Leading into what would have been Opening Day of the 2020 season for the Charlotte Knights (April 9), the team's VP of Communications, Tommy Viola, will unveil the Charlotte Knights All-Decade Team (2010-19). Check back each weekday to see who made the team.
SHORTSTOP: TYLER SALADINO
Tyler Saladino first put on a Charlotte Knights jersey as a 22-year-old in 2012 when the team called Knights Stadium in Fort Mill, SC home. After just 15 games with the Knights that year, he returned to Double-A Birmingham to finish the rest of the season. He spent one more year with the Barons in 2013 before becoming a staple in Charlotte’s lineup in 2014 when the team ushered in a new era of professional baseball in Uptown Charlotte at BB&T Ballpark.
In 2014, Saladino shined with the Knights on his way to being voted in as an International League All-Star. He hit .310 (91-for-294) with 41 runs scored, 16 doubles, four triples, nine home runs, 43 RBIs, and seven stolen bases in 82 games with the team. Unfortunately, an injury ended his season in July. He never got to play in the Triple-A All-Star Game in Durham, NC. Later that year, he had Tommy John surgery.
A year later, Saladino was back with the Knights and appeared in 52 games. Despite a month on the disabled list from April 22 to May 24, he hit .255 with 50 hits, 28 runs scored, seven doubles, two triples, four home runs, 29 RBIs, and 25 stolen bases before earning his first promotion to the majors. He made his major league debut with the White Sox on July 10 and finished up the season in Chicago and went on to play for the team in parts of four seasons (2015-18).
Saladino appeared in 155 games with the Charlotte Knights and played shortstop in 102 of those games. For his career with the Knights, Saladino hit .283 (159-for-562) with 159 hits, 81 runs scored, 26 doubles, six triples, 14 home runs, 82 RBIs, and 33 stolen bases.
BEFORE HE WENT FROM THE SOUTH TO THE SOUTH SIDE
Before making his major league debut, Saladino was red-hot. In eight games during the month of July before the promotion, Saladino was hitting .323 (10-for-31) with six runs scored, two doubles, two home runs, and 12 RBIs. He homered in back-to-back games (July 7-8). At the time of his promotion, he was third in the IL in stolen bases with 25.
RETURN TO CHARLOTTE
Saladino made a brief return to the Knights on a major league rehab assignment from the Chicago White Sox in 2017. He appeared in six games with the Knights and hit .350 (7-for-20) with three runs scored, one double, one home run, and four RBIs.
TIM ANDERSON SHINED IN LIMITED TIME WITH KNIGHTS
Before Tim Anderson led the American League in batting average with an impressive .335 mark in 2019, the talented shortstop tore through the minors. Drafted by the Chicago White Sox in the first round (17th overall) of the 2013 MLB June Amateur Draft, Anderson made his final stop in the minors in 2016 with the Charlotte Knights. In just 55 games with the team (52 at shortstop), Anderson excelled. The Tuscaloosa, AL native hit .304 (75-for-247) with 39 runs scored, 10 doubles, two triples, four home runs, 20 RBIs, and 11 stolen bases in 2016. At the time of his promotion, he was first in the IL in hits (75), first in the IL in at-bats (247), and second in runs scored (39). He also compiled 25 multi-hit games with the Knights.
Anderson was ranked as the number one prospect in the Chicago White Sox system by Baseball America in 2016 during his time with the Knights. At the age of 22, he became the first Charlotte player to earn International League Batter of the Week honors in 2016. He earned the award for the period of May 9-15 and went on to have a tremendous month of May. During the month, Anderson hit .349 (45-for-129) with 24 runs scored, three home runs and 13 RBIs in the month of May (29 games). He hit .297 (11-for-37) in eight games during the month of June.
REHABBING IN CHARLOTTE
In the midst of his best major league season, Anderson found himself back in Charlotte in 2019 on a major league rehab assignment in July as he recovered from a sprained right ankle. Anderson appeared in five games with the Knights and hit .348 (8-for-23) with three runs scored, one double, one home run, and four RBIs.
OTHER SHORTSTOPS OF THE DECADE
Over the past three seasons, Eduardo Escobar has become one of the most consistent infielders in the majors racking up 441 hits, 231 runs scored, 93 doubles, 18 triples, 79 home runs and 275 RBIs. Originally signed by the White Sox as a free agent on January 28, 2006, the Venezuelan native played just one season with the Knights in 2011. He hit .266 (130-for-489) with 55 runs scored, 23 doubles, four triples, four home runs, 49 RBIs, and 13 stolen bases in 137 games (107 at shortstop) that year. He was traded to the Minnesota Twins on July 28, 2012.
As solid as Eduardo Escobar has been at the major league level the past few seasons, the same can be said for Marcus Semien, who finished third in the American League MVP voting in 2019. Semien hit .285 (187-for-657) with 123 runs scored, 43 doubles, seven triples, 33 home runs, 92 RBIs and 10 stolen bases with the Oakland A's last year. With the Knights, Semien appeared in 68 games at shortstop over parts of two seasons and a total of 115 games with the Knights over the span (2013-14). He hit .266 with 77 runs scored, 31 doubles, four triples, 19 home runs, 69 RBIs, and 11 stolen bases in his career with the Knights.
As the team leader in home runs with 18 in 2018, José Rondón put together a solid season as Charlotte’s shortstop in limited action. Rondón appeared in just 80 games with the team as he was recalled by the Chicago White Sox on three occasions. Still, when he played for Charlotte, he was a key contributor. Overall, he hit .249 (78-for-313) with 41 runs scored, 15 doubles, four triples, 18 home runs, and 38 RBIs.
SHORTSTOP AND MORE
Additionally, players such as Leury Garcia, Eddy Alvarez, Alcides Escobar, Ryan Goins, and Danny Mendick spent time at shortstop -- among other positions during their time with the Knights. Stay tuned to the unveiling of the utility position on the All-Decade Team, where these players, and a few others, are being considered for their outstanding versatility.