The minor league season is a few hours away, which means it's time to get the final team preview out. The Charlotte Knights of the AAA International League are one of three White Sox affiliates opening their season tonight.
The Knights won their division last year and will try to make it two in a row this season, but they will have to do it with eight players on the disabled list to open the season. The logjam of players at this level will be interesting to follow just because it looks like frequent roster moves will be required. That said, they have 17 players move on from Charlotte to play with the White Sox in 2012 so that would be nothing new.
Charlotte (2012 record: 83-61, division champs, league finalists)
Returners: Deunte Heath (27), Charlie Leesman* (26), Jhan Marinez (24), Brian Omogrosso (28), Dan Remenowsky* (26), Matt Zaleski (31)
Up a level: Simon Castro (25 on April 9), Andre Rienzo (24), Santos Rodriguez* (25)
New to org.: Jason Berken (29), Jeff Gray (31), Daniel Moskos (26), Tony Pena Jr. (32), David Purcey (30), Trevor Reckling* (23), Zach Stewart (26), Ramon Troncoso (30)
*- Currently on disabled list
Most of the pitchers are either non-prospect minor league veterans, reclamation projects or returners. That doesn't mean there aren't interesting arms on the staff.
The White Sox have done well with reclamation projects. Moskos, Reckling and Purcey were once highly regarded prospects so maybe the Sox can get something out of that group.
Castro and Rienzo are the best two prospects on the staff, but both have some big question marks. Castro has a lot of doubters after a pair of disappointing, albeit short, stints in AAA the last two years. Rienzo is coming off a year that included a PED suspension. Both have good potential, but they seem to be risky prospects.
There's a lot of experience and seemingly enough talent to compete in the International League here. However, it's not a very exciting prospect group.
Returners: Jordan Danks (OF, 26), Jim Gallagher (OF, 27), Drew Garcia (IF, 26), Brent Morel (3B, 25), Josh Phegley (C, 25)
Up a level: Damaso Espino* (C, 29), Seth Loman (1B, 27), Jared Mitchell (OF, 24), Carlos Sanchez (IF, 20)
New to org.: Bryan Anderson (C, 26), Lars Anderson* (IF, 25), Josh Bell* (IF, 26), Luis Durango (OF, 26), Tyler Greene (IF, 29), Blake Tekotte* (OF, 25), Steve Tolleson (IF, 29)
*- Currently on disabled list
Like the pitching staff, the lineup is loaded with veterans. There are a few more notable prospects though.
Mitchell, Danks, Morel and Phegley are entering the last chance saloon. Phegley probably has a little more time because he's a catcher and Mitchell still has some believers, but it would be a minor surprise for any of this group to have a long Major League career at this point.
Sanchez is clearly the top prospect bat on the Knights. The young infielder has a good chance to be the first infielder called up if there is an injury to the big league club.
The Knights' lineup should be competitive, but likely won't be exciting from a prospect standpoint. The entire team has a lot of prospects, but most of them don't have that sparkly new shine anymore and aren't high upside players. Welcome to AAA.
Top 25 Prospects: Simon Castro (3), Carlos Sanchez (5), Andre Rienzo (7), Jared Mitchell (11), Charlie Leesman (13), Josh Phegley (15), Santos Rodriguez (17), Jhan Marinez (18), Brian Omogrosso (20)
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