Thursday, May 29, 2014

Taylor Thompson's scoreless streak and nine other Charlotte Knights thoughts

As the 1,333rd overall selection in the 2009 MLB Draft, Taylor Thompson has quietly risen through the White Sox system without making waves.

In five professional seasons, the 6-foot-5-inch right-hander has never posted an ERA above 3.63, while battling occasional bouts of wildness. However, everything has come together for Thompson this month. In nine appearances (14.2 IP) the 27-year-old has allowed four hits (an .080 average against) and one run, while striking out 16 and walking only two.

The Auburn alumni hasn’t allowed a run since tossing two innings on May 5th and has held opponents hitless over his last 10 innings.

Not one of the 30 players drafted in the 44th round in 2009 has even appeared in a Major League game. With the recent struggles in the Chicago bullpen, Thompson has done everything within his power to earn a chance. 

A few other thoughts…

2.) The White Sox will need to make a decision regarding the future of Felipe Paulino before this coming Tuesday. The right-hander was sent to Charlotte on a rehab assignment on May 3. In five starts (19.2 IP), he has surrendered 29 hits and 24 runs (21 earned), while striking out 16 and walking 16.

3.) Jordan Danks is hitting .108 over his last 10 games. His current average sits at .159 and his strikeout rate is up to 42-percent. The centerfielder appeared in 21 games with the White Sox before returning to Charlotte last month. He has never posted a BA below .245 in the Minors. At 27 years old, the local favorite is running out of time to make a significant impact with the White Sox.

4.) Knights hitting coach Andy Tomberlin should be called the "Zen Master." He's the kind of guy you can tell loves his job and the sport of baseball even more. Come stand outside BB&T before any home game and you'll see Tomberlin out there working with his young hitters.   

5.) Charlotte 2B/SS Carlos Sanchez went 751 days between home runs, then hit two (one from the left side and one from the right) in five games.

6.) I don’t care how fast you think Micah Johnson is, he’s faster. As in, lookout Billy Hamilton fast. Johnson swiped 84 bases last season to lead the Minor Leagues. While with the Knights, he’s posted home to first times under 3.7 seconds.

7.) Word is that catcher Hector Gimenez asked to be moved somewhere that would allow him more playing time. Hopefully, that’ll be the case in New Hampshire with the Fisher Cats (AA). His replacement on the Knights roster, Miguel Gonzalez, was rated the best defensive catcher in the White Sox system by Baseball America prior to the beginning of the season.

8.) Michael Johnson’s assignment to the Knights after posting a .156 average in Winston-Salem (A+) is an odd one. The Knights needed a body to fill their roster and Johnson has the ability to play multiple positions, but given the team’s average attendance (9,659 per game) and its record (15-31), it’s tough to not feel like the Charlotte fans deserved someone along the lines of Trayce Thompson or even Chris Curley.

9.) Should the Knights attendance at BB&T stay true to its average, Charlotte is on pace to match its total attendance from 2013 in Fort Mill, S.C. in five games (June 7th).

10.) Over his last nine games, Tyler Saladino has been busy both at the plate and in the field. He’s hitting .419 (13-for-31) with seven runs scored, three doubles, one triple, two home runs and six RBIs. His on-base percentage over that span is .455. He’s done all this while playing shortstop (6 times), left field (2) and third base.