Who are some of the notable prospects we may see this year?

1B Gavin Sheets – The former Wake Forest star will likely be playing in his old college town for a solid portion of the 2018 season. Sheets was selected in the second round of the 2017 Draft by the White Sox after leading the Atlantic Coast Conference last year with 21 home runs and 84 RBIs with the Demon Deacons. After playing 52 games with Low-A Kannapolis last year, the first baseman is slated to see a sizeable amount of playing time in the Triad. 

OF Luis Robert – Rated the 23rd-best prospect in all of baseball by MLB.com, Robert signed with the White Sox last May for $26 million. Despite logging zero at-bats stateside in the Minors, the Cuba native is one of the most highly touted prospects in baseball. He is slated to start the 2018 campaign in either Low-A Kannapolis or Winston-Salem, but he will most likely make his way through the downtown facility before the year is over. 

RHP Dylan Cease – One of the headline prospects in a trade that sent four players from the Chicago Cubs organization to the White Sox for big league left-hander Jose Quintana, Cease is one of the most well-regarded pitchers in the Minors. Rated the 61st-best prospect in baseball by MLB.com, the right-hander has touched 101 miles per hour on the radar gun. Last season, Cease averaged 12.2 strikeouts per nine innings, which was fourth-best in the Minors among pitchers who matched or exceeded his 93 1/3 innings pitched. The Georgia native was originally selected in the sixth round of the 2014 MLB Draft by the Cubs, and he signed for $1.5 million. 

Who will be the Dash’s manager this season?

A three-time All-Star during his 24-year big league career, Omar Vizquel replaces Willie Harris as the Dash’s skipper for the 2018 season. This will mark his first year as a manager in affiliated baseball. He most recently served as the first base coach with the Detroit Tigers from 2014-17, and he was also the manager for the Venezuelan national team during last spring’s World Baseball Classic. 

Widely considered one of the greatest defensive shortstops of all-time, Vizquel played 2,968 games for six different MLB teams: Seattle Mariners (1989-1993), Cleveland Indians (1994-2004), San Francisco Giants (2005-08), Texas Rangers (2009), Chicago White Sox (2010-11) and Toronto Blue Jays (2012). He won 11 Gold Gloves, including nine in a row between 1993-2001 while playing for the Mariners and Indians. Among shortstops, his .985 fielding percentage is tied for the highest of all-time. In addition to his fielding prowess, Vizquel ranks 43rd on the all-time hit list with 2,877. This offseason, he was a first-time candidate for the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

James Geiser, Winston-Salem Dash

What are some of the key promotions to look out for?

-Thirsty Thursdays, presented by Lowes Foods. Select beers will be available for just $1 throughout the seventh inning of each Thursday home game.

-Fireworks Fridays, during which the Dash put on a spectacular fireworks show following every Friday home game (as well as July 4th).

-Family Sundays, presented by Lowes Foods, will include free popcorn for kids, and a couple of players will sign autographs before the game on the concourse.

-Kids Run the Bases, powered by New Balance Winston-Salem, where youngsters can run the bases after all Friday, Saturday and Sunday games.

– On April 14, April 21, May 12, June 1, July 7 and August 11, the team is offering its Chick-fil-A Four Pack Night deal. For as low as $32, you receive four tickets, along with four Dash hats and four chicken sandwich vouchers redeemable at the Chick-fil-A at Thruway Shopping Center on Knollwood Street in Winston-Salem.

– The Dash will hold three sessions (June 13-15, July 24-27 and August 6-8) of their Youth Baseball Academy. Baseball players between the ages of 5 and 12 will interact with Dash players and coaches while improving their hitting, pitching and baseball skills at BB&T Ballpark.

-The team’s Around the League Plan gives fans a chance to see the other nine clubs in the Carolina League (April 12 vs. Carolina, May 3 vs. Lynchburg, June 7 vs. Salem, June 22 vs. Down East, July 13 vs. Buies Creek, July 26 vs. Frederick, August 10 vs. Potomac, August 17 vs. Wilmington and August 23 vs. Myrtle Beach) for just $99. Games include: Opening Day, four Fireworks Fridays, four Kids Run the Bases and Five Thirsty Thursdays.

-“Energize the Ballpark” concert: Following the Dash’s 4 p.m. contest against the Down East Wood Ducks on Saturday, June 23, Passion Music featuring Kristian Stanfill, Melodie Malone and Brett Younker will perform a concert for all fans in attendance. Tickets to enjoy the Dash’s game and the Passion postgame performance are available for as low as $12 per person. 

The Chamber’s Keep it Local initiative promotes community support for local business ventures. Spending locally creates a strong economy and a sense of place which gives our town its unique lifestyle. The Keep it Local campaign will feature a different segment of businesses each month in 2018. March is Sports Month.