[Salina Rae Silver continues her Vans-on-the-ground reporting of the White Sox farm system with her second game in as many days. This installment is brought to you from Winston-Salem, N.C., home of the Dash.]
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — “What an usual setup,” your author thought to herself as she arrived at Winston-Salem’s Truist Stadium. Most minor league baseball fields have clearly-marked barriers between the camera well and the dugout because they’re typically adjacent to one other. While Winston-Salem’s home dugout did indeed have a camera well, the fence protecting it was much too high for your 5´7´´ author to be able to effectively navigate it. With no tangible barrier separating the camera well from the dugout, she found herself in the main portion of the dugout, top-stepping it with the subjects of today’s article in order to properly capture the day’s essence for our readers at home.
*sings* I don't belooong hereee pic.twitter.com/ozjOF0U9fB— Salina Rae Silver (@HeyHeySalinaRae) September 3, 2023
Another day, another Top 30 prospect on the mound. This time, 2022 fifth-round pick Tyler Schweitzer (No. 25) toed the slab for the home team.
Schweitzer, for our readers who may not be familiar with his game, is a textbook crafty lefty, a throwback in today’s age of power pitching. His primary offering is a low-90s four-seam fastball that plays well up in the zone, and he compliments it with a good curve, a decent slider, and an improving changeup. Despite his modest profile, his stuff is deceptively good. In Schweitzer’s first full season, he managed a surprising 26% strikeout rate, good for a K/9 figure slightly better than 10. In practical terms, Schweitzer mixes it up well enough to not only miss barrels, but entire bats.
True to form, Schweitzer’s control was immaculate to begin the game. However, his final line yielded an uninspiring three innings pitched with three earned runs and four walks to go with five strikeouts. Despite lackluster results, Schweitzer was in-and-around the strike zone with impressive regularity the whole night. Watching from the dugout, it was evident that frustration from a number of borderline (and missed) calls by home plate umpire Chad Westlake was starting to take its toll on Schweitzer, who’d earned a reputation as a cool, collected competitor on the mound to this point.
The dugout certainly shared this animosity, as it forced manager and former journeyman catcher Guillermo Quiroz to ready a reliever in the second inning. Fortunately for all involved, Schweitzer made it through the second and third, striking out four batters in the process. The majority of Schweitzer’s punchout victims couldn’t help but offer at his four-seamer up and out of the zone despite the fact they had no chance of making contact with it in that location — a testament to the riding action his low-velocity fastball possesses.
On the offensive front, the Dash managed to outhit the opposition in this game, but fell victim to an efficient Braves attack that produced eight runs to Winston-Salem’s four. Loidel Chapelli Jr. accounted for three of the Dash’s nine total hits on the night. We’ll have more on the Chicago White Sox's speedy Cuban prospect later. Small-ball, with one major exception, accounted for the entirety of the Dash’s offensive effort in this contest, furthering the throwback theme that was established by Winston-Salem’s starter.
Let’s now turn to Salina’s game notes to extemporaneously recap the night’s action.
- Wes Kath crushed the sole long ball for the Dash tonight. The blast measured 107 mph off of the bat, with a projected distance of 415 feet. His raw power is something to behold, especially in person. While power like that plays in the bigs, readers should be aware of his woeful .193/.275/.311 slash line and 43% strikeout rate and temper their expectations for the Sox 2021 second-rounder accordingly.
- Tyler Schweitzer continued to miss bats at a surprising rate and pitched to a 3.94 ERA in his first professional season. It stands to reason that he’ll begin next year in High-A, with sights on the the two seniormost levels of the minors if he can continue his success. His ground ball rate plummeted in Winston-Salem, however, and his HR/FB% climbed to a gaudy 13.5%, indicating Schweitzer could have issues keeping the ball in the park going forward.
- Kohl Simas airmailed a ball to the netting behind the plate in the sixth inning and promptly exited the mound, falling to a crouch that he maintained until coaches and athletic trainers could make their way out to check on him. It appears to be another tough bit of injury news for the oft-embattled Sox righty, and we here at South Side Sox wish him a speedy and painless recovery.
- Brooks Baldwin, your author’s favorite White Sox prospect, enjoyed a massive breakout at the plate this year. His hit tool, baseball acumen, and elite speed were on full display in this one as he managed to drive in Chapelli courtesy of an infield hit, stole a bag, and worked a walk on the night. In 93 games between Low-A and High-A, Baldwin had a .269/.349/.460 slash line, good for a .809 OPS. His breakout can be largely be attributed to career-high pull and walk percentages. These figures show that the White Sox No. 30 prospect is beginning to come into his own as a hitter, punishing pitches inside the zone with impunity while laying off of pitcher’s pitches that nibble the corners. MLB Pipeline projects his power potential at a modest 10-15 HR a season in the majors, but with regular playing time I think he could top out at 25-30.
- Dash catcher Michael Turner committed two errors, but has been one of the best offensive players in the White Sox system this year. He’s one of five qualified batters with a wRC+ better than 140 at the High-A level. He leads those five in batting average and doubles, and has more walks than strikeouts in his first full season in the Sox system. His approach and patience at the plate is second to none, and his gap-to-gap doubles power is substantial. He could be ticketed to begin the 2024 campaign at Double-A. His contributions to this year’s Winston-Salem Dash team can not be overstated.
- Loidel Chapelli Jr. is the hardest worker I’ve seen in Minor League Baseball. Between at-bats, the young Cuban prospect could be found in the dugout honing his craft by practicing his swing and footwork. He arrived to pregame OTA’s early today, and his intensity while warming up matched his work ethic in-game pace-for-pace. That work has paid dividends, as Chapelli has showcased above-average patience at the plate with a walk rate at 13.1% to go along with 20 doubles, 10 homers, six triples and 26 stolen bags at the High-A level. Chapelli isn’t your stereotypical small-ball merchant who relies on his elite speed to maximize weak contact: He generates a ton of hard contact and uses his elite speed to turn singles into doubles, and doubles into triples.
- Fellow White Sox Twitter cesspool dwellers will no doubt be familiar with the Uncrustable sandwich craze sweeping the fandom, courtesy of @BrewHandLuke. Though he did not play in the game I covered, Dash infielder Taishi Nakawake signaled solidarity with WST faithful on the subject of superior crustless PB&J sandwiches. Whether or not that display was a tacit gesture of support is up to the reader’s interpretation.
White Sox prospect Taishi Nakawake is an Uncrustable Enjoyer (™️) confirmed pic.twitter.com/hyTgJO1xDc— Salina Rae Silver (@HeyHeySalinaRae) September 5, 2023
As your author exited beautifully unusual Truist Stadium in Winston-Salem, a barrage of fireworks erupted from the field in a dazzling display designed to reward the game’s attendees for their support and patronage. Despite a final score that indicated otherwise, I also had cause to celebrate the experience I’d just bore witness to on this humid night. For the second straight game, the display of top-shelf talent in the Chicago White Sox farm system was every bit as dazzling as the explosions that illuminated the sable summer sky.
To the disenchanted masses of fans populating our team’s ecosystem, hope is on the way.
Special thanks to Andrew Murphy and the rest of the Dash team for making this installment of Inside Look possible. Shout-out to Carrie Srebro and her adorable little girl for inadvertently helping me get really good shots of the players signing autographs. Enjoy this brief gallery from the game delivered by yours truly, and thank you for reading.
- Caberea Weaver signs an autograph for a young fan Salina Rae Silver / South Side Sox
- Brooks Baldwin slides under an athletic jumping save by Braves Top-30 prospect Nacho Alvarez Salina Rae Silver / South Side Sox
- Michael Turner looks to the distance in Winston-Salem Salina Rae Silver / South Side Sox
- Bryce Willits readies in the field Salina Rae Silver / South Side Sox
- Bryce Willits signs an autograph for mother this time Salina Rae Silver / South Side Sox
- DJ Gladney enjoys a pregame snack Salina Rae Silver / South Side Sox
- Loidel Chapelli reaches for a high-five after scoring the game’s first run Salina Rae Silver / South Side Sox
- Wes Kath admires his towering homer Salina Rae Silver / South Side Sox
- Colby Smelley walks back to the dugout Salina Rae Silver / South Side Sox
- Eric Adler works a scoreless frame Salina Rae Silver / South Side Sox
- Mario Camilletti speaks with a teammate off-camera in the dugout Salina Rae Silver / South Side Sox
More photos of the night can be found on Salina’s Instagram by following this link.