Andre Rienzo enjoyed a solid 2013 campaign. The Brazilian-born right-hander began the season with the Charlotte Knights, and finished it with the Chicago White Sox. In 20 games with the Knights, Rienzo posted an 8-6 record with a 4.06 ERA. For his efforts, Knights Media Relations Director Tommy Viola named Rienzo the 2013 Knights Pitcher of the Year.
Rienzo made his last Triple-A start of the season on July 25 at Knights Stadium. Christmas cheer was being spread throughout the stadium as the Knights celebrated "Christmas in July". Rienzo played Santa Claus that day and gave the gift of a no-hitter to all in the ballpark.
It was a stellar year for Rienzo, who later made his Major League debut on July 30 in Cleveland. On that day, he became the first Brazilian-born pitcher in the Majors. He also became just the second-ever Brazilian-born player in the Majors. The first was Yan Gomes, who went 2-3 in the game. Gomes is the catcher for the Cleveland Indians.
The Rienzo no-hit game has not gone unnoticed. It was ranked as the ninth-best moment in Knights Stadium history. Now, Minor League Baseball is showing some love for his magical day. Rienzo is being honored as a finalist for a 2013 MiLBY Award. His seven-inning no-hitter is nominated in the "Best Game" category.
Also nominated for an award is former Knights pitcher Erik Johnson, who is a finalist in the "Starting Pitcher" category. Johnson enjoyed a solid season with Double-A Birmingham and Charlotte before earning a promotion to the Chicago White Sox.
With the Barons, he compiled an 8-2 record with a 2.23 ERA in 14 starts. He tossed three complete games and one shutout for the Southern League champs.
Johnson later posted a 4-1 record with a 1.57 ERA in 10 games for the Knights. On August 19, 2013, Johnson tossed eight shutout innings in a 1-0 win over the Durham Bulls at Knights Stadium.
A native of Mountain View, CA, Johnson made his Major League debut with the White Sox on September 4 at Yankee Stadium. While Johnson was saddled with the loss that day, the youngster finished the season with three-straight wins. He finished off his first season with the White Sox with a 3-2 mark and a 3.25 ERA in five starts.
The Charlotte Knights staff would like to congratulate both players on their nominations and wish both players good luck! Take a moment to vote for Andre and Erik by clicking on the "Vote Here" link.