Thursday, July 31, 2014

Knights game suspended due to rain in third inning with Charlotte leading 3-0

The Charlotte Knights game against the Durham Bulls on Thursday night was suspended due to inclement weather with no outs and a 3-2 count on Jordan Danks in the bottom of the third inning with the Knights leading 3-0.

The two teams will pick the game backup on Friday at 6:05 p.m. before playing their regularly scheduled game at 7:05. Game 1 will go nine innings, while Game 2 is slated to go seven.

Those with tickets to Thursday night’s game can exchange them for tickets to a future 2014 game at equal or lesser value pending availability. Those with tickets to Friday night’s game will be able to enter the ballpark beginning at 5:30 p.m.

Micah Johnson got the Knights started in the first inning with a triple off of Durham starter Mike Montgomery and later came in to score on a sacrifice fly off the bat of Danks.

Charlotte added two more runs in the second inning thanks to a two-run home run by Michael Taylor – his fourth since joining the Knights – with Andy Wilkins aboard.

Right-hander Bobby Doran started the game for the Knights and allowed one hit and one walk over three innings. He struck out a batter and threw 54 pitches (31 for strikes).

RHP Erik Johnson (5-6, 6.48) – who has won in each of his last three appearances – is scheduled to start Game 2 on Friday. Durham will counter with LHP Enny Romero (4-11, 5.29).

Game 114: Charlotte Knights vs. Durham Bulls

Here are the lineups:

Knights (50-63)
Micah Johnson 2B
Marcus Semien SS
Jordan Danks CF
Josh Phegley C
Andy Wilkins 1B
Michael Taylor RF
Matt Davidson 3B
Matt Tuiasosopo LF
Dan Black DH
Pitching: RHP Bobby Doran (2-1, 8.36 ERA)

Bulls (59-51)
Justin Christian CF
Ray Olmedo 3B
Vince Belnome 1B
Mikie Mahtook LF
Jeremy Moore RF
Jayson Nix 2B
Mike Fontenot DH
Ali Solis C
Hak-Ju Lee SS
Pitching: RHP Mike Montgomery (9-3, 3.77 ERA)

Game time: 7:05 p.m.

TV/Radio: / ESPN 730

Notes: With a single in the eighth inning of last night’s game, Jordan Danks tied Joe Boarchard for the all-time franchise hits record (439). … This is Bobby Doran’s fourth start since he joined the team on July 13 from the Houston organization. … LHP Scott Snodgress, who compiled a 6-7 record with a 3.89 ERA in 21 games with Class AA Birmingham, was promoted to Charlotte earlier today. In a corresponding move, LHP Nelvin Fuentes was optioned to Birmingham. Snodgress entered 2014 as the No. 12 prospect in the White Sox organization, according to Baseball America. Carlos Sanchez (back) is out for the third straight game.

Report: Avisail Garcia and Matt Lindstrom to begin rehab assignments with Knights on Friday

According to a report by ESPN Chicago’s Doug Padilla, outfielder Avisail Garcia and reliever Matt Lindstrom are scheduled join the Knights this Friday to begin injury rehab assignments.

Garcia underwent shoulder surgery this past April and was originally thought to be out for the season, but has progressed faster than the White Sox had expected. According to Padilla, he’ll likely start a few games as a designated hitter before playing in the outfield.
“This rehab assignment is the next step in the process,” Rick Hahn told Padilla. “Getting (Garcia) in live game action on a consistent basis, not only to get him back to a playing standpoint he’s accustomed to, but also a physical standpoint. Making sure that he can withstand it and is physically able to perform at the big league level.  
“It certainly is done with the hope that the next stage is activation to the major league roster but, at the same time, as we’ve done for the past several months with his rehab, we’re going to respond to how he feels physically and how he is from a symptomatic standpoint and obviously err on the side of caution.” 

Lindstrom went under the knife this past May to correct an ankle issue and should only need a few appearances before rejoining the White Sox.

 “Part of it is going to be the lateral movement, getting off the mound, a lot of the drills (Lindstrom's) been put through and some of the things that were tested in the two simulated games he had,” Hahn told Padilla. “The arm strength, he’s been able to maintain that fairly decently through his layoff. But it is a matter of making sure the stuff and the arm strength is at the previous level before he’s activated.  
“We’re just going to have to react to what he shows during the assignment before bringing him back.”

Garcia was hitting .267 with two home runs and four RBI at the time of his injury. Lindstrom had six saves and a 3.32 ERA.

Jordan Danks ties Knights all-time hits mark in 4-1 loss to Durham

When Jordan Danks got to within one hit of tying Joe Borchard for the most hits in Charlotte Knights franchise history, his teammates started to mess with him.

“The guys we’re joking around that I was going to go 1-for-30 now that I’m one away,” said Danks, who stepped to the plate in the eighth inning on Wednesday 0-for-3 with two strikeouts.

Not interested in sticking around and possibly walking away with strikeout No. 3, Danks sat on a first pitch fastball and – when he got one – didn’t miss it, lacing a line drive single right back up the middle to earn a new place in the Knights’ record books.

“After I got off to a rough start today, I was like ‘You guys better not have jinxed me,’” joked Danks, who has hit .283 with 14 home runs this season. “But it worked out. I got a good pitch to hit.”

Danks’ 439th hit was one of just a handful of highlights in a 4-1 Charlotte loss to the Durham Bulls on Wednesday that came in front of 9,729 at BB&T BallPark.  

After Danks’ 1-for-4 showing, the 27-year-old center fielder now holds Knights’ records in games played (450), runs scored (242), triples (12), walks (207) and strikeouts (516).

“It’s cool,” said Danks, whose first hit with the Knights was a two-run home run and came in his Class AAA debut back on April 8, 2010.

“I’ve broken a few records this year and everyone’s been like, ‘Oh that’s not a very cool one to have,’” said Danks, still laughing. “Like, obviously, I’ve got the strikeouts mark, but I think hits are what people pay attention to.”

A message announcing Danks’ achievement flashed on the BB&T BallPark scoreboard after he’d reached first base and a smattering of those still in attendance at 9:45 on a weekday night – including fellow Knights players – stood and applauded.

“The guys, they just reacted to the base hit. It wasn’t over the top or anything,” said Charlotte manager Joel Skinner. “Good things happen to good people, you know. And (Danks has) done great here.” 

With Shawn Hill (3-5) on the mound, the Knights (50-63) fell behind 4-0 thanks to back-to-back two-run innings from the Bulls (59-51) in the second and third.

Charlotte picked back up a run in the sixth when Josh Phegley knocked in Marcus Semien with a sacrifice fly, but that’s all they’d get off of Alex Colome, who is ranked by Baseball America as the Tampa Bay Rays’ No. 3 prospect.

Colome allowed two hits over seven innings and struck out five to record his fifth win of the season and even the four-game series at one-game apiece.

Despite the loss, the moment that stands out, and will continue to stand out, from Wednesday was Danks’ single. 

There's a bit of a stigma attached to minor league records because they tend to act as reminders that a player is still a step away from their ultimate goal, but this one speaks to Danks' resolve and consistency.

“My wife said to me the other day, ‘I hope you’re proud of yourself because this is pretty cool. Even though you don’t want to be in the minor leagues, it’s pretty cool.’”

“And it is,” Danks said. “For sure.” 

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Game 113: Charlotte Knights vs. Durham Bulls

Here are the lineups:

Knights (50-62)
Micah Johnson 2B
Marcus Semien SS
Jordan Danks CF
Josh Phegley C
Andy Wilkins DH
Michael Taylor RF
Matt Davidson 3B
Matt Tuiasosopo LF
Dan Black 1B
Pitching: RHP Shawn Hill (3-4, 5.11 ERA)

Bulls (58-51)
Justin Christian CF
Ray Olmedo RF
Vince Belnome DH
Mikie Mahtook LF
Wilson Betemit 1B
Jayson Nix 3B
Mike Fontenot 2B
Hak-Ju Lee SS
Mayo Acosta C
Pitching: RHP Alex Colome (4-3, 3.55 ERA)

Game time: 7:05 p.m.

TV/Radio: / ESPN 730

Notes: Jordan Danks is one hit away from tying Joe Borchard for the most in Knights franchise history. … Carlos Sanchez is out of the lineup for the second straight day with a sore back. … Half of the Knights are currently battling some sort of illness. “Quarantine him!” was yelled at Andy Wilkins during his pre-game interview on Tuesday. … Alex Colome is the No. 3 rated prospect in the Tampa Bay system according to Baseball America.

Video: Chris Beck picks up his first Class AAA victory

Chris Beck recorded his first career Class AAA win and Jordan Danks moved to within one hit of Joe Borchard’s all-time Knights’ hit mark in a 4-2 Charlotte victory over Durham on Tuesday in front of 9,683 at BB&T BallPark.

The Knights, who moved to 9.5 games back of the Bulls in the International League South Standings, were powered on offense by home runs from Josh Phegley and Marcus Semien.

Beck, who is rated by Baseball America as the White Sox second-highest pitching prospect, made his second career start with Charlotte and allowed two runs (one earned) on five hits over five innings. He struck-out five batters and threw 95 pitches on the night.

Beck was promoted to Charlotte from Class AA Birmingham on Monday after posting a 5-8 record with a 3.39 ERA in 20 starts. He had allowed 5 runs in 4 2/3 innings in a spot start with the Knights earlier this season.

Charlotte jumped out to an early lead in the first inning when Danks (2-for-4) singled home Marcus Semien (2-for-3), who had tripled earlier in the frame.

Durham tied the game in the third when Beck was called for a balk with a runner on third, but Charlotte reclaimed the lead for good in the bottom half of the inning thanks to a two-run home run from Phegley, his 16th.

Semien added an insurance run in the fifth with his 10th home run of the season.

The combination of Matt Zaleski and Jarrett Casey held the Bulls scoreless over the final four innings to preserve the win for Beck.

*For Ben Weinrib's full game story, click HERE

Andy Wilkins explains remakable hot streak

Indianapolis Indians play-by-play man Will Flemming summed up Andy Wilkins’ last two weeks as well as anyone this past Wednesday.

“You - have - got - to be kidding me,” Flemming muttered following a Wilkins’ third-inning grand slam against his Indians.

The home run was Wilkins’ second of the game – he hit a three-run shot in the first – and his double-take-inducing ninth in seven games.

“That one was the craziest,” said Wilkins on Tuesday, a day after earning his second consecutive International League Batter of the Week Award. “You hit a home run in the first inning of that game and then you hit a grand slam after that. I remember thinking that things just can’t get any better than that.”

In 13 games since the All-Star Break all Wilkins, 25, has done is hit a measly .538 (28-for-52) with 10 home runs and 24 runs knocked in.

The 6-foot-1-inch 220-pound first baseman’s 26 long balls and 70 RBIs this season, currently top the league.

“It’s been incredibly shocking,” said Wilkins. “For a week there, I just kept hitting home runs. It was like, ‘Good lord, what is happening?’ So I’ve enjoyed it and had a lot of fun.”

Wilkins, who hit .252 before the break, credits his recent assault on Class AAA pitching to an improved timing mechanism.

“I’ve figured out this little toe tap and it’s just helped my timing a ton and finally gotten me to a consistent place at the plate,” said Wilkins, whose average now sits at .291. “In baseball, you’re not going to get a hit every time, but I at least feel like I’m giving myself the best possible chance to be in a good hitting position when it’s time to swing.”

With an IL-high 150 home runs hit at BB&T BallPark entering Tuesday, it’s been suggested that Wilkins’ power surge might be the result of hitting in a place fans have begun to affectionately dub, “The Catapult.” 

However, Wilkins has split his 26 long balls straight down the middle, with 13 at home and 13 on the road.

Over the last couple weeks both Baseball America and have come out with their updated versions of each Major League team’s top 20 prospects. Nowhere on either list will you find Wilkins’ name.

While acknowledging that it’d be nice to be on such a list, Wilkins said that the omission hasn’t changed the way he approaches the game.

“I’m just trying to put up the best numbers I can while I help my team win,” he said. “At the end of the day, I think everything will take care of itself. If me being on a prospect list is the only way I’m going to get to the big leagues, then there’s a flaw in the system. It doesn’t bother me, or motivate me any more or less."

With the non-waiver Major League trade deadline set for this Thursday and September roster expansion quickly approaching, there will be a handful of Knights making the jump to the big leagues.

Should Wilkins continue to hit like he has, the no-fly list is the only one that could keep him from Chicago.

“It would be a dream come true (to be called up),” Wilkins said. “It’s something you think about as a kid.

“Growing up, you feel silly. I can remember when I was in school and having people asking me what I wanted to do when I grew up. I wanted to play baseball and people just kind of looked at me. It’s been my dream forever.” 

Extras that didn’t make the paper:

Wilkins on hitting at BB&T BallPark…

“The stadium is such a hitter friendly park, but I find that the harder you try to hit a home run, the less likely it is to happen. I’ve tried to keep the same approach being at home and on the road and I think that’s why I’ve been able to hit the same amount of home runs (13) here as I have on the road (13).”

Wilkins on his aggressive approach at the plate…

“Well, for me, I’m just trying to look for a good pitch to hit. In the past, I’ve noticed that I’ve walked a lot more, but then if you look back on some of those at-bats I maybe missed some key pitches that I could have done some damage with.

“I’ve just been looking to find a good pitch out over the plate that I can drive and if I don’t get that, then I’m fine with taking the walk. A lot of these guys are good pitchers and sometimes it’s best not to get behind and let them go to their nasty stuff. If I can try to be selective in the zone and get something to drive, I try to do that.”

Any superstitions?

“I guess you could say I’m pretty boring. I’m not a big superstition guy. It’s funny. There’s been days in the past, not this year, where I’ll have a really good game and I’ll be like, ‘Ok, what did I do that day?’ and try to recall everything, but I just can’t do that. It just gets exhausting. I just try to stay the same mentally every day. “

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Game 112: Charlotte Knights vs. Durham Bulls

Here are the lineups:

Knights (49-62)
Micah Johnson 2B
Marcus Semien SS
Jordan Danks CF
Josh Phegley C
Andy Wilkins DH
Matt Davidson 3B
Michael Taylor RF
Dan Black 1B
Blake Tekotte LF
Pitching: RHP Chris Beck (0-1, 9.64 ERA)

Bulls (58-50)
Robby Price RF
Mike Fontenot 2B
Mikie Mahtook CF
Jeremy Moore LF
Wilson Betemit DH
Vince Belnome 1B
Ali Solis C
Hak-Ju Lee SS
Ray Olmedo 3B
Pitching: RHP Merrill Kelly (6-2, 3.00 ERA)

Game time: 7:05 p.m.

TV/Radio: / ESPN 730

Notes: Baseball America ranked Chris Beck the No. 5 prospect in the White Sox system in its mid-season update, eclipsed only Tyler Danish among pitchers. Beck, who was promoted to Charlotte on Monday, made a spot start with the Knights earlier this season where he allowed five runs over 4 and 2/3 innings. The right-hander had posted a 3.39 ERA in 20 starts with the Class AA Birmingham Barons prior to his promotion. ... The Knights are 21-12 over their last 33 games. They'd need to go 23-10 over their final 33 to finish with a .500 record. ... Regular day of rest for 2B/SS Carlos Sanchez. 

Probables: Charlotte Knights vs. Durham Bulls

Tuesday, 7:05 p.m.
CHA - RHP Chris Beck (0-1, 9.64)
DUR - RHP Merrill Kelly (6-2, 3.00)

Wednesday, 7:05 p.m.
CHA - RHP Shawn Hill (3-4, 5.11)
DUR - RHP Alex Colome (4-3, 3.55)

Thursday 7:05 p.m.
CHA - RHP Bobby Doran (2-1, 8.36)
DUR - LHP Mike Montgomery (9-3, 3.77)

Friday 7:05 p.m.
CHA - RHP Erik Johnson (5-6, 6.48)
DUR - LHP Enny Romero (4-11, 5.29)

Head to head: This is the fifth of six series between the Knights and Bulls. Durham leads the season series 9-5.

Briefly: On Monday, Andy Wilkins earned International League Batter of the Week honors for the second consecutive week. Wilkins hit .467 (14-for-30) with 10 runs scored, three doubles, five home runs, and 16 RBIs over eight games. He is hitting .538 since the All-Star Break. Wilkins’ 26 home runs are tops in the IL. … Jordan Danks (436) is just three hits shy of trying Joe Borchard (439) for the Knights' all-time mark. Danks is hitting .280 on the season with 14 home runs.  

Monday, July 28, 2014

Charlotte Knights SS Tyler Saladino to have Tommy John surgery

Charlotte Knights All-Star shortstop / White Sox prospect Tyler Saladino will miss the remainder of this season after suffering a tear of the Ulnar Collateral Ligament in his throwing arm.

According to a source within the White Sox organization, Saladino, who turned 25 on July 20, is scheduled to have Tommy John surgery on August 14.

The injury occurred during the Knights’ final game in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre just prior to the Triple-A All-Star break (July 9) in a game Saladino started in left field.

Saladino said that he felt something in his arm in the top of the fifth inning following a play where he threw out Railriders’ outfielder Taylor Dugas at home (off an Austin Romine single) to preserve a 2-1 Charlotte lead.

Saladino played in two games following the injury (as a DH) before being placed on the seven-day disabled list.

Saladino (.310/.367/.483) was voted to start the Triple-A All-Star Game for the International League at shortstop, but was forced to pull out after the injury. His .310 batting average remains tops among Knights players this season.

His .471 average with runners in scoring position had turned Saladino into a Charlotte fan favorite.

The same White Sox source that knew the date of the surgery also mentioned that, in their opinion, Saladino was on his way to making his Major League debut this season.

Baseball America listed Saladino as a "rising" prospect in its mid-season update, noting that he had "re-established himself as a future utility option with a strong first half at Triple-A." 

The injury raises some questions about the White Sox somewhat liberal practice of training infielders to play corner outfield positions. A throw from left field to home on the fly is a significantly more strenuous action on the arm than any throw an infielder might make.

There are two years remaining on Saladino’s contract. Position players tend to return from Tommy John surgery faster than pitchers, who typically require a full 12 months. Mid-April of 2015 is probably a safe estimate for Saladino, assuming all goes well.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Andy Wilkins' recent power surge and four other Charlotte Knights thoughts

Five thoughts on the Knights…

1. Without question the Knights (48-61) are playing their best baseball of the season right now. They set a season-high with five straight wins July 12-19, lost a game on the 20th, and then ripped off another five-game streak before dropping a 6-5 decision to Louisville on Saturday.

As a team, the Knights are hitting .323 in July to pace the International League, which they now lead in home runs (137), RBI (491) and runs (523). Before Sunday's Game 1 shutout loss to the Bats, they'd scored five or more runs in 15 straight games.

2. Although everyone’s been hot at the plate, Charlotte first baseman Andy Wilkins has been one of the top hitters in all of baseball over the course of his current 12-game hitting streak. Wilkins, who was named the IL’s Batter of the Week last week, is hitting .551 (27-for-49) with 10 home runs, 17 runs, five doubles, and 24 RBIs since the streak began.

Don’t think this has simply been a hot 12 games for Wilkins either, his 26 home runs are tops in the IL and so are his 70 RBIs. Wilkins has improved each month this season, hitting .183 in April, .212 in May, .306 in June, and .448 this July (entering Sunday).

“It’s just a timing thing,” said Wilkins towards the end of June. “I’d been struggling with getting my timing and keeping it consistently. I’ve had flashes of it here and there, but I’ve just been working on it, and it’s clicking right now.”

“He’s seeing the ball well and using the whole field,” said Knights manager Joel Skinner of Wilkins. “He’s staying on the ball and every once in a while he catches a mistake and doesn’t miss it.”

A left-handed first baseman with power is one of the most sought after commodities in all of baseball. However, the knock on Wilkins, who is now 25, has always been his aggressive approach at the plate. His 19 walks in 347 ABs (5.5-percent) are the fewest among any of the Knights regulars.

IL pitchers might be wise to start pitching around Wilkins, who can get himself out more often than the White Sox would like.

For now though, Wilkins -- who is averaging a HR every 14.31 ABs -- is as hot as anyone on the planet and a reason to bring your glove if you’re planning on sitting in the BB&T BallPark outfield anytime soon.

3. Jordan Danks, who is in his fifth season with Charlotte, is now just four hits shy of tying Joe Borchard for the Knights’ all-time hits record (439). In Game 2 of Sunday’s double-header he drew even with Borchard in all-time games played as well.

Assuming Danks doesn’t set the hits mark before the Knights return to Charlotte on Tuesday, I’d hope he gets one heck of an ovation from the crowd at BB&T BallPark when it happens.

Danks is a career .269 hitter in Class AAA and has a million reasons to feel jaded about still being in the minors at age 27. However, he comes to the park everyday with an, “If I’m going to be here, I may as well have fun attitude," is always willing to talk with the media, and is good for one highlight-reel play in centerfield a week.

The Knights are handing out Danks bobble-heads on August 19. That’s great and all, but it sort of feels like he deserves more…

4. It’s a small sample size so don’t go crazy, but Erik Johnson seems to have turned things around since the All-Star Break. He’s added two miles per hour back to his fastball, which sat at 91-92 in his last start at BB&T, and his trademark slider has shown more depth and movement than it has all season.

Johnson entered the year as the White Sox No. 2 prospect, behind Jose Abreu, and collapsed under the weight of lofty expectations after making the Chicago rotation out of Spring Training.

He was sent to Charlotte to get his command and confidence back, and, for three months seemed to do the opposite.

Post All-Star break, Johnson has gone 2-0 with a 4.76 ERA (inflated by one tough inning on July 17). He’s allowed just one home run (in 11.1 innings) after surrendering long balls at a 1.05/9IP rate pre break and has nine Ks to go along with just two walks.

There’s more rotation/turn in Johnson's pitching motion than I saw the first half of the season and his command has gotten back to a place where it's allowing him to set up his slider with fastballs on the outside corner. If that continues, Charlotte may soon say goodbye to the right-hander.

Johnson’s next start is happening right now, and it’s worth keeping an eye on.

5. Myers Park High School graduate and former Charlotte pitcher Jake Robbins (@jakerobbins49) has joined the Knights broadcast team of Matt Sweirad and Michael Pacheco as a color analyst for WMYT My12’s Saturday games as well as an occasional fill-in during the week.

During his time with the Knights in 2007, Robbins so endeared himself to Sweirad and Pacheco that he was their first call when they learned of the impeding TV deal with WMYT.

Robbins had no prior experience calling games at any level, but has slid into the role well. His knowledge of the game and rapport with the players has added another element to an already top-notch broadcast team.

Emptying out the notebook: 

Micah Johnson is hitting .364 in July and is now fully healthy after a mid-season hamstring strain. If the White Sox move Gordon Beckham, he's ready to step right in. The one aspect of his game to keep an eye on is his defense. Johnson will make plays in the field no one else can because of his elite speed, but then misplay a routine ground ball. He's still only 23.   

- Asked the Knights strength and conditioning coach Chad Efron to name the strongest two guys (in terms of weight they're consistently putting up) on the team. One (Josh Phegley) wasn't a surprise. The other, (Micah Johnson) was. 

Michael Taylor has hit .302 with three home runs and 17 RBIs in 30 games with Charlotte and has, by all accounts, been an excellent presence in the clubhouse. He was the No. 29 prospect in the game in 2009, but has never been able to fully put it together. That the Knights have gone 24-15 since adding the 28-year-old on June 17 from the Oakland Athletics Class AAA affiliate isn't mere coincidence. 

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Andy Wilkins makes it five home runs in four days; Justin Jirschele records first Class AAA hit, but Knights fall 16-5

Every winning streak eventually comes to an end.

On Sunday, the Charlotte Knights snapped their five-gamer in style, leaving nothing to chance in a 16-5 loss to the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders in front of 9,806 at BB&T BallPark.

Daniel McCutchen got the start for Charlotte and allowed 11 runs over four and 1/3 innings of work, departing with the Knights trailing 9-1.

Shawn Hill, who was activated off the disabled list prior to the game, came on in relief and proceeded to allow two inherited runners to score and then five more of his own accord over the game’s next three innings.

“Those kinds of games are going to happen,” said Andy Wilkins, who homered twice in the loss. “You just need to limit the amount of times. It was a rough one though.”

The two home runs extended Wilkins’ International League-leading total to 21 on the season. He finished the game 3-for-5 with two runs and two RBIs and is now hitting .444 over his last 11 games with seven home runs (five this series).

The RailRiders (47-54), who avoided a four-game sweep with the win, finished the night with 17 hits. The 16-runs allowed tied a season-high for the Knights (43-59) and the 11-run loss was one less than a 14-2 drubbing at the hands of Columbus back on June 10. 

The game was, however, not without a silver lining.

With the knowledge that Justin Jirschele’s time with Charlotte was up (with the pending arrival of Carlos Sanchez from the Chicago White Sox), Knights manager Joel Skinner sent the 24-year-old up to pinch hit for Micah Johnson in the eighth inning in search of his first Class AAA hit.

“I wanted him to get a base hit because I knew he was going down,” Skinner said. “The game was out of hand and that gave me a chance to get him an at-bat. He’d already had a sacrifice fly and he had a good game when he played here once earlier this season.”

Jirschele, who had been with the Knights since being called up from Class A+ Winston-Salem where he had been hitting .343, fell behind in the count no balls and two strikes, before sending a ball just inches wide of the foul line.

On the ensuing pitch, Jirschele sliced a line drive to left center for his first hit and second RBI.

"We were all hoping the ball down the line was going to be a hit," Wilkins said. "But he struck that next pitch well. We all like 'Jersch', so it was good to see."  

After signing with the White Sox as an undrafted free agent back in 2012 and never playing above the Class A+ level prior to last week, the hit was a special one for Jirschele, who received the ball when he returned to the dugout.  

“It was a good feeling,” he said. “It’s always a bummer coming in when you’re down and the game’s kind of out of whack, but I was happy that Skinns (Skinner) got me in there for an AB and I just wanted to put the bat on the ball and see what would happen.

“This is a great team,” he continued. “They kind of took me under their wing and treated me really well. Playing in a ballpark like this and seeing what these guys go out and do every day and their approach, just (makes me want to) work my tail off to try to get back here for good someday."  

NotesFollowing the game Justin Jirschele was called into Skinner's office and told he'd be heading back to Winston-Salem. ... Carlos Sanchez is expected to be available on Monday. ... Taylor Thompson, 27, who was promoted to the White Sox this morning tossed 1.2 scoreless innings with two strikeouts in his Major League debut.