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White Sox Minor League Update: August 4, 2019

Aside from Stiever, Steele and a bit of Dash, it was an ugly day down at the farm

Lucky Seven: Jonathan Stiever struck out nine in just five innings of work in earning his seventh win for the Dash.

Charlotte Knights vs. Gwinnett Stripers (postponed due to rain)

Pensacola Blue Wahoos 10, Birmingham Barons 1

Blake Battenfield (SP) L (4-4) 1.2 IP, 5 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 3 BB, 2 K, 2 HR (4.70 ERA, 1.45 WHIP)
Alec Hansen (RP) 2.1 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 1 K (6.37 ERA, 2.09 WHIP)
Tyler Johnson (RP) 2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 3 K (3.00 ERA, 1.33 WHIP) **MVP**
Mauricio Cabrera (RP) 2 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 2 K, 1 HR (4.91 ERA, 2.16 WHIP)
Ti’Quan Forbes (2B) 1-for-4, K (.241 BA, .668 OPS)
Blake Rutherford (LF) 0-for-2, R, 2 BB (.251 BA, .648 OPS)
Gavin Sheets (1B) 1-for-3, BB (.272 BA, .765 OPS)
Damek Tomscha (DH) 1-for-4, RBI (15) (.325 BA, .896 OPS)
Luis Gonzalez (RF) 1-for-3, BB, K (.247 BA, .674 OPS)

This game was scoreless until the bottom of the second, when the normally reliable Blake Battenfield lost both his control and command. He hit the leadoff batter that inning, and then two hitters later, grooved a pitch to Jordan Gore who connected for a two-run shot for the opening salvo of the game. Later that same inning, Battenfield relinquished another two-run dinger to second-ranked Minnesota Twins prospect Alex Kirilloff ,which gave the Wahoos a substantial 4-0 lead. While indeed the Wahoos have a terrific lineup laden with solid prospects, Battenfield didn’t do himself any favors by falling behind the count and throwing cookies when he did hit the plate. Anyway, after the Kirilloff blast, other Twins Top 30 prospects Trevor Larnach and Ben Rortvedt got singles prior to a walk — his third of the game. Alas, as the saying goes, “Mama always said there’d be days like this.”

Alec Hansen entered the game with the bases loaded to relieve Battenfield, who simply didn’t have it tonight. To add insult to injury, two of the inherited runs came to score on a single. As a result, as noted above, his stat line wasn’t pretty and his ERA rose from 4.01 to 4.70 when all was said and done. Unfortunately things didn’t get much better in the third as two runs scored off Hansen, courtesy of two hits and a walk. Considering the Barons didn’t have any hits last night until the eighth, and had been held hitless through three innings in this game, it certainly looked liked it was going to be a long, long evening.

However, shortly after a Blake Rutherford walk and a Gavin Sheets single, Damek Tomscha came through with an RBI single in the top of the fourth to put the Barons on the board against Wahoos hurler Edwar Colina. Even though the Barons loaded the bases later in the inning, they were unable to get any closer than 8-1.

After Hansen pitched a scoreless fourth frame, Tyler Johnson entered the game to get some work in. Aside from a hit and walk over two innings, he looked great and he even flashed some leather — so to speak.

Unless you were a Twins or Blue Wahoos fan, this was a difficult game to watch. Mauricio Cabrera pitched the last two innings of mop-up duty for the Barons, and surrendered a two-out, two-run homer for his trouble. On the positive side, Birmingham doubled yesterday’s hit total with four, and the defense didn’t commit any errors! Johnson, for his two innings of scoreless work, merited the coveted MVP for the Barons on this night.

Winston-Salem Dash 7, Carolina Mudcats 5

Jonathan Stiever (SP) W (5-3) 5 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 9 K (2.52 ERA, 0.90 WHIP)
Andrew Perez (RP) 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K (1.42 ERA, 1.42 WHIP)
Jose Nin (RP) 1 IP, 1 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 0 K, 1 HR (4.30 ERA, 1.52 WHIP)
Will Kincanon (RP) 1 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 1 K, 1 HR (1.96 ERA, 1.35 WHIP)
Jacob Lindgren (RP) SV (1) 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K (1.29 ERA, 1.00 WHIP)
Steele Walker (CF) 2-for-2, R, 2B (19), RBI (43), 2 BB (.282 BA, .805 OPS) **MVP**
Andrew Vaughn (1B) 0-for-2, R, RBI (5), BB, K (.200 BA, .733 OPS)
Craig Dedelow (RF) 2-for4, 2B (18), RBI (55) (.259 BA, .775 OPS)
Carlos Perez (C) 0-for-2, R, 2 BB (.261 BA, .642 OPS)
Jameson Fisher (LF) 1-for-4, R, 2 K (.236 BA, .702 OPS)
Johan Cruz (SS) 1-for-4, R, 2 K (.234 BA, .716 OPS)
Tate Blackman (DH) 1-for-4, R, RBI (17), K (.193 BA, .586 OPS)
Yeyson Yrizarri (3B) 1-for-4, R, RBI (31), K (.225 BA, .560 OPS)

On paper, this was expected to be an old-fashioned pitcher’s duel. Andy Ashby, eighth-ranked Milwaukee Brewers prospect according to MLB Pipeline, faced White Sox eighth-ranked prospect Jonathan Stiever. The game started as expected until the bottom of the second, when a leadoff walk to Carlos Perez led to four consecutive singles, including RBI hits by Tate Blackman and Yeyson Yrizarri. With the score 2-0 and the bases loaded, hot-hitting Steele Walker hit a sac fly to the opposite field to increase the lead. After an infield error and later another sac fly, this time by Andrew Vaughn to center, the Dash ended the inning with a five-run lead. This remained the score through three innings of play, as Stiever was absolutely cruising.

The fourth inning was a different story for Stiever. In that inning, the Mudcats tallied three runs courtesy of four hits, a walk, and a wild pitch. Not a good inning at all, but he did escape the inning without further damaging by striking out Trever Morrison with two runners on. Anyway, so much for the expected pitcher’s duel. The Mudcats have a very top-heavy lineup, as the first three hitters (Brice Turang, Mauricio Feliciano, and Tristen Lutz) are all among the Milwaukee Brewers Top 10 prospects. They continued to make Stiever labor in the fifth, but just like in the fourth, he stranded two runners to end the inning. Unfortunately for him, the last two innings vastly added to his pitch count (90), so he gave way to Andrew Perez to begin the sixth.

After a scoreless inning by Perez, José Nin pitched in the seventh but surrendered a solo shot to Feliciano, which tightened the score to 5-4. With that said, the Dash took offense with the narrow lead. After Walker and Vaughn walked in the bottom half of the seventh, Craig Dedelow singled to the opposite field to extend the lead to 6-4. Vaughn scored an additional insurance run courtesy of a Jameson Fisher sac fly to give the Dash a three-run lead through seven innings of play.

Aside from a Payton Henry solo homer in the eighth, Will Kincanon pitched a solid eighth inning unscathed. Jacob Lindgren came in to close the game, and aside from a Turang single, the Mudcats couldn’t handle his offerings.

This was a well-rounded effort by the Dash, as nearly everyone contributed to the victory. Aside from a couple of solo homers, the relievers were able to prevent any serious damage. And aside from the fourth and fifth innings, when he was suffering from command issues, Stiever was on top of his game. Everybody in the lineup, with the exception of second baseman Mitch Roman, contributed either a run or an RBI. The MVP of the game was Walker, who got on all four times he came to the plate (two walks, a single and double) and had a sac fly. Since July 25 (spanning 10 games), Walker’s slashed an incredible .447/.523/.789 with 11 runs and eight RBIs. With the victory, the Dash improved to 59-48 while the Mudcats sank to 57-56.

Lexington Legends 5, Kannapolis Intimidators 1

Taylor Varnell (SP) L (7-4) 5 IP, 8 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 2 BB, 5 K (3.23 ERA, 1.13 WHIP)
Wilber Perez (RP) 4 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 4 K, 1 HR (2.68 ERA, 1.14 WHIP)
Ian Dawkins (CF) 3-for-4, 2 2B (33), K (.310 BA, .781 OPS) **MVP**
Lenyn Sosa (SS) 0-for-3, BB, K (.231 BA, .619 OPS)
Alex Destino (DH) 1-for-2, B (17), 2 BB, K (.316 BA, .912 OPS)
Cameron Simmons (RF) 1-for-4, R, HR (1), RBI (3) (.269 BA, .744 OPS)
Michael Hickman (C) 1-for-3, BB, K (.184 BA, .594 OPS)

After a solid first inning, Kannapolis ace Taylor Varnell struggled with his command in the second as he surrendered three hits (including two doubles) and a walk to the Legends in the process of allowing two runs. In the bottom half of the second, however, Cameron Simmons hit his first homer of the season to slice the lead in half for the Intimidators. The good news in the third is that Varnell held the Legends scoreless; the bad news is that he finished the inning with 66 pitches under his belt.

Varnell showed more fatigue in the fourth as he allowed yet a couple more hits, ultimately allowing a run on a sac fly double play — Romy González nailed the runner out at third, but not before the runner tagging from third was able to score. Yet another sac fly plated a run in the fifth for the Legends. Varnell clearly didn’t have his A-game, but it could’ve been much worse, as he stranded a multitude of runners. As it was, although the numbers weren’t as good as he would’ve liked, Varnell still kept the game in reach despite pitching laboriously throughout. Wilber Perez kept the Intimidators in the game, but Lexington starter Charlie Neuwiler was just too much for the Kannapolis squad through six innings of play.

Perez continued to stymie the Legends in the seventh and eighth innings, with the hope that the Intimidators could mount a furious comeback. The eighth inning, indeed, was their chance as Neuwiler was removed after seven highly effective innings. After Ian Dawkins’ third hit (second double) of the evening was followed by consecutive walks to Lenyn Sosa and Alex Destino, it looked like Kannapolis was finally making its surge. However, with strikeouts by González and Corey Zangari, the bases were left loaded to finish the inning. Although Perez relinquished a solo homer in the ninth, he did yeoman’s work by providing four quality innings of relief which saved the rest of the bullpen. For the Intimidators, their big chance was the eighth inning, as they went down relatively meekly to conclude the ninth frame.

With the 5-1 loss, the Intimidators fell to 50-61 while the Legends improved to 54-57. Although Perez pitched admirably, it’s hard to bypass Dawkins as the MVP for Kannapolis. He was 3-for-4 with two doubles as mentioned above, and he can’t be blamed for the failure of the rest of the lineup. All three times, he was on base with less than two out but the lineup couldn’t do anything to bring him home. Although Dawkins may be considered an organizational player, he has been deserving of a promotion to Winston-Salem for at least three months now. It’s time he is given that opportunity.

AZL Padres2 6, AZL White Sox 0

Manny Bañuelos (SP) L (0-1) 1.2 IP, 5 H, 6 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 3 K, 1 HR (16.20 ERA, 4.20 WHIP)
Nick Silva (RP) 1.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 0 K (3.68 ERA, 1.77 WHIP)
Justin Friedman (RP) 5 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 7 K (3.18 ERA, 1.24 WHIP) **MVP**
Trey Jeans (RP) 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 3 K (3.65 ERA, 1.54 WHIP)
Samil Polanco (SS) 1-for-4, 3B (3), K (.285 BA, .668 OPS)
Bryce Bush (RF) 0-for-2 (.000 BA, .000 OPS)
D.J. Gladney (DH) 0-for-3, BB, K (.289 BA, .825 OPS)
Bryan Ramos (3B) 0-for-4, 3 K, E (3) (.254 BA, .749 OPS)
Josue Guerrero (LF) 1-for-2, BB (.220 BA, .679 OPS)
Sidney Pimentel (1B) 0-for-3, K, E (3) (.167 BA, .461 OPS)
Misael Gonzalez (CF) 0-for-2, BB, K (.213 BA, .530 OPS)

After a solid first inning in his first injury rehab assignment, Bañuelos suffered more than his fair share of difficulties in his second. He began the frame with an ominous leadoff walk, which was promptly followed by a throwing error by third baseman Bryan Ramos. The next hitters promptly singled, struck out, singled, doubled (with an assist by catcher Daniel Millwee gunning the runner down at third), walk, passed ball, and home run. At the time he was taken out, Bañuelos had surrendered six runs, of which three were unearned. The only consolation from this outing is that the primary focus is to get his arm back to game-strength, and after 29 pitches, at least he can say he didn’t have any injury setbacks.

Spectacular relief work by 40th round pick Nick Silva, 26th round selection Justin Friedman and 33rd-rounder Trey Jeans kept the game from getting further out of hand — giving up just two hits and three walks combined in their 7 13 innings of work, while striking out 10. However, for the AZL Sox, this game was more about their offense (or lack thereof) than their bullpen prowess. Three isolated walks versus Gabriel Morales and Eudi Asencio were the only runners the Padres were gracious enough to permit the Sox during the first seven innings. Finally Jose Guerrero was able to connect for an infield single with one out in the eighth off reliever Sam Williams to break up the no-no. Although the Sox actually had a rally in the ninth thanks to a leadoff Samil Polanco triple and dropped third strike with two outs, they were unable to push a run across.

While the final score was ugly, there were some good things: Bryce Bush made his first injury rehab appearance and the aforementioned stellar bullpen work. Because Friedman pitched five scoreless innings of relief with seven punchouts, he’s deserving of this game’s MVP for the Sox. The Sox fell to 16-23 with the loss, while the Padres improved to 26-12 on the year.