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.

Derek Holland ends spring on strong note as White Sox down Dodgers

Derek Holland ends spring on strong note as White Sox down Dodgers

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Derek Holland ended a productive spring with his best outing to date on Monday afternoon.

Healthy and excited to officially kick off his White Sox career, Holland delivered six strong innings in a 5-2 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers on Monday. The left-hander allowed two earned runs and five hits in six innings pitched, walking two and striking out one. Holland is expected to pitch once more in Milwaukee on Saturday before pitching in the third game of the regular season.

“Definitely feel good,” Holland said. “Feel very confident with everything, very happy with how the spring went. I worked on what we needed to work on to get myself ready for the season and stay healthy and I’m very happy with that. But most of all when you get out there and pitch, the defense, you have to keep them on their toes, and I thought the last out was the perfect example of that.”

Holland was referring to a nice diving catch by Jacob May that prevented at least one run from scoring. The longtime Texas Rangers pitcher was pleased to have established his fastball early and mixed in his offspeed pitches and changeup.

“I wanted to make sure we were going the distance,” Holland said. “I didn’t want to have a setback, and I thought we did a great job.”

The White Sox appear to have narrowly avoided one setback on Monday and are awaiting word on another. An X-ray on the left wrist of infielder Tyler Saladino was negative after he was hit by a pitch while getting in work in a pair of minor-league games. Saladino has been diagnosed with a bruised wrist.

The team is still awaiting word on pitcher Jake Petricka, who took a comebacker off his pitching hand in the seventh inning. Petricka exited the game, got his hand wrapped in ice and left to take an X-ray.

The White Sox are also waiting to learn the results of Carlos Rodon’s second opinion. Rodon was scratched from Friday’s start with a tight bicep tendon and had a physical exam and took an MRI, both of which showed he had no structural damage. Rodon traveled to Los Angeles early Monday for the second opinion with Dr. Neal ElAttrache.

Even if he receives the all clear, the White Sox will remain cautious, manager Rick Renteria said. “It’s almost like you have to re-start the process a little bit,” Renteria said. “It would be foolish to try to anticipate or push him into any direction without first of all ultimately having whatever the diagnosis is or the validation or whatever it might be of the second opinion. Once we get that, we’ll know hopefully tomorrow how we can ultimately proceed. I wouldn’t think we’d try to ramp him up quickly.”

The club also expects to have more clarity on the status of right-handed pitcher Juan Minaya on Tuesday. Minaya, who has been out since March 15 with an abdominal tear, was re-evaluated on Monday. Minaya had a 3.18 ERA and nine strikeouts in 5 2/3 innings this spring.

Matt Davidson also had two hits in the White Sox victory and drove in a run. Melky Cabrera hit a solo homer, his first of the spring. Yolmer Sanchez blasted his third homer of the spring, a two-run shot.

Zach Putnam struck out two in a scoreless inning.

With season a week away, Todd Frazier is 'right where I need to be'

With season a week away, Todd Frazier is 'right where I need to be'

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- After he pulled the ball more than ever in 2016, Todd Frazier has worked to hit it the opposite way more often this spring. Even if he struggled.

But as the Opening Day nears, Frazier doesn’t want to cheat himself. Though he struggled last season, Frazier hit a career-high 40 homers. That kind of success means Frazier will continue to pull a pitch if it’s where he likes it. That approach led to a double and Frazier’s first home run of the spring in a 5-2 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers at Camelback Ranch. Both balls were hit to left field.

“I’ve been working on a lot of things and sometimes when you work on something the results aren’t going to be there,” Frazier said. “But I still stay true to myself. And once we start getting going here, pretty close, close as can be -- it’s time to have those things in the back of your mind. But at the same time, you have to hit it where the pitch is and put in play. I was working on a lot of things. I was still trying to go right field, couldn’t get it out there. And now you go to what you know best and just react.”

According to fangraphs.com, Frazier hit 22.8 percent of all balls he put in play to right field last year, which is actually above his career mark of 22.5 percent. But en route to slashing .225/.302/.464, Frazier saw a second consecutive dramatic drop in the number of balls he hit to center. Of the balls Frazier put in play, only 28.5 percent went up the middle, down from 37.7 percent in 2014 when he produced a career-best wRC+ of 122.

To correct that trend, Frazier has worked to give himself a better chance to hit outside pitches the opposite way. Now that his focus is back on hitting to all fields, Frazier thought it was a good sign to homer with a week left before the season starts.

“It feels good,” Frazier said. “It’s showing I’m in the right place. It was a changeup and I’ve been out in front on a lot of those. I’ve got about 10 or 12 more at-bats before the season starts and it’s go time. Get back in the rhythm of things. Whatever you worked on, keep that there. If it’s outside now I have that weapon too as well. I’m right where I need to be.”