Reliable starting pitchers in short supply as Knights ready for 2023

It is a new year, the 2023 season is around the corner, and Charlotte Knights’ correspondent Jeff Cohen takes a stab at predicting the 2023 Knights’ roster.  Part II of this two-part series looks at the pitching staff.

Last year’s Charlotte Knights ran out of starting pitching about midway through the 2022 season, forcing the team into bullpen games almost nightly.  And the results weren’t pretty.  The team finished 58-92 and ineffective pitching was a big reason why the team wasn’t competitive.

Here is how this year’s team is shaping up.

Starting pitchers: Sean Burke, John Parke, Jason Bilous, Davis Martin, Jonathan Stiever, Johan Dominguez, Ernesto Jaquez, Scott Blewett and Emilio Vargas.  

Don’t be misled by the numbers — this is not a deep group of starters.  There is a ton of potential, but even more question marks.  I continue to hold out hope that the White Sox pick up one or two veteran arms to solidify this staff and eat innings.  How about Joe Ross, Mike Foltynewicz, Dylan Bundy or old friend Mike Wright?

Martin, Burke, Bilous and Stiever are the ones to keep an eye on early.

For Martin, the task is simple: can he replicate or build on his sensational 2022 season, which saw him blaze through Birmingham and Charlotte on the way to meaningful contributions in Chicago?

Burke and Bilous, meanwhile, will be starting their first full year in Triple-A.  Both are/were once highly regarded and a breakout year for either or both is not beyond reason.  Likewise, Stiever was also once seen as a rising star in the White Sox system.  But he was inconsistent across 17 starts in Charlotte in 2021 before a lat injury cost him the rest of the season and virtually all of 2022.  He just began pitching again as the 2022 season wound down.

Among the others, John Parke returns for his third season in Charlotte, and I have to wonder if this is the year he transitions to a multi-inning reliever role to maximize his effectiveness the first time through the batting order.

Jaquez was picked up from the Astros, where too many walks marred what was otherwise a nice season across Low-A and High-A in 2022.  Although he is listed on the Knights’ roster, there’s probably a decent chance he’ll start the season in Birmingham.

Dominguez was impressive in three starts in Charlotte last year before he needed Tommy John surgery.  We’ll likely see him in some capacity as he begins pitching again in 2023.

Finally, Blewett and Vargas are possible Birmingham promotions, though both had their ups and downs last season.

Pen: Declan Cronin, Nate Fisher, Lincoln Henzman, Edgar Navarro, JB Olson, Sammy Peralta, Andrew Perez, Lane Ramsey, Nicholas Padilla, Gregory Santos, Jesse Scholtens and Kenyan Middleton.  

Cronin, Henzman, Olson, Perez and Ramsey spent most of, if not all of 2022 with the Knights, and were among the more effective relievers on the staff.  Padilla, meanwhile, was claimed off waivers from the Cubs late in the 2022 season, and Navarro and Peralta were late-season promotions from Birmingham.

New faces include Santos, acquired in December in a trade with the Giants; and Fisher, Scholtens and Middleton, who were three free-agent adds this offseason.

There are more relievers than likely Opening Day roster spots among the arms on the White Sox 40-man roster, so look for two or three of those guys opening the year in Charlotte, barring a spate of injuries or other setbacks.  Another veteran addition or two in Charlotte before the season kicks off is also possible.

Among the above pitchers on the 40-man are Bilous, Martin, Padilla, Santos and Stiever.

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Jeff Cohen
Jeff Cohen
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In modern baseball, for a team that claims to be a contender to lack starting pitching depth in the high minors for a season is ill-advised at best. 2 years in a row is not only negligent, it shows the team isn’t really built to the competitive level of which they boast.



Cant stress enough the ridiculous allocation of resources to bench level players and middle/setup relief types at the expense of a better/deeper rotation. Especially when Kopech and Clevinger at best get to 140-150 innings

Alfornia Jones

72 pitchers in all of MLB logged 140IP or more in 2022; Kopech and Clevinger hitting this mark would be a huge success for the White Sox provided the main guys deliver their typical innings. With Martin as the main sixth man, I feel pretty confident Burke/Lambert/? can fill in the remaining gap.

The SP looks pretty bleak for 24 and beyond, but SP is a huge positive (as it was in 21 &22) for 23. The Twins would be WS contenders with this staff.


The Twins would not be WS contenders with this staff, or any staff. Nor will the Sox be.

Trooper Galactus

I like Burke as a prospect; similar profile to Giolito though lacking the hard curveball. But I would prefer he not be probably the next best guy on the depth chart after Martin.


Adding (or the failure to add) starting pitching depth before ST is going to have a bigger impact on the W-L record than any 2Bman or RFer ostensibly available. I will feel better about this offseason if the team can secure the services of at least one proven MLB starter/swingman.