Sunday, April 19, 2015

Knights Postponed on Sunday Due to Inclement Weather

Sunday’s game between the Charlotte Knights and Gwinnett Braves originally scheduled for 2:05 p.m. from BB&T Ballpark has been postponed due to inclement weather. A makeup date has not been announced at this time.
Tickets from Sunday’s game can be exchanged for an equal or lesser value ticket for any 2015 Knights regular season game, based on availability. Tickets can be exchanged at the Knights Ticket Office located at BB&T Ballpark.
The Knights will now head to Durham, NC to open a four-game series with the Bulls on Monday at 7:05 p.m. 

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Erik Johnson shines in Knights 6-2 win over Braves

Who is this version of Erik Johnson? And what did he do with the guy who struggled so mightily in 2014?

In his first start of 2015 with the Charlotte Knights, Johnson, held the Gwinnett Braves to one run on four hits over five innings of work, while striking out four in an eventual 6-2 Charlotte win in front of 10,527 at BB&T Ballpark.

The 25-year-old right-hander threw a remarkably efficient 63 pitches (46 strikes) over his five innings of work, never once going to a three-ball count, before heading down to the bullpen to toss 15 more pitches after being removed from the game (he was on an innings limit).

Johnson began last season as the Chicago White Sox No. 5 starter, but struggled with his fastball velocity and command before being reassigned to the Knights. From there, things only got worse for the White Sox No. 2-ranked prospect entering the season.

Johnson went on to finish 2014 with a 5-7 record with the Knights and a career-worst 6.73 earned-run average. 

But for Johnson, that's all in the past now. 

Through eight innings of work (three came in relief last Tuesday) this season, he's allowed just one run on six hits, while striking out seven.

Johnson's fastball is back to registering 92-to-95 miles-per-hour on the radar gun and he’s mixing in a sharp curveball, along with a slider and changeup. 

There’s a hop in his step and an enthusiasm in his voice that wasn’t there last season.

The Knights spotted Johnson (2-0) all the runs he would need in the first inning when Matt Davidson connected on a two-run home run off Chien-Ming Wang (0-1). For good measure, they added another run in the fourth inning and three more in the seventh to put the game away. 

The lone run off Johnson on Saturday came in the third inning. Joe Benson went the other way on a 2-0 fastball for a double to leadoff the inning and then came in to score on a seeing-eye ground-ball single between first and second. 

After a fly-out and an infield single, Johnson went to his slider and promptly got out of the inning with a double play. 

Of Johnson's four strikeouts on the night, three came on fastballs (all swinging) and one on a curveball. 

Quote
“For me, it’s all about getting as late of a launch as I can. By a late launch (I mean) how late you can hold onto the ball before you release it. It looks harder and is more explosive the longer you can hold onto it. That’s what I worked on this offseason.” – Knights’ starter Erik Johnson.

Worth mentioning
Knights’ centerfielder and White Sox No. 18 prospect (according to Baseball America) Trayce Thompson (1 for 4) extended his International-League best hitting-streak to 10 games with a single in the fourth inning. The 24-year-old is now hitting .375. … Tyler Saladino played shortstop for the Knights on Saturday after serving as the team’s designated hitter for the previous five games (he's still recovering from Tommy John Surgery just over eight months ago). … Carlos Sanchez (3 for 4, RBI, R) continued his torrid pace at the plate and is now hitting a team-high .485 over seven games since his assignment to Class AAA. … Reliever Jake Petricka (with the Knights on a rehab assignment from the White Sox) threw a scoreless inning of relief with two walks and two strikeouts. ... The crowd of 10,527 was the Knights' largest of the season and their fourth sellout. 

What's next?
The Knights (7-3) and Braves (3-7) will conclude their three-game series on Sunday at BB&T Ballpark at 2:05 p.m. Shawn Haviland (0-0, 0.00) will take the ball for Charlotte across from Braves No. 3 prospect (according to MLB.com) Mike Foltynewicz (0-1, 2.08).  

Game 10: Erik Johnson looks to continue strong start to season against G-Braves

Here are the lineups:

G-Braves (3-6)
Eury Perez RF
Jose Peraza 2B
Adonis Garcia DH
Pedro Ciriaco 3B
Todd Cunningham CF
Elmer Reyes SS
Joe Benson LF
Matt Kennelly 1B
Braeden Schlehuber C
Pitching: RHP Chien-Ming Wang (0-0, 3.38)

Knights (6-3)
Tyler Saladino SS
Carlos Sanchez 2B
Neftali Soto DH
Matt Davidson 3B
Engel Beltre RF
Trayce Thompson CF
Dan Black 1B
Kevan Smith C
Leury Garcia LF
Pitching: RHP Erik Johnson (1-0, 0.00)

Game time: 7:05 p.m.

TV/Radio: WMYT My12 / ESPN 730 

Notes: Last night, Charlotte defeated the G-Braves, 7-5, on the strength of a 3-for-5 night at the plate from Carlos Sanchez. ... Today marks Erik Johnson's first start of 2015. The right-hander earned a win after tossing three scoreless innings in relief of Shawn Haviland on April 13. He gave up just two hits and fanned three. ... Jake Petricka (on rehab assignment from the White Sox) is scheduled to make his second appearance tonight. Petricka, 26, began the season on the disabled list with a strained forearm. ... Trayce Thompson is currently riding an International League-best nine-game hitting streak. The 24-year old CF ranks sixth in the IL in batting average at .400 (14-for-35). ... Carlos Sanchez ranks second, with a .448 (13-for-29) batting average through six games. ... The Knights leads the IL in batting average through nine games. Their team mark of .294 is 27 points higher than second-place Pawtucket (.267). G-Braves starter Chien-Ming Wang combined to go 13-8 with a 4.13 ERA with both Charlotte and Louisville last year.   

Friday, April 17, 2015

Carlos Sanchez leads Charlotte Knights to third-straight win

Since his reassignment from the Chicago White Sox to the Charlotte Knights on April 11, Carlos Sanchez has done nothing but hit.

The Knights’ second baseman went 3-for-5 on Friday with two RBI, a run scored and a stolen base to help Charlotte secure a 7-5 win over the Gwinnett Braves in front of 10,361 at BB&T Ballpark.

Sanchez’ big hit of the night was a two-run single up the middle off Braves’ prospect Matt Wiser (0-1) in the second inning that gave the Knights a 3-2 lead they would never relinquish. 

The three-hit night improved Sanchez’ average to .448 (13-for-29). The switch-hitter now has five RBI, four runs scored and a stolen base in six Class AAA games this season.

With Micah Johnson – who narrowly edged out Sanchez for the starting second-base job in Chicago – hitting just .167 (3-for-18) in seven games with the White Sox, Sanchez’ reassignment to Charlotte could be nearing an end.

Scott Carroll (1-1) earned the win for the Knights after allowing two runs (one earned) on two hits over five innings of work. The Sinker-baller struck out four and induced eight ground-ball outs.

Maikel Cleto (2IP, 0R), Arcenio Leon (1IP, 3R) and Jairo Asencio (S, 4) combined to hold the G-Braves to three runs on three hits (all off Leon) over the game’s final four frames.

Quote
“I did the best that I could while in was in (Chicago) and I brought that (attitude) here and I think that’s helped me a lot. I’m just trying… to show (the White Sox) that I can play and I’m just waiting for a chance.” – Knights second baseman Carlos Sanchez.

Worth mentioning
The win was the third in as many days for the Knights over the G-Braves. Charlotte swept a short two-game series in Gwinnett on Wednesday and Thursday. … Knights’ centerfielder and White Sox No. 18 prospect (according to Baseball America) Trayce Thompson (1 for 4) extended his International-League best hitting-streak to nine games with a solo home run in the second inning. The 24-year-old is now hitting a team-best .400 (min 2.7 PA/G). … Tyler Saladino (1 for 5), who DH’d for the fifth-straight game on Friday, extended his current hitting-streak to four games. … Maikel Cleto tossed two perfect innings of relief with two strikeouts and has now not allowed a run in his last 13 1/3 innings of work, dating back to last season. … White Sox reliever Jake Petricka, who threw a perfect inning on Thursday, is scheduled to make his second rehab appearance with the Knights on Saturday. … Prior to the start of Friday’s game the Knights unveiled an 18-foot Dragon statue just to the left of the batter’s eye in centerfield. The dragon, affectionately dubbed “Mojo” by those in the press box on Friday, will breath smoke after Knights’ home runs and wins.    

What's next?
The Knights (6-3) and Braves (3-6) will continue their three-game series on Saturday at BB&T Ballpark. Erik Johnson (1-0, 0.00) will take the ball for Charlotte across from former Knights' right-hander Chien-Ming Wang (0-0, 3.38).  

Observer legendary photographer Jeff Siner was at Friday's game and put together an excellent photo slideshow. Click Here to view it.  

Game 9: Knights look to take three in a row from G-Braves

Here are the lineups:

G-Braves (3-5)
Todd Cunningham CF
Jose Peraza 2B
Cedric Hunter DH
Pedro Ciriaco 3B
Adonis Garcia LF
Elmer Reyes SS
Joe Benson RF
Braeden Schlehuber C
Barrett Kleinknecht 1B
Pitching: RHP Matt Wisler (0-0, 0.00)

Knights (5-3)
Tyler Saladino DH
Carlos Sanchez 2B
Neftali Soto 1B
Matt Davidson 3B
Engel Beltre RF
Trayce Thompson CF
Kevan Smith C
Jared Mitchell LF
Leury Garcia SS
Pitching: RHP Scott Carroll (0-1, 4.50)

Game time: 7:05 p.m.

TV/Radio: MiLB.TV / ESPN 730 

Notes: Last night, Charlotte rallied from a 3-0 fifth-inning deficit to defeat the G-Baves, 7-6 in 10 innings. Carlos Rodon got the start and allowed three runs on six hits over five innings of work, while striking out four. Jake Petricka made his first rehab appearance and tossed a perfect inning with one strikeout. Trayce Thompson went 3-for-6 with two doubles and three RBIs. ... Gwinnett starter Matt Wisler was acquired as part of the Craig Kimbrel trade with the San Diego Padres. He's currently listed as the No. 2 prospect in the Braves' system according to MLB.com. ... The Knights placed catcher George Kottaras on the DL on Friday morning and recalled Raleigh native Jeremy Dowdy from Winston-Salem. ... Trayce Thompson extended his IL-leading hitting-streak to eight games on Thursday. The 24-year-old is hitting .419 (13-for-31) this season. ... Gwinnett won the season series with Charlotte, 13-9 in 2014.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Charlotte Knights - Gwinnett Braves pitching matchups and notes

Knights vs. GBraves @ BB&T Ballpark 

Friday, 7:05 p.m.
CHA: RHP Scott Carroll (0-1, 4.50 ERA)
GWN: RHP Matt Wisler (0-0, 0.00 ERA)

Saturday 7:05 p.m.
CHA: RHP Erik Johnson (1-0, 0.00)
GWN: RHP Chien-Ming Wang (0-0, 3.38 ERA)

Sunday 2:05 p.m.
CHA: RHP Shawn Haviland (0-0, 0.00 ERA)
GWN: RHP Mike Foltynewicz (0-1, 2.08)

Head to head: This is the second of eight series (23 games) between the Knights and G-Braves this season. Gwinnett leads the all-time series 68-63 including a 37-29 record at home at Coolray Field. The G-Braves went 6-5 last season at BB&T Ballpark.

Briefly: The Charlotte Knights and Gwinnett Braves concluded their two-game series from Coolray Field on Thursday night and will now take their talents to Charlotte for a three-game set. … Just before game time on Wednesday, the Knights announced four roster moves – with three players heading to the disabled list (RHPs Brad Penny and Matt Lindstrom, along with outfielder Matt Tuiasosopo (retroactive to April 14)) -- Jarrett Casey, was promoted from Class AA Birmingham. … On Thursday, infielder Justin Jirschele was promoted from Winston-Salem Class A+. … Chicago White Sox RHP Jake Petricka, who began the 2015 season on Chicago’s disabled list with a right forearm strain, begin a Major League Rehab assignment with the Knights on Thursday. … Trayce Thompson has swung the bat well to start the 2015 season and continued that on Thursday when he extended his hitting-streak to seven games. The 24-year-old is hitting .400 (10-for-25) through seven games on the season – which is tied for third-best in the International League. … Through six regular season games, the Knights have welcomed a league-high 53,230 fans through their gates. The team is averaging 8,872 fans per game -- tops in the IL and all of Minor League Baseball so far this season.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Brad Penny and Charlotte Knights fall to Durham Bulls, 12-8

Brad Penny’s mission this spring has been to reinvent himself as a sinkerball pitcher.

His two-seam fastball has always had solid downward action, but until the last couple of years, the 36-year-old two-time All Star preferred to blow Major League hitters away with his plus fastball.

On Tuesday, the 6-foot-4-inch 235-pound righthander – who now rarely tops 91 miles-per hour on the radar gun – found out how futile things can feel when the sinker isn’t…well…sinking the way he'd like it to.  

The Durham Bulls knocked the Knights’ elder statesman around to the tune of six runs on 11 hits over three and 2/3 innings of work on their way to a 12-8 win over Charlotte in front of 6,710 at BB&T Ballpark, earning a split in their short two-game series in the process.  

Penny took the ball on Opening Day for the Knights (3-3) and showed what he can do when his two-seam fastball is working, recording 12 groundball outs and just one fly out in a win over the Norfolk Tides. But his performance on Tuesday was a reminder that his transformation is still a work in progress.

After recording five of the game’s first six outs via the ground, Penny’s sinker flattened out and Durham capitalized, smacking five-straight hits to begin a four-run third inning that cut the Knights’ lead to 5-4. Penny (1-1) then went back out for the fourth inning, but was sent to the showers early after allowing two more hits and another run.

Things didn’t get much prettier from a pitching standpoint for the Knights (3-3) after Penny’s exit when Arcenio Leon allowed a one-out grand slam to Durham’s Corey Brown (2 for 5, 5 RBI) in the 6th inning to give the Bulls (3-3) a 10-5 lead.

The Bulls finished the night with at least a hit in every inning except the ninth.

The Knights, who entered the night leading the International League with a collective .283 team batting average, turned in another solid showing from the plate, knocking reigning IL Pitcher of the Week Dylan Floro around for four runs in the first inning and one more in the second.

First baseman Neftali Soto, who finished 3 for 4 with three runs knocked in and two scored, led the Charlotte offensive attack on Tuesday, but the rough start by Penny and the big blow by Brown were just too much for the Knights to overcome.

Quote

“What worked so well last week was that I was setting up way off (the plate) and (Penny) was starting it off out over the plate and (the ball) was finishing down and in. Tonight was just one of those games where it was a constant battle for him to get the feel of the sinker and his off-speed stuff and it was unfortunate how it turned out.”  – Knights’ catcher Kevan Smith.

Worth mentioning
The two teams combined for 31 hits and 20 runs on Tuesday after combining for just 14 hits and three runs in a Knights’ 3-0 win on Monday. … Both Trayce Thompson (six games) and Tyler Saladino (five games) extended their current hitting streaks. … Matt Davidson finished the night 2 for 4 with a double and the defensive play of the game at third base. The Knights third baseman was charged with his first error of the season in the eighth inning when he failed to handle a tricky hop. Davidson had successfully converted his first 22 attempts this season. … Veteran reliever Matt Lindstrom allowed two runs on a walk and a home run in an inning of work. The former White Sox closer has now allowed seven runs in 2 and 2/3 innings of work over three appearances.

What's next?

The Knights will now pack up and head to Coolray Field to take on Gwinnett on Wednesday at 7:05 p.m. RHP Chris Beck (0-0, 5.79) will take the mound across from LHP Manny Baneulos (0-0, 2.45). White Sox top prospect Carlos Rodon is slated to toss for the Knights in Gwinnett on Thursday.