Results tagged ‘ Charlotte Knights ’
Once the 2014 season rolls around, BB&T Ballpark in Winston-Salem will not be the only such stadium in North Carolina. A new BB&T Ballpark is nearing completion in Charlotte, and it will officially open on April 11 of next year.
The similarities between the two BB&T Ballparks do not end with the name. Both the Dash and the Knights regarded these stadiums as the centerpiece of a move to downtown. Winston-Salem and Charlotte are both associated with the White Sox minor league system, too.
Scott Brown, the Knights’ General Manager of Baseball Operations, took some time to chat about the ballpark and much more. His thoughts are below.
Brian Boesch: How is BB&T Ballpark progressing?
Scott Brown: Great. It’s about 80 percent done and still on target to be significantly completed by the end of the calendar year. It might bleed into January a little bit, but we should be in our offices by February 1.
Brian: Sometimes, minor league stadiums are not ready when its debut season begins. How important was a completed stadium to you and the Knights for your Opening Day?
Scott: It’s a mammoth leap heading from Fort Mill, S.C., 15 miles north to Uptown, and we certainly didn’t want to handicap ourselves. We had the luxury of time so that the building could start while we were still occupying Knights Stadium.
It was the goal to get it done early, and I think it’s going to bode well for us and for our fans, and that’s also helped us on the marketing and sales side. People can see this structure coming out of the ground and see the grass in now and realize that this project that had been talked about for a decade-plus is coming to fruition.
Brian: The Dash’s move downtown was instrumental to the organization, and you saw how that happened when you worked in the Carolina League with Myrtle Beach. Have you been able to gauge how positively this move will affect the Knights?
Scott: It gets us to the center of the Charlotte metropolis region, so it puts us back in the middle so we can attract people from all over. Uptown Charlotte is a vibrant, growing area. A lot of people are choosing to live in the uptown area within walking distance of the ballpark. Those two things are really going to help our cause.
People are used to coming to Uptown for Panthers games, for Bobcats and soon-to-be Hornets games, for Checkers games. This completes the year-round sports cycle and makes Uptown an even bigger destination point for everybody in the region.
Brian: How much have you learned from watching other organizations build a new ballpark?
Scott: I think sometimes in this business we are “glass half full” most of the time, but I think when it comes to ballpark construction, the conversations with the people who have built ballparks recently are more about, “What went wrong?” and “What mistakes can we avoid?” So, I think we all become better as things evolve. You know there’s going to be something you missed, something that isn’t exactly the way you want it, but I think with each opening of each ballpark, they become better and better. We’ve benefitted from the knowledge and experience of others.
Brian: What are some of the neat features for fans to look for in 2014 and beyond?
Scott: It’s kind of similar to the Winston-Salem BB&T Ballpark with the skyline view. I really enjoyed that city feel to that ballpark, but also the view. In Charlotte, we’re even closer to the skyscrapers in Uptown, so it’s a tremendous view. Even when the lights are off, it’s almost like a starry sky you’re looking out to, so I think that’s one of the real benefits.
Just like BB&T Ballpark in Winston-Salem, we’ll have the walk-around concourse, which is more of the fad with designs now where you can stroll around the ballpark and get every vantage point. I’m really excited about our video package. We’ll have the widest screen in Minor League Baseball, along with a ribbon board.
We will also have some great club areas. We will have an upper club and a lower club, and one of the more unique features are the two dugout suites. Those are all real cool things. All of the ingredients are coming together to make a great buzz, and people are really excited about the opening.
Scott: It has been overwhelmingly positive. We wanted to keep the Knights because Charlotte is called the Queen City, and the Knights tie into the whole royalty, medieval times type of feel that we’re trying to get. We felt like it was a perfect time to freshen up our brand.
We liked our old logo, but we wanted, as we moved Uptown and started to get exposed to even more of our fans, to get it so that when you walk down the streets and saw one of our hats, you said immediately, “That’s the Charlotte Knights.” That will take some time to get to that point, but we’re real pleased we changed our color scheme.
There’s not another affiliated Minor League Baseball team that has that color scheme. We love to copy off each other and steal ideas, and, not by design, but by end result, we ended up with a unique look and something that we are really proud of.
Brian: The White Sox have to be giddy that their top three affiliates (Charlotte, Birmingham and Winston-Salem) have brand new ballparks, don’t they?
Scott: There’s no doubt. They’re so excited. Knights Stadium treated us well for 24 years. It was an adequate baseball facility, but as designs and construction have evolved, it really kind of fell behind the times. The White Sox had stuck with us and worked with us in an older ballpark, which we didn’t have a lot of the amenities that you’re looking for in professional baseball. Their patience has paid off. They’re going to be a part of this, and we expect a full contingent of White Sox folks to be on hand for Opening Night.
Brian: You probably can’t tell me what these things are, but do you have any other big announcements on the horizon?
Scott: Nothing earth-shattering, at least for the next week or two. Then, maybe after that, we might have another big announcement. We’re constantly working on it, wearing our media guys out. You know those media guys. We don’t feel like they work hard enough in the offseason, so we want to keep them occupied.
That final sarcastic jab aside, I always enjoy catching up with Scott, who is one of the hardest workers in baseball. I can assure you that the final product will be great come April 11 in Charlotte.
Good luck to our White Sox brethren in Charlotte as another BB&T Ballpark is only a few months away from completion.
Two Dash alumni have joined the White Sox 40-man roster. Infielder Carlos Sanchez and Trayce Thompson, key contributors during the Dash’s magical 2012 season, have joined the top group in Chicago’s organization.
For those who are unclear why this is so important, only the 40 players in this group can appear in the big leagues. Inclusion on a 40-man roster also promises a higher salary.
Sanchez spent his 2013 campaign with Triple-A Charlotte after a breakout 2012 throughout three levels of the system. The Venezuela native hit .241 with 28 RBIs, 50 runs scored and 16 stolen bases with the Knights. A year ago, Sanchez helped the Dash win a first-half division crown while finishing with the best qualifying batting average in the Carolina League.
Thompson was an everyday outfielder on Double-A Birmingham’s championship team this year. The former second-round pick posted a .229 average to go along with 15 homers and 73 RBIs with the Barons. He shared the CL’s home run lead (24) while spending much of the 2012 season in Winston-Salem.
Both prospects have participated in the Venezuelan Winter League with Tiburones de La Guaira this offseason, and Sanchez has been one of the club’s best hitters.
Congratulations to both Carlos and Trayce on the accomplishment! Both will be on the White Sox radar in the coming years, and this is an important step in that process.
The World Series may come to an end tonight, but there is still plenty of news in the baseball world. Here are some of the top stories.
BASSITT, SEMIEN NAMED AFL ALL-STARS
Minor League Baseball holds many All-Star Games each year, but none are more exclusive than the Arizona Fall League’s showcase. The AFL itself is an exclusive collection of the game’s top prospects. Thus, the annual “Fall Stars Game” features the best of the best within the minor leagues.
Both Chris Bassitt and Marcus Semien will represent the White Sox in this prestigious exhibition, which can be seen Saturday at 8 p.m. EDT on MLB Network. Earlier this week, we discussed the success of former Winston-Salem players in the AFL. Bassitt and Semien have been two of the breakout White Sox prospects of 2013, so it is fitting that they receive this opportunity.
Bassitt has surrendered just one run in six relief appearances this fall. The former Akron Zip was a starter throughout the minor league season, amassing an 11-4 record with a 3.08 earned run average. He was a Carolina League All-Star and a Southern League champion.
Semien had a similar level of success at the top of the Chicago organization. Following a strong 2012 showing in Winston-Salem, Semien hit .290 with 15 homers and 49 RBIs en route to the Southern League’s Most Valuable Player Award while with Double-A Birmingham. He also earned promotions to Triple-A and the big leagues, where he held his own against the game’s best competition.
WHITE SOX SIGN CUBAN STAR ABREU
The White Sox front office stated that they were going to reload the big league roster following the club’s disappointing season. Before the true free agency period, the Sox have already added a huge piece to the present and the future.
Cuban first baseman Jose Abreu has joined the White Sox thanks to a six-year, $68 million deal, the club announced Tuesday. Abreu shined in the World Baseball Classic earlier this year and in Cuba since 2007, but fans should be most excited about executive vice president Ken Williams’ quote about the 26-year-old.
“Well, he’s the only player that I’ve seen work out and then play in a game that I wanted to give a standing ovation to.”
Williams expounded upon these comments in that same piece from whitesox.com.
“It was the most professional exhibition of hitting and really defensive work the way he went about things. It was professional. It was focused. It was geared to not just impress, but impress the right way,” Williams said. “One of the things that we did not want to entertain was a guy who was just one dimensional. This guy is a hitter.”
The White Sox have a long way to go to rebound from a 99-loss campaign, but this is an important first step.
CRAZY BASEBALL STORIES
- San Diego State University’s baseball team played an exhibition game in Halloween costumes, and many national outlets picked up the story. Check out the crazy video, which includes Buddy the Elf with a plus glove at third base.
- The Cardinals had some trouble getting to Boston yesterday in advance of Game 6 of the World Series. A mechanical issue on the team’s plane brought about a seven-hour delay; therefore, the Cards arrived at their hotel around midnight EDT.
You can read the entire account of the long travel day, including some funny tweets and comments from team members, here.
The Dash’s 2014 schedule has been released, and we will break down some of the biggest games of the season tomorrow on the blog. Talk to you then.
The minor league regular season wraps up Monday, so playoff races are winding down while All-Star teams are announced. It is no surprise, then, that there has been plenty of activity within the White Sox system. Here are some notes:
- Triple-A Charlotte concludes its 24-year run at Knights Stadium in Fort Mill, S.C., this weekend. The Knights will move to the second BB&T Ballpark in Minor League Baseball for next season. The new facility will be in downtown Charlotte, and the organization is already gearing up for the big opening.
- At the Double-A level, a pair of 2012 Winston-Salem alumni were honored earlier today. First baseman Dan Black and shortstop Marcus Semien have earned spots on the Southern League’s Year-End All-Star team. The 2012 Carolina League MVP, Black is hitting .289 with 17 homers and 81 RBIs, numbers that are very similar to his efforts here in the Triad last year (.315, 17 HR, 88 RBIs).
- Prior to his promotion to Triple-A earlier this month, Semien was an MVP candidate in the SL. The former California star hit .290 with 15 homers and 49 RBIs in 105 games with the Barons. Since joining the Knights, Semien is a .246 hitter with four long balls and 14 RBIs.
- Plus, Semien’s 108 total runs between Birmingham (90) and Charlotte (18) are good for a share of the top spot in all of Minor League Baseball. He is tied with highly-touted prospects Byron Buxton (Minnesota) and Chris Taylor (Seattle) in this category.
- In short-season baseball, Great Falls continued their impressive playoff streak Friday night. In their regular season home finale, the Voyagers clinched a postseason berth for the seventh consecutive season with an 8-7 victory over Billings.
- Thus, Great Falls will join Birmingham as White Sox affiliates in the playoffs. Like the Dash, Charlotte, Kannapolis and Bristol will not be vying for a league crown next week.
Winston-Salem will open a three-game set in Wilmington tonight at 6:05. Stay tuned for a preview of the Dash’s final series opener of the season.
With his three RBIs in the Dash’s 5-4, 10-inning loss to the Salem Red Sox last night, Winston-Salem infielder Chris Curley boosted his total to 88 runs batted in this season. He is nine RBIs ahead of Salem outfielder Keury De La Cruz, who has the second-most on the circuit with 79. Not only has Curley’s total put him atop the CL leaderboard, but it has him ranking highly in all of Class A baseball:
1. Adam Brett Walker II- 103 (Cedar Rapids, Low-A for Minnesota)
T-2. Andrew Aplin- 98 (Lancaster, High-A for Houston)
T-2. Dalton Hicks- 98 (Fort Myers, High-A for Minnesota)
4. Dustin Lawley- 89 (St. Lucie, High-A for NY Mets)
5. Chris Curley- 88
The Dash lead the CL with 103 home runs this season, 22 of which have come from Curley. His 22 bombs also rank him atop the CL and in the top five in all of High-A baseball:
T-1. Dustin Lawley- 25 (St. Lucie, NY Mets)
T-1. Scott Schebler- 25 (Rancho Cucamonga, LA Dodgers)
T-3. Zach Borenstein- 23 (Inland Empire, LA Angels)
T-3. Michael Snyder- 23 (Inland Empire)
5. Chris Curley- 22
Dash leadoff man Micah Johnson has had himself a terrific season both with Low-A Kannapolis and since he was promoted to Winston-Salem on July 3. The speedy second baseman leads all of Minor League Baseball in runs scored and steals this season, edging out Dash alum and current Charlotte Knight Marcus Semien in runs:
1. Micah Johnson- 102
2. Marcus Semien- 100 (Charlotte, Triple-A for Chicago White Sox)
Johnson also leads the minors in steals, and has a healthy lead in that category, including on Louisville’s Billy Hamilton, who set a single-season record for stolen bases in 2012:
1. Micah Johnson- 79
2. Travis Jankowski- 71 (Lake Elsinore, High-A for San Diego)
3. Billy Hamilton- 69 (Louisville, Triple-A for Cincinnati)
The Dash lead the Carolina League in total runs (624) and runs per game (5.2). Despite the lofty numbers of Curley and Johnson, those two have not done it by themselves. Winston-Salem has 6 players with more than 50 RBI this season, more than any other team on the circuit.
All of them rank in the top 16 of the CL in RBIs: Curley (88, 1st), Jeremy Farrell (66, T-5th), Courtney Hawkins (62, 7th), Kevan Smith (60, 8th), Rangel Ravelo (53, T-13th) and Grant Buckner (51, T-16th).
Although the offense has sputtered a little bit as of late, it seems like only a matter of time before this offense begins clicking again. They will try to turn their recent struggles around tonight against Salem in game two of a three-game series at BB&T Ballpark. Check back later for a preview of tonight’s contest.
There have been many Dash alums in the news as of late, so today we decided to highlight some of the biggest news from a few of our alums over the last several days.
Sale dominates Tigers
The week started on a high note at the big league level as 2010 Dash alum Chris Sale tossed his fourth complete game of the season in a 6-2 win over Detroit on Monday. The southpaw lowered his ERA to 2.73 and pushed his strikeout total to 167 for the season, both which rank him in the top five among American League starters. After an extra-inning victory last night, the South Siders can sweep the first-place Tigers with a victory today.
Heisler’s stint in Triple-A
With plenty of roster shuffling happening over the last week or so in the organization, Triple-A Charlotte found themselves in need of an extra outfielder. As a result, Adam Heisler, who had recently been transferred to Kannapolis after hitting .272 in 58 games with Winston-Salem, was the man selected for the trip down to Fort Mill, S.C.
Simply put, Heisler delivered. He played in three games for the Knights, going 4-for-10 with two runs scored and two RBIs. He returned to the Intimidators last night, and all he did was hit a grand slam, the first one by an Intimidator in 2013.
Beck makes Double-A debut
Late last week, righty Chris Beck, who was an All-Star in the Carolina League this year, made his debut for the Birmingham Barons against the Mobile BayBears. Beck drew a tough assignment, with right-hander Archie Bradley, one of the most highly touted pitching prospects in the minors, on the other side. The former Winston hurler held his own, giving up three runs in six innings to notch a quality start, but he was outdueled by Bradley and saddled with the loss. Beck will try to collect his first Double-A win again tonight against the Jacksonville Suns.
Fellow 2013 Dash alum Cody Winiarski made his Double-A debut last night, and pitched very well for Birmingham. The right-hander gave the Barons two spotless innings of relief while striking out three Suns. Winiarski was promoted to Double-A on Monday after saving 10 games for the Dash in a team-high 36 appearances.
Great Falls’ hot streak
The White Sox Pioneer League affiliate, the Great Falls Voyagers, has been extremely hot as of late. After finishing four games out of first in the first-half standings, the Voyagers have come out firing on all cylinders in the second half.
They had their nine game winning-streak come to an end yesterday with a 10-4 loss to Ogden but are a sizzling 12-2 in the second half. Through 14 games, the Voyagers already enjoy a six-game lead in the division race.
If Great Falls wins the second half, they will make the Pioneer League playoffs for the seventh consecutive year. The last two years they made it under current Winston-Salem skipper Ryan Newman, who guided them to the 2011 Pioneer League Championship.
The Dash open up a quick three-game homestand tonight at BB&T Ballpark as they welcome the Salem Red Sox to town. Check back later today for a preview of tonight’s series opener.
Last night, left-hander Charlie Leesman became the 15th player to play in Winston-Salem during the Dash era (2009-present) and make it to the big leagues, taking the hill for the Chicago White Sox in the back end of a split doubleheader against the Minnesota Twins at U.S. Cellular Field.
The 2010 alum pitched well, giving up one run on four hits in five innings of work while walking five and striking out eight.
According to CSN Chicago researcher Christopher Kamka, the southpaw also did something no White Sox pitcher had done since 1988:
Charlie Leesman’s 8 strikeouts is most by a #WhiteSox pitcher in his Major League debut since Ravelo Manzanillo 9/25/1988 (8)
— Christopher Kamka (@ckamka) August 10, 2013
Others chimed in, including some people who witnessed his journey to the majors.
Congratulations to Charlie Leesman on a solid performance tonight- great Big League debut!! #xubase
— Scott Googins (@XUBaseball) August 10, 2013
— Tom Eiser (@Eiser_XU_Sports) August 10, 2013
— Charlotte Knights (@KnightsBaseball) August 10, 2013
— K-town Intimidators (@Intimidators) August 10, 2013
— Susie Hammitt (@gzusluvsu) August 10, 2013
Standing ovation for Charlie Leesman as he walks to dugout. Cool.
— Lance McAlister (@LanceMcAlister) August 10, 2013
What a debut Charlie Leesman!
— Austin (@austinchas56) August 10, 2013
While the lefty was optioned back to Triple-A Charlotte after the game, a debut like that has certainly made him a candidate to make it back to the Windy City when the rosters expand to 40 men on September 1, if not before.
The Dash will try to avoid a sweep as they wrap up their three-game series with the Salem Red Sox tonight at LewisGale Field. Check back later this afternoon for a preview of this evening’s series finale.
July was a good month for Winston-Salem Dash alums as Josh Phegley and Andre Rienzo both made their major league debuts. Other alums have been progressing as well, led by infielder Marcus Semien. He was promoted from Double-A Birmingham to Triple-A Charlotte earlier today.
The 2012 Dash alum has had an excellent campaign for the Barons, leading the Southern League in hits (114), runs (90), walks (84), on-base percentage (.420) and total bases (190).
The 90 runs is also good for the second-best total in all of Minor League Baseball, behind only Winston-Salem’s Micah Johnson. His numbers have been so good he has garnered some MVP consideration:
— MiLB.com (@MiLB) August 1, 2013
Semien joins fellow 2012 Dash alum Michael Earley up in Triple-A after Earley was promoted a few weeks ago. The Indiana University product was hitting .282 with 29 RBIs at the time of his promotion, and has driven in five runs in his first 11 contests as Charlotte’s everyday left fielder.
Also, outfielder Brandon Short, who spent all of 2010 and part of 2012 here in Winston-Salem, was released by Chicago a few weeks ago. He was signed yesterday by the Cincinnati Reds and assigned to their Double-A affiliate in Pensacola.
Short, who had been playing with Birmingham in 2013, got a lot of support from his former teammates on Twitter, including Chris Bassitt, who was promoted to Double-A a few weeks ago:
Congrats to @bshort386 He definitely deserved another shot. So happy for you. Best of luck man. Take it easy on us!
— Chris Bassitt (@C_Bass419) August 1, 2013
congratulations to my brother @bshort386 on the new beginning..! Wish you the best of luck and looking forward to see you in couple day..
— Salvador Sanchez (@Salvadors13) August 1, 2013
Many of his former teammates will have the opportunity to offer their congratulations in person very soon as the Barons welcome Short and the Pensacola Blue Wahoos to town tomorrow for the beginning of a five-game series.
Another former White Sox farmhand has found himself a new home as righty Ryan Buch has latched on with the Colorado Rockies’ organization. Buch, who has pitched in Winston-Salem in each of the past three seasons, started with High-A Modesto and has now made his way to the Rockies’ Double-A affiliate, the Tulsa Drillers.
The Dash are back at BB&T Ballpark tonight to open up a six-game homestand against the Wilmington Blue Rocks. Check back later for the preview of today’s series opener.
The 2011 and 2012 alum was given the start last night in Cleveland in place of Jake Peavy, who was scratched amid trade rumors and later dealt to the Boston Red Sox after the game.
Coming off a seven-inning no-hitter in his final start for Triple-A Charlotte last week, Rienzo did not disappoint in his major league debut, striking out six Indians in seven frames of work. He allowed just three runs, all of which were unearned, against a Tribe offense that has the third-most runs scored in the majors.
The righty’s performance impressed media members and teammates alike:
Andre Rienzo has a really good hook. He also has a nice pace. Going right at guys. Good start.
— Chuck Garfien (@ChuckGarfien) July 30, 2013
Welcome Andre Rienzo . Good job brother . Throwing strike in control. Tough one boy #thisisbrazil .. Bueno mi Hermano wepa aribaariba !Sox
— hector santiago (@HecSantiago53) July 31, 2013
Meanwhile, @andre_rienzo with a great debut tonight. His high energy has been somewhat absent from struggling White Sox.
— Scott Merkin (@scottmerkin) July 31, 2013
Rienzo also made some history in the third when facing Indians catcher Yan Gomes, as the two became the first pair of Brazilians to face off in a Major League contest:
Yan Gomes just singled off Andre Rienzo. They’re the only Brazilian-born players ever in MLB.
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) July 31, 2013
A few of Rienzo’s former clubs chimed in with their congratulations on the excellent debut:
— Winston-Salem Dash (@WSDashBaseball) July 31, 2013
Andre Rienzo’s final line tonight: 7 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 0 ER, 3 BB, 6 SO (no-decision). A solid debut for the first Brazilian-born MLB pitcher.
— Charlotte Knights (@KnightsBaseball) July 31, 2013
— Bristol Sox (@BristolSox) July 31, 2013
Plenty of fans showed Rienzo some love after his stellar debut, too:
@andre_rienzo Hey man it was great to see another pitcher on the mound who shows the same enthusiasm our departed Peavy did. Welcome!
— Kenneth E. Finan Jr. (@KenFinan) July 31, 2013
@andre_rienzo You did a great job tonight. All Sox fans see great things, and victories, in your future. Hope the ankle feel OK in the am.
— Siobhan (@siobhanoc1) July 31, 2013
@andre_rienzo, Welcome to the White Sox! Buen trabajo!! You're great. Happy to have you.
— Stephanie Bautista (@Stephhbeeee) July 31, 2013
With Peavy being traded to the Red Sox, this may be a lengthy trip to the big leagues for Rienzo. After his effort last night, he looks like he fits right in at the big league level.
With the season roughly three-quarters of the way complete, MLBPipeline.com released its updated top 20 Chicago White Sox prospects yesterday. Three current Winston-Salem players are among the Top 20:
1. OF Courtney Hawkins - .191, 18 HR, 51 RBI, 69 games
6. RHP Chris Beck – 9-8, 3.01 ERA, 101.2 IP, 50 K, 18 starts
16. INF Micah Johnson - .326, 6 RBIs, 12 R, 10 SB, 21 games
The list also includes 10 former Winston-Salem players. This includes RHP Daniel Webb (#18), who started the year in the Triad before quickly ascending all the way to Triple-A Charlotte by mid-June.
MLBPipeline.com’s rankings also feature seven players from the 2012 version of the Dash that posted the best record in all of full-season Minor League Baseball. Those seven are RHP Erik Johnson (#2), OF Trayce Thompson (#4), INF Marcus Semien (#9), INF Carlos Sanchez (#10), LHP Scott Snodgress (#12), OF Keenyn Walker (#14) and RHP Andre Rienzo (#17). Rienzo, who fired a no-hitter earlier this week, also spent his entire 2011 campaign with Winston-Salem.
In addition to Rienzo, the 2011 version of the Dash have another alum in the top 20, with OF Jared Mitchell (#11), who is currently with Double-A Birmingham, making the list.
The first Dash team to play at BB&T Ballpark (2010) has one member on the list in C Josh Phegley (#5). Earlier this month, Phegley became the 13th Dash alum to make it to the big leagues.
The Dash and Carolina Mudcats conclude their series tonight at 7. Check back later for a preview of this evening’s contest.