CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Thanks to a few offseason moves by the Chicago White Sox, the organization’s Triple-A affiliate, Charlotte Knights, received a big boost in young talent this summer.
The new faces on the roster join first-year Knights manager Mark Grudzielanek.
In December the White Sox sent ace Chris Sale to Boston in exchange for four players, including the talented, Cuban infielder Yoan Moncada.
The Red Sox gave the 21-year old Moncada a record $31.5 million bonus back in 2015. According to MLB.com, that number nearly doubled the previous amateur record that the Reds gave to Aroldis Chapman in 2010.
Moncada started spring training slow, but he raised his average to .317, including four doubles, a triple and three home runs.
Since the White Sox can gain another year of control over Moncada by keeping him in Triple-A Charlotte through May 15, don’t expect a call-up to the big leagues until that date, at the earliest.
“I just have to keep going along with everything I’ve been doing and work hard,” Moncada said via a translator. “It’s obviously not easy, but I just have to keep doing everything I’ve been doing. Hopefully I can be up there [Chicago] soon, but everything is a process.”
Although he might not be in Charlotte long, Moncada was asked if he had found the local Chipotle. Moncada shook his head and laughed, “Si!”
Joining Moncada on the Knights to start the 2017 season are Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez. Just one day after the Sale trade, the White Sox acquired the two right-handed pitchers from Washington in exchange for outfielder Adam Eaton.
Moncada and Giolito are considered consensus top-ten prospects. MLB.com lists Lopez as the No. 43 prospect. The Knights have two other top 100 prospects. Carson Fulmer, a right-handed pitcher, is ranked No. 69. Zack Collins, ranked the fourth best catcher prospect, is No. 78 overall.
The White Sox also have the No. 15 prospect, Michael Kopech. Kopech is starting 2017 in Double-A Birmingham, but could see time in Charlotte at some point this season.
“It’s definitely a talented, young group. That’s for sure,” Giolito said. “What Rick Renteria, the manager of the big league team, is preaching that we’re going to go out and hustle hard every day. We’re going to give it a hundred percent effort at all times. We’re just going to go out and play baseball the right way, and hopefully win a lot of games in the process.”
The Knights open the season Thursday, April 6 at BB&T Ballpark against Norfolk at 7:05 p.m.