Mark Grudzielanek, who made his Triple-A managerial debut last season with the Charlotte Knights, will return to Uptown Charlotte to manage the club for a second consecutive season in 2018. Grudzielanek, a 15-year major league veteran, will be joined by returnees Steve McCatty (pitching coach), Andy Tomberlin (hitting coach), Garey Ingram (assistant coach), and Shawn Powell (strength and conditioning coach). Newcomer James Kruk (head athletic trainer) will join the Knights and replace long-time head athletic trainer Scott Johnson, who is headed to Chicago's Arizona Rookie League club for his 30th season in the organization.
The 2018 season will mark Grudzielanek's second in the White Sox system and third overall as a minor league manager. Last year, Grudzielanek's squad compiled a 61-81 record. His club's 142 home runs ranked fourth overall in the International League in 2017. Before last season, the Milwaukee, WI native spent the previous two campaigns with the Arizona Diamondbacks in their player development system. In 2015, he guided the Kane County Cougars (Single-A) to an 84-54 record and a postseason berth. In 2016, he served as an assistant coordinator in Arizona's system.
Originally drafted by the Montreal Expos in the 11th round of the 1991 draft, Grudzielanek played for six teams, including the Expos (1995-98), Los Angeles Dodgers (1998-2002), Chicago Cubs (2003-2004), St. Louis Cardinals (2005), Kansas City Royals (2006-2008), and Cleveland Indians (2010). In 1,802 major league games, he compiled a .289 batting average with 2,040 hits, 391 doubles, 90 home runs, 640 RBIs, and 133 stolen bases. He was a National League All-Star in 1996 and a Rawlings Gold Glove award-winner at second base with the Royals in 2006.
McCatty enters his second season in the Chicago's organization. A nine-year major league veteran, he posted a 63-63 record and a 3.99 ERA in 221 career games pitched during his career with the Oakland A's. In 1981, the Detroit, MI native finished second in the American League Cy Young Award voting after posting a 14-8 record and a 2.33 ERA. McCatty served eight seasons as a major league pitching coach for Oakland (2002) and Washington (2009-2015).
Tomberlin, a product of nearby Piedmont High School, is back for his sixth season with the Knights and fifth consecutive with the club. He also spent the 2012 season as Charlotte's hitting coach. The upcoming 2018 season will mark his 16th overall in the White Sox organization as a coach. A native of Monroe, NC, he played professionally for 15 seasons from 1986 to 2000 with Pittsburgh, Boston, New York (NL), and Detroit. He was originally signed as a free agent by Atlanta as a pitcher in 1986 after attending a tryout camp.
Ingram, a native of Columbus, GA, enters his second season with the Knights in 2018. He spent seven seasons in the Atlanta Braves' organization as a minor league hitting coach (2010-2016). Before his time in Atlanta's system, he spent seven seasons (2002-2008) as a minor league hitting coach in the Dodgers organization. Originally drafted by the Dodgers in the 44th round of the 1989 draft, Ingram made his major league debut on May 15, 1994. He spent parts of three seasons in the majors (82 games).
Kruk enters his first season with the Knights and 10th overall with the White Sox in 2018. A native of Cutchogue, NY, Kruk spent the past two seasons as the head athletic trainer for the Double-A Birmingham Barons. Before that, he spent time with Single-A Kannapolis (2014-15), Advanced Rookie Bristol (2013), and Advanced Rookie Great Falls (2009-12).
Powell, a native of Brighton, IL, enters his seventh season in Chicago's system and third consecutive in Charlotte. Before spending the 2016 season with the Knights, the Western Illinois University product spent the previous two seasons as the strength and conditioning coach in Winston-Salem. Before that, he spent time in the same capacity with Double-A Birmingham (2013-14). Powell has also worked for the NBA's Toronto Raptors as a strength and conditioning consultant (2005-05), and the New York Yankees as a strength and conditioning coach (1989-99).
2018 Charlotte Knights Field Staff:
Manager: Mark Grudzielanek
Pitching Coach: Steve McCatty
Hitting Coach: Andy Tomberlin
Coach: Garey Ingram
Athletic Trainer: James Kruk
Strength Coach: Shawn Powell
The Charlotte Knights will return home to Uptown Charlotte on Monday, March 26th to host the Chicago White Sox in an exhibition game at BB&T Ballpark. The Knights will open the 2018 season -- their 20th as the top affiliate of the White Sox -- on Thursday, April 5th against the Durham Bulls in Durham, NC. The team's fifth home opener in BB&T Ballpark history will take place on Thursday, April 12th.