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Hurricane Matthew Relief Drive A Success!

On Thursday, October 20th, the Charlotte Knights, along with News Talk 1110 WBT and 107.9 The Link, partnered together on a Hurricane Matthew Flood Relief Donation Drive from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. at BB&T Ballpark. The 12-hour day brought together the Uptown Charlotte community as hundreds of people stopped by the ballpark to donate.

governorPersonalities from both News Talk 1110 WBT and 107.9 The Link were on hand and on the air to help get the message out. Many fans and sponsors showed up to donate. Members of CMPD stopped by to donate. The Governor of North Carolina, Pat McCrory, also stopped by. You can watch his interview with Mike Pacheco here: Knights TV with Governor McCrory.

Members of the Charlotte Knights front office staff spent the entire day outside of the ballpark talking to people and collecting the donated items. It was a great day in the community. Homer the Dragon was also on hand to help out. homer-donation

People from all around Charlotte, Mecklenburg County, and surrounding counties, stopped by to the donate. It was amazing seeing so many great people and their generosity to help those in Eastern North Carolina affected by Hurricane Matthew.

In all, nearly 125,000 “critically-needed” items were collected. Items such as bottled water, individually-wrapped snacks, diapers, wipes, shovels, and more were donated.

It truly was a great day to be out there helping. In my 10 years working in baseball, it’s definitely one day I will never forget. Thanks to everyone for the hard work and support!

Fans can still make monetary donations through Charlotte Knights Charities here: DONATE.

Here are a few more photos from Thursday’s relief drive:

Hayes Continues Hot Hitting in AFL…

1B Danny Hayes is one of seven Chicago White Sox prospects playing for the Glendale Desert Dogs in the Arizona Fall League this year. Hayes, who made his Triple-A debut in 2016 with the Charlotte Knights, launched a solo home run on October 12 for the ‘Dogs.hayes_danny-laura-wolff

Hayes, who led the Southern League in walks (98) and was named by Baseball America as the Southern League’s Best Defensive First Baseman in 2015 with Double-A Birmingham was Charlotte’s 2016 Opening Day first baseman. Over the course of the 2016 season, Hayes appeared in 55 games with the Knights and hit .250 with 10 home runs and 42 RBIs.

The California native started the 2016 campaign by going 0-for-24 at the plate, before he recorded his first hit of the season in his eighth game of the year. Through eight games, Hayes was batting .040. Still, Hayes never gave up. In fact, he got better. Much better.

His resurgence came full circle one April night in Uptown Charlotte.

Hayes played the hero for the Knights on April 22nd at BB&T Ballpark as he launched a game-winning grand slam in the bottom of the 10th inning. Hayes did not start the game, but appeared in the top of the 10th inning to replace Leury Garcia, who came on in the ninth inning as a pinch runner for 1B Travis Ishikawa. The grand slam was the first by a Charlotte Knights player at BB&T Ballpark since Matt Tuiasosopo’s grand slam on July 21, 2015 against the Durham Bulls. 4-22_walkoff-67

Hayes finished out the month of April as one of the hottest hitters in the International League. A month later, he was the hottest hitter in the International League.

Here’s an excerpt from my Knights Knotes on May 11th:

After hitting just .040 at the plate over his first eight games of the season, 1B/DH Danny Hayes has raised his batting average considerably during a Ruthian-type stretch. Over his last 15 games, Hayes has compiled a .468 (22-for-47) batting average with five home runs and 19 RBIs to bump up his season average to .319 in 72 at-bats this season (not enough to qualify among the league leaders in that category). The California native is hitting .533 (16-for-30) during the month of May (nine games).

Overall in 24 games during the month of May, Hayes hit .313 (26-for-83) with six home runs and 19 RBIs.

He continued his hot-hitting into the month of June and strung together a seven-game hit-streak from June 6 through June 12. Hayes was on-fire!

On June 20, however, the red-hot Hayes was placed on the team’s disabled list. At the time, he was the team leader in home runs and RBIs and was third in the International League in RBIs and fifth in slugging (.489). He was also third in the IL in HR/AB Ratio (1/18.40). Unfortunately, Hayes missed the remainder of the season after being placed on the DL.

Now, the talented slugger is back on the baseball diamond and is currently playing in the Arizona Fall League. Through his first four games played, he has reached base safely in all four games. After a walk in his first game on October 11, Hayes has hit safely in each of his next three games. Stay tuned as Hayes looks to continue his hot-hitting with the Knights in the AFL.

Rowand Managing Desert Dogs in AFL…

It’s the second week of October, which means the Major League Baseball playoffs are in full swing. As eight teams are whittled down to four — and eventually two — all eyes are now on the race to the 2016 World Series. With teams such as the Chicago Cubs and Cleveland Indians still in the race, this October is sure to be historic and memorable in so many ways. AFL 25 Years Logo_FNL

While baseball fans are all in with the MLB playoffs, others are keeping their eyes on an exciting Arizona Fall League season, which kicked-off on October 11th.

Over the years, players such as Mike Piazza, Albert Pujols, Derek Jeter, and Roy Halladay have all honed their skills in the AFL.

This season , there are a number of notable items to keep in mind — including former NFL quarterback Tim Tebow — a member of the New York Mets organization — who is playing for the Scottsdale Scorpions.

As for the Chicago White Sox organization, there are seven players in the system that are on the Glendale Desert Dogs roster. Two of those seven played for the Knights in 2016 — Danny Hayes and Brian Clark. The other five players in the system on the Desert Dogs roster are: Courtney Hawkins, Trey Michalczewski, Zack Collins, Louie Lechich, and Nolan Sanburn.

Aaron Rowand, the Chicago White Sox  minor league outfield and baserunning instructor, is the manager of the Desert Dogs — a team compiled of White Sox, Houston Astros, Los Angeles Dodgers, Philadelphia Phillies, and Pittsburgh Pirates prospects.

Rowand hit .295 with 16 home runs and 48 RBIs in 82 games with the Knights in 2001. He also appeared in 32 games with the Knights in 2003.Aaron Rowand

Originally drafted by the Chicago White Sox in the 1998 draft out of Cal-State Fullerton (sandwich pick between the 1st & 2nd round), Rowand played 11 seasons in the bigs, including five with the White Sox. He also spent time with the San Francisco Giants and Phillies.

In 1,358 career major league games, Rowand compiled a career batting average of .273 with 1,193 hits, 136 home runs, and 536 RBIs. He was a National League All-Star in 2007 while playing for the Phillies.

A native of Portland, OR, Rowand was a solid defensive outfielder and earned a Rawlings Gold Glove Award for his efforts in 2007. He led the National League in assists and fielding percentage that season while roaming the outfield in the City of Brotherly Love.

Rowand made his way through BB&T Ballpark in 2016 as he worked with some Knights players as part of his job in the organization. Now, as he gets his first chance at managing, it will be interesting to see what the next step is for Rowand. Stay tuned…

Former Knights RHP Grilli in Playoffs with Jays…

On Tuesday, October 4th, the Toronto Blue Jays played host to the9462508-jason-grilli-mlb-houston-astros-toronto-blue-jays-850x560 Baltimore Orioles in the 2016 American Wild Card game from the Rogers Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Both American League East teams battled 19 times over the course of the 2016 season, with Toronto winning 10 of the 19 contests.

On Tuesday — in a game that went into extra innings — the Blue Jays were victorious when Edwin Encarnacion launched a game-winning, walk-off, three-run home run off Ubaldo Jimenez (0-1) in the bottom of the 11th inning. The 5-2 victory propelled the Jays into the ALDS. They will now play the American League West Division winning Texas Rangers beginning on Thursday, October 6.

One player on Toronto’s roster who has ties to the Charlotte Knights is RHP Jason Grilli. The 39-year-old hurler, who started 25 games for the Knights in 2004, tossed a scoreless eighth inning on Tuesday for the Jays en route to their three-run win.

Grilli, who turns 40 next month, was originally drafted by the New York Yankees in the 24th round of the 1994 draft out of high school. Three years later, after attending Seton Hall University, Grilli was drafted again. This time, the Michigan native, was a first-round selection (fourth overall) by the San Francisco Giants.

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Photo credit: Mike Greenlar/The Post-Standard

Later in his career, on December 15, 2003, Grilli was selected by the Chicago White Sox from the Florida Marlins in the Rule 5 Draft.

That upcoming season (2004), he spent the majority of the year in Fort Mill, SC with the Knights and went 9-9 with a 4.83 ERA in 25 starts (152.2 IP). Grilli tossed two complete games and a shutout that season. He led the team in innings pitched and fanned 101 batters — finishing second on the team in that category.

A 14-year major league veteran, Jason Grilli is the son of Steve Grilli, a former major league pitcher who spent parts of three seasons with the Detroit Tigers (1975-77) and later appeared in one game with the Blue Jays (1979).

For his career, Jason Grilli has appeared in 549 major league games and owns a 32-42 record with 78 saves and a 4.09 ERA (644.2 IP). He saved a career-high 33 games for the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2013.

Team Israel Moves on to WBC…

On Sunday, September 25th at MCU Park in Brooklyn, NY, Team Israel beat Great Britain by a score of 9-1 to qualify for the 2017 World Baseball Classic. With the win, Team Israel moved on from the field of four teams in the WBC Qualifier series. They will now compete in Pool B of the WBC in Seoul, Korea, beginning on March 7th. mzl-cgtehvjs

RHP Brad Goldberg, a 2016 International League All-Star and key contributor out of Charlotte’s bullpen, saved two of Team Israel’s three wins in the competition. The Ohio native allowed just one hit over two shutout innings, while fanning three batters in his two appearances.

Team Israel beat Great Britain on Thursday by a score of 5-2, then went on to beat Team Brazil on Friday by a score of 1-0, to qualify for the final game on Sunday. Goldberg saved each of their first two games.

Goldberg had a tremendous 2016 campaign with the Charlotte Knights, posting a 3-5 record with 10 saves and a 2.84 ERA in 43 appearances. His 10 saves led the Knights in 2016.

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Brad Goldberg posted a 2.84 ERA for the Knights in 43 games in 2016. Photo credit: Laura Wolff.

You can read more about Goldberg’s solid season in one of my previous Knight Fever blogs here: Goldberg to Pitch for Team Israel.

Team Israel featured a number of current and former major leaguers, including Jason Marquis, Josh Zeid, Ike Davis, Josh Satin, and others. For the full Team Israel roster, click here: Team Israel.

For more details on Team Israel, you can also follow them on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/ILBaseball.

As for Goldberg, it’s sure to be a busy offseason. The 26-year-old right-hander is on the roster for the Glendale Desert Dogs of the Arizona Fall League. The team will be led by manager Aaron Rowand.

I’ll have more details on the AFL season, which kicks off on Tuesday, October 11, in another Knight Fever blog post soon. Stay tuned!

Goldberg to Pitch for Team Israel…

RHP Brad Goldberg, who shined for the Knights in 43 games out of the team’s bullpen during the 2016 season, was recently named to the Team Israel roster for the 2016 World Baseball Classic Qualifier series. Goldberg and Team Israel will face Great Britain on Thursday, September 22 at 7:00 p.m. at MCU Park in Brooklyn, NY.

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Brad Goldberg warming up at the 2016 Sonic Automotive Triple-A Baseball All-Star Game. Laura Wolff/Charlotte Knights

Goldberg, 26, represented the Charlotte Knights in Uptown Charlotte at the 2016 Sonic Automotive Triple-A Baseball All-Star Game as the team’s lone International League All-Star. (Note: Matt Davidson was named, but was promoted to Chicago, while Leury Garcia was named, but was unable to participate due to injury).

Goldberg certainly put together an All-Star campaign in the Queen City with the Knights. The Columbus, OH native strung together an impressive month of June on his way to the mid-summer classic. In eight June outings (9.2 IP), he went 1-1 with a 0.93 ERA.

Overall in 2016, he posted a 3-5 record with a team-high 10 saves and a 2.84 ERA (50.2 IP). The 6’4″ right-handed pitcher was solid for the Knights all season — especially down the stretch as the team made a late-season playoff push.

In the final full month of the season (August), Goldberg compiled a 2-1 record with three saves and a 2.19 ERA (10 games). In fact, he did not allow a run over his final eight appearances of the season (10.0 IP).

Goldberg was originally drafted by the Chicago White Sox in the 10th round of the 2013 draft out of Ohio State University. He spent the entire 2015 campaign with the Winston-Salem Dash and posted a 1-4 record with a 2.97 ERA and 11 saves in 39 appearances (57.2 IP). He began the 2016 season with Double-A Birmingham and compiled a 1.50 ERA in four games before an April promotion to the Knights.

BROOKLYN QUALIFIER:
As for this week’s Brooklyn Qualifier, Team Israel will be one of four teams vying for one spot in the World Baseball Classic, which kicks-off in March. The four teams battling it out in Brooklyn beginning on September 22, are Israel, Brazil, Great Britain and Pakistan. The winner of Sunday’s championship game at 6 p.m. ET will travel to Seoul, South Korea, next March and compete against host Korea, The Netherlands and Chinese Taipei in Pool B of the tournament.

Final Knights Knotes: Blake Smith

With the 2016 season in the books, check back weekly for a final look back at a Charlotte Knights player who stood out for the team during their third season at BB&T Ballpark in Uptown Charlotte.

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Photo credit: Buren Foster


BLAKE SMITH – 2016 Knights
3-1, 3.53 ERA, 1 save
(75 SO in 71.1 IP)

Blake Smith had a season to remember for the Charlotte Knights. The Modesto, CA native appeared in 39 games for the club out of their bullpen in 2016 and posted a 3-1 record with one save and a 3.53 ERA over 71.1 innings pitched.

Smith, 28, started 2016 as a member of the San Diego Padres after he was selected by the club from the Chicago White Sox in the Rule 5 Draft. Smith didn’t stick with the Padres organization and was returned to Chicago on March 27, 2016 after he did not make the Padres 25-man roster out of camp. That was good news for the White Sox.

Smith was assigned to the Charlotte Knights to begin the 2016 campaign — returning to the team after spending 24 games with the club in 2015. He posted a 1-2 record and a 3.30 ERA in 30.0 innings pitched with Charlotte in 2015.

This season, the former University of Cal-Berkeley product picked up right where he left off with the Knights. After finishing the 2015 season with seven consecutive scoreless appearances (10.0 IP), Smith did not allow a run in his first appearance of the 2016 season on April 7 at Durham (2.0 IP). He continued to stay sharp throughout the season.

In seven games in July, he did not allow a run (11.1 IP). In August, he posted a 1.23 ERA in eight games (14.2 IP).

Throughout the course of the 2016 season, Smith had scoreless streaks of nine games and eight games (finished the season with eight-straight scoreless appearances). In fact, he allowed just two runs over his final 33.0 innings pitched.

Smith was also a key contributor in the Charlotte community. For his efforts, Smith, along with his fellow Modesto, CA native, Terance Marin, each earned co-Community Service Awards for all of their support to the Community Relations department.

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Pictured L-to-R: Knights COO Dan Rajkowski, Terance Marin, Blake Smith, and Knights Community Relations Director Lindsey Brown. Photo credit: Laura Wolff.

On September 6th, a day after the Charlotte Knights final game of the 2016 regular season, Smith had his contract purchased by the Chicago White Sox. Now, a member of Chicago’s 40-man roster, Smith will have a chance to show the fans in Chicago just what he is capable of doing. Fans in Charlotte already know.

From the South to the South Side…

When J.B. Shuck was recalled to the Chicago White Sox on August 3, it was the 29th time a player was on his way to the Windy City in 2016. Shuck is just the latest in a slew of promotions to Chicago from Charlotte this season. In fact, a total of 18 different Knights have earned a promotion to Chicago this season.

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The Knights faced the White Sox in an exhibition game at BB&T Ballpark in 2015.             Photo credit: Buren Foster.

The first player promoted to the White Sox in 2016 from the Knights was RHP Erik Johnson, who has since been traded by the organization to San Diego. At the time of his promotion, Johnson was tied for ninth all-time in franchise history with Mike Porzio in wins (20) and seventh in franchise history in strikeouts (268). He was the 2015 International League Most Valuable Pitcher.

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Erik Johnson. Photo credit: Buren Foster

Later in the month of April, catcher Kevan Smith earned his first promotion to the majors. On April 24, Smith, who was hitting .345 (10-for-29) with two home runs and six RBIs at the time of his promotion (nine games with the Knights), was recalled to take the roster spot of catcher Alex Avila, who was placed on Chicago’s DL.

Smith never made his major league debut. The Pittsburgh, PA native was in Chicago’s starting lineup on Monday, April 25, but was scratched just hours before the game due to back spasms. He has since returned to the Knights and has yet to make his debut.

Over the next five days, five more players were recalled to Chicago. RHP Miguel Gonzalez was recalled on April 25, catcher Hector Sanchez on April 26, RHP Daniel Webb on April 27, infielder Carlos Sanchez on April 28, and RHP Tommy Kahnle on April 29. In all, seven players went to Chicago in April.

In May, Johnson, Gonzalez, and Kahnle were recalled again, while RHP Scott Carroll, Matt Purke, and Shuck, also earned call-ups to the White Sox.

One month later, outfielder Jason Coats had his contract purchased on June 4 and made his major league debut that same day. Coats was sent back to Charlotte (June 7) and then back to Chicago (June 10), and is now back with Charlotte (since July 15). Four other players earned promotions in July, including shortstop Tim Anderson, RHP Michael Ynoa, RHP Chris Beck, and 3B Matt Davidson.

Davidson earned the promotion to Chicago on the same day he found out he was named as a 2016 International League All-Star. The home-run hitting third baseman, who led the IL in home runs a season ago (23), fractured his foot in his first game with the Sox and was placed on their 15-day DL. He’s currently on Chicago’s 60-day disabled list after undergoing surgery.

Tim Anderson

Tim Anderson. Photo credit: Laura Wolff.

For Anderson, the 22-year-old earned his first promotion. The prized prospect quickly became White Sox everyday shortstop and he has shined on the South Side of Chicago.

In July, catcher Omar Narvaez, RHP Jacob Turner, and RHP Anthony Ranaudo all earned promotions. Narvaez and Turner are still playing for the White Sox, Ranaudo, has returned, but not before making headlines.

The 26-year-old right-hander started for the White Son July 23 and not only was sharp on the hill, but he even launched his first professional hit — a home run.

Here is a list of the players promoted to Chicago this season with the date(s) of their promotion in parenthesis.

1. RHP Erik Johnson (April 19, May 5 & May 23)
2. C Kevan Smith (April 24)
3. RHP Miguel Gonzalez (April 25 & May 9)
4. C Hector Sanchez (April 26)
5. RHP Daniel Webb (April 27)
6. INF Carlos Sanchez (April 28, July 1, July 24 & July 27)
7. RHP Tommy Kahnle (April 29, May 5, May 23 & June 3)
8. RHP Scott Carroll (May 6)
9. LHP Matt Purke (May 13),
10. OF J.B. Shuck (May 30 & August 3)
11. OF Jason Coats (June 4 & June 10)
12. SS Tim Anderson (June 10)
13. RHP Michael Ynoa (June 14)
14. RHP Chris Beck (June 21)
15. 3B Matt Davidson (June 30)
16. C Omar Narvaez (July 6)
17. RHP Jacob Turner (July 17)
18. RHP Anthony Ranaudo (July 24)

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Anthony Ranaudo. Photo credit: Laura Wolff

With the calendar turning to August, who will be the next player promoted to the White Sox. Stay tuned!

Darryl Strawberry Visits Uptown, “The Kid” Remembered…

If you know me, you know I grew up a huge New York Mets fan. Being born in Brooklyn, NY in 1981 — why not? Both of my grandfathers were Mets fans. My dad was a Mets fan. We were a Mets family. 12079663_10153289642553406_2110055952117081269_n

Being that I was born on January 8, my favorite number was 8. Then, I saw Gary Carter wear #8, and I instantly became a Gary Carter fan.

I wore #8 in Little League. I was a catcher. I may have even curled my hair like “The Kid”.

In fact, I wore #8 for my entire baseball career. It’s the only number I have ever known!386940_10150365098298406_1935850257_n

At my very first Mets game with my dad, we lucked out and had a chance to get an autograph from Gary Carter at Shea Stadium. We had box seats right behind home plate and I remember yelling to Gary as a kid to sign my program — and he did. Wow. That was awesome!

Throughout the years, I loved seeing Gary Carter (from afar) when we visited Shea Stadium. He was always my favorite. He still is today. I think about him on his birthday every year on April 8. I remember him every year on the day he died, too (February 16). He was an icon, a hero, a person I looked up to. I still do. tumblr_n3q7xqXybd1qm9rypo1_1280

And, I’m not alone.

When Gary Carter passed away, I’ll never forget some of the words that his teammates had to say about him.

“The baseball community has lost a Hall of Fame player and a Hall of Fame person,” former teammate and current Mets third-base coach Tim Teufel said in a statement. “He was a good man and will be missed terribly.”

“We’re all older now, said Ron Darling. “We see things differently. We see things as our parents saw them. The ’60s happened before we got to the big leagues. The ’70s happens, values changed. But Gary was from ‘Leave It To Beaver’ and ‘Pleasantville.’ He was, when we played together, what most of our parents had wanted us to be. And now we see value in it. And that makes this all the sadder. I’m not saying he deserves a reward for living his life the way he did. But 57 … that’s early.”

Then, there were these  words, “I wish I could’ve lived my life like him.”

Those words were powerful. They were touching. They came from Darryl Strawberry.

I grew up rooting for Darryl Strawberry, too. In the good times and the bad. I wanted him to succeed both on and off-the-field and  I wanted him to get past his struggles. And, why not. He was so talented. Even with all of his ups and downs.
Me & Darryl
Still, I knew he was someone I wanted to meet someday to talk about how he was able to rise up through all of those struggles.

Last year at the Triple-A Baseball All-Star Game in Omaha, NE, I met Darryl. It was brief. He was busy. But I knew it wouldn’t be the last time. At least, I hoped it wasn’t.

This past offseason, I had a great opportunity to bring Darryl to BB&T Ballpark — and tried my hardest to make that happen. And, it did.

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Darryl Strawberry signed hundreds of autographs at BB&T Ballpark on April 19. Photo credit: Laura Wolff

The day was planned for Thursday, April 19th at BB&T Ballpark. Darryl was to meet fans and sign pre-game autographs. One of my best friends, Joey C., who grew up a huge Darryl Strawberry fan, made the trek to Uptown Charlotte to meet his hero. He did.

For me, I spent a few hours with Darryl. It was a real thrill for me. I even interviewed him on the Sonic Automotive Pre-Game show on the concourse in front of so many fans.

Much like the time I interviewed Wally Backman — which came just a few months after Gary Carter passed away in 2012 — I asked Darryl about his memories of “The Kid”. I’m glad I did.

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Here’s that video interview in its entirety with Darryl. Although there were some microphone issues, you can still make most of it out!

Knights Knotes: Knights @ Bulls – April 10, 2016

KNIGHT LIGHTS: The Charlotte Knights (Triple-A affiliate of the Chicago White Sox) knights knotesconclude their opening series of the 2016 season tonight with the finale of their four-game series at 5:05 p.m. from Durham, NC against the Durham Bulls (Triple-A affiliate of the Tampa Bay Rays). The Knights dropped the opening game of the series – and of the season – on Thursday by a score of 7-3, but charged back against the Bulls with an 8-6 win on Friday in game two. Last night, the Bulls came-from-behind to take game three by a score of 3-2. The Knights will look for a series split with a win in tonight’s game. The Knights then hit the road and head to Norfolk, VA to open a three-game series against the Tides. Opening Knight in Uptown Charlotte is set for Thursday, April 14th.

ABOUT LAST KNIGHT: Charlotte RHP Phillippe Aumont (0-1, 18.00) uncorked three wild pitches in the eighth inning, which helped lead the Durham Bulls to a 3-2 come-from-behind win over the Charlotte Knights on Saturday night from Durham, NC. The Knights went to the eighth up by a score of 2-1 courtesy of solo home runs from Hector Sanchez and Jacob May, but the Bulls charged back to earn their second win in as many days. Charlotte RHP Chris Beck started and fanned seven over five innings, but did not factor in the decision.

MAY THE FORCE BE WITH YOU: OF Jacob May launched his first career Triple-A home run last night – a solo home run – which gave the Knights a 2-1 lead over the Bulls in game three. May entered the season ranked by Baseball America as the fifth-best prospect in Chicago’s system. May was drafted by the Chicago White Sox in the 3rd round of the 2013 draft. He hit .275 with 37 stolen bases last season for Double-A Birmingham.

#400: C Hector Sanchez launched a solo home run last night, his first since August 20, 2015 while playing for Triple-A Sacramento. The hit was the 400th of his minor league career, which has spanned 10 seasons (including 2016), even though he is only 26 years old (signed by Giants as 16-year-old in 2007). Sanchez was signed by the White Sox as a free agent on December 22, 2015.

COATS OF ARMOR: OF Jason Coats had a three-hit night on Friday and added a single in last night’s game to extend his hit streak to nine consecutive games dating back to 9/2/15. He has reached base in 13 straight games dating back to 8/29/15. Over that span, Coats is hitting .351 (13-for-37) with four doubles and four RBIs. Coats, who had 81 RBIs last season with the Knights, is in his fourth professional season since being drafted by the White Sox in the 29th round of the 2012 draft. He has compiled at least 80 RBIs in each of his first three campaigns. He entered this season ranked by MLB.com as the number 17 prospect in the Chicago White Sox system.

TODAY’S PROBABLES: Turner_Jacob
CHA
RHP Jacob Turner (1-1, 2.00 w/TEN, 2015)
@ DUR RHP Austin Pruitt (10-7, 3.09 w/MTG, 2015)

Knights Starter: RHP Jacob Turner makes his Charlotte Knights debut tonight in the finale of the four-game series. Turner, who was claimed off waivers from the Chicago Cubs on October 27, 2015, made just two rehab starts last season for Double-A Tennessee due to inflammation in his right shoulder. Turner went 1-1 with a 2.00 ERA in those two starts last year. Turner has appeared in parts of six major league seasons since being drafted by the Detroit Tigers in the first round of the 2009 draft. In 2011, he became the youngest Detroit pitcher to make a start at Comerica Park (20 years, 69 days old). He made a career high 20 starts with the Marlins in 2013 and posted a 3-8 record with a 3.74 ERA (118.0 IP). He went 4-7 with a 5.97 ERA in 20 games (12 starts) with the Marlins in 2014.

Bulls Starter: RHP Austin Pruitt will get the ball in tonight’s four-game series finale for the Durham Bulls. Tonight’s start will be his first at the Triple-A level for the 26-year-old right-hander. Pruitt, a native of Plano, TX, posted a 10-7 record with a 3.09 ERA in 26 games last season with Double-A Montgomery. He led Montgomery in wins, losses, complete games (2), shutouts (1), innings pitched (160.0), runs (60), and double plays (13). He was selected by the Tampa Bay Rays in the 9th round of the 2013 draft. Among some of his accomplishments in 2013, Pruitt was named to the 2013 All-Conference USA Second Team, the 2013 ABCA South Central All-Region Second Team, the 2013 All-Silver Glove Series Team, a 2013 Semifinalist for the Gregg Olson Award for Breakout Player of the Year. He led the University of Houston pitching staff in wins (10), ERA (2.55), games started (15), innings pitched (113.2) and strikeouts (92).

LOS IS MORE: 2B Carlos Sanchez, who returned to the Knights for his fifth season with the club on Thursday (2012-pres.), launched his first home run of the season on Friday and continued with a single on Saturday. Sanchez has hit safely in all three games so far this season. Just 23 years old, Sanchez is ranked among some of the Charlotte Knights all-time franchise leaders in a number of categories. Sanchez is now fourth in hits (291), fifth in at-bats (1,052), and 11th in runs scored (134). He is just nine games (265) away from 10th place in games (Matt Davidson has 274 for 10th place) and is in a tie for fifth place with eight triples.