Blaine Knight Could Advance Quickly
The Orioles felt like they gambled by waiting until the second day of the draft to select Arkansas righthander Blaine Knight. They weren’t certain the Southeastern Conference standout would still be on the board.
Their patience paid off. Knight fell to Baltimore in the third round, 87th overall, and he was expected to report to short-season Aberdeen.
The Orioles reached agreement with Knight about 90 minutes before the draft signing deadline. He signed for $1.1 million.
"We never thought Blaine Knight would be there,” scouting director Gary Rajsich said. "He is someone we talked about on day one. He is a very dynamic starter and we think he could be a quick mover through the organization.
"He went undefeated in the SEC this year. He beat six guys this year who were drafted higher than he was, including (Casey) Mize and (Brady) Singer.”
Including the NCAA postseason, Knight went 14-0, 2.80 in 19 starts with 25 walks and 102 strikeouts over 112.1 innings. Knight won all four playoff decisions and posted a 2.88 ERA as the Razorbacks advanced to the College World Series finals. He went 2-0, 2.45 in two CWS starts.
Knight led Arkansas to a win against Oregon State in Game 1, when he surrendered only one run and seven hits in six innings.
The Orioles like Knight’s fastball, which has topped out at 97 mph and sits in the 90-94 range, and his plus slider. He also throws a quality curveball and mixes in a changeup.
Knight has one of the highest spin rates in college baseball on his breaking pitches.
"He’s a fierce competitor with a great delivery,” Rajsich said. "He has timing and balance, which is rare for college pitchers to have in their delivery. That makes it easier for him to use his body to get the most out of his arm.
"He commands four average-to-plus pitches and is a bulldog on the mound who doesn’t like to lose.”
Because his season ran through the CWS, Knight won't likely accumulate many pro innings this summer.
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** Double-A Bowie third baseman Ryan Mountcastle went 0-for-2 in the Futures Game after pinch-hitting for the DH. High Class A Frederick lefthander Alex Wells, a native of Australia, retired both batters he faced while representing the World Team.
** The Orioles signed undrafted college outfielder Dalton Hoiles and assigned him to Aberdeen. Hoiles, the son of former Orioles catcher Chris Hoiles, batted .362 with 10 home runs and 22 doubles as a Shippensburg (Pa.) senior.