2013 Season Review: Winston-Salem Dash

Kevan Smith - Jamie Squire

High-A affiliate

Winston-Salem had a few good prospects pass through but ended the season with just one prospect of note.  The pitching in particular was seriously lacking by September.

As usual, we'll start with the baselines for the Carolina League.  The average hitter's triple slash line was .254/.332/.380.  The average pitcher walked 9.5% and struck out 19.5% of batters.  The league is pretty neutral overall, perhaps even a slight pitcher's league, but the Dash's home park is the most hitter-friendly in the league.  BB&T Ballpark easily outpaces the other parks in runs per game and hits per game and only Frederick's stadium sees more home runs.  Its unusual dimensions are also a challenge for outfielders.  The average player is 22.9 years old.

Position Players

CF Courtney Hawkins is someone we've discussed many times, as one would expect for the 13th overall pick in 2012. Unfortunately, the discussion has almost always been negative. The White Sox are known for committing prospect malpractice but what they did to Hawkins takes the cake. I'm sure they had some reasoning they convinced themselves was logical but it's pretty stupid to send a raw 19-year-old with pitch recognition issues to High-A in his first full season as a pro. It's even stupider to keep him there when it's smack-you-over-the-head obvious that he can't handle it.  Hawkins ended up batting .178/.249/.384 in 425 plate appearances.  As you probably expected, most of that slugging came in his home park where he hit 10 of his 19 home runs (in fewer plate appearances) and accrued 11 of his 16 doubles and all 3 of his triples.  He struck out a stunning 37.6% of the time, while walking in 6.8% of his plate appearances.  His low batting average was also aided by a 11.9% infield flyball rate.  About the only positive thing to say is that he cut down on the strikeouts as the season wore on.  Unfortunately, basically everything else got worse as his walk rate, slugging and batting average all collapsed after the All-Star break.  .165/.242/.302 doesn't help the optimism for next season.  He's still got all the tools but it's hard to develop them and gain confidence when you're over-matched on a routine basis.  The big righty began the season as the third-youngest player in the league and ended it as the youngest.

1B Rangel Ravelo was also pretty young, ending the season as the 16th youngest.  The 2010 6th round pick out of Florida high school began the season at Kanny, where he continued his transition from third base to first base, but he hit rather poorly. After his promotion to the Dash, however, his offense picked up and the righty ended up with a .312/.393/.455 line in High-A. Somewhat counter-intuitively, he hit much better on the road (.382/.463/.544 vs. .255/.333/.382). He's always had good bat-to-ball skills but, as he's going to need to hit to be anything, he needs to develop above-average power and it's highly questionable that he has the potential to do so.

C Kevan Smith was the 16th oldest player in the league (disclaimer: not true but probably close as he is 25) so his .286/.370/.464 line is to be expected.  The 7th round pick in 2011 out of University of Pittsburgh spent some time in High-A last season so a full season there again is not inspiring confidence. He, too, benefited from the home park while also showing improvement in his walk rate (8.6%) and strikeout rate (14.9%) from 2012, which he split between Kanny and Winston-Salem. Still a work-in-progress behind the plate, he may be a late bloomer after coming to baseball after quitting football at Pitt.

2B Joey DeMichele also hit better at home, though it didn't really help much as his overall line was .246/.323/.366.  The 2012 3rd round pick out of Arizona State was reputed to be an offense-first player but the contact skills just weren't there. A work-in-progress on defense, the 22-year-old saw some time at shortstop but that's a serious stretch as it's debatable whether he can even handle second base long-term.  The left-handed hitter will need to improve in all aspects of his game next season.

Pitcher

RHP Braulio Ortiz is quite the live arm.  The Dominican has a good fastball that can reach the mid-90s and a slider with nice velocity separation at 80 MPH or so that could be a plus pitch.  The 21-year-old began the season with the Intimidators in a relief role but moved to the rotation in June.  He got a late season promotion and had 6 starts with the Dash. Nobody found him easy to hit and his strikeout rate of 25.4% between the two levels was impressive.  However, his 15.5% walk rate shows the work he needs to do.  At 6'5", there's certainly a lot to like. He needs to get a more consistent delivery and develop a changeup if he wants to be a starter but that fastball and slider suggest he'd be just fine in relief.

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