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.

The last White Sox rebuild: Bobby Howry remembers aftermath of '97 'White Flag' trade

The last White Sox rebuild: Bobby Howry remembers aftermath of '97 'White Flag' trade

Bobby Howry wasn't aware of the fact he was part of one of the more infamous transactions in White Sox history until a few years after it happened. 

In 1997, with the White Sox only 3 1/2 games behind the division-leading Cleveland Indians, general manager Ron Schueler pulled the trigger on a massive trade that left many around Chicago — including some in the White Sox clubhouse — scratching their heads. Heading to the San Francisco Giants was the team's best starting pitcher (left-hander Wilson Alvarez), a reliable rotation piece (Doug Drabek) and a closer coming off a 1996 All-Star appearance (Roberto Hernandez). In return, the White Sox acquired six minor leaguers: right-handers Howry, Lorenzo Barcelo, Keith Foulke, left-hander Ken Vining, shortstop Mike Caruso and outfielder Brian Manning. Only Foulke had major league experience, and it wasn't exactly good (an 8.26 ERA in 44 2/3 innings). 

Howry was largely oblivious to the shocking nature of the trade that brought him from the Giants to White Sox until, before the 1999 season, he was featured in a commercial that referenced the "White Flag trade."

"I don't even know if I knew it was called that before then," Howry recalled last weekend at the Sheraton Grand Chicago at Cubs Convention. 

The trade was a stark signal that youth would be emphasized on 35th and Shields. Both Alvarez and Hernandez were set to become free agents after the 1997 season, and the 40-year-old Darwin wasn't a long-term piece, either. With youngsters like Magglio Ordonez and Carlos Lee rising through the farm system, the move was made with an eye on the future and maximizing the return on players who weren't going to be long-term pieces. 

Sound familiar? 

It's hardly a perfect comparison, but when the White Sox traded Chris Sale to the Boston Red Sox in December for four minor leaguers — headlined by top-100 prospects in Yoan Moncada and Michael Kopech — it was the first rebuilding blockbuster trade the organization had made since the 1997 White Flag deal. Shortly after trading their staff ace at the 2016 Winter Meetings, the White Sox shipped Adam Eaton — their best position player — to the Washington Nationals for a package of prospects featuring two more highly-regarded youngsters in Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez. 

[SHOP WHITE SOX: Get your White Sox gear right here]

And there still could be more moves on the horizon, too, for Rick Hahn's White Sox (Jose Quintana has been the subject of persistent rumors since the Winter Meetings). But for those looking for an optimistic outlook of the White Sox rebuilding plans, it's worth noting that the club's last youth movement, to an extent, was successful.

Only Howry (3.74 ERA over 294 games) and Foulke (2.87 ERA, 100 saves over 346 games) became significant long-term pieces for the White Sox from those six players brought over in 1997. And it wasn't like Schueler dealt away any of the franchise's cornerstones — like Frank Thomas, Albert Belle and Robin Ventura — but with future starters in Lee, Ordonez and Chris Singleton on their way the White Sox were able to go young. A swap of promising youthful players (Mike Cameron for Paul Konerko) proved to be successful a year and a half later. 

And with a couple of shrewd moves — namely, dealing Jamie Navarro and John Snyder to the Milwaukee Brewers for Cal Eldred and Jose Valentin — the "Kids Can Play" White Sox stormed to an American League Central title in 2000. 

"It was great," Howry said of developing with so many young players in the late 1999's and 2000. "You come in and you feel a lot more comfortable when you got a lot of young guys and you're all coming up together and building together. It's not like you're walking into a primarily veteran clubhouse where you're kind of having to duck and hide all the time. We had a great group of guys and we built together over a couple of years, and putting that together was a lot of fun."

What sparked things in 2000, Howry said, was that ferocious brawl with the Detroit Tigers on April 22 in which 11 players were ejected (the fight left Foulke needing five stitches and former Tigers catcher/first baseman Robert Fick doused in beer). 

"About the time we had that fight with Detroit, that big brawl, all of a sudden after then we just seemed to kind of come together and everything started to click and it took off," Howry said. 

The White Sox went 80-81 in 1998 and slipped to 75-86 in 1999, but their 95-67 record in 2000 was the best in the league — though it only amounted to a three-game sweep at the hands of the wild-card winning Seattle Mariners. 

Still, the White Flag trade had a happy ending two and a half years later. While with the White Sox, Howry didn't feel pressure to perform under the circumstances with which he arrived, which probably helped those young players grow together into eventual division champions. 

"I was 23 years old," Howry said. "At 23 years old, I didn't really — I was just like, okay, I'm still playing, I got a place to play. I didn't really put a whole lot of thought into three veteran guys for six minor leaguers." 

White Sox Talk Podcast: Zack Collins discusses staying at catcher

White Sox Talk Podcast: Zack Collins discusses staying at catcher

White Sox 2016 first round pick Zack Collins joins the podcast to talk about his future with the White Sox, when he hopes to make the big leagues and the doubters who question whether he can be a major league catcher.   He discusses comparisons with Kyle Schwarber, his impressions of Yoan Moncada and Michael Kopech, why his dad took him to a Linkin Park concert when he was 6 years old and much more.