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Winston-Salem Dash 2022 Season Preview

A trio of very enticing arms match up with a trio of extremely promising bats.

Oscar Colás may not settle in Kannapolis for long, as he’ll be chasing Yoelqui Céspedes to the majors with the White Sox.

Winston-Salem is not only the home of some of the better pitching prospects, it will also house some high-potential but largely unknown bats to start the year as well.

With that in mind, it makes perfect sense for the coaching staff to have Nicky Delmonico as the hitting coach and Dan Farquhar as the pitching coach, guys that had MLB success teaching young players how to get there — and yes, the Dash top guys are pretty young and have a lot of work to do. Delmonico and Farquhar will have their work cut out for them, and hopefully the successes will be there by the end of the year, or even better, if these players get in-season promotions.

Position Player Prospects

The player that everybody will keep a close eye on this season is right here in Winston-Salem, Oscar Colás. He is listed as the second-best prospect in the system according to MLB Pipeline, and Chris Getz said he should get time in center field. Whether that will be his position of the future remains to be seen, literally, as Friday will mark his first game action since 2020. It seems more likely that Colás ends up in the corners, but might as well see what he has at the tougher position. He has a good bat with good pop, and his time as a pitcher in Japan proved he will have a good outfield arm. He now just has to bring that skill over to the White Sox organization and keep on improving. Plate discipline seems to be where Colás could use the most work — he struck out a decent amount over in Japan with a fair but not great walk total. But hey, he’s a young prospect, they all really need to walk more and strikeout less.

Bryan Ramos was one of the pleasant surprises of the 2021 season in the low minors, and he is finally getting that promotion to the Dash for Opening Day this year. He has an advanced approach at the plate; at 19 last year, Ramos had a 10% walk rate and just less than a 22% K-rate, which is out of this world for his age. He has good pop, but he still needs to fill his power out. Ramos was hurt to begin 2021 so he did not spend a ton of time at third base, but his arm grades out to being good enough for the hot corner. He is still very young, so the type of player he is now probably will change as he gets older and moves up the organization. Ramos might get more pop, just because he is growing or adding weight, and that might force him over to first base. It is too early to tell, but his age-19 season in Kannapolis warrants the Top 10 White Sox prospect standing he has now.

On a little bit of a different spectrum, Luis Mieses has been in the organization since 2017. He has generally been known as a toolsy prospect who has not realized his potential, but last season, he finally put some things to work after an abysmal start. After an awful May, between Kannapolis and Winston-Salem, Mieses hit .293/.335/.483 for a 116 wRC+. He showed better contact skills, with just a 16.1% K-rate, though the walks were still pretty low. That approach seemed to work out for him, as he fixed his problems at the plate for the rest of the year. If Mieses’ success continues here with the Dash, he should be an easy candidate to be promoted to the Barons. Mieses is also only entering his age-22 season and is still closer to age-appropriate in High-A, but he needs to prove his offensive production all season, not from June through September.

Outside of the top hitting prospects, there are going to be a couple more guys to keep an eye on, and of course a hot start could add another player or two to the radar. For now, it seems like Terrell Tatum and Adam Hackenberg are the guys right now to keep a side-eye on. They were both drafted last season and both got a normal bonus for their position, at $125,000 each. Tatum is mainly a guy to watch because of his absurd walk numbers from last year (25 times in 26 games). Hackenberg is a catcher, and the system’s lack of catcher is the primary reason he is making the list. He showed a decent bat with Kannapolis last year after being drafted, but the catching looked like it could use some work. Time will tell, and last year’s 27 total games is not something to take much stock from

Pitching Prospects

There will be a trio of starters to watch, and though Matthew Thompson might be the best of the bunch, all three have things they need to prove. Thompson is coming off a rough year with Kannapolis (5.90 ERA, 4.77 FIP). It was his first real professional season, as he only got four innings in 2019 after he was drafted and there was no 2020 season. So maybe too many expectations were placed on him, but Thompson still fell well below them. The K-rate looked fine at 23.8%, but it was mitigated by a near 12% BB-rate and a .294 batting average against. Opposing batters just hit him, and hit him often, and he walked too many batters to offset that. Thompson will need to prove this year that he is a command pitcher, and that he can get outs beyond strikeouts. Sounds easy enough, right?

Drew Dalquist was another of the young pitchers to flame out last year, and he had one of the better seasons. Dalquist has a similar story as Thompson, with getting drafted in ’19 and then not playing in ’20, to finally get a first real year last season. It ended with a 4.99 ERA and a 4.54 FIP. His strikeout rate at 20% is fine, but again, it’s weakened by a 14% walk rate. Dalquist should be a better control pitcher, so hopefully his wildness was more a case of a wonky first couple years of development. The ERA was better than Thompson’s, mostly because Dalquist’s batting average against was .264; still horrible, but better. Both are entering their age-21 seasons and are very young, but they do need to show real improvement this year — and hopefully early on.

Sean Burke is actually older than the other two pitchers despite being drafted just last year, in the third round, which is probably why he is getting to start in Winston-Salem for his first full pro season. Burke has a decent fastball (low-mid 90s) with a good knuckle-curve and slider. Like many other young and inexperienced pitchers, Burke’s change could use some work, but he will be a high-strikeout guy because of his top three pitches. In his very limited time last season after the draft, Burke had 25 strikeouts in 17 innings; unfortunately, he also had 11 walks, so it wasn’t all hunky-dory.