Knights Knotes: April 11, 2017

The Knights are 4–1 so far this season. Photo credit: Laura Wolff

KNIGHT LIGHTS: The Charlotte Knights (Chicago White Sox) played their first road game of the season last night and will now continue a seven-game road trip tonight in Durham, NC against the Durham Bulls. Tonight is game two of the four-game series against the Bulls. After this series, which concludes on Thursday, the Knights will make the trek to Norfolk, VA for a three-game series against the Norfolk Tides, who they swept at BB&T Ballpark from April 6–9 (four-game series). The Knights, who lost last night’s opener, began the season at 4–0 — for the first time since 2011. In that year, the Knights began the year by going 5–0.
 
 ABOUT LAST KNIGHT
: 2B Yoan Moncada homered and scored two runs, but the Charlotte Knights dropped the opening game of their four-game series to the Durham Bulls by a score of 7–4 last night from the Durham Bulls Athletic Park in Durham, NC. Monday’s loss was Charlotte’s first of the 2017 campaign and it moved them into a two-way tie for first in the International League South Division with the Bulls. RHP Mike Pelfrey (0–1, 10.12) made his Charlotte debut on Monday and gave up three runs on five hits over 2.2 innings of work and was saddled with the loss. The 33-year-old veteran threw 61 pitches, 39 for strikes. He was relieved by Chris Volstad in the third, who gave up three runs on five hits over 3.1 innings pitched. LHP Giovanni Soto allowed one run on one hit over two innings out of the Charlotte ‘pen.
 
 FEEL THE BURN
On Saturday, the Charlotte Knights announced that veteran outfielder Ryan Raburn was added to the 25-man roster after signing a contract with the Chicago White Sox. Raburn, 35, made his Knights debut last night and launched a solo home run in his first at-bat (top of the third inning). Last night’s home run was the 116th of his minor league career, which has spanned over parts of 13 seasons.
 
 OFFENSIVE SHOWCASE
: The Knights have recorded an International League high 64 hits in five games this season. Saturday’s 15-run output was a season-high, which also included a season-high of six home runs in the game. With four runs last night, they have now scored a total of 43 runs in five games, which is also tops in the IL this season. In addition, the Knights also are tied for the league lead the IL in batting average (.339), first in the IL in home runs (9), as well as RBIs (39), and on base percentage (.425). 
 
 REIGNING BATTER OF THE WEEK:
Charlotte outfielder Willy Garcia, who hit .533 (8-for-15) with two home runs, nine runs scored, and four RBIs over four games last week, was named as the International League’s Batter of the Week for the period of April 6–9, as announced by the International League of Professional Baseball Clubs, Inc. on Monday morning. Garcia hit safely in all four games last week. He began the week with a two-hit night on Thursday, followed that up with a hit and three walks on Friday, and then added a home run in back-to-back games on Saturday and Sunday. The Dominican native has walked six times in four games and owns a .667 on base percentage through the first week. Claimed off waivers from the Pittsburgh Pirates on January 6, 2017, Garcia is in his first season in the Chicago White Sox organization. The 24-year-old spent the entire 2016 season with the Indianapolis Indians (Triple-A affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates) and hit .245 with six home runs and 43 RBIs in 129 games. He led all IL outfielders in games played (128) and assists (17). For his efforts in the field last season, he was named as the Indianapolis Indians Defensive Player of the Year.
 
 TOKNIGHTS STARTING PITCHER
: RHP Reynaldo Lopez (0–0, 6.00) gets the start tonight in game two of the four-game series. Lopez made his debut in the Chicago White Sox system as he got the nod for the Knights on Opening Knight at BB&T Ballpark on April 6th. On that day, Lopez allowed four runs (two earned) on three hits over three innings of work. The 23-year-old made 14 starts for Double-A Harrisburg last season and posted a 3–5 record with a 3.18 ERA in 14 starts (76.1 IP). He was later promoted to Triple-A Syracuse, where he went 2–2 with a 3.27 ERA in five starts (33.0 IP). Lopez made his major league debut on July 19 and tossed 4.2 innings for the ‘Nats against the Dodgers. Last season, Lopez faced the Bulls on July 5 in Durham and he earned the win after allowing three runs on six hits over five innings of work. 
 
 DURHAM’S STARTING PITCHER
: RHP Jacob Faria (0–0, 6.23) gets the ball tonight for the Bulls in his second start of the season. Faria, a native of La Palma, CA, started in Gwinnett on April 6 and allowed four runs (three earned) on three hits over 4.1 innings pitched and did not factor in the decision. Ranked by Baseball America as the number eight prospect in Tampa Bays system heading into the season, Faria posted a 4–4 record with a 3.72 ERA in 13 starts for the Bulls last year. Faria faced the Knights at BB&T Ballpark on August 23, 2016 and allowed one run on two hits over 5.1 innings but did not factor in the decision. He fanned six batters that day.

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