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White Sox Minor League Update: May 31, 2019

Near Nicolino-no, Sheets goes deep, Dash powered out, Dawkins keeps rawkin’

Shoving: Justin Nicolino shoves
Laura Wolff/Charlotte Knights

Charlotte Knights 4, Toledo Mud Hens 0

Justin Nicolino: 8 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 8 K (W, 3-1) **MVP**
Adam Engel (CF): 2-for-4, 2 R, 1 2B, 1 HR, 1 RBI
Daniel Palka (DH): 1-for-3, 1 R, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 1 K
Paulo Orlando (RF): 2-for-4, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 K
Matt Skole (1B): 1-for-4, 1 2B, 2 RBI, 1 K
Zack Collins (C): 1-for-3, 1 2B, 1 BB, 1 K

Justin Nicolino took a no-hitter into the seventh inning in his fifth start with the White Sox organization as Charlotte dried out the Toledo Mud Hens, 4-0. Nicolino set season highs in innings pitched and strikeouts (both eight), and a season low for hits (one). Of his 84 pitches, 57 went for strikes; he struck out the side in the second inning, two swinging, and again in the fourth, all swinging. The one hit he allowed was a single to Dustin Peterson with two outs in the seventh, and Peterson ran himself out at second base with an assist from Paulo Orlando in right field.

Adam Engel hit a 446-foot home run. Yeah. Four four six. Truly, as we say in the biz, a prodigious dong. This was four pitches into the game. Prodigious. The Knights also got insurance on a Palka RBI single that scored Engel from his sixth-inning double, and an eighth-inning Skole double that knocked in Palka (walka) and Orlando (single).

Thyago Vieira came in for the ninth, relinquished a walk and the second Mud Hens hit of the ballgame, and struck out Willi Castro swinging to close the game (his second strikeout of the inning).

Montgomery Biscuits 8, Birmingham Barons 7

Blake Battenfield: 5 IP, 8 H, 7 R, 7 ER, 4 BB, 1 K, 1 HBP (L, 1-2)
Luis Robert (CF): 2-for-5, 1 R, 2 SB
Luis Alexander Basabe (RF): 0-for-1 (removed after one AB)
Ramón Torres (PH-RF): 2-for-4, 2 2B
Yermin Mercedes (C): 2-for-4, 2 R, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 1 SB
Gavin Sheets (1B): 2-for-5, 1 R, 1 HR, 2 RBI **MVP**
Blake Rutherford (LF): 2-for-4, 1 R, 2 RBI
Laz Rivera (SS): 1-for-3, 1 BB, 1 K, 1 SB

Blake Battenfield had his second bad start after two good ones to begin his tenure as a Baron. He went into the sixth inning but couldn’t get an out there, and ended up with the ugly seven-run line. The sole home run he allowed was a grand slam, so not ideal. That was in the second inning, and despite a valiant late-innings effort, it put the Barons into a deficit they were unable to recover from. Last year, Battenfield cruised through Low-A, then struggled upon promotion; this year, he mastered High-A, and hopefully his current struggles see themselves wrapped up by next year at the latest. Of course, it’s only been four starts total with Birmingham, so this part could be the fluke and his two one-run starts the norm.

Nothing has changed with Luis Robert — he’s a menace at the plate and on the basepaths. Just for fun, his season slash line between Winston and Birmingham: .370/.426/.699 (that’s an OPS of 1.126). Today, he stole second and third in the same inning. Yermin Mercedes stole his first base of the year, third on a double steal. Blake Rutherford continued to remind us of his presence with two hits. Moving back to the Luises, Basabe was removed with no further comment after one at-bat.

The Barons mounted a late-innings comeback, scoring two each in the eighth and ninth, but it wasn’t quite enough. In the eighth, Mercedes led off with a double (.923 OPS) and Gavin Sheets hit a dinger, his second in two games. Despite Trey Michalczewski singling and Laz Rivera drawing a walk, they were unable to add on. Robert singled to start the ninth, Basabe’s replacement Ramón Torres doubled him to third, and Mercedes grounded him in. Torres scored on a wild pitch, and Ti’Quan Forbes struck out swinging with the bases empty to end the game. Wyatt Burns pitched a scoreless ninth for his second appearance with the team after his promotion.

Winston-Salem Dash: Powerout(age postponement); doubleheader Saturday

Hickory Crawdads 10, Kannapolis Intimidators 5

Taylor Varnell: 2 ⅓ IP, 6 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 3 BB, 2 K, 1 WP (L, 3-3)
Lane Ramsey: 1 ⅓ IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 3 K
Ian Dawkins (CF): 3-for-3, 1 R, 2 2B, 1 RBI, 1 HBP **MVP**
Lenyn Sosa (SS): 1-for-4, 1 R, 1 2B, 2 RBI
Luis Curbelo (3B): 1-for-4, 3 K
Corey Zangari (1B): 0-for-4, 1 R, 2 K
Travis Moniot (LF): 1-for-4, 1 R, 2 K
Ramon Beltre (2B): 2-for-4, 1 R, 1 RBI, 2 K

Here’s how Taylor Varnell’s year has been going: he was pulled after giving up six runs in the third inning and his ERA only rose to 3.61. Obviously, a start like this isn’t what you want, but Varnell has been solid overall. Amazingly, 6’9” reliever Lane Ramsey has given up 11 runs in his 12 ⅓ IP on the year, but only three of those have been earned for an ERA of 2.19. He faced four batters and failed to strike out just one of them.

Ian Dawkins continued to be far too good for Low-A ball, reaching base three times via hit (two doubles, one single) and once via HBP. He’s batting .352 on the season and is completely out of control, in a good way. His hitting streak has extended to 15 games, with nine of those being multi-hit. Of the 53 games he has played, he has failed to reach base in some manner in just SIX of them. His batting average in May ends up near .400; hasn’t updated with the three most recent games yet and I’m too lazy to do my own math, but from May 1 through May 28, Dawkins’ slash line was .398/.494/.537.

Lenyn Sosa hit a big double in the eighth and is still a teenager and will be for over six more months, and Ramon Beltre contributed an RBI single as well. Gunnar Troutwine had his 13th and 14th passed balls of the season, and the Intimidators turned three double plays.