Knights Knotes — July 12, 2015

KNIGHT LIGHTS: The Charlotte Knights (Triple-A affiliate of the Chicago White Sox) will conclude their three-day, four-game series against the first place Norfolk Tides (Triple-A affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles) tonight at 6:05 p.m. from Harbor Park in Norfolk, VA. The Knights split Friday’s doubleheader and notched their 51st win of the season yesterday – second most in the IL – with the 10-2 win. The Knights enter today’s game a half-game behind the first place Tides in the IL South Division and could finish the first half of the season in first with a win tonight. The Triple-A All-Star Break runs from Monday, July 13 to Wednesday, July 15. The Knights return home on Thursday, July 16 to open an eight-game homestand. knights knotes

LAST KNIGHTS GAME: Catcher Kevan Smith ripped four hits and drove home four runs to lead the Charlotte Knights to a 10-2 win over the Norfolk Tides in game three of the four-game series on Saturday night. The Knights slugged 13 hits and received a solid performance on the mound from RHP Kyle Drabek (5-5, 2.56), who allowed just one earned run over six innings.

KNIGHTS STARTING PITCHER: Charlotte RHP Scott Carroll (3-2, 2.37 ERA) will make his seventh start of the 2015 season with the Knights today. He re-joined the Knights on July 10th after being optioned from Chicago on July 9. He has been promoted to the White Sox twice this season and went 1-1 with a 3.28 ERA in 12 games for Chicago. He began the 2015 season with the Knights and started three games for the club before his contract was purchased by the White Sox on April 26. He posted a 1-1 record with a 3.12 ERA in eight games for the White Sox before being optioned down to the Knights on May 28. He returned to the Knights and won back-to-back starts (5/31 & 6/6) – both at BB&T Ballpark. His last start with the Knights before being recalled on June 18, was on June 11 (L, 5.0 IP, 5 H, 7 R, 4 ER, 5 BB, 1 SO). Last season with the Knights in four starts, he won IL Pitcher of the Week honors before earning a promotion to Chicago. He started his award-winning week with a solid performance at Durham on Tuesday, April 8, 2014. The Kansas City, MO native pitched six innings and allowed two unearned runs over four hits en-route to his second win of the year. The Knights beat the Bulls 8-2 that day and Carroll improved to 2-0 on the season at that time. Five days later, Carroll started for the Knights in front of 10,200 fans at BB&T Ballpark in the team’s three-game series finale with the Norfolk Tides. The 29-year-old was sharp again and tossed a season-high seven shutout innings. He entered his final 2014 start with the Knights without having allowed an earned run in 19.0 innings pitched. Carroll had his contract purchased by the White Sox on April 27 and made his Major League debut that day in a start against Tampa Bay (W, 7.1 IP, 2 R, 1 ER). It was the longest outing by a White Sox pitcher making his Major League debut since Gerry Janeski on April 10, 1970 (also 7.1 IP). Carroll spent part of the 2013 season recovering from Tommy John surgery and appeared in just 11 starts between Bristol and Birmingham.

DR. DRA: RHP Kyle Drabek (5-5, 2.56) earned his fifth win of the season last night after allowing two runs (one earned) over six innings pitched. Drabek lowered his ERA to 2.56, which is good for third in the IL this season. He has limited opposing batters to a .211 batting average this season – the second lowest mark in the IL among starters. He also has the second lowest WHIP (1.09), has allowed the fewest baserunners per nine innings (10.14) in the IL this season. Drabek began the season with the Chicago White Sox and was designated for assignment by Chicago on April 20. He was officially outrighted to Charlotte on April 22.

CHARLOTTE’S PEN: RHP Hector Noesi was activated off the Temporary Inactive List Saturday and struck-out three batters over two scoreless innings in his Knights debut… Among relievers, RHP Maikel Cleto (3-2, 2.74) is third in the IL in batting average against (.168) and third in strikeouts per nine innings (10.17)… LHP Zach Phillips (1-0, 2.43) is second in the IL in strikeouts per nine innings ratio (10.22) and opponents are hitting .172 against him (4th).

WHO’S HOT: 1B/OF Chris Marrero went 1-for-5 last night and now has a 10-game hit-streak. In 20 games with the Knights since being promoted from Birmingham, Marrero is hitting .348 (24-for-69) with four home runs and 14 RBIs… OF Jason Coats added two more hits last night and is now 7-for-13 over this three-game series with three runs scored, one home run and four RBIs. He is the team leader in RBIs with 51 and ranks fifth in the IL in that category. He is hitting .341 (14-for-41) with seven runs scored, two home runs, and eight RBIs in July (10 games)… 2B Micah Johnson had two RBIs last night and is hitting .307 (63-for-205) on the season with five home runs, 18 stolen bases, and 26 RBIs in 51 games with Charlotte… Matt Tuiasosopo had a hit and two RBIs for the second consecutive game last night… Catcher George Kottaras has now reached base in 20-straight games dating back to 5/17. During that stretch, he is hitting .339 (20-for-59) with seven home runs, 18 RBIs and a .487 OBP.

2015 IL LEADERBOARD: 3B Matt Davidson is tied for third in home runs (14) and second in walks (46)… OF Trayce Thompson is first in games played (91), second in runs scored (50), second in at-bats (340), and third in extra-base hits (35)… Tyler Saladino and Leury Garcia are tied for second in steals (25).

ATTENDANCE LEADERS: BB&T Ballpark, which was named the Best Ballpark in Minor League Baseball by Baseball America, has welcomed 21 sell-out crowds in 44 Knights games this season – nearly half of the team’s games. Adding in the White Sox Exhibition Game (April 3) and the Team USA Game (July 4), BB&T Ballpark has welcomed 23 sell-out crowds this season. Overall during the 2015 regular season, BB&T Ballpark has welcomed 417,089 fans – second in all of Minor League Baseball behind the PCL’s Sacramento River Cats (439,725). The River Cats have accumulated that mark in 47 openings, while Charlotte has done so in 44. The Knights lead all of Minor League Baseball in per game average with a 9,479 average. The Knights led the minors in attendance last season – their first at BB&T Ballpark – with a mark of 687,715 fans (71 openings).

ALL-STAR GAME NOTES: 3B Matt Davidson, OF Trayce Thompson, and pitchers Erik Johnson, and Zach Phillips, will take part in the 28th Annual First National Bank Triple-A All-Star Game, presented by Gildan. The Charlotte foursome will represent the Knights and the International League against the Pacific Coast League All-Stars at Werner Park in Omaha, Nebraska on Wednesday, July 15. The Knights are one of just two IL teams with four All-Stars, along with the Norfolk Tides. Both Thompson (outfield) and Davidson (DH) were elected to start the game, while Johnson and Phillips were selected. Davidson will participate in the 2015 Triple-A All-Star Home Run Derby on Monday, July 13 — his second career Triple-derby. In 2013 — as a member of the Reno Aces — he won the Triple-A All-Star Home Run Derby at Aces Ballpark in Reno, NV. Other Knights to take part in the Triple-A All-Star Game Home Run Derby over the years are: Jim Thome (1993), Russ Morman (1997), Joe Crede (2002), and Dayan Viciedo (2011), and Dan Johnson (2012). Knights manager Joel Skinner will coach the U.S. Team on Sunday in the SiriusXM Futures Game, which will be televised live on MLB Network and at 3:00 p.m. EST.

99 K’S: RHP Erik Johnson (7-5, 2.73) made his return to the mound in game one of Friday’s doubleheader and tossed four scoreless innings (4.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 SO). Johnson extended his season strikeouts total to 99 – tops in the IL this season. He is also tops in the IL in strikeouts per nine innings (10.05), while his 2.73 ERA is fifth lowest, and his 1.12 ERA is fourth lowest. Johnson will start Wednesday’s Triple-A All-Star Game for the IL squad — just the fourth Knights hurler to do so joining Julian Tavarez (1994), Charlie Haeger (2006), and Carlos Torres (2010). Johnson has allowed one earned run over his last 36.0 IP.

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