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2016 Winston-Salem Dash season preview

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Spencer Adams leads an intriguing pitching staff, but it may not receive much support

BB&T Ballpark in Winston-Salem
BB&T Ballpark in Winston-Salem

The minor-league season starts today, so our tour through the minor-league rosters continues with Winston-Salem, where the pitching has promise and the offense ... well, it probably needs help.

Pitchers

The Dash sported one of the Carolina League's best rotations last year, and that's where their strength lies again. They also stand to benefit from continuity, as Jose Bautista takes over as the Dash pitching coach after working with many of these pitchers in Kannapolis last season.

Spencer Adams will start the year in High-A after five successful starts there last year (2.15 ERA, 29.1 IP, 31 H, 1 HR, 7 BB, 23 K). Scouting reports may be more significant than numbers, as he hasn't yet added the velocity scouts thought possible.

Behind him, Jordan Stephens built himself back up after Tommy John surgery stunted his career at Rice, chewing up rookie-league hitters out of the bullpen after the White Sox drafted him in the fifth round in 2015. He's considered to have a future in the bullpen due to his build and the surgery, but the Sox tend to give guys like him long looks as starters.

Fellow fifth-round pick (2013) Thad Lowry is stretched out, throwing 150 innings while repeating Kannapolis last year. He seemed to wear down over the second half, and his rate stats took a hit. He has a mid-90s fastball and a decent slider, so he can shift to relief if he doesn't miss enough bats as a starter.

Behind those three, Jace Fry is the biggest name, but he's recovering from his second Tommy John surgery after another elbow injury limited him to just 10 starts in 2015, so getting on the field may be victory enough.

In a bullpen full of older pitchers, Danny Dopico stands out. He struck out 53 batters over 35 innings in Great Falls after the Sox selected him in the 11th round of the 2015 draft, and the Miami product is skipping Kannapolis as a result.

Position players

The byproduct of having such an interesting team at Birmingham is lacking hitters one level below. Cleuluis Rondon is considered such a defensive wizard that he doesn't have to hit much, but he has to hit better than the .168/.235/.213 line he posted last year. Hence, he's repeating the level. Nick Basto, the Sox' fifth-round pick in 2012, has a similar story in terms of stalling at High-A with the bat, but he doesn't have a position, either.

All in all, there's not a whole lot of offense here, at least until some of the more interesting prospects in Kannapolis show up. Look for those guys later today.

More previews: Charlotte and Birmingham.