Chris Bassitt exudes the self-confidence that is often found on winning teams. And while capturing both the first- and second-half Southern Division titles in the Carolina League feels good, it's a small part of what he wants to accomplish this year.
The White Sox prospect allowed one hit over five scoreless innings Sunday as the Class A Advanced Winston-Salem Dash beat the Salem Red Sox, 6-1, to guarantee the best full-season record in the Minor Leagues.
"I'm not speaking on behalf of everyone, but we should definitely win [the championship]. It would be a big-time disappointment if we don't win," Bassitt said. "It's a cliche and it's a little obvious, but if we play to how we know we can play, we'll win. We're the best team in the league. They know it and we know it.
"We just need to play Winston-Salem baseball. We can outslug you and we can play small ball. We're very, very diverse. We have outstanding pitching; we have a lot of good arms that can throw a shutout, and the bullpen should not give up a run. We're a very complete team."
The Dash improved to 43-25 in the second half and 87-50 overall. Even if they lose Monday's regular-season finale Monday, they will finish with a .630 winning percentage. Neither the Asheville Tourists, the Rockies' Class A affiliate, nor the Indianapolis Indians, the Pirates' Triple-A affiliate, can match that mark.
Asheville can finish no better than 88-52 (.629), while the Indians can max out at 89-55 (.618).
"Of course, it means something to us, maybe more to the three or four of us who have been here all season," Bassitt said.
"It means a lot because it shows no matter who we have lost or gained, we can keep on winning. Whether the guys we brought in were winning or losing, they had to step up. It's only a little record, but it shows a lot."
Selected by the White Sox in the 16th round of the 2011 Draft out of the University of Akron, Bassitt (5-4) has played a pivotal role for the Dash.
A closer during his four-year college career, the 23-year-old right-hander made the transition from the bullpen to the rotation over the second half of the season.
Bassitt was 1-2 with four saves and a 2.98 ERA in 28 relief appearances through the middle of July. The last time he took a regular turn in the rotation was as a senior at Genoa Area High School in Clay, Ohio.
On Sunday, he turned in arguably his strongest outing as a pro.
After allowing a leadoff single to Heiker Meneses and walking Keury De La Cruz -- Bassitt attributed both to a lack of early focus -- he was perfect the rest of the way.
Bassitt struck out Michael Almanzar and retired Brandon Jacobs and Adalberto Ibarra on consecutive groundouts to strand both runners in scoring position. In total, he set down his final 15 batters before turning a 3-0 lead over to the bullpen.
"I mean, I did well, but at the same time we have bigger things coming up," Bassitt said. "I was working on what I need to do to do well in the playoffs, like locating my off-speed pitches and attacking each hitter and challenging them. The season is a constant grind. I'm working on my changeup or working on my off-speed [pitches] or working on keeping the ball down in the zone. If I can do that, the sky's the limit.
"We had a lot of goals that we've accomplished, but it's the championship we need to win."
Bassitt said winning the Mills Cup is the only thing in the team's crosshairs.
"Dan Black, the first baseman, is getting a big hit or having a big at-bat every single game and he's been the most consistent player we have," he continued. "And in the second half, Taylor Thompson has been lights-out out of the 'pen. I don't think he's blown a save in two or three months.
"Justin Collop has nine or 10 wins and he's been a workhorse, he's an innings-eater. And Scott Snodgress and Erik Johnson have come in and have been outstanding."
Regardless of the outcome of Monday's regular-season finale in Salem, the Dash will not own the Minors' best record. The short-season Tri City ValleyCats have a .694 winning percentage in the New York-Penn League.