Happy New Year Knights fans! Welcome to 2014 — the year of the Knights!
While 2013 was a special year for the Knights, 2014 will be even more special. In fact, 2014 will be perhaps the most important year in Knights franchise history. A new ballpark, a new city, new promotions, giveaways, and more! Can you tell that I am very excited for what we have in store for 2014?
My last update to the Knight Fever blog was on December 23, when Brent Morel was claimed by the Toronto Blue Jays on waivers. You can read that post here: Morel Claimed by Jays.
Since then, a lot has happened with the Knights franchise — both on and off-the-field. While there’s been a few player arrivals and departures, including Baseball America’s Top 10 White Sox prospect list, I’m going to save that for my next blog. Stay tuned…
A big event for the Knights took place on Monday, December 30 at 12 :00 p.m. at Knights Stadium in Fort Mill. On that day, Knights Executive Vice President, Chief Operating Officer Dan Rajkowski spoke to media members as he locked the doors for the final time at the historic stadium.
After 24 seasons at Knights Stadium (1990-2013), the Knights officially said goodbye. For me, I spent two seasons there (2012-2013) — but it felt like a lifetime. I could tell you about all of the great players that came through there. I could tell you about the greatest moments in the stadium’s history. As a media relations director, I did my research — and I enjoyed it! It was a solid 24 seasons and the memories for all who attended a game there will last a lifetime.
All and all, it was 25 total years (1989-2013) that the Knights called Fort Mill and York County home. A temporary facility housed the Knights for the 1989 season before Knights Castle (Stadium) was complete. So, for 25 memorable years, we thank Fort Mill, York County, the fans, and the players for a wonderful time!
Let’s fast forward a few hours on Monday, December 30… I officially began working in Uptown Charlotte, along with my fellow Knights employees. Currently, our front office staff will be working out of offices across the street from BB&T Ballpark. We’ll be working in these offices until we move into our new home — which is expected to be on or around February 1.
Working in Uptown across from our new kingdom has its advantages! For instance, I get to walk past this everyday (see photos below).
It is so exciting to see the ballpark as it nears completion. It seems like each day something new is complete. As we continue to move closer to Opening Day, keep your eyes out for new photos and updates. April 11th is right around the corner and what we have in store is something special.
One other thing to note… we currently have a temporary team store all set up in our temporary offices. We are located at 326 S. Graham St. across from BB&T Ballpark. For more information, including items available and hours, please contact our Merchandise Manager Karen Schieber at firstname.lastname@example.org.
On Monday, December 23, the Chicago White Sox claimed Eric Surkamp off waivers from the San Francisco Giants. By claiming the 26-year-old lefty, who went to college at North Carolina State, the White Sox removed Brent Morel from their 40-man roster. Morel was claimed by the Toronto Blue Jays — ending his time in the White Sox organization.
Morel, 26, was a leader on the Knights on and off-the-field. He appeared in 221 games for the Knights in parts of three seasons (2010, 12-13) and hit .275 (227-825) over that span with 107 runs, 58 doubles, seven triples, 15 home runs, 98 RBIs, and 17 stolen bases.
A native of Bakersfield, CA, Morel was one of the most recognizable faces on
the Knights in recent seasons. A fan-favorite in Fort Mill, Morel had an exceptional 2010 campaign with the team, as he made his way to the Majors.
In 2010, Morel hit .320 (98-306) with 40 runs scored, 24 doubles, four triples, eight home runs, and 34 RBIs over 81 games.
He hit a combined .322 that season between Double-A and Triple-A with 10 home runs and 64 RBIs. His solid offensive play earned him a promotion to the Majors.
After appearing in 21 games with the
Sox in 2010, Morel was back with Chicago to begin 2011. The California native entered the 2011 campaign ranked as the 2nd best prospect in the organization by Baseball America. He was the club’s starting third baseman and was ready to prove he was capable of playing at the highest level.
The 6’2″ third baseman had a number of highs in 2011 on the South Side of Chicago. He had a September to remember, launching eight of his 10 home runs that month, including 15 walks and 19 RBIs in 27 games. He tied for third in the American League in home runs during the month. The eight home runs were the highest monthly total for a White Sox rookie since Josh Fields (another former Knights slugger). Fields hit nine in August of 2007.
Morel recorded multi-homer games on two occasions during the month of September (9/8 vs. Cleveland and 9/12 vs. Detroit). He finished the year with a .245 batting average, 18 doubles, 10 home runs, and 41 RBIs over 126 games. The former third round pick of the 2008 draft also finished with a .953 fielding percentage, which was good for fifth-best in the American League at third base. His 211 assists were good for fourth-best among AL third basemen.
After starting the 2012 season with the White Sox, Morel suffered a back injury and was placed on the DL on May 22 (retro to May 18). He started a rehab assignment with the Knights on May 30 as he tried to work his way back to the Majors.
Morel got off to a fast start with the Knights. In his first game with the club in 2012, he went 2-3 with a double and a run scored. In his first two games, he had four hits in eight at-bats. He had a hit in five-straight games and six of his first seven. He appeared in nine games with the Knights on his first rehab assignment and hit .267 before re-aggravating his injury. He was later returned to Chicago.
He returned to the field over a month later — this time with the Winston Salem Dash (A+) and appeared in seven games for the club, before he was transferred back to Charlotte. He played with the Knights from July 27 to August 8, before a right eye infection sidelined him for nine days.
Morel was back on the field for the Knights on August 17 and he had back-to-back-to back two-hit games from August 25-27. He helped the Knights as they clinched a playoff spot and helped the team to the International League finals. Unfortunately, the Knights lost in the finals to the Pawtucket Red Sox.
Overall, Morel hit .194 over 34 games with the Knights in 2012.
This past season, Morel started the year with the Knights and was one of 21 Knights players to earn a promotion to Chicago.
He appeared in 106 games for the Knights and led the team in a number of offensive categories.
Morel led the club in runs scored (55), doubles (30), RBIs (54), he tied for first in triples (3), and finished second in at-bats, second in hits (105), tied for second in stolen bases (14), and third in games (106). He had a solid year on the field for the Knights and was always a great help in the community as well.
Now, Morel will join the Toronto organization and his former Knights teammates Dan Johnson and Steve Tolleson, who both signed with the Jays this offseason. They also have another former Knight in their organization — Tomo Ohka. Could they be the Toronto Knights? Only time will tell. In the meantime, good luck in the Toronto organization Brent.
Knights Staff Moves On:
On Friday, December 20, the Knights’ front office staff moved out of Knights Stadium in Fort Mill. It was a busy day for the front office staff as we moved all of our belongings from the stadium in Fort Mill to temporary offices across from BB&T Ballpark in Uptown Charlotte. We’ll stay in our temporary offices for about a month, as our move-in date at BB&T Ballpark is expected to be on Saturday, February 1st. The team store is expected to be open on March 1st. Stay tuned…
For now, the next major occurrence will happen on December 30, as we will officially say goodbye to Knights Stadium as the 24-year-old stadium will close it doors for good. It will be the last day I drive to 2280 Deerfield Drive.
Uptown Charlotte, Here We Come:
With that, I am now officially working in Uptown Charlotte — and I am so excited! Having my office across the street from our new kingdom is going to be exceptional for me. I can’t wait to see the progress up-close. And — I can’t wait to share that progress with all of our fans.
On Friday, December 20, my first day in my Uptown Charlotte office, I took a tour of BB&T Ballpark. It was amazing. As I walked around the ballpark, I snapped a ton of photos.
Over the next few weeks, you are going to get an up-close look at BB&T Ballpark. In fact, you are going to feel like you are in the ballpark!
Currently, our new kingdom is 90% completed. Yes, that’s right, just 10% more to go! Stay tuned for all of the photos, updates, and more. It’s going to be an exciting countdown to Opening Day, April 11, 2014.
Last season, the Charlotte Knights posted a 65-78 record and finished in third place in the International League South Division. The team saw 21 players make the jump to the Majors a year ago — four more than in 2012.
Despite the under .500 record, the Knights’ squad saw the emergence of catcher Josh Phegley and the return of Knights legend Jordan Danks. The season also featured an Andre Rienzo no-no, and the arrival of Avisail Garcia. Plus, the Knights also saw a number of solid young players make the transition from Double-A to Triple-A (Marcus Semien, Erik Johnson, and Daniel Webb).
With all of that, however, there was one player who was there from day one and provided leadership and consistency throughout — Steve Tolleson.
Named as a mid-season Triple-A All-Star, Tolleson was Mr. Consistent for the Knights in 2013. The son of former Major League Wayne Tolleson, Steve had a very good season for the Knights, in what was their final season in Fort Mill at Knights Stadium.
Tolleson, a South Carolina native, compiled a .288 batting average with 113 hits, 28 doubles, 47 runs scored, eight home runs, 53 RBIs, and 14 stolen bases over 116 games. The 30-year-old nearly hit .300 last season (he was hitting .300 as late as August 25).
A product of the University of South Carolina, Tolleson had 27 multi-hit games and hit one of Charlotte’s two grand slams last season (June 6 at Pawtucket).
All and all, it was a solid year for Tolleson.
Now, the 2013 Knights MVP (I named him MVP in my Knight Fever year-end awards blog) is moving on. A free agent after the season, Tolleson has recently signed with the Toronto Blue Jays. He will receive an invite to Spring Training and will look to make the club before the end of camp. He joins former Knights Dan Johnson and Tomo Ohka, who also signed with Toronto.
If Steve begins the season with Triple-A, the Knights play Toronto’s Triple-A affiliate — the Buffalo Bisons — from May 9-12 at BB&T Ballpark.
Stay tuned for more updates on former Knights players and the recent White Sox signings that could impact the Knights 2014 roster in 2014.
One of the last things to take place in Orlando during this year’s Winter Meetings was the annual Rule 5 Draft. This year’s draft took place on Thursday, December 12.
Before we take a look at how this year’s draft unfolded (I’ll save that for my next blog), let’s take a look back at the previous five drafts and how it went for the White Sox and the Charlotte Knights. (I am just analyzing the Major League portion of the Rule 5 Draft).
1st Overall Pick:
Terrell Young, drafted by the Washington Nationals, from the Cincinnati Reds.
White Sox Pick:
No pick in the Major League portion of the draft.
The Charlotte Knights originally lost RHP Derek Rodriguez, who was drafted 19th overall by the Tampa Bay Rays. Rodriguez, who was a 14th round draft pick of the Chicago White Sox in the 2005 MLB June Amateur Draft, appeared in parts of two seasons with the Knights from 2008-09.
In 2008, Rodriguez went 0-1 with one save and a 3.19 ERA in 20 games for the Knights. He struck out 44 batters over 36.2 innings pitched. It was a solid season for Rodriguez, who also posted a 5-1 record with one save and a 3.38 ERA. His solid season led to the Rays selecting him in the Rule 5 Draft.
His days with the Rays (yes, I know, that rhymes), did not last long however. On March 23, 2009, he was returned to the White Sox after he was not going to make the Rays out of Spring Training. Rodriguez had a 7.50 ERA in six games that spring.
He ended up posting an 0-3 record with two saves and a 3.49 ERA in 36 games for the Knights. It proved to be his final season in professional baseball.
One other player to mention, since later in his career he would become a Knights reliever, is Donnie Veal (pictured, right).
Veal was selected fourth overall in the Rule 5 Draft that season by the Pirates (from the Chicago Cubs). Veal pitched for the Knights in 2012 and 2013 and excelled on the mound. In 2012, he went 7-3 with two saves and a 2.08 ERA in 35 games. Last year, he was 2-2 with two saves and a 2.70 ERA in 17 games with Charlotte.
1st Overall Pick: Jamie Hoffmann was selected by the Washington Nationals from the Los Angeles Dodgers. Hoffmann was later dealt to the New York Yankees as the player to be named later in the deal for Brian Bruney. Bruney would go on to play for the Knights in 2011 and 2012.
White Sox Pick:
No pick in the Major League portion of the draft.
1st Overall Pick:
Josh Rodriguez was selected as the first pick by the Pittsburgh Pirates. The young shortstop was taken from the Cleveland Indians organization.
White Sox Pick:
No pick in the Major League portion of the draft.
1st Overall Pick:
Rhiner Cruz was drafted by the Houston Astros as the first pick. Cruz, a right-handed pitcher, was taken from the New York Yankees system.
White Sox Pick:
No pick in the Major League portion of the draft.
NOTABLE: With the second pick in the draft, the Minnesota Twins selected RHP Terry Doyle (pictured, right) from the White Sox. Doyle, was later offered back to Chicago and began the 2012 season with the Charlotte Knights. The product of Boston College had a terrific season with the Knights in 2012.
In 11 starts with the Knights (12 games), Doyle posted a 6-3 record with a 2.83 ERA. He had one complete game and was the anchor of a solid staff before opting out of his contract and signing a deal to play in Japan. He ended the 2012 campaign in Japan with the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks and appeared in three games. He compiled a 1-1 mark with a 3.55 ERA.
Last season, Doyle signed on with the Boston Red Sox organization and appeared in both Pawtucket (Triple-A) and Portland (Double-A). The Massachusetts native went 5-6 with a 5.60 ERA in 18 games with the PawSox. He also posted a 1-6 mark with a 4.06 ERA in 11 games for the Sea Dogs.
1st Overall Pick:
Josh Fields was selected by the Houston Astros – no, not the former Knights slugger and standout college football star Josh Fields. Fields, a right-handed pitcher, was taken from the Red Sox.
White Sox Pick:
With the 11th pick in the draft, the White Sox selected infielder Angel Sanchez (pictured, below right) from the Los Angeles Angels organization. Sanchez was coming off a solid year in 2012 in the Pacific Coast League.
Playing for Triple-A Oklahoma City, Sanchez hit an impressive .320 (107 G) with five home runs, 45 RBIs, 13 doubles, 48 runs scored, and seven stolen bases. Despite the solid season, Sanchez was left off of LA’s 40-man roster — giving the White Sox a chance to scoop up the infielder.
At the time of the draft, Sanchez was batting .344 (22-64) with two home runs and seven RBIs over 17 games with Mayaguez in the Puerto Rican Winter League.
Sanchez began the season with the White Sox and appeared in just one game for the club before being placed on the DL on April 15 with a lower back strain. The Puerto Rican native began a rehab assignment with the Charlotte Knights on May 15 and ended up staying with the Knights after he was offered back to the Angels and they didn’t take him back.
He ended up playing in 43 games for the Knights and hit .189 with one home run and 16 RBIs. He played his last game with the Knights on July 28 before being released by the White Sox. Sanchez finished the year with Somerset (Independent) and hit .228 with one home run and 31 RBIs over 31 games.
Stay tuned for a recap of this year’s Rule 5 Draft…
What a week! My first Winter Meetings are in the books and I had a great time in Orlando. I hope you had a chance to read my reports over the past few days. There are more on the way!
On Monday I sat through numerous meetings and really soaked up my first full day in Orlando. The weather was beautiful, the Swan & Dolphin Hotel was awesome, and being in Disney was great! I didn’t see Mickey or Minnie, but I did see tons of former players, friends, and colleagues.
On Tuesday, I obtained a media credential, as the Charlotte Knights and Chicago White Sox had the floor for a few minutes in the media room for our press conference. It turned out great as we announced our six-year extension of our Player Development Contract with the White Sox. It’s nice to know that our players will be supplied by the White Sox through the 2020 season.
Over my two years in the White Sox organization, I have enjoyed my time with the White Sox players and staff.
On Wednesday, I moderated the International League’s PR/Media Relations session. When I learned that I would have the opportunity to host this, I was ecstatic. Wednesday was an important day for my career and I’m truly blessed to have been given this opportunity. I enjoyed talking to other PR people from around the International League and I took away a number of great ideas from the session. I’d like to take a moment to thank International League President Randy Mobley and his assistant Chris Sprague, who gave me the opportunity. I hope to be able to host next year’s event as well.
Also on Wednesday, I had the chance to spend time with one of my long-time friends, who now lives in Orlando. It was great to see him and catch up. Sometimes in life, work gets in the way of family and friends, so it is always good to be able to make time for someone who has played key role in your life. Joey and I grew up together, played Little League together, and went to Penn State together. Wednesday was a lot of fun.
And, speaking of Wednesday, I did have the opportunity to say hello to two
people who I have always been big fans of over the years. Being that I am Italian and my first name is Tommy, it’s obvious that Tommy Lasorda is someone who I have always looked up to. Although his Dodgers were a threat to my Mets in the 1980′s, Lasorda was still an icon and someone who I respected. So, when I had an opportunity to say hello, I took it.
Later in the day on Wednesday, I came across former Mets pitcher and current analyst on SNY, MLB Network, and TBS — Ron Darling. As a Mets pitcher, Darling had a stellar career.
In 1986, he was nearly untouchable. That season, Darling went 15-6 with a 2.81 ERA. He went 10-2 at Shea that year! He was one of many fan-favorites on that team in 1986. Later that year, the Mets did the unthinkable and won the World Series — with a little help from Bill Buckner, of course.
All and all, this past week in Orlando was amazing. There wasn’t a dull moment for me. I spent the week working, attending meetings, chatting it up with colleagues, and meeting people I have always wanted to meet. I have tons of other stories that I would love to share, but being the PR person that I am, I’ll hold onto those special conversations that I had with numerous people over the week.
Now, with the Winter Meetings over, and the holidays right around the corner, down time in my world is close to over. After the holidays, it’s full steam ahead. While it has been one of the busiest offseasons of my life, things are about to ramp up. With BB&T Ballpark about 90% completed, my dream ride continues. I’m fortunate to be able to call Charlotte home. I’m fortunate to have such great people in my life. My family — especially my mom, has been there every single step of the way. While I may vent more than I brag, life is good because of people like her in my life.
I hope you enjoyed hearing about my week in Orlando. I enjoyed living it and I certainly enjoyed writing about it. There will be more blogs about Orlando, but this was one that I wanted to write. Every now and again, it’s great to just speak from the heart.
As a kid growing up with the last name VIOLA, there was one player that I always wanted a chance to meet. I got that chance on Tuesday night in Orlando when I had the opportunity to say hello to Frank “Sweet Music” Viola.
Living in New York for the early part of my life, people thought it was odd that I had one of my favorite players on a team from Minnesota. Frank Viola was the star pitcher for the Minnesota Twins in the 1980′s. He won the Cy Young Award in 1988 after posting a 24-7 mark with a 2.64 ERA in 35 starts. In eight seasons with the Twins, Viola won 112 games. Overall, he won 176 games over a 15-year Major League career.
In 1989 — Viola — a native New Yorker — became a New York Met when he was traded by the Twins to the Amazins for package of players that included Rick Aguilera, David West, Jack Savage, Kevin Tapani, and Tim Drummond.
I remember when Viola became a Met. As an eight-year-old living in Brooklyn, I went nuts! Now, I would have two very good reasons to root for Viola. He made 12 starts for the Mets the rest of the 1989 season, and excelled on the mound in Flushing a year later.
In 1990, Viola won 20 games for a 91-71 Mets team that finished second in the NL East. It was great to see him have success!
It’s funny, one Frank Viola story for me was when I moved from Brooklyn to the Poconos (PA). Everyone that I met in PA would always ask me if I was related to Frank Viola. In school, Little League, church, everywhere! While I never knew the answer, I would say yes. Why not, right?
Being a big baseball fan, it made a lot of sense to me. And, being from New York, it sounded like a no-brainer!
On Tuesday, I had a chance to shake his hand, tell him my story as a kid growing up with the last name Viola, and how I had a room full of Viola plaques, baseball cards, and more. I was able to grab a quick photo with him (pictured, right), which I immediately sent to my Viola family.
All and all, it was nice to talk to him for a few minutes and I have to thank Knights GM Scotty Brown for introducing me. Meeting him was 30+ years in the making for me!
Meeting Frank was a great way to cap-off the evening. Tuesday was a busy, busy day here at the Winter Meetings for me. I’ll have a blog with interviews from Tuesday, but just to make one note about Tuesday…
At 1:30 PM on Tuesday, the Knights, along with the Chicago White Sox announced a six-year extension to their Player Development Contract. White Sox manager Robin Ventura spoke to the media at 1:30 and then Buddy Bell and Knights Executive Vice President/Chief Operating Officer Dan Rajkowski spoke to some media afterwards.
For more information about Tuesday’s announcement, read my press release here:
Knights Ink Six-Year PDC Extension with White Sox from Orlando, FL
Monday marked day number two for me in Orlando at Major League Baseball’s Winter Meetings. Today was the day for numerous meetings and seminars. I tried to attend as many as I could — and I am glad I did. I learned a number of things on Monday that I will take with me back to Charlotte.
I attended my first meeting at the Winter Meetings on Monday morning at 8:30 AM. Kevin Sullivan, the founder of Kevin Sullivan Communications, INC, — spoke to a group of communications professionals on Monday morning and I enjoyed listening to what he had to say.
Kevin is the former White House Communications Director (July 24, 2006 until January 20, 2009). He had some funny photos to show of him with President George W. Bush.
He talked about numerous do’s and don’ts of public relations. The name of the seminar was “How to Become a Trusted Advisor and Improve Your Performance in Interviews and Presentations. I learned a lot from Kevin — things that will help me in our transition from Fort Mill to Charlotte and from Knights Stadium to BB&T Ballpark. My job continues to change each day and it was nice to hear from someone who has seen so many highs in the world of public/media relations.
I attended three more meetings throughout the day and enjoyed all of them for many reasons. It was nice hearing from my old Eastern League buddy Jon Laaser (Director of Broadcasting & Communications for the Richmond Flying Squirrels). He talked about “Establishing and Maintaining Media Relevance in a Crowded Marketplace.
During my days in Reading, I worked with Jon when our teams would face each other. He does a great job in Richmond and it was great to hear him talk.
I also attended a meeting led by Nathan Blackmon and Ken Gordon — both of MLB Advanced Media. Nathan, who lives in North Carolina, has been a huge help to me over the years. He’s a huge help to someone like me who runs a website for their Minor League team’s website.
Other things to note:
I saw many Major League players, managers, coaches, personalities, etc. throughout the day on Monday. While I’m not one to name drop, here are a few people who were within a few feet away from me on Monday: Tommy Lasorda, Bobby Cox, Joe Torre, Tony LaRussa, John Farrell, Jim Leyland, Kirk Gibson… okay, you get the idea. There were tons more and as a baseball person who loves the game, it was a great day.
I also enjoyed catching up with my old Lehigh Valley pal, Meredith Marakovits, who has moved on to big things. Meredith currently works for the YES Network and was interviewing people throughout the day. She does a great job in New York and I wish her continued success.
What to look for on Tuesday:
As soon as I finish writing this, I am going down to the lobby of the Dolphin hotel to get my day started. This is a big day for the Knights and we have an exciting press announcement coming up later today. Stay tuned for the announcement and interviews throughout the day.
Well, it wasn’t so far — just a short trip from Charlotte to Orlando! Anyways, I’m here in Orlando for the MLB Winter Meetings — for the first time in my career. As you can tell, I’m overly excited!
Made it to Orlando around 6:00 PM on Sunday night and quickly felt the weather change — it is warm here! The Charlotte Knights’ contingent were picked up by a huge bus driven by the great people at Brandiose (the creators of our new logo). We took the 30-minute bus ride to our hotel at the beautiful Walt Disney World Swan & Dolphin Resort. This place is gorgeous.
After getting settled in, our crew took a shuttle to Downtown Disney to get a bite to eat. I have been to Disney World twice in my life, but it has been quite a long time ago. It was nice to see Goofy and the Disney characters EVERYWHERE. Yes, they are on everything. But hey, it is the happiest place on earth.
One of the main things about this trip for me is seeing people that I haven’t seen in awhile. As you know, I have worked for other baseball organizations and I have been fortunate to make a lot of friends in this industry. I’m excited to see some of those friends this week.
While that may be more of the fun part of the Winter Meetings, there is, however, work to be done. I’m looking forward to attending numerous meetings/seminars over the next few days. This will certainly be a great learning experience!
One other note to mention is that while I am entering my eighth year in baseball — I’m still a fan. When I was a kid, I never missed a game on TV. I attended numerous NY Mets games over the years (being that I was born in Brooklyn) and I always looked for autographs. I was always looking to get a glimpse of my favorite player too (Gary Carter).
PS — I’m still that kid — but now I am trying to shake hands and make contacts. I still get starstruck though.
On Sunday night, one of the eye-opening things for me was seeing the TV sets for MLB Network and ESPN’s Baseball Tonight. Even now, as I sit here writing a brief recap of Sunday night, I’m watching Harold Reynolds and Matt Vasgersian interview the three new Hall of Fame inductees: Tony LaRussa, Joe Torre, and Bobby Cox. What an honor for those three greats. And… what an honor for me to see here and watch it.
Stay tuned for more as the day goes on. I’ll have updates from meetings, seminars, lunches, and more! There will be tons to report about over the next few days.
Keep an eye out for…
The Knights will be making a significant announcement on Tuesday right here from Orlando. And on Wednesday, I’m moderating the International League’s PR Seminar.
More to come…
With the Rule 5 Draft just days away (Thursday, December 13), the Chicago White Sox 40-man roster currently sits at 37. Let’s take a look at how it got there — starting back in October after the regular season ended:
In a span of two days, three players were outrighted off of the 40-man roster and sent to Charlotte. On October 3, RHP Brian Omogrosso, who had right elbow surgery in August, was outrighted to the Knights. After going from the 15-day disabled to the 60-day disabled a month earlier, Omogrosso was officially sent to Charlotte on October 3.
In 12 games with the White Sox, Omogrosso posted an 0-2 record with a 9.37 ERA. For the Knights, the PA native went 0-1 with two saves and a 4.91 ERA in 10 games.
Originally drafted by the White Sox in the sixth round of the 2006 draft, Omogrosso owns a 19-22 record with 21 saves and a 3.94 ERA over eight Minor League seasons. He appeared in four games for the Knights in 2009 and then spent three seasons in Fort Mill from 2011-13.
On October 4, catcher Bryan Anderson and RHP Ramon Troncoso were also outrighted to Charlotte. Both players, like Omogrosso, spent time with the Knights in 2013.
Anderson appeared in 10 games for the White Sox (.056, 1-18, 0 HR, 2 RBIs), while Troncoso pitched in 29 games for the Sox and compiled a 1-4 mark with a 4.50 ERA. Both players had success with the Knights last season, before finishing the 2013 campaign in Chicago.
On October 18, LHP David Purcey was ourighted to the Charlotte Knights — coming off of Chicago’s 40-man roster. It didn’t take long, however, for him to wind up back with the White Sox. On November 18, the White Sox signed him as a free agent (he is not currently a member of Chicago’s 40-man roster). Purcey will once again compete for a spot in the Chicago bullpen this spring.
The IL native had an impressive 2013 season in Charlotte and Chicago. He posted a 0-2 mark with two saves and a 3.03 ERA in 26 games for the Knights. With the White Sox he was even better — going 1-1 with a 2.13 ERA in 24 appearances out of the ‘pen.
On October 29, the White Sox signed Cuban sensation Jose Abreu to a six-year, $68 million deal. The 26-year-old first baseman joins two other Cuban players currently on the White Sox — Dayan Viciedo and Alexei Ramirez.
Abreu became a hot commodity during the 2013 World Baseball Classic. In six games, he hit .360 with three home runs and nine RBIs.
On November 1, the White Sox outrighted RHP Simon Castro off of the 40-man roster. Castro spent the majority of the 2013 campaign with Charlotte. The 6’5″ righty compiled a 3-7 record and a 5.83 ERA in 27 games (12 starts) for the Knights. He was promoted to the White Sox and was effective in four games (0-1, 2.70 ERA, six strikeouts in 6.2 innings).
On November 20, the White Sox added an infielder to their 40-man roster when they claimed Jake Elmore off waivers from the Houston Astros. A native of Dothan, AL, Elmore hit .242 with two home runs and six RBIs for the Astros in 52 games last season. Elmore, 26, played all nine positions for the Astros last season. On August 19, he became just the 14th player in Major League Baseball history to pitch and catch in the same game. In 70 games for Triple-A Oklahoma City last year, Elmore hit .299 with five home runs, 30 RBIs, and 16 stolen bases.
Also on November 20, the White Sox added two of their top prospects to their 40-man roster — OF Trayce Thompson and INF Carlos Sanchez. Both players had success at the Minor League level and both have donned a Knights jersey over the course of their careers. Thompson is just 22, while Sanchez is just 21. Both have a bright future ahead.
RHP Dylan Axelrod was non-tendered on December 2 — making the California native a free agent and of course, removing him from the 40-man roster. Axelrod was a solid pitcher for the Knights over parts of two seasons — starting 31 games over that span and posting a 13-6 mark with a 2.58 ERA in 188.1 innings pitched. In fact, his 2.58 career Knights ERA is ranked first in franchise history (180 innings needed to qualify).
This season, Axelrod spent the entire year with the White Sox and pitched to the tune of a 4-11 record with a 5.68 ERA in 30 games (20 starts). Originally drafted by the San Diego Padres in the 30th round of the 2007 draft, Axlerod holds a career Major League mark of 7-13 with a 5.36 ERA in 48 games (30 starts).
On Wednesday, December 4, the White Sox welcomed Paul Konerko back to the team and signed the slugger to a one-year deal. Konerko, a White Sox legend, will enter his 16th season with the Sox in 2014. The 37-year-old hit .244 with 12 home runs and 54 RBIs in 126 games last year for Chicago.
On Friday, December 6, the White Sox optioned OF Blake Tekotte and 1B Mike McDade to the Charlotte Knights. By removing both players, the Sox 40-man roster (as of Sunday, December 8) sits at 37. Tekotte was a doubles machine for the Knights last season — hitting 27 two baggers in 76 games. McDade, who was claimed off waivers from the Indians while the Knights were in Columbus playing the Clippers (he switched dugouts), hit .254 with 10 home runs and 46 RBIs in 94 games for the Knights.
I’ll keep you updated throughout the offseason regarding the White Sox 40-man roster, which currently features 24 players who have spent time with the Knights.