WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (Aug. 31, 2018) - Five members of the 2018 Winston-Salem Dash will play in the Arizona Fall League (AFL), the league announced Thursday. Left-hander Tanner Banks, outfielder Luis Basabe, infielder Laz Rivera, outfielder Luis Robert and right-hander Zach Thompson will suit up for the Glendale Desert Dogs in the prestigious circuit.
Additionally, Dash hitting coach Charlie Poe will be the hitting coach for the Desert Dogs and former Dash reliever Zack Burdi will also pitch for the team. The AFL is a six-team circuit that features some of the top Minor Leaguers throughout baseball. In addition to the five players from the White Sox system, the Desert Dogs will feature prospects from the Baltimore Orioles, Cleveland Indians, Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Yankees.
Banks and Thompson both shined on the mound for the Dash in the first half of the 2018 season, helping lead Winston-Salem to a first-half championship. Banks went 8-2 with a 2.54 ERA with the Dash prior to his promotion to Double-A Birmingham. With the Barons, Banks has continued his success, going 4-5 with a 2.66 ERA in 10 starts. On the season, the southpaw has 100 strikeouts against just 32 walks in 146.0 innings.
Thompson has dominated out of the bullpen at two levels this season. The former fifth-round pick posted a 1.78 ERA in 22 relief appearances for Winston-Salem, and he has been even better with Birmingham, going 4-0 with a 1.41 ERA and a .194 opponent's batting average in 38.1 innings.
Basabe, a first-half Carolina League All-Star in Winston-Salem, led the Dash with a .502 slugging percentage before earning a second-half promotion to Birmingham. Basabe has added 17 more extra-base hits to his season tally, including six home runs to establish a new career-high of 15 home runs.
Robert, the third-best prospect in the White Sox system and the 25th-best prospect in all of baseball according to MLB Pipeline, has played 28 games for Winston-Salem this season. The star outfielder collected a career-high four hits - including a bases-clearing double - in a 4-for-6 showing on June 28 at Frederick, and he paced the Dash offense with a 3-for-4 effort with two doubles, a stolen base and four runs scored in Winston-Salem's 13-0 win on Thursday against Salem.
Rivera has burst onto the scene in 2018, beginning the year in Low-A Kannapolis. He led the South Atlantic League in average in the first half, batting .346 with 15 doubles and six home runs en route to being named a South Atlantic League Midseason All-Star. Following the All-Star break, Rivera was promoted to Winston-Salem, where he's hitting .285 with 15 doubles and seven home runs, including two grand slams.
The Dash visit the Down East Wood Ducks to start a four-game series on Friday to wrap up the regular season. Following the end of the regular season, the Dash begin their chase for a Mills Cup Championship. Winston-Salem's playoff run, presented by Pepsi and NCDOT, begins with a matchup against the Buies Creek Astros in the Southern Division Championship Series.
After the first two games of the series in Buies Creek, Winston-Salem returns to BB&T Ballpark for Game 3 on Friday, September 7, with first pitch at 7 p.m. Prior to game three, a Food Truck Festival will take place at BB&T Ballpark starting at 5 p.m. If necessary, Games 4 and 5 of the Southern Division Championship Series will be hosted at the downtown facility. Game three will mark the first postseason contest at BB&T Ballpark since 2015. For tickets and more information, call the Dash at (336) 714-2287 or visit wsdash.com.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.