Putting the Moves On: Roster turnover in Charlotte

It feels like just yesterday that we at FutureSox were previewing the Charlotte Knights season; yet, here we are, with the solstice already behind us and September practically looming. We were so young then. Everything is so different now.

Everything including the Charlotte Knights roster. Like any minor league team, they’ve experienced a not-insignificant amount of roster shakeup. It’s left them with the same core team of prospects (Yoan Moncada, Zack Burdi, and Carson Fulmer, for example, have remained with the Knights all season), but several players have been lost either to the majors or in the other direction, Double-A Birmingham.

We wrote about the other day’s massive transaction list here (25 in one day!), and here we’ll focus on the roster moves Charlotte has experienced throughout the season.

First of all, of the 25 active players on the Knights current active roster, three of them have seen the majors this season. Gregory Infante pitched out of the Sox bullpen after his May 15th callup and was returned to Charlotte on June 26th; he’s performed well in AAA but not so much in the bigs. Tyler Danish is another; Danish made a spot start against the Detroit Tigers on May 27th (and did not give up a run). Finally, Brad Goldberg was called up on June 3rd and sent back down on June 9th, but not before giving up four runs in 1/3 IP. That leaves him with a 108 ERA for the season, which, if he isn’t given the chance to redeem himself, will remain on his career statline forever.

Tommy Kahnle sports one of the more interesting fashion choices of the Spring as he watches his former team play the White Sox (Brian Bilek / FutureSox)

Tommy Kahnle sports one of the more interesting fashion choices of the Spring as he watches his former team play the White Sox (Brian Bilek / FutureSox)

There were eight players on Charlotte’s opening day roster who are no longer with the team, Tommy Kahnle being the most notable of these. While he did technically start the season on the Knights roster, he was called up to the Sox before he even had a chance to pitch for them. Kahnle, whose last name I am undoubtedly still pronouncing incorrectly in my head even after two months, took the bullpen spot of Jake Pipp — er, Petricka — after the latter was injured on Opening Day. At this point, he’s established himself as a solid member of a solid bullpen, consecutive blown saves notwithstanding. Throwing 100 mph helps.

Other familiar names are Chris Beck, who was promoted on April 25th, and Kevan Smith, who has been splitting time with Omar Narvaez filling in for an injured Geovany Soto behind the plate since May 10th (Smith also had a brief callup from April 13th to the 22nd). David Holmberg, who was part of the Edwin Jackson trade with the Diamondbacks way back in the day and who was re-signed by the Sox in 2016, also started the season with the Knights and has been appearing both in relief and as a starter for the Sox since May 4th.

Adam Engel had a two run homer to try and propel the Dash to victory in Friday's playoff game, but the Dash fell short. (Jody Stewart / W-S Dash)

Adam Engel had a two run homer to try and propel the Dash to victory in Friday’s playoff game, but the Dash fell short.
(Jody Stewart / W-S Dash)

Also lost to the bigs at the moment are Knights Opening Day center fielder Adam Engel, who recently hit his first major-league home run, and Willy Garcia, famously a member of the Tres Garcias Outfield. Unfortunately, as both players are filling in while Leury Garcia’s finger injury heals, we can only enjoy a maximum of two Garcias in the field. Engel has been with the club since June 20th and W. Garcia is enjoying his second stint, with his first call-up taking place from April 14th through the 17th. His return has lasted since May 2nd.

Of course, our dreams of a Giovanni Soto/Geovany Soto battery were dashed with Gio’s release on June 9th. Worry not, Lucas Giolito is still around.

On the other side of things is Jose Vinicio. Vinicio had an interesting slash line of .246/.244/.323 with the Knights and was sent down to the Birmingham Barons on June 15th, where he is hitting .318. The shortstop was signed as a minor league free agent in November.

Jacob May in Spring Training action (Daniel Shapiro / FutureSox)

Jacob May in Spring Training action (Daniel Shapiro / FutureSox)

Meanwhile, completing the “equal and opposite reaction” prophecy, these eight player-shaped holes have been filled with eight more player-shaped players. Cody Asche is one of them; he started the season in the outfield for the Sox but was outrighted to Charlotte on May 16th after slashing .105/.177/.175 in 19 games. He has since turned it around with the Knights, bringing that line up to .350/.448/.641. Jacob May is another; like Asche, he was sent back to the Knights in May for underperformance, with a stat line so paltry I will not recreate it here. He has also done better since the demotion, although not quite as well as Asche.

Let us take a moment to appreciate the journey of Juan Minaya. Minaya was injured while still in big league camp during Spring Training of this year. On April 26th, he was assigned to rehab with the Knights, where the Sox kept him after activation. On May 26th, he was called up to the bullpen. On June 15th, he was sent back down to Charlotte. On June 26th, he was called back up! On June 28th, he was sent back down. It’s not easy.

Pitcher Bobby Parnell and infielder Grant Green were two mid-season free agent signings, both assigned to Charlotte. Ronald Bueno and Will Lamb (wil.l.amb) were both called up to the Knights from the Barons in early June and early May respectively. Rounding out the roster is Gerson Montilla, a third baseman who was switched from the High-A Winston-Salem Dash disabled list to the Charlotte disabled list on April 6th. He has not played a game in 2017.

It’s true that many players on many rosters at many levels aren’t regarded as true prospects, but they still exist and personnel decisions need to be made about them. It gives you an idea of the constant churn and the sheer scope of the minor leagues.

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