IL Preview: Charlotte Knights
The Charlotte Knights had a forgettable season in 2013, finishing the season third in the South Division with a 65-78 record.
Third year man Joel Skinner will look to ride the ship after winning the International League South Division in 2012. Unlike last season, Skinner will have a loaded lineup to work with that will stick around to help out the club. Last year,
Skinner watched 21 of his players get promoted to the Big League level, resulting in a thin depth chart at the Triple-A level.
Pitching: The Charlotte Knights will be thin on the starting rotation, as they have traded two Triple-A veterans in Zach Stewart (Braves) and Omar Poveda (Nationals) before the start of the season. They will look for answers internally with Charlie Leesman leading the group. After suffering a career-threatening injury in the 2012 Triple-A playoffs, Charlie Leesman proved his worth as the anchor to the 2013 Charlotte staff. In 16 starts, he went 4-3 with a 3.87 ERA and was a September call-up. Leesman will try to earn a spot on the Chicago rotation, as he works out his low-90’s fastball and his groundball inducing slopping curveball.
While Leesman leads the rotation, Zach Petricka will anchor the bullpen. The former second rounder out of Indiana State University has been putting it all together since moving to the bullpen. The right-hander had his best professional season in 2013, going 6-1 with a 2.19 ERA across three different levels. He made his major league debut last year, going 1-1 with a 3.26 ERA in 16 appearances. He will likely start the season in Charlotte before moving back up to the big leagues.
Infield: Josh Phegley will return to Charlotte for the third straight season. The backstop has all the defensive tools to play at the big league level, but his bat is lacking. Last season with Chicago, he hit .206 with four homers and 22 RBIs. He will need to do more if he hopes to return to Chicago.
Matt Davidson has no problem at the dish. Davidson had a career year in 2013, hitting .280 with 17 homers and 74 RBIs for the Reno Aces of the Arizona Diamondbacks organization. The 2013 Triple-A All-Star Homerun Derby champion was traded in the offseason to the Chicago White Sox for right-hander Addison Reed. He enters the season as the No.4 ranked prospect in the Chicago organization and is close to his first Major League call-up.
Outfield: Jordan Danks will be the mainstay in the Knights lineup. Danks is the franchise all-time leader in walks (168) and triples (12). He has also amassed 355 hits and 199 runs with the Knights. Danks can play at the big league level, but with a crowded outfield in Chicago, he will have to wait his turn. Blake Tekotte and Denis Phipps will likely fill the other two outfield spots.
At Charlotte: April 16-18, June 30-July 1, August 5-6, 18-19, 31 and September 1
At Gwinnett: April 19-21, June 28-29, August 2-3 & 29-30
Projected Depth Chart: