(Charlotte, NC) — I’ll refrain from the almost cliche Forrest Gump quote “Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what your gonna get” but that does apply somewhat to every minor league baseball team breaking camp.
Teams never now who is on their roster until they get off the plane, Charlotte Knights included. Sure, if you pay attention to the White Sox roster moves in March, you can pies the clues together like a good mystery novel. Click here for this year’s opening day roster: Knights Roster 4-7-16.
The team’s make-up is finally revealed with the opening day roster. In this case, today, Thursday April 7th. The Knights begin on the road in Durham Thursday night. The home opener at BB&T BallPark is the following Thursday, April 14th hosting the saw Durham Bulls.
As is the case most years, this year’s roster is a mix of veteran players, returning Knights, first-time Knights, prospects and journeymen players.
Here’s what you need to know. The Knights will start with 12 pitchers and 13 position players. Of the 25 players, 12 have been with the Knights in the past including 11 from last year’s club. First baseman Travis Ishikawa was with the 2013 Charlotte Knights in the final season at Knights Stadium. He is a two-time World Series Champion with San Francisco.
Scott Carroll is the Knights opening day starter in a starting rotation that includes 2015 International League Pitcher of the Year, Erik Johnson, Chris Beck and former Tigers 1st round pick and a former Cub, Jacob Turner.
Carroll, Beck and Johnson all spent time with the White Sox last season. Turner missed almost all of last season with a shoulder inflammation and pitched for the Cubs and Marlins in 2014.
The bullpen is a blend of familiar names and some new ones. Terrance Marin split time last year starting and relieving for the Knights. Blake Smith and Daniel Webb also saw time in Charlotte last season. Among the newcomers in the Knights bullpen are Phillipe Aumont, a former Philadelphia Phillies pitcher, Tommy Kahnle, Will Lamb, Matt Purke and Chris Volstad.
The Knights pitching staff could be one of the better basketball line-ups. Every pitcher is 6-foot-1 or taller with four pitchers 6-foot-5 or taller.
Hector Sanchez and Kevan Smith are the catchers. Smith played in 97 games last season with the Knights. Hector Sanchez enters his first season with the White Sox organization after 9 seasons with the San Francisco Giants.
The infield has potential to be one of the best in the International League. Matt Davidson returns for his 3rd season at third base. A Top 30-prospect rated by Baseball America, Davidson has hit 43 home runs in his first two seasons with the Knights. White Sox 1st round pick (17th overall) in 2013, Tim Anderson, makes his Charlotte debut. Baseball America rates him as the number 1 prospect in the White Sox organization. Carlos Sanchez split time between Charlotte and Chicago last season and can play both shortstop and second base. The versatile Andy Parrino can play shortstop, second base and third. Danny Hayes and Ishikawa will see time at first base.
Jason Coats and Leury Garcia will be joined in the outfield by White Sox Top-30 prospect Jacob May and Daniel Fields. May played collegiately at Coastal Carolina.
One tip for those new to Triple-A baseball or minor league baseball for that matter. I’ve been told by several managers, coaches, players and scouts that at this level, you don’t know what kind of team you have for at least 25-30 games.
With the mix of players the Knights have from former MLB players to top prospects, this team looks pretty solid from the get go. Our first clue to what this season will look like comes tonight (Thursday Night) in Durham.
Follow Mike on Twitter: @MikePacheco81