Donny Roach — Back in 2018…
I wrote the following story in July (2018) for the Charlotte Knights August Game Day program…
Historic June Leads Donny Roach to Japan
Talented Right-Handed Pitcher Heads to the Land of the Rising Sun
By: Tommy Viola
Donny Roach put together one of the finest months of his career with the Charlotte Knights in June. For his outstanding efforts, the 28-year-old right-hander parlayed that into an opportunity to pitch in Japan for the remainder of the season making his 2017 goal a reality.
After seven seasons in affiliated baseball from the minors to the majors, Roach spent the 2017 season pitching in Korea with the KT Wiz. A former major leaguer with the San Diego Padres, Chicago Cubs, and Seattle Mariners, the Las Vegas, NV native posted a 4–15 record with a 4.69 ERA in 28 games started (165.0 innings pitched). Despite a “down” season for Roach, the Chicago White Sox saw something special in him and signed him as a free agent on January 24, 2018. It didn’t take long for Roach to prove that the 2018 season was going to be a an epic one.
Roach began the season with the Charlotte Knights and quickly impressed. In his 2018 season debut against the Durham Bulls from Durham, NC on April 8, Roach tossed six shutout innings to lead the Knights to a 5–0 victory. He followed that up with four scoreless innings in his next outing before allowing his first run of the season in his 10th inning of work on April 13. From there, he consistently tossed six innings over his first six starts of the season. By the time June hit, Roach was one of the more dominating pitchers in the International League. In June, he became the most dominate.
Roach, who was also selected to represent the Knights as a 2018 International League All-Star, posted a remarkable 5–0 record with a minuscule 0.98 ERA in six games during the month of June with the Knights. For his efforts in June, he was named as the International League’s Player of the Month and the Chicago White Sox Minor League Pitcher of the Month. He became the first member of the Knights to earn an IL Player of the Month honor since Andy Wilkins took home the award in July of 2014.
For the month of June, he allowed just four earned runs over 36.2 innings pitched. On June 27th, he shined against the Bulls in Durham, NC to earn his league-leading ninth win of the season at the time. On that day, he tossed a season-high eight innings pitched in Charlotte’s 5–1 win (8.0 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 5 SO).
For the season, Roach compiled a 9–2 record with a 2.65 ERA in 16 games (15 starts) with the Knights. The veteran right-hander left for Japan as the IL leader in winning percentage (.818) and wins (9), while he was second in innings pitched (95.0), and second in ERA (2.65). His 15 starts were also tied for the second most in the league at the time of his departure.
On the same day he was awarded with the International League’s Player of the Month Award, and the Chicago White Sox Minor League Pitcher of the Month Award, Roach was placed on the team’s Temporary Inactive List as his deal to head to Japan played out. It was a whirlwind few days for the Roach family, but in the end, the talented right-hander was on his way to fulfilling a goal of his. That goal became a reality on July 5 (2018), when he was released by the Chicago White Sox organization to pursue that opportunity to play in Japan and sign a contract with the Orix Buffaloes of Nippon Professional Baseball.
Before he left, however, he was honored on field by the Knights before the team’s game at BB&T Ballpark on July 5 against the Bulls. It was a nice send off to a remarkable three months of baseball in the Queen City.