White Sox invite four current Minor-League clubs to continue as organization's affiliates

December 9th, 2020

CHICAGO – The Chicago White Sox today invited the following four minor-league organizations to continue as the club’s affiliates in Major League Baseball’s new player development structure:

• Class AAA Charlotte Knights (Charlotte, N.C.)
• Class AA Birmingham Barons (Birmingham, Ala.)
• Class A Winston-Salem Dash (Winston-Salem, N.C.)
• Class A Kannapolis Cannon Ballers (Kannapolis, N.C.)

As part of MLB’s plan to modernize the sport’s player development system, all four minor-league organizations received an invitation for a Player Development License. Each club will consider the details of the license invitation before responding to the White Sox and MLB.

“We are extremely fortunate to enjoy strong and productive existing relationships with each of our four affiliates in Charlotte, Birmingham, Winston-Salem and Kannapolis,” said Chris Getz, White Sox director of player development. “Issuing a license invitation to these four outstanding baseball communities is an important first step in Major League Baseball’s process of reshaping the player development system. We have worked closely with MLB on this new structure with minor-league affiliates to ensure a successful and sustained partnership and future for all major and minor-league clubs, our players and the local communities.”

Charlotte has been the White Sox Class AAA affiliate since 1999, winning the International League Championship that season. The Knights helped develop All-Stars Joe Crede, Jon Garland, Lucas Giolito and Chris Sale, as well as 2020 Silver Slugger winners Tim Anderson and Eloy Jiménez and 2020 Gold Glove Winner Luis Robert.

“We have received notice from the Chicago White Sox of their intent to issue a Professional Development License to the Knights,” said Dan Rajkowski, chief operating officer of the Charlotte Knights. “Once the PDL is received, our ownership and management team will review the terms and correspond with the White Sox. The Knights look forward to the future of professional baseball in Charlotte.”

“The Charlotte Knights and professional baseball have been a vital part of the quality of life in our region for over 125 years,” said Tom Murray, chief executive officer, Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority. “As Charlotte has come into its own with an ever-evolving cityscape, we’ve been proud to partner with the Knights in the development of their new Uptown ballpark, Truist Field. The facility has been rated as the finest Minor League Ballpark in the country and helps entertain residents and attract tens of thousands of visitors each year. We look forward to continuing that success story in the Charlotte region for generations to come.”

Birmingham, the longest-tenured affiliate in Sox history, has been the Class AA destination for White Sox prospects since 1986. The Barons won Southern League titles in 1993, 2002 and 2013. Hall-of-Famer Frank Thomas played 109 games for Birmingham in 1990 before making his major-league debut. Other notable players to make the jump from Birmingham to Chicago include Mark Buehrle, Jack McDowell, José Quintana, Bobby Thigpen and Robin Ventura.

“We’re excited and honored to receive the White Sox invitation to continue our partnership,” said Jonathan Nelson, president and general manager of the Barons. “Over the years the Chicago White Sox have provided many great players and teams who have entertained our fans and positively impacted the Birmingham community.”

“The Barons have enjoyed a great history in Birmingham for over 100 years and specifically for the last 34 years with the Chicago White Sox,” said Randall Woodrin, mayor of Birmingham. “White Sox players and coaches have positively impacted our community for many years, and we’re proud that our own Regions Field is recognized as one of the top ballparks in America. We’re also excited that the White Sox have extended an invitation to continue their AA affiliation with the Birmingham Barons for years to come.”

Winston-Salem has been a Sox affiliate since 1997, winning the Carolina League title in 2003. The Dash have played a key role in developing White Sox prospects throughout the years, with players such as Aaron Bummer, Adam Engel, Nate Jones, Carlos Lee, Jim Parque and Aaron Rowand spending time in Winston-Salem.

“We value the long-standing relationship we have had with the Chicago White Sox and will be reviewing the licensing agreement they have provided,” said C.J. Johnson, president and general manager of the Dash. “Winston-Salem has hosted Minor League Baseball since 1905, and we look forward to having professional baseball at Truist Stadium for years to come.”

“Professional baseball is part of the fabric of our community,” said Allen Joines, Winston-Salem mayor. “The licensing agreement invitation from the Chicago White Sox is an exciting step as we work toward a day in the hopefully near future when we can once again say, ‘Play ball!’”

Kannapolis, who recently changed its name from the Intimidators to the Cannon Ballers, has been a minor-league affiliate of the White Sox since 2001, winning a South Atlantic League Championship in 2005. Kannapolis served as one of the early development spots for Gordon Beckham, Matt Foster, Gio Gonzalez, Nick Madrigal and Danny Mendick.

“We appreciate the invitation from the White Sox to continue their affiliation with the Kannapolis Cannon Ballers. We have had a terrific relationship with the White Sox since we purchased the team in 2018,” said Andy Sandler, chairman of Temerity Baseball and owner of the Kannapolis Cannon Ballers.

Further updates about the acceptance of license invitations and finalized details about the new player development structure will be issued by Major League Baseball in early 2021.

The White Sox will continue to operate their Arizona Rookie League club in Glendale, Ariz.