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Reliability: Catcher Michael Turner was a bright spot for the Dash in 2023.
Salina Rae Silver/South Side Sox

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Winston-Salem Dash 2023 season review

Their 60-66 in a season had several ups and downs

The Winston-Salem Dash finished with a 60-66 record and a -86 run differential. Given that run differential, they won four more games than their Pythagorean record (56-70) would lead us to expect. Winston-Salem spent a large chunk of the season hovering right around .500, but a six-game losing streak to end the season put them near the basement of the South Atlantic League South division. This was the first year as manager of the team for Guillermo Quiróz, who previously managed the Cannon Ballers.

Catcher Michael Turner, 25, slashed .309/.430/.441 and was one of the bright spots for the Dash offense. Turner’s .871 OPS led the way among batters with at least 300 at-bats with the team this season. If we include players with fewer at-bats, first baseman Tim Elko had a higher OPS. In 259 at-bats with the Cannon Ballers, Elko, 24, slashed .297/.360/.556 before being promoted to the Dash. Incredibly, Elko did even better in Winston-Salem, where he slashed .319/.374/.569 in 116 at-bats.

Outfielder DJ Gladney, 22, hit 19 home runs to lead the team by a considerable margin, and he is a rare source of optimism from a 16th round pick. Gladney finished with a .243/.308/.475, so he had plenty of extra-base hits (41), but ideally, he would have a higher walk rate (6.6%) and a lower strikeout rate (27.9%).

Others with at least 10 home runs for the Dash were Wilfred Veras (11, .277/.316/.438 slash line) and Loidel Chapelli Jr. (10, .254/.361/.411), who also got on base quite frequently and went 26-for-32 in stolen base attempts. Another player with a high OBP was first baseman Shawn Goosenberg (.261/.359/.389), who went 32-for-38 steals.

In 209 at-bats, center fielder Terrell Tatum showed a lot of promise, slashing .268/.434/.421, with a sky-high, 21.0% walk rate with the Dash (when he got promoted to the Barons for 222 at-bats, it was 15.2%).

Wes Kath, the second round pick from 2021, has not lived up to the hype. Kath handled Low-A pitching fairly well in 2022, but High-A pitching was tough for him to solve in 2023, as he slashed only .193/.275/.311. The 21-year-old third baseman is still very young, but he is due for a sizable step forward.

In 206 at-bats, Caberea Weaver flexed some power, with 13 extra-base hits, six of which were home runs. However, his slash line was only .252/.297/.374, and his strikeout rate was 32.9%, so contact is an issue for the 23-year-old.

Although 23-year-old third baseman Brooks Baldwin spent most of the season in Kannapolis, 2023 was a major step in the right direction for him. Baldwin slashed .245/.338/.445 in Kannapolis before faring even better with the Dash (.327/.375/.495).

The top prospect in the system, Colson Montgomery, was only with the Dash for 17 games, but he made his time in Winston-Salem count. Montgomery, 21, absolutely demolished the ball (.345/.537/.552, 198 wRC+) for the Dash, and he promptly earned a promotion to the Barons. It was virtually impossible to match his numbers in Winston-Salem, and Montgomery did not — but he still put up solid enough numbers (.244/.400/.427) to give fans plenty of reasons to believe he is on the right track.

Overall, the Dash averaged 5.10 runs per game, which was good enough for fifth out of 12 teams in the South Atlantic League.

As for the pitching, the story was far less promising. Kohl Simas, 23, led the team in strikeouts (102) and innings pitched (82 2⁄3), but unfortunately, the bigger picture was not pretty. Simas finished with a 6.42 ERA, a 5.04 FIP, and 42 walks (4.57 BB/9) in what was a step backward for the right-handed starter. Worst of all, he left his final appearance in September with an apparently serious arm injury.

Connor McCullough, 23, made a big impact with the Cannon Ballers (2.17 ERA, 2.68 FIP in 37 1⁄3 innings) before being promoted to Winston-Salem. After his promotion, McCullough ran into some resistance: While he finished second on the team in strikeouts (86) and innings (76), he finished with a 5.33 ERA and a 4.94 FIP. Interestingly, his xFIP was only 3.58, as his home run per fly ball ratio was sky-high (23.1%).

Jonathan Cannon, 23, was third on the team in strikeouts (67) and innings (72 2⁄3), and made a positive impact with a 3.59 ERA and a 4.13 FIP. Cannon performed well enough to earn a promotion to Double-A Birmingham, where he ran into a bit of a wall (5.77 ERA, 5.11 FIP in 48 1⁄3 innings). Despite the subpar numbers with the Barons, Cannon made some nice progress during the season overall.

Other who made at least nine starts for the Dash were Drew Dalquist, Brooks Gosswein, Josimar Cousin, and Tyler Schweitzer. Among those players, Schweitzer was the most promising, as he had a 3.86 ERA and 3.39 FIP with Kannapolis before settling for a 4.08 ERA and a 5.07 FIP in Winston-Salem. Dalquist (7.69 ERA), Gosswein (5.86 ERA), and Cousin (5.71 ERA) did not give indications that they will be ready to face major league hitters in the near future.

Among the relievers, Chase Plymell (3.26 ERA, 3.67 FIP in 49 2⁄3 innings) showed the most potential on the team. Plymell is 25, however, and his numbers following his promotion to Birmingham were underwhelming, albeit in a small sample size. It is worth noting, though that Double-A hitters had a .441 BABIP against him, and there is no chance that is sustainable.

The Dash allowed opponents to score 5.78 runs per game, which ranked 10th out of 12 teams in the South Atlantic League. Of those 5.78 runs, 0.40 of them were unearned, and Winston-Salem’s 5.38 ERA ranked 11th in the South Atlantic League.

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