Results tagged ‘ Winter Meetings ’

Brantly, Ynoa, and Jennings Among Latest Additions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

Winter Meetings: Wrap Up

What a week! My first Winter Meetings are in the books and I had a great time in Orlando. I hope you had a chance to read my reports over the past few days. There are more on the way!


On Monday I sat through numerous meetings and really soaked up my first full day in Orlando. The weather was beautiful, the Swan & Dolphin Hotel was awesome, and being in Disney was great! I didn’t see Mickey or Minnie, but I did see tons of former players, friends, and colleagues.

On Tuesday, I obtained a media credential, as the Charlotte Knights and Chicago White Sox had the floor for a few minutes in the media room for our press conference. It turned out great as we announced our six-year extension of  our Player Development Contract with the White Sox. It’s nice to know that our players will be supplied by the White Sox through the 2020 season.

Over my two years in the White Sox organization, I have enjoyed my time with the White Sox players and staff.

On Wednesday, I moderated the International League’s PR/Media Relations session. When I learned that I would have the opportunity to host this, I was ecstatic. Wednesday was an important day for my career and I’m truly blessed to have been given this opportunity. I enjoyed talking to other PR people from around the International League and I took away a number of great ideas from the session. I’d like to take a moment to thank International League President Randy Mobley and his assistant Chris Sprague, who gave me the opportunity. I hope to be able to host next year’s event as well.


Also on Wednesday, I had the chance to spend time with one of my long-time friends, who now lives in Orlando. It was great to see him and catch up. Sometimes in life, work gets in the way of family and friends, so it is always good to be able to make time for someone who has played key role in your life. Joey and I grew up together, played Little League together, and went to Penn State together. Wednesday was a lot of fun.

And, speaking of Wednesday, I did have the opportunity to say hello to two
people who I have always been big fans of over the years. Being that I am Italian and my first name is Tommy, it’s obvious that Tommy Lasorda is someone who I have always looked up to. Although his Dodgers were a threat to my Mets in the 1980’s, Lasorda was still an icon and someone who I respected. So, when I had an opportunity to say hello, I took it.

Later in the day on Wednesday, I came across former Mets pitcher and current analyst on SNY, MLB Network, and TBS — Ron Darling. As a Mets pitcher, Darling had a stellar career.


In 1986, he was nearly untouchable. That season, Darling went 15-6 with a 2.81 ERA. He went 10-2 at Shea that year! He was one of many fan-favorites on that team in 1986. Later that year, the Mets did the unthinkable and won the World Series — with a little help from Bill Buckner, of course.

All and all, this past week in Orlando was amazing. There wasn’t a dull moment for me. I spent the week working, attending meetings, chatting it up with colleagues, and meeting people I have always wanted to meet. I have tons of other stories that I would love to share, but being the PR person that I am, I’ll hold onto those special conversations that I had with numerous people over the week.

Now, with the Winter Meetings over, and the holidays right around the corner, down time in my world is close to over. After  the holidays, it’s full steam ahead. While it has been one of the busiest offseasons of my life, things are about to ramp up. With BB&T Ballpark about 90% completed, my dream ride continues. I’m fortunate to be able to call Charlotte home. I’m fortunate to have such great people in my life. My family — especially my mom, has been there every single step of the way. While I may vent more than I brag, life is good because of people like her in my life.

I hope you enjoyed hearing about my week in Orlando. I enjoyed living it and I certainly enjoyed writing about it. There will be more blogs about Orlando, but this was one that I wanted to write. Every now and again, it’s great to just speak from the heart.

Winter Meetings: Tommy “the V” Viola, Meet Sweet Music Viola

As a kid growing up with the last name VIOLA, there was one player that I always wanted a chance to meet. I got that chance on Tuesday night in Orlando when I had the opportunity to say hello to Frank “Sweet Music” Viola. viola-frank

Living in New York for the early part of my life, people thought it was odd that I had one of my favorite players on a team from Minnesota. Frank Viola was the star pitcher for the Minnesota Twins in the 1980’s. He won the Cy Young Award in 1988 after posting a 24-7 mark with a 2.64 ERA in 35 starts. In eight seasons with the Twins, Viola won 112 games. Overall, he won 176 games over a 15-year Major League career.

In 1989 — Viola — a native New Yorker — became a New York Met when he was traded by the Twins to the Amazins for  package of players that included Rick Aguilera, David West, Jack Savage, Kevin Tapani, and Tim Drummond.

I remember when Viola became a Met. As an eight-year-old living in Brooklyn, I went nuts! Now, I would have two very good reasons to root for Viola. He made 12 starts for the Mets the rest of the 1989 season, and excelled on the mound in Flushing a year later.

In 1990, Viola won 20 games for a 91-71 Mets team that finished second in the NL East. It was great to see him have success!

It’s funny, one Frank Viola story for me was when I moved from Brooklyn to the Poconos (PA). Everyone that I met in PA would always ask me if I was related to Frank Viola. In school, Little League, church, everywhere! While I never knew the answer, I would say yes. Why not, right?

Being a big baseball fan, it made a lot of sense to me. And, being from New York, it sounded like a no-brainer!


On Tuesday, I had a chance to shake his hand, tell him my story as a kid growing up with the last name Viola, and how I had a room full of Viola plaques, baseball cards, and more. I was able to grab a quick photo with him (pictured, right), which I immediately sent to my Viola family.

All and all, it was nice to talk to him for a few minutes and I have to thank Knights GM Scotty Brown for introducing me. Meeting him was 30+ years in the making for me!

Meeting Frank was a great way to cap-off the evening. Tuesday was a busy, busy day here at  the Winter Meetings for me. I’ll have a blog with interviews from Tuesday, but just to make one note about Tuesday…

At 1:30 PM on Tuesday, the Knights, along with the Chicago White Sox announced a six-year extension to their Player Development Contract. White Sox manager Robin Ventura spoke to the media at 1:30 and then Buddy Bell and Knights Executive Vice President/Chief Operating Officer Dan Rajkowski spoke to some media afterwards.

For more information about Tuesday’s announcement, read my press release here:
Knights Ink Six-Year PDC Extension with White Sox from Orlando, FL

Winter Meetings: Yes, there are meetings…

Monday marked day number two for me in Orlando at Major League Baseball’s Winter Meetings. Today was the day for numerous meetings and seminars. I tried to attend as many as I could — and I am glad I did. I learned a number of things on Monday that I will take with me back to Charlotte.

Day 2

20131209_083709I attended my first meeting at the Winter Meetings on Monday morning at 8:30 AM. Kevin Sullivan, the founder of Kevin Sullivan Communications, INC, — spoke to a group of communications professionals on Monday morning and I enjoyed listening to what he had to say.

Kevin is the former White House Communications Director (July 24, 2006 until January 20, 2009). He had some funny photos to show of him with President George W. Bush.

He talked about numerous do’s and don’ts of public relations. The name of the seminar was “How to Become a Trusted Advisor and Improve Your Performance in Interviews and Presentations. I learned a lot from Kevin — things that will help me in our transition from Fort Mill to Charlotte and from Knights Stadium to BB&T Ballpark. My job continues to change each day and it was nice to hear from someone who has seen so many highs in the world of public/media relations.

I attended three more meetings throughout the day and enjoyed all of them for many reasons. It was nice hearing from my old Eastern League buddy Jon Laaser (Director of Broadcasting & Communications for the Richmond Flying Squirrels). He talked about “Establishing and Maintaining Media Relevance in a Crowded Marketplace.

During my days in Reading, I worked with Jon when our teams would face each other. He does a great job in Richmond and it was great to hear him talk.

I also attended a meeting led by Nathan Blackmon and Ken Gordon — both of MLB Advanced Media. Nathan, who lives in North Carolina, has been a huge help to me over the years. He’s a huge help to someone like me who runs a website for their Minor League team’s website.

Other things to note:
I saw many Major League players, managers, coaches, personalities, etc. throughout the day on Monday. While I’m not one to name drop, here are a few people who were within a few feet away from me on Monday: Tommy Lasorda, Bobby Cox, Joe Torre, Tony LaRussa, John Farrell, Jim Leyland, Kirk Gibson… okay, you get the idea. There were tons more and as a baseball person who loves the game, it was a great day.

I also enjoyed catching up with my old Lehigh Valley pal, Meredith Marakovits, who has moved on to big things. Meredith currently works for the YES Network and was interviewing people throughout the day. She does a great job in New York and I wish her continued success.

What to look for on Tuesday:

As soon as I finish writing this, I am going down to the lobby of the Dolphin hotel to get my day started. This is a big day for the Knights and we have an exciting press announcement coming up later today. Stay tuned for the announcement and interviews throughout the day.

Former Knights Move On (Part Deux)…

Welcome back to the Knight Fever blog.

I’ll be leaving for the Winter Meetings on Sunday night and I’m looking forward to getting some exclusive coverage, as well learning as much as I can, in what will be my first-ever Winter Meetings! Keep an eye out for an exciting announcement on Tuesday, December 10.

In the meantime, let’s continue our look at some former Knights, who have recently latched on with other teams this offseason…

Jhan Carlos Marinez (2012-13)Signed by the Detroit Tigers Jhan Carlos Marinez
Originally a farmhand of the Marlins, Marinez became a member of the White Sox organization on September 29, 2011 in a trade for manager Ozzie Guillen. At the time, Guillen was coming off his eighth season as Chicago’s manager. The former White Sox player led the club to a World Series win in 2005, but was coming off a 78-82 season in 2011.

In a move to shake things up, Guillen was sent to the Miami Marlins for Marinez and infielder Ozzie Martinez. Both youngsters began the 2012 season in Charlotte with the Knights. Martinez appeared in 60 games for the Knights before being traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers organization around the All-Star Break in 2012.

Now, the second part of that trade is also gone.

Marinez appeared in parts of two seasons with the Knights (2012-13) and compiled a 6-6 record with six saves and a 3.86 ERA. He fanned 91 batters over 91.0 innings pitched and allowed 65 hits over that span with the Knights. He was limited to just 20 games last season and finished with a 2-4 record and a 6.11 ERA.

The young right-hander appeared in two games for the White Sox in 2012 and did not allow a run in 2.2 IP (0-0, 0.00 ERA). After making his Major League debut in 2010 with the Marlins, Marinez owns a 1-1 Major League record with a 3.38 ERA in six games. The Dominican native is just 25 years old and will look to take the next step in his career in the Detroit organization. Detroit’s Triple-A affiliate — the Toledo Mud Hens — travel to BB&T Ballpark in late June (June 20-23).

Daniel Moskos (2012-13) Signed by the Los Angeles Dodgers Daniel Moskos
A product of Clemson University, Moskos recently signed a Minor League contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers. The South Carolina native also received an invite to Spring Training with Don Mattingly’s National League West club.

A former first-round pick of the Pittsburgh Pirates (4th overall in 2007), Moskos will look to work his way back to the Majors this season for the first time since 2011. That season, he posted a 1-1 record with a 2.96 ERA in 31 games for the Pirates. The following season, Moskos was on the move. Pitching for Triple-A Indianapolis, Moskos was removed from Pittsburgh’s 40-man roster and claimed by the White Sox (July 6, 2012). At the time, he was 1-2 with a 3.86 ERA in 14 games with the Indians.

Moskos would stay in the International League and was sent to Triple-A Charlotte to continue his 2012 campaign. He appeared in 16 games with the Knights over the remainder of the season and posted a 1-1 mark with two saves and a 4.43 ERA over 20.1 innings pitched.

This past season, Moskos returned to Charlotte and compiled a 2-1 mark with one save and a 4.97 ERA in 22 games. The 27-year-old, however, was later released by  the White Sox on June 23. He then signed on to play baseball in the Chinese Professional Baseball League with the EDA Rhinos — the same team that Manny Ramirez latched on with this past season. Now, he’s back in the United States and has a chance to one again pitch in the National League.

Javier Lopez (2006)Signed with the San Francisco Giants Lopez (1)
Lopez has enjoyed a solid Major League career as a lefty specialist in many Major League bullpens since his debut back in 2003.

In 11 Big League seasons, Lopez owns a 27-13 record with 13 saves and a 3.64 ERA (629 games).

Over the past four seasons, he has been a staple in San Francisco’s bullpen — posting a 14-4 record with nine saves and a 2.26 ERA (236 games). Last season, Lopez
went 4-2 with one save and a 1.83 ERA in 69 games for the Giants.

In 2006, Lopez signed a contract with the Chicago White Sox and began the season with the Knights. In 26 games for the Knights, Lopez was 2-1 with 12 saves and a 0.55 ERA. On June 15, 2012, Lopez traded Sox — and went to Boston for reliever David Riske. He has since become one of the most consistent left-handed relievers in the game.

Winter Meetings — It’s 73 degrees in Charlotte!!

Hello and welcome to the Winter Meetings edition of Print“Knight Fever”. It’s my first December living in South Carolina — and I am loving the weather! Back in the Northeast the weather is cold, damp, foggy, and there is snow on the ground. Not here! It’s baseball weather today and I am in the baseball mood!

The Winter Meetings began this week in Nashville and I did not make the trip. Every year I say I am going to go, but I just never end up going. I’ll enter my seventh year in baseball in 2013 and I have yet to make the trip. I say this every year, but next year I plan to go. We’ll see.

With that, let’s take a look at some of the recent Charlotte Knights news from last week. I’ll be back with more updates again a couple of times this week. Stay tuned!

Anthony Carter — Carter was among two players non-tenderecarter_anthonyd by the Chicago White Sox on Friday. As a member of Chicago’s 40-man roster, Carter spent the entire 2012 campaign with the Knights. The right-handed reliever compiled a 4-6 record with a 4.60 ERA and two saves in 39 games (one start).

Originally a 26th round selection of the White Sox out of the June 2005 draft, Carter also appeared in 35 games with the Knights in 2011. The Georgia native posted a 0-2 mark with a 7.23 ERA with three saves that year.

Perhaps his best season as a reliever came back in 2010 when he posted a 1-4 mark with a 3.92 ERA and a Southern League-best 22 saves. He was a Southern League Mid-Season All-Star that season and his 22 saves led all Sox farmhands. He entered the 2011 season ranked as the 10th-best prospect in the White Sox organization by Baseball America.

Carter, who is now a free agent, is currently pitching for Indios de Mayaguez of the Liga de Beisbol Profesional Roberto Clemente (Puerto Rican Winter League). In nine games, he is 0-1 with a 5.06 ERA (10.2 IP, 13 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 6 BB, 8 SO).

Dan Johnson – Johnson had one of the finest seasons in Knights franchise history in 2012Charlotte Knights vs Norfolk Tides 4-7-2012 186. The Minnesota native led the Knights in nearly every offensive category. He hit .267 with 28 home runs, 85 RBIs, and 77 runs scored. He was an International Mid-Season and Postseason All-Star.

His impressive season earned him a promotion to the Majors and he appeared in 14 games with the Sox. He hit .364 with three home runs and six RBIs over that span. All three of his home runs came in one game. On October 3, Johnson became just the 15th player in White Sox franchise history to hit three home runs in a game.

On Friday, Johnson was also non-tendered and became a free agent. It will be interesting to see where he ends up for 2013. Johnson has been a force in the International League in four of the last five years. He’s averaged 24 home runs and 79 RBIs over his four years in the International League span. Overall, he has 96 IL home runs and 315 RBIs.

For his career, Johnson has hit 200 home runs at the Minor League level with 754 RBIs.

Philip Humber – Humber, who made two rehab appearances with the Knights in 2012, was claimed off waivers by the Houston Astros on Friday. It was a season to mostly remember for Humber, who tossed the 21st Perfect Game in MLB history on April 21 against Seattle.

From June 17-July 17, however, Humber was on the disabled list with a right elbow flexor strain. He made three rehab appearances — one with Birmingham and two with Charlotte. He threw 2.1 innings against the Gwinnett Braves in Gwinnett on July 1 and then four innings against Norfolk at Knights Stadium five days later.

Humber talked to the Charlotte media after his start on July 6 at Knights Stadium. Here are all four parts of his post-game press conference from Fort Mill:

Part 1 –
Part 2 –
Part 3 –
Part 4  –