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2014 Winston-Salem Dash: Season preview

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High-A affiliate

Jacob May
Jacob May
Winston-Salem Dash

The Dash are a bit light on pitcher prospects but the position players are probably the best overall group of the four affiliates.

Headlining that group is Tim Anderson, the White Sox' top pick in 2013 and my top prospect in the system. The 20-year-old got 301 plate appearances with Kannapolis last year and, coupled with his performances in fall instructs and spring training, the always aggressive White Sox assigned him to High-A. Anderson still has a lot of developing to do but this isn't the sort of egregious malpractice that felled Courtney Hawkins last year. Most notably, he has much better current contact skills, which project to be plus. The power may or may not develop but he has the speed to maximize a contact-oriented approach from the right-side. Defensively, he's very rough and an eventual move to second base is probably more likely than not at this point. I believe a lot of prospect-watchers missed on Anderson this offseason but he'll make them believers this season.

Hawkins generates a lot of controversy due to his putrid performance last season with the Dash. As I mentioned above, the assignment was simply too aggressive. It's hard to say what long-term effects it will have on the 20-year-old but he's still young for the level and a solid performance in his second season in High-A would probably make everyone forget last year. The key is going to be contact, as he simply can't strikeout more than 25% of the time and expect to make it to the majors as a corner outfielder.

Jacob May doesn't have the pedigree of the two above but he has an intriguing package of tools: switch-hitter, speed, solid contact, solid power. The 22-year-old's speed ensures that he will stick in center field so the offensive profile doesn't need to be too good to make him a valuable prospect.

Keon Barnum needs to stay healthy. He'd only managed 272 plate appearances since he was drafted in 2012 and that inconsistency in play makes it very hard to develop as a high school draftee. I think this was an unnecessarily aggressive assignment for the 21-year-old. While the first baseman will certainly enjoy hitting in the Dash's home park as opposed to the Intimidators', his contact skills are highly questionable and seeing a Hawkins-like performance wouldn't be a surprise.

The opening day starter was J. B Wendelken, who came over in the Peavy deal. He probably isn't a starter long-term (and he'd never before started in the minors) but the 21-year-old does command a low 90s fastball well. The righty's slider is inconsistent but flashes plus potential. He's got a bit of a funky delivery, which he has trouble repeating.

Braulio Ortiz got an aggressive push in 2013, going straight to Low-A after two seasons in the Dominican Summer League. The righty pitched okay, missing plenty of bats but also walking too many, in 90 innings between the Intimidators and the Dash. The 20-year-old has sink on his fastball, which in his relief outings got into the upper 90s. As a starter, it's more low to mid 90s. His only other pitch is a slider which is meh. Since he hasn't even thrown a third pitch yet, it's hard to project him as anything but a reliever right now.

Jefferson Olacio is not starting the season in the rotation but is likely to see some starts later in the year. The big lefty drew Sabathia comps due to his size but his pitching is too much like current C.C. - not enough velocity. 2013 was the 20-year-old's first as a full-time starter and it was clear that he was learning to pace himself more through outings, which contributed to a decline in his strikeouts but also to a decline in his walks. It will be interesting to see whether he can successfully blend ramping up the velocity with a controlled approach.

Brad Goldberg has been pegged as a potential fast-mover to the White Sox bullpen. They're going to slow the 24-year-old down a bit, though, as the righty will be in the Dash's rotation so he can get more reps. He's the now quintessential White Sox pitcher: power sinker with a slider that has a 10+ MPH difference from his fastball.

You can find the other affiliates' previews below:

Charlotte Knights

Birmingham Barons

Kannapolis Intimidators