Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Joel Skinner back, as Charlotte Knights' coaching staff remains largely intact

The Chicago White Sox announced their 2015 player development staff on Wednesday afternoon and although several lower-level farm teams will be getting used to new faces, the Charlotte Knights’ staff from 2014 will remain largely intact. 

Joel Skinner will return for a fourth consecutive season as the Knights’ manager, along with Richard Dotson (pitching coach), Andy Tomberlin (hitting coach), Ryan Newman (bench coach) and Chad Efron (strength and conditioning).

Skinner is the winningest manager in Knights’ franchise history (211) and his four-year run at the helm will also make him the lonest tenured skipper in team history.  

The lone new face in the clubhouse – Scott Johnson (athletic trainer) -- should actually look familiar to long-time Knights’ fans. Johnson spent the past two seasons (2013-14) with Double-A Birmingham, but previously spent 12 seasons with Charlotte from 1999-2010.

“We are very pleased to embark on our second season at BB&T Ballpark in Uptown Charlotte with Joel Skinner returning as our field manager,” Knights Chief Operating Officer Dan Rajkowski said via press release. “Joel’s leadership, experience, and ability to develop future Major League talent have been evident over the past three seasons. We also welcome Richard, Ryan, Andy, Chad, and Scott back to the Knights staff this year.”

The Knights – who had 19 players promoted to the White Sox during 2014 -- finished 63-81 in their return to Charlotte under Skinner’s guidance.

In Skinner’s first season as manager of the Knights, he led the club to an International League Southern Division title (2012). That season, the Knights posted a 83-61 mark -- the club's second highest single season win total in franchise history

Dotson will enter his eighth season as the teams’ pitching coach.

Tomberlin, an alumnus of Piedmont High School, is back for a second consecutive with the club (The Monroe, NC native also spent 2012 as Charlotte’s hitting coach in Fort Mill, SC). Under Tomberlin’s guidance last season, the Knights slugged 176 home runs, which tied with High Desert (California League) for the most in Minor League Baseball.

The likely first chance for Knights’ fans to catch Skinner and company in person will come on Friday, April 3 when the White Sox and Knights will collaborate on a “Leadoff Luncheon” at the Charlotte Convention Center.

Chicago White Sox manager Robin Ventura, along with Rick Hahn (White Sox Senior Vice President/General Manager), Buddy Bell, (Chicago White Sox Vice President/Assistant General Manager), and members of the 2015 Knights will be on hand to answer questions and sign autographs.

Later on April 3, the White Sox and Knights will play a charity exhibition game at BB&T Ballpark, beginning at 6 p.m.

For a full list of the White Sox 2015 player development staff, click here.  

Note: Former Knights catcher Cole Armstrong will manage the Great Falls Voyagers (the White Sox Advanced rookie affiliate in MT) this year. He hit 10 home runs for Charlotte in 2009.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Charlotte Knights plan to add roughly 240 seats to BB&T BallPark

Charlotte Knights’ Chief Operating Officer Dan Rajkowski confirmed Wednesday that the team will be adding roughly 240 seats to BB&T BallPark this winter.

The Knights plan to add 150 seats to the berm in right-center field and as many as 90 seats along the first row of the Home Run Porch on the second level down the right-field line.

“There were a couple of areas of the ballpark that we wanted to look a bit more finished,” Rajkowski said, noting that there has also been some landscaping done along the batter’s eye in centerfield.

“In some ways it looked like we’d just moved in last season – and we had,” Rajkowski continued. “We’re looking to address that this winter.”

After factoring in the displaced standing-room areas, the Knights expect a net gain of nearly 130 fans per sold-out game, boosting the ballpark’s capacity to 10,640 (with 8,740 permanent seats and the rest filled by standing room) in 2015.

Tickets for the new seats are expected to cost $14 each (if purchased in advance, $16 the day of a game) and pay for their installation by the end of 2015.

After the Knights led minor-league baseball in attendance last season (687,715 fans over 71 home dates), the need to add more seats became apparent to Rajkowski. He said that the team rarely failed to sell out their 8,500 permanent seats last season.

Upkeep of the berm in right-centerfield was also a concern. The berm will no longer exist come April 3, when the Knights host parent club the Chicago White Sox in the first baseball game to be played at BB&T in 2015.

Read more here: http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2014/12/17/5391344/charlotte-knights-to-add-240-seats.html#.VJIdWDjF-5I#storylink=cpy

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Charlotte 49ers to face NC State Wolfpack at BB&T Ballpark on March 31

Here's the press release...

(UPTOWN CHARLOTTE, NC) – BB&T Ballpark, home of the Charlotte Knights, will host exciting collegiate baseball action on Tuesday, March 31 as the Charlotte 49ers will face the NC State Wolfpack in a 6:05 p.m. game. The 49ers -- the home team for the game -- also released their entire 2015 schedule today, which kicks-off with a three-game series against the University of Georgia in Athens, GA from February 13-15.
“We are very pleased to bring college baseball to BB&T Ballpark,” said Knights Chief Operating Officer, Executive Vice President Dan Rajkowski. “This game will be a great way to showcase two great collegiate baseball programs in a competitive matchup in Uptown Charlotte. We look forward to welcoming Coach Hibbs and the hometown Charlotte 49ers, as well as Coach Avent and the Wolfpack.”

The Charlotte 49ers are a member of Conference USA, which saw 34 players chosen in the June Major League Baseball Draft last season. Since the inception of the Charlotte Knights franchise in 1988, two players have gone on to play for both the Charlotte 49ers and the Knights. Mark Davidson, a six-year Major League veteran, played for the Charlotte Knights in 1993, while the 2014 season brought former 49ers pitcher Tyler Barnette to BB&T Ballpark. Barnette, a Hickory, NC native, was a 14th round selection of the White Sox in 2013. The 49ers have also had seven players go on to play Major League Baseball, including current Volunteer Assistant Coach John Maine.

“What a great opportunity for our program,” said Charlotte 49ers Coach Loren Hibbs. “Thanks to Coach Avent and NC State for their willingness to play. Thanks to Dan (Rajkowski) and Scotty (Brown) for providing us this opportunity. The Knights are a first class organization and we are excited to partner with them for this event. Everyone is looking forward to March 31st and the opportunity for Niner Nation to show its support for our program and the Charlotte Knights!”

The Wolfpack have been a member of the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) since the conference’s founding in 1954. Notable players such as Russell Wilson (current Seattle Seahawks quarterback), and Dan Plesac (an 18-year Major League veteran) played for the Wolfpack during their collegiate days. The 2014 Charlotte Knights roster featured two former NC State players -- Eric Surkamp and Carlos Rodon -- both left-handed pitchers. Rodon, Chicago’s first-round pick out of the 2014 draft (3rd overall), made a quick jump from college to Triple-A, where he ended last season with the Knights. Surkamp was promoted to Chicago from Charlotte on four occasions last season.

Gates for the game between the Charlotte 49ers and the NC State Wolfpack will open at 5:00 p.m. and field box tickets are just $10 for fans, while students from each university will be offered a discounted field box ticket of just $8 by showing a school ID. The Charlotte 49ers are expected to wear their green jerseys and fans are encouraged to come out to BB&T Ballpark dressed in green for a “green-out”. Tickets for this game will go on sale at later date.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Knights to Host the Chicago White Sox in Exhibition Game on April 3

Per team release...

(UPTOWN CHARLOTTE, NC) – After a record-breaking inaugural season at BB&T Ballpark -- the most visited venue in Minor League Baseball in 2014 -- the Charlotte Knights will open the 2015 campaign in Uptown Charlotte with an exhibition game against their parent club, the Chicago White Sox, on Friday, April 3 at 6:05 p.m. Charlotte Knights General Manager of Baseball Operations Scotty Brown, along with White Sox Director of Player Development Nick Capra, made the joint announcement at BB&T Ballpark on Tuesday.

"This is a great way to kick off our second season at BB&T Ballpark," said Knights Executive Vice President/Chief Operating Officer Dan Rajkowski. "We are very pleased to welcome the Chicago White Sox to Uptown Charlotte. This is an opportunity for our fans to see some former Knights who are now playing for the White Sox and to see a competitive game against our parent club.” 

The White Sox and Knights last faced off in exhibition play at Knights Stadium in Fort Mill, SC on April 1, 2010. In all, the Knights and White Sox have played two exhibition games over the course of their 16-year affiliation. The Knights hosted the White Sox during the first season of their affiliation in 1999.

“We are very excited for the Chicago White Sox to travel to Charlotte and help open the second season of BB&T Ballpark, one of the finest facilities in Minor League Baseball,” said Rick Hahn, White Sox senior vice president/general manager. “Charlotte is a first class city with a first-class venue and the Knights have served as an outstanding Class AAA affiliate to our major-league club since 1999.  Every spring, we explain to our roster that it takes far more than 25 men for any team to win a championship, and for the White Sox much of that talent comes through Charlotte each summer.”

Since 1999, Chicago has supplied the on-field talent to Charlotte, making it the fourth longest current affiliation agreement in the Triple-A International League behind the Pawtucket Red Sox (1973 first year with Boston), the Toledo Mud Hens (1987 first year with Detroit), and the Durham Bulls (1998 first year with Tampa Bay). The Knights and White Sox extended their affiliation for an additional six seasons on December 10, 2013. The Knights and White Sox partnership will stay intact through the 2020 season.

The Charlotte Knights opened their inaugural season at BB&T Ballpark on Friday, April 11, 2014 to a sell-out crowd of 10,231 fans. It was the first professional baseball game played in Charlotte for the Knights since the final home game of the 1988 season on August 31, 1988. The 2015 exhibition game will be the first time a Major League team will play in the city limits of Charlotte since April 12, 1984 when the Charlotte O’s hosted the Baltimore Orioles.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Triple-A National Championship lineups

Here are tonight's lineups: 


Storm Chasers (76-67)
Whit Merrifield LF .340
Pedro Ciriaco 2B .302
Paulo Orlando CF .301
Brett Hayes C .310
Brett Eibner RF .241
Cheslor Cuthbert 3B .264
Matt Fields DH .262
Brian Bocock 1B .279
Paul Janish SS .268
Pitching: RHP Christian Binford (0-1, 5.40)

PawSox (79-65)
Rusney Castillo CF .278
Ivan De Jesus 2B .281
Travis Shaw 1B .262
Ryan Lavarnway C .283
Bryce Brentz LF .243
Garin Cecchini 3B .263
Corey Brown RF .231
Deven Marrero SS .210
Justin Henry DH .251
Pitching: LHP Edwin Escobar (0-2, 4.28)

Game time: 7:07 p.m.

TV/RadioNBC Sports Network / ESPN 730

Read more here: http://cltknightsinsider.blogspot.com/#storylink=cpy

Monday, September 15, 2014

Triple-A National Championship Game Probables and notes

Triple-A National Championship Game
BB&T Ballpark, Uptown Charlotte
Tuesday, September 16, 7:07 p.m.

Who: The Pawtucket Red Sox (Boston Red Sox) vs. the Omaha Storm Chasers (Kansas City Royals)

Pitching:
Pawtucket – LHP Edwin Escobar (3-10, 4.94 ERA)
Omaha: -- RHP Christian Binford (8-7, 2.67 ERA)

Notes: The game will be broadcast to a national television audience on NBC Sports Network. … It features the top team in the International League (Pawtucket) against the top team in the Pacific Coast League (Omaha) in a one-game, winner-take-all matchup. … The Storm Chasers have now won back-to-back PCL Championships and are the reigning Triple-A National Champions, while the Pawtucket Red Sox won the Governors’ Cup on Saturday night with a win over the Durham Bulls in Durham, NC. … The Pawtucket roster boasts Cuban outfielder Rusney Castillo, who the Red Sox recently signed to a seven-year $72.5-million contract. The 27 year old has hit .278 in four games with the PawSox and is expect to be called up to Boston following Tuesday’s game. … Royals top prospect Kyle Zimmer -- a first-round selection in 2012, who missed the first four months of this season -- could make a relief appearance in the game. When healthy, the 6-foot-3-inch right-hander’s fastball has been known to hit 100 mph. He’s allowed one hit in four innings spread over three appearances with the Storm Chasers, walking one and striking out four. … Gates are set to open at 5:30 p.m. After the game, the Knights will put on a fireworks show.

Tickets: Tickets – which range from $10 (Home Run Porch) to $16 (Field Box) – are currently available online at charlotteknights.com, in person at the BB&T Ballpark Ticket Office, and by phone at 704-274-8282.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

White Sox announce September callups; Seven Knights promoted

Here's the official release: 
With the 2014 Charlotte Knights record-breaking regular season complete, the Chicago White Sox have announced the promotions of seven players off of Charlotte’s final regular season roster. Officially joining Chicago’s roster today as September call-ups are Chris Bassitt,Scott CarrollJordan DanksJosh PhegleyMarcus SemienEric Surkamp, and Michael Taylor. Six of the seven players have spent time with the White Sox in their careers, while today’s promotion is the first for Taylor with Chicago. The Stanford University product, who had his contract purchased by the White Sox today, spent parts of three seasons in the majors with the Oakland A’s from 2011-13 (26 games). Taylor becomes the 40th player on Chicago’s 40-man roster.
Bassitt, 25, made his Major League debut with the White Sox on Saturday, August 30 after being promoted from the Birmingham Barons (Double-A). He allowed five runs on seven hits over 5.1 innings and was saddled with the loss in his debut. With Birmingham, Bassitt posted a 3-1 record with a 1.56 ERA in six starts. He was optioned to Charlotte on August 31 but did not appear in a game for the Knights.

Carroll, 29, began the 2014 season with the Knights and made four starts with the club before his promotion to Chicago on April 27. The Liberty, MO native went 3-1 with a 1.57 ERA in 23 innings pitched with the Knights. In 22 games for the White Sox (16 starts), Carroll is 5-9 with a 5.07 ERA 108.1 innings pitched. Carroll was optioned to the Knights on August 30 and did not appear in a game in his second 2014 stint with the club.  

Danks, 28, finished his fifth season with the Knights on Monday and hit .270 with 16 home runs, and 57 RBIs in 93 games. It was a record-breaking season for Danks, who broke the all-time Knights hits record, games played record, at-bats record, and runs scored record. Overall, Danks has appeared in 463 games played with the Knights and has 1,682 at-bats, 449 hits, 215 walks, 95 doubles, 12 triples, 52 home runs, 222 RBIs, and 250 runs scored. He broke the all-time Knights franchise hits mark on July 31 at BB&T Ballpark – passing Joe Borchard’s mark of 439.

Phegley, 26, hit .274 (115-for-419) with 69 runs scored, 30 doubles, four triples, 23 home runs, and 75 RBIs in 107 games for the Knights this season. The Terre Haute, IN native was named as an International League Midseason and Postseason All-Star this season. He finished third overall in the IL in home runs and slugging percentage (.530) and ranked first among IL catchers in runs scored, triples, home runs, RBIs, and total bases (222). Defensively, Phegley, a 2012 MiLB Rawlings Gold Glove Award winner, led all IL catchers in games (105), total chances (893), putouts (799), and assists (86). He also threw out a league best 44% of attempted basestealers.

Semien, 23, returns to Chicago after beginning the 2014 season there. The San Francisco native hit .267 (81-for-303) with 57 runs scored, 20 doubles, three triples, 15 home runs, and 52 RBIs for the Knights in 83 games. From August 5 to August 30, Semien reached base in 24 consecutive games and hit .370 (30-for-81) with five home runs and 13 RBIs over that 24-game stretch.

Surkamp, 27, started the 2014 campaign as a member of Charlotte’s rotation and posted a 4-5 record with a 4.69 ERA in 18 starts (11 games) for the Knights. The Cincinnati, OH native earned IL Pitcher of the Week honors (June 16-22) and later earned his first promotion of the season to Chicago on June 26. In 23 games out of the Chicago bullpen, Surkamp is 1-0 with a 6.91 ERA (14.1 innings pitched).

Taylor, 28, was acquired by the White Sox from the Oakland organization in a trade on June 14. The Cheverly, MD native quickly made an impact with the Knights and hit .306 (67-for-219) with 41 runs scored, 18 doubles, two triples, six home runs, and 38 RBIs in 64 games. Overall, the former Philadelphia Phillies farmhand hit .275 (120-for-437) with 32 doubles, three triples, 11 home runs, and 69 RBIs in 123 games combined between Triple-A Sacramento and Charlotte this year.

With today’s announcement, 19 different players have earned a promotion from Charlotte to Chicago this year. RHP Jake Petricka (April 4), outfielder Jordan Danks (April 10), RHP Zach Putnam (April 17), RHP Andre Rienzo (April 19), LHP Charlie Leesman (April 22), RHP Scott Carroll (April 27), LHPFrank De Los Santos (May 3), RHP Frank Francisco (May 10), RHP Javy Guerra (May 20), LHPEric Surkamp (June 26), infielder Carlos Sanchez (July 13), RHP Taylor Thompson (July 20), RHPMaikel Cleto (August 4), 1B Andy Wilkins (August 31), and Scott Snodgress (August 31), are the other 15 players promoted in 2014.

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Notably absent from today's promotions was White Sox top prospect Carlos Rodon, who allowed four runs on nine hits over the course of three appearances (12 IP) with the Knights. He struck out 19, walked eight, and hit a batter. Rodon was the White Sox first pick in this year's draft. 

Jared Mitchell is another name that many expected to be called today. After a slow start to the season and 42 games in Class AA Birmingham, Mitchell returned to the Knights and hit .274 (31-for-113) with a .376 OBP and four home runs over Charlotte's final 28 games.