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.

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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

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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)

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, 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.


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. 

Monday, September 1, 2014

Braves secure regular season finale over Knights 9-2

The Charlotte Knights opened their new home – BB&T BallPark – on Friday, April 11 and ushered in the first of 31 sellout crowds.

On Monday, the Knights – who did not qualify for post season play – wrapped up their final game at the Uptown stadium this season, a 9-2 loss to the Gwinnett Braves, in front of 9,540.

In total, 687,715 fans (the most in the minors) passed through the gates over that span – more than twice the amount (254,834) that visited Knights stadium in Fort Mill, SC, in 2013.

Zach Stewart took the mound for the Braves and held the Knights to two runs over six innings of work in the kind of coincidence that you seemingly only find in the game of baseball.

It was Stewart, who – a year ago Tuesday – got the start for Charlotte in the final game at Knights Stadium against the Braves.

His counterpart, Andre Rienzo, allowed two runs over six innings as well, before the game became a battle of the bullpens, which the Braves won thanks in large part to Sean Kazmar and Joe Leonard.

Kazmar belted two home runs – including the go-ahead shot in the eighth inning off Charlotte’s Daniel McCutchen, while Leonard finished the day 4-for-4 with a three-run home run of his own.  

“Our record wasn’t what we’d have liked it to be, but I think just coming up here to Uptown, the fans were a big part of this year,” said Knights manager Joel Skinner, whose squad finished the season in fourth place in the International League’s South Division with a record of 63-81.

“The facility and the atmosphere that they created here was tremendous. We wanted to be better than we were, but from our standpoint, a lot of good things happened with the players.”

In total, 15 Knights received promotions to Chicago (as of 9/01) with Carlos Sanchez, Jordan Danks and Andy Wilkins each posting career years.

Wilkins became the first Knight to hit 30 home runs in a single season since Brad Eldred hit 35 in 2008. Carlos Sanchez spent much of the season near the top of the IL in hits, and Danks – who is already on his way back to join the White Sox – broke the Knights’ all-time hits mark.

“Nobody wants to be setting minor league records, they’d rather be in the major leagues and I would,” said Danks, whose 1-for-3 performance on Monday gave him 449 career hits with the Knights. “But, I’ve been here for the last five years off an on, and I’m glad to set some records along the way and proud to say I've been a Knight. 

“I’m going to try to finish the season strong with (Chicago) and then come back next year and be ready to go. I love this stadium, but I hope I never see it again.”

Josh Phegley, who turned in another All-Star season and will likely join Danks in Chicago, summed up the season well.

“I feel like we got a little piece of the big leagues here with the stadium and city in general,” Phegley said. “It was a fun year.”

Notes: Concord, NC native Dan Wagner picked up his first career Class AAA hit with a two-out single to left field in the seventh inning. 

Game 144: Charlotte Knights vs. Gwinnett Braves

Here are the lineups:

Knights (63-80)
Jared Mitchell LF
Josh Richmond RF
Jordan Danks CF
Michael Taylor DH
Matt Tuiasosopo 1B
Matt Davidson 3B
Justin Jirschele SS
Dan Wagner 2B
Luis Sierra C
Pitching: RHP Andre Rienzo (1-4, 4.20 ERA)

Braves (64-77)
Todd Cunningham CF
Elmer Reyes SS
Christian Bethancourt DH
Brandon Boggs LF
Sean Kazmar 3B
Ozzie Martinez 2B
Steve Lerud C
Edward Salcedo RF
Joe Leonard 1B
Pitching: RHP Zach Stewart (7-4, 4.68 ERA)

Game time: 2:05 p.m.

TV/Radio: / ESPN 730

Notes: The Knights need a win today to finish the season .500 at home (35-36). ... This is Andre Rienzo's ninth start with Charlotte (10th appearance). ... The Knights have welcomed 678,167 fans through their gates this season (31 sellouts) -- the most in all of Minor League Baseball. ... In a weird coincidence, Zach Stewart will start today for the Braves. Nearly a year ago to the day, Stewart tossed eight shutout innings for Charlotte in its final game at Knights Stadium. 

On a personal note, I want to thank everyone for reading the Knights Insider Blog this season. It's been an honor and a pleasure covering the team. Any thoughts, questions or ideas for next season? please feel free to email me: 

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Sunday, August 31, 2014

Knights Sign Timothy “Eli” Shenise to One-Day Contract, Make-A-Wishcome true

Prior to the start of Sunday’s game, the Charlotte Knights held a press conference to announce the signing of 12-year-old Timothy “Eli” Shenise to a one-day contract.

Sunday’s announcement – which was made in front of members of the Pineville native’s family, friends, media, as well as Knights players and staff, was made possible with help from Make-A-Wish.

Eli, who handled questions from the media better than some professionals, is battling Burkitt’s Lymphoma, a cancer of the lymphatic system. He has successfully completed two rounds of treatments and has two rounds to go.

Eli’s wish was simple – he wanted to become a Charlotte Knights player for a day.

That wish came true when Knights manager Joel Skinner, presented Shenise with a one-day contract.

“That was great,” Skinner said. “His day started at 3:00 p.m. when we brought him in and he signed his contract. He went out and took some groundballs. Originally, he was going to take them with (Andy) Wilkins, but he got called up, so (Justin) Jerschele jumped in and gave him some lessons.”

From there, Shenise went on to play catch with the Knights pitchers as they loosened up for the game, before taking his place next to Knights starter Chris Beck to toss out the game’s ceremonial first pitch.

“It just made me smile,” Beck said. “I have a little brother that’s 9 and his name is Eli, so I could only imagine what that kid’s going through. I mean, I need to worry about throwing a baseball and how many hits I give up, and that kid’s battling for his life.

“He stood on the mound and delivered a strike, and that chokes you up a little bit.” 

Knights players wore bright green ribbon wristbands during Sunday’s game, which stood for all forms of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.

Shenise and his father spent the rest of the game in the Knights dugout.

“He jumped in just like one of the guys,” Beck said. “For a teenage kid that just walked into a Triple-a locker room, he handled it well. You just see his positive attitude and if you give up a home run or something, when you see that, there’s no reason to hold your head down about anything.”  

Following the third inning of Sunday’s game, the BB&T scoreboard asked the crowd to “Guess Shenise’s home town.” – a spot that the Knights have run all season with almost every player on their roster.

Although Charlotte lost the game 6-0, reports were that Shenise never missed a pitch.

“Once the game started, he was locked in,” Skinner said. “It was, all in all, a great day.”

NotesMake-A-Wish® Central and Western North Carolina grants wishes to children with life-threatening medical conditions to enrich the human experience with hope, strength and joy. Since its inception in 1985, more than 3,500 local children have experienced a wish come true. For more information visit:

For more on Eli's day, check out Elizabeth Arriero's story in Monday's metro section of the Charlotte Observer. 

Chris Beck finishes the season strong in Knights loss to Gwinnett

After a season full of steps forward, Chris Beck – the White Sox’ ninth-ranked prospect – wasn’t going to let his year come to an end on a low note.

On Sunday, the 2012 second-round draft pick held the Gwinnett Braves scoreless on four hits over five innings in an eventual 6-0 Knights loss in front of 10,574 at BB&T BallPark.

Three pitches into the game, Beck – who was activated off the disabled list earlier in the day – had already recorded his first strikeout and set the tone for an outing worth remembering.

“Easily the best command I’ve had all year, especially with my breaking stuff,” said Beck, who struck out a season-high six. “I’ve got to give some credit to (Knights pitcher) Taylor Thompson. He has this sneaky jump to the plate and I thought about doing that and worked on extending my stride and was able to keep the ball down in the zone with everything. It worked out well.”

The right-hander came in off his worst showing of the season: a 2/3’s of an inning effort in Gwinnett on Aug. 20, where he allowed five runs on four hits and four walks before being lifted due to back spasms.

Beck, who made his seventh start for the Knights (63-80) after beginning the year with Class AA Birmingham, flashed the Braves (64-77) a 95-mile-per-hour fastball, a changeup at 82 with good arm-side fade, and his signature power slider.

After allowing a hit in each of the first two innings, the 6-foot-3-inch, 225-pound 23-year-old found his rhythm in the third, striking out the side on 13 pitches.

Beck made it four Ks in a row when he got Braves’ No. 3 hitter and second-ranked prospect, Christian Bethancourt (2-for-4, 2 RBI), swinging on a slider to open the fourth. 

“Last Sunday of the season and there was no reason to hold anything back,” said Beck, who finished the year 1-3 with a 4.05 ERA in Class AAA. “I really needed to redeem myself after my last start and to go into the offseason with some momentum. The last (start) is easily forgettable after this one.”

Charlotte was without its top power threat in Andy Wilkins, who was called up by the White Sox earlier in the day, and it showed as Gwinnett starter Terry Doyle (4-4) held the depleted lineup scoreless on three hits over seven-plus innings. 

Jarrett Casey (1-3) allowed four runs (three earned) in 1 and 2/3 innings of relief to take the loss.

Asked what his immediate future might hold, Beck paused.

“No clue and I’m kind of good with that for right now,” he said. “Whatever the White Sox want to do, that’s their decision. Hopefully, my performance now and in the future can sway their mind one way over another, but there’s a plan there higher than I can reach with my mental capacity and I’m just going to leave it at that.”

Notes: The Knights will conclude their inaugural season in Uptown Charlotte Monday against the Braves. First pitch is scheduled for 2:00 p.m. … Sunday’s crowd of 10,574 was the largest in BB&T BallPark history.

Game 143: Chris Beck and Charlotte Knights take on Gwinnett Braves

Here are the lineups:

Knights (63-79)
Jared Mitchell RF
Marcus Semien 3B
Josh Phegley C
Jordan Danks CF
Michael Taylor LF
Matt Tuiasosopo 1B
Matt Davidson DH
Justin Jirschele SS
Dan Wagner 2B
Pitching: RHP Chris Beck (1-3, 4.76 ERA)

Braves (63-77)
Jose Constanza LF
Todd Cunningham CF
Christian Bethancourt C
Joey Terdoslavich 1B
Sean Kazmar 2B
Brandon Boggs RF
Donnie Murphy 3B
Ozzie Martinez SS
Edward Salcedo DH
Pitching: RHP Terry Doyle (3-4, 3.33 ERA)

Game time: 7:05 p.m.

TV/Radio: / ESPN 730 / WNOW 1030 AM (Spanish)

Today's roster moves: LHP Eric Surkamp optioned to Charlotte (Report TDB) ... INF Andy Wilkins had contract purchased by Chicago ... LHP Scott Snodgress had contract purchased by Chicago ... OF Moises Sierra completed MLB rehab assignment, activated by Chicago ... RHP Chris Bassett optioned to Charlotte (Report TBD) ... INF Luis Sierra activated off DL ... RHP Chris Beck activated off DL ... RHP Miguel Chalas acquired via trade with Baltimore Orioles, assigned to Charlotte.  

Monday, August 25, 2014

Knights use four-run eighth inning to complete sweep of Tides

There was no walk-off magic for the Charlotte Knights on Monday.

Instead, they took care of things in the eighth inning.

After receiving a walk-off home run from Josh Richmond in the 11th inning on Saturday and a send-them-home single from Michael Taylor in the ninth on Sunday, it was an infield-single off the bat of Jared Mitchell in the eighth that led Charlotte to a 6-4 win over the Norfolk Tides.

Although not as exciting a finish as the crowds at BB&T BallPark had seen the past two nights, Monday’s eighth inning – which began with the Knights trailing 4-2 – was still one to watch for the 9,697 on hand.

Marcus Semien (2-for-3) got things started with a leadoff single and then came around to score on the very next pitch when Josh Phegley connected on his 23rd home run of the season.

“I knew (Norfolk pitcher Ryan Webb (0-2)) was kind of a sinker-slider guy and I didn’t see him starting me off with a slider in my first AB against him,” Phegley said. “So I was just trying to see something hard, middle-in, and he threw it right in there and I got the barrel to it.” 

The Knights (62-76) weren’t done scoring there.

Following singles by Andy Wilkins (2-for-4) and Matt Davidson (1-for-3), Matt Tuiasosopo walked to load the bases with one out.

After a fielder’s choice, Mitchell stepped into the batter’s box and recorded one of the shortest singles of his season, squibbing a ball that at first looked like it was heading foul down the first-base line.

“First off, that was a horrible swing I put on it,” Mitchell said. “I started down the line thinking it’d be fair and then on the first bounce it took off to the right, so I slowed up, and then the next bounce it came right back toward the field and I knew I had to start running."

The throw from Webb to first base got away, allowing two runs to score. 

“We kind of just got lucky right there,” Mitchell said. “Sometimes that’s how the ball rolls for you.” 

With Knights regularly scheduled starter, Chris Beck, on the disabled list, Daniel McCutchen combined with Matt Zaleski to hold the Tides (61-75) to three runs (two earned) on nine hits over seven innings. 

Jarrett Casey (1-2) then came on to toss the final two innings to record his first Class-AAA win and complete a four-game sweep of Norfolk for the Knights, who will now head to Norfolk for two more against the Tides.

“You just try to create opportunities for each other and that’s what the guys have been doing lately,” Knights manager Joel Skinner said. “When you win games late, usually it’s because the pitching gives you a chance – and that’s what happened tonight.”

NOTES: Chicago outfielder Moises Sierra, who is currently on the DL (left oblique), began his MLB rehab assignment with the Knights and went 2-for-5 with a run scored and a stolen base. ... Prior to Monday’s game, the White Sox optioned Jordan Danks back to Charlotte. Danks hit .289 in 12 games with a home run and four runs batted in during his recent stint with the White Sox.

Game 138: Charlotte Knights vs. Norfolk Tides

Here are the lineups:

Knights (61-76)
Jared Mitchell CF
Moises Sierra RF
Marcus Semien SS
Josh Phegley C
Andy Wilkins 1B
Michael Taylor DH
Matt Davidson 3B
Matt Tuiasosopo LF
Dan Wagner 2B
Pitching: RHP Daniel McCutchen (0-1, 10.18)

Tides (61-74)
Julio Borbon CF
Quintin Berry LF
Dariel Alvarez RF
Steve Clevenger C
Jimmy Paredes 3B
Christian Walker 1B
Jemile Weeks 2B
Henry Urrutia DH
Ivan De Jesus SS
Pitching: LHP Chris Jones (7-8, 3.80 ERA)

Game time: 7:05 p.m.

TV/Radio: / ESPN 730

Notes: Chicago outfielder Moises Sierra, who is currently on the DL (left oblique), is set to begin his MLB rehab assignment with the Knights tonight. ... Also on Monday, the White Sox optioned Jordan Danks back to the Knights. Danks hit .289 in 12 games with a home run and four runs batted in during his recent stint with the White Sox.  ... Chicago is off today, Adam Eaton (who is eligible to come off the DL) will likely take Danks' place on the Sox roster. ...  Eaton concluded his MLB rehab assignment with Charlotte on Sunday (although he has not officially been activated). He went 3-for-10 with a double, two runs scored, a stolen base and a RBI in two games. ... Marcus Semien has homered in three-straight games and is hitting .500 (9-for-18) over his last five, with three HR, six RBIs and four runs scored. ... With a win tonight, Charlotte would complete a four-game sweep of the Tides. The Knights have won back-to-back games on walk-off hits.  

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Carlos Rodon dominant in second Class AAA start; Knights walk off on Tides

Carlos Rodon is running out of opportunities to show the White Sox a reason not to call him up when rosters expand in September.

Considered by many to be one of the most major league-ready arms in this year’s draft, Rodon, 21, has not disappointed. 

The former NC State Wolfpack star and No. 3 overall pick allowed one run on one hit over four innings, while striking out a career-high eight in an 8-7 Charlotte Knights walk-off win over the Norfolk Tides in front of 9,328 at BB&T BallPark on Sunday.

After struggling with his fastball control over the first two innings, Rodon settled in to strike out five of the final six batters he faced.   

“I felt good,” said Rodon, who threw 73 pitches (47 strikes). “I had better command (as the start went on). I struggled a little bit early, but I made an adjustment and it ended up working well.”

Rodon’s final pitch of the night was a fastball away that left Tides shortstop Ivan De Jesus shaking his head as he walked back to the dugout.

“After the second, I just tried (to focus on) staying in my arm slot and trusting my stuff,” Rodon said. “(My last pitch of the game) was just nice and easy. I knew it was my last, so I gathered myself and it was smooth and came out good.”

In two starts with Charlotte (7 IP), Rodon has allowed two hits, two runs, and struck out 11. Of his 128 pitches, 72 have been strikes.

With the game tied 7-7 in the eighth inning, the Tides ran out of available pitchers and turned to infielder Alexi Casilla, who worked around a leadoff single to toss a clean frame. 

Casilla lacked the same luck in the ninth.  

A night after striking out in a bases-loaded situation where a fly ball would have won the game for Charlotte, Michael Taylor came up with the bases loaded again and, this time, came through with a walk-off single that landed on the warning track in center.

“I had an opportunity (Saturday) to win the game and it didn’t work out,” Taylor said. “It’s nice to get it (again) the next day and kind of close the book on the last 24 hours or so.”  

Asked his thoughts on Rodon, Taylor – who has been in professional baseball since 2007 – offered high praise.

“(Rodon’s) been as advertised and I think he’s got great stuff,” he said. “To me, he looks a lot like (San Francisco Giants starter) Madison Bumgarner. I faced him in his first start in Double-A back in 2009 and they look similar -- except (Rodon’s) probably got a better slider.

“That would be one heck of a major league pitcher if that’s who he ends up being.”

Assuming he's kept on normal rest, Rodon would be in line to start again on August 30 in Gwinnett with a goal of making it through five innings.

From there, his future is up to the White Sox.

Notes: Adam Eaton (MLB rehab) finished Sunday’s game 1-for-5 with a RBI single, a stolen base and a run scored. In two games with the Knights, the White Sox centerfielder has gone 3-for-10 with a double, a RBI and two runs scored. … Marcus Semien, Jared Mitchell, Matt Davidson and Josh Phegley each homered in the game for the Knights. ... Semien has now homered in three consecutive games.