FORT MILL --
The Charlotte Knights are returning to the playoffs for the first time since 2006 by clinching the International League South Division.
The Knights did so Friday by winning 2-1 over Pawtucket. Manager Joel Skinner has now guided two teams to an International League Division title. Skinner took the Buffalo Bisons to an IL North Division crown in 2000.
Charlotte’ first round opponent will be the Indianapolis Indians, who clinched the top spot in the West Division Thursday. The Knights will open at Victory Field in Indianapolis Wednesday, Sept. 5 and play game two Thursday, Sept. 6. The Knights will host the Indians in game three of the first round on Friday, Sept. 7 and could host two more games of the best-of-five series if necessary at Knights Stadium on Sept. 8-9.
Game times for game three will be at 7:15 p.m. If a game four is necessary, it will also be a 7:15 and game five will be at 2:15 p.m.
And just in time for the playoffs, the Knights got a young prospect to help push them over the top.
Carlos Sanchez, who was hitting .370 in 30 games for the Double-A Birmingham Barons, was promoted to the Knights last week. Sanchez, 20, began the season with Single-A Winston Salem and hit .315 for the Dash in 92 games.
A native of Maracay, Venezuela, Sanchez was originally signed by the Chicago White Sox as a free agent on May 6, 2009. He played two seasons for the DSL Sox (2009-2010), before appearing with Rookie Bristol in 2011. He hit .250 for Bristol in five games and was later promoted to Single-A Kannapolis, where he hit .288 over 63 games last year.
This season, the switch-hitting infielder has enjoyed a career-year at the plate. In a combined 122 games between Winston-Salem and Birmingham, Sanchez is hitting .329 with one home run, 55 RBIs, 75 runs scored, 23 doubles, seven triples and 26 stolen bases.
Earlier this season, Sanchez represented the White Sox as part of the World Team for the annual Sirius XM All-Star Futures Game at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City. At the time, the 19-year-old headed into the game batting .320 with a league-high 103 hits, 14 doubles, 39 RBIs and 15 steals.
Sanchez’ presence may help make up for the absences of Jordan Danks. Chicago recalled Danks to the White Sox last week. Danks, who had reached base safely in 30-straight games with the Knights, earned his second promotion to the White Sox this season. He takes the place of outfielder Alejando De Aza, who was placed on the 15-day disabled list.
A native of Austin, Texas, Danks was hitting .317 with eight home runs and 30 RBIs in 64 games for the Knights this year. He appeared in 29 games for the White Sox earlier this season and hit .265 with one home run and three RBIs.
The Knights are at home this week as the regular season winds down and are in the middle of a series with Syracuse.