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How players with Western New York ties are faring in minor league baseball

After being named to the All-Star Game in the short-season Class A Northwest League last year, Dan Dallas made the jump to the full-season Class A Midwest League.

The lefthanded reliever from Canisius High struggled with his curveball and posted a 1-2 record with a 5.74 earned run average and allowed runs in five of his 10 appearances for the Fort Wayne TinCamp.

He was sent back to the Northwest League and the Tri-City Dust Devils and has a 1.19 ERA with 34 strikeouts in 22.2 innings. Dallas is heading back to the All-Star Game, representing the Northwest League against the Pioneer League on Tuesday in Boise.

“Early on in Fort Wayne, I had some command issues and I lost the feeling for my curveball,” Dallas said. “That made pitching a little difficult when I pride myself in attacking hitters with my fastball and getting ahead in the count.

“When I came to Tri-Cities I wanted to get back to what lead me to success here last year. That is being aggressive, getting hitters off their timing and then mixing in off-speed a little more.”

Dallas spent a few weeks after his return to Tri-City developing a changeup in which he continues to gain confidence.

“I throw that often early in the counts to get some early swing and misses and some weak contact,” he said. “That helps the fastball play a little better up in the zone. If those two pitches can work well together, it makes the slider even better when hitters have to worry about three pitches.”

Dallas, the All-Western New York Player of the Year in 2016, was drafted by the San Diego Padres in the seventh round and made just nine appearances in his first two seasons in rookie league. An injury limited him to just four games in 2017 before he rebounded with 23 appearances for Tri-City and Fort Wayne last year to set the stage for this season.

“I have really been working on just growing as a smarter pitcher on the mound and how to sequence my pitches to get batters out as you move up in this game,” he said. “I just try to stick to the plan of staying confident on the mound throwing strikes and letting my teammates behind me pick me up.”

Here is how other players with Buffalo ties are faring this season in the affiliated minor leagues, listed by year in which they were drafted (statistics through Thursday games):

2013 

Jonah Heim, catcher, Amherst: Taken in fourth round by Baltimore and has been traded twice – to Tampa Bay in 2016 and to Oakland in 2018. Plays for Triple-A Las Vegas Aviators and manager Fran Riordan, a Canisius High graduate who lives in Buffalo in the offseason. Has a .397 batting average with four home runs and 16 RBIs in 26 games since being called up from Double-A Midland RockHounds of Texas League. Hit .285 in 45 games with Midland to start the season.

2014 

Dave ‘Bubba” Hollins, 3B, Orchard Park: Drafted by Detroit in 35th round out of high school but went to junior college for two years and then St. Bonaventure for one. Signed as a free agent by the Miami Marlins and was assigned to the Class A Batavia Muckdogs of New York-Penn League in 2017. Currently with the Single-A Clinton LumberKings of Midwest League and has .275 average with 70 hits and 23 RBIs in 72 games. 

Tanner Kirwer, CF, Niagara: Drafted by Toronto in 20th round. Has struggled with injuries and is with Single-A Lansing Lugnuts of Midwest League. Has .272 batting average with 25 hits in 27 games.

2015 

Steve Klimek, pitcher, St. Bonaventure: Selected by Baltimore in 33rd round. Has struggled since getting called up to Double-A Bowie Baysox of Eastern League with a 5.06 ERA in four appearances. Previously had a 2.48 ERA in 32.2 innings for Single-A Frederick Keys. 

2016

Connor Grey, pitcher, Frewsburg, St Bonaventure: Selected in 20th round by the Arizona Diamondbacks. Currently with Visalia Rawhide of the California League and is 2-1 with a 3.32 ERA in 20 innings over seven appearances. He was 2-0 with a 2.86 ERA in nine games, with three starts, for the Double-A Jackson Generals in the Southern League and also pitched 6.1 innings in three appearances for the Triple-A Reno Aces in the Pacific Coast League. His ledger for the season: 4-1 with a 3.35 ERA in 53.2 innings with 41 strikeouts and 15 walks.

2017 

Leugim “L.G.” Castillo, outfielder, Lancaster: A 17th-round choice by the Milwaukee Brewers, he made the Pioneer League All-Star team last season. Batting .196 in 60 games with the Wisconsin Timbler Rattlers of the Midwest League. Has hit two home runs and driven in 21 runs.

Logan Harasta, pitcher, University at Buffalo: Last player drafted before UB discontinued baseball when he was taken by the San Francisco Giants in the seventh round. Made 13 appearances with 1.10 ERA last season with the Arizona League Giants Orange. Back with same rookie league team, has appeared in five games, allowing two earned runs and striking out eight over 5.1 innings.

Kyle Zurak, pitcher, Williamsville North: Selected by the Yankees in the eighth round out of Radford University. Has 3-3 record with 2.91 ERA in 46.1 innings and converted eight of 10 saves for Tampa Tarpons in Class A Florida State League.

Aaron Phillips, pitcher, Cleveland Hill: Drafted out of St. Bonaventure by Giants in ninth round. Has a 6-7 record with 4.67 ERA in 88.2 innings with 79 strikeouts for San Jose Giants in California League. Also earned win in a spot start for Triple A Sacramento River Cats.

Daniel Procopio, pitcher, Niagara: Tenth-round pick by Angels is working out of the bullpen with Double A Mobile BayBears in Southern League. Allowed five runs in 8.2 innings pitched this season while having two extended stints on the injured list.

Cole Peterson, shortstop, St. Bonaventure: Drafted by Tigers in 13th round. Began season with Double-A Erie SeaWolves in Eastern League but was then sent to Class A Lakeland Flying Tigers in Florida State League. Has a combined .271 average with 30 RBIs. 

2018  

Charles Mack, third baseman, Williamsville East: Sixth-round draft choice by the Minnesota Twins has appeared in 33 games this season for the Elizabethtown Twins of the Appalachian League. Has hit five home runs and recorded 16 RBIs while batting .220. 

Tyler Smith, pitcher, Canisius College: Eighth-round choice by the Los Angeles Angels has spent time with the Burlington Bees of the Midwest League and the Inland Empire 66ers of the Class A California League. Has a combined 6-4 record with a 4.17 ERA and six saves.

Shawn Dubin, pitcher, Allegany, Erie Community College, UB: Allegany native played one season for ECC, two for the University at Buffalo and was drafted in the 13th round by the Houston Astros out of Georgetown (Ky.) College, where he was named a first-team  NAIA All-American. Began the season with Quad Cities River Bandits in Midwest League and then was promoted to the Fayetteville Woodpeckers in the Carolina League. He is a combined 3-4 with a 3.81 ERA in 20 appearances. Has 114 strikeouts in 85 innings.

Greg Cullen, third baseman, Niagara: Selected in the 15th round by the Atlanta Braves. Has played 102 games with the Rome Braves of the Class A South Atlantic League and is batting .255 with seven home runs, 44 RBIs and 19 doubles. Has 58 walks and 80 strikeouts. 

2019 

Matt Minnick, pitcher, St. Francis: Collins native was drafted in the 23rd round by the New York Yankees after helping Mercyhurst to the Division II Final Four. Minnick is with the Gulf Coast Yankees East team. He has appeared in five games, pitching seven innings and striking out 10, with a 5.14 earned run average. 

Matt Brash, pitcher, Niagara: Drafted in the fourth round by the San Diego Padres after being named the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Pitcher of the Year.  Has made one appearance for the Arizona Padres 1 team in the Arizona League, striking out two of the three batters he faced. 

Compiled by Nathaniel Mendelson and Michael Pesarchick.

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