Results tagged ‘ MLB ’

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 — July 11, 2015

KNIGHT LIGHTS: The Charlotte Knights (Triple-A affiliate of the Chicago White Sox) will continue their three-day, four-game series against the first place Norfolk Tides (Triple-A affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles) tonight at 7:05 p.m. from Harbor Park in Norfolk, VA. The Knights split yesterday’s doubleheader and enter today’s game 1.5 games behind the first place Tides in the IL South Division. The Knights and Tides are 7-7 head-to-head this season and will wrap up the first half of the year with this series on Sunday. The Triple-A All-Star Break runs Monday, July 13 to Wednesday, July 15. The Knights return home on July 16 to open an eight-game homestand.  knights knotes

LAST KNIGHTS GAME: The Knights dropped game one of Friday’s twin bill to the Norfolk Tides by a score of 4-3 when Dariel Alvarez came through with an RBI, walk-off single in the bottom of the ninth off reliever Blake Smith (0-2, 5.91). In the nightcap, the Knights came back to score six runs to beat the Tides 6-5. Reliever Jarrett Casey earned his eighth win.

DOUBLEHEADERS: The Charlotte Knights played their fourth doubleheader of the season yesterday and split the two games. In eight games this year in doubleheader play, the Knights are 2-6. Yesterday’s doubleheader was Charlotte’s third in less than two weeks.

KNIGHTS STARTING PITCHER: RHP Kyle Drabek (4-5, 2.64) will make his 15th Knights start of the season tonight. Drabek has limited opposing batters to a .221 batting average this season – fourth lowest in the IL among starters. He also has the third lowest WHIP (1.11), has allowed the fewest baserunners per nine innings (10.23) and his 2.64 ERA is third in the IL. Drabek_KyleThe former Phillies farmhand was designated for assignment by the Chicago White Sox (April 20) and officially outrighted to Charlotte on April 22. He made his Knights debut on April 24 at Norfolk — his first start in Triple-A since August 31, 2014 when he made his final appearance of the season with Buffalo at Syracuse (1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB). In three games with the White Sox this year, the Texas native posted a 5.06 ERA (5.1 IP, 9 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 3 SO). He was claimed by Chicago on March 27, 2015 off waivers from Toronto. Last season with the Bisons, Drabek appeared in 32 games and started 13 – posting a 7-7 mark with a 4.18 ERA (99.0 IP, 116 H, 57 R, 46 ER, 30 BB, 68 SO). In six Major League seasons, Drabek owns a career mark of 8-15 with a 5.27 ERA in 42 games (30 starts). He’s appeared in 177.2 IP during that span in the majors. He won a career-best 14 games with Double-A New Hampshire in 2010. That season, he went 14-9 with an impressive 2.94 ERA in 27 games (all starts). He earned 2010 Eastern League Pitcher of the Year honors for his efforts. He was also a mid-season and postseason EL All-Star as well as a MiLB.com Organization All-Star. Kyle is the son of Doug Drabek, who won 155 games in the majors. Doug was the 1990 Cy Young Award winner while pitching for Pittsburgh.

99 K’S: RHP Erik Johnson (7-5, 2.73) made his return to the mound in game one of yesterday’s doubleheader and tossed four scoreless innings (4.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 SO). Johnson extended his season strikeouts total to 99 – tops in the IL this season. He is also tops in the IL in strikeouts per nine innings (10.05), while his 2.73 ERA is fifth lowest, and his 1.12 ERA is fourth lowest. Johnson will start Wednesday’s Triple-A All-Star Game for the IL squad — just the fourth Knights hurler to do so joining Julian Tavarez (1994), Charlie Haeger (2006), and Carlos Torres (2010). Johnson has allowed one earned run over his last 36.0 IP.

COATS OF ARMOR: OF Jason Coats had a doubleheader to remember on Friday. In game one, the former TCU standout went 3-for-4 with a home run and three RBIs. In game two, he went 2-for-4 with one RBI – combining to go 5-for-8 with a home run and four RBIs. He is now tied for third in the IL in RBIs with 51 and is hitting .333 (12-for-36) with six runs scored, two home runs, and eight RBIs in July (9).  Coats_Jason

WHO’S HOT: 1B/OF Chris Marrero went 1-for-3 in each game of Friday’s doubleheader and now has a nine-game hit-streak. Marrero homered in game two yesterday and now has four home runs with the Knights (two over his last five games). In 19 games with the Knights since being promoted from Birmingham, Marrero is hitting .359 (23-for-64)… 2B Micah Johnson had four hits over the course of Friday’s doubleheader and now has nine hits over his last four games. Johnson is hitting .313 (63-for-201) on the season with five home runs, 18 stolen bases, and 24 RBIs in 50 games with Charlotte… Matt Tuiasosopo slugged his third home run over his last eight games last night – his seventh of the season. The home run – a two-run blast off RHP Eddie Gamboa – was hit in game two of the doubleheader… Catcher George Kottaras has now reached base in 20-straight games dating back to 5/17. During that stretch, he is hitting .339 (20-for-59) with seven home runs, 18 RBIs and a .487 OBP.

2015 IL LEADERBOARD: 3B Matt Davidson is tied for third in home runs (14) and tief for second in walks (46)… OF Trayce Thompson is first in games played (90), second in runs scored (48), second in at-bats (337), and third in extra-base hits (34)… Tyler Saladino and Leury Garcia are tied for second in steals (25)…

CHARLOTTE’S PEN: Overall, RHP Jarrett Casey (8-1, 4.78) is tied for second in the IL in wins (8)… Among relievers, RHP Maikel Cleto (3-2, 2.74) is third in the IL in batting average against (.168) and fifth in strikeouts per nine innings (10.17)… IL All-Star Zach Phillips (1-0, 2.50) has the second-best strikeouts rate per nine innings ratio (10.25) and opponents are hitting .176 against him (fourth lowest).

Knights Knotes – July 10, 2015

KNIGHT LIGHTS: The Charlotte Knights (Triple-A affiliate of the Chicago White Sox) will begin a three-day, four-game series against the first place Norfolk Tides (Triple-A affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles) today at 5:05 p.m. from Harbor Park in Norfolk, VA with a doubleheader. The Knights dropped two of three games on their latest homestand against the Durham Bulls and enter today’s game 1.5 games behind the first place Tides in the IL South Division. The Knights and Tides are 6-6 head-to-head this season and will wrap up the first half of the year with this series. The Triple-A All-Star Break runs Monday, July 13 to Wednesday, July 15. The Knights return home on July 16 to open an eight-game homestand. knights knotes

LAST KNIGHTS GAME: Charlotte native Richie Shaffer slugged two home runs in front of family and friends as the Durham Bulls beat the Charlotte Knights 10-8 last night in the finale of their three-game series from BB&T Ballpark. The Bulls used four long balls and 13 hits to beat the Knights. RHP Shawn Haviland (4-5, 4.09) allowed three runs (two earned) over six innings and was saddled with the loss. Tyler Colvin and Micah Johnson homered in the loss.

KNIGHTS GAME 1 STARTING PITCHER: RHP Erik Johnson (7-5, 2.86), who will start the Triple-A All-Star Game for the IL squad on Wednesday, will make his 15th start of the 2015 season, and appear in his 16th game tonight when he gets the nod against the Tides – his first start since June 26 at Rochester. Johnson leads theerik johnson IL in strikeouts (96), is averaging 10.21 strikeouts per nine innings, which is tops in the IL, and is eighth in the IL in ERA. Over his last 32.0 innings pitched, the 25-year-old has allowed just two runs (one earned). 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). He is just the fourth Knights pitcher in franchise history to get the Triple-A All-Star Game starting nod — Julian Tavarez (1994), Charlie Haeger (2006), and Carlos Torres (2010), are the others. 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.

KNIGHTS GAME 2 STARTING PITCHER: RHP Terance Marin (3-0, 0.96) will make his sixth start of the season today (seventh overall game). Marin did not allow a run over his first five games (29.0 IP) and had a 31.0 consecutive scoreless innings streak snapped in the third inning of his last start – back on July 5. Still, the Modesto, CA native tossed 8.2 innings to earn his third win of the season. Marin was assigned to Charlotte on Friday, June 5, 2015 after he was on loan to the Toros de Tijuana of the Mexican League earlier this year. He posted a 2-5 record with a 4.94 ERA in 10 games (nine starts) in 47.1 innings pitched for the Toros. 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 went undrafted out of Modesto Junior College.

DOUBLEHEADERS: The Charlotte Knights have played three doubleheaders this season (six games) – most recently a day-night doubleheader at BB&T Ballpark on July 3 – and are 1-5 this year in twin bills. Charlotte split the day-night doubleheader on July 3 against the Gwinnett Braves, but lost the other two twin bills. Today’s doubleheader is Charlotte’s third in less than two weeks. They dropped both games of their June 28th doubleheader in Rochester.Saladino_Tyler

SALADINO RECALLED: Tyler Saladino, who is third in the IL in stolen bases with 25 this season, has been recalled to the Chicago White Sox today. Saladino, a member of Chicago’s 40-man roster, earns his first promotion to the majors. Saladino, 25, was hitting .255 (50-for-196) with 28 runs scored, seven doubles, two triples, four home runs, 29 RBIs, and 25 stolen bases this season for the Knights. The San Diego, CA native was enjoying a solid month of July with the Knights. In eight games this month, Saladino was hitting .323 (10-for-31) with six runs scored, two doubles, two home runs, and 12 RBIs. He homered in back-to-back games (July 7-8).

FLURRY OF ROSTER MOVES: A flurry of roster moves have been announced today including RHP Shawn Haviland being placed on the DL, RHP Matt Lindstrom released by Chicago, as well as RHP Scott Carroll and infielder Ethan Wilson have been added to the roster, which is now at 24 active players. RHP Scott Carroll, who was optioned down to the Knights on Thursday from Chicago, takes the roster spot of Lindstrom. Carroll posted a 1-1 record with a 3.28 ERA in 12 games for the White Sox. The Kansas City, MO native began the 2015 campaign with the Knights and is 3-2 with a 2.67 ERA in six games with the club this year. Lindstrom, 35, posted a 2-1 record with two saves and a 5.56 ERA in 18 games out of Charlotte’s bullpen this season. Infielder Ethan Wilson, 26, has appeared in 17 games with the Dash this season and was hitting .170 (8-for-47) with seven runs scored, one home run, and eight RBIs. Haviland is 4-5 with a 4.09 ERA in 18 games this season.

ATTENDANCE LEADERS: BB&T Ballpark, which was named the Best Ballpark in Minor League Baseball by Baseball America, has welcomed 21 sell-out crowds in 44 Knights games this season – nearly half of the team’s games. Adding in the White Sox Exhibition Game (April 3) and the Team USA Game (July 4), BB&T Ballpark has welcomed 23 sell-out crowds this season. Overall during the 2015 regular season, BB&T Ballpark has welcomed 417,089 fans – tops in all of Minor League Baseball. The Knights led the minors in attendance last season – their first at BB&T Ballpark – with a mark of 687,715 fans (71 openings).

ALL-STAR GAME NOTES: 3B Matt Davidson, OF Trayce Thompson, and pitchers Erik Johnson, and Zach Phillips, will take part in the 28th Annual First National Bank Triple-A All-Star Game, presented by Gildan.Davidson_Matt 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. Davidson will participate in the 2015 Triple-A All-Star Home Run Derby on Monday, July 13 — his second career Triple-derby. In 2013 — as a member of the Reno Aces — he won the Triple-A All-Star Home Run Derby at Aces Ballpark in Reno, NV. His 2013 title came just a day after he competed in the Futures Game at Citi Field in New York, where won the game’s Most Valuable Player Award. Other Knights to take part in the Triple-A All-Star Game Home Run Derby over the years are: Jim Thome (1993), Russ Morman (1997), Joe Crede (2002), and Dayan Viciedo (2011), and Dan Johnson (2012). Knights manager Joel Skinner will leave the team after tonight’s doubleheader and make his way to Cincinnati, OH to coach the U.S. Team on Sunday in the SiriusXM Futures Game for the second time in his career.

2015 IL LEADERBOARD: 3B Matt Davidson is second in home runs (14) and first in walks (46)… OF Trayce Thompson is first in games played (88), tied for second in runs scored (47), second in at-bats (329), and third in extra-base hits (34)… Tyler Saladino is third in the IL in steals (25) and Leury Garcia is fourth (23)… RHP Kyle Drabek (4-5, 2.64) has the third lowest WHIP (1.11) and fourth lowest ERA (2.64).

Knights Knotes — April 20, 2015

KNIGHT LIGHTS: The Charlotte Knights and Gwinnett Braves were postponed Sunday thus ending their series at just two games – which the Knights swept. The Knights enter tonight’s game with Durham having won their last four games – all against the G-Braves. It’s Charlotte’s longest win-streak since a four-game sweep of the Norfolk Tides last season from August 22 to August 25. Charlotte enters today’s game with a 1-1 mark against the Bulls so far this season.knights knotes

THE LAST KNIGHTS GAME: A sell-out crowd of 10,527 fans filled BB&T Ballpark to watch the Charlotte Knights (7-3) claim sole possession of first place in the International League South Division with a 6-2 victory – the team’s fourth consecutive win over the Gwinnett Braves (3-7) on Saturday. The crowd was the largest at BB&T Ballpark during the 2015 regular season and it was the club’s fourth sell-out of the year. Matt Davidson put the Knights on the scoreboard last night with a two-run home run in the first inning off former Knights teammate Chien-Ming Wang.

KNIGHTS STARTER: Charlotte RHP Shawn Haviland (0-0, 0.00) will make his second start of the 2015 season today in the opening game of a four-game series with the Durham Bulls from the DBAP tonight. His last start – back on April 13 – was his first start in the International League and it was his first at the Triple-A level since June 20, 2010 as a member of Triple-A Sacramento (Oakland). On April 13, Haviland allowed just two hits over five scoreless innings but did not factor in the decision. He walked one and fanned four. His last Triple-A start before that – back on June 20, 2010 — Haviland started against Salt Lake and allowed five runs (two earned) on six hits over 3.1 IP. (Also of note, Haviland’s teammates in that game were former Knights Dallas McPherson, Michael Taylor, and Steve Tolleson. Coco Crisp played CF). In six professional seasons, Haviland owns a 37-49 mark with a 4.69 ERA in 787.2 innings pitched. His nine wins in 2010 with the Stockton Ports (9-6, 3.65) are a season best. Haviland, 29, is a native of Middletown, Connecticut and was signed by Chicago as a free agent on January 12, 2015.

RODON PROMOTED, PETRICKA ACTIVATED BY SOX: Charlotte LHP Carlos Rodon, who entered the season ranked by Baseball America as the top prospect in Chicago’s system, had his contract purchased by the Chicago White Sox today. Rodon posted a 1-0 record with a 3.60 ERA in two starts for the Charlotte Knights this season. The 22-yeqar-old notched his first professional win earlier this year (April 11) in a solid outing for the Charlotte Knights at BB&T Ballpark against the Norfolk Tides. On that day, the hard-throwing left-hander allowed two runs (one earned) on two hits over five innings. He fanned a career-high nine batters and did so in front of a sold-out crowd of 10,480 fans at BB&T Ballpark. In his next outing of the season – which took place at Coolray Field in Lawrenceville, GA – Rodon gave up three runs on six hits over five innings in a no-decision. In all, Rodon appeared in five games for the Knights over parts of two seasons and compiled a 1-0 record with a 3.27 ERA in 22 innings pitched. He allowed 17 hits and struck-out 31 batters over that span. RHP Jake Petricka was reinstated from the DL today after completing his Major League Rehab assignment, which started with the Knights on Thursday and continued on Saturday. In two games, he pitched two scoreless innings. He began the 2015season on Chicago’s DL with a right forearm strain.

Sanchez_CarlosIL PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Carlos Sanchez — the International League’s leader in batting average with an impressive .485 mark –was named as the IL Player of the Week for the period of April 13-19. Sanchez, who began the season in Chicago with the White Sox, has hit safely in all seven games he’s played in this season with the Knights. He appeared in six games for the Knights last week and hit a stunning .536 (15-for-28) with six runs scored, four doubles, six RBIs, and one stolen base. The 22-year-old infielder is currently tied for second overall in the IL in hits (16), ranked third in on-base percentage (.500), and fourth in slugging (.606).

SOLID START: RHP Erik Johnson (2-0, 1.13) impressed in his first start (second appearance) of 2015, spinning five strong innings of one-run baseball. The second round pick by Chicago in 2011 also struck out four in his first start as a Knight since August 12 of last season. Johnson first appeared for the Knights this season in relief of Shawn Haviland (today’s starter) back on April 13. That day, Johnson threw three scoreless innings out of the bullpen for the Knights and earned his first win of the season.

10 FOR TRAYCE: CF Trayce Thompson extended his hit-streak to 10-straight games on Saturday and is now hitting .385 (15-for-39) this season which is the eighth highest mark in the IL so far this year. Thompson is the only player this season in the IL to safely hit in 10 consecutive games, although his 10-game hit-streak is tied with Steve Lombardozzi (Indianapolis) for second place currently. Lombardozzi’s streak started on August 31, 2014. Pawtucket’s Blake Swihart has a 12-game hit streak – which also started last year. His streak began on August 27, 2014. Thompson’s 15 hits are tied for third in the league with three others.

SAVE THE LAST INNING FOR JAIRO: RHP Jairo Asencio notched his International League leading fourth save of the season on Friday night after a scoreless ninth inning for the Knights. He is tied for the league lead after Shawn Armstrong recorded his fourth on Saturday. Asencio fanned two batters and now has fanned seven batters in five innings pitched this season. He has a 1.80 ERA (5.0 IP, 2 R, 1 ER) so far this season. Asencio led the IL in saves with 28 while he was a member of Norfolk in 2013. He also led the IL in saves during two stints with Gwinnett (27 in 2009 and 26 in 2011).

ATTENDANCE FEVER: Through eight regular season home games, the defending attendance champions – the Charlotte Knights — have welcomed a league-high 74,118 fans through the gates. The team is also averaging 9,265 fans per game. The Knights welcomed a Minor League best 687,715 fans through the gates during their regular season during their inaugural campaign at BB&T Ballpark

Knights Knotes — April 18, 2015

KNIGHT LIGHTS: Fresh off their third-straight win against the Gwinnett Braves, the Charlotte Knights host game two of their three-game set tonight with a 7:05 p.m. game at BB&T Ballpark. The Knights won both games in Gwinnett (Wednesday and Thursday) and went on to win last night’s opener, 7-5. Charlotte’s last three-game win-streak came last year from August 22 to August 25 in a four-game sweep of the Norfolk Tides from at BB&T Ballpark. The Knights entered this season with a three-game losing streak against the G-Braves and now have a three-game win-streak against their IL South Division foe.knights knotes

ABOUT LAST KNIGHT: The Charlotte Knights (6-3) used a pair of three-run innings on their way to a 7-5 victory over the Gwinnett Braves (3-6) for their third consecutive win. The first three-run frame for the Knights started with Trayce Thompson’s bat staying hot as he connected on a RHP Matt Wisler offering for his first home run of 2015 – extending his hitting streak to nine games – to put the Knights on the ‘board in the bottom of the second inning. RHP Scott Carroll (1-1, 3.00) was impressive on the mound for the Knights, spinning five innings of two-hit baseball to earn his first win of the season. The G-Braves were able to tally a pair of runs in the top of the second inning off of Carroll (one earned run) despite only one hit – a Pedro Ciriaco lead-off single – in the frame.

KNIGHTS STARTER: RHP Erik Johnson (1-0, 0.00) will make his first start of the 2015 season tonight as he toes the rubber for Charlotte in game two of their three-game series. Johnson made his 2015 debut on April 13 in relief of RHP Shawn Haviland and earned the win after three scoreless innings out of the bullpen. He gave up just two hits while fanning three batters. 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. He began last season with the White Sox and posted a 1-1 record with a 6.46 ERA in five starts. He was then optioned to Charlotte on April 26, 2014, where he 20 starts with the club and compiled a 5-7 record with a 6.73 ERA (105.2 IP). Johnson started 10 games for the Knights in 2013 and posted a 4-1 record with a 1.57 ERA over 57.1 IP. The Mountain View, California native averaged close to one strikeout per inning in 2013 totaling 57 Ks with the Knights. In 2013, pitching across two levels, Johnson ranked third among qualified minor league starters in WHIP (0.99), fifth in ERA (1.96), and sixth in opponents’ average (.197). In June of 2011, the White Sox made Johnson their second round pick in the draft, the 80th player chosen overall. He signed for a bonus of $450,000. Adam Virchis is the scout who signed him.

REHABBING: Chicago White Sox RHP Jake Petricka began a Major League Rehab assignment with the Charlotte Knights on Thursday and entered the game in the sixth inning in relief of Carlos Rodon. Petricka, 26, began the 2015 season on Chicago’s disabled list with a right forearm strain. On Thursday for Charlotte, he tossed a scoreless, hitless inning – striking out one batter while tossing 16 pitches (11 for strikes). He’s expected to pitch again tonight.

NINE KNOCKS: CF Trayce Thompson extended his hit-streak to an International League high nine-straight games last night after smashing his first career Triple-A home run in the 2nd inning of last night’s game. The 24-year-old is now hitting .400 (14-for-35) through nine games on the season – which is the sixth highest mark in the IL so far this year. His 14 hits are tied for second in the league with Toledo’s Dixon Machado. He also has the fourth-highest slugging percentage in the IL with a .629 mark.

CHARLOTTE LEADERBOARD: The Knights enter play tonight with the top batting average in the IL after nine games. Charlotte’s team mark of .294 is 27 points higher than second place Pawtucket (.267). The Knights are also tied with Pawtucket for the lead in slugging percentage (.408), first in triples (5) and are in second place in total bases (129) – nine behind the PawSox. Charlotte’s 15 team stolen bases are also first in the league.

DR. K: RHP Maikel Cleto continued his solid stretch of pitching with the Charlotte Knights. Cleto has started strong this season and last night he struck-out two batters over two scoreless innings. So far this season (three appearances). Cleto, 25, has fanned nine batters in just 5.2 scoreless innings. Dating back to July 18, 2014 – Cleto has not allowed a run with the Knights over his last eight games (13.1 IP). He has allowed just four hits and has fanned 21 batters over that span. He did not allow a run in his final three appearances with the Chicago last season either (9/20-26).

‘LOS IS MORE: Infielder Carlos Sanchez has hit safely in all six games he’s played in this season since being optioned to Charlotte after beginning the season in Chicago with the White Sox. Sanchez is batting .448 (13-for-29) over six games with two doubles and five RBIs. He’s second in the IL in batting average and he’s put together three multi-hit games already this year – with three hits in all three of those games. He has scored a run in four of his six games and his 13 hits are tied for third in the IL.

SAVE THE LAST INNING FOR JAIRO: RHP Jairo Asencio notched his International League leading fourth save of the season last night after a scoreless ninth inning for the Knights. Asencio fanned two batters and now has fanned seven batters in five innings pitched this season. He has a 1.80 ERA (5.0 IP, 2 R, 1 ER) so far this season. Asencio led the IL in saves with 28 while he was a member of Norfolk in 2013. He also led the IL in saves during two stints with Gwinnett (27 in 2009 and 26 in 2011).

THE SKIPPER TOO: In his fourth season as manager of the Knights, Joel Skinner has compiled 217 wins — the most in franchise history. Skinner and Nick Leyva (202) are the only two managers in Knights history to win 200 games. In 11 seasons overall as a Minor League manager, Skinner owns a career record of 810-715. At the Triple-A level (five seasons including this year), he has a 303-282 record. In 2012, Skinner’s Charlotte Knights posted an 83-61 mark — the club’s second highest single season win total in franchise history (three behind their high mark of 86 set in 1993).

Knights Knotes — April 17, 2015

KNIGHT LIGHTS: The Charlotte Knights return home tonight to open a three-game series with the Gwinnett Braves from BB&T Ballpark at 7:05 p.m. The Knights are coming off a two-game sweep of the G-Braves from Coolray Field in Lawrenceville, GA from last night. The team’s last two-game sweep came against the G-Braves from August 5-6, 2014 at BB&T Ballpark. knights knotes

ABOUT LAST KNIGHT: Trayce Thompson went 3-for-6 with two doubles and three RBIs last night as the Knights beat the Gwinnett Braves 7-6 in 10 innings last night. LHP Carlos Rodon started for the Knights and allowed three runs on six hits over five innings and did not factor in the decision. Rodon, the top ranked prospect in Chicago’s system by Baseball America, walked two batters and struck-out four. The North Carolina State University product tossed 87 pitches, 56 for strikes. It was just his fifth career start at the Triple-A level. Left-handed reliever Eric Surkamp (1-0, 0.00) tossed two scoreless innings (8th and 9th) for the Knights and went on to earn the win. He walked one and struck-out two.

KNIGHTS STARTER: Charlotte RHP Scott Carroll (0-1, 4.50) will make his second start of the 2015 regular season tonight against the Gwinnett Braves at 7:05 p.m. in the opening game of a three-game series. Carroll made his 2015 season debut on Sunday and allowed three runs (two earned) on five hits over four innings in a loss against Norfolk. Carroll last faced the G-Braves on April 19, 2014 in a road loss (4.0 IP, 6 H, 6 R, 4 ER, 4 BB, 4 SO). He made that start as the reigning IL Pitcher of the Week – entering that game with an impressive 3-0 mark and a 0.00 ERA. He started his award-winning week with a solid performance at Durham on Tuesday, April 8, 2014. The Kansas City, MO native pitched six innings and allowed two unearned runs over four hits en-route to his second win of the year. The Knights beat the Bulls 8-2 that day and Carroll improved to 2-0 on the season at that time. Five days later, Carroll started for the Knights in front of 10,200 fans at BB&T Ballpark in the team’s three-game series finale with the Norfolk Tides. The 29-year-old was sharp again and tossed a season-high seven shutout innings. He needed just 76 pitches to get through seven innings and allowed just three hits and one walk over that span. He entered his final 2014 start with the Knights without having allowed an earned run in 19.0 innings pitched. Carroll had his contract purchased by the White Sox on April 27 and made his Major League debut that day in a start against Tampa Bay (W, 7.1 IP, 2 R, 1 ER). It was the longest outing by a White Sox pitcher making his Major League debut since Gerry Janeski on April 10, 1970 (also 7.1 IP). Carroll spent part of the 2013 season recovering from Tommy John surgery and appeared in just 11 starts between Advanced Rookie Bristol and Double-A Birmingham.

ROSTER MOVES: The Charlotte Knights placed catcher George Kottaras on the disabled list before today’s game and received catcher Jeremy Dowdy from Winston-Salem (A+). Kottaras appeared in two games with the Knights this year and was hitting .286 (2-for-7) with a double and an RBI. Dowdy has appeared in two games for the Winston-Salem Dash this season (0-for-6). A native of Raleigh, NC, Dowdy, 24, hit .302 (60-for-199) for Kannapolis last season in 53 games. He appeared in one game for the Charlotte Knights in 2013 (0-for-3). He was originally signed by the Chicago White Sox as a free agent on June 9, 2012. He is a 2009 graduate of Wakefield High School in Raleigh, NC.

REHABBING: Chicago White Sox RHP Jake Petricka began a Major League Rehab assignment with the Charlotte Knights last night and entered the game in the sixth inning in relief of Carlos Rodon. Petricka, 26, began the 2015 season on Chicago’s disabled list with a right forearm strain. Last night he tossed a scoreless, hitless inning – striking out one batter while tossing 16 pitches (11 for strikes). He’s expected to pitch again on Saturday.

MAGIC EIGHT BALL: CF Trayce Thompson extended his hit-streak to an International League high eight-straight games last night after recording three hits on the evening. The 24-year-old is now hitting .419 (13-for-31) through eight games on the season – which is tied for third-best in the IL so far this year. His 13 hits are tied for first in the league – with Pawtucket’s Jackie Bradley Jr. His eight-game streak is the longest current streak in the International League.

STRIKE CITY: RHP Maikel Cleto has started strong this season. He continued his solid stretch on Tuesday by striking out three batters over 1.2 scoreless innings. So far this season (two appearances). Cleto, 25, has fanned seven batters in just 3.2 scoreless innings. Dating back to July 18, 2014 – Cleto has not allowed a run with the Knights over his last seven games (11.1 IP). He has allowed just four hits and has fanned 19 batters over that span. He did not allow a run in his final three appearances with the Chicago last season either (9/20-26).

CHARLOTTE LEADERBOARD: The Knights enter play tonight with the top batting average in the IL after eight games this season. Charlotte’s team mark of .294 is now 30 points higher than second place Pawtucket (.264). The Knights also lead in slugging percentage (.409), triples (5) and are in second place in total bases (114) – eight behind the PawSox. Charlotte’s 14 team stolen bases are also first in the league – while Tyler Saladino’s five rank tied for second.

Good luck Michael…

Michael Taylor quietly retired from baseball.

The five-time Minor League Player of the Week, two-time Oakland A’s organizational All-Star (2012 & 2013), two-time Mid-Season All-Star (2008 & 2009), 2009 Topps Double-A All-Star, and 2009 Eastern League Rookie of the Year, hung up his cleats on Monday, March 9, 2015. BF2_0107

I first met Taylor in the summer of 2009. At that point, Taylor was an up-and-coming prospect — one of the game’s brightest stars.

I knew a lot about him by the time he made his way to the Lehigh Valley on July 16, 2009. I worked for the  IronPigs in 2008 and 2009 — and he had a terrific 2008 season — combining to hit .346 with 19 home runs and 88 RBIs in 132 games between Lakewood and Clearwater.

When he made his way to East Allentown in 2009, Taylor was tearing up the Eastern League as a member of the Reading Philies — a team I would actually go on to work for in 2010 and 2011.

I’ll never forget the day he was called up to Lehigh Valley. There were a TON of media members interested in talking to Michael. He couldn’t be nicer! And, throughout the season, he handled all of the attention very well. There was a lot of attention on him too.

At the time of his promotion, he was hitting .333 with 15 home runs and 65 RBIs for the R-Phils and deserved that promotion. He didn’t slow down with the ‘Pigs either. taylor

That season with the IronPigs, Taylor appeared in 30 games and hit .282 with five home runs and 19 RBIs. He hit-for-the-cycle on August 12, 2009 (The “Michael Cycle”). He went 5-for-5 with two doubles, a triple, a home run, four RBIs, and two runs scored that day. Taylor hit a remarkable .320 with 20 home runs, 84 RBIs, and 21 stolen bases combined with Double-A Reading and Triple-A Lehigh Valley in 2009. At the end of the year, he was named the Eastern League’s Rookie of the Year.

Originally drafted by the Phillies in the fifth round of the 2007 draft, Taylor hit a remarkable .320 with 20 home runs, 84 RBIs, and 21 stolen bases combined with Double-A Reading and Triple-A Lehigh Valley in 2009. A season, later, Taylor was traded — twice.

On December 16, 2009, he was traded by the Phillies with Travis d’Arnaud and Kyle Drabek to the Toronto Blue Jays for Roy Halladay and cash. He was then traded by the Blue Jays to the Oakland A’s for Brett Wallace on the same day.

He spent parts of five seasons in the A’s system — mostly playing for Triple-A Sacramento. He put together some solid numbers with Sacramento — and earned a promotion to Oakland in 2011, 2012 and 2013. He appeared in 11 games for the A’s in 2011 — the most at the Major League level before a trade brought him to the White Sox system in June (2014). mtMichael+Taylor+Oakland+Athletics+Photo+Day+dBTGnNudkqnl

At the time of the trade, Taylor was playing for Triple-A Sacramento and was hitting .243 (53-for-218) with five home runs and 31 RBIs over 59 games. He was immediately assigned to Charlotte and joined the Knights at a familiar spot — Coca-Cola Park in the Lehigh Valley. It was a great story — and I couldn’t pass up the chance to take the trip.

Taylor was once again a story in Phillies country as he appeared on the IronPigs TV pre-game show and talked to some of the local media. When I re-introduced myself to Michael on June 16, 2014, it was nearly five years to the day we first met. His attitude, his demeanor, his smile — never changed.

When Taylor was added to the Knights, he brought a new energy to a team that was going through its struggles. He immediately hit — and the Knights began to win games. He had 14 hits over his first 13 games and hit safely in 10 of those 13 games. More importantly, Charlotte won 17 of their next 30 games and had a .500 month of June (15-15) and an 18-11 month of July. The Knights went 10-15 in April and 8-22 in May.

Taylor finished the year by hitting .306 for the Knights in 64 games and the White Sox awarded him with a promotion to the majors in September. He went on to appear in 11 games for the South Siders. 8

Re-signed by the White Sox this offseason, Taylor received an invite to Spring Training. On Monday, however, he decided it was time to call it a career.

While Taylor will ultimately walk away from the game at just 29 years old, his impact on fans, coaches, teammates, and anyone he ever came across throughout his career, will never be forgotten. Good luck Michael in your future endeavors.

White Sox Beat A’s 10-4…

It was a beautiful sunny day in Uptown Charlotte on Sunday. It felt like baseball weather. With less than a month to go before the Knights open BB&T Ballpark with an exhibition game against the Chicago White Sox, it was nice to get the feeling that baseball season is near.sox spring training 2015

It was also nice to finally sit down and watch a White Sox Spring Training game, which I took advantage of on Sunday.

The White Sox traveled to Mesa, Arizona to take on the Oakland A’s. As I have been following the White Sox this spring, I have also been keeping my eyes on the A’s, who have a number of former Charlotte Knights on their team — Josh Phegley, Marcus Semien, Bryan Anderson, and Chris Bassitt (who was on the Knights roster last season but never appeared in a game for the team).

While the only former Knights player on the A’s to get into the game was Anderson, the real focus of the day was to watch the White Sox and a number of former Charlotte Knights in action.

Let’s take a look a some notable names from Sunday’s White Sox vs. A’s Spring Training game:

Photo credit: Buren Foster.

Photo credit: Buren Foster

Tyler Saladino — (2-for-3, 1 R, 1 RBI)
Saladino was back in action for the White Sox and had two hits in his three at-bats. A seventh round pick of the White Sox in the 2010 draft out of Oral Roberts University, Saladino was in the midst of a career year with the Knights last season before a season-ending injury in July.

Named to the International League All-Star Team to represent Charlotte in Durham, it was an injury to his throwing arm — which put an end to his impressive season. He never got a chance to play in the All-Star Game.

Overall, Saladino hit .310 with 16 doubles, four triples, nine home runs, and 43 RBIs in 82 games for the Knights before having Tommy John surgery.

Trayce Thompson — (2-for-2)
There has been a ton of talk lately about Thompson — much of it coming about his brother Klay — who has put together an impressive season in the NBA. Still, Thompson has surely made his own headlines in the White Sox system since being drafted by the club in second round of the 2009 draft.

In six Minor League seasons, Thompson has slugged 88 home runs in 630 games. He hit 31 home runs for the Double-A Barons over the past two years and will look to continue his offensive output as he works his way through the system.

He got a brief taste of Triple-A Baseball in 2012 with the Knights (six games). Thompson enters the 2015 season ranked as the 18th best prospect in the White Sox system by Baseball America. He entered last year ranked as the seventh-best prospect. He turns 24 years old later this month and could be on the verge of a true breakout campaign this year.

Johnson, Micah (3)

Photo credit: Buren Foster

Others of note on Sunday:

Hitters
Micah Johnson (0-for-3, R, BB)
Carlos Sanchez (1-for-2, 2 RBI)
Jared Mitchell (0-1, R, BB)
Courtney Hawkins
(1-for-3, R, RBI)

Pitchers

Chris Beck (2.0 IP, 4 H, ER, SO)
Jake Petricka (1.0 IP, 2 H, 2 SO)
Dan Jennings (1.0 IP, H, R)

Albers Signs Minor League Deal…

Just a few days before pitchers and catchers are set to report to Spring Training in Arizona, the Chicago White Sox were busy yet again. In perhaps the busiest offseason of any team in the Majors this year — the South Siders added another reliever to their bullpen mix — Matt Albers. albers

A native of Houston, TX, Albers has appeared at the Major League level in parts of nine seasons since 2006. Originally drafted by his hometown Houston Astros in the 23rd round of the 2001 draft, Albers has a career Major League record of 25-31 with a 4.42 ERA in 364 games.

Last season, Albers returned to the Astros and appeared in eight games out of the club’s ‘pen. In 10 innings pitched, he posted a 0.90 ERA along with eight strikeouts.

Going back to the previous two seasons (2012 and 2013), Albers has been sharp out of the bullpen for four different teams. The San Jacinto College product went 2-0 with a 2.29 ERA in 40 games for the Boston Red Sox in 2012. He also posted a 1-1 record with a 2.57 ERA in 23 games for the Arizona Diamondbacks that season.

A year later, the right-hander went 3-1 with a 3.14 ERA in 56 games for the Cleveland Indians. He finished a season-high 21 games for the Tribe that season.

Albers, 32, is one of 34 pitchers in White Sox camp this spring vying for a spot on the club’s 25-man roster.