You know it was a rough week for the Charlotte Knights when the highlight was an appearance by rehabbing major league umpire Angel Hernandez.
The Knights fell to 3-18 in the second half after getting pummelled at home by the Memphis Redbirds this past week and the only matter up for debate — if anyone really cares — is who gets called up if and when the White Sox sell off major-league assets.
Fortunately, there’s some record-setting, competitive baseball being played in Winston-Salem these days. So that’s where I went last week, and I’m glad I did.
On Thursday, I got a chance to see outfielder Jacob Burke set a White Sox minor-league record by getting on base in his 51st straight game, breaking the mark set one year earlier by Colson Montgomery. He’d extend the streak to 52 before going 0-for-4 on Saturday but then bounced back with a three-hit game on Sunday.
To add a bit more context, Saturday is the only game this year that he hasn’t been on base. I don’t know what his ceiling is, but he plays with a chip on his shoulder, and I love the grit and drive.
An 11th round pick in 2022 out of the University of Miami, Burke spent 35 games in Kannapolis before a promotion a few weeks ago to Winston-Salem. He is hitting .325 this year, with an inflated OBP of .427.
Some Random Thoughts On The Dash
Wes Kath, the Sox’ 2nd-round draft pick in 2021, is still adjusting to High-A pitching (.207) after a decent rookie year in Kannapolis last season. But the 20-year-old third baseman looks bigger and stronger this year as opposed to the leaner kid I saw before the start of last season.
Last year’s 9th round pick, catcher Michael Turner, also caught my eye with a big home run and strong throw to second to nail a would-be base stealer.
“He has a very good arm and is becoming one of the leaders on the team,” manager Guillermo Quiroz told me on Thursday. “In Spring Training, we worked with his footwork a little bit. His movements were a little too long but now they are a lot shorter and a lot more consistent.”
Wilfred Veras was nursing an injury on Thursday, but he’s having a solid season as well. Power is his calling card, as evidenced by 25 doubles and 9 home runs over 83 games.
Tim Elko, the Winston-Salem first baseman and clean-up hitter, is a happy man these days, with Burke, Montgomery and Veras hitting in front of him — and frequently on base. Elko drove in 57 runs in just 66 games in Kannapolis this year, with 77 hits including 14 doubles, a triple and 17 homers. He has 17 more RBIs in 19 games since moving up to Winston-Salem a few weeks ago.
Noah Schultz Did What?
Last year’s No. 1 pick, Noah Schultz, has been unhittable in Low-A until this past weekend, when he was roughed up for five hits, including three homers, in 1.1 innings.
But I’m told by two people who watched the game that his velo and command are just fine. Keep in mind that opponents are still just hitting .177 against him in 15.2 innings this year, with a 0.77 WHIP even after that dud of an outing.
In the two starts I watched of him in person, it looked to me that his catcher was just setting up in the middle of the plate and letting Schultz blow the ball past over-matched hitters. That’s fine in Low-A, but it is time to start painting those corners with that 95-mph heater.
Who’s Left In Charlotte
Carlos Perez and Oscar Colas are already with the big league club. Iván González, a catcher, was just promoted from Birmingham to Charlotte, suggesting that the Sox are finally ready to keep Perez around for a longer look.
The remaining position players in Charlotte on the 40-man roster are Lenyn Sosa, Adam Haseley and Clint Frazier. You’d have to assume that Sosa is next man up. He’s having a solid season and has been squaring up the ball a lot lately.
On the pitching side, the 40-man roster includes Sammy Peralta, Nicholas Padilla and Jimmy Lambert.
Peralta was put in the rotation out of necessity and has fared ok though a lefty change-up pitcher like him is far better suited for the bullpen. Likewise, the Sox recently signed journeyman Mike Mayers, another reliever turned starter, presumably in preparation for multi-inning duty in Chicago.
Lambert has struggled following an IL stint a few weeks ago with a bum ankle. But he looked excellent this past Friday, so he may be getting back in form.