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Knights Knotes — August 2, 2015

KNIGHT LIGHTS: The Charlotte Knights (Triple-A affiliate of the Chicago White Sox) will conclude a three-game series against the Indianapolis Indians (Triple-A affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates) today at 1:35 p.m. from Victory Field in Indianapolis, IN. Today’s finale will also be the finale of a 10-game road trip in which the Knights have gone 2-7. The Knights will have an off day on Monday before opening a 10-game homestand on Tuesday. The Knights enter today’s matinee 4.5 games back of the first place Norfolk Tides (Triple-A affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles) in the IL South Division and 1.5-games out of the IL Wild Card race behind the Columbus Clippers.knights knotes

LAST KNIGHTS GAME: Josh Bell lined a walk-off, game-winning RBI single in the bottom of the 13th inning off Charlotte reliever Zach Phillips (1-1, 2.62) to lead the Indians to a come-from-behind 6-5 win on Saturday in the middle game of the three-game series from Victory Field in Indianapolis, IN. The Knights will look to avoid a series sweep today in the finale.

EXTRA BASEBALL: The Knights have played 11 extra-inning games this season and fell to 5-6 in those games with last night’s loss in 13. Charlotte’s longest game was a 15-inning affair in which they lost 4-3 at BB&T Ballpark on July 18 to Norfolk.

KNIGHTS STARTING PITCHER: RHP Erik Johnson (8-6, 2.43) will make his 18th start of the 2015 season and appear in his 19th game today when he gets the nod against the Indians today in the finale of the 10-game road trip. Johnson currently leads the IL in strikeouts (107), is averaging an IL best 9.65 strikeouts per nine innings, and leads the IL in ERA with a 2.43 mark. Johnson has allowed just one earned run (three runs total) over his last 47.0 IP. He was named as the IL Pitcher of the Week (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. DSC05248Johnson 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. He won his first start of the season (second appearance in 2015) on April 18 in five innings of one-run ball against the Gwinnett Braves. 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 AGAINST THE INDIANS: This is his second start of the season against the Indians and fifth in his career since 2013. Back on June 21, 2015 at BB&T Ballpark, Johnson beat the Indians after he tossed eight shutout innings and struck-out nine batters in a 13-1 victory. Last season, Johnson went 1-1 with a 6.00 ERA in two starts against the Indians. His last start at Victory Field was on July 22, 2014 (W, 6.0 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 4 SO) in which he won. Johnson made his Triple-A debut on June 23, 2013 at Victory Field (ND, 6.0 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 5 BB, 6 SO). Overall in four career starts against the Indians, Johnson is 2-1 with a 3.12 ERA (26.0 IP, 20 H, 9 R, 9 ER, 24 SO).

WIN, LOSE, OR DREW: Infielder Drew Garcia had three hits last night to extend his hit streak to four-straight games. He has also scored a run in four-straight games. Garcia has hit safely in eight of his last 10 games. He is hitting .271 (13-for-48) with six runs scored, three doubles, one home run, and five RBIs after the All-Star Break. Back for his fourth season with the Knights in 2015, Garcia is ninth on the Knights all-time games played list with 276 career games – six 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 963 career Knights at-bats – 35 away from a 10th place tie with Rusty Crockett.

TANK RETURNS: Dayan Viciedo was signed by Chicago yesterday and assigned to the Knights. He went 2-for-6 last night in his 2015 debut. Viciedo hit .254 with 66 home runs and 211 RBIs over parts of five seasons with the Chicago White Sox from 2010 to 2014. The former Knights slugger 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.viciedo_dayan_full

2015 IL LEADERBOARD (HITTERS): 3B Matt Davidson is tied for third in home runs (16), tied for third in walks (50), third in at-bats (398), and tied for first in games (106)… OF Jason Coats is third in the IL in RBIs (65)…. Outfielder Trayce Thompson is tied for third in the IL in games (104), third in extra-base hits (40), fifth in total bases (171)… The Knights lead the IL in home runs (99), tied for first in RBIs (451) with SWB, and second in runs (482)… 1B/OF Matt Tuiasosopo has homered once every 20.62 at-bats, which is the third best HR/AB ratio in the IL… 2B Micah Johnson, who is currently on the DL, is batting .328 on the season in 66 games this year (2nd in IL) behind Buffalo’s Matt Hague (.346). He is also second in the IL in OBP (.383), second in slugging percentage (.487), and tied for third in stolen bases with 26… Infielder Leury Garcia, who is now with Chicago, is 10th in the IL in batting average with a .296 mark.

2015 IL LEADERBOARD (PITCHERS): RHP Kyle Drabek (5-6, 2.71) is fourth in the IL in ERA (2.71), second in WHIP (1.12), and opponents are batting just .221 against Drabek this season – the third lowest mark in the IL this season. Drabek has also allowed the second fewest baserunners per nine innings this season in the IL (10.37).

WHO’S HOT: OF Jason Coats is hitting .317 (13-for-41) with one home run and four RBIs over his last 10 games. He is hitting .450 (9-for-20) with three runs scored, one home run, and four RBIs over his last five games.… Charlotte 1B/OF Matt Tuiasosopo had a solid month of July and finished the month by leading all IL batters in home runs (9) and third in RBIs (22). Also in July, he finished with the fifth most runs scored (19) behind leader and teammate Micah Johnson (26) over that span…RHP Hector Noesi has 16 strikeouts over his last two starts (13.0 IP). He has a season-high nine strikeouts in his last outing over seven innings.

CHARLOTTE’S ‘PEN
: LHP Jarrett Casey (9-2, 4.11) is in a four-way second-place tie in the IL in wins with nine (Scott Diamond, Dylan Floro, and Brian Johnson)… Opposing batters are hitting .172 against RHP Maikel Cleto – the second lowest opponents’ batting average in the IL among relievers. Cleto, who is currently on the DL, also has the third highest strikeout per nine inning ratio (10.76) in the IL… LHP Zach Phillips has allowed the second fewest base runners per nine innings in the IL this season (10.07)… Chicago White Sox RHP Nate Jones, who is recovering from Tommy John surgery, has not allowed a run in five rehab appearances with the Knights this season (5.0 IP).

D-E-F-E-N-S-E: 3B Matt Davidson leads IL third baseman in fielding percentage (.969), as well as all IL third baseman in assists (210) and double plays (18) … Catcher Kevan Smith leads all IL catchers in games (73), assists (46), total chances (570), and putouts (517)… OF Trayce Thompson is first in games (103), first in total chances (249), and first in putouts (243) among IL outfielders. As a team, the Knights are tied for the fourth best fielding percentage in the IL (.981) and are first in the IL in assists (1171) and third in putouts (2898).

10-GAME HOMESTAND ON TAP: BB&T Ballpark, which was named the Best Ballpark in Minor League Baseball by Baseball America, will open for a 10-game homestand starting on Tuesday, August 4. The ballpark has welcomed 25 regular season sell-out crowds and 27 overall in 2015 (April 3rd White Sox Game and July 4th Team USA Game).

Knights Knotes — July 29, 2015

KNIGHT LIGHTS: The Charlotte Knights (Triple-A affiliate of the Chicago White Sox) will play game three of their four-game series against the Louisville Bats (Triple-A affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds) from Louisville Slugger Field in Louisville, KY tonight at 7:05 p.m. After going 5-3 on their last homestand, the Knights hit the road on Friday to open a 10-game road trip. Charlotte dropped the first three games of the trip, before a 7-1 win on Monday, which snapped a four-game losing streak. Last night, the Knights dropped game two of the series and are 2.5 games back of the first place Norfolk Tides (Triple-A affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles) in the IL South Division and a half-game out of the IL Wild Card race behind the Indianapolis Indians, who they will open a three-game series against in Indianapolis starting on Friday. knights knotes

LAST KNIGHTS GAME: The Knights fell to the Louisville Bats by a score of 3-1 last night despite another solid outing from RHP Erik Johnson, who allowed just one unearned over six innings of work. Louisville RHP Robert Stephenson, the number one ranked prospect in the Reds organization by Baseball America, allowed just three hits over eight shutout innings. He struck-out 10 batters. Jason Coats had two hits, while Micah Johnson had two stolen bases.

KNIGHTS STARTING PITCHER: RHP Hector Noesi (0-1, 2.08) will make his third start of the season with the Knights and appear in his fourth game with the team tonight. Noesi began the season with the White Sox and posted a 0-4 record with a 6.89 ERA for Chicago in 10 games. He was outrighted off Chicago’s roster on June 26 and assigned to Charlotte on June 28. Just a few days later (July 2), Noesi was placed on Charlotte’s Temporary Inactive List.

Photo credit: Laura Wolff

Photo credit: Laura Wolff

Noesi was activated off the Temporary Inactive List and made his Charlotte debut on July 11 in Norfolk out of the team’s bullpen. He allowed two hits over two shutout innings, while striking out three batters. Since then, Noesi has started two consecutive games and is 0-1 with a 2.45 ERA in those to starts (11.0 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 5 BB, 11 SO). Originally signed by the New York Yankees as a free agent on December 3, 2004, Noesi owns a career major league record of 12-31 with a 5.30 ERA in 107 games (53 starts) over parts of five big league seasons. The White Sox claimed Noesi off waivers from the Texas Rangers on April 25, 2014. He went 8-11 with a 4.39 ERA in 28 games (27 starts) for Chicago last year.

ROSTER MOVE: Infielder/outfielder Leury Garcia was recalled to the Chicago White Sox today to replace infielder Emilio Bonifacio, who was placed on Chicago’s 15-day disabled list today. Today’s promotion to Chicago is the second of the season for Garcia, who was also recalled on July 23 when Bonifacio was placed on the Bereavement List. Garcia went 1-for-1 with the White Sox in his only appearance with the club (Thursday, July 23). Garcia is hitting .296 (10th in the International League) with 15 doubles, one triple, one home run, 24 RBIs, 40 runs scored and 28 stolen bases (tied for second in the IL) over 75 games with the Knights.

ERIK WITH A “K”: RHP Erik Johnson (8-6, 2.43) made his first start since July 20 last night and continued his solid season, however he was the hard-luck losing pitcher last night. Johnson allowed one unearned run over six innings and was saddled with the loss in the 3-1 game. He currently leads the IL in strikeouts (107), is averaging 9.65 strikeouts per nine innings, which is tops in the IL. His 2.43 ERA is second in the IL. Johnson has allowed just one earned run (three runs total) over his last 47.0 IP.

HIT PARADE: 2B Micah Johnson went 1-for-3 last night with a walk and two stolen bases and is batting .330 on the season in 65 games this year (2nd in IL) behind Buffalo’s Matt Hague (.347). His 42 hits, 25 runs, and 11 SBs are the most in the IL in July. Johnson is tied for second in the IL in OBP (.382), second in slugging percentage (.489), and fourth in stolen bases with 26. He is ranked as the number four prospect in the White Sox system according to Baseball America. In 26 games during the month of July, Johnson is hitting .382 (42-for-110) with 25 runs scored, eight doubles, three triples, four home runs, 14 RBIs, and 11 stolen bases.

2015 IL LEADERBOARD: 3B Matt Davidson is tied for third in home runs (16), second in walks (50), fourth in at-bats (380), and tied for first in games played (102)… OF Trayce Thompson. Thompson is tied for second in games played (101), tied for second in extra-base hits (39), tied for fifth in doubles (23), fourth in total bases (165), and fifth in runs scored (52)… OF Jason Coats is third in the IL in RBIs (61)…. The Knights lead the IL in home runs (97), and RBIs (443). The Knights are tied with SWB for first in runs scored (468)… 1B/OF Matt Tuiasosopo has homered once every 19.46 at-bats which is the second best HR/AB ratio in the IL… RHP Kyle Drabek is fifth in the IL in ERA with a 2.59 mark, is second in WHIP (1.11), and opponents are batting just .215 against Drabek this season – tied for the third lowest mark in the IL this season. Drabek has also allowed the fewest baserunners per nine innings this season in the IL (10.26).

KNIGHTS FRANCHISE HISTORY: Infielder Drew Garcia is ninth on the Charlotte Knights all-time games played list with 272 career Knights game – 10 away from moving into a tie for eighth place all-time with Josh Fields (282).

Photo credit: Laura Wolff

Photo credit: Laura Wolff

Garcia is also inching closer to another mark as he now has 947 career Knights at-bats – 51 away from a 10th place tie with Rusty Crockett. 2B Micah Johnson recorded his third triple of the season on Sunday and moved into fifth place on Charlotte’s all-time franchise record for triples with eight. He joined Jason Bourgeois, McKay Christensen, Jerry Holtz, and Carlos Sanchez in a tie for fifth place.

WHO’S HOT: Charlotte 1B/OF Matt Tuiasosopo extended his hit-streak to eight-straight games yesterday and has enjoyed the month of July. He leads all IL batters in the month of July in home runs (9), while he is tied for second in RBIs (21), and is tied for fourth in runs scored (18) behind leader and teammate Micah Johnson (25) over that span. Tuiasosopo is hitting .353 (12-for-34) with four home runs and eight RBIs over his last 10 games… Micah Johnson is hitting .385 (15-for-39) over his last 10 games… OF Jason Coats is hitting .300 (12-for-40) with one home run and seven RBIs over his last 10 games… Infielder/outfielder Leury Garcia has a 10-game home hit-streak.

MR. JONES: Chicago White Sox RHP Nate Jones continued his major league rehab assignment last night and tossed a scoreless seventh inning for the Knights. Jones, who is recovering from Tommy John surgery, has not allowed a run in four appearances with the Knights this season (4.0 IP).

CHARLOTTE’S ‘PEN
: LHP Jarrett Casey (9-2, 4.30) is tied with Durham pitchers Scott Diamond and Dylan Floro, along with Columbus pitcher Toru Murata for the IL lead in wins… Opposing batters are hitting .172 against RHP Maikel Cleto – the second lowest opponents’ batting average in the IL among relievers… LHP Zach Phillips has allowed just three runs over his last 12 games (11.1 IP)… RHP Miguel Chalas has not allowed a run over his last three games (4.1 IP).

D-E-F-E-N-S-E: 3B Matt Davidson leads IL third baseman in fielding percentage with a .968 mark and all IL third baseman in assists (202) and double plays (17) … Catcher Kevan Smith leads all IL catchers in games (70), most total chances (544), and most putouts (499)… OF Trayce Thompson is first in games played (100), first in total chances (242), and first in putouts (236) among IL outfielders. As a team, the Knights have the fourth best fielding percentage in the IL (.982) and are first in the IL in assists (1118) and third in putouts (2785).

Knights Knotes — July 28, 2015

KNIGHT LIGHTS: The Charlotte Knights (Triple-A affiliate of the Chicago White Sox) will play game two of their four-game series against the Louisville Bats (Triple-A affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds) from Louisville Slugger Field in Louisville, KY tonight at 7:05 p.m. After going 5-3 on their last homestand, the Knights hit the road on Friday to open a 10-game road trip. Charlotte dropped the first three games of the trip, before a 7-1 win last night – snapping a four-game losing streak. They enter tonight’s game 2.5 games back of the first place Norfolk Tides (Triple-A affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles) in the IL South Division and a half-game out of the IL Wild Card race behind Columbus/Indianapolis (they also tied for first in the IL West).knights knotes

LAST KNIGHTS GAME: 3B Matt Davidson had two hits including a home run and two RBIs as the Charlotte Knights beat the Louisville Bats by a score of 7-1 last night in the opening game of a four-game series from Louisville Slugger Field. Catcher Kevan Smith chipped in with three hits, while DH Chris Jacobs added two hits.

KNIGHTS STARTING PITCHER: RHP Erik Johnson (8-5, 2.59) will make his 17th start of the 2015 season and appear in his 18th game tonight when he gets the nod against the Louisville Bats — his first start since July 20 at BB&T Ballpark against the Durham Bulls. Johnson has won his last four decisions and currently leads the IL in strikeouts (105), erik johnsonis averaging 10.09 strikeouts per nine innings, which is tops in the IL, and has a 2.59 ERA, which is tied for third in the IL with teammate Kyle Drabek. Johnson has allowed just one earned run (two runs total) over his last six starts (38.0 IP). Overall, he has allowed just one earned run over his last 41.0 IP. He was named as the IL Pitcher of the Week (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). 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. He won his first start of the season (second appearance in 2015) on April 18 in five innings of one-run ball against the Gwinnett Braves. 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

ON THE SPOT WITH SCOTT: RHP Scott Carroll (4-2, 2.45) allowed just one run on six hits over six innings last night for the win, his first with the Knights since June 6 against Norfolk. Carroll re-joined the Knights on July 10th after being optioned from Chicago on July 9. Since his return to Charlotte, Carroll is 1-0 with a 2.57 ERA in four starts (21.0 IP, 19 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 7 BB, 9 SO). Carroll has been promoted to the White Sox twice this season and went 1-1 with a 3.28 ERA in 12 games for Chicago.

MIC’S ON: 2B Micah Johnson walked twice last night and drove in two runs. Johnson is now batting .330 on the season in 64 games this year, which currently ranks second in the IL behind Buffalo’s Matt Hague (.349). Johnson is also tied for second in the IL in OBP (.381), and second in slugging percentage (.490). He is ranked as the number four prospect in the White Sox system according to Baseball America. Johnson earned IL Batter of the Week honors last week becoming the fourth Knights player this season with the weekly honor (Carlos Sanchez, Erik Johnson, and Kyle Drabek are the others).

2015 IL LEADERBOARD: 3B Matt Davidson is tied for third in home runs (16), second in walks (50), fifth in at-bats (376), and tied for first in games played (101) with teammate OF Trayce Thompson. Thompson is also tied for fourth in at-bats (378), second in extra-base hits (39), tied for fourth in doubles (23), fourth in total bases (165), and tied for fourth in runs scored (52)… OF Jason Coats is third in the IL in RBIs (61)…. The Knights lead the IL in home runs (97), runs (467), and RBIs (443)… .): Infielder Leury Garcia is currently tied for third in the IL in steals (27) and is 10th in the IL in batting average with a .296 mark…1B/OF Matt Tuiasosopo has homered once every 19.15 at-bats which is the second best HR/AB ratio in the IL… RHP Erik Johnson and RHP Kyle Drabek are tied for third in the IL in ERA (2.59). Johnson leads the IL in strikeouts with 105 and has the highest K/9 IP ratio in the IL with a 10.09 mark. Drabek is second in WHIP (1.11) and opponents are batting just .215 against Drabek this season – tied for the second lowest mark in the IL this season. Drabek has also allowed the fewest baserunners per nine innings this season in the IL (10.26).

KNIGHTS FRANCHISE HISTORY: Infielder Drew Garcia moved into sole possession of ninth place on the Charlotte Knights all-time games played list last night when he played in his 271st career Knights game. Garcia is also inching closer to another mark as he now has 944 career Knights at-bats – 54 away from a 10th place tie with Rusty Crockett. 2B Micah Johnson recorded his third triple of the season on Sunday and moved into fifth place on Charlotte’s all-time franchise record for triples with eight. He joined Jason Bourgeois, McKay Christensen, Jerry Holtz, and Carlos Sanchez in a tie for fifth place.

WHO’S HOT: Charlotte 1B/OF Matt Tuiasosopo extended his hit-streak to seven-straight games yesterday and has enjoyed the month of July. He leads all IL batters in the month of July in home runs (9), while he is second in RBIs (21), and is third in runs scored (18) behind teammate Micah Johnson (25) over that span. Tuiasosopo is hitting .353 (12-for-34) with five home runs and nine RBIs over his last 10 games… Infielder/outfielder Leury Garcia has a 10-game home hit-streak.

CHARLOTTE’S ‘PEN: LHP Jarrett Casey (9-2, 4.30) is tied with Durham pitchers Scott Diamond and Dylan Floro, along with Columbus pitcher Toru Murata for the IL lead in wins… Opposing batters are hitting .172 against RHP Maikel Cleto – the second lowest opponents’ batting average in the IL among relievers… LHP Zach Phillips has allowed just three runs over his last 12 games (11.1 IP)… RHP Blake Smith has not allowed a run over his last four appearances (5.0 IP, 7 SO)… RHP Miguel Chalas has not allowed a run over his last three games (4.1 IP).

D-E-F-E-N-S-E: 3B Matt Davidson leads IL third baseman in fielding percentage with a .968 mark and all IL third baseman in assists (199) and double plays (17) … Catcher Kevan Smith leads all IL catchers in games (69), most total chances (542), and most putouts (497)… OF Trayce Thompson is first in games played (101), first in total chances (242), and first in putouts (236) among IL outfielders. As a team, the Knights have the fourth best fielding percentage in the IL (.982) and are first in the IL in assists (1109) and third in putouts (2761).

Knights Knotes — July 18, 2015

KNIGHT LIGHTS: The Charlotte Knights (Triple-A affiliate of the Chicago White Sox) will continue their four-game series tonight — and eight-game homestand — as they host the Norfolk Tides (Triple-A affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles) in game three of the four-game set from BB&T Ballpark in Uptown Charlotte at 7:05 p.m. The Knights entered the second half of the season on Thursday on a three-game win-streak and in first place in the IL South Division – however a loss to the Tides ended in each team switching places in the division. Last night, the Knights regained the top spot in the IL with an exciting 5-4 walk-off win over the Tides. The Knights are now a half-game ahead of the Tides and are 10-8 this season against Norfolk with four games left to play against each other.  knights knotes

LAST KNIGHTS GAME: Infielder Leury Garcia ripped a single up the middle in the bottom of the ninth inning and catcher Kevan Smith scored the game-winning run as the Knights walked-off with a thrilling 5-4 win over the Tides on Friday from BB&T Ballpark in front of 10,295 fans. Charlotte RHP Scott Carroll allowed one run over five innings in a no-decision.

KNIGHTS STARTING PITCHER: RHP Hector Noesi (0-0, 0.00) will make his first start of the season with the Knights and appear in his second game with the team tonight. Noesi began the season with the White Sox and posted a 0-4 record with a 6.89 ERA for Chicago in 10 games. He was outrighted off Chicago’s roster on June 26 and assigned to Charlotte on June 28. Just a few days later (July 2), Noesi was placed on Charlotte’s Temporary Inactive List. He made his Charlotte debut on July 11 in Norfolk out of Charlotte’s bullpen. He allowed two hits over two shutout innings, while striking out three batters. Originally signed by the New York Yankees as a free agent on December 3, 2004, Noesi owns a career major league record of 12-31 with a 5.30 ERA in 107 games (53 starts) over parts of five big league seasons. The White Sox claimed Noesi off waivers from the Texas Rangers on April 25, 2014. He went 8-11 with a 4.39 ERA in 28 games (27 starts) for Chicago last year.

ROSTER MOVES: RHP Kyle Drabek (5-5, 2.56), who is the reigning IL Pitcher of the Week, has been placed on the DL (retroactive to 7/15). Taking his roster spot will be RHP Shawn Haviland (4-5, 4.09), who was activated off the DL today. Drabek went 2-0 with a 0.75 ERA in two starts last week (12.0 IP, 8 H, 3 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 9 SO). Drabek has the third lowest ERA in the IL this season and 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. Haviland has won three of his last six starts and is 1-1 with a 1.50 ERA in July (two starts).

THIS MAGIC MOMENT: Leury Garcia played the hero last night with his walk-off single in the ninth. Garcia had three hits in the game and is now batting .350 this month (14-for-40) in 10 games. Overall, he is now hitting .296 (77-for-260) in 2015.

BF2_0128

Photo credit: Buren Foster

100 HOME RUN CLUB: 1B/OF Matt Tuiasospo launched a solo home run in the second inning last night — the 100th of his minor league career, which has spanned 12 years. Tuiasosopo’s eight home run of the year gave the Knights an early 1-0 lead. The home run was his fourth in the month of July (15 games). Outfielder Trayce Thompson, who was also on number 99 for his home run career, followed Tuiasosopo’s homer with a long drive to center field, which ended up as a double – just missing his 100th homer in back-t0-back fashion.

MIC’S ON: Last night, 2B Micah Johnson recorded two more hits last night and is now hitting .320 in 54 games this year. His .320 mark would be third in the IL if he had enough at-bats to qualify. Since July 2 (14 games), Johnson has the fifth highest batting average in the IL with a .410 mark. He currently has seven hits over his last three games.

JULY GUY: Outfielder Jason Coats launched a solo home run in the fourth inning of last night’s game – his 10th of the season. The former TCU standout is tied for fourth in the IL in RBIs with 53. For the month of July, Coats is hitting .347 (17-for-49) with three home runs and 10 RBIs (13 games).

DSC_0087

Photo credit: Buren Foster

ON THE BASE PATHS: The Knights added another stolen base to their season total last night when infielder Leury Garcia stole third – his team-high 27th of the season. Garcia is second in the IL in steals, one behind leaders Quintin Berry and Eury Perez (28). The Knights as a team are tied for second in the IL with 103. Charlotte has three players with 20 or more stolen bases, including Micah Johnson (22), Tyler Saladino (25), and Leury Garcia (27).

SELL-OUT CROWDS: BB&T Ballpark, which was named the Best Ballpark in Minor League Baseball by Baseball America, welcomed its 23rd sell-out crowd of the regular season last night and 25th overall in 2015 (the White Sox Exhibition Game on April 3rd and the Team USA Game on July 4th were also sell outs). Overall during the 2015 regular season, BB&T Ballpark has welcomed 437,648 fans – second in all of Minor League Baseball behind the PCL’s Sacramento River Cats (447,974). The River Cats have accumulated that mark in 48 openings, while Charlotte has done so in 46. The Knights lead all of Minor League Baseball in per game average with a 9,514 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).

2015 IL LEADERBOARD: 3B Matt Davidson is tied for third in home runs (14), tied for second in games played (91), and is third in walks (47). Defensively, Davidson leads IL third baseman in fielding percentage with a .973 mark … OF Trayce Thompson is first in games played (94), second in runs scored (51), second in at-bats (351), and third in extra-base hits (37)… Infielder Leury Garcia is currently second in the IL in steals (27). LHP Jarrett Casey (8-1, 4.78) is tied for second in the IL this season in wins (8)… Opposing batters are hitting .172 against RHP Maikel Cleto – the second lowest batting average in the IL among relievers.

ALIVE AT FIVE: Three Knights players are hitting over .400 over their last five games. 2B Micah Johnson is hitting .435 (10-for-23), infielder Leury Garcia is hitting .409 (9-for-22), and outfielder Jason Coats is hitting .412 (7-for-17). Another is close, as outfielder Trayce Thompson is hitting .389 (7-for-18) over his last five games.

ACE IN THE HOLE: RHP Erik Johnson (7-5, 2.73) has allowed just one earned run over his last 36.0 IP. On Wednesday, July 15, Johnson started the 2015 Triple-A All-Star Game and tossed two shutout innings – fanning two batters. He leads the IL this season in strikeouts (99), strikeouts per nine innings (10.05), while his 2.73 ERA is sixth lowest, and his 1.12 ERA is fourth lowest in the IL this year. Since June 1, Johnson is 3-1 with a 0.92 ERA in six games started – the lowest ERA in the IL over that span.

NEARING MiLB MILESTONES: OF Trayce Thompson is one home run away from 100 for his career (seven minor league seasons)… 2B Micah Johnson is three stolen bases away from 150 in his career (four minor league seasons)… OF Chris Marrero is one double away from 200 (10 minor league seasons)… Catcher George Kottaras is four hits away for 600 for his career (10 minor league seasons).

KNIGHTS ALL-TIME LIST: Infielder Drew Garcia has played in 262 games in his Knights career, two away from moving into a tie for 10th place on the franchise list (tying Casey Rogowski). He is in a tie with Carlos Sanchez for 11th all-time. He is three hits away from 200 for his Knights career… 2B Micah Johnson is tied for eighth all-time in triples with seven.

2015 Triple-A All-Star Game – IL 4, PCL 3

The International League All-Stars beat the Pacific Coast League All-Stars by a score of 4-3 on Wednesday from Omaha, PrintNebraska. Rockingham, NC native Kyle Roller of Scranton/Wilkes-Barre hit a two-run single in the top of the ninth inning to tie the game at 3-3, and Lehigh Valley’s Tyler Henson broke the 3-3 tie with an RBI single to give the IL squad the win. With the win, the IL will have homefield advantage at this year’s Triple-A National Championship Game in El Paso, TX.

A.J. Achter earned the win, while Blake Wood notched the save for the IL team. Roller was the IL Top Star of the Game, while Peter O’Brien was the PCL Top Star.

The Charlotte Knights were well-represented at Wednesday’s Triple-A All-Star Game. Four Knights — Erik Johnson, Zach Phillips, Trayce Thompson, and Matt Davidson — all took part in the mid-summer classic. Let’s take a look at how they fared:

RHP Erik Johnson (7-5, 2.73 ERA) went to the all-star break as the International League leader in strikeouts with 99 johnson_erik_full1and earned the start on Wednesday. When he tossed that first pitch on Wednesday, Johnson became just the fourth Knights hurler in franchise history to start for the International League (Julian Tavarez, Charlie Haeger, and Carlos Torres were the others).

FINAL LINE for Johnson:
2.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 2 SO (33 pitches, 19 for strikes)

Outfielder Trayce Thompson started the game for the IL squad and played CF and batted seventh. Thompson had two at-bats in the game and went 0-for-2 on the evening.

Third baseman Matt Davidson started for the IL squad as the team’s DH and batted sixth. Davidson played the entire game at DH and went 0-for-4. He was hit-by-a-pitch in the eighth inning.

LHP Zach Phillips (0-1, 27.00) came on to start the eighth inning with the game tied at 1-1. Phillips allowed a leadoff single to Jason Pridie. Two batters later, Phillips allowed the go-ahead, two-run home run to Peter O’Brien, which ultimately gave the PCL All-Stars a 3-1 lead at that point. Phillips was off-the-hook however in the top of the ninth when the IL All-Stars scored three runs to take a 4-3 lead.

Three former Knights also appeared in Wednesday’s game — New Orleans RHP Andre Rienzo, Buffalo RHP Gregory Infante, and RHP Jhan Carlos Marinez.

Here is how they fared:
Andre Rienzo (1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 1 SO)
Gregory Infante (0.2 IP, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 SO)
Jhan Carlos Marinez (1.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 2 SO)

2015 Triple-A All-Star Game – Trayce Thompson

The 2015 Triple-A All-Star Game from Omaha, Nebraska is here! 3328

The Charlotte Knights have four representatives, including outfielder Trayce Thompson, who will start the game in center field and bat seventh — one slot after his teammate Matt Davidson, who is the DH and is batting sixth. RHP Erik Johnson gets the start on the mound for the IL Team, and LHP Zach Phillips will be out of the club’s bullpen.

Thompson enters the All-Star break with a .268 batting average with 11 home runs and 36 RBIs. He is among the IL leaders in a number of categories. He is first in games played (92), second in runs scored (50), second in at-bats (343), third in extra-base hits (35), and fourth in total bases (153).

The 2015 campaign is Thompson’s first full season at the Triple-A level and he has succeeded. Drafted by the Chicago White Sox in the second round of the 2009 draft, Thompson has hit 99 home runs over seven minor league seasons and is playing well with the Knights, who concluded the first half of the season in first place in the IL South Division.

I took a little time after BP to talk to Trayce before tonight’s All-Star Game. Check it out!

Matt Davidson – 2015 All-Star Game Media Day

Davidson_Matt All-Star 2On Tuesday, the Triple-A All-Stars met the media for the annual “Triple-A All-Star Game Media Day”. Along with the media day, there was also an autograph session for fans. Players worked out, took their team photo, and of course, took batting practice.

After batting practice, I sat down with Knights third baseman Matt Davidson to talk to him about his performance in the Home Run Derby, being an All-Star, and thoughts on the 2015 season.

The Knights ended the first half of the season in first place in the IL South on Sunday and will resume the season on Thursday with a four-game showdown at BB&T Ballpark against second place Norfolk.

Three Former Knights are 2015 Triple-A All-Stars – Andre Rienzo

The Charlotte Knights brought four players to the 2015 Triple-A All-Star Game in Omaha, Nebraska — third baseman Matt Davidson, outfielder Trayce Thompson, and pitchers Zach Phillips and Erik Johnson. Davidson made noise in last night’s Home Run Derby, finishing in fifth place with nine long balls. Johnson is scheduled to start the game for the IL squad on Wednesday.

While the Knights are well-represented at this year’s mid-summer classic, three former Knights are also on-hand as 2015 all-stars. Let’s take a look at those three former Knights, who are having all-star years for their new teams. First up, Andre Rienzo.rienzo_full 7-7

Rienzo is the only former Knights player on the PCL side. Rienzo, a native of Brazil — who became the first-ever Brazilian-born pitcher in the Majors in 2013 — is currently in the Miami Marlins organization. He was traded by the Chicago White Sox to the Marlins in exchange for LHP Dan Jennings, on December 11, 2014.

Rienzo has appeared in three games for the Marlins this season (0-0, 2.57 ERA), but has played the majority of the year with the club’s Triple-A affiliate — the New Orleans Zephyrs. In 13 games with Zephyrs, Rienzo has compiled a 2-5 record with a 2.88 ERA (72.0 IP, 62 H, 28 R, 23 ER, 25 BB, 54 SO). His 2.88 ERA is the sixth lowest in the PCL.

The 27-year-old righty will forever be known for his “Christmas in July” performance on July 25, 2013 at Knights Stadium in Fort Mill. On that day, the Knights hurler tossed a seven-inning no-hitter against the Indianapolis Indians. He struck-out 11 batters that day in game one of a doubleheader.

Overall on that epic evening in Fort Mill, Rienzo allowed just five baserunners on the evening en route to Charlotte’s second-straight win over first-place Indianapolis. He walked four batters and had one batter reach on an error. In all, Rienzo threw 112 pitches – 69 for strikes.

Charlotte’s only run of the game came on an Andy Wilkins RBI single in the bottom of the second inning off Indians starter Stolmy Pimentel (2-3, 2.60).

Rienzo was promoted to the White Sox on July 30 — just five days after his no-hitter. At the time of his promotion, the Brazilian native was leading the International League in strikeouts (113), and also ranked tied for the league lead in complete games (three), and second in shutouts (1). He made his Major League debut later that night and became the first Brazilian-born pitcher in Major League Baseball history — second Brazilian-born player to Cleveland’s Yan Gomes (who he faced in the game).

For the Knights, it was the third no-hitter in franchise history and first since Carlos Torres threw a five-inning perfect game on June 18, 2009 in Pawtucket. Before that, the last Knights no-hitter was thrown by Tetsu Yofu on August 1, 2004 at Knights Stadium.

Next up… Jhan Carlos Marinez.

2015 Triple-A All-Star Game Home Run Derby

The 2015 Triple-A Baseball All-Star Game Home Run Derby took place on Monday, July 13 from Omaha, Nebraska and Charlotte’s Matt Davidson competed against five other Triple-A players and two high school players. Davidson was the first Knights player since 2012 to participate in the Triple-A All-Star Game Home Run Derby. Slugger Dan Johnson competed in the 2012 edition in Buffalo, NY. Other Knights to take part in the Triple-A All-Star Game Home Run Derby over the years were: Jim Thome (1993), Russ Morman (1997), Joe Crede (2002), and Dayan Viciedo (2011).

Davidson won the 2013 edition as a member of the Reno Aces, and was competing for the chance to become the first Knights player to ever win the derby. davidson_full_LHV

Although no Knights have ever won the derby, players who have played for the Knights have won it over the course of its 28-year history. Let’s take a look:

In 2000, former Knights slugger Luis Raven won the contest as a member of Calgary in Rochester, NY. It was just a year earlier that Raven donned the Charlotte jersey — and had tons of success. Raven, a native of Venezuela, was a big part of Charlotte’s Governors’ Cup Championship in 1999 –the club’s first year with the Chicago White Sox. That season, he hit .282 with 33 home runs and 125 RBIs — the most in a season by a Knights player.

In 2010, two years before he donned the Knights jersey, slugger Dan Johnson won the Triple-A All-Star Game Home Run Derby at Coca-Cola Park in Allentown, PA. Johnson, who was a member of the Durham Bulls in 2010, hit .267 with 28 home runs and 85 RBIs for the Knights in 2012. Johnson competed in the 2012 derby in Buffalo, NY as a member of the Knights, but did not beat hometown favorite Valentino Pascucci.

In 2011, Stefan Gartrell, who previously spent time with the Knights — including 2009, 2010, and part of 2011, competed and won the 2011 Home Run Derby in Salt Lake City as a member of the Gwinnett Braves. Gartrell had a big 2010 campaign with the Knights as he clubbed 27 home runs and drove home 80 runs.

Two years before he would compete as a member of the Knights, Matt Davidson won the 2013 edition in front of his hometown fans. Davidson, a member of the Reno Aces, who hosted the game, had a busy 24 hours that year. The California native was named Futures Game MVP the night before the 2013 derby (Sunday). A day later (Monday) he won the contest. 7110

Davidson put on a solid performance this year. The 24-year-old entered the competition tied for third in the IL in home runs with 14. In round one, he slugged four, which put him fourth among the eight participants. One round later, Davidson began to heat up. He ripped five home runs and finished his performance with nine — which was good for second at that point.

Davidson remained second until Norfolk’s Dariel Alvarez slugged eight home runs in round two, which was good for 13.

Round 1 HR Derby results:
O’Brien (13), Alvarez (7), Aguilar (6), Davidson (4), Bohm (3), Romak (3) Kalina (2), Decker (0).

Scores combined from Round 1 & Round 2:
Alvarez (15), O’Brien (15), Romak (13), Aguilar (9), Davidson (9), Bohm (9), Decker (6), Kalina (3)

Norfolk’s Dariel Alvarez & Reno’s Peter O’Brien advanced to the finals.

And the winner is: Dariel Alvarez, who hit six in the final round. Peter O’Brien finished with five.

2015 Triple-A All-Star Game – Day 1

Greetings from Omaha, Nebraska! Print

The 2015 Triple-A All-Star Game is taking place at Werner Park in Omaha, Nebraska this week and I made the trip, along with a handful of Charlotte Knights front office members — four on Sunday and four more on Monday! Also, our friends from Ovations are here as well. That might be more than a handful. Maybe it’s a contingent?

I’m really looking forward to taking in the week’s events from Omaha. This is going to be a great learning experience for me and the staff, as we will host the game next season from BB&T Ballpark in Uptown Charlotte! Plus, this is my first time to Nebraska. Yes, I know, that’s a shock to everyone…

After a busy Saturday night of finishing game notes for Sunday’s Knights first-half finale, I got some rest and woke up Sunday morning ready to embark on All-Star week. First, I had to pack — and finish some more Knights Knotes — but I was ready. Matt Millward, the Knights Director of Tickets, picked me up from my house and we were on our way to the airport. We had an 11:20 AM flight out of Charlotte and we were both eager to board the plane, land, and make our way around Omaha.

After meeting up with Lindsey Roycraft, the Knights Community Relations Director, and Kathryn Bobel, the Knights Group Sales Rep, at the airport, we were ready to board our flight and head to the land of… corn?tornado

Once we landed (it was only around 12:45 PM — thanks to Nebraska being in the central time zone), we made our way through the airport. Once at the airport,  I noticed an interesting sign — one that I have never seen before. Remember, I’m a native New Yorker, who also grew up in Pennsylvania, and has lived in the South for the past four years. I’m certainly not in any of those places now!

We were greeted by members of the Omaha StormChasers, the hosts of this year’s All-Star Game, and they had a car waiting for us. Great service! That was a nice touch!

Next up was our trip to the hotel. Once there, we dropped our stuff off and made our way around. After grabbing a bite to eat and hanging out in the hotel for an hour or so, I ran into one of my all-time favorite players, Darryl Strawberry. strawman

Growing up in Brooklyn, NY — and a Mets fan — Strawberry was one player who I always looked up to and admired. Of course, living in NY and being raised in the 80’s, Strawberry was an icon to me. He was in Omaha for the Celebrity Fan Fest softball game later that night. It was nice to see the “Strawman” for a few minutes.

Later in the day, the four of us made our way over to Werner Park to check things out. We caught the tail-end of the Fan Fest, but enjoyed what we saw.

Opened in 2011, Werner Park has a capacity of 9,023, with 6,434 seats, 15 suites, and grass berm seating. It looks like a really nice ballpark and while I didn’t get a chance to move around it too much on Sunday, I plan to do more of that on Monday during the Home Run Derby festivities.

One other thing to note — the weather is hot here! I am certainly used to working in heat, but it seems even hotter here than in Charlotte. I wonder how that will bode for the Home Run Derby? Will the ball fly out of Werner Park? I hope so — and I am sure the fans do as well. IMG_20150712_224704

With the first day in the books, and day two now underway, I’m ready to see some baseball. With four Knights named All-Stars, there will be plenty to report about.

Stay tuned for updates from Monday’s Home Run Derby as Matt Davidson will represent the Charlotte Knights — and defend his 2013 crown.

I’ll have live reports from the Werner Park press box all week on Twitter @Tommy_the_V, so make sure to follow along!

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