Knights Knotes — April 10, 2014

KNIGHT LIGHTS: The Charlotte Knights opened their second season at BB&T Ballpark in Uptown Charlotte last night with a 7:05 p.m. first pitch against the Norfolk Tides. After dropping last year’s inaugural season opener to Norfolk (8-6 in 12 innings), the Knights returned the favor and beat the Tides 6-3. The Knights used a 12-hit assault, solid defense, and good pitching to get past the Tides in 2:43.5217

ATTENDANCE FEVER: BB&T Ballpark was once again rocking last night with a sold-out crowd of 10,514 fans – the fourth largest crowd in the ballpark’s history. Although last night was the first game of the regular season, so far this year, the Knights have already welcomed 31,409 fans through the gates. The Queen City’s new kingdom played host to its first-ever college game on Tuesday, March 31 (8,147), an exhibition game between the Chicago White Sox and Charlotte Knights on Friday, April 3 (10,556), and a free scrimmage game between the Charlotte Knights and Davidson College on Monday, April 6 (2,192).

KNIGHTS STARTER: RHP Chris Beck, who is ranked as the number 11 best prospect in the Chicago White Sox system by Baseball America, toes the rubber tonight for the Charlotte Knights who look to make it two wins in-a-row after last night’s 6-3 victory. Beck, 24, last pitched for the Knights on August 31, 2014 – tossing five shutout innings against the Gwinnett Braves at BB&T Ballpark. In seven starts with the Knights last season, Beck posted a 1-3 record with a 4.05 ERA (33.1 IP, 36 H, 16 R, 15 ER, 13 BB, 28 SO). He began the 2014 campaign with the Double-A Birmingham Barons and posted a 5-8 mark with a 3.39 ERA in 20 starts before a promotion to Charlotte on June 26. He started his first career Triple-A game on June 26 against Louisville and was saddled with the loss after allowing five runs on five hits over 4.2 innings pitched. He was sent back to Birmingham the next day. He was promoted back to Charlotte on July 28. He went a combined 6-11 with a 3.54 ERA in 27 starts between both stops. He ranked among the White minor leaguers in shutouts (T-1st), ERA (4th) and IP (4th). He entered the 2014 season ranked by Baseball America as the number nine prospect in Chicago’s system and as possessing the Best Changeup in the organization. Beck was selected by the White Sox in the second round of the 2012 draft out of Georgia Southern University.

5058PENNY PINCHING: RHP Brad Penny (1-0, 4.76) made his Charlotte Knights debut last night and was solid in his first start since September 8, 2014 as a member of the Miami Marlins. In last night’s opener, Penny allowed three runs on seven hits over 5.2 innings to earn the win. The Oklahoma native pitched into the sixth inning for the first time since that September 8th start and walked two batters. A two-time National League All-Star, Penny tossed 78 pitches, 52 for strikes.

ANGEL IN THE BLEACHERS: Engel Beltre (pronounced Angel) launched the first Knights home run of the season in the second inning of Thursday’s contest. The solo shot came off Norfolk starter Tyler Wilson – who allowed two Knights home runs in the game (Matt Davidson also homered). Beltre, who spent most of last season on the Texas Rangers disabled list, was signed by the White Sox as a free agent on January 22, 2015. A native of Santo Domingo, DR, Beltre was originally signed by Boston on July 2, 2006.

WELCOME MATT: For the 101st time in his Minor League career – which began in 2009 – Matt Davidson homered. Charlotte’s third baseman smacked a third inning solo home run off Norfolk right-hander Tyler Wilson. Davidson, 24, launched 20 home runs last year with the Knights – with 15 of those coming off right-handers. Davidson, who finished last night’s game 1-for-3, is ranked as the 14th best prospect in Chicago’s system by Baseball America entering this season. He was acquired by the White Sox from the Arizona Diamondbacks on December 16, 2013 in exchange for pitcher Addison Reed.

BACK IN THE SADDLE: 2013 International League All-Star Tyler Saladino returned to the Charlotte Knights lineup last night for the first time since July 13, 2014 and was sharp in his first regular season game back from 2014 Tommy John surgery (underwent the surgery on August 8, 2014, which was performed by Dr. James Andrews). Last night, Saladino, 25, went 3-for-4 with a triple and two RBIs. He hit .310 last season with nine home runs and 43 RBIs in 82 games before suffering a torn UCL in his right elbow.

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