High-A Frederick right-hander Blaine Knight peeped over the shoulders of the scrum of media surrounding him to get a glance of the Camden Yards mound, the circle of dirt he hopes to one day call home.
“That’s what I dream about,” Knight said. “Just finally, eventually getting on that mound out there, and go to work.”
Knight, the Orioles’ third-round pick in last year’s draft, and 2016 first-round pick Cody Sedlock, who shares Frederick’s rotation with Knight, visited Camden Yards on Tuesday, the second time the Orioles have taken advantage of a Keys day off and the affiliate’s proximity to bring some prospects to what could, at some point, be their home ballpark.
“It’s awesome,” Knight said. “You come out here and you see the yard, you get to hang out with the players and see what you could have if everything goes right. That’s what it’s about, getting to this spot.”
Knight has seen his share of impressive venues, pitching Arkansas within a game of a College World Series title last year, but he still marveled at Camden Yards. Sedlock, too, enjoyed the visit. After two mostly lost seasons because of injury, he appreciates that Baltimore remains a potential destination for him.
“Every time you step into a big league ballpark, especially going down in the clubhouse and seeing all the coaches and all the players, it really sparks you a little bit, gets you going, ’cause this is the goal for all of us,” Sedlock said. “We’re so special to have a minor league affiliate that’s so close to Camden Yards. To be able to do things like this on our off day, it’s really special.”
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Sedlock, 23, has returned to post a 1.44 ERA in eight starts for Frederick, while Knight, 22, has a 3.38 ERA in three starts with the Keys after getting promoted following five starts and an 0.68 ERA with Low-A Delmarva.
Although the rebuilding Orioles are in no rush to get Sedlock, Knight or their other prime pitching prospects bubbling in the lower minors to Camden Yards on a more permanent basis, the organization has preached opportunity throughout the season, and it’s a message the prospects are aware of.
“We all know that there’s opportunity right now, but you look too far ahead, that’s where stuff will go south on you quick,” Knight said. “All I worry about right now is showing up every day, doing my work and when it’s my turn to pitch, I go out and do my job and hope I did a good enough job that that’s starting to inch me toward Baltimore.”
Knight also hopes that former adversary will join him on that path. He and the Razorbacks lost to Oregon State in last year’s College World Series finals, and Beavers catcher Adley Rutschman was the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player and could soon be the Orioles’ selection with the first overall pick in Monday’s MLB draft.
Having enjoyed being teammates with infielder Cadyn Grenier, also a member of that 2018 OSU team, in Delmarva, Knight said he wouldn’t hesitate to welcome Rutschman to the organization.
“That guy, he’s one of the best I’ve seen,” Knight said. “The way he manages a staff, manages a game, good in the box, he does it all really well and does it consistently, and that’s what makes somebody great. If they do it consistently all the time and be really good, I think they’re deserving of a first-round pick, for sure, especially the first one.
“I took Cadyn in, so I’ll take him in, too.”