Charlotte's 2017 Opening Knight Roster Revealed
(UPTOWN CHARLOTTE, NC) -- Highly touted prospects, including five of the top seven in the Chicago White Sox system as rated by Baseball America, highlight the 2017 Opening Knight roster for the Charlotte Knights, who open their fourth season at BB&T Ballpark tonight. Gates will open at 6:00 p.m. and first pitch is on tap for 7:05 p.m. from Uptown Charlotte.
Charlotte's Opening Knight roster is headlined by second baseman Yoan Moncada, who enters the 2017 season ranked as the number two prospect in all of Major League Baseball according to Baseball America and MLB.com. Moncada, 21, was acquired by the White Sox from the Boston Red Sox on December 6, 2016 as part of a package that sent LHP Chris Sale to Boston. Moncada, a native of Cienfuegos, Cuba, made his professional debut during the 2015 season with Single-A Greenville. Over the course of 187 games in the minors, Moncada owns a .287 batting average with 23 home runs, 100 RBIs, and 94 stolen bases. He made his major league debut with the Red Sox on September 2, 2016. Following the 2016 campaign, Moncada was named as Baseball America's Minor League Player of the Year.
Moncada begins the season as Chicago's top overall prospect and he will be joined in Charlotte by RHP Lucas Giolito (number two), RHP Reynaldo Lopez (number three), RHP Zack Burdi (number six) and RHP Carson Fulmer (number seven). Giolito, Lopez, and Fulmer will be in the team's solid starting rotation, which also features RHP Tyler Danish (number 18) and LHP David Holmberg. Both Giolito and Lopez were acquired by the White Sox from the Washington Nationals on December 7, 2016 in exchange for outfielder Adam Eaton.
Lopez, 23, will get the ball tonight on Opening Knight as the team hosts the Norfolk Tides (Triple-A affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles) at 7:05 p.m. from BB&T Ballpark. Fulmer, 23, will start Friday's game, while Giolito, 22, is scheduled to start Saturday's game. Danish is scheduled to get the ball for Sunday's home finale.
In the bullpen, familiar faces return to the Knights including RHP Chris Beck, RHP Brad Goldberg, RHP Gregory Infante, RHP Tommy Kahnle, LHP Matt Purke, and RHP Chris Volstad. Goldberg, 27, represented the Knights last season at the 2016 Triple-A All-Star Game, which took place at BB&T Ballpark in Uptown Charlotte. LHP Giovanni Soto, who was claimed off waivers by the Chicago White Sox on November 7, 2016, is the newcomer to the Charlotte 'pen.
Catcher Kevan Smith returns to the Knights for a third consecutive season. Smith, who made his major league debut last season, will be joined by catcher Roberto Pena to anchor the young staff from behind the plate. Sluggers Danny Hayes and Nicky Delmonico also return to power the Charlotte offense. Delmonico, 24, appeared in 72 games with the Knights last season after hitting .338 in 38 games for Double-A Birmingham. Hayes 26, launched 10 home runs for the Knights in 55 games last season. The power-hitting duo will be joined in the infield by Everth Cabrera, Tyler Ladendorf, and Jose Vinicio. Cabrera, 30, has spent parts of seven seasons in the majors from 2009 to 2015.
In the outfield, the Knights will showcase speed, defense, and more with Jason Bourgeois, Adam Engel, Willy Garcia, and Rymer Liriano. Bourgeois, 35, returns for his fourth season with the Knights and ranks among the all-time franchise leaders in a number of categories. He is fifth in at-bats (1,193), eighth in games played (300), fourth in hits (345), tied for third in triples (10), fourth in runs scored (170), and second in stolen bases (67). A native of Houston, TX, Bourgeois rejoined the Knights last season after playing for the team in 2007 and 2008. In 2013, he was named to the All Knights Stadium Team.
Engel, 25, is rated by Baseball America as the 19th prospect in Chicago's system. The Cincinnati, OH native swiped 45 stolen bases over three levels last season (Winston-Salem, Birmingham, and Charlotte). Both Garcia and Liriano are new to the organization and both are natives of Santo Domingo, DR. Garcia was claimed off waivers from the Pittsburgh Pirates on January 6, 2017, while Liriano was claimed off waivers from the Milwaukee Brewers on October 28, 2016.
The Knights will be guided on the field by first-year manager Mark Grudzielanek, who hit .289 over parts of 15 major league seasons as a Gold Glove wining infielder. Joining Grudzielanek's field staff this season include returnees Andy Tomberlin (hitting coach), Scott Johnson (head athletic trainer), and Shawn Powell (strength and conditioning coach). Newcomers rounding out Grudzielanek's staff include Steve McCatty (pitching coach), Anthony Santiago (coach), and Garey Ingram (assistant coach).
Single-game tickets for all games this season, as well as season tickets, and partial season ticket plans, are on sale now and can be purchased in person at the BB&T Ballpark Ticket Office, online at CharlotteKnights.com, or by phone at 704-274-8282. Tradition Never Ends!
Tommy Viola Director of PR/Media Relations 324 S Mint St Charlotte, NC 28202 Office: 704-274-8203 firstname.lastname@example.org
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