Gac has had a monumental season and becomes the first Winston-Salem MVP since Leo Daigle garnered the honor after the 2005 season and the first MVP to wear a Dash uniform. He's led the league since the beginning of the season in home runs and after a two-run shot on Wednesday his total now matches his jersey number, 33. The total surpassed a single-season high for Gac, who is in his ninth season of professional baseball. His previous high was 32 which he set in 2008 between low-A Clinton and Advanced-A Bakersfield (Texas Rangers). He has a 12 home run lead over the next highest home run hitter in the league (Wilkins) and is tied for third in all of minor league baseball. Gac's home run total gives him the highest Carolina League single-season total since Daniel Peoples hit 34 for Kinston in 1997.
The Seattle native also leads the league with 93 RBI, and is in the top ten in the final Triple Crown category: batting average. Gac's .280 mark heading into Thursday is good for sixth in the league. He hasn't missed a game all season between playing as the designated hitter and first baseman. In addition to home runs and RBI, Gac leads the league in games played (135), at bats (500), runs scored (90), slugging percentage (.542), HR/AB ratio (one HR per 15.15 AB), and total bases (271). He is second in the CL in hits (140) and extra-base hits (64), and is tied for fourth with 30 doubles.
Gac was otherwise twice honored by the Carolina League this season, once as Player of the Week and the other as a mid-season Carolina League All-Star. He was one of four Dash players to represent the CL in Modesto, CA for the All-Star game. The league named him Player of the Week during the week of August 1 - 8. He is in his second year in the White Sox organization after spending seven years in the Texas Rangers organization. He was drafted by the Rangers out of high school in 26th round of the 2003 draft, and signed with the White Sox as a minor league free agent before last year.
Gac is the fifth Winston-Salem player to be named Carolina League Most Valuable Player since the Carolina League began awarding the Most Valuable Player Award in 1987. Other MVP from Winston-Salem teams included Joe Crede (1998), Bubba Smith (1993), Pete Castellano (1991), and Gary Scott (1990). Before the MVP was awarded, the league gave out a Player of the Year award. Three previous Winston-Salem players won that award: Robbie Snow (1966), Ed Olivares (1959), and Ray Jablonski (1951).
Wilkins' name is also littered across the Carolina League leader board. He is second behind Gac in home runs (21), RBI (84), and games played (129). He is also third in the league in extra-base hits (50), total bases (222), and HR/AB ratio (one HR per 22.62 AB) and ranks fourth in at bats (475) and slugging percentage (.467).
Wilkins, who hails from Broken Arrow, OK, struggled to start the season before gradually increasing his batting average to the .274 mark it is at today. He was hitting .231 on May 19, and then had a huge surge that saw him win Carolina League Player of the Week after hitting .429 during the week of May 23 - 29. Only a few weeks later, Wilkins was named a Carolina League All-Star along with Gac.
The Winston-Salem Dash are the Class-A Advanced minor league affiliate of the Chicago White Sox. To purchase tickets and for more information, please call 336-714-2287 or visit www.wsdash.com.