Knights Knotes – August 8, 2015

KNIGHT LIGHTS: The Charlotte Knights (Triple-A affiliate of the Chicago White Sox) will continue their season-long 10-game homestand tonight and play game two of a three-game series against the Rochester Red Wings (Triple-A affiliate of the Minnesota Twins) at 7:05 p.m. tonight from BB&T Ballpark. knights knotesWith a win last night, the Knights are now 2-2 on the homestand. After dropping eight of 10 on their last road trip, the Knights improved to are 35-21 at home this season (just 26-32 on the road) with the win last night and they gained ground in the IL South Division. The Knights enter today’s game five games back of the first place Norfolk Tides (Triple-A affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles) in the IL South Division (tied with Gwinnett for second place) and 2.5-games out of the IL Wild Card race behind Columbus. The Knights are 2-2 against Rochester this year.

LAST KNIGHTS GAME: The Charlotte Knights combined to belt out 11 hits last night en route to a 9-5 win over the Rochester Red Wings in game one of the three-game series from BB&T Ballpark. RHP Scott Carroll (5-2, 2.67) allowed three runs over six innings and Matt Tuiasosopo led the way with a historic night at the plate. Tuiasosopo launched three homers.

KNIGHTS STARTING PITCHER: RHP Erik Johnson (8-7, 2.49) will make his 19th start of the 2015 season and appear in his 20th game today. Johnson currently leads the IL in strikeouts (110), is averaging an IL best 9.44 strikeouts per nine innings, and is tied for the IL lead in ERA with Randy Wolf (2.49). erik johnsonFrom 6/10-7/28 (7 games), Johnson allowed just one earned run (44.0 IP). Johnson beat the Red Wings earlier this season on 6/26 @ROC (W, 7.0 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 8 SO). He has already racked up an IL Pitcher of the Week nod this season (week of June 15-21) after going 2-0 with a 0.00 ERA in two starts (14.0 IP, 7 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 3 BB, 20 SO). He went 3-1 with a 1.03 ERA in five June starts and went 1-1 with a 0.00 ERA in three July starts. Johnson became just the fourth Knights pitcher in franchise history to get the Triple-A All-Star Game starting nod joining Julian Tavarez (1994), Charlie Haeger (2006), and Carlos Torres (2010). He tossed two scoreless innings at the 2015 Triple-A All-Star Game at Werner Park in Omaha, Nebraska earlier this month. He made his 2015 debut on April 13 in relief against Durham and earned the win after three scoreless innings. The 25-year-old right-handed pitcher entered the 2014 season ranked by Baseball America as the 2nd best prospect in the White Sox system. Johnson lost his only start against Rochester last year (L, 4.0 IP, 6 H, 7 R, 7 ER, 5 BB, 5 SO).
Laura Wolff

Photo credit: Laura Wolff

THREE FOR TUIA: 1B/OF Matt Tuiasosopo launched a homer in the first inning, another in the second inning, and one more in the seventh inning last night to give him career-game best three long balls along with seven RBIs. It was his first three-homer game of his career and he is just the eighth Knights player to achieve that feat (first since Dan Black on May 29, 2014 at Columbus). His back-to-back inning homers (1st & 2nd) were the first time a Knights player had done that since exactly one year ago (Josh Phegley in 6th & 7th inning at BB&T Ballpark on August 7, 2014). He’s recorded three multi-homer games this season and three grand slams.

ROSTER MOVES: Infielder Cleuluis Rondon (CLAY-ew-lou-eese ron-DOHN) was promoted to Charlotte today from Winston-Salem (A+) to take the place of infielder Justin Sellers, who was placed on the DL. Charlotte’s roster is set at 25 active players. Rondon was hitting .182 (63-for-346) with 30 runs scored, seven doubles, three home runs, and 26 RBIs. He was originally obtained by the Chicago White Sox on July 30, 2013 along with Avisail Garcia and pitchers Frankie Montas and J.B. Wendelken, in exchange for RHP Jake Peavy. Rondon entered the 2015 season ranked by Baseball America as the Best Defensive Infielder in the White Sox organization. The same publication also tabbed him as possessing the Best Infield Arm in the organization. Sellers, who was originally drafted by the Oakland A’s in the sixth round of the 2005 draft, is hitting .206 (7-for-34) with the Knights over eight games.

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Photo credit: Laura Wolff

MORE ON TUIASOSOPO: With three home runs and seven RBIs last night, Matt Tuiasosopo now has 16 home runs and 46 RBIs. His 16 long balls are fourth most in the IL this season and one behind the Knights team leader Matt Davidson (17), who is third in the IL. Tuiasosopo has homered once every 17.94 at-bats, which is the second best HR/AB ratio in the IL. Since July 1, Matt Tuiasosopo has the most home runs in the IL (12) and is tied for the most RBIs over that span with Matt Hague (31).

2015 IL LEADERBOARD
: 3B Matt Davidson is third in the IL in home runs with 17. Davidson, who was a 2015 International League All-Star, is also third in walks (51), tied for third in at-bats (419), and tied for first in games (111)… OF Jason Coats is second in the IL in RBIs (69)… RHP Kyle Drabek (6-6, 2.74) has the third lowest ERA in the IL, he is also tied for third in WHIP (1.16), and tied for third in batting average against (.225)… LHP Jarrett Casey (9-2, 4.11) is in a four-way second-place tie in the IL in wins with nine. The Knights have scored 506 runs this season (second in the IL).

FRANCHISE HISTORY: Back for his fourth season with the Knights in 2015, infielder Drew Garcia is ninth on the Knights all-time games played list with 281 career games – one away from moving into a tie for eighth place all-time with Josh Fields (282). He is also inching closer to another mark as he now has 980 career Knights at-bats – 18 away from a 10th place tie with Rusty Crockett… Charlotte manager Joel Skinner – the winningest manager in Knights franchise history – has compiled 272 career wins with the Knights over four seasons.

HOME RUN KNIGHTS: The Knights went over the 100-home run plateau of the season on Tuesday with two home runs – the first team in the IL to do so this season. With three home runs from Tuiasosopo last night, the Knights are leading the IL in long balls with 106. The Knights as a team have hit 74 of their 106 home runs this season at BB&T Ballpark. Last year, the Knights hit 105 of their 176 home runs at BB&T Ballpark. The Knights have hit the most home runs at their home ballpark in all of Triple-A Baseball this season (Round Rock is second with 70).

BANK ON TANK: OF Dayan Viciedo was signed by Chicago on Saturday and assigned to the Knights that day. Viciedo, who hit .254 with 66 home runs and 211 RBIs over parts of five seasons with the Chicago White Sox from 2010 to 2014, has hit safely in all six games with the Knights and nine-straight (three w/Nashville). He mashed 20 home runs in back-to-back seasons for the club (2010-11) and was named to the All-Knights Stadium Team in 2013. He is eighth all-time in Knights franchise history in homers (41) – tied with Joe Crede.

D-E-F-E-N-S-E: 3B Matt Davidson leads IL third baseman in fielding percentage (.971), as well as all IL third baseman in assists (218) and tied for first double plays (18) … Catcher Kevan Smith leads all IL catchers in games (75), is second in total chances (575), second in putouts (520) and second in assists (48),… As a team, the Knights are tied for fifth in fielding percentage in the IL (.981) and are first in the IL in assists (1235) and fourth in putouts (3030).

ATTENDANCE: BB&T Ballpark, which was named the Best Ballpark in Minor League Baseball by Baseball America, has welcomed 528,886 this year (56 games) – the most in Minor League Baseball this season. Only four teams in MiLB this season have cracked the 500,000 mark (Lehigh Valley, Indianapolis, and Sacramento). Charlotte is averaging 9,444 fans per game – also the highest in MiLB in 2015. The Knights led the minors in attendance in 2014 – their first at BB&T Ballpark – with a mark of 687,715 fans (71 openings). The Knights have welcomed 26 sell-out crowds during the regular season this season and 29 sell-out crowds overall this year (White Sox exhibition game and Team USA game).

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