who donned the Dash purple earned their first promotions to the Major Leagues. Here is the group, listed in alphabetical order, with their season(s) with the Dash in parentheses:
INF Tim Anderson (2014) – debuted June 10
OF Jason Coats (2014) – debuted June 4
RHP Tyler Danish (2014) – debuted June 11
RHP Carson Fulmer (2015) – debuted July 17
C Omar Narvaez (2014-15) – debuted July 17
C Kevan Smith (2012-13) – debuted September 1
RHP J.B. Wendelken (2014) – debuted May 8; only player on this list who did not make first MLB appearance with the White Sox (Athletics)
RHP Michael Ynoa (2015) – debuted June 14
Collins, Six Alumni Heading to AFL
Dash catcher Zack Collins and six Winston-Salem alumni will represent the White Sox in the Arizona Fall League, a prospect showcase that takes place in October and November. Righties Matt Cooper and Connor Walsh are the other two White Sox selections who have donned the Dash purple this season. In addition, lefty Brian Clark, right-hander Brad Goldberg, outfielder Courtney Hawkins and third baseman Trey Michalczewski are the other Dash alumni who will suit up for the Glendale Desert Dogs.
Major League Manager
For just the second time in franchise history, someone with past Major League managerial experience was the Winston-Salem skipper. Joel Skinner, who was Cleveland’s interim manager during the second half of the 2002 season, just finished his first year with the Dash. Nick Levya, who led the Philadelphia Phillies from 1989-91, managed part of the Warthogs’ 2004 campaign after the dismissal of Ken Dominguez. That club went on to finish 74-66 and bow out in the first round of the playoffs.
Not Your Typical Season
Winston-Salem’s 56-83 (.403) mark was the worst for the franchise since becoming the Dash in advance of the 2009 season. It was the club’s worst overall showing since a 50-90 (.357) effort in 2002. The previous low-water mark in the Dash era took place in 2014 when Winston-Salem posted a 61-78 (.439) record.
Salem (87-52) narrowly missed out on surpassing the Dash’s 2012 record of 87-51-1 for the top record by a Carolina League team during the Dash era (2009-present)…That 2012 Dash mark is the best this league has seen since Myrtle Beach’s 89-51 showing in 2008…The Dash’s final game spanned just one hour and 44 minutes, the club’s shortest nine-inning game in the recorded era (2005-present)…The Dash’s 2017 season will begin on Thursday, April 6, and will be 140 games…Next year, the Carolina League will consist of 10 teams.