Former Polk County baseball standout Joel Booker will be continuing his professional career close to home.
The Chicago White Sox have assigned Booker to their Class A affiliate in the South Atlantic League, the Kannapolis Intimidators. Booker and the Intimidators open their 2017 season on Thursday, hosting Lakewood at 7:05 p.m.
In addition to playing home games roughly two hours from Polk County, Booker will also visit closer Sally League parks such as Asheville, Greenville and Hickory. The Intimidators are scheduled to be in Asheville on April 17-19.
A 22nd-round draft pick of the White Sox in the 2016 draft, Booker spent last season in the Arizona League and with the Great Falls Voyagers in the Pioneer League. He hit a combined .312 in 65 games, stealing 41 bases. He was part of a Great Falls team that dominated the Pioneer League in the second half of the season, winning 15 straight games at one point.
Nicknamed to honor stock car legend Dale Earnhardt, the Intimidators play their home games at Intimidators/Carolinas HealthCare System Stadium, located just off Interstate 85 at exit 63. The team is managed by 26-year-old Justin Jirschele, the youngest manager in professional baseball.
Among Booker’s teammates as the season opens will be 6-7 pitcher Alec Hansen, Chicago’s second-round draft pick last season, and two members of Coastal Carolina’s national championship team from a year ago, infielder Zach Remillard and pitcher Mike Morrison.