Results tagged ‘ baseball ’

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!

RIP, Tommy

Photo Credit: Buren Foster

Photo Credit: Buren Foster

Tragic. Devastating. Heartbreaking.

Those are just some of the thoughts and words I have after hearing about the sudden passing of former Charlotte Knights right-handed pitcher Tommy Hanson.

At just 29 years old, the talented, hard-throwing pitcher had so much more to give the world. And, after seeing the outpouring of thoughts and prayers today, it’s obvious that Tommy touched so many lives throughout the game — and throughout his short time on earth.

As a Public Relations Director, I keep my relationship with players professional. I work with them during the season to set up interviews with the media and I try to help them out with anything they may need. While I wish I could somehow stay in touch with every player I have come into contact with over my nine years working in professional baseball, it’s unfortunate that it doesn’t work that way. Players come and go each year, and we lose touch.

Tommy’s time with the Knights was short. He appeared in 10 games in 2014 with the club after signing a minor league contract with the Chicago White Sox on April 7, 2014. He was officially assigned to the Knights on April 19 and made his Knights debut on April 20.

I remember the day he made his debut for the Knights. The team was in Gwinnett County, GA playing the G-Braves. Hanson, a standout with the Braves, who still lived in the Atlanta area, was ready to face his former ‘mates. I wanted to drive down to Coolray Field that day to be there and see what that would be like. Hanson was very well-liked in the Braves organization. Very respected for his accomplishments.

Photo Credit: Buren Foster

Photo Credit: Buren Foster

The Oklahoma native won 45 games for Atlanta over four seasons (2009-12). He finished third in the National League Cy Young Award voting in 2009 after posting an 11-4 record with a 2.89 ERA in 21 starts as a rookie. In fact, he won at least 10 games in each of his four seasons, including 13 in 2012.

Over his last three seasons, however, he appeared in just 15 games at the major league level. He went 4-3 with a 5.42 ERA for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in 2013.

After that, it was on to the Knights in 2014 and the San Francisco Giants minor league system last year (San Jose & Sacramento). Still, Tommy was pitching and making an impact on those who he came in contact with.

Once rated as the number four prospect in all of baseball by Baseball America (2009), Hanson will always be remembered around the game by so many.

On behalf of the Charlotte Knights organization, my thoughts and prayers go out to Tommy’s family and friends at this time. RIP, Tommy. Thanks for your contributions to Charlotte Knights baseball.

Talking Baseball: Hal Bagwell

Throughout the offseason, keep an eye out for my new series titled “Talking Baseball”. I’ll spend a few minutes each week talking to former baseball players about the game of baseball and much more.
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On Saturday, November 7, BB&T Ballpark was the site of the first-ever “Home Plate Gala” hosted by the U Deserve A Chance Foundation. The non-profit foundation, which was founded by former Charlotte Knights and Charlotte O’s infielder Jeff Schaefer, aims to bridge the financial gap for individuals and organizations that are unable to afford the spiraling costs of participating in the sport.

Schaefer, who spent parts of five seasons in the majors, welcomed over 130 people to the event, including a “who’s who” of Charlotte baseball personalities. There were former Major League players, along with current High School and College baseball coaches from around the Charlotte area.

Speakers for the event included USA Baseball’s Rick Riccobono and Wake Forest University head baseball coach Tom Walter, who received the foundation’s first “Spirit of the Game” Award. Walter was the subject of an ESPN 30-for-30 documentary for donating one of his kidneys to Kevin Jordan, an outfielder on the Demon Deacons. Jordan, who was diagnosed with a serious kidney disease and needed a transplant, received the kidney from Walter just days before the 2011 season.
hal bagwell
One of those people who was at the prestigious event on Saturday at BB&T Ballpark was Ardrey Kell High School head baseball coach, Hal Bagwell. I sat down with Hal during the event and we talked about the the Home Plate Gala, as well as a number of other items. Hal grew up going to baseball games in Charlotte and attended games at both Crockett Park and Knights Stadium in Fort Mill.

With a photo of Jim Thome and Charlie Manuel hanging just next to us while we talked, Hal mentioned to me about going to Knights games with his dad when Thome was playing for the team and Manuel was managing it in 1993 at Knights Stadium.

I had the opportunity to meet Hal a few months back when he was a guest on the Schaefer Baseball Report with Jeff Schaefer and I. Seeing him again on Saturday and talking baseball with him was a great experience.

Here’s episode three of “Talking Baseball” with guest, Hal Bagwell

Spotlight On: Drew Garcia

Throughout the offseason, I’ll have a weekly blog highlighting one of Charlotte’s players from the 2015 campaign. The Knights finished at 74-70 in the International League South Division, which was tied for third with the Durham Bulls. On-the-field and at-the-gates, the 2015 season was a successful one in Uptown Charlotte.

A familiar face returned to the Chicago White Sox organization in 2015.

Photo credit: Buren Foster

Photo credit: Buren Foster

Infielder Drew Garcia, who was originally drafted by the White Sox in the 21st round of the 2008 First-Year Player Draft, was back in the Chicago system and back in a Charlotte Knights uniform in 2015.

While he began the 2015 campaign in Double-A Birmingham, Garcia returned to the Knights for his fourth season on April 23 when he was promoted from the Barons.

An eight-year minor league veteran, Garcia appeared in 227 games with the Knights from 2011-13. He was traded to the Colorado Rockies organization in 2013 and spent the remainder of that season, as well as the 2014 season, in Colorado Springs (Triple-A).

In 2015, Garcia returned to Charlotte and began to move up the ranks in Knights franchise history. He played in his 300th career Knights game on Friday, August 28, which moved him into an elite club.

On that date, Garcia became just the fifth player in Knights franchise history to appear in 300 career Knights games. He joined four other Knights (Jordan Danks, Joe Borchard, Rusty Crockett, and Chris Clapinski).

After playing in the final game of the 2015 regular season on September 7, Garcia finished his fourth season with the Knights and tallied a total of 310 games (fifth in Knights franchise history).

Photo credit: Buren Foster

Photo credit: Buren Foster

Also in 2015, Garcia totaled his 1,000 career Knights at-bat on August 14. During the season, he passed Carlos Sanchez for sole possession of fifth place on the all-time at-bats list and later went on to pass Josh Fields for fourth place. Overall, Garcia finished his fourth season with Charlotte with a total of 1,074 career Knights at-bats, which ranks fourth in franchise history.

Garcia also added 13 doubles in 2015 and has 63 doubles during his Knights tenure, which ranks eighth all-time in franchise history.

RIP Yogi

If I was born 30 years earlier, I would have been able to see Yogi Berra play.yogi_berra_275x327_bw

I often think about things like that. What if I was a kid in the 1950’s? I sometimes think that maybe that’s the era when I should have been born.

I love classic movies like Marty, On the Waterfront, Rio Bravo, and countless others. I love the music of Bobby Darin, Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, and countless others. And, of course, I love baseball. And baseball in the 1950’s was baseball.

Think about this, future Hall-of-Famers Hank Aaron, Mickey Mantle and Willie Mays began their careers in the 1950’s. Those are three of the game’s all-time greats — and they were the 50’s.

Mantle won the Triple Crown in 1956. In the same year, Don Larsen threw a perfect game in the World Series. The Yankees dominated baseball in those days and Yogi was a big part of it. Huge part of it.

Ralph Kiner led the National League in homers three times in the 50’s. Mays hit 51 long balls in 1955. That same year, the Brooklyn Dodgers finally beat the Yankees for their first and only World Series while playing in Brooklyn. 837a9abd2e99d2776868386026e5652e

Ted Williams was in the prime of his career in the 50’s.

Baseball continued (although slowly), its integration in the 50’s and Jackie Robinson led the way just years earlier.

In those days, my family rooted for the Brooklyn Dodgers. We were born and raised in Brooklyn and “Dem Bums” were the team to root for. If I was born in the 50’s, that’s the team I would have rooted for. Pee Wee, Jackie, Furillo, and the Duke would have been a few of my favorites.

Brooklyn’s backstop in those days was Roy Campanella. He won three MVP Awards in the 1950’s. I certainly would have been a big fan of “Campy” and the Brooklyn Dodgers. But I still would have admired what Yogi said and did.

Much like “Campy”, Yogi also won three Most Valuable Player Awards in the 50’s. He was an 18-time All-Star and 10-time World Series winner (three of his wins came in the 50’s).

He was a catcher. He wore number 8. He made you laugh with his “Yogiisms”, and gave his all on the baseball diamond all the time. How could you not root for him? Even if he was a Yankee. 12020010_10153263348433406_2747756473969837043_n

And, he was a Navy hero long before a baseball hero.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the 1980’s. I was born on January 8, 1981 in Brooklyn, NY and at that time, I was born into a Mets family.

My hero growing up was a New York catcher. He also wore number 8. He also gave his all on the baseball diamond all the time. I’ve written about him many times. His name was Gary Carter.

Both were leaders and heroes in their own right. Now, Yogi and the Kid are both gone — but never forgotten. RIP, Yogi. Say hi to Kid for us.

“It ain’t over ’til it’s over.”

Spotlight On: Erik Johnson

Throughout the offseason, I’ll have a weekly blog highlighting one of Charlotte’s players from the 2015 campaign. The Knights finished at 74-70 in the International League South Division, which was tied for third with the Durham Bulls. On-the-field and at-the-gates, the 2015 season was a successful one in Uptown Charlotte.

The 2015 season was a memorable one for Charlotte Knights RHP Erik Johnson.

Photo credit: Buren Foster

Photo credit: Buren Foster

A year after he was tabbed by Baseball America as the second-best prospect in Chicago’s system, Johnson began the 2015 ready to pitch. And that’s just what he did — and he did it well.

  • He was a 2015 International League All-Star.
  • He started the Triple-A All-Star Game for the IL squad and tossed two scoreless innings.
  • He was a 2015 International League Post-Season All-Star
  • He was named as the IL Most Valuable Pitcher

Let’s take an in-depth look back at Johnson’s memorable 2015 campaign:

His 2015 season began with his first appearance on April 13 out of the Charlotte bullpen. He tossed three shutout innings and earned a win that day over the Durham Bulls. He later worked his way into Charlotte’s rotation — where he became the ace.

Johnson made his first start of the 2015 season on April 18 against the Gwinnett Braves and was solid over five innings en route to his second win of the season. He was 2-0 with a 1.13 ERA at that point. He won one more time in April and finished the first month of the season with a 3-1 record and a 2.04 ERA (four games).

The calendar turned to May and Johnson hit his first — and only rough patch of the season. He made six starts for the Knights and compiled a 1-3 record with a 5.29 ERA. His only win came on May 20 at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre (7.0 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 9 SO).

As the days heated up, so did Johnson. His June was one for the ages and he was awarded for his solid pitching.

On June 22, Johnson was named as the International League’s Pitcher of the Week for the period of June 15-21 after he  struck-out 20 batters over 14 scoreless innings in two starts over that week.

The 25-year-old began the week on Tuesday, June 16 by throwing six scoreless innings against the Pawtucket Red Sox from BB&T Ballpark. On that day, he earned his fifth win of the 2015 campaign and struck-out a career game-high 11 batters. The Mountain View, CA native followed up that impressive performance on Sunday, June 21 with eight scoreless innings and nine strikeouts for his sixth win of the season. He finished the week 2-0 with a 0.00 ERA (14.0 IP, 7 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 3 BB, 20 SO). At that point in the season, Johnson improved to 6-5 with a 3.00 ERA and he was the IL leader in strikeouts with 88.

Photo credit: Buren Foster

Photo credit: Buren Foster

Overall in June, he posted a 3-1 record with a 1.03 ERA in five starts. He struck-out 41 batters over 35.0 innings pitched and allowed just 23 hits. He didn’t allow an earned run over 29-consecutive innings pitched (June 5-June 26). Then came July.

He didn’t allow a run in the month — including his three Knights starts (15.0 IP) and his start in the 2015 Triple-A All-Star Game (2.0 IP).

A member of Chicago’s 40-man roster, Johnson along with three of his teammates, represented the Charlotte Knights as 2015 International League All-Stars. He started the Triple-A All-Star Game, which took place on July 15 in Omaha, NE, and became just the fourth Knights pitcher in franchise history elected to start the Triple-A All-Star Game. After tossing two scoreless innings for the IL squad that night, Johnson joined Julian Tavarez (1994), Charlie Haeger (2006), and Carlos Torres (2010) as the only Knights to start the game.

Johnson wrapped up his final month of the season with Charlotte in August and posted a 3-2 record with a 2.20 ERA in five starts. He won his final three starts with the Knights (8/13-8/25) — allowing just three runs over that 21.0 inning span. His final start of the season came on August 25 at BB&T Ballpark against the Gwinnett Braves. He threw eight solid innings for the victory.

In 23 games (22 starts) with the Charlotte Knights in 2015, Johnson posted an 11-8 record with a 2.37 ERA. His 11 wins finished in a tie for third place, four behind IL leader Toru Murata. His minuscule 2.37 ERA led the IL. He also led the league in strikeouts (136), strikeouts per nine innings (9.23 ratio), and WHIP (1.12).

Originally selected in the second round of the 2011 draft out of the University of California-Berkeley, Johnson appeared in 132.2 innings overall with the Knights in 2015 and allowed 40 runs (35 earned) total.

Photo credit: Buren Foster

Photo credit: Buren Foster

For his outstanding season, Johnson was named as the International League’s Most Valuable Pitcher on September 1st and the starting pitcher on the International League’s 2015 Postseason All-Star Team. Just hours later, he was promoted to Chicago to finish the season with the Chicago White Sox.

Johnson became the first Knights starting pitcher elected to the IL Postseason All-Star Team since Carlos Torres in 2009. He also became Charlotte’s first IL Most Valuable Pitcher since Heath Phillips in 2006.

Overall, Johnson’s 2015 numbers were some of the best by a Knights starter in franchise history. His 2.37 ERA ranks second in Knights single-season history, while his 136 strikeouts rank seventh in Knights single-season history.

Johnson also moved up the all-time ranks in Knights franchise history in a number of categories. With 20 career Knights wins, Johnson is now tied for ninth with Mike Porzio. His 256 strikeouts are now seventh all-time in franchise history.

You can continue to follow Johnson this month as he is now pitching for the Chicago White Sox. He continues to shine, too. He won his 2015 White Sox season debut on September 6 after tossing six solid innings over the Kansas City Royals. As of September 14, he is 1-0 with a 3.27 ERA in two starts for the White Sox this season.

Knights Knotes — August 16, 2015

KNIGHT LIGHTS: The Charlotte Knights (Triple-A affiliate of the Chicago White Sox) will conclude their three-game series against the Toledo Mud Hens (Triple-A affiliate of the Detroit Tigers) at 6:00 p.m. tonight from Fifth Third Field in Toledo, OH. The two teams have split the first two games of the series and the Knights will look for the series win tonight with a win. The Knights are 27-33 on the road this year. Charlotte enters tonight’s game in third place — seven games behind the first place Norfolk Tides (Triple-A affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles) in the IL South Division. The Knights are 3.5 games out of the IL Wild Card race behind Columbus, who they will play a quick two-game series against in Columbus starting on Monday. The Knights have just 10 home games left during the 2015 regular season. knights knotes

LAST KNIGHTS GAME: The Charlotte Knights beat the Toledo Mud Hens last night by a score of 9-6 in the middle game of their three-game series. Charlotte used 10 hits and a solid outing from RHP Kyle Drabek (7-7, 3.27) to beat the ‘Hens. Dayan Viciedo had a terrific day at the plate, reaching base five times, including a solo home run in the ninth.

KNIGHTS STARTING PITCHER: RHP Brad Penny (6-6, 3.93) will make his 20th start of the season tonight in the finale against the Mud Hens from Toledo, OH. After winning four-straight decisions from 5/9-7/21, Penny lost three consecutive starts (7/26-8/6). The 14-year Major League veteran however was sharp in his last outing, tossing seven shutout innings in a win over the Gwinnett Braves at BB&T Ballpark on August 11.

Photo credit: Buren Foster

Photo credit: Buren Foster

Overall in July, Penny went 2-2 with a 3.32 ERA in the month (6 games). He began the month of July by tossing a complete game, nine-inning, masterpiece at BB&T Ballpark on July 3rd (game two of day-night doubleheader) – the first 9-inning complete game tossed by a Knights pitcher in BB&T Ballpark history. He was signed by the Chicago White Sox as a free agent on December 16, 2014 and was assigned to the Charlotte Knights at the start of the 2015 season. The 37-year-old right-hander is a two-time NL All-Star (2006 & 2007). He started the 2006 game.

PENNY vs. TOLEDO: He has faced the Mud Hens twice this season and is 1-1 with a 1.80 ERA (10.0 IP, 11 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 2 SO). He last faced the club on May 9 at Toledo and earned the win after six innings (W, 6.0 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 1 SO).

CAREER KNIGHT: Charlotte slugger Dayan Viciedo reached base five times last night going 3-for-3 with two runs scored, two RBIs, a solo home run, and two walks. The home run was his 42nd with the Knights, which is good for sole possession of eighth place on the franchise list for home runs. He moved into a three-way tie for 10th place on the franchise list for RBIs (130).

275 WINS FOR SKINS: Last night’s win was the 275th for Charlotte Knights manager Joel Skinner, who is already the all-time winningest manager in franchise history. He was recently named by Baseball America as the Best Manager Prospect in the International League by Baseball America. Skinner recorded his 250th career Knights victory on June 20.

ROSTER MOVE
: White Sox OF J.B. Shuck completed his rehab assignment and was reinstated by Chicago today. Shuck went 1-for-10 in three games with Charlotte (8/13-8/15).

Photo credit: Laura Wolff

Photo credit: Laura Wolff

FRANCHISE HISTORY: Infielder Drew Garcia is in his fourth season with the Knights and the California native is moving up in a number of offensive categories in Knights franchise history. Garcia totaled his 1,000 career Knights at-bat on Friday and now has 1,003 for his Knights career, which is eighth on the all-time at-bats list in franchise history. He is also in eighth place on the Knights all-time games played list (289) — just three games away from tying Josh Phegley for seventh (292). Garcia is also in sole possession of 10th place in Knights franchise history with 61 doubles (passed Casey Rogowski). He’s one away from tying Chris Clapinski and Joe Borchard (62).

2015 IL LEADERBOARD: 3B Matt Davidson is second in the IL in home runs with 19, one behind Durham’s J.P. Arencibia (20). He is tied for second in the IL in games played (119), third in the IL in at-bats with 448, and tied for fourth in walks (54). Defensively, Davidson leads all International League third baseman in fielding percentage (.972), as well as all IL third baseman in assists (232) and second in double plays (19). He was named by Baseball America as the Best Defensive 3B in the International League… OF/1B Matt Tuiasosopo is second in the IL in slugging percentage (.483), and second in best home run/at-bat ratio (1/18.13)… Catcher Kevan Smith leads all IL catchers in games (79).

SINCE JULY 1: Outfielder Jason Coats is hitting .299 with seven home runs and 29 RBIs since July 1 (41 games). Over that stretch, Coats has 50 hits, which is tied for the third most in that frame and his 29 RBIs are the fifth highest over that stretch… Matt Tuiasosopo has the third highest RBI total over that span (31), and the most home runs over that stretch (12) in 36 games played. For Tuiasosopo, he also has 81 total bases, which rank fifth. Coats has 82 (4th).

HOME RUN KNIGHTS: The Knights were the first IL team this season to go over the 100-home run plateau. The Knights currently lead the IL in long balls with 112 – 14 more than second place Durham (98). The Knights as a team have hit 79 of their 112 home runs this season at BB&T Ballpark. Last year, the Knights hit 105 of their 176 home runs at BB&T Ballpark. The Knights have hit the most home runs at their home ballpark in all of Triple-A.

ATTENDANCE LEADERS: BB&T Ballpark, which was named the Best Ballpark in Minor League Baseball by Baseball America, has welcomed 584,681 this year (62 games) – the most in Minor League Baseball this season. The Knights are averaging 9,430 fans per game – also the highest in MiLB in 2015. The Knights led the minors in attendance in 2014 – their first at BB&T Ballpark – with a mark of 687,715 fans (71 openings).

THAT’S ERIK WITH A “K”: Charlotte RHP Erik Johnson (9-8, 2.45) struck-out eight batters over six scoreless innings on Friday to earn his ninth win of the season. Johnson is the leader in strikeouts in the International League with 123 and is second in the IL in ERA with a 2.45 mark. His nine wins are currently tied for third and he leads the IL in the highest strikeouts per nine innings ratio (9.42). His 1.15 WHIP is ranks third in the IL. Earlier this season, Johnson became just the fourth Knights pitcher in franchise history to start the Triple-A All-Star Game. He joined Julian Tavarez (1994), Charlie Haeger (2006), and Carlos Torres (2010).

TRAINER OF THE YEAR: Trainer Scott Johnson was recently named IL Trainer of Year by PBATS (Professional Baseball Athletic Trainers Society). He also won it in 2001 & 2002.

COATS OF ARMOR: OF Jason Coats recorded his team-high 72nd RBI of the season on Friday which is tied for third in the IL this season. Coats is eight RBIs away from recording at least 80 RBIs in three consecutive seasons. He was drafted in 2012 by Chicago (29th round).

Knights Knotes – August 8, 2015

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

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

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

Photo credit: Laura Wolff

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

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

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Photo credit: Laura Wolff

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Knights Knotes — July 28, 2015

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

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

KNIGHTS STARTING PITCHER: RHP Erik Johnson (8-5, 2.59) will make his 17th start of the 2015 season and appear in his 18th game tonight when he gets the nod against the Louisville Bats — his first start since July 20 at BB&T Ballpark against the Durham Bulls. Johnson has won his last four decisions and currently leads the IL in strikeouts (105), erik johnsonis averaging 10.09 strikeouts per nine innings, which is tops in the IL, and has a 2.59 ERA, which is tied for third in the IL with teammate Kyle Drabek. Johnson has allowed just one earned run (two runs total) over his last six starts (38.0 IP). Overall, he has allowed just one earned run over his last 41.0 IP. He was named as the IL Pitcher of the Week (week of June 15-21) after going 2-0 with a 0.00 ERA in two starts (14.0 IP, 7 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 3 BB, 20 SO). Johnson became just the fourth Knights pitcher in franchise history to get the Triple-A All-Star Game starting nod joining Julian Tavarez (1994), Charlie Haeger (2006), and Carlos Torres (2010). He tossed two scoreless innings at the 2015 Triple-A All-Star Game at Werner Park in Omaha, Nebraska earlier this month. He made his 2015 debut on April 13 in relief against Durham and earned the win after three scoreless innings. He won his first start of the season (second appearance in 2015) on April 18 in five innings of one-run ball against the Gwinnett Braves. The 25-year-old right-handed pitcher entered the 2014 season ranked by Baseball America as the 2nd best prospect in the White Sox system

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Knights Knotes — July 5, 2015

KNIGHT LIGHTS: The Charlotte Knights (Triple-A affiliate of the Chicago White Sox) will continue their three-game road trip in Lawrenceville, GA and face the Gwinnett Braves (Triple-A affiliate of the Atlanta Braves) today in a 2:05 p.m. game at Coolray Field. The two teams are playing six games against each other over a five-day stretch, which started on Thursday and continued with a day-night doubleheader on Friday. The Knights, who entered the five-day stretch with a 4-0 record this season against Gwinnett, dropped the first two games, but have come back to win the next two. Charlotte is now 6-2 against Gwinnett this season. Entering today’s game, the Knights are 1.5 games behind the first place Norfolk Tides (Triple-A affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles) in the IL South Division. Norfolk has won eight of their last 10 games, while Charlotte has gone 4-6 over their last 10. knights knotes

LAST KNIGHTS GAME: Matt Tuiasosopo’s sixth inning grand slam led the Charlotte Knights to a 5-1 win over the Gwinnett Braves on Saturday in a Fourth of July matchup from Coolray Field. Charlotte RHP Shawn Haviland (4-4, 4.19) did not allow a run over six innings of one-hit baseball. Haviland is now 3-0 with a 1.88 ERA over his last five games.

KNIGHTS STARTING PITCHER: RHP Terance Marin (2-0, 0.00) gets the start today for the Knights – his fifth of the 1396season. Marin, who was reinstated by the Chicago White Sox from Mexico and assigned to Charlotte on Friday, June 5, will appear in his sixth overall game with the Knights this year and has yet to allow a run in what is his first taste of Triple-A Baseball. Coming into today’s start, Marin has not allowed a run in 29.0 consecutive innings pitched this season with the Knights since coming back to the United States. He has tossed three-straight games of seven shutout innings. Marin, who was on loan to the Toros de Tijuana, posted a 2-5 record with a 4.94 ERA in 10 games (nine starts) this season with the Toros (47.1 IP). Other notable names on that Toros team with Marin this season were Jose Contreras, Miguel Olivo, and Yuniesky Betancourt. Before returning this season, Marin last pitched in Chicago’s organization last season – going 4-3 with a 4.24 ERA in 14 games (70.0 IP) for the Winston-Salem Dash. He also spent time last season with Double-A Birmingham and was 0-2 with a 5.11 ERA in two games (12.1 IP). Marin, who was originally signed by the White Sox as a free agent on July 12, 2010, was released by the organization last year. He then signed with the Frontier League’s Evansville Otters, made six starts, and then was re-signed by the White Sox on June 19, 2014. Marin is a native of Modesto, CA and was undrafted out of Modesto Junior College.

GRAND SLAM: With Charlotte leading 1-0 last night, 1B Matt Tuiasosopo launched a grand slam off Gwinnett starter Mike Foltynewicz in the sixth inning. It was his second grand slam of the season (his first came on May 29 against Lehigh Valley starter Adam Morgan). The grand slam was Tuiasosopo’s third with the Knights. He also hit a grand slam last season (August 18 against Gwinnett starter Daniel Rodriguez). Charlotte as a team hit five grand slams last season. They have four already this season (Dan Black and George Kottaras are the other two players to hit grand slams this year).

IL LEADERBOARD
: OF Trayce Thompson is currently first in the IL in games played (83), second in runs scored (44), second in at-bats (310), tied for sixth in slugging percentage (.451), and third in extra-base hits (32)… Tyler Saladino is third in the IL in steals (24) and Leury Garcia is fourth (23)… 3B Matt Davidson is now second in home runs in the IL this season – one behind IL leader, Durham’s J.P. Arencibia (14). Davidson is also tied for third in the IL in walks (40)… RHP Kyle Drabek (3-5, 2.86) is tied for eighth in the IL this season in ERA (2.86) with teammate RHP Erik Johnson. Drabek is second in the IL in WHIP (1.12), and batters are hitting .216 against him – the fifth best mark in the IL. He has allowed the second lowest baserunners per nine innings (10.20).3328

FOUR KNIGHTS NAMED 2015 ALL-STARS: 3B Matt Davidson, OF Trayce Thompson, and pitchers Erik Johnson, and Zach Phillips, have been named to the 28th Annual First National Bank Triple-A All-Star Game, presented by Gildan. The Charlotte foursome will represent the Knights and the International League against the Pacific Coast League All-Stars at Werner Park in Omaha, Nebraska on Wednesday, July 15. The Knights are one of just two IL teams with four All-Stars, along with the Norfolk Tides. Both Thompson (outfield) and Davidson (DH) were elected to start the game, while Johnson and Phillips were selected.

JOHNSON & JOHNSON: RHP Erik Johnson is 7-5 with a 2.86 ERA in 15 games (14 starts) this season with the Knights. He currently leads the IL with 96 strikeouts and his 2.86 ERA is tied for eighth in the IL with teammate Kyle Drabek. Johnson, who won IL Pitcher of the Week honors earlier this season, is averaging 10.21 strikeouts per nine innings — also tops in the IL this season. He has allowed just two runs (one earned) over his last 32.0 innings pitched. 2B Micah Johnson is hitting .291 (51-for-175) with 10 doubles, three home runs, 20 RBIs, and 15 stolen bases (44 G) for the Knights.

CHARLOTTE’S PEN: RHP Maikel Cleto has the third lowest batting average against (.167) among relievers in the IL… LHP Zach Phillips is 1-0 with five saves and a 2.08 ERA in 28 games out of Charlotte’s bullpen this season. The Sacramento, CA native has allowed just three earned runs over his last 18 games (21.1 IP) and has not allowed a run in 22 of his 28 games this season…. Chicago RHP Matt Albers, who was placed on Chicago’s 15-day disabled list with a broken little finger on his right hand on April 26 (retroactive to April 20), continued his Major League Rehab assignment last night and allowed one run over two innings of work. He has allowed just one run over his six innings pitched with Charlotte.

KING GEORGE: Catcher George Kottaras homered for Charlotte in game two of the team’s day-night doubleheader on Friday – his sixth home run over his last seven games. Over that seven-game span, the Canadian native is hitting .409 (9-for-22) with seven runs scored, six home runs and 15 RBIs. In 23 games this season, Kottaras is hitting .328 (22-for-67) with seven home runs, 19 RBIs, 23 walks, and a .495 on-base percentage. In two-straight games (6/18-6/21), he hit three home runs with 12 RBIs after back-to-back six-RBI games. He homered twice on June 21. In nine games during the month of June, he hit .333 (8-for-24) with five home runs and 14 RBIs.

ATTENDANCE FEVER: Over the course of the 2015 regular season, BB&T Ballpark has welcomed 20 sell-out crowds in 41 Knights games – nearly half of the team’s games. The ballpark, which was named the Best Ballpark in Minor League Baseball by Baseball America, welcomed a sell-out crowd at last night’s Team USA vs. Cuba matchup (10,352). The Knights opened up the 2015 campaign with a sold-out crowd for the team’s exhibition game on April 3rd against their parent club, the Chicago White Sox. Overall, BB&T Ballpark has welcomed 22 sell-out crowds this season. There were 31 sell-out crowds last season in 71 regular season Knights games. BB&T Ballpark – the most visited venue in Minor League Baseball last season, has welcomed 389,913 fans – second in Minor League Baseball behind Sacramento’s 399,191. Sacramento has had 43 openings, Charlotte has had two less (41).

TEAM USA WINS BIG AT BB&T BALLPARK
: Charlotte-born Nick Banks launched one of his team’s two home runs last night as Team USA beat the Cuban Baseball National Team 11-1 in front of 10,352 fans at BB&T Ballpark on July 4th. While the game attracted a sell-out crowd, the Uptown Charlotte area was packed with even more fans outside the ballpark. The Knights, along with News Talk 1110 WBT and 107.9 The Link hosted the 39th Annual WBT SkyShow event – second in as many seasons at BB&T Ballpark (10th overall for the Knights).