Results tagged ‘ Chicago Cubs ’

Former Knights in the Postseason: Clayton Richard

LHP Clayton Richard has become a key contributor to the Chicago Cubs out of their bullpen during the 2015 Major League Baseball postseason. Richard, who was acquired by the Cubs from the Pirates on July 3, 2015, appeared in two games during Chicago’s NLDS matchup against the Cardinals and didn’t allow a run (0.2 IP).

MESA, AZ - FEBRUARY 18:  Pitcher Brooks Raley #43 poses during Chicago Cubs photo day on February 18, 2013 at HoHoKam Park in Mesa, Arizona.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

(Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

Currently, Richard and the Cubs are competing against the National League East-winning New York Mets in the NLCS and are down 3-0 in the series. Richard has appeared in all three games out of the ‘pen and has allowed just two hits over two scoreless innings.

Originally a starter, Richard has become a solid left-handed pitcher for the Cubs during the playoffs.

It’s fitting for Richard to perform well in Chicago, since he’s been there before.

The Lafayette, IN native was originally drafted by the the Chicago White Sox in the eighth round of the 2005 draft and made his way through the White Sox system over the next three seasons.

Richard eventually made his way to Fort Mill, SC to pitch for the Charlotte Knights in 2008, before a promotion to the South Side was in his cards later that year.

He excelled during his time with the Knights.

Appearing in seven games with the club in 2008, Richard posted an impressive 6-0 record with a 2.45 ERA over 44.0 innings pitched. During that 2008 campaign, he worked his way up to Charlotte after compiling a 6-6 record with a 2.47 ERA over 83.2 innings pitched with the Double-A Birmingham Barons.

At 24 years old, Richard made his Triple-A debut for the Charlotte Knights on June 12, 2008 in Norfolk and went seven solid innings for the win (7.0 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 5 SO). He continued to dominate Triple-A hitters over his short stint with the Knights — winning his first six starts. After those six games, he was 6-0 with a 2.37 ERA. 

Richard’s dominating run led to a promotion to the White Sox and his major league debut on July 23. On that day, the University of Michigan product tossed four innings and allowed five runs (four earned) on seven hits in a no-decision.

He returned to the Knights and made one more start with the team on August 8 — allowing two runs over six innings in a no-decision.

The following season, Richard was a key piece in the trade deadline deal that brought RHP Jake Peavy to Chicago from San Diego. In five season with the Padres (2009-2013), Richard went 40-39 with a 4.16 ERA in 108 games (107 starts). He became a free agent after the 2013 season.

After undergoing surgery in February (2014), Richard signed with the Arizona Diamondbacks on August 1 and finished up the campaign with four games pitched over two levels (Double-A & Triple-A).

Richard signed with the Pittsburgh Pirates on December 3, 2014 and pitched for both Bradenton (A+) and Indianapolis (Triple-A) in 2015, before finding a role in Chicago’s bullpen. Now, the 32-year-old left-hander has found a role in Chicago’s ‘pen and has excelled in the process.

SoxFest: White Sox Pay Respects to Mr. Cub

The game of baseball lost an icon on Friday night. Ernie Banks, Mr. Cub, passed away at the age of 83. Banks was a true ambassador of the game. White Sox Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf, along with White Sox legend Minnie Minoso, and White Sox television analyst Steve Stone, all spoke about Banks to the media on Saturday. I’m glad I attended.

White Sox Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf spoke to the media on Saturday.

White Sox Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf spoke to the media on Saturday about the passing of Mr. Cub, Ernie Banks.

Jerry Reinsdorf; “When you talk about Ernie, you have to smile,” Reinsdorf said. “He was always in a great mood. I never heard him complain about anything. He was always upbeat. He always had a wisecrack. I know he was Mr. Cub, but he was really Mr. Baseball. He was really a great, great ambassador for the game.”

Steve Stone: “I’ve never heard anybody say, ‘I don’t like Ernie Banks,'” Stone said. “It’s like saying you don’t like Santa Claus. How can you not like Ernie Banks? He was one of the most lovable human beings that our game has ever produced, and he never lost that childlike enthusiasm that we see from the youngsters but we tend to lose as adults.”

Minnie Minoso: “The city belonged to him,” Minoso said. “Everywhere you move, they just not talk about him like a ballplayer. They talk about him like a person. That’s the more important thing. I don’t think I’ll be able to explain to you what I think about him. I don’t have the words to put together to express what I feel about him.”

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.

White Sox Sign Eric Patterson

As we near the end of January, baseball is in the air. It may still be cold here in Charlotte, but one thing is for sure, Spring Training is just two weeks away!

Recently, the White Sox signed a number of free agents to Minor League contracts and invited 21 players to camp as non-roster invitees. Over the next two weeks, I’ll take a look at each of those players as we near the day that pitchers and catchers report (February 15).

Eric PattersonSigned to a Minor League contract by Chicago on January 10.patterson

Patterson, 30, was originally drafted by the Chicago Cubs in the 8th round of the 2004 draft. In his first professional season (2005), Patterson excelled at the plate. The Florida born infielder/outfielder combined to hit .325 with 13 HRs, 11 triples, 73 RBIs, and a remarkable 43 stolen bases in 119 games (Single-A Peoria and Double-A West Tennessee). He played in just nine games in Double-A (110 with Peoria), but was more than ready to return to Double-A in 2006.

For his efforts in 2005, Patterson was named the MVP of the Peoria Chiefs and was named the Cubs Position Player of the Year.

In 2006, Patterson hit .263 with eight home runs, 48 RBIs, and 38 stolen bases over 121 games with Double-A West Tennessee. That same season, Patterson played in the Futures Game in Pittsburgh.

Before the season was over, he appeared in 17 games for Triple-A Iowa and hit .358 with two home runs, 12 RBIs, and eight stolen bases.

Heading into the 2007 season, Patterson — the son of former NFL defensive back Don Patterson — was ranked by Baseball America as the sixth-best prospect in the Cubs system. The talented youngster didn’t disappoint in 2007.

In 128 games for  the Iowa Cubs in 2007, the Harrison High School (Kennesaw, GA) product hit .297 with 14 home runs, 65 RBIs, and 24 stolen bases. He earned his first promotion to the Majors that season and ripped his first Major League hit on August 7 off of Houston’s Woody Williams. He appeared in seven games that season for the Cubs. Patterson earned a spot on the Pacific Coast League All-Star team in 2007.

A year later, Patterson played in just 13 games for the Cubs and was traded on July 8 with Josh Donaldson, Sean Gallagher, and Matt Murton to Oakland for Chad Gaudin and Rich Harden.

Patterson — who is the brother of former Major League outfielder Corey Patterson — spent parts of three seasons with the Oakland A’s (2008-10) and hit .221 with 20 stolen bases over 114 games combined. On June 26, 2010, he was dealt to the Boston Red Sox for Minor Leaguer Fabian Williamson.

Six months later, Patterson was dealt again. This time, he was a player to be named later in a trade for slugger Adrian Gonzalez. On December 6, 2010, the Red Sox dealt Casey Kelly, Anthony Rizzo, Reymond Feuntes, and a player to be named later to the San Diego Padres for Gonzalez. 10 days later (December 16) Patterson was that player to be named later.

Patterson spent most of the next three seasons (2011-13) in the Minors. After one season in the Padres system (2011), he was released by the team on December 9, 2011.  He appeared in 64 games for the Toledo Mud Hens in 2012 and hit .244 with two HRs with 23 RBIs, and 13 stolen bases. In eight games against the Knights in 2012, he hit .286 with two runs scored, two doubles, and a triple. He was released by Detroit on June 12.

Last season, Patterson played for the Independent York Revolution and hit .275 with 13 home runs and 38 RBIs in 62 games. In July, he signed a contract with the Milwaukee Brewers and played 38 games for Double-A Huntsville. He hit .204 in 38 games and was released in September.

Now, Patterson, 30, will look to work his way back to the Majors and will do so in the White Sox organization. The nine-year Minor League veteran owns an impressive .291 batting average with 64 home runs, 344 RBIs, and 197 stolen bases (731 games). A versatile player in the field, Patterson has played mostly second base, but has also played every infield and outfield position. Stay tuned for more on Patterson and other free agent signings as the 2014 season nears.

Former Knights Hurler Passes Away…

Sad news to report today as former Knights pitcher Frank Castillo has passed away.

Castillo, Frank copy

A native of El Paso, Texas, Castillo spent the 1989 and 1990 seasons with the Charlotte Knights – both in Fort Mill. At that time, the Knights were the Double-A Southern League affiliate of the Chicago Cubs.

Reports out of Arizona say the former Charlotte hurler’s body was found in a lake on Monday after he dove in off of a pontoon boat and drowned. He was just 44 years old.

Chicago Tribune

In 1989, the Knights played in a temporary facility located next to the future home of the team (Knights Stadium). That year, Castillo worked his way up from Single-A Winston-Salem where he went 9-6 with a 2.51 ERA over 18 starts with the team. He had eight complete games for the Spirits and earned his promotion to the Knights.

Later in 1989, Castillo made his Knights debut and went on to start 10 games for the Double-A squad. He posted a 3-4 mark with a 3.84 ERA. He also had four complete games.

In 1990, the Knights opened Knights Castle and Castillo made 18 starts for the club – going 6-6 with a 3.88 ERA. He struck-out a team-high 112 batters over 111.1 innings pitched. He added four complete games and a shutout. Charlotte went 65-79 during its first season at what is now known as Knights Stadium.

Castillo was originally drafted by the Chicago Cubs in the sixth round of the 1987 draft and continued to make his way through the organization over the years. He made four starts for Triple-A Iowa in 1991 and went 3-1 with a 2.52 ERA. He tossed a complete game shutout and earned his shot at the Majors.

On June 27, 1991, Castillo made his Major League debut at the age of 22. Castillo was brilliant on the mound that day. He threw eight innings of two-run ball and left with a nice 3-0 lead. His 1990 Knights teammate Rick Wilkins homered in the second inning of that game off of Pittsburgh’s Doug Drabek to give him some offense. Castillo, however, was unable to earn his first Major League win as the Pirates rallied for four runs in the bottom of the ninth inning en route to the 4-3 win.

Castillo went on to spend parts of 13 seasons in the Majors with the Cubs, Colorado Rockies, Detroit Tigers, Boston Red Sox, and Florida Marlins from 1991-2005. He won at least 10 games in a season five times. His best Major League season came in 1995 when he went 11-10 with a 3.21 ERA. He finished eighth in the league in ERA and third in shutouts (2) that year.

In all, Castillo won 84 games in the Minors and 82 games in the Majors. He had 25 Minor League complete games, along with 10 Major League complete games.

On a personal note: I’m very saddened by this news today. With this being the 24th and final season at Knights Stadium, I have spent a lot of time researching players past and present from 1990 through this season. During the offseason, I put together a list of candidates for the “All Knights Stadium Team”. Fans voted, and we honored the players in an on-field ceremony on Opening Day, and other days throughout the year.

Over the course of this final season, I’ve talked to current and former players, along with long-time season ticket holders, and former staff members. There have been countless great memories of Knights Stadium over the years. And, while I continue my look back, I’m sad at the news of Frank’s passing.

While I never got to know Frank, he was a member of the Charlotte Knights family. 794 different players (as of July 29) have donned a Knights jersey since 1990. My prayers go out to his family and friends. Thanks for your time with the Knights. Thanks for the memories.