Blake Tekotte Changing Sox…


Blake Tekotte played parts of two seasons with the Charlotte Knights (2013-14).

Blake Tekotte is changing the color of his “Sox”. Tekotte, 27, recently signed a Minor League contract with the Boston Red Sox after spending parts of the past two seasons in the White Sox organization.

A product of the University of Miami, Tekotte played for the Knights in each of the past two seasons and compiled a .244 batting average with 141 hits, 69 runs scored, 45 doubles, four triples, 15 home runs, 68 RBIs, and 13 stolen bases over 157 games.

He was acquired by Chicago from San Diego on November 7, 2012 in exchange for pitcher Brandon Kloess.

A former third round pick of the San Diego Padres in the 2008 draft, Tekotte has appeared in 50 games at the Major League level between the Padres and the White Sox. In seven seasons at the Minor League level, the Columbia, MO native, has compiled a .262 batting average with 397 runs scored, 663 hits, 158 doubles, 22 triples, 80 home runs, 316 RBIs, and 123 stolen bases in 666 games.

Hall of Fame Day Brings Back Fond Memories

On January 6, 2015, the National Baseball Hall of Fame welcomed four new members — Pedro Martinez, Randy Johnson, John Smoltz, and Craig Biggio. Those four players will be enshrined at Cooperstown in July with all-time greats such as Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Ty Cobb, Cy Young, and many others. nationalbaseballhalloffamelogo

For me, Hall of Fame election day brings back many fond memories of my all-time favorite player, who was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2003 — his sixth year on the ballot. So, who was that player?

Growing up in Brooklyn, NY — and growing up a diehard Mets fan in the 1980’s — there was only one player for me — Gary Carter.

He wore #8, which was my favorite number. We were both born on the 8th day of a month (me in January, him in April). There were many other reasons too — and if you saw him play, you know those reasons.

He had heart. He had class. He worked hard. He was loved by many. He never gave up. He played to win. He succeeded. He was the final piece of the Mets championship puzzle. He always smiled. He was my baseball idol.

At my first-ever game at Shea Stadium as a kid with my dad, “the Kid” signed my program. He made me want to be a catcher in Little League — and I did for awhile — until I learned that I can pitch. Carter

I followed him throughout his career (well, from his Mets days on) and I continued to follow him in his retirement. I always thought he should manage the Mets someday. You know what they say — catchers make the best managers. He would have been a very good Major League manager, too.

For six years, I remember waiting patiently on Hall of Fame day to see if he would finally get that much-deserved call. To me, he was a first ballot Hall of Famer. He was finally elected on January 7, 2003 — a day before my 22nd birthday. Not a bad birthday present!

Sadly, Gary passed away on February 16, 2012 at the age of 57. The Mets wore a patch on their uniforms that season in honor of him. I remember thinking that it was going to be my goal one day to interview former players to learn more about my baseball idol. I did that later that year when Wally Backman’s Buffalo Bisons visited Knights Stadium to face the Charlotte Knights.

WATCH: Wally Backman talks to Tommy Viola about Gary Carter on Knights TV

For many reasons, January 7, 2003 was a memorable baseball day for me. It’s up there with the first Mets game I ever attended, the time I struck-out 17 batters in Little League, my first game working in baseball, and Opening Day in Uptown Charlotte last season. image

All and all, sitting here in the Charlotte Knights press box today thinking about Gary Carter reminds me of so many great times watching and talking baseball with my dad and grandfathers. It reminds me of my early life when my family and I were living in Brooklyn and I could cheer on Gary Carter and the Mets.

My goal in 2015 will be to pick up where I left off in 2012 and continue to learn more about Gary Carter. Stay tuned for interviews later this year.

Here’s looking at you, “Kid”.

Here is more on Gary Carter from the National Baseball Hall of Fame

Brantly, Ynoa, and Jennings Among Latest Additions

white_sox_logo-9324It has certainly been a busy offseason for the Chicago White Sox. Everyone already knows about the major upgrades to the team this winter — including Jeff Samardzjia, Adam LaRoche, David Robertson, Melky Cabrera, and Zach Duke.

If you read this blog regularly (I hope you do) you also know about some of the other players that have been added, as well as subtracted so far this offseason.

Let’s now take a look at some of the other players that have been added to the organization that may have gone under the radar a bit so far during the offseason.

Rob BrantlyClaimed by the White Sox off waivers from the Marlins on December 8.

The White Sox claimed Rob Brantly off waivers from the Marlins on December 8, 2014.

The White Sox claimed Rob Brantly off waivers from the Marlins on December 8, 2014.

Brantly, 25, has appeared in 98 Major League games over parts of two seasons with the Marlins (2012-2013) and owns a career .235 batting average in 323 at-bats. He appeared in 31 games with the Marlins in 2012 and 67 games in 2013. The backstop spent the entire 2014 season in New Orleans with the Triple-A Marlins — hitting .255 with four home runs and 37 RBIs over 101 games.

A native of San Diego, CA, Brantly was originally drafted by the Detroit Tigers in the third round of the 2010 draft. He spent parts of three seasons in the Tigers organization — going from Single-A to Triple-A (2010-2012) – before being traded to Miami on July 23, 2012 as part of the trade that sent Omar Infante and Anibal Sanchez to the Tigers. Brantly, Brian Flynn, and Jacob Turner were the players that the Marlins received in the deal.

Over the course of his Minor League career (2010-present), Brantly has compiled a .269 batting average with 21 home runs and 164 RBIs in 383 games. From 2012 to 2014, Brantly has appeared in 171 games at the Triple-A level.

A day later, the White Sox made a big splash in the trade market — acquiring Jeff Samardzjia from the Oakland A’s in a trade that sent former Knights Josh Phegley and Marcus Semien to Oakland.

Michael Ynoa - Acquired by the White Sox from Oakland in a trade on December 9

Ynoa was signed by the Oakland A's in 2008.

Michael Ynoa was originally signed by the Oakland A’s as a 16-year-old out of Puerto Rico.

On December 9, Ynoa (pronounced IN-no-ah) was traded to the White Sox from the Oakland A’s as part of the Samardzjia trade. While the key addition of the trade was the acquisition of Samardjzia — a top pitcher in the majors — the addition of Ynoa was a good one for the Sox. Just 23 years old, Ynoa, a native of Puerto Rico, is a hard-throwing, 6’7″ right-hander.

As a 16-year-old in 2008, Ynoa was signed by Oakland for $4.25 million — setting a new record for the A’s organization. He was named the “Number One” and the “crown jewel” in the “Best Latino Prospects of 2008″.

He entered the 2009 season ranked as the 20th best prospect in the A’s organization and Baseball America ranked him as possessing the best curveball in the A’s organization that year.

Ynoa pitched for the Rookie level A’s in 2010 — appearing in just three games (9.0 IP) before being shut down. He underwent Tommy John surgery that year and then missed the entire 2011 season.

He returned to the mound in 2012 and combined to post a 1-4 record with a 6.46 ERA in 14 games between the Rookie-level A’s and the Short-Season Vermont Lake Monsters. A year later, he jumped to Single-A Beloit and then to High-A Stockton. In 15 starts with Beloit, Ynoa excelled and compiled a 2-1 record with a 2.14 ERA.

Entering the 2014 season, Ynoa was ranked by Baseball America as the fourth-best prospect in the A’s organization. He compiled a 4-2 record with a 5.52 ERA over 31 games. He struck-out 64 batters over 45.2 IP and limited lefties to a .191 batting average (13-68). At just 23 years old, Ynoa will look to work his way up Chicago’s organizational ladder in 2015.

Dan JenningsAcquired by Chicago in a trade with the Marlins for Andre Rienzo 

Dan+Jennings+43+Miami+Marlins+v+St+Louis+Cardinals+fus5629ezRdlJennings is a 27-year-old left-hander, who was originally selected by the Marlins in the ninth round of the 2008 draft out of the University of Nebraska. In his three years at Nebraska, Jennings posted a 7-3 record with a 3.66 ERA.

In Miami’s system, the 6’3″ Berkeley, California native made his way through the minors and into the majors — making his Major League debut on April 30, 2012. Since then, Jennings has appeared in 116 games in the majors — all out of Miami’s bullpen. He owns a 3-6 career record with a 2.43 ERA in 100.0 innings at the Major League level.

During his first season with the Marlins in 2012, Jennings went 1-0 with a 1.89 ERA in 22 games. The following season, he appeared in 47 games with Miami and went 2-4 with a 3.76 ERA. Last season with the Marlins, Jennings posted a 1.34 ERA in 47 games. He went 0-2 over 40.1 innings — allowing 45 hits and striking out 38 batters.

Rienzo Dealt to Miami…

Andre Rienzo tossed one of the most memorable games in Knights Stadium history in 2013. I ranked it as  the ninth-best moment in the stadium’s 24-year history.rienzo

The Brazilian-born right-hander, who appeared in parts of three seasons with the Knights from 2012 to 2014 — was traded by the Chicago White Sox to the Miami Marlins recently in exchange for left-handed pitcher Dan Jennings.

It has been a busy offseason for the White Sox with a number of trades and free agent signings over the past couple of weeks. To follow all of the latest moves, take a look back at some of my previous blog posts.

Rienzo made his Charlotte Knights debut in 2012 — appearing in one game in the regular season. He also appeared in one game with the Knights in the playoffs that season (came on in relief of Charlie Leesman, who left that game with an injury in the first inning). The Knights went to the Governors’ Cup Finals in 2012, but lost to Pawtucket.

In Rienzo’s Triple-A debut on September 2, 2012, he fanned 10 batters over 6.2 innings pitched in a no-decision against the Durham Bulls at Knights Stadium. He allowed just one unearned run in that game.

A year later, Rienzo was in the midst of a solid 2013 campaign with the Knights. He eventually took center stage and put his name in the record books on July 25, 2013. On that day — Christmas in July at Knights Stadium — Rienzo tossed a seven-inning no-hitter in game one of a doubleheader against the Indianapolis Indians.

As for the season, Rienzo compiled an 8-6 record with a 4.06 ERA in 20 games with the Knights. He won his final three starts with the Knights and was one of rienzo_full 7-7the hottest pitchers in the International League before being promoted to the White Sox.

Five days after his seven-inning no-no, Rienzo made his Major League debut on July 30 for the White Sox against Cleveland. By pitching in that game, Rienzo became the first-ever Brazilian-born pitcher in Major League Baseball history. He also became just the second-ever Brazilian-born player in MLB history. In fact, in that game was Indians catcher Yan Gomes — the first-ever Brazilian-born player.

In 10 games with the White Sox in 2013, Rienzo went 2-3 with a 4.82 ERA (56 IP). He started all 10 games that he appeared in and fanned 38 batters over his 56 IP.

Last season (2014), Rienzo started the year with the Knights and made his first start on April 4 in Norfolk (5 IP, 0 R, 0 ER, ND). He remained busy with the Knights and White Sox — earning promotions to Chicago on a few occasions. With the Knights, Rienzo appeared in 10 games (started nine) and posted a 1-4 record with a 4.05 ERA.

Overall with Charlotte for his career, Rienzo finished with a 9-10 record and a 3.90 ERA in 31 games (30 starts). He struck out 166 batters over 166.1 innings pitched. In eight Minor League seasons, Rienzo owns a 38-30 mark with a 3.51 ERA in 121 games (106 starts). He has 627 strikeouts over his 590.1 career innings pitched in the minors.

Now, Rienzo will get a chance to pitch in Miami on the same staff as 22-year-old phenom Jose Fernandez. The Marlins have made some big moves this offseason and will go into the 2015 season with a very good chance to compete for the top spot in the National League East. With Giancarlo Stanton now signed long-term, and the additions of Dee Gordon, Mat Latos, and others, Rienzo finds himself in a nice situation.

On behalf of the Knights organization, good luck Andre!

Thanks for the Memories Josh…

Josh Phegley was an important part of the Charlotte Knights franchise both on and off-the-field. On Tuesday, December 9, Phegley was one of four players dealt to the Oakland A’s as part of a trade that brought right-handed pitcher Jeff Samardzjia to Chicago.

Phegley won the 2012 Minor League Baseball Rawlings Gold Glove Award. (Photo credit: Erica Caldwell).

Phegley won the 2012 Minor League Baseball Rawlings Gold Glove Award. (Photo credit: Erica Caldwell).

Phegley, a native of Terre Haute, IN, spent parts of the past four seasons with the Knights (2011-14) and finished his Knights career as one of the most successful offensive and defensive players in franchise history. Over the course of those four seasons, he was also a player who spent time in the community.

The 26-year-old backstop was an award winner. He was a three-time International League All-Star. He was a community ambassador — winning the Knights Community Service Award in 2012. He was a defensive wiz — winning the MiLB Rawlings Gold Glove Award in 2012. He was a member of the All Knights Stadium Team. He was also a fan-favorite.

There’s no doubt Phegley will be missed by the fans. His consistency, as well as his hard work and determination, make him one of the all-time top players in franchise history.

So, what were his numbers?

After appearing in 22 games with the Knights in 2011, Phegley made the jump full-time to Triple-A in 2012 and shined at the plate and behind it. He was a 2012 IL All-Star and hit .266 with six home runs and 48 RBIs. He led all IL catchers with a .996 fielding percentage. Phegley, who caught 96 games for the Knights that season, also had an International League best 772 putouts. He committed just three errors in 834 total chances.

Jordan Danks, Josh Phegley, and Ross Gload accepted their All Knights Stadium Team plaques on Opening Day, 2013. (photo credit: Erica Caldwell).

Jordan Danks, Josh Phegley, and Ross Gload accepted their All Knights Stadium Team plaques on Opening Day, 2013. (photo credit: Erica Caldwell).

Among some of his other 2012 accomplishments, Phegley was an International League All-Star and played in the Triple-A All-Star Game in Buffalo, NY on July 11. Phegley frequently volunteered his time in the community as well. On Friday, September 14, the Knights awarded Phegley the Charlotte Knights Community Service Award during an on-field ceremony.

The 2013 season began with another special ceremony on Opening Day — the final one in the history of Knights Stadium in Fort Mill. Phegley was selected to the All Knights Stadium Team, and was honored in an on-field along with long-time teammate Jordan Danks and Ross Gload.

It turned out to be a special season for Phegley, who broke-out with the bat. In just 61 games with the Knights, he hit .316 with 15 home runs and 41 RBIs. The 15 home runs were a new single-season high for Phegley, who also earned his first trip to the majors.

Last season (2014), the Indiana University product continued to excel. He put together a career year — compiling a .274 batting average with 23 home runs and 75 RBIs. His 23 home runs, 30 doubles, and 75 RBIs ranked second on the Knights behind Andy Wilkins. He represented the Knights in Durham at the Triple-A All-Star Game.

For his solid efforts throughout the season, Phegley earned a promotion to the White Sox in September and finished the year with the South Siders.

Overall in his Knights career, he hit .278 (312-for-1123) with 157 runs scored, 74 doubles, six triples, 46 home runs, and 170 RBIs over 292 games for the Knights. Here is where he ranks among the all-time leaders in Knights franchise history:

Josh Phegley All-Time Charlotte Knights Career Ranks: 

Josh Phegley ranks among the all-time franchise leaders in a number of categories. (Photo credit: Buren Foster).

Josh Phegley ranks among the Knights all-time franchise leaders in a number of categories. (Photo credit: Buren Foster).

At-Bats: 1,123 (3rd)
Games: 292 (7th)
Runs scored: 157 (7th)
Hits: 312 (3rd)
Doubles: 74 (4th)
Triples: 6
HRs: 46 (6th)
RBIs: 170 (5th)

Phegley is just one of three players in Knights franchise history with 300 hits. He trails only all-time Knights franchise hits leader Jordan Danks and Joe Borchard in that category. He’s also behind both of those players in at-bats, and ranks in the top five in doubles and RBIs.

On behalf of the Charlotte Knights organization, I would like to take a moment to wish Josh good luck with the A’s organization.

Samardzjia Added, Former Knights Going to A’s…

Jeff Samardzjia is going back to Chicago. ct-bits-cubs-spring-training-spt-0302-20140302-001This time, however, he’s going to the South Side.

On December 9, 2014, the Chicago White Sox made a big splash at Major League Baseball’s Winter Meetings by dealing for one of the game’s top pitchers — Jeff Samardzjia. The deal, which was announced by the White Sox at 12:30 PM EST, also featured the addition of right-handed pitcher Michael Ynoa.

From the official White Sox press release:

“Jeff is one of the elite right-handed starting pitchers in baseball, and we believe his addition to our roster gives us the potential for a formidable starting rotation,” said Rick Hahn, White Sox senior vice president/general manager. “His competitiveness fits well in our clubhouse, on the mound and in our city.”

 Samardzija, 29, was 7-13 with a 2.99 ERA (73 ER/219.2 IP), two complete games, 202 strikeouts and a .234 opponents average (191-815) over 33 starts between the Chicago Cubs and Oakland last season. He was traded from the Cubs to the Athletics on July 5. Samardzija made 23 quality starts, worked at least 7.0 IP 21 times, allowed two earned runs or less in 21 outings and one earned run or less 14 times.

Samardzija is one of just five pitchers to record 200 or more strikeouts in each of the last two seasons. The list includes the White Sox Chris Sale, Seattle’s Felix Hernandez, the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw and Detroit’s Max Scherzer. He is 36-48 with a 3.85 ERA (333 ER/777.2 IP), five complete games, one shutout and 738 strikeouts in 222 career games (99 starts) in seven seasons with the Cubs (2008-14) and Athletics (2014). Samardzija has allowed just 81 homers and 277 walks lifetime.

The 6-foot-5, 225-pound Samardzija is a native of Merrillville, Ind. and was an All-Big East pitcher and All-American wide receiver at Notre Dame (2003-06). Samardzija originally was drafted by the Cubs in the fifth round of the 2006 draft.

Ynoa, 23, spent the entire 2014 season with Class A Stockton, going 4-2 with a 5.52 ERA (28 ER/45.2 IP) and 64 strikeouts over 31 relief appearances. He limited left-handers to a .191 average (13-68) with 36 strikeouts and posted a 12.61 strikeout per 9.0 IP mark overall. He entered 2014 ranked by Baseball America as the No. 4 Prospect in the Oakland system.

The White Sox sent four players to the A’s in exchange for Samardzjia and Ynoa. Long-time Charlotte Knights standout Josh Phegley, who spent parts of the past four seasons with the franchise, was dealt in the deal. I’ll have more on Phegley in another Knight Fever blog entry. Stay tuned!


Joining Phegley in the deal were infielder Marcus Semien, first baseman Rangel Ravelo, and right-handed pitcher Chris Bassitt. Semien spent parts of the past two seasons with the Knights (2013-’14) and hit .266 with 31 doubles,19 HRs and 69 RBIs in 115 games. Semien, a California native, compiled a .267 batting average with 15 home runs and 52 RBIs for the Knights in 2014. Semien played 2B, 3B, SS, LF, and DH last year for the Knights.

Ravelo was drafted by the White Sox in the sixth round of the 2010 draft and has compiled a .301 career batting average over five Minor League seasons in Chicago’s system. The Florida native spent the entire 2014 campaign with Double-A Birmingham and hit .309 (147-for-476) with 37 doubles, 11 home runs, 66 RBIs, and 10 stolen bases.

Bassitt made his way through Chicago’s system over the past four seasons — especially in 2014 when he made it all the way to the majors. Bassitt, who was drafted by the White Sox in the 16th round of the 2011 draft, made his Major League debut on August 30 with Chicago. In six games with the White Sox, the Ohio native posted a 1-1 record with a 3.94 ERA (29.2 IP). Although he never played for the Knights, he was optioned to the team on August 31. He was later recalled when rosters expanded in September.

Heidenreich Back in the Sox Organization…

Matt Heidenreich went 8-2 with a 3.57 ERA for Winston-Salem in 2012. (Photo credit: Steve Orcutt).

Matt Heidenreich went 8-2 with a 3.57 ERA for Winston-Salem in 2012. (Photo credit: Steve Orcutt).

Matt Heidenreich was originally drafted by the Chicago White Sox in the fourth round of the 2009 draft. Now, the California native is back in the organization.

Heidenreich, who spent parts of the last three seasons in the Houston Astros organization, signed a Minor League contract with the White Sox on December 1. The signing comes less than two months after the 23-year-old was released by Houston — the team that dealt Brett Myers to the White Sox for him on July 21, 2012.

The 6’5″ right-hander played for two teams last season while in Houston’s system. He went 3-4 with a 5.40 ERA and two saves in 16 games (6 starts) for High-A Lancaster and 1-0 with an 8.02 ERA and one save in 12 games (five starts) with Double-A Corpus Christi.

Heidenreich started his professional career with Rookie Bristol in 2009 and compiled a 0-1 record with a 4.50 ERA in 16 games. The following season, Heidenreich went 6-2 with a 2.49 ERA in 14 games for Bristol. His 2.49 ERA was tied for second in the league, while his 76 innings pitched ranked third. He also appeared in one game for Kannapolis (A) in 2010 (1.0 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 2 R, 2 SO).

In 2011, Heidenreich went 10-10 with a 4.32 ERA in 27 games for Kannapolis. He ranked third in the South Atlantic League in wins and fourth in innings pitched (154.1).

One season later, Heidenreich became a mid-season All-Star for the first time. After compiling a 5-2 record with a 4.29 ERA in 12 starts for Winston-Salem (A+), Heidenreich was one of three Dash players selected as a Carolina League All-Star. At the time, he was tied for fourth in wins and he was sixth in innings pitched (71.1). Overall with the Dash that season — before he was promoted to Double-A Birmingham — Heidenreich went 8-2 with a 3.57 ERA in 15 games. He then posted a 1-2 record with a 5.89 ERA in three starts for the Barons before eventually being part of the trade that brought Myers to Chicago.

In six Minor League seasons, Heidenreich is 36-27 with a 4.74 ERA with three saves over 142 games (82 starts). He’s tossed 552 innings pitched and has fanned 395 batters.

Winter League Update: December 5

It has been a busy offseason around Uptown Charlotte. The Charlotte Knights have made several key announcements regarding the 2015 season. For all of the latest news and notes, make sure to follow me on Twitter @Tommy_the_V or log on to the Charlotte Knights Official Website.


Dan Black at bat on Opening Knight, April 11, 2014. (photo credit: Buren Foster).

It has also been a very busy offseason for a number of 2014 Charlotte Knights players, as well as former Charlotte Knights players. Caribbean Winter Leagues are in full swing and players are competing in Venezuela, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, and Mexico. Let’s take a look at a handful of those players who are shining this offseason:

Dan Black 
.313-6-23 in 32 G (through December 4)
Aguilas Cibaenas (Liga de Beisbol Dominicano)

Dan Black is having a solid offseason. In 32 Winter League games for Aguilas Cibaenas, the 27-year-old is hitting .313 with six home runs and 23 RBIs. He has 10 hits, including five doubles and a home run, over his last 10 games.

Black was drafted by the Chicago White Sox in the 14th round of the 2009 draft and he has made his way through the organization over the past six seasons. From 2011 to 2013, Black put up some solid power numbers as he made his way up the organizational ladder. In 2011 with Kannapolis (A), Black launched 18 home runs, added 98 RBIs, and hit .286. Black also added an impressive amount of doubles — 41 — in 135 games.

A year later, Black moved up to Winston-Salem (A+) and hit 17 home runs with 88 RBIs. The Indiana native added an impressive .315 batting average in 129 games. He basically matched those numbers a year later in Double-A Birmingham — compiling a .290 mark with 17 home runs and 83 RBIs.

Black made the move to the Knights to start the 2014 season — but ended up splitting the campaign between Charlotte and Birmingham. In 92 games combined between both levels, Black hit .263 with 11 home runs and 43 RBIs.

The Purdue University product had the best offensive game of the 2014 season for any Charlotte Knights player. On May 29 in Columbus, OH, Black went a perfect 4-for-4 with three home runs, four runs scored, and seven RBIs. One of those three home runs was a grand slam. Unfortunately, Black wasn’t able to go 5-for-5 as he had to leave the game with tightness. He was placed on the DL two days later and missed some time with the injury.


Manny Ramirez hit .317 with 14 home runs and 36 RBIs for the Knights in 1993 (40 games).

Manny Ramirez
.281-5-20 – 31 G (through December 4)
Aguilas Cibaenas (Liga de Beisbol Dominicano) 

Yes, that Manny Ramirez. The former Charlotte Knights slugger (1993 Knights) is playing on the same team as Dan Black this offseason and has looked good with his bat. Ramirez, who is now 42 years old, is hitting .281 with five home runs and 20 RBIs in 31 games.

Ramirez last played in the majors in 2011 in limited action with the Rays (five games). A year earlier, he split time with the Dodgers and White Sox — appearing in 90 games and hitting a combined .298 with nine home runs.

This past season, Ramirez made a comeback as a player/coach with Triple-A Iowa. In 24 games, he hit .222 with three home runs and 10 RBIs.

Donnie Veal
2-1, 1.86 ERA in 19 G (through December 4)
Aguilas Cibaenas (Liga de Beisbol Dominicano)

Donnie Veal spent parts of three seasons with the Charlotte Knights (2012-2014) and was a solid left-hander reliever out of the Charlotte bullpen at times. Most recently, Veal was signed to a Minor League deal with the Atlanta Braves. I wrote about that recent signing here: Veal Signs With Atlanta, Too.

Also playing on the same team as Dan Black and Man-Ram this offseason, Veal owns a 2-1 record with a 1.86 ERA through 19 Winter League games. He hasn’t allowed a run over his last seven appearances (3.2 IP). The Mississippi native will look to continue his solid efforts into Spring Training and get back to the majors where he owns a lifetime 3-3 record with a 4.87 ERA in 100 games (four seasons).

Leury Garcia
.380-0-3 in 13 G (through December 4)
Gigantes del Cibao (Liga de Beisbol Dominicano)Leury_García_on_September_7,_2013

Leury Garcia spent the entire 2014 season with the Chicago White Sox at the Major League level — appearing in 74 games for the South Siders. A year earlier, Garcia was dealt to the organization from Texas as part of the Alex Rios trade. Garcia was officially dealt to the team on April 11, 2013 and was assigned to Charlotte. He appeared in just eight games with the Knights in 2013 before going to Chicago.

So far this offseason, Garcia is hitting .380 (19-for-50) with 11 runs scored, two doubles, one triple, and three RBIs for Gigantes del Cibao of the Liga de Beisbol Dominicano. Also on the the team are former Knights Wilson Betemit, and 2014 White Sox catcher Adrian Nieto and 2014 Sox outfielder Moises Sierra.

Savery Signs With South Siders

On November 18, the Chicago White Sox made a splash into the free agent market with the signing of LHP Zach Duke. Savery, Joe_A'sAfter a solid 2014 season with the Brewers (5-1 with a 2.45 ERA), Duke signed on with the South Siders for three years. With Duke, the White Sox get a solid left-handed option out of the pen. He also struck-out a remarkable 74 batters in 58.2 IP last season for the Brew Crew.

Two days later, the White Sox added another lefty reliever — this time on a Minor League contract.

Joe Savery — a former Philadelphia Phillies farmhand — signed a Minor League deal with the White Sox on November 20. A product of Rice University, Savery spent the majority of the 2014 season with Triple-A Sacramento. In 43 games, the 29-year-old southpaw posted a 7-1 mark with a 2.84 ERA and two saves. He also made three appearances in Oakland with the A’s and gave up just three hits over four shutout innings.

Drafted by the Phillies in the first round (19th overall) in the 2007 draft, Savery made his professional debut with the Williamsport Crosscutters (A) in 2007 and posted a 2-3 record with a 2.73 ERA in seven starts. That Williamsport team also featured 2014 Charlotte Knights slugger Michael Taylor, who was also taken by the Phillies in the 2007 draft (5th round). Both Savery and Taylor would play on a number of the same teams over the next few years in the Philadelphia organization, as well as in the A’s system (2014 with Sacramento).

The 2009 season was a solid one for Savery — who compiled a 16-6 record with a 4.40 ERA combined over 28 games with Double-A Reading and Triple-A Lehigh Valley. A year later, he spent the entire campaign with Triple-A Lehigh Valley and began to show off his hitting skills. He posted just a 1-12 mark with a 4.66 ERA on the mound, but he hit .348 (16-for-46) with one home run and six RBIs for the ‘Pigs in 36 games that season. The Houston, TX native then spent the offseason transitioning to a hitter — and the following season (2011), he made a brief transition to hitting full-time.savery pigs

That season (’11), Savery went down to Clearwater (A+) and hit .307 (63-for-205) in 54 games — including 12 games in left field and nine at first base. He scored 22 runs, hit nine doubles, three triples, two home runs, and drove home 25 runs for the Threshers.

After a successful stint, he was then promoted to Reading that season and hit just .200 with one home run and six RBIs in 19 games. He also pitched for the R-Phils, however, this time as a reliever. He put up a 1-0 record with a 1.00 ERA in six games, which earned him a chance to go back to Lehigh Valley, where he continued to dominate out of the ‘pen — going 4-0 with a 1.80 ERA in 18 games.

On a side note — I was the Media Relations Director for the R-Phils in 2011 and saw Savery hit and pitch up close that year. He was dominating on the mound in six games, four of which came at FirstEnergy Stadium in Reading, PA. In his last outing (July 11, 2011), he fanned three batters in an inning — allowing just one hit. 

His successful transition back to pitching — and into the bullpen — led him to Philadelphia, where he made his Major League debut with the Phillies on September 20, 2011. He did not allow a run in four games with the Phils that year.

The next two seasons, Savery split time with the Phillies and Lehigh Valley. He had more success on the mound in 2013 than in 2012 — posting solid numbers with both the Phillies and IronPigs that year. He went 3-1 with a 3.80 ERA and two saves in 20 games for the IronPigs and 2-0 with a 3.15 ERA in 18 games for the Phillies. Despite the solid numbers, Savery was designated for assignment by the Phillies on February 16, 2014. A day later, he was claimed by the A’s and shined in their system last season.

Now, Savery is in the White Sox system after signing that Minor League deal. His former manager — Mark Parent — is the bench coach for the White Sox. Parent managed Savery briefly in 2011 with Reading when the former Rice star struck-out 14 batters over nine good innings.

In eight Minor League seasons, Savery owns a 44-34 record with a 3.97 ERA and eight saves over 584.2 innings pitched. He’s also 3-2 with a 3.83 ERA in 44 games at the Major League level in parts of four seasons.

Veal Signs With Atlanta, Too…

Donnie Veal

Donnie Veal pitched three seasons with the Charlotte Knights from 2012 to 2014.

For the past three seasons, LHP Donnie Veal spent time with the Charlotte Knights out of the team’s bullpen. Recently, Veal was signed by the Atlanta Braves to a Minor League contract.

Veal, 30, was originally drafted by the Chicago White Sox in the 12th round of the 2003 draft, but he did not sign. He would however become a White Sox player nine years later.

A native of Jackson, Mississippi, Veal was drafted again two years later — this time in the second round by the Chicago Cubs (2005 Draft). He signed with the Cubs and went on to play four seasons in their Minor League system. On December 11, 2008, Veal was taken by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the Rule 5 Draft.

He would work his way through the Pirates’ system and make his Major League debut with the club on April 7, 2009.

While Veal spent three seasons in the Pirates organization, he appeared in just 19 games in the Bigs — all in 2009. He signed with the White Sox as a free agent in November of 2011 and would go on to become a mainstay in the Charlotte bullpen. He would also appear in 81 games with the White Sox over that three-year span.

With the Knights, Veal appeared in 89 games over the course of that three-year stretch (2012-14) — winning 13 games and compiling eight saves (140 K’s over 128.2 IP). His best overall season with Charlotte came in 2012 when he posted an impressive mark of 7-3 with a 2.08 ERA and two saves (35 games).

While 2012 was superb, he followed that up with a solid 2013 campaign as well. In 17 games for the Knights during the final season at Knights Stadium, Veal went 2-2 with a 2.70 ERA.

Now, Veal will get a chance to work his way back to the Majors with the Braves, who have been in the market for pitching so far this offseason. Atlanta signed 2014 Charlotte Knights hurler Chien-Ming Wang, which I wrote about here. They also recently dealt Jason Heyward to the Cardinals for Shelby Miller.


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