(UPTOWN CHARLOTTE, NC) -- A combination of highly-touted prospects and major league veterans highlight the Opening Knight roster for the Charlotte Knights, who open their much-anticipated 2021 season in Uptown Charlotte on Tuesday, May 4th at 7:04 p.m. against the Gwinnett Stripers (Triple-A affiliate of the Atlanta Braves) from Truist
(UPTOWN CHARLOTTE, NC) -- A combination of highly-touted prospects and major league veterans highlight the Opening Knight roster for the Charlotte Knights, who open their much-anticipated 2021 season in Uptown Charlotte on Tuesday, May 4th at 7:04 p.m. against the Gwinnett Stripers (Triple-A affiliate of the Atlanta Braves) from Truist Field.
A total of seven players on Chicago’s Top 30 Prospects list (as ranked by _Baseball America_) will begin the season with the Knights. RHP Jimmy Lambert, who is ranked 13th in the system, will get the start on the mound for Charlotte on Opening Knight. Lambert, 26, made his major league debut last season with the White Sox. Originally selected in the fifth round of the 2016 First-Year Player Draft, Lambert was a Southern League midseason All-Star with Birmingham in 2019 and a South Atlantic League midseason All-Star with Kannapolis in in 2017.
RHP Jonathan Stiever, who enters the 2021 campaign as the seventh-best prospect in the Chicago White Sox system, joins Lambert and RHP Tyler Johnson (28th) as three of Chicago’s top pitching prospects in Charlotte to begin the year. Stiever, 23, went 6-4 with a 2.15 ERA in 12 starts with High-A Winston-Salem in 2019. He was originally drafted by the White Sox in the fifth round of the 2018 First-Year Player Draft. Stiever is expected to get the ball in game two of the series on Wednesday, May 5th.
Charlotte’s offense will feature four of the organization’s top position players -- Luis González (9th), Gavin Sheets (10th), Blake Rutherford (12th) and Jake Burger (17th). Sheets, 25, led the Southern League in RBIs in 2019 with 83. A product of Wake Forest University, Sheets is the son of former Charlotte O’s slugger Larry Sheets (1980 & 1983). Burger, 25, was originally drafted by the White Sox in the first round (11th overall) of the 2017 First-Year Player Draft. He has not played in a game since the 2017 due to injuries (2018-19) and the cancellation of the minor league season (2020). Rutherford, 24, was originally selected by the New York Yankees in the first round (18th overall) of the 2016 First-Year Player Draft. He was acquired by the White Sox in a trade with the Yankees on July 18, 2017.
Behind the plate, the Knights will feature two familiar faces – catchers Nate Nolan and Seby Zavala. Nolan, 26, has appeared in 193 games in Chicago’s system since 2016. He entered the 2019 season ranked by Baseball America as the Best Defensive Catcher in the White Sox system and appeared in three games with the Knights that season. Zavala, 27, is a member of Chicago’s 40-man roster and has appeared in 130 games with the Knights over parts of two seasons (2018-19). The San Diego State University product hit 20 home runs with the Knights in 2019. Baseball America has tabbed him as the Best Defensive Catcher in the organization in each of the past two years (2020-21). Additionally, catcher Joe DeCarlo, a newcomer to the White Sox organization, is a member of Charlotte’s opening squad.
A total of 11 players on Chicago’s 40-man roster will start the season with the Knights including infielder Danny Mendick, who began the year with the White Sox. Mendick hit .308 with the White Sox in 2020 after playing the majority of the 2019 season with the Knights. The 27-year-old is also one of 11 players with experience playing with the Knights joining Nolan, Zavala, outfielder Joel Booker, LHPs Tanner Banks, Kyle Kubat, Hunter Schryver and Matt Tomshaw, as well as RHPs Zack Burdi, Ryan Burr, and Reynaldo López.
Burdi, a member of Chicago’s 40-man roster, has appeared in 38 games with the Knights over parts of two seasons (2016-17). He enters the 2021 season ranked by MLB.com as the 15th best prospect in the White Sox system. López, also a member of Chicago’s 40-man roster, made 22 starts with the Knights in 2017 and went 6-7 with a 3.79 ERA that year (121.0 IP).
Major league veterans Tim Beckham, Marco Hernández, Mikie Mahtook, Matt Reynolds, Connor Sadzeck, Nick Williams and Mike Wright are also on Charlotte’s Opening Knight roster. All six were signed as free agents this past offseason. Beckham was the number one overall selection in the 2008 First-Year Player Draft by the Tampa Bay Rays. He has appeared in parts of six seasons in the majors.The 2021 Charlotte Knights are led by manager Wes Helms, who officially enters his first season as manager of the Knights. The Gastonia, NC native was tabbed to manage the Knights in 2020 before the season was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. His coaching staff features Chris Johnson (hitting coach), Matt Zaleski (pitching coach), Daniel Gonzalez (coach), Cory Barton (athletic trainer), and Shawn Powell (performance coach).
Tanner Banks, Zack Burdi, Ryan Burr, Danny Dopico, Tayron Guerrero, Tyler Johnson, Kyle Kubat, Jimmy Lambert, Jacob Lindgren, Reynaldo Lopez, Kodi Medeiros, Felix Paulino, Connor Sadzeck, Hunter Schryver, Jonathan Stiever, Matt Tomshaw, Nik Turley and Mike Wright.
Joe DeCarlo, Nate Nolan and Seby Zavala
Tim Beckham, Jake Burger, Marco Hernández, Danny Mendick, Matt Reynolds and Gavin Sheets
Joel Booker, Luis González, Mikie Mahtook, Blake Rutherford and Nick Williams.