SoxFest Interview #1: Jake Petricka

I first met Jake Petricka in 2013. He was promoted to the Charlotte Knights on July 4, 2013 after pitching extremely well for the Double-A Birmingham Barons. At that point, the 2010 second round pick of the White Sox was moving through the system quickly. He was also excelling.

Petricka on Knights Media Day in 2014 at BB&T Ballpark. He was promoted to the White Sox shortly after.

Jake Petricka on Knights Media Day in 2014 at BB&T Ballpark. He was promoted to the White Sox shortly after and never returned.

Petricka, a native of Northfield, MN, was 3-0 with a 2.06 ERA in 21 games (one start) for the Barons that season. He last pitched with Birmingham on July 1, 2013 — before earning that call to Triple-A. He immediately made the transition to the Knights — and before long — he made that transition to Chicago.

He made his Triple-A debut on July 4, 2013 in Lawrenceville, GA against the Gwinnett Braves. Four days later, he made his Knights Stadium debut. In all, he would go on to make just 10 appearances for the Knights in 2013 before the White Sox would give him a call. He went on to post a 2-0 record with one save and an impressive 1.17 ERA for the Knights. While eight of his 10 appearances were scoreless, six of his 10 appearances were on the road, so Knights fans didn’t get to see him for very long.

When 2014 came around, Petricka was back with the Knights — even after going 1-1 with a 3.26 ERA in 16 games for the White Sox in 2013. In fact, in his Major League debut on August 17, 2013, the Minnesota native induced an inning-ending double play in the bottom of the 11th inning to earn his first Major League win. It came against the Kansas City Royals in Kansas City.

On April 4, 2014, Petricka became the first of 19 Charlotte Knights players promoted to Chicago during the season. He took the place of Nate Jones, who went on the disabled list. Petricka never returned to Uptown Charlotte.

I had a chance to catch up with Jake and talk to him about his impressive 2014 campaign in Chicago. He pitched to a 2.96 ERA in 67 games for the Sox. He finished 33 games and saved 14. We laughed about his brief stay with the Knights — he was there for Media Day and gone before the 2014 season started. We also talked about his thoughts on coming back to BB&T Ballpark on April 3rd for the exhibition game.

Day 1 of SoxFest: From the South to the South Side

On Friday, January 23, 2014, I made my first-ever trip to Chicago. Yes, it was the first time I would get a chance to see the “Windy City” and my first chance on the “South Side”. My reason: to attend Sox Fest, the annual Chicago White Sox event, which brings together current and former White Sox players, and of course, White Sox fans!

This year seems to be the biggest and best of them all — especially after an incredible offseason in which the team has transitioned into a legitimate contender in the American League Central Division. With the additions of Jeff Samardzija, David Roberston, Zach Duke, Dan Jennings, Adam LaRoche, and Melky Cabrera, the Sox should be a tough team to beat this season. All of those newcomers, except LaRoche and Cabrera, are in attendance for SoxFest.

Friday was a long day. I arrived to Charlotte/Douglas Airport at 7:30 AM (nice and early for my 9:50 AM flight). After waiting around in the airport, I boarded my flight to Chicago. After two hours on the plane, in which I read media guides, I arrived to Chicago just around 11 AM Central Time.chicago airport I picked up a shuttle from the airport to the Hilton Chicago and made my way into SoxFest around 12:30 PM.

When I arrived to SoxFest, I could already sense the excitement. There’s a true buzz surrounding this Sox team this year!

Fans were lined up outside of the Hilton on Friday, eager to see some of their favorite players arrive. Once I made my way into the hotel, all I could see were Sox fans — tons of Sox fans. It was pretty cool.

All fans in the lobby had something Sox-related on. There were many hats, shirts, and jerseys! Tons of Paul Konerko jerseys.

These were the doors into SoxFest.

These were the doors at the Hilton heading into SoxFest.

I must say, the White Sox did a fantastic job of decorating the Hilton — and making their fans feel at home. Doors were decorated, elevators too. There were many banners hanging and people behind the front desk were even wearing SoxFest shirts. As someone who works in baseball, I can certainly appreciate all of the hard work that went into this event. I can appreciate all of the time spent putting this magnificent event together. Even though it is the offseason, work never ends for a baseball front office.

Once I finally checked into my room (there were a few issues, but nothing to share here), I made my way down to the media session, which was scheduled for 2:30 PM.

During the media session, members of the media were able to hear from Rick Hahn and Robin Ventura, who each took the podium to answer questions. Both spoke of the number of offseason moves. The media had many questions about potential lineups, bullpen arms, 2014 first-round pick Carlos Rodon, and the team chemistry without having the leadership of Paul Konerko. Both Hahn and Ventura were great answering questions.

That reminds me — I can’t wait to see Hahn, Ventura, and Buddy Bell in Charlotte on April 3rd when the Knights host the “Knights Leadoff Luncheon”. This time, Knights fans will be able to ask them questions. Of course, there will be an exhibition game later that night at BB&T Ballpark, too.

During the media session, I caught up with a few familiar faces. I took a few minutes to interview 2014 Charlotte Knights Micah Johnson, Jake Petricka, and Carlos Rodon. Keep an eye out for those interviews, as I will post them later today.

All three spoke of the excitement in the organization. While all three are youngsters in the organization, all three are on different paths to the majors. It will be a very interesting spring training this year.

Adam Eaton spoke to the media during the media session on Friday.

Adam Eaton spoke to the media during the media session on Friday.

Along with Johnson, Petricka, and Rodon, current and former White Sox players were also on-hand for the media session. There were a large contingent of media members surrounding White Sox fan-favorite Adam Eaton, who spoke to the media for awhile. I didn’t get a chance to talk to him, but I’d love to be able to sit down with him on Saturday or Sunday and talk to him about his experience playing at BB&T Ballpark last year. Stay tuned.

Current White Sox stars Jose Abreu, Avisail Garcia, Conor Gillaspie, Alexei Ramirez, David Robertson, Dan Jennings, Zach Duke, Tyler Flowers, Jose Quintana, members of the coaching staff, and members of the 2005 World Series winning team, were also on-hand to talk to the media.

A packed house attended the SoxFest opening ceremonies.

A packed house attended the SoxFest opening ceremonies.

After the media session, I made my way into the Continental Ballroom for the Opening Ceremony. It was a packed house and it was the first time for fans to get a glimpse of their favorite Sox players. The stage was set, the video screens ready, and the ceremony officially took place at 4:00 PM. After a video highlight package, it was time to introduce the stars of SoxFest.

One-by-one, former and current White Sox players made their way onto the stage. Fans went bananas when names like Bo Jackson, Minnie Minoso, Aaron Rowand, and Bobby Jenks were announced. Once the former players were introduced, the prospects were then introduced. There were loud cheers for Johnson, Rodon, Tim Anderson, and Courtney Hawkins. All four have a very bright future!

Then, it was time for the current players. There were loud cheers for all of the players. Eaton was certainly a popular name called. Fans went nuts when life-long White Sox fan Jeff Samardzija came out. The final name to be called was Jose Abreu — the 2014 American League Rookie of the Year. Some fans even chanted, “MVP” when he came out. Certainly, if he puts together a season like he had last year, Abreu could be a strong contender for 2015 AL MVP.

As part of the opening ceremony, each Sox player was accompanied by a little league player. That was very nice to see. I thought that was a nice touch to include local little league players in the event.

After another video was shown, players began throwing items out to the crowd. With that, the opening ceremonies were over and fans were on their way to meet the players and get autographs. meusemAs for me, I walked around and just took it all in. I checked out the #SoxSocial Lounge, and caught up with an old friend of mine, Sarah Marten. Sarah, who I worked with during my time with the Lehigh Valley IronPigs, is now working for the White Sox in their Community Relations department. She gave me a behind-the-scenes tour of the event. I had a chance to check out a White Sox museum, which featured a number of important jerseys, photos, bats, balls, and more.

I later made my way down to the Chicago White Sox Charities Garage Sale and Chicago Sports Depot, where I picked up some new gear. All and all, it was an amazing first day of SoxFest. There were so many things to do and so many things to see.

My new set of wheels.

My new set of wheels.

As for the end of the night, I took my new car out for a test-drive (I wish). Wouldn’t it be nice to drive this Sox car (pictured, right) back to Uptown Charlotte and park it outside of BB&T Ballpark on April 3rd? I would happily make the trek from Chicago to Charlotte in the Sox car anytime!

Stay tuned for my interviews with Johnson, Rodon, and Petricka, as well as more exciting things from SoxFest on day two of my adventure from the South to the South Side.

White Sox Invite Seven Members of 2014 Knights to Spring Training…

The Chicago White Sox invited 24 players to Major League Spring Training on Thursday, January 22.  spring-training-logo1

Among some of the names on the list were seven players who spent time with the Charlotte Knights in 2014. LHP Carlos Rodon, Chicago’s first-round pick last season, was one of the seven members invited. The other six members of the 2014 Charlotte Knights to earn invites are: Chris Beck, Dan Black, Scott Carroll, Micah Johnson, Jared Mitchell & Michael Taylor.

Along with the seven recognizable names to Knights fans, there were a number of recognizable names around Major League Baseball. One of those recognizable names to earn an invite was RHP Brad Penny, who has compiled 121 wins at the Major League level over parts of 14 seasons. Penny, 36, appeared in eight games (four starts) with the Marlins last season and posted a 2-1 record with a 6.58 ERA. brad-penny-mlb-new-york-mets-miami-marlins

Penny was originally drafted by the Arizona Diamondbacks in the fifth round of the 1996 draft. He made his Major League debut on April 7, 2000. Over the course of his 14-year career, Penny won 16 games in a season twice (2006 & 2007). He was a National League All-Star in each of those seasons. In 2007, Penny posted a 16-4 record with a 3.03 ERA in 33 starts. He finished third in the NL Cy Young Award voting that year.

Here are more details from the White Sox press release:

– The Chicago White Sox have agreed to terms on minor-league contracts with the following free agents: right-handed pitchers Jairo Asencio, Scott Carroll, Jesse Crain, Logan Kensing, Arcenio Leon, J.D. Martin and Brad Penny; left-handers Zach Phillips and Joe Savery; catchers George Kottaras and Geovany Soto; infielders Juan Diaz and Andy LaRoche; and outfielders Tony Campana and Michael Taylor. 

 All 15 players, in addition to nine players from within the organization, have received non-roster invites to the club’s spring training camp in Glendale, Ariz.

 Right-handers Chris Beck, Tyler Danish and Nolan Sanburn, left-hander Carlos Rodon, infielders Tim Anderson, Dan Black and Micah Johnson and outfielders Courtney Hawkins and Jared Mitchell received invites to major-league camp from within the organization. Thirteen of the 24 invitees have major-league experience, while five are rated among the club’s Top 10 Prospects by Baseball America entering the 2015 season.

I’ll have more on the non-roster invitees, as well as numerous updates live from SoxFest in Chicago. Stay tuned!

White Sox Sign Harvard Product Haviland…

The Chicago White Sox signed free agent RHP Shawn Haviland to a Minor League contract on January 12. Haviland, a native of Farmington, CT, was originally drafted by the Oakland A’s in the 33rd round of the 2008 draft.

Shawn Haviland was drafted by the Oakland A's in the 33rd round of the 2008 draft.

Shawn Haviland was drafted by the Oakland A’s in the 33rd round of the 2008 draft.

The 29-year-old right-hander is a product of Harvard University and has appeared in six seasons in the A’s organization (2008-2014). He missed the entire 2013 season while recovering from Tommy John surgery.

Haviland was a Mid-Season Midwest League All-Star in 2009 and a year later, he was a Post-Season California League All-Star. In one of his finest seasons as a pro, he posted a 9-6 record with a 3.65 ERA in 27 games for Stockton (A+) in 2010. Haviland won California League Pitcher of the Week honors twice that year — both in August.

Over the course of his six-year Minor League career, Haviland owns a 37-49 record with a 4.68 ERA in 160 games (141 starts). He appeared in one game at the Triple-A level in 2010 with Sacramento and has spent significant time at the Double-A level in parts of three seasons — 2011, 2012, and again in 2014. Overall, Haviland has tossed 410 innings at the Double-A level over 83 games.

Last season, in his return from Tommy John surgery, Haviland compiled a 1-2 mark with a 3.24 ERA in three starts with Stockton (A+) and a 7-7 record with a 3.87 ERA in 25 games with Double-A Midland. Over two levels last season, he combined to post an 8-9 record with a 3.81 ERA (28 starts).

Blake Tekotte Changing Sox…

Tekotte_Military_web

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!

Phegley_Josh

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.

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