Minor league Opening Day is here! Games start today for all four White Sox full season affiliates.
Continuing with our season previews, next up is the Charlotte Knights of the AAA International League.
The Opening Day ages of the players are in parentheses unless otherwise noted. For the hitters position is also listed.
Charlotte (2013 record: 65-78, no playoffs)
MLB experience: Dylan Axelrod (28), Mitchell Boggs (30), Evan Crawford (27), Javy Guerra (28), Deunte Heath (28), Charlie Leesman (27), Jake Petricka (25), David Purcey (32 on April 22), David Putnam (26), Andre Rienzo (25), Mauricio Robles (25), Eric Surkamp (26)
Returners: Taylor Thompson (26), Matt Zaleski (32)
Up a level: Scott Carroll (29), Ryan Kussmaul (27)
As is apparent by looking above, almost all of the pitching staff has Major League experience. Guys like Leesman, Petricka, Rienzo and Surkamp are still young enough to have some prospect value, but there's no one like Erik Johnson on this roster like last year, at least not on the current roster.
The experience should make this a strong staff, especially out of the bullpen.
MLB experience: Hector Gimenez (C, 31), Josh Phegley (C, 26), Matt Davidson (3B, 23), Alex Liddi (1B, 25), Jordan Danks (OF, 27), Denis Phipps (OF, 28), Blake Tekotte (OF, 26)
Returners: Carlos Sanchez (IF, 21), Andy Wilkins (1B, 25), Jared Mitchell (OF, 25)
Up a level: Dan Black (1B, 26), Tyler Saladino (IF, 24)
Like the pitching staff, the lineup has some veterans, but definitely more on the prospect side.
Sanchez and Davidson are the youngest two players on the roster, and by no coincidence, are probably the best two prospects on the team. Both could move up to the Majors this season with a strong start in AAA.
Guys like Wilkins, Black and Saladino are young enough to have a chance to earn a Major League debut, but it would take something pretty special for any of them to get the call. Saladino is coming off a disappointing season in AA while Wilkins and Black both had solid 2013 campaigns, but have a tougher task considering they are first basemen.
One curious case will be Mitchell, who has to be nearing his last chance with the White Sox.
Top 25 Prospects: Matt Davidson (3), Carlos Sanchez (12), Jake Petricka (15), Eric Surkamp (25)