Tonight Baseball America announced its Top 100 prospects entering the 2014 season, and a few familiar faces are on the list.
#63 Erik Johnson – RHP
BA’s To-Do List: Listen to Don Cooper. Chicago’s major league pitching coach knows his stuff and should bring the most out of Johnson and his premium slider.
While in Kannapolis: Johnson made the most of his eight starts with the Intimidators in 2012, going 2-2 with a 2.30 ERA. Last year, he dominated the Southern League with Double-A Birmingham before moving up to Triple-A Charlotte and eventually making his MLB Debut in Yankee Stadium last September.
#91 Marcus Semien – SS/2B/3B
BA’s To-Do List: Semien will battle Matt Davidson and Conor Gillaspie for the third-base job in Chicago, but he likely is headed to Triple-A to play all three infield spots and continue to show he has the bat to be more than a utilityman.
While In Kannapolis: Semien made his professional debut with the Intimidators in 2011, playing his entire debut campaign for K-town and batting batting .253/.320/.376 in 60 games in the second half of the season. As an Intimidator, Semien was a shortstop, but he can play 2B and 3B, and will compete for a job on the hot corner at US Cellular Field this year. He earned Southern League MVP honors in 2013, A teammate of Johnson’s while at California, the Sox selected Semien in the sixth round of the June 2011 draft. He moved up to Winston-Salem in 2012 and opened this year with Birmingham, batting .290/.420/.483 in 105 games for the Barons before earning an August 1 promotion to Charlotte. He too made his MLB Debut in September.
Also in the White Sox system:
#29 Jose Abreu – 1B
BA’s To-Do List: Signed to a major league contract, Abreu has higher expectations than most on this list. The White Sox are counting on him to make the majors and hit in the middle of their lineup.
#72 Matt Davidson – 3B
BA’s To-Do List: Davidson’s new organization gives him a shot at a big league job. His focus should be defense, Conor Gillaspie’s weakest tool, as well as curbing his strikeouts.
In addition to former Intimidators and other White Sox prospects, the list is littered with names that Intimidators fans have seen come through Kannapolis over the last few years. Some of those include:
#15 Dylan Bundy (Orioles)
BA’s To-Do List: Don’t be in a hurry. After June 2013 Tommy John surgery, Bundy should make sure he’s back healthy. If he is, he could provide a late jolt for the big league Orioles.
Against the I’s: Bundy was still on a very tight pitch count and innings limit when he made his lone appearance against the Intimidators on April 11, 2012. Bundy spun 3.0 perfect innings with six strikeouts in his second career appearance en route to working 30.0 South Atlantic League innings without allowing an earned run before earning a promotion to the Carolina League.
#17 Maikel Franco (Phillies)
BA’s To-Do List: Franco already has power and polish at the plate. Adding polish and maintaining his agility at either infield corner would speed his arrival in Philadelphia, at either spot.
Against the I’s: He faced Kannapolis in 11 different games during the 2012 season, batting .256 (10-39) without much of a standout showing.
#22 Jameson Taillon (Pirates)
BA’s To-Do List: Taillon has frontline stuff and has put himself on the cusp of the Pittsburgh rotation, and more consistent fastball command will get him his Pirates puffy shirt.
Against the I’s: Taillon never faced the Intimidators in Kannapolis but pitched against them in West Virginia on May 13, 2011, allowing a run over 4.0 innings. As you may remember, Taillon was taken with the second overall pick in 2010, just after Bryce Harper.
#37 Corey Seager (Dodgers)
BA’s To-Do List: Seager appeared to run out of gas in his first full season and may need to move to third base soon. As long as he keeps hitting, however, those should just be minor impediments to big league success.
Against the I’s: He’s never faced the Intimidators, but local fans are very familiar with the former Northwest Cabarrus High School standout. He did play several games at CMC-NorthEast Stadium before the Dodgers used a first round pick on him in 2012.
#47 Raul A. Mondesi (Royals)
BA’s To-Do List: The toolsy teen is starting this season at the same age as most high school draftees. Mondesi’s production should climb as his body matures and his experience grows.
Against the I’s: Mondesi hit for the cycle against Kannapolis this past season – the only player to ever accomplish the feat against the Intimidators.
#60 Joey Gallo (Rangers)
BA’s To-Do List: No one in the minors can match Gallo’s raw power. A two-strike approach, as well as maintaining agility at third base, will help his high-ceiling toolset mature.
Against the I’s: One of the home runs he hit against Kannapolis at L.P. Frans Stadium this year still hasn’t landed. The Sally League home run leader with 38 in 2013, Gallo only had 3 in 12 games against Kannapolis. In fact, Intimidators pitchers held this masher to a .156 average (7-45) compared to his .245 season average.
There’s something magical about waking up, looking out your window, and seeing the street, the cars, the sidewalks blanketed with snow — at least when you live in North Carolina and such sights are a rarity.
Sure, that magic can fade if you need to drive somewhere, but with schools and businesses either closed or starting late after yesterday afternoon’s snow dusting, it’s a nice morning to take a look around and enjoy the scene.
For me, seeing snow at CMC-NorthEast Stadium takes me back to my first impression of this place. If you remember, the last time we got this much snow was January 2011 (admittedly, it’s not a lot if you’re a White Sox fan reading this from Chicago, but for North Carolina, the reported 0.3 inches is significant). The week of January 10, 2011, saw snow blanket much of the south, and it was my first weekend in Kannapolis. I had just moved from Los Angeles to take a job as the Intimidators radio guy. And as I drove into town and up to the ballpark for the first time, I saw a field covered in snow.
“Where did I just move to?”
We didn’t have too many snow days in Los Angeles or back home in Dallas (the Super Bowl three years ago notwithstanding). Intimidators GM Randy Long assured me that this sort of weather was an aberration. In the years since, we haven’t seen much snow and not of this magnitude either. But when the ballpark transforms into a winter wonderland, it definitely takes me back to my first impression of the old Cannon and the start of this journey in K-town.
This week MLB.com released it’s annual list of the game’s Top 100 Prospects, and former Kannapolis Intimidators starting pitcher Erik Johnson is one of two Chicago White Sox prospects to make the cut — the other being recently-acquired Matt Davidson — and the only former K-dator on the list.
MLB.com rates Johnson the No. 70 prospect on their Top 100 list while Davidson, whom the White Sox acquired in a December trade with Arizona for former Intimidators reliever Addison Reed (2011), is No. 80.
Johnson pitched for Kannapolis in 2012, going 2-2 with a 2.30 ERA in eight starts, and found himself in the Major Leagues by the end of the following season, making his MLB debut after a September call-up in 2013. The former California Golden Bear made his debut in Yankee Stadium with college teammate Marcus Semien also making his big league debut at third base for the Sox that night. (Semien played shortstop for Kannapolis during the second half of the 2011 season.)
In the big leagues, Johnson went 3-2 with a 3.25 ERA in five starts following a dominant season with Double-A Birmingham (8-2, 2.23 ERA) and Triple-A Charlotte (4-1, 1.57 ERA). He won Southern League Pitcher of the Year in 2013.
Here’s the write-up from MLB.com on Johnson:
Scouting Grades: Fastball: 60 | Curve: 40 | Slider: 60 | Changeup: 50 | Control: 60 | Overall: 55
Johnson has made quick work of the Minor Leagues, ascending to the Major Leagues in just his second full professional season. In 2013, between Double-A Birmingham and Triple-A Charlotte, he posted a 0.99 WHIP and a 1.96 ERA, both of which ranked in the top five in the Minor Leagues.
Johnson succeeds, thanks to his good four-pitch mix. The former Cal ace throws his low-90s fastball from a good downhill angle. He gets good bite on his slider, making it his best offspeed pitch. He also throws an average changeup and occasionally uses a show-me curveball early in the count to left-handed batters.
Johnson has smoothed his delivery out as a professional, making it easier for him to repeat his delivery and improve his command. He is built like a workhorse starter, and he should fit into the White Sox rotation soon.* Players are graded on a 20-80 scale for future tools — 20-30 is well below average, 40 is below average, 50 is average, 60 is above average and 70-80 is well above average.
Pitchers and catchers report to Glendale, Ariz., on Feb. 15 while position players will report on Feb. 20.
This week the Chicago White Sox announced their minor league coaching staffs, and the Twittersphere was abuzz with word that Pete Rose Jr. would be coming to Kannapolis as the 10th manager of the Intimidators. There were two types of responses that we saw after announcing the Kannapolis field staff for 2014. The first being “Wow, Pete Rose Jr. That’s going to be great!” with the second group asking “Where’d Tommy end up?” Others were curious where other past coaches ended up, so with that in mind I figured we’d take a look at who will be coaching/managing where in the White Sox system in 2014.
Pitching coach Jose Bautista returns for his fourth straight season with the Intimidators. He has done a great job working with kids who are having their mechanics tinkered with for the first time, and he helps start the molding process to develop Major League pitchers. At the rookie levels, pitching coaches don’t typically make too many adjustments. It’s the chance for the player development staff to see how a player pitches. They get to evaluate, up close and personal, this new prospect. It’s not usually until that player arrives at the Class A level where the Sox, and specifically Bautista, begin to develop that arm.
Rob Sasser returns to the Intimidators as hitting coach, the same position he held in 2012 on Julio Vinas’s staff. Last year he was in Winston-Salem where he oversaw a line that led the Carolina League in home runs and produced the second straight CL Player of the Year in Chris Curley.
Now let’s see where some former Intimidators coaches ended up, starting with last year’s skipper and his newest field staff:
Tommy Thompson: Manager, Winston-Salem Dash
The 2012 Carolina League Manager of the Year, Thompson returns to the team he led to Minor League Baseball’s best full-season record two years ago, going 87-51. Fans are probably as upset that as umpires are ecstatic that he won’t be back. Last year, he managed Kannapolis to a 61-76 record. Thompson also managed the Intimidators in 2011, taking that squad within one game of the post-season before falling on the final day of the campaign to eventual league champion Greensboro.
Joining Tommy with the Dash will be pitching coach J.R. Perdew and hitting coach Gary Ward. Perdew was the K-town pitching coach in the Sox first year as the big league affiliate of the Intimidators in 2001 as well as in 2005 while Ward has never coached in Kannapolis.
Julio Vinas: Manager, Birmingham Barons
After two so-so seasons to open his managerial career, Vinas gave the thoroughbreds their reins and let ‘em run on his way to a Southern League Championship with the Barons in 2013. Vinas had a lot of talent on his squad last year, including a few players he managed in Kannapolis in 2012 like Erik Johnson, Scott Snodgress and Keenyn Walker. He was named Southern League Manager of the Year last year. The only manager that Birmingham’s new Regions Park has ever known will be back in 2014.
Julio will team up with pitching coach Britt Burns, who coached in the Florida, Detroit and Houston organizations before joining the White Sox last season. Brandon Moore, who served as the Intimidators hitting coach from 2003-04, will be the Barons’ hitting coach this season after spending last year with Triple-A Charlotte.
Andy Tomberlin: Hitting Coach, Charlotte Knights
Last season’s hitting coach in Kannapolis, Andy Tomberlin’s season came to an abrupt end when he suffered an injury in the hitting cages while working with hitters during the second half of 2013. He’ll get a chance to get back in the saddle with Charlotte’s brand new BB&T Ballpark, a vast upgrade from his last stint with the Knights in 2012, their second-to-last season in Knights Stadium. Tomberlin had also been the Intimidators hitting coach in 2007-08.
Tomberlin joins manager Joel Skinner, who has led Charlotte since 2012. Richard Dotson, the Knights pitching coach since 2008, is also back for the Sox Triple-A affiliate. Also a part of the Knights staff this season, Ryan Newman will serve as an assistant coach. Last year, he managed Winston-Salem. One other familiar name in Charlotte will be strength and conditioning coach Chad Efron.
Charlie Poe: Manager, Great Falls Voyagers
The man affectionately known as C-Poe will get his first chance to manage in 2014 after spending the last two seasons as the hitting coach for the Advanced Rookie Voyagers in the Pioneer League. Poe worked as the Intimidators hitting coach in 2011. He’ll replace Rose as the skipper in Great Falls. His staff will comprise pitching coach Brian Drahman and hitting coach Greg Briley while former Intimidators conditioning coach Tim Rodmaker will also spend 2014 in Montana.
This week, FutureSox.com released their Top 25 prospects in the White Sox system, with 18 of them having previously suited up for the Intimidators. Erik Johnson, the No. 2 prospect on the list, is the highest-ranked former K’dator. He made his MLB debut last season after dominating the Double-A Southern League and finding more success with Triple-A Charlotte — just one season removed from his time in Kannapolis.
Here’s the list with former Intimidators in bold:
THE LIST: Here are the Top 25 prospects in the White Sox system…
1. Jose Abreu, 1B [NEW]
2. Erik Johnson, RHP [Previous Rank: 1st, -1]
3. Matt Davidson, 3B [NEW]
4. Marcus Semien, INF [Previous: 13, +9]
5. Tim Anderson, SS [Previous: 2, -3]
6. Courtney Hawkins, OF [Previous: 4, -2]
7. Chris Beck, RHP [Previous: 9, +2]
8. Tyler Danish, RHP [Previous: 8, unchanged]
9. Micah Johnson, 2B [Previous: 12, +3]
10. Trayce Thompson, OF [Previous: 3, -7]
11. Daniel Webb, RHP [Previous: 10, -1]
12. Carlos Sanchez, SS/2B [Previous: 6, -6]
13. Keon Barnum, 1B [Previous: 7, -6]
14. Jacob May, OF [Previous: 21, +7]
15. Jacob Petricka, RHP [Previous: 22, +7]
16. Scott Snodgress, LHP [Previous: 11, -5]
17. Micker Adolfo, OF [NEW]
18. Chris Bassitt, RHP [Previous: 29*, +11]
19. Trey Michalczewski, 3B [Previous: 14, -5]
20. Francellis Montas, RHP [NEW]
21. Rangel Ravelo, 1B [Previous: 24, +3]
22. Adam Engel, OF [NEW]
23. Myles Jaye, RHP [Previous: 23, Unchanged]
24. Jefferson Olacio, LHP [Previous: 30*, +6]
25. Eric Surkamp, LHP [NEW]
There are a lot of interesting names on this list. Tim Anderson (5) and Courtney Hawkins (6) are young first rounders who will both probably open the season with Winston-Salem. Anderson hit .277 in his 68 games in the SAL last season — which around where Marcus Semien found himself after the 2011 draft pick made his debut with Kannapolis for the 2nd half of the season — while Hawkins was boom-or-bust with the Dash, hitting .178 in the Carolina League while ranking third on the circuit with 19 home runs. A 2012 first round pick, Hawkins led the CL with 160 strikeouts in 383 at-bats (42%). To give Intimidators fans a little perspective, Trayce Thompon fanned 33% of the time (172 strikeouts/519 at-bats) in his K-filled 2011 campaign with Kannapolis.
The highest-rated prospect on this list most likely to see time in Kannapolis in 2014 is pitcher Tyler Danish (8). The Sox took him in the second round of last year’s draft, and he made two relief appearances with the Intimidators before the season wrapped up. The bulk of his professional debut came with Advanced Rookie Bristol. My guess would be that he opens the season in the Kannapolis rotation, a la Jacob Petricka (15), the 2010 second round pick who finished his professional debut in the Kannapolis bullpen at the end of the 2010 before opening 2011 as an Intimidators starter.
It’s no secret Jefferson Olacio (24) struggled in his US debut in 2012, especially after moving into the Kannapolis rotation. The Sox transferred him to Bristol at the Sally League All-Star Break that year. But the Big O was back in K-town in 2013 and clearly turned a corner when the calendar turned to July. After going 3-8 with a 6.86 in 13 starts in the first half, Olacio started to repeat his arm slot with more consistency and command his pitches better, going 3-3 with a 2.78 ERA in 13 games (12 starts) in the second half. He dominated in July, posted a 1.71 ERA in five starts. After a year and a half with Kannapolis, Olacio is ready to take his talents to the Carolina League. And he just turned 20 last week.
Speaking of kids, one name not on the list that I’m looking forward to seeing more of in 2014 is middle infielder Cleuluis Rondon, who the Sox snagged from Boston as part of the Jake Peavy deal. He made his Class A debut with Kannapolis after spending the first half of his 2013 season with Boston’s Short-Season affiliate in Lowell. Tommy Thompson called his defense big league ready last season, but it was clear his bat needs more time to develop. This is the kid who turned a 6-4-2 double play last year. Yeah, he turned it home. In the second inning. He received the flip from shortstop Tim Anderson, set his feet to the plate, and fired a bullet to Mike Marjama who tagged out the runner coming from third. He’ll be 19 on Opening Day this year.
Seeing Rangel Ravelo on the list is a little odd, only because he left the Intimidators midway through the 2012 season to take a little time off from baseball for personal reasons. He opened last year in K-town before moving up to Winston-Salem and holding down the fort at first base, hitting .312 in the Carolina League. The Sox moved Ravelo from 3rd base to 1st base, which might give him a clearer path to the big leagues. He should open this year with Birmingham, and he turns just 22 in late April. Compare that to first baseman Dan Black who is 26 and will turn 27 this July.
Anyone else on this list who you’d like to hear more about? Post a comment and let us know.
Earlier this week, news came down that the White Sox traded former Kannapolis Intimidators reliever Addison Reed to the Arizona Diamondbacks. Reed, who made the jump from Low-A Kannapolis all the way to the Major Leagues during the course of the 2011 season, has worked the back end of the Sox bullpen for the last two years, going 8-6 with a 4.17 ERA in his time in the big leagues.
Here are some of the highlights of the trade and the subsequent news on Twitter:
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) December 16, 2013
Alright, its official! Im an arizona diamondback! — Addison reed (@Areed43) December 16, 2013
As it turns out, it won’t be Addison Reed’s first stint in a Diamondbacks uniform.
— Steve Gilbert (@SteveGilbertMLB) December 18, 2013
Leave it to fine folks at FutureSox to provide the breakdown on the return piece of the deal, Matt Davidson.
Addison Reed nets third base prospect Matt Davidson. See our breakdown of Davidson’s background. http://t.co/KxMLA18YFO
— FutureSox.com (@FutureSox) December 17, 2013
Also, @SouthSideSox found one flaw with the trade, primarily dealing with a White Sox holiday promotion:
Trading Addison Reed leaves a hole at Secret Santa. https://t.co/50q907unNq
— South Side Sox (@SouthSideSox) December 16, 2013
Lastly, a little more info on Matt Davidson, courtesy of the White Sox twitter feed:
— Chicago White Sox (@whitesox) December 18, 2013
Have a safe & happy holiday season! I’m sure we’ll have other updates between now and Opening Day on April 3, so be sure to keep checking back here at Intimidating Insight for the latest news, notes & nuggets.
We returned to Kannapolis from the Winter Meetings earlier today. It was a productive week of meetings, seminars, workshops and the announcement of our PDC extension with the White Sox through 2018. From the press release:
“The White Sox have been a tremendous affiliate for more than a decade,” said Intimidators General Manager Randy Long. “We have seen so many talented White Sox prospects develop here in Kannapolis, and we look forward to continuing this partnership.”
Since becoming a White Sox affiliate in 2001, the Intimidators have seen 52 players go from Kannapolis to the Major Leagues, including the 2009 Sporting News American League Rookie of the Year Gordon Beckham. Pitcher Addison Reed went from Kannapolis to the Major Leagues during the 2011 campaign – joining Daniel Hudson as the second Sox prospect to make the four-level jump in one season since 2009. This past year, a franchise record eight former Intimidators made their Major League debuts, all for Chicago. The Intimidators won their only South Atlantic League championship in 2005, the same season the White Sox won the World Series, becoming the most recent South Atlantic League team to win a title in the season year as their Major League affiliate.
“Maintaining continuity and stability is one of our main goals in the player development system, and extending our affiliation with Kannapolis is a big part of that goal,” said Buddy Bell, White Sox vice president/assistant general manager. “Over the past 13 seasons, we have developed great working relationships with the Kannapolis front office and community, and we look forward to building on that foundation for at least the next five years.”
Along that same thread, the White Sox also announced a six-year extension with our neighbors to the south, the Charlotte Knights, plus a four-year extension with the Great Falls Voyagers, keeping them in the system through 2020 and 2018, respectively.
The Rule 5 Draft took place earlier today, and a few familiar names came up. Former Intimidators outfielder Brady Shoemaker was selected by the Miami Marlins in the Triple-A portion of the draft. Shoemaker last played for Kannapolis in 2011 — when he led the Sally League with a .319 average — and he missed last year due to surgery on a torn labrum.
The White Sox picked up Adrian Nieto in the Rule 5 draft. The name probably sounds familiar — that’s because Nieto was a catcher for the Hagerstown Suns during parts of the 2010, ’11 and ’12 seasons. K-dator fans probably think more highly of him than others, considering the career .254 batter hit .348 (8-23) against the Intimidators. The switch-hitting catcher does have a knack for getting on-base (.346).
Lastly, no official word yet on the Intimidators field staff for 2014. Tommy Thompson managed Kannapolis in 2011 and 2013 while serving as skipper of the High-A Winston-Salem Dash in between, earning Carolina League Manager of the Year in 2012. Jose Bautista has been the team’s pitching coach each of the last three seasons, while the Intimidators have seen Charles Poe, Robert Sasser and Andy Tomberlin serve as hitting coach over the last three years.
KANNAPOLIS INTIMIDATORS END OF SEASON NOTES
Class A Affiliate of the Chicago White Sox – 61-76, 34-35 2nd Half
Tuesday, September 3, 2013
CMC-NorthEast Stadium – Kannapolis, N.C.
Season Snapshot: The Kannapolis Intimidators finished the 2013 season 61-76, fifth overall in the seven-team South Atlantic League Northern Division. The 19th season of professional baseball in Kannapolis wrapped up with a hot month as the Intimidators went 19-11 since August 1, the fourth-best record in the league down the stretch. The Intimidators finished the season half 34-35, fourth in the division after a sluggish first half (27-41). Both halves finished on high notes as Kannapolis swept Rome heading into the All-Star Break and wrapped up the regular season by taking three of four over Hagerstown.
In The Finale: Jacob May closed the book on the 2013 season with a walk-off home run with two-outs in the bottom of the 10th on Monday, propelling the Intimidators to a 4-3 win over the Suns. Kannapolis came back from an 0-3 deficit with three runs in the bottom of the eighth inning against the Suns bullpen. Mike Marjama led off the inning with a double and later scored on an Eric Grabe fielders choice. Grabe crossed the plate on May’s two-out single, and Cleuluis Rondon scored the tying run when Suns third baseman Mike McQuillan couldn’t handle a Tim Anderson ground ball. Stew Brase spun scoreless ninth and 10th innings for the win. Brase (3-2) retired the final six batters he faced, including four strikeouts, to dim the Suns. Kannapolis starter Tony Bucciferro logged one final quality start, working 6.0 innings and allowing two runs (one earned) on five hits with four strikeouts in a no decision. Andre Wheeler worked 2.0 relief innings, allowing a run on three hits with two walks and two strikeouts.
Save The Date: The Kannapolis Intimidators will open the 2014 season at home on Thursday, April 3, against the Greenville Drive. Next season will be the 20th year of professional baseball in the city of Kannapolis. The team came to town in 1995 from Spartanburg and spent the first season as the Piedmont Phillies before playing the next five seasons as the Piedmont Boll Weevils (1996-2000). Next season will mark the 14th year under the “Intimidators” moniker and 14th year as a White Sox affiliate. To view the 2014 schedule, visit IntimidatorsBaseball.com.
Johnson Named All-Star: Second baseman Micah Johnson was named to the SAL Annual All-Star Team, the first Intimidator to make the league’s Annual All-Star Team in two years. Johnson hit .342 in 77 games with Kannapolis and set a new franchise record for stolen bases in a single season with 61, which ranked third in the league this season. The Intimidators promoted Johnson to Winston-Salem on July 3. He led the Minors with 84 stolen bases this season. He finished his year with five games at Double-A Birmingham, playing a total of 131 games and batting .312/.373/.451 in his first year full year in the Minor Leagues. Earlier this season, Johnson was named the South Atlantic League All-Star Game MVP.
No-Hitting Hagerstown: On June 5, three Intimidators pitchers combined to throw a no-hitter against the Hagerstown Suns in Game 2 of a doubleheader as Kannapolis rolled to an 11-0 victory. In his first start of the season, Braulio Ortiz spun 4.0 hitless innings before giving way to Adam Lopez for 2.0 innings and Joe Dvorsky, who worked the final frame. Lopez earned the win as the trio spun just the third no-hitter since the Intimidators became a White Sox affiliate in 2001.
Grand Slam: Adam Heisler hit the lone grand slam of the season for Kannapolis. On Aug. 13, Heisler returned from a 3-game stint with Triple-A Charlotte and put a game against the Lakewood BlueClaws out of reach with his second-inning slam in his first at-bat back with Kannapolis. The blast gave the Intimidators a 7-1 lead en route to a 12-8 win. It was the first career slam for Heisler and the first by an Intimidator since Kevan Smith hit one June 3, 2012, also against Lakewood.
From Kannapolis to the Majors: Four former Intimidators made their Major League debuts this season, all with the White Sox. Catcher Josh Phegley (2009) and pitchers Andre Rienzo (2010), Charlie Leesman (2008-09) and Jake Petricka (2010-11) all played for the Intimidators on their way through the White Sox minor league system before donning a big league uniform for the Sox this season. There have been 73 former Intimidators to play in the Major Leagues, and that number could continue to climb with September call-ups.
KANNAPOLIS INTIMIDATORS vs. HAGERSTOWN SUNS
60-76, 33-35 2nd Half (Chicago White Sox) | 80-56, 42-27 2nd Half (Washington Nationals)
Monday, September 2, 2013 – 1:05 p.m.
CMC-NorthEast Stadium – Kannapolis, N.C.
RHP Tony Bucciferro (3-5, 2.59) vs. LHP Kylin Turnbull (6-5, 3.81)
Today’s Preview: It’s the last game of the year – can’t hold anything back. Today the Intimidators (A, White Sox) can finish the season on a high note by claiming a series victory over the playoff-bound Suns (A, Nationals). Kannapolis is coming off a 5-3 (F/6) win in a rain-shortened game on Sunday. The Intimidators can match last season’s win total of 61 with a victory today. Kannapolis sends Tony Bucciferro to the mound for his final start of the year, while Suns southpaw Kylin Turnbull makes his third start against the Intimidators. Kannapolis can even the season-series with a win (Hagerstown, 7-6).
Intimidating Starter: Tony Bucciferro, 23, makes his 12th and final start this year and his second against Hagerstown. Since rejoining Kannapolis from Advanced Rookie Bristol on July 18, he has gone 3-3 with a 1.26 ERA (7 ER/50 IP) with 55 strikeouts and four walks in his last eight starts. He is coming off a loss at Delmarva on Aug. 28, but prior to that, he struck out a career-high 10 batters over 7.0 scoreless innings against playoff-bound Savannah on Aug. 22. Bucciferro is in his third stint with Kannapolis, after appearing in three games (two starts) in early June, then coming up from Bristol for a spot-start July 7 at Hickory. Between the SAL and Appalachian League, he is 4-6 with a 2.55 ERA (24 IP/84.2 IP) with 92 strikeouts and six walks in 15 games (14 starts). He dominated the APPY, going 1-1 with a 2.41 ERA in three starts. He rejoined the Intimidators when Braulio Ortiz was promoted to A-Advanced Winston-Salem July 18. The Sox drafted Bucciferro in the 14th round last June out of Michigan State where he started four years and ranks among school leaders in starts, wins, strikeouts and IP.
Suns Starter: Kylin Turnbull, 23, makes his 16th start of the year and third against the Intimidators. He is coming off five straight quality starts, including a loss to Kannapolis Aug. 4 in Hagerstown that started this run. Against the Intimidators, Turnbull is 0-1 with a 3.48 ERA (4 ER/10.1 IP) in two starts. He is coming off a strong month of August in which he was 1-2 with a 2.30 ERA in five starts. After a rough first half in which he posted a 5.32 ERA, Turnbull has gone 4-3 with a 3.21 ERA in his 10 starts since the break. He joined the Suns after opening his season with High A Potomac, where he was 0-3 with a 14.81 ERA in three starts. He returned to extended spring May 23 before joining Short-Season Auburn, where he went 2-0 with a 1.96 ERA (4 ER/18.1 IP) in four starts June 17-July 2. The Nationals picked Turnbull in the fourth round of the June 2011 draft out of Santa Barbara (Calif.) City College. He made his professional debut last season, spending the majority of his year with Hagerstown, going 4-5 with a 5.16 ERA in 18 games (17 starts). He faced Kannapolis June 8, 2012, allowing two runs on six hits over 6.0 innings in a no decision.
About Last Night: Jacob May broke a 3-3 tie in the bottom of the fourth with a 2-run single to propel Kannapolis to a 5-3 win in six innings against Hagerstown. May finished 2-for-3 with two RBI, while Keon Barnum (2-3) and Cleuluis Rondon (2-2) also enjoyed multi-hit nights. Jefferson Olacio worked all 6.0 innings before rain halted the game. He gave up three runs (two earned) on four hits to earn the win. Pedro Encarnacion took the loss for the Suns, allowing five runs (four earned) on 10 hits with eight strikeouts.
Tim’s Tally: Tim Anderson, the White Sox first round pick in the June 2013 draft, singled in the first inning on Sunday to extend his career-long hitting streak to 13 games. He finished 1-3. Since Aug. 19, Anderson is batting .360 (18-50). It’s the eighth 10-game hitting streak by an Intimidator this season. In August, he hit .303 (33-109).
The Big O: Jefferson Olacio wrapped up his season with a complete game in Sunday’s rain-shortened win, his third complete game this season, which ranks second in the SAL (Daniel Stumpf, LEX, 4). The 6’7” left-hander also ranks fifth in the league in IP (136.2) and he is tied with six others for the league-lead with 25 games started. Olacio finishes his season 6-11 with a 4.54 ERA, including a 2.78 ERA in 13 second-half starts. He held left-handed batters to a .183 average.
Top Coats: Jason Coats enters the final day of the season with a chance to crack the Top 5 in franchise history in at-bats. Coats ranks second in the league with 512 at-bats this season, three behind Marlon Byrd (2000) and Daniel Wagner(2010) who are tied for fourth with 515 each. The franchise league in at-bats in a season in Jimmy Rollins, who had 560 in 1997 with the Piedmont Boll Weevils. Coats also enters this game with 84 RBI and 38 doubles, ranking second in the SAL. He is third in games (132) and fifth in hits (139), extra-base hits (53) and total bases (219).
Save The Date: The Kannapolis Intimidators will open the 2014 season at home on Thursday, April 3, against the Greenville Drive. Next season will be the 20th year of professional baseball in the city of Kannapolis. The team came to town in 1995 from Spartanburg and spent the first season as the Piedmont Phillies before playing the next five seasons as the Piedmont Boll Weevils (1996-2000). Next season will mark the 14th year under the “Intimidators” moniker and 14th year as a Chicago White Sox affiliate. For a complete 2014 schedule, visit IntimidatorsBaseball.com.
KANNAPOLIS INTIMIDATORS vs. HAGERSTOWN SUNS
59-76, 32-35 2nd Half (Chicago White Sox) | 80-55, 42-26 2nd Half (Baltimore Orioles)
Sunday, September 1, 2013 – 5:05 p.m.
CMC-NorthEast Stadium – Kannapolis, N.C.
LHP Jefferson Olacio (5-11, 4.61) vs. RHP Pedro Encarnacion (10-8, 3.43)
Today’s Preview: Jefferson Olacio looks to continue his strong second half as the Intimidators (A, White Sox) aim for a series lead over the Suns (A, Nationals) in the final series of the 2013 season. Kannapolis evened the series at one game apiece with a 4-1 win on Saturday. Hagerstown, the first half Northern Division winner, is trying to tune for its playoff series against West Virginia next week.
Intimidating Starter: Jefferson Olacio, 19, makes his league-lead-tying 25th start, and his third against Hagerstown. He is 1-0 with a 4.26 ERA (6 ER/12.2 IP) in two starts, including a complete game win on June 5 in the first game of a doubleheader. He is tied for second in the SAL in complete games (2). The big lefty is coming off a solid performance in Delmarva, allowing one unearned run on two hits over 6.0 innings in a no decision. He dominated July, going 2-1 with a 1.71 ERA (6 ER/31.2 IP) in five starts. Since the All-Star Break, he has gone 2-3 with a 2.76 ERA (22 ER/71.2 IP) in 12 starts, including a stretch of 21 innings without allowing an earned run, spanning four starts July 11-29. He is holding left-handed hitters to a .178 average. While Olacio’s 4.61 ERA is 10th-highest in the SAL among qualifiers, it is now the lowest it has been all season. Olacio began 2012 at Class A but spent the 2nd Half of the season with Bristol, combining to go 3-11 with a 5.16 ERA in 27 games. He entered this season rated by Baseball America as the No. 30 Prospect in the White Sox organization.
Hagerstown Hurler: Pedro Encarnacion, 21, makes his 24th start of the season and his second against Kannapolis. He leads the Suns and ranks 11th in the SAL in ERA (3.43) among qualifiers. He is coming off a loss to Lakewood, allowing five runs (two earned) over 6.0 innings. Encarnacion had a better 1st Half than 2nd Half, going 5-3 with a 2.68 ERA before the break and 5-5 with a 3.89 ERA since. He is holding right-handed hitters to a .185 average while lefties hit .266 against him. Encarnacion split 2012 between Short-Season Auburn and Hagerstown, going 5-2 with a 4.57 ERA in 19 games (14 starts). Washington signed him as a UDFA in 2010, and he made his pro debut that season with the GCL Nationals.
About Last Night: Adam Lopez struck out nine batters, equaling his career-high, to dim the Suns in a 4-1 win on Saturday. Lopez worked 6.2 innings, allowing a run on four hits with a walk before turning things over to David Putman, who sat down seven of eight batters faced for the save (2). Kannapolis took an early lead when Tim Anderson singled in the first inning, stole second and scored on Jason Coats’ double. Keon Barnum then singled home Coats. Jake Johansen took the loss for Hagerstown, allowing four runs (two earned) on seven hits in 4.2 innings.
Tim’s Tally: Tim Anderson, the White Sox first round pick in the June 2013 draft, singled in the first inning on Saturday to extend his career-long hitting streak to 12 games. He finished 2-5 with two runs scored. Since Aug. 19, Anderson is batting .362 (17-47). It’s the eighth 10-game hitting streak by an Intimidator this season. He bumped his August average to .303 (33-109). He is batting .291 (58-199) against right-handers compared to .246 (15-61) against lefties.
Lopez Lowers ERA: Adam Lopez finishes his season 5-3 with a 2.54 ERA in 99.1 innings in 32 games (seven starts). Since moving into the rotation on July 28, he is 4-1 with a 1.58 ERA (7 ER/40 IP), the fifth-best ERA in the SAL in that time. Lopez went 4-2 with a 1.44 ERA in the 2nd Half of the season in 14 games.
Warm Coats: Jason Coats drove in his team-leading 84th run of the year, which ranks second behind only Asheville’s Francisco Sosa (89) with two games left in the season. Coats ranks second in the league in at-bats (509) behind Hagerstown second baseman Tony Renda (514). Coats is also second in doubles (38), third in games played (131), tied for fourth in hits (139) and fifth in extra-base hits (53). The White Sox drafted Coats in the 29th round in June 2012.
Awesome August: Kannapolis finished August 17-11 (.607), its best monthly record this season. The Intimidators also posted their best ERA in a month at 3.00.
History in Hickory: Crawdads third baseman Joey Gallo hit two home runs on Saturday, giving him five over his last two games and an even 40 home runs this season (38 in the SAL, two rehabbing with the AZL Rangers). The 19-year-old is the first teenage to hit 40 home runs in 51 years, when Dick Simpson hit 42 as an 18-year-old with the Class A San Jose Bees of the California League in 1962. Gallo is now two home runs shy of the SAL record set in 1996 by Russell Branyan with Columbus. Last season, Gallo set the AZL record with 18 home runs.
Roster Move: The White Sox have promoted catcher Jeremy Dowdy to the Triple-A Charlotte Knights today, filling a spot created with Bryan Anderson called up to Chicago along with pitcher Charlie Leesman in the first September call-ups for the Sox.