On Friday night, the Pawtucket Red Sox became the first team to clinch a spot into the Governors’ Cup Finals, meaning they are the first team to inch a step closer to the Gildan Triple-A National Championship Game, which will be played on Tuesday, September 16 at BB&T Ballpark.
Let’s take an in-depth look at the PawSox:
It looked like it would be no easy task for the PawSox on paper. They would have to face the Syracuse Chiefs in the first round — the same team that beat them out for the IL North Division crown. Head-to-head this season, however, things between the two teams were even. Both teams won eight of their 16 games against each other. The PawSox hit just .237 against the Chiefs, while Chiefs, well they hit just .240 against the PawSox. Very even indeed! Even the home runs against were similar (PawSox with 14, Chiefs with 13).
Perhaps the only difference throughout their 16 matchups this season — not counting the playoffs — was that the Chiefs outscored the PawSox 60-50. Still, it was close.
When Wednesday hit, it was Pawtucket hosting the Chiefs in game one of the series. The PawSox came away with a 2-1 win in game one, and then came back to win game two by a score of 8-2. Impressive wins for the PawSow, who will play for the Governors’ Cup for the third time in as many years (2012-2014). Who was their opponent in 2012… the Charlotte Knights. Pawtucket won that series in three games, while they lost last season in the finals to Durham (3-1).
Through three games in the IL playoffs this season, the PawSox as a team are hitting .303 with 17 runs scored, 33 hits, and two home runs — all tops in the IL.
KEEP AN EYE ON:
Bryce Brentz has six hits, which are tied with Francisco Lindor (Columbus) for the most in the playoffs. Overall, Brentz is hitting .429 (6-for-14) with three runs scored, and one RBI in three games. Brentz is a native of Crossville, TN and hit .243 with the PawSox this season in 63 games. He hit 12 home runs and had 53 RBIs. He was drafted in the first round of the 2010 draft by the Red Sox (36th overall) out of Middle Tennessee State University. Last season, he hit a combined .262 with 19 homers and 64 RBIs in 88 games (82 games with Pawtucket and six games with the Gulf Coast Red Sox). His 19 home runs were tied for the most in the system with David Chester.
Garin Cecchini hit .385 (5-for-13) with two runs scored, one triple, and three RBIs in the three-game series against the Chiefs. It was his walk-off single in the 10th inning of Wednesday’s game that lifted the PawSox to a 2-1 win over Syracuse in game one. Drafted by the Red Sox in the fourth round of the 2010 draft, he hit .263 (107-for-407) with seven home runs and 57 RBIs for the PawSox this year. He’s moved up every season — starting in Lowell (Low-A) in 2011, Greenville in 2012 (Single-A), Salem (High-A) and Portland (Double-A) in 2013, and Pawtucket (Triple-A) in 2013. He owns a career .298 batting average over his four Minor League seasons.
TOP PITCHING PROSPECT:
Henry Owens started game three of the IL playoffs and allowed five runs on eight hits over four innings and did not factor in the decision. It was an uncharacteristic start for Owens, who posted a 3-1 mark with the PawSox in six games this season after going 14-4 with a 2.60 ERA in 20 starts for Double-A Portland earlier this year. He was drafted in the first round (36th overall) in the 2011 draft by the Red Sox out of Edison High School (Huntington Beach, CA). Owens, who is 6’6″, is just 22 years old and has a very bright future ahead. The young left-hander could be at the front of Boston’s rotation before long. Fans of the Charlotte Knights have already seen Owens pitch. Back on August 10 at BB&T Ballpark, the Knights tagged Owens for four runs on eight hits over five innings in just his second-ever Triple-A start.
Jackie Bradley Jr. is a product of the University of South Carolina and played for the PawSox in 12 games this season after being sent down by the Red Sox two weeks ago. Bradley appeared in 14 regular season games and hit .212 with one home run and five RBIs. He then appeared in the first two games of the playoffs with Pawtucket and hit .200 (2-for-10) with a run scored. While it would have been nice to see Bradley Jr. in Charlotte if the PawSox did indeed advance, the Red Sox recalled Bradley on Friday ending the hopes of many USC fans in the area. In 112 games with the Red Sox this season, Bradley Jr. is hitting .216 (75-for-348) with a home run, 19 doubles, two triples, and 30 RBIs.
Other players with ties to North Carolina and South Carolina that are currently on Pawtucket’s roster are: Heath Hembree, a Spartanburg, SC native who played his college ball at the College of Charleston. Hembree has made two scoreless appearances out of the Pawtucket bullpen in the playoffs. He went 0-1 with a 2.70 ERA in seven games for the PawSox this season after coming over in the Jake Peavy trade on July 26.
Another player who spent time in a college in the Carolinas is Alex Hassan, who took his talents to Duke. Hassan, a Quincy, MA native, was drafted out of Duke by Boston in the 20th round of the 2009 draft.
Kevin Boles is the manager of the PawSox and has made his way through the ranks of Boston’s Minor League system over the years. His first year with the Red Sox organization was in 2008 when he guided Single-A Greenville to a 70-69 record. That season, he had players such as Anthony Rizzo and Josh Reddick. Making his way through the ranks since 2008, Boles has managed other Red Sox prospects such as Will Middlebrooks, Xander Bogaerts, Anthony Ranaudo, and Allen Webster. He has 876 career regular season wins as a manager over 14 seasons as a Minor League manager.
His first season was in 2000 as a manager of the Gulf Coast Marlins. That was a special team. They went 40-20 and had two future stars of the game — Miguel Cabrera, and Adrian Gonzalez. Cabrera was just 17, while Gonzalez was 18.
With solid offense and pitching, the PawSox will be a tough opponent for either Durham or Columbus for the Governors’ Cup Championship. The PawSox will look for their second Governors’ Cp Championship in three seasons and a shot at the Triple-A National Championship Game for the first time since 2012. Durham, who beat them last season in the finals, has a 2-1 lead over Columbus with all games left to be played in Durham. It could be a rematch of last season’s finals. If so, either of those teams (Pawtucket and Durham) should make for an exciting Triple-A National Championship Game at BB&T Ballpark on September 16. Stay tuned.
BB&T Ballpark is hosting the Gildan Triple-A National Championship Game on Tuesday, September 16. The game, which will be televised on NBC Sports Network starting at 7:00 p.m., pits the top team in the International League against the top team in the Pacific Coast League. I’m really excited to be a part of this winner-take-all showdown. BB&T Ballpark is the perfect host and I’m excited for what we have in store.
Let’s take a look at the International League playoff scenario after two games:
Durham Bulls (75-69) vs. Columbus Clippers (79-65)
The Durham Bulls won the IL South Division this season, finishing nine games ahead of second place Gwinnett in the standings. The Bulls have been one of the most consistent teams in the IL — earning a trip to the playoffs in seven of the last eight seasons. They won the Governors’ Cup last season and will look to do so again this season.
Game one went to the Columbus Clippers, who received a strong outing from starter Kyle Davies. The Georgia native tossed six innings and allowed three runs on six hits, while striking out nine batters. He was backed by his offense, which belted out nine runs on 12 hits. Francisco Lindor ripped three hits, while David Murphy, Matt Carson, and James Ramsey all homered. It was an impressive offensive showing against the Bulls. Alex Colome was saddled with the loss after allowing four runs on five hits over five innings.
Durham slugger Jeremy Moore homered in the loss. Mikie Mahtook had one of Durham’s nine hits.
On Thursday, the Bulls came back to tie the series (1-1) with an impressive 4-3 win in 10 innings in Columbus. The Bulls scored two runs over the final two innings (9th & 10th) en route to the come-from-behind win. Columbus led 3-2 heading to the ninth inning and received a solid start from Tyler Cloyd, who tossed seven solid innings. Cloyd, who threw the only IL no-hitter this season, struck-out seven batters over his seven innings on Thursday and did not factor in the decision.
Nick Franklin had three of Durham’s nine hits in the game, while Cole Figueroa chipped in with two. Josh Lueke earned the win after two shutout innings out of the bullpen.
The series now shifts to the Durham Bulls Athletic Park for games three, four, and five (if necessary). It has been a busy year for the Durham franchise, who hosted the Triple-A All-Star Game in July. Led by manager Charlie Montoyo, and a top notch front office staff, the Bulls have been one of the most successful franchises on the field and at the gates.
Syracuse Chiefs (81-62) vs. Pawtucket Red Sox (79-65)
The North Division was the most competitive division in the IL this season. The Chiefs led the way with 81 wins and beat out the Pawtucket Red Sox — leading the division by 2.5 games. Syracuse is led by the Manager of the Year — Billy Gardner Jr. — and featured the IL MVP and Rookie of the Year in Steven Souza Jr.
The Chiefs have struggled to score runs in the first two games of the series. Pawtucket won game one by a score of 2-1 after getting a run in the bottom of the 10th inning to come back for the victory. The PawSox had a 1-0 heading into the ninth inning, but the Chiefs scored a run in the top of the ninth to tie the game. Brandon Laird homered in the ninth off starter Edwin Escobar — who was sharp on the evening. One inning later, Pawtucket’s Garin Cecchini singled home the winning run as Pawtucket walk-off with a game one win.
On Thursday, game two once again went to the PawSox — this time by a score of 8-2. Pawtucket starter Matt Barnes was impressive — tossing seven shutout innings. He allowed just three hits and struck-out six. Garin Cecchini had another big day at the plate. Cecchini went 4-for-4 with a triple, two runs scored, and an RBI. Ryan Roberts chipped in with three hits.
The first two games were played and won by the PawSox on their home field. Now, the series shifts to Syracuse. Stay tuned to see if the PawSox can win one more game to move on to play for the Governors’ Cup Championship.
It’s going to be an exciting road to the Gildan Triple-A National Championship Game. Stay tuned!
KNIGHT LIGHTS: The Charlotte Knights (58-76) return home tonight to BB&T Ballpark to open a four-game series with the Norfolk Tides (61-71) tonight at 7:05 PM. Charlotte is down to their final 10 games of the season with all of the games to be played against two IL South Division teams (four with Gwinnett, and six with Norfolk). Charlotte enters play having lost eight of their last 10 games and are currently on a three-game losing streak.
ABOUT LAST KNIGHT: Former Knights hurler Zach Stewart (6-4, 4.94) tossed six innings, and the Gwinnett Braves used the long ball twice en route to a 10-6 win over the Charlotte Knights on Thursday in the finale of their two-game series from Coolray Field in Lawrenceville, GA. A night after losing to 2012 Charlotte Knights pitcher Terry Doyle, Stewart also held on to beat his former team. As a member of the Charlotte Knights, Stewart won the final game at Knights Stadium on September 2, 2013. On Thursday, he pitched into the seventh inning and allowed just two runs over his first six innings of work. In the seventh, Stewart and the G-Braves had an 8-2 lead over the Knights, but the former Knights right-hander failed to get an out. Stewart allowed a leadoff single to Miguel Gonzalez and then an RBI triple to Josh Richmond. The Knights continued their comeback and got a two-run home from Jared Mitchell, which made it an 8-4 game. The two-run homer knocked Stewart out of the game. The Knights added just one more run along the way. Stewart gave up five runs on 10 hits over six innings, but was still able to notch the victory.
KNIGHTS STARTER: RHP Bobby Doran (4-1, 6.03) will make his eighth start of the season with the Knights tonight. Doran won his first two starts with the Knights and has won his last two decisions (three games). Doran made his Charlotte debut on July 13 against the Syracuse Chiefs at BB&T Ballpark (5.0 IP, 6 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 3 BB, 6 SO). A native of Oklahoma City, OK, Doran was acquired from the Houston organization on July 11 and was pitching for the Oklahoma City RedHawks (Triple-A) at the time of the trade. In 21 games (nine starts) with the RedHawks, Doran was 2-4 with a 5.36 ERA (80.2 IP, 94 H, 52 R, 48 ER, 29 BB, 41 SO). He was originally drafted by the Astros in the fourth round of the 2010 draft out of Texas Tech University. He attended Flower Mound, TX High. In five Minor League seasons, Doran owns a 36-21 mark with a 4.90 ERA over 122 games (91 starts).
SANCHEZ PROMOTED: Carlos Sanchez, who hit .293 (128-for-437) with the Charlotte Knights in 110 games this season, was recalled to Chicago today to take the roster spot of second baseman Gordon Beckham, who was traded to the LA Angels yesterday for a player to be named later or cash considerations. Today’s promotion to Chicago is the second of the season for Sanchez. He was promoted to Chicago on July 13 and made his Major League debut with the White Sox later that day in Cleveland. He was optioned back to the Knights on July 19 after appearing in just one game (0-for-5). Overall this season, Sanchez has a .293 batting average with 60 runs scored, 19 doubles, six triples, seven home runs, 57 RBIs, and 16 stolen bases with the Knights in 110 games played. He leads the Knights in triples and stolen bases and his 128 hits are second on the Knights, while his 60 runs scored are third.
CONCORD NATIVE COMES TO CHARLOTTE: Taking the roster spot of Sanchez in Charlotte is infielder Dan Wagner, who was promoted to the Knights today from Double-A Birmingham. Wagner, a native of Concord, NC, is a 2006 graduate of South Rowan High School in Landis, NC. In 80 games with the Barons this season, Wagner hit .203 (51-for-251) with 24 runs scored, 10 doubles, two triples, two home runs, 21 RBIs, and six stolen bases. He spent the entire 2013 campaign in Birmingham and hit .274 (81-for-296) with 33 runs scored, nine doubles, one home run, 23 RBIs, and 23 stolen bases. Originally selected by the White Sox in the 16th round of the 2009 draft, Wagner, 26, made his professional debut in 2009 and hit .264 (68-for-258) in 67 games between Advanced Rookie Bristol and Single-A Kannapolis. A year later, he led all Sox farmhands in stolen bases with 37 and ranked ninth in the South Atlantic League. He was named to the SAL midseason All-Star Team that season.
IT CAN ONLY BE JARED: Jared Mitchell extended his hit-streak to six games last night with another three-hit performance – his third during the hit-streak and fourth multi-hit game. Mitchell, who now has 24 hits since returning from Birmingham (AA) in 18 games, is now hitting .312 (24-for-777) with 10 runs, four doubles, one triple, three home runs, and 12 RBIs. Overall this season, between both Birmingham and Charlotte, Mitchell is hitting .262 with 18 home runs and 46 RBIs. He has eight homers with Charlotte and 10 with Birmingham.
OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Charlotte leads the IL in homers (163), runs scored (661), total bases (1981), RBIs (621), and slugging % (.440).
THE MIGHTY WILKINS: Andy Wilkins recorded his 138th hit on Thursday – surpassing his season-high of 137 set back in 2011 with Winston-Salem (A+). He is hitting .297 (138-for-465) with 77 runs scored, 36 doubles, one triple, 29 home runs, and 83 RBIs in 120 games with the Knights. He leads the IL in home runs (29), RBIs (83), total bases (263), and extra-base hits (66). He is second in doubles (36) and slugging percentage (.566), third in runs scored (77), and fourth in hits (138). The Charlotte slugger has hit a home run once every 16.03 at-bats, which is second in the IL – behind Mike Hessman.
KNIGHT LIGHTS: The Charlotte Knights (57-72) will conclude their three-game series with the first place Durham Bulls (66-62) tonight at 5:05 p.m. from Durham Bulls Athletic Park in Durham, NC. Charlotte enters today’s game in third place in the IL South Division, 9.5 games back of first place Durham with 15 games left to play for the 2014 season. All of Charlotte’s final 15 games will be played against IL South Division teams (eight with Gwinnett, one more with Durham, and six with Norfolk).
ABOUT LAST KNIGHT: Jared Mitchell’s ninth-inning, two-run home run off Josh Lueke (0-1, 3.68) led the Charlotte Knights to an exciting 6-5 win over the Durham Bulls in the middle game of their three-game series from Durham Bulls Athletic Park in Durham, NC on Saturday. Charlotte scored three runs in the ninth inning en route to their thrilling come-from-behind victory over the first place Bulls. The win snapped Charlotte’s four-game losing streak.
KNIGHTS STARTER: RHP Matt Zaleski (2-0, 2.92) gets the start in today’s finale for the Knights against the Bulls after being activated off the DL yesterday. Today’s start will be the 74th start in Zaleski’s Knights career – which will now pass Charlie Haeger for most games started in Charlotte Knights franchise history. Zaleski made his franchise tying 73rd start with Charlotte on July 24 at Indianapolis. In his last appearance before going on the DL, (July 31), Zaleski picked up his second win of the season and 21st of his Knights career, which moved him into a tie for fifth all-time in franchise history (tied with Felix Diaz, Ryan Hawblitzel, and Jon Rauch). Zaleski is also second all-time in Charlotte Knights franchise history in innings pitched (425.2) and walks (150). He is fifth in strikeouts (278) and one away from tying Jon Rauch for fourth all-time. This is his fourth start of the season and he will be appearing in his 11th game since being activated off the DL on June 12. The 32-year-old right-hander appeared in just five games for Charlotte last season and posted a 1-2 record with a 5.74 ERA. He was placed on the disabled list with a strained right elbow on May 1 and had season-ending surgery (Tommy John surgery).
UNCC STANDOUT PROMOTED TO CHARLOTTE: UNC Charlotte standout Tyler Barnette, a native of Hickory, NC, has been promoted to the Charlotte Knights today from Single-A Kannapolis. Barnette, 22, was 2-8 with one save and a 5.08 ERA for the Intimidators in 25 games (11 starts) this season over 85.0 innings pitched. Charlotte’s active roster is now set at 25 players. Drafted by the Chicago White Sox in the 14th round of the 2013 MLB Amateur Draft, Barnette went to Rookie-Level Bristol last season and posted a 1-4 mark with one save and a 5.73 ERA in 13 games (six starts) with the Bristol White Sox. In three seasons for the Charlotte 49ers, Barnette compiled an 18-8 record with a 3.37 ERA (235.0 IP). In 2011, Barnette was named Atlantic-10 Freshman of the Year after tying for second in the Atlantic 10 with nine wins and finishing third with a 2.29 ERA after 90.1 innings pitched. In 2012, he was named to the Preseason All-Conference Second Team by College Madness.com.
RODON PROMOTED: Just before game time on Saturday, NC State product Carlos Rodon –the number-three overall pick by the Chicago White Sox in this year’s Major League Baseball Draft – was promoted to the Charlotte Knights and will start on Tuesday, August 19. Rodon, 21, appeared in four games (two starts) for Winston-Salem (A+) and posted a 0-0 mark with a 1.86 ERA (9.2 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 5 BB, 15 SO). The Holly Springs, NC native made his professional debut on July 22 for the Arizona League White Sox. He appeared in two games for the team and allowed two runs on four hits over three innings.
ROSTER MOVES: In all, Charlotte has announced eight roster moves since yesterday including the promotion of outfielder Josh Richmond from Double-A Birmingham just before game time. He hit .247 with nine home runs and 51 RBIs in 100 games with the Barons.
MITCHING IN: Jared Mitchell led the way for the Knights offensively last night with three hits, two runs scored, the game-winning home run, and three RBIs. He finished the night 3-for-5 at the plate and now has 14 hits, two home runs and eight RBIs in 13 games with the Knights since his return from Double-A Birmingham. Overall this season, Mitchell has 17 home runs (10 with Birmingham). Overall in August with the Knights, Mitchell is hitting .259 with six runs scored, three doubles, one triple, two home runs, and eight RBIs. Last night’s three-hit game was his third with the Knights this season.
It was a busy day for the Charlotte Knights on Saturday before game two of their three-game series from Durham, NC. In all, the Knights announced seven roster moves, including the promotion of Carlos Rodon from High-A Winston-Salem. Here’s how Saturday shook out:
At 4:00 PM ET on Saturday, the team announced five roster moves, which put the roster at 22 active players:
RHP Erik Johnson placed on the DL
RHP Matt Zaleski activated off the DL
OF Avisail Garcia returned to Chicago, activated off DL
LHP Charlie Leesman designated for assignment
LHP Eric Surkamp recalled to Chicago
KNOTES: RHP Erik Johnson (5-7, 6.73) started 20 games for the Knights this season after the beginning the year in Chicago with the White Sox. He allowed seven runs on eight hits over 2.2 innings pitched in his last start back on August 12 at Syracuse. In three August starts, Johnson has a 0-1 record with an 8.53 ERA. RHP Matt Zaleski (2-0, 2.92) was activated off the DL today taking Johnson’s roster spot. In his last outing, Zaleski picked up his second win of the season and 21st of his Knights career, which moved him into a tie for fifth all-time in franchise history (tied with Felix Diaz, Ryan Hawblitzel, and Jon Rauch). Zaleski is tied for first in games started (73) with Charlie Haeger and second all-time in Charlotte Knights franchise history in innings pitched (425.2) and walks (150). He is fifth in strikeouts (278) and one away from tying Jon Rauch for fourth all-time. LHP Charlie Leesman went 2-6 with a 4.10 ERA in 14 games (12 starts) for the Knights this season. In parts of three seasons with the Knights, Leesman owns an 18-19 record with a 3.27 ERA in 56 games (54 starts). Surkamp went 3-5 with a 4.76 ERA (40 ER/75.2 IP) and 86 strikeouts in 16 games (11 starts) with the Knights this season.
GARCIA ACTIVATED: White Sox Avisail Garcia was returned from his MLB Rehab assignment with the Knights and was activated by the Chicago White Sox today. In 13 games for the Knights, the 23-year-old hit .340 (17-for-50) with nine runs scored, three doubles, a home run, and three RBIs. He hit safely in nine of 13 games as he rehabbed with Charlotte on his way back from April shoulder surgery. He’s was the team’s DH six times and played right field the other seven games.
At 7:00 PM ET, the Knights added two more roster moves, putting the roster at 24 active players:
North Carolina native Carlos Rodon — the number-three overall pick by the Chicago White Sox in this year’s Major League Baseball Draft — will take the next step in his progression and make his Triple-A debut with the Charlotte Knights on Tuesday, August 19 as the club continues a two-game series against the Gwinnett Braves from BB&T Ballpark. Rodon, a product of NC State, is expected to start the game for the Knights on Tuesday against Gwinnett RHP Kanekoa Texeira.
Rodon, 21, appeared in four games (two starts) for Winston-Salem (A+) and posted a 0-0 mark with a 1.86 ERA (9.2 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 5 BB, 15 SO). The Holly Springs, NC native made his professional debut on July 22 for the Arizona League White Sox. He appeared in two games for the team and allowed two runs on four hits over three innings.
Outfielder Josh Richmond has also been added to Charlotte’s active roster today, which is now at 24 active players. Richmond was promoted from Double-A Birmingham today, where he posted a .247 batting average with nine home runs and 51 RBIs in 100 games for the Barons.
Stay tuned for a busy and exciting final eight games at BB&T Ballpark, which get underway on Monday with a 7:05 p.m. game against the Gwinnett Braves.
SCRANTON/WILKINS-ANDY: Andy Wilkins launched two home runs in Thursday’s game (17 & 18) and followed that up with a home run in last night’s game – his International League Leading 19th of the season. His long home run, which cleared the ballpark and landed on Mint Street, passed teammate Matt Davidson, who has 18 after his home run on Thursday. Wilkins has enjoyed hitting against the RailRiders this season. In six games against SWB in 2014, he is batting .640 (16-for-25) with 10 runs scored, four doubles, one triple, five home runs, and 11 RBIs. In 13 July games, Wilkins is hitting .407 (22-for-54) with 11 runs scored, five doubles, one triple, five home runs, and 12 RBIs. Overall for the season, the Tulsa, OK native is hitting .263 with 47 runs scored, 23 doubles, 19 home runs, and 51 RBIs in 87 games. He’s also first in the IL this season in extra-base hits (43) and HR/AB ratio (1/17.79). He is third in total bases (171) – two behind leader Steven Souza Jr. (SYR), and fourth in slugging % (.506).
Since June 30, Wilkins and Davidson have five home runs — which is tops by an IL player over that span. The Knights are 10-7 over that 17-game span and catcher Josh Phegley has a 13-game hit-streak over that span.
LUCKY #13: Josh Phegley earned his third International League All-Star selection this season and went 1-for-2 with a run scored in the game. The 26-year-old backstop has been on fire over his last 13 games – compiling a 13-game hit-streak – after going 3-for-4 with three RBIs last night. He is batting an International League high .466 (27-for-58) since June 30 (the start of his 13-game hit-streak). He has 13 runs scored, four home runs, and 15 RBIs over that span as well. Currently, the Indiana native, who will play in Indianapolis against the Indians next week in front of his hometown crowd, also leads all IL catchers in games caught (74), total chances (680), putouts (611), and assists (63). He has also thrown out a league-best 47% of attempted basestealers. A defensive star behind the plate, Phegley won the MiLB Rawlings Gold Glove Award in 2012 with the Knights.
HOME RUN LEADERS: With a game-high six home runs on Thursday, and another homer on Friday, the Knights now have 124 home runs this season – tops in the IL and tied for the most in all of Minor League Baseball with the PCL’s Las Vegas squad. The top Major League team this season in home runs is Toronto – who has 117. Charlotte has 39 more than second place Toledo (85) in the IL. Overall, BB&T Ballpark has fared well for the long ball (74 Knights home runs have been hit there this season, while 69 opponent home runs have been hit there). So far this season, an IL-high 143 home runs combined have been hit at BB&T Ballpark – which is 49 more than at Huntington Park in Columbus (94) – the second highest home run hitting ballpark in the IL this season. The Knights have four players in the top 10 of home runs this season in the IL. Andy Wilkins is first with 19, Matt Davidson is second with 18, Josh Phegley is tied for fifth with 14, while Jordan Danks is tied for sixth most with his 13.
Today is the day! The Triple-A All-Star Game is here!
I’m all set up in the press box of Durham Bulls Athletic Park getting ready for tonight’s
game. From a Charlotte standpoint, three-time IL All-Star Josh Phegley is all set to play in his second Triple-A All-Star Game. It’s a great honor for him and he’s back after a promotion to Chicago last year had him out of the game. Three full seasons in the Triple-A with the Knights and three All-Star selections! He continues to be the top catcher throughout the International League and his 2014 season has been an exceptional one both at the plate and behind the plate.
From another Charlotte standpoint, there is a great reunion of sorts taking place at this year’s game. Fresno Grizzlies manager Bob Mariano is leading the PCL All-Stars against the IL All-Stars, who have the Columbus Clippers pitching coach Tony Arnold on staff as pitching coach. So, how does that relate to Charlotte baseball you say?
Both Mariano and Arnold played for the Charlotte O’s in the 1980’s and both were roommates during their time in Charlotte.
Props to Bob Sutton of Times News on his great story today:
“Former Burlington pitching coach uses Triple-A All-Star Game as reunion“
Arnold was drafted by the Baltimore Orioles in the 10th round of the 1981 draft. Just a year later, Arnold made his way to Charlotte and pitched for the O’s in 15 games during the 1982 season. Overall that year, he compiled a 5-6 mark with a 5.22 ERA. The following season, Arnold and Mariano were teammates on the O’s. They remained teammates for three seasons — 1983-’85.
In 1983, Arnold posted a 7-5 record with a 3.29 ERA in 44 games (two starts) for the O’s with a career-high 12 saves that season. Mariano appeared in 65 games for the O’s and hit .265 with three home runs and 28 RBIs.
In 1984, the O’s won their second Southern League Championship and both Arnold and Mariano played for the team that season. Arnold compiled a 7-5 record with a 3.14 ERA in 16 games (12 starts). He threw four complete games and had three shutouts that year.
As for Mariano, he played in a season-high 117 games for the O’s — playing both shortstop and third base. His 321 at-bats were the most he ever had in a season.
The two were back on the diamond in Charlotte in 1985 and while Mariano played just four games with the O’s that season, Arnold put together a solid season with the Bulls. He posted an 11-7 record with a 3.87 ERA with one save in 31 games (18 starts). He also had six complete games that season and two shutouts.
Overall, Arnold played in Charlotte from 1982-’85 and is second all-time in Charlotte O’s franchise history in wins (30), third in games pitched (106), fourth in innings pitched (438.1), tied for sixth in saves (13), and ninth in strikeouts.
Now, the two get to spend a little time with each other before competing in the 2014 Triple-A All-Star Game. Reunited in Durham, who knew? Now that’s a great story!
Arnold was in Charlotte earlier this year when his Clippers came to town to face the Knights. I didn’t get a chance to talk to him then, but hoping to talk to him and Bob at some point today before the big game. Batting practice starts at 4:00 PM, so I am headed down to the field.
Stay tuned for some more news and notes from Durham later today and don’t forget to follow me on Twitter @Tommy_the_V for all of the latest!
I had a chance to sit down with Charlotte Knights catcher Josh Phegley on a rainy Tuesday afternoon at Durham Bulls Athletic Park during the All-Star Game media session. Josh and I talked about his solid 2014 campaign, his third selection to the All-Star Game, his teammate Tyler Saladino, and more.
Day #1 is in the books and it was a great night in Durham. The Triple-A Home Run Derby event went very well. From a very amusing softball home run derby (those guys launched softballs that are still yet to come down), to Olate Dogs performing on field, to a competitive Triple-A Home Run Derby, to thrilling fireworks, and more — day #1 at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park was fun for all.
Allan Dykstra — a Wake Forest University product — won the Triple-A All-Star Home Run Derby. Currently in the New York Mets organization and playing for Triple-A Las Vegas, Dykstra made it to the finals against Francisco Pena, of Omaha. Pena did not hit a home run in the finals — meaning Dykstra needed just one to win. He got that home run and won the Triple-A Home Run Derby and the championship belt.
With the first day complete, it’s now on to day #2 for me!
Today at the ballpark, all of the Triple-A All-Stars will be on hand to take batting practice and sign autographs for fans. I’m looking forward to watching some BP and talking to Knights catcher Josh Phegley, who is here for his third All-Star nod. After playing in the 2012 All-Star Game in Buffalo, Phegley was selected for the 2013 game in Reno, but was promoted to Chicago and did not get to go to the game. Now, he’s back and once again earning an All-Star nod. And… rightly so!
This season, the Terre Haute, IN native is hitting .264 with with 45 runs scored, 75 hits, 21 doubles, three triples, 13 home runs, and 40 RBIs over 73 games for the Knights this season. His 13 home runs and 45 runs scored are first among International League catchers this season. While his offensive numbers are superb, it’s his defensive numbers that also stand out among all catchers.
Behind the plate this year, Phegley is leading nearly every category among IL catchers. And, why not? He is a 2012 MiLB Rawlings Gold Glove Award winner!
Phegley is first in the following defensive categories: games caught (72), total chances (664), putouts (597), and assists (61). Phegley also leads the IL in throwing out attempted basestealers. He’s thrown out 32 of 69 basestealers, which is good for 46%. The next closest catcher is James McCann of Toledo, who has thrown out 40%.
As the day goes on, look for some photos, interviews, and more from today’s media session.
I’m all set up in the Durham Bulls press box as All-Star week is upon us! It’s All-Star week around baseball and I’m here in Durham, NC for the Triple-A All-Star Game. Of course, it would be nice to be in Minnesota for the Major League All-Star Game, but I’m happy to be a part of this year’s Triple-A Game. Who needs the majors when you have the minors! I’ve been working in Minor League Baseball for eight years now and every year brings new adventures! I’m very excited for the experiences and memories I will make this week!
I’m here to help out my good pals Scott Carter and Matt Sutor, who do a great job for the Durham Bulls. It helps that their ballpark is just a bit over two hours away from ours in Charlotte, but nonetheless, I was interested in making this trip even if it was 10 hours away! With the entire league off until Thursday, I needed to see some baseball anyways! I’m also helping out MLB Network’s coverage on Wednesday
Tonight is the Home Run Derby, and while there aren’t any Charlotte participants in this year’s game, I’m eager to watch some long home runs here in Durham. Hoping to see a few hit the Bull too!
This is such a unique ballpark. Being a fan of the classic movie — Bull Durham — it’s really fun to be at this park with so many references and familiar faces — including their mascot race! It’s fun to see the Bull Durham characters come to life! Our Royalty Racers — King Meck, Queen Charlotte, and Jerry the Jester were made by the same company. There’s an FYI for you in case you were interested!
It’s my third trip here this season, as I made the trek earlier this year when Chicago White Star — and current Major League All-Star Chris Sale made a rehab appearance there for the Knights. In fact, that was a great trip. My dad was in town visiting from PA and he took the trip with me. Always nice when you can spend a few hours with the person who made me the huge baseball fan I am today!
We made the drive twice — since rain washed away Sale’s first attempt at a rehab start. After driving all the way there, the game was postponed and a doubleheader was in the cards for the next day! We were back the next day to see Sale put on a show! He struck-out 11 Bulls over just four innings of work. He was absolutely brilliant! He was activated just days later and back in Chicago to pitch for the White Sox. He’s an All-Star this year and has continued to pitch extremely well.
As for today and the rest of this week, keep an eye out for photos, interviews, blogs, and more from Durham from yours truly. This is a great experience and I’m going to make the most out of it.
As for the Knights, catcher Josh Phegley is here and will play on Wednesday. Charlotte’s backstop is leading the International League in nearly every defensive category for catchers — and is tops among IL catchers in home runs with 13. He’s had an amazing year and continues to do everything right for the Knights. He has a bright future ahead of him!
While Phegley is here, it is unfortunate that Knights shortstop Tyler Saladino is not here. He was elected to the game by the fans and was scheduled to start at SS. He has had a career year — hitting .310 through 82 games this season for the Knights. Unfortunately, an injury is holding him back from this year’s game. With a few days rest, the hope is to have him ready to go and back on the field for the Knights this week. He has been a true MVP for the Knights this season. Between his offensive numbers, his defensive ability, and the fact he can be plugged into just about any position on the diamond, Saladino has been a true asset to the Knights.
Stay tuned for more news and notes from Durham. NC as I continue to live out another one of my dreams. I get to watch baseball everyday — and even when baseball is not on our schedule — I’m watching baseball. Not too shabby!