Game Notes 5/25/16: 10 a.m. will be here pretty early

Kannapolis Intimidators (18-27) at Lexington Legends (19-26)
Wednesday, May 25, 2016 – 10:05 a.m.
Whitaker Bank Ballpark (opened 2001) – Lexington, Ky.
Game #46 of 140
LH Johnathan Frebis (3-2, 4.79) vs. RH Nolan Watson (1-4, 8.80)

Today’s Preview: The Intimidators (A, White Sox) wrap up this 7-game road trip with an early-morning game against the Legends (A, Royals) in the third game of this 3-game series on Wednesday at Whitaker Bank Ballpark. Kannapolis is coming off a rough day offensively in a 3-1 loss on Tuesday to Lexington in which the Intimidators mustered only six base hits. The Legends win allowed them to tie the all-time series against the Intimidators, 86-86, dating back to 2001, the first year Kannapolis played under the Intimidators moniker and the first season of the Legends franchise.

Intimidating Starter: Johnathan Frebis, 23, makes his ninth start of the season and his first career outing against a Royal affiliate. He is coming off two rough road starts, allowing 10 runs (nine earned) over 6.1 IP with six walks and six strikeovers over a pair of outings May 14 at Hagerstown and May 19 at Asheville. As a result, he is now 0-2 with a 7.32 ERA in five road starts compared to 3-0 with a 1.69 ERA (3 ER/16.0 IP) in three starts in Kannapolis. Earlier this season, he spun a career-high 6.1 innings in which he took a no-hitter one out into the seventh inning on April 26 at Augusta, retiring 19 of the first 20 he faced. Frebis made his pro debut in 2015 with the AZL White Sox and Kannapolis, going 4-0 with a 3.45 ERA (11 ER/28.2 IP) in 16 appearances. The White Sox selected Frebis in the 33rd round of the June 2015 First-Year Player Draft out of Middle Tennessee State where he holds the program record for career starts (59), ranks third in wins (20), fourth in IP (310.0), and sixth in strikeouts (230).

Legendary Starter: Nolan Watson, 19, is coming off his first win of the season after working a career-long 5.0 scoreless innings at Greenville on May 19, working around three hits and two walks while striking out four. It was the Royals No. 5 Prospect’s first scoreless outing of the season. Watson makes his ninth start of the season and his first career appearance against a White Sox affiliate. He is two starts removed from striking out a career-best six over 4.0 innings in a loss to Charleston on May 14. Kansas City selected the high schooler in the first round of the June 2015 First-Year Player Draft out of Lawrence North in Indianapolis, Ind., and he made his professional debut with the Advanced Rookie Burlington Royals. He went 0-3 with a 4.91 ERA in 11 games (11 starts) in the Appalachian League.

Last Time Out: Tanner Banks fannedut six batters to match his career-high, but the Legends limited Kannapolis to one run, beating the Intimidators 3-1 on Tuesday. Banks (6-2) suffered a second straight loss despite giving up just three runs on six hits in 6.2 innings.  He limited the Legends to single tallies in the first, second, and fifth innings.  Lexington struck first as D.J. Burt doubled to open the home half of the first inning, and Samir Duenez brought him in with a sacrifice-fly for a 1-0 lead.  Kannapolis tied the game in the top of the second when Landon Lassiter singled to cash Antonio Rodriguez, but the Legends jumped back in front on Travis Maezes’ solo home run (4) with two outs in the bottom of the second for a 2-1 lead.  Legends starting pitcher Julio Pinto left the game in the second inning when Rodriguez lined a pitch off Pinto’s right arm. Torey Deshazier (1-1) took over and kept Kannapolis off the board over during his 3 and 1/3 innings of work to earn the win.  Jake Kalish picked up where Deshazier left off, spinning the final 4 and 1/3 innings for the save (1).

Money in Banks: Following Tuesday’s 6.2 inning outing, Tanner Banks once again leads the SAL in innings pitched with 56.0 this season. He ranks tied for the lead in complete games (1) and shutouts (1), fourth in WHIP (0.98), and 10th in ERA (2.41). Among starters, he is third in fewest base runners per 9 IP ratio at 8.84 (55 H+BB+HBP/56.0 IP) and first among left-handers. Despite Tuesday’s loss, Banks has now spun quality starts (6 IP or more, 3 ER or less) in six of his nine outings in 2016.

Stopped by Seby: Kannapolis catcher Seby Zavala leads the SAL with 21 thrown out base runners in 2016 and ranks fifth in the league with a .412 percentage, nabbing 21 of the 51 attempted base stealers he has faced. In fact, Zavala ranks second among all Minor Leaguers in the total number of runners he has thrown out, trailing only the Florida State League’s Tomas Nido of St. Lucie (High-A, Mets), who has throw out 26. Zavala also leads all SAL catchers in games played (33), total chances (297), and most putouts (255).

Can’t Bank on Runs: Following Tuesday’s 3-1 loss to Lexington, the Intimidators have scored just one run in four of Tanner Banks’ nine starts, going 1-3 in those games. Kannapolis has scored only one run in each of his last three starts, all Intimidators losses.

Out-Hit It or Quit It: Kannapolis and Lexington each had six hits on Tuesday, as the Intimidators fell to 0-7 when hits are equal with their opponent. The team remains winless when failing to out-hit their opponent in in 2016 at 0-21, including 0-14 when being out-hit. The Intimidators out-hit the Legends, 11-4, on Monday night to improve to 18-6 when collecting more hits than their opponent.

Roster Move: The Intimidators promoted outfielder Michael Suiter to Advanced-A Winston-Salem on Tuesday. In a corresponding move, Kannapolis received outfielder Frank Califano from Extended Spring Training. Califano made his professional debut with Advanced Rookie Great Falls in 2015, batting .291 (53-182) with 19 RBI, five doubles, two triples, and 23 runs scored for the Voyagers.

Lineups 5/24/16: Intimidators at Legends

Tanner Banks

Tanner Banks (30) makes his ninth start of the season in search of his seventh win of the season, which would tie for the second-most in all of Minor League Baseball. (Brian Westerholt/Four Seam Images)

The Intimidators and Legends get back to it today at 7:05 p.m. No dilly-dallying needed right now (and if you need the game notes, you can find them here), here are the lineups:

Kannapolis Intimidators (18-26)
#5 Tyler Sullivan CF
#20 Johan Cruz SS
#21 Seby Zavala C
#31 Cody Daily DH
#6 Antonio Rodriguez RF
#14 Corey Zangari 1B
#1 Danny Mendick 3B
#2 Landon Lassiter LF
#16 Grant Massey 2B
#30 Tanner Banks LHP (6-1, 2.19 ERA, 9th start)

Lexington Legends (18-26)
#2 D.J. Burt SS
#7 Roman Collins LF
#9 Samir Duenez 1B
#25 Chase Vallot DH
#8 Amalani Fukofuka CF
#6 Ben Johnson RF
#4 Travis Maezes 2B
#1 Jecksson Flores 3B
#11 Michael Hill C
#44 Julio Pinto RHP (1-2, 9.53 ERA, 4th start)

In today’s pre-game interview, Zach Thompson talks about yesterday’s start, when the light bulb went off for him, and the two of us try to avoid batting practice home runs. Tune in at 6:50 p.m.  First pitch is at 7:05 p.m.

Tune in to the broadcast here: http://bit.ly/1rouCcl
And the link for the Game Day stats here.

-JF
@BigTexJosh

Game Notes 5/24/16: Thompson Time, Aztec Warrior, Can’t Hassle Hasler

Kannapolis Intimidators (18-26) at Lexington Legends (18-26)
Tuesday, May 24, 2016 – 7:05 p.m.
Whitaker Bank Ballpark (opened 2001) – Lexington, Ky.
Game #45 of 140
LH Tanner Banks (6-1, 2.19) vs. RH Julio Pinto (1-2, 9.53)

VIEW COMPLETE GAME NOTES

Today’s Preview: On the heels of an offensive outburst in Monday’s series opener, the Intimidators (A, White Sox) look to keep their bats hot against the Legends (A, Royals) in Game 2 of this 3-game series at Whitaker Bank Ballpark. Kannapolis sends left-hander Tanner Banks to the mound for his ninth start of the season with a chance to win his seventh game, which would tie for the South Atlantic League lead. Lexington counters with Julio Pinto, who re-enters the rotation following four relief appearances for the Legends. The Intimidators won Monday’s game, 7-2, and now leads the all-time series, 86-85, dating back to 2001, the first year Kannapolis played under the Intimidators moniker and the first season of the Legends franchise.

Intimidating Starter: Tanner Banks, 24, makes his ninth start of the season as he faces Lexington for the first time in his career. He is coming off his first loss of this season, a hard-luck defeat after working 7.0 innings and allowing two runs (one earned) on May 18 against Greensboro. He struck out six and walked one while making his fifth quality start (6 IP or more, 3 ER or less) this season. Banks won his first six starts this season and ranks tied for first in the SAL complete games (1) and shutouts, ranks second in wins (6), tied for fourth in IP (49.1), fifth in WHIP (0.97), and ninth in ERA (2.19). Among starting pitchers, he ranks second in fewest base runners/9 IP ratio at 8.76 (48 H+BB+HBP/49.1 IP) and fifth in lowest batting average (.198). He earned SAL Pitcher of the Week for April 18-24 following his 9-inning complete-game shutout on April 20 at West Virginia. He became the first Kannapolis pitcher to work 9.0 innings since Spencer Arroyo on June 18, 2011, vs. Greensboro. Banks dominated the Pioneer League in 2015, going 5-5 with a league-leading 2.51 ERA (21 ER/75.1 IP) while also posting the league’s best WHIP (1.02). Banks appeared in nine games with Kannapolis over 2014 and 2015, including eight games with the Intimidators last season. The White Sox selected him in the 18th round of the June 2014 draft.

Legendary Starter: Julio Pinto, 20, makes his fourth start of the season and his first since April 22. The right-hander is 0-2 with a 13.00 ERA (13 ER/9.0 IP) in three starts compared to 1-0 with a 5.63 ERA (5 ER/8.0 IP) in four relief appearances. Pinto is coming off a relief win on May 15 against Charleston with 2.0 scoreless frames for the Legends. He served as a starter in 2015, going 3-2 with a 4.47 ERA (23 ER/46.1 IP) in 12 games (12 starts) between Rookie levels Burlington and Idaho Falls. Pinto made his professional debut in 2013 with the DSL Royals then made his domestic debut in 2014 with the Advanced Rookie Burlington Royals in the APPY.

Last Time Out: Kannapolis rode a 4-run first inning to a 7-2 win on Monday, snapping its 3-game losing skid by beating Lexington. The offense pounded out 11 hits, including homers by Seby Zavala and Grant Massey. Zach Thompson (4-2) limited the Legends to one unearned run on two hits en route to earning his fourth win of the season. The 6’7” Texan struck out six batters while walking just two, lowering his ERA to 2.85 this season. In the first inning, Zavala hit a first-pitch home run (2) for a 2-0 lead. After base hits by Cody Daily and Antonio Rodriguez, Rodriguez stole second, inducing a wild throw from Lexington catcher Xavier Fernandez, allowing Daily to score.  Danny Mendick came through with an RBI-double to cap the big inning. Gerson Garabito (0-1) worked 4.0 innings for Lexington, allowing five runs on seven hits with two strikeouts while taking the loss in his Class A debut. Drew Hasler tossed two scoreless innings in the seventh and eighth, and Jaider Rocha worked around a run to close the game on the mound for Kannapolis.

Thompson Time: Zach Thompson gave up just two hits in 6.0 innings Monday, lowering his average to .184 against the SAL hitters, fourth-best in the league. He ranks third among SAL starting pitchers. Thompson has worked 6.0 innings in each of his last five starts, going 4-0 with a 0.90 ERA (3 ER/30.0 IP) and 28 strikeouts since April 30. In the month of May alone, he is 3-0 with a 0.75 ERA and 26 strikeouts in 24.0 IP in four starts.

Aztec Warrior: Former San Diego State University catcher Seby Zavala continued his impressive month of May, going 1-4 with a home run on Monday, upping his average this month to .345 (20-58) in 16 games. After opening his season hitless in his first four games and batting .221 in 17 April games, the Kannapolis backstop has caught fire. This road trip has been especially impressive for Zavala, who is batting .474 (9-19) with seven RBI in the four games he has played, including a career-high 4-hit game on May 19 at Asheville.

Wish Grant-ed: Second baseman Grant Massey hit his first career home run on Monday night in Lexington, leading off the seventh inning with a solo blast for his fourth RBI of the season. Massey joins centerfielder Tyler Sullivan (May 12 at Hagerstown) as the only Intimidators who have hit their first professional home run with Kannapolis this season.

Drew Hasler

Kannapolis Intimidators relief pitcher Drew Hasler (35) in action against the Hickory Crawdads at Kannapolis Intimidators Stadium on April 9, 2016 in Kannapolis, North Carolina. The Crawdads defeated the Intimidators 6-1 in 10 innings. (Brian Westerholt/Four Seam Images)

Can’t Hassle Hasler: Reliever Drew Hasler tossed 2.0 scoreless innings Monday in Lexington, allowing one hit while striking out one for his ninth scoreless outing in 13 appearances this season. The 6’6” right-hander has lowered his ERA to 1.37 (4 ER/26.1 IP) with Kannapolis. Hasler, the son of White Sox minor league pitching coordinator Curt Hasler, had a 14-inning scoreless streak this season from April 21 through May 15.

Sullivan Walks and Runs: Leadoff man Tyler Sullivan stole his team-leading 14th base on Sunday against the Tourists, tying for third-most in the SAL this season. The Intimidators centerfielder also ranks tied for third in the SAL in runs scored (32) and fifth in walks (28).

Out-Hit It or Quit It: The Intimidators out-hit the Legends, 11-4, on Monday night to improve to 18-6 when collecting more hits than their opponent. Kannapolis remains winless when failing to out-hit their opponent in 2016, sitting at 0-14 when being out-hit and 0-6 when hits are equal this season.

Game Notes 5/23/16: Back-to-Back Jacks, Arms Race, and reliving the best ninth of our lives

Kannapolis Intimidators (17-26) at Lexington Legends (18-25)
Monday, May 23, 2016 – 7:05 p.m.
Whitaker Bank Ballpark (opened 2001) – Lexington, Ky.
Game #44 of 140
RH Zach Thompson (3-2, 3.27) vs. RH Gerson Garabito (0-0, 0.00)

Taylore Cherry

The Intimidators head to Lexington, Ky., to open a 3-game series tonight against the Lexington Legends. (Brian Westerholt/Four Seam Images)

Today’s Preview: The Intimidators (A, White Sox) make their only trip of the season to Lexington to face the Legends (A, Royals) for a 3-game series this week. Kannapolis claimed the 2015 season over Lexington, 5-2, including a 3-1 mark at Whitaker Bank Ballpark. The highlight of the series came when the Intimidators rallied for a franchise 9th-inning record eight runs, all with two outs, to stun the Legends, 13-8, on May 9, 2015. Zach Thompson gets his first look at a Kansas City affiliate since 2014 as he toes the rubber to open this series in the Bluegrass State. The Intimidators and Legends are tied in the all-time series, 85-85, dating back to 2001, the first year Kannapolis played under the Intimidators moniker and the first season of the Legends franchise.

Intimidating Starter: Zach Thompson, 22, makes his ninth start of the season on the heels of fourth straight quality starts (6 IP or more with 3 ER or less). Since an April 24 loss to Delmarva, the 6’7” Texan has been locked in, going 3-0 with a 1.13 ERA (3 ER/24 IP) in his last four starts since April 30. As a result, it’s been a tale of two months for Thompson, who was 1-2 with a 5.01 ERA in five starts in April but carries a 1.00 ERA in three starts since the calendar hit May. In 2015 with Kannapolis, Thompson finished 3-8 with a 4.44 ERA (37 ER/75.0 IP) and 64 strikeouts in 16 games (16 starts). In his 2016 debut, Thompson set a career-high with eight strikeouts over 5.0 innings against Hickory, besting his previous high of six. He has worked 6.0 innings each of his last three starts, just shy of his career-long outing of 6.2 innings on August 27, 2015, against Delmarva. The White Sox selected Thompson in the fifth round of the June 2014 draft out of UT-Arlington.

Legendary Starter: Gerson Garabito, 20, makes his Class A debut and his season debut as he faces a White Sox affiliate for the first time in his career. He made his domestic debut last season with the AZL Royals, going 3-2 with a 4.11 ERA (26 ER/57.0 IP) and 42 strikeouts in 14 games (11 starts) in the Arizona League. Including his first two professional seasons in the Dominican Summer League in 2013-2014, he has a career mark of 6-3 with a 2.84 ERA (42 ER/133.0 IP) and 120 strikeouts while holding opponents to a .209 average. The right-handed hurler was born in San Cristobal, Dominican Republic. Garabito struck out a career-high nine batters over 5.0 scoreless, hitless innings on June 7, 2014, with the DSL Royals against the DSL Rays. He worked his career-high 6.0 innings twice in 2015, including his most recent start, August 27, 2015 against the AZL Padres.

Last Time Out: The Intimidators hit back-to-back home runs for the first time in two seasons, but the Tourists bounced back to defeat Kannapolis, 8-5, on Sunday at McCormick Field. With two outs in the top of the second inning, Corey Zangari launched a 1-0 offering from Dylan Craig over the wall in left-field for his team-leading eighth home run (8) of the season.  Danny Mendick, followed with his own blast (1). Max George returned fire for Asheville, leading off the home half of the third with a home run (2).  The Tourists then jump in front with four runs in the fourth, and Kannapolis never recovered.  Brian Mundell led off the inning with his Minor League-leading 22nd double, and two batters later, Josh Fuentes drove him in to tie the game. Sam Hilliard doubled to score Fuentes, and George added a 2-run single for a 5-2 lead. Dylan Craig (2-1) earned the win with 5.0 innings of work for Asheville, while Chris Comito (0-4) suffered a loss in his first road start with the Intimidators, allowing five runs on six hits with four strikeouts and a walk.

Back-To-Back Jacks: Corey Zangari and Danny Mendick hit back-to-back home runs for Kannapolis against Asheville on Sunday, the first time the Intimidators have had back-to-back home runs since July 7, 2014, when Ryan Leonards and Adam Engel went yard in consecutive at-bats against Greensboro. The Intimidators have hit back-to-back home runs seven times since 2011.

Date                 First Home Run          Second Home Run            Opponent
April 23, 2011    Brady Shoemaker         Mike Blanke                    West Virginia (Game 2)
June 29, 2011     Trayce Thompson         Brady Shoemaker              Hickory
May 25, 2012     Ross Wilson                Kevan Smith                    at West Virginia (Game 2)
July 11, 2012      Grant Buckner             Kevan Smith                    at Lexington
July 5, 2013       Keon Barnum              Brent Tanner                   at Hickory
July 7, 2014       Ryan Leonards             Adam Engel                    Greensboro
May 22, 2016     Corey Zangari (8)        Danny Mendick (1)           at Asheville

Out-Hit It or Quit It: Kannapolis fell to 0-20 on Sunday when failing to out-hit their opponent in 2016. The Tourists out-hit the Intimidators, 12-10, as Kannapolis lost 8-5 on Sunday. Kannapolis is now 0-14 when being out-hit and 0-6 when hits are equal this season. The Intimidators out-hit the Tourists, 15-14, on Thursday night to improve to 17-6 when collecting more hits than their opponent.

Sullivan Walks and Runs: Leadoff man Tyler Sullivan stole his team-leading 14th base on Sunday against the Tourists, tying for third-most in the SAL this season. The Intimidators centerfielder also ranks third in the SAL in runs scored (32) and tied for fourth in walks (28).

Arms Race: Kannapolis has multiple pitchers among SAL leaders in various categories. Luis Martinez has started nine games, which is tied for the league lead. Tanner Banks is tied for the lead on the circuit with 49.1 innings pitch, wins (6), complete games (1), and shutouts (1), fourth in WHIP (0.97), and ranks eight in ERA (2.19). Zach Thompson ranks fifth in average (.194). Among starting pitchers, both Thompson and Banks rank top five in the SAL in average, with Thompson ranking fourth and Banks fifth (.198). Banks is third among starters in fewest base runners/9 IP ratio at 8.76 (48/49.1)

Oh What A Ninth: Kannapolis enjoyed its biggest 9th inning on record (since 2005) when the team rallied for eight runs – all with two outs – to beat the Lexington Legends, 13-8, on May 9, 2015, at Whitaker Bank Ballpark. Kannapolis trailed 8-5 with two outs in the top of the ninth when Louie Lechich drew a walk, and Brett Austin followed with a pinch-hit RBI-single to score Eddy Alvarez.  After James Baldwin came in to pinch-run for Austin, Mason Robbins drew a walk to load the bases.  Ryan Leonards followed with a 2-run single to tie the game, 8-8.  T.J. Williams continued the hit parade with the go-ahead hit, scoring Robbins, and Ryan Plourde added a base hit to bring in Leonards for a 10-8 edge. Alvarez returned to the plate and mashed a 3-run home run to cap the big inning. Jacob Morris spun 2.0 relief innings, earning the win (2-2), while Lexington’s Jake Newberry (0-1) suffered the loss.

Lineups 5/23/16: Intimidators at Legends

Welcome to the Blue Grass state, home of the South Atlantic League’s Lexington Legends. We are at Whitaker Bank Park for today’s series opener.  Let’s jump right in to it.  Here are today’s lineups:

Kannapolis Intimidators (17-26)
#5 Tyler Sullivan CF
#20 Johan Cruz SS
#21 Seby Zavala C
#31 Cody Daily DH
#6 Antonio Rodriguez RF
#14 Corey Zangari 1B
#1 Danny Mendick 3B
#16 Grant Massey 2B
#22 Michael Suiter LF
#32 Zach Thompson RHP (3-2, 3.27 ERA, 9th start)

Lexington Legends (18-25)
#2 D.J. Burt 2B
#31 Tanner Stanley LF
#9 Samir Duenez 1B
#8 Amalani Fukofuka CF
#6 Ben Johnson RF
#34 Xavier Fernandez C
#16 Marten Gasparini SS
#4 Travis Maezes DH
#1 Jecksson Flores 3B
#40 Gerson Garabito RHP (0-0, 0.00, 1st start – Class A debut)

Now, for today’s pre-game show, we have a top-shelf interview for you. Jimmy Russell, the Master Distiller at Wild Turkey Distillery, was nice enough to lend me a few minutes of his time. He has worked at the distillery since September 10, 1954, and lives and breathes the bourbon business.  This octogenarian tells us about not only the care that goes into their bourbon-making process, he talks about bringing his son into the family business, and also his day-to-day responsibilities at 82 years old.

Be sure to pour yourself a couple fingers for pre-game interview greatness at 6:50 p.m.  First pitch is at 7:05 p.m.

Tune in to the broadcast here: http://bit.ly/1rouCcl
And the link for the Game Day stats here.

-JF
@BigTexJosh

CEENTA Sights & Sounds: May 23

CEENTA logo

This week’s Sights & Sounds are presented by CEENTA.

The Intimidators are in the middle of a 7-game road trip, and today find themselves in Lexington, Ky., for a 3-game series against the Legends.  For fans that haven’t had a chance to tune in to the pre-game show during Intimidators radio broadcasts over the last week, each broadcast features an interview with Intimidators players plus a weekly interview every Friday with Kannapolis manager Cole Armstrong.

Here are some of those conversations:

May 20 with Cole Armstrong:

May 21 with Seby Zavala:

May 22 with Jack Charleston

The Intimidators also made some spectacular plays over the past week, including a few home runs while at hitter-friendly McCormick Field plus one great outfield assist by Tyler Sullivan.

Today the Intimidators return to Whitaker Bank Ballpark, the sight of the largest ninth inning rally in Kannapolis Intimidators history, when the team score eight runs, all with two outs, on May 9, 2015, to beat the Legends, 13-8. Today’s game is at 7:05 p.m. with the pre-game show live at 6:50 p.m.

Lineups 5/22/16: Intimidators at Tourists

IMG_8130It’s getaway day in Asheville. The Intimidators will not come back to McCormick Field this season unless these two teams reach the South Atlantic League Championship series, and neither team seems poised to reach the playoffs via a First Half crown. If this is it for our adventures in Western North Carolina for the year, the Kannapolis is looking to get out of town with a series split today.

IMG_8132One strategy that the Intimidators may employ would be a game-long shift. Today’s lineup card features both Danny Mendick and Grant Massey at second base. It’s an interesting strategy, Cotton, let’s see if it pays off for them.  Turns out Massey will be the shortstop. Or he could have just followed Mendick around the entire game like my younger brother used to do to me. There really isn’t anything more annoying to an older sibling when you’re five than your 3-year-old brother that won’t stop copying you.  Seeing as how my younger brother always wanted to do whatever I did, my parents used to say, “Josh never has a bad idea.”  One thing that would be a bad idea would be two guys playing second base.

Here’s the lineup…

Kannapolis Intimidators (17-25)
#5 Tyler Sullivan CF
#2 Landon Lassiter LF
#21 Seby Zavala C
#31 Cody Daily 3B
#6 Antonio Rodriguez DH
#14 Corey Zangari 1B
#1 Danny Mendick 2B
#16 Grant Massey SS
#22 Michael Suiter RF
#39 Chris Comito RHP (0-3, 8.59 ERA, 4th start)

Asheville Tourists (20-20)
#7 Mylz Jones CF
#15 Brian Mundell 1B
#2 Yonathan Daza RF
#19 Josh Fuentes DH
#22 Chris Rabago C
#25 Sam Hilliard LF
#3 Max George 3B
#9 Jonathan Piron 2B
#4 Carlos Herrera SS
#18 Dylan Craig LHP (1-1, 5.65 ERA, 5th start)

Today’s pre-game interview features my chat with Intimidators pitcher Jack Charleston, who made his first career start on Saturday. Hear him talk about pitching as a starter in college, how he got the nickname Slim Reaper, and what he learned from his dad, who played with the Mets in the late 70s.

Tune in to the broadcast here: http://bit.ly/1rouCcl
And the link for the Game Day stats here.

-JF
@BigTexJosh

Game Notes 5/22/16: Looking for a split in Asheville to wrap up the weekend

Kannapolis Intimidators (17-25) at Asheville Tourists (20-20)
Sunday, May 22, 2016 – 2:05 p.m.
McCormick Field (opened 1924, renovated 1959, 1992) – Asheville, N.C.
Games #43 of 140
RH Chris Comito (0-3, 8.59) vs. LHP Dylan Craig (1-1, 5.65)

VIEW COMPLETE GAME NOTES

Today’s Preview: The Intimidators (A, White Sox) wrap up this 4-game series against the Tourists (A, Rockies) with a chance to force a series split. Asheville swept Saturday’s doubleheader by taking the first game, 3-2 in 9 innings, and the second game, 4-2 (7). The Intimidators, who won Thursday’s series opener in 10 innings at McCormick Field, sends right hander Chris Comito to the mound in search of his first win in the South Atlantic League. As a result of Saturday’s two losses, Kannapolis, now 10.0 games back, dropped into sixth place for the first time since April 24 – the Intimidators had been locked in fifth in the 7-team SAL Northern Division since then. Asheville now sits tied with Columbia at 5.5 games back in the Southern Division, good for second place.

Intimidating Starter: Chris Comito, 19, makes his fourth start for the Intimidators and 15th of his career as he faces a Rockies affiliate for the first time. In his last start, he suffered a hard-luck loss at home to Greensboro, allowing a pair of unearned runs on three hits over 5.0 innings on May 16. This will be Comito’s first start in a road ballpark after making his first three starts of 2016 at Intimidators Stadium. In his Class A debut May 5, he gave up six runs (five earned) over 2.2 innings against Hagerstown while taking the loss. Comito served as a member of the rotation for the AZL White Sox in 2015, going 5-2 with a 3.32 ERA (21 ER/57.0 IP) and 33 strikeouts in 13 games (11 starts). In his final outing of 2015, Comito earned the win for the AZL White Sox in the league championship game on Sept. 2, limiting the AZL Mariners to a run on two hits over 5.0 innings. He finished third in the AZL in wins (5) and ranked among AZL White Sox leaders in wins (T-1st), starts (T-1st, 11), and IP (2nd). The White Sox selected him in the 15th round of the June 2015 First-Year Player Draft out of Norwalk Community (Iowa) High School.

Asheville’s Arm: Dylan Craig, who turned 23 this month, makes his fifth start and eighth appearance of the season. He has started his last four outings after opening the season in the bullpen. He is coming off a career-long outing with 8.0 scoreless on May 16 at Augusta, limiting the GreenJackets to three hits and a walk while striking out five. Craig earned a win May 10 with eight strikeouts over 5.0 scoreless frames against Delmarva. Prior to his current streak of 13.0 scoreless innings, he was roughed up May 5 against Lakewood, giving up 10 runs (nine earned) on nine hits in 1.0 inning, as he worked eight batters into the second inning without record an out. He is 1-1 with a 6.50 ERA (13 ER/18 IP) and 16 strikeouts in four starts after going 0-0 with a 4.22 ERA (5 ER/10.2 IP) and eight strikeouts in three relief appearances. Craig made his professional debut in 2015 with the Short-Season Boise Hawks, going 0-0 with a 3.18 ERA (6 ER/17.0 IP) in the Northwest League. The Rockies selected him in the 12th round in the June 2014 draft out of Illinois State.

Jack Charleston

Jack Charleston made his first career start on Saturday in the second game of the doubleheader against Asheville, working a career-long 3.0 innings for the Intimidators. (Brian Westerholt/Four Seam Images)

Last Time Out: Asheville swept a doubleheader against Kannapolis on Saturday. The Tourists turned four double plays to stifle the Kannapolis offense, and Asheville’s Yonathan Daza drove in the winning run in walk-off fashion to beat the Intimidators, 3-2, in 9 innings in Game 1. With the game tied 2-2 in the ninth, the Tourists had two men on base when Mylz Jones appeared to end the game on his own.  Jones singled to center field, and Jonathan Piron raced around third toward the plate.  Kannapolis centerfielder Tyler Sullivan fired a bullet to the plate, and catcher Seby Zavala applied the tag to keep the Intimidators alive.  The thrill would be short-lived, as Daza stepped to the plate following an intentional walk to create a force play and singled to right field, scoring Carlos Herrera to end the game.  Tourists reliever Alec Kenilvort (1-1) earned the win, tossing 2.0 scoreless innings, while Jaider Rocha (0-3) suffered the loss, allowing a run on three hits in one-third of an inning.

In Game 2, Asheville rode a three-run third inning to victory, defeating the Intimidators 4-2 (F/7).  Asheville jumped in front in the bottom of the third thanks to three straight two-out hits.  Yonathan Daza and Brian Mundell hit back-to-back doubles for a 1-0 lead, and Josh Fuentes followed with a little league home run to make it 3-0.  He singled to center field, scoring Mundell from second base and advanced to second base on the throw. Kannapolis first baseman Zach Fish cut off the throw from the outfield and tried to throw out Fuentes at second, but his throw sailed into the outfield, allowing Fuentes to come all the way home.  Kannapolis got on the board in the top of the fifth when Antonio Rodriguez led off the inning with a home run (1), the 13th of his career, to cut into the Asheville lead, 3-1.  The Intimidators added a run in the sixth but left meat on the bon in the process.  Daniel Gonzalez led off with a double and moved to third on Tyler Sullivan’s single.  Michael Suiter followed with an RBI-single to cut the Tourists lead to one, 3-2.  Kannapolis loaded the bases against Asheville reliever Juan Pena with one out, but Rodriguez hit into an inning-ending double play.

Mendick’s streaks extended, then snapped: Danny Mendick singled to lead off the sixth inning of Game 1, extending his team-best hitting streak to 11 games. Earlier in the game, he drew a walk to stretch his on-base streak to 20 games. In Game 2, Mendick went 0-3 as both team-best streaks came to an end. His 11-game hitting streak is tied for fifth-longest in the South Atlantic League this season while his 20-game on-base streak is tied for 11th on the circuit. Mendick is the first Intimidators player with a 20-game on-base streak since Michael Suiter reached in 25 straight games July 19-August 16, 2015. Mendick still have a 9-game hitting streak in home games with Kannapolis dating back to April 11.

Jack The Pitcher: Jack Charleston worked a career-long 3.0 innings in his first career start in the second game of the doubleheader.  He suffered the loss, allowing three runs (two earned) on four hits with no walks and three strikeouts. The White Sox selected Charleston in the 30th round of the June 2015 First-Year Player Draft out of Faulkner University.

Hinch in a Pinch: Reliever Ryan Hinchley struck out a career-high six batters on Saturday in the second game against Asheville. Hinchley worked 3.0 innings, a new career-long outing, and became the first Kannapolis reliever with a half-dozen strikeouts in a game since the recently-traded Matt Ball fanned six Fireflies on May 2 in Columbia. Hinchley’s six strikeouts in a game is two shy of the most strikeouts by an Intimidators pitcher in a game this season (8, 3x, last: Zach Thompson, May 17 vs. Greensboro).

Tourists Turning Two: Asheville turned four double plays in the first game of Saturday’s doubleheader, the most by an Intimidators opponent this season. Kannapolis had hit into three double plays on three previous occasions this season, the most recent coming May 12 at Hagerstown. The four twin-killings by the Tourists also set a season-high for Asheville.

Out-Hit It or Quit It: Kannapolis fell to 0-19 when they fail to out-hit their opponent this season.  The Tourists out-hit the Intimidators in both games of Saturday’s doubleheader, 10-4 in Game 1 and 6-5 in Game 2. Kannapolis is 0-6 when hits are equal and now 0-13 when being outhit this season. The Intimidators out-hit the Tourists, 15-14, on Friday night to improve to 17-6 when collecting more hits than their opponent.

Sullivan Walks and Runs: Leadoff man Tyler Sullivan drew two walks on Thursday, leading to a pair of runs scored. He is tied for third in the league in both walks (28) and runs scored (30). He ranks tied for fourth in stolen bases (13).

Arms Race: Kannapolis has multiple pitchers among SAL leaders in various categories. Luis Martinez has started nine games, which leads the league. Tanner Banks leads the circuit with 49.1 innings pitch, ranks tied for first in wins (6), complete games (1), and shutouts (1), and he ranks seventh in ERA (2.19). Zach Thompson ranks fifth in average (.194). Among starting pitchers, both Thompson and Banks rank top five in the SAL in average, with Thompson ranking third and Banks checking in fourth (.198). Banks is third among starters in fewest base runners/9 IP ratio at 8.76 (48/49.1)

Double Trouble: Kannapolis dropped both games of Saturday’s doubleheader and is now 0-2 in doubleheader games this season. The Intimidators went 6-7 with one tie (August 23 at Savannah) in doubleheader games in 2015. Kannapolis last played a doubleheader against Asheville on April 11, 2009, when the Intimidators swept both games against the Tourists en route to winning the season-opening series, 3-games-to-1.

Lineups 5/21/16 (Game 1): Intimidators at Tourists + Thoughts on Sullivan

Asheville is rolling with what they wrote up yesterday. Kannapolis has a few changes — namely, getting Tyler Sullivan back at the top of the order.  He was slated for an off day yesterday, and he got it without missing a game.  That’s good news for the Intimidators as Sullivan has been a key cog in this machine.

Tyler Sullivan

Tyler Sullivan (5) of the Kannapolis Intimidators legs out a triple against the Hickory Crawdads at Kannapolis Intimidators Stadium on April 10, 2016 in Kannapolis, North Carolina. The Intimidators defeated the Crawdads 10-3. (Brian Westerholt/Four Seam Images)

Sullivan, the White Sox 14th round pick in the June 2015 First-Year Player Draft, ranks third in the SAL in walks (28), tied for third in runs scored (30), fourth in stolen bases (13), and 16th in on-base percentage (.386). His defense so far this season has definitely been impressive and is on-par — at least, so far — with the defense we’ve seen by some other recent Intimidators centerfielders as of late.  And when you think about the guys who have played centerfield for Kannapolis over the last five seasons (since I’ve been with the team), that’s pretty heady company.

Trayce Thompson (2011), Keenyn Walker (2012), Jacob May (2013), Adam Engel (2014), and Louie Lechich (2015) all brought different attributes to the position that — in some respect — can be found in Sullivan’s game.  I know, I know, we are still only six months into a 140-game season, so I’ll tap the breaks, but it’s pretty cool to see a guy go flying through to air to make highlight reel grabs like Lechich and Angel would do.  He doesn’t read the ball quite as well as Thompson did, however he seems to have the speed, like Walker, to make up for it.  And much like Jacob May at the top of the order, he’s a great table-setter for the Intimidators lineup.

Speaking of the Intimidators’ lineup, here you go:

Kannapolis Intimidators (17-23)
#5 Tyler Sullivan CF
#20 Johan Cruz SS
#21 Seby Zavala C
#31 Cody Daily DH
#6 Antonio Rodriguez RF
#14 Corey Zangari 1B
#22 Michael Suiter LF
#1 Danny Mendick 3B
#16 Grant Massey 2B
#29 Luis Martinez RHP (1-4, 4.89 ERA, 9th start)

Asheville Tourists (18-20)
#7 Mylz Jones CF
#15 Brian Mundell 1B
#2 Yonathan Daza RF
#19 Josh Fuentes 3B
#22 Chris Rabago C
#25 Sam Hilliard LF
#3 Max George 2B
#9 Jonathan Piron DH
#4 Carlos Herrera SS
#21 Trey Killian RHP (3-2, 5.05 ERA, 8th start)

In today’s pregame show, I’ll talk to Seby Zavala about how the season is going so far, being a baseball fan growing up in Southern California, being recruited to SDSU by Tony Gwynn, and what he thought about Corey Zangari’s big home run on Thursday.  That rolls live at 4:50 p.m.  Our weekly Friday chat with Intimidators manager Cole Armstrong can be found online here.

Tune in to the broadcast here: http://bit.ly/1rouCcl
And the link for the Game Day stats here.

-JF
@BigTexJosh

Game Notes 5/21/16: Let’s play two today against the Tourists

Kannapolis Intimidators (17-23) at Asheville Tourists (18-20)
Saturday, May 21, 2016 – 5:05 p.m. (Doubleheader)
McCormick Field (opened 1924, renovated 1959, 1992) – Asheville, N.C.
Games #41 & #42 of 140
Game 1: RH Luis Martinez (1-4, 4.89) vs. RHP Trey Killian (3-2, 5.05)
Game 2: RH Jack Charleston (0-1, 4.32) vs. RH Javier Palacios (0-0, 0.00)

VIEW COMPLETE GAME NOTES

Today’s Preview: For the first time in 2016, the Intimidators (A, White Sox) will play a doubleheader as they face the Tourists (A, Rockies) for a pair of games at McCormick Field to make up for Friday night’s rainout. Kannapolis earned a win on Thursday night in 10 innings to snap a six-game losing streak while Asheville has now lost four of their last five games. The Tourists have a recent penchant for extra-inning affairs, going 10 innings against Kannapolis on Thursday and starting the week with a 10-inning loss at Columbia on Sunday (L, 5-4) followed by a 12-inning win at Augusta on Monday (W, 3-2). Today Kannapolis sends right-hander Luis Martinez to the mound in Game 1 for his scheduled start against Asheville’s Trey Killian. Both teams will hand the ball to the bullpen in Game 2 as the Intimidators will send Jack Charleston for his first career start against Asheville’s Javier Palacios, who has worked out of the Tourists bullpen in two games this season after serving as a starter in the Rockies system the last three seasons.

Double Trouble: The Intimidators went 6-7 in doubleheader games last season along with one tie, a 1-1 draw in Savannah in the second game of an August 23 twin bill. Asheville, which went 4-6 in doubleheaders in 2015, swept its only twin bill of the season so far, taking both games of a May 1 doubleheader at West Virginia. Kannapolis last played a doubleheader against Asheville on April 11, 2009, when the Intimidators swept both games against the Tourists en route to winning the season-opening series, 3-games-to-1.

Hello, Win Column: Kannapolis snapped its six-game losing streak with Thursday’s win over Asheville. The losing skid is the longest by the Intimidators since dropping the last four of 2015 and the first three of this season for a seven-game slide. Kannapolis last lost six straight games within a single season August 17-23, 2014.

DOUBLHEADER PITCHING PREVIEW – GAME 1:

Luis Martinez

Kannapolis Intimidators starting pitcher Luis Martinez (29) in action against the Hickory Crawdads at Kannapolis Intimidators Stadium on April 7, 2016 in Kannapolis, North Carolina. The Crawdads defeated the Intimidators 5-1. (Brian Westerholt/Four Seam Images)

Intimidating Starter: Luis Martinez, 21, makes his SAL-leading ninth start of 2016 and his fourth on the road. He took no decision on May 15 at Hagerstown, allowing two runs on three hits over 3.2 innings, walking four and striking out six against the Suns. Martinez has been better on the road, going 0-1 with a 3.86 ERA (5 ER/11.2 IP) and 16 strikeouts in three starts compared to 1-3 with a 5.40 ERA (14 ER/23.1 IP) in five home starts. Martinez matched his career-high with eight strikeouts earlier this season on May 4 against Hagerstown. He has faced the Tourists twice before, going 0-2 with a 9.82 ERA (8 ER/7.1 IP) in two starts in 2015. The lanky right-hander is in his second season with Kannapolis after serving as a member of the six-man rotation in 2015, going 4-14 with a 5.38 ERA (65 ER/108.2 IP) in 24 games (24 starts). MLB.com currently ranks Martinez as the No. 29 Prospect in the White Sox organization. Martinez was signed as a free agent on Dec. 16, 2011. In 2014, he went 5-3 with a 2.93 ERA and 62 strikeouts in 58.1 innings over 12 games (11 starts) between the AZL White Sox and Great Falls.

Asheville’s Arm: Trey Killian, 22, makes his eighth start of the season and his first against a White Sox affiliate in his career. The right-hander is coming off a no decision on May 15 at Columbia in which he worked around a career-high six walks, which nearly doubled his season total, which now sits at 13. Killian is 3-0 with a 1.17 ERA (3 ER/23 IP) and 18 strikeouts in his last four starts since April 27. He won three straight starts from April 27 to May 9. Killian made nine starts for Advanced Rookie Grand Junction in 2015, going 1-4 with a 9.09 ERA (34 ER/33.2 IP) and 22 strikeouts for the GJ Rockies. He did not face the White Sox affiliate Great Falls during his professional debut in 2015. The Rockies selected Killian in the ninth round of the June 2015 First-Year Player Draft out of the University of Arkansas.

DOUBLHEADER PITCHING PREVIEW – GAME 2:

Jack Charleston

Kannapolis Intimidators relief pitcher Jack Charleston (25) in action against the Lakewood BlueClaws at Kannapolis Intimidators Stadium on May 8, 2016 in Kannapolis, North Carolina. The Intimidators defeated the BlueClaws 3-2. (Brian Westerholt/Four Seam Images)

Intimidating Starter: Jack Charleston, 23, makes his fifth appearance of the season and his first career start. The slim right-hander has worked 8.1 relief innings this season, working 2.0 innings in his last outing on May 17 against Greensboro. The White Sox selected him in the 30th round of the June 2015 First-Year Player Draft out of Faulkner University.Charleston made his professional debut with the Arizona League White Sox, going 0-2 with a 5.00 ERA (10 ER/18.0 IP) and 18 strikeouts in 16 relief appearances on the rookie circuit. Charleston’s father, Greg, played in the New York Mets system from 1977-78 as an infielder.

Twirling for Tourists: Javier Palacios, 22, makes his first start of the season and 43rd of his career as the right-hander faces a White Sox affiliate for the first time since 2014 when he pitched against Great Falls while with Advanced Rookie Grand Junction in the Pioneer League. Palacios made his season debut earlier this week and has posted 3.0 scoreless innings so far with Asheville. He spent 2015 with Short-Season Boise, going 3-3 with a 3.26 ERA (22 ER/60.2 IP) in 12 games (12 starts) for the Hawks. He finished sixth in the Northwest League in ERA and first among starters in lowest walks/9 IP ratio at 1.78 (12 BB/60.2 IP). While with Grand Junction in 2014, Palacios went 6-5 with a 6.21 ERA in 16 games (15 starts). That year, he led the PL in home runs allowed (15), hits allowed (103), at-bats against (342), total batters faced (373), runs allowed (69) and earned runs allowed (57) while finishing second in innings pitched (82.2). He pitched the first three seasons of his career with the DSL Rockies from 2011-2013.

Last Time Out: Follow an error that allowed Asheville to tie the game in the bottom of the ninth, Corey Zangari redeemed himself with an extra-inning bomb to propel Kannapolis to a 10-7 win in 10 innings over the Tourists on Thursday. Kannapolis took four different leads earlier in the night, but Asheville came back to tie the ballgame each time until Zangari’s difference-making blast in the 10th.  He finished the night 1-for-3 with three RBI and three runs scored, and the Intimidators pounded out 15 hits on the night.  Brannon Easterling (2-1) earned the win, tossing the ninth and 10th inning for Kannapolis while Tourists reliever Justin Lawrence suffered the loss, allowing four runs over 2.0 innings.  The Intimidators led the Tourists, 7-6, in the bottom of the ninth when Zangari committed what looked to be a potentially devastating error.  With Asheville’s Mylz Jones on second base, Brian Mundell popped a ball high and foul down the right field line where the first baseman, Zangari, chased backward to make the catch.  As Jones tagged up and second and headed for third, Zangari fired the ball off target, allowing Jones to score the tying run.

Killer Z’s: Seby Zavala paced the Kannapolis offense with his first career 4-hit game, going 4-for-6 with three RBI and two runs scored on Thursday.  He tripled in the Intimidators’ 2-run third inning to claim the game’s first lead.  Zavala added to the lead with a 2-run single off the top of the 36-foot tall wall in right field in the fourth. Corey Zangari hit his team-leading seventh home run of the season while matching his career-high of three RBI, his first 3-RBI game since August 18, 2015, against the Arizona League Giants. Zangari now has three career 3-RBI games.

Connect Four: Seby Zavala’s 4-hit game is the third by an Intimidators player in 2016, joining Landon Lassiter (April 13 vs. Delmarva) and Cody Daily (May 10 vs. Lakewood).

Out-Hit It or Quit It: The Intimidators out-hit the Tourists, 15-14, on Friday night to improve to 17-6 when collecting more hits than their opponent. Kannapolis remains winless, 0-17, when they fail to out their opponent including 0-6 when hits are equal and 0-11 when being outhit this season.

We’re Going Streaking: Danny Mendick went 2-4 on Thursday to extend his hitting streak to 10 games with the Intimidators since April 20, the longest hit streak by Kannapolis player this season. The hitting streak is the third-longest active streak in the SAL, behind Delmarva’s Alex Murphy (11) and Lexington’s Amalani Fukofuka (11). Prior to Mendick’s streak, the last Intimidator to hit in 10 straight games was Toby Thomas, Aug. 19-30, 2015.

Mendick’s Pace On-Base: Danny Mendick extend his on-base streak to 19 games on Thursday, the longest on-base streak by an Intimidators player in 2016 and the 12th-longest streak in the SAL this season. Mendick, who has reached base in every game with Kannapolis since April 11, owns the second-longest active streak in the SAL, behind Charleston’s Chris Gittens (23). Mendick is batting .342 (26-76) in 22 games with the Intimidators.

Extra! Extra!: Kannapolis earned its first extra-innings game this season on Thursday, defeating Asheville 10-7 in 10 innings. The Intimidators are now 1-2 in extra innings this season, following an April 9 loss to Hickory (lost 6-1 in 10 innings) and an April 18 defeat in West Virginia (lost 8-7 in 16 innings). Kannapolis last won an extra-inning game on July 23, 2015, when the Intimidators needed 15 innings to beat Greensboro, 7-5, at NewBridge Bank Park.

Sullivan Walks and Runs: Leadoff man Tyler Sullivan drew two walks on Thursday, leading to a pair of runs scored. He has now walked 28 times, third in the league, and he has 30 runs scored this season, tied for third in the SAL.

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