As the Orioles give 2018 third-round draft pick Blaine Knight his first taste of professional baseball this month, they plan to keep him on a similar schedule to the one he had in college.
Knight, 22, will make his first of four scheduled Friday starts for Short-A Aberdeen on Friday night, keeping him on the same routine he had as the Friday starter for the University of Arkansas. Knight is scheduled to pitch one inning Friday and then add one inning each outing, finishing with a four-inning outing in his final start.
The Orioles gave Knight an above-slot $1.1 million signing bonus, which was significantly higher than the $663,200 slot bonus value assigned to him as the 87th overall pick, which shows how highly the club thinks of him.
Knight’s college season ended in late June after he logged 112 1/3 innings for a Razorbacks team that was one game shy of winning the NCAA Division I College World Series. He went 14-0 with a 2.80 ERA in 19 starts, finishing his career with six innings of one-run ball in the opening game of the best-of-three final against Oregon State.
Knight said the experience will help him adjust to professional baseball.
“I think it did [help],” Knight said. “I was having to pitch tired toward the end of the year. I was 112 innings in and pitching against the No. 1 offensive team in the country and they weren’t using wood bats. They were using metal bats. So it was good. I really had to gut-check myself and made me pitch more.
“I got a lot of experience there facing extremely good competition with just with how loaded their lineup was, their lineup was just about as good as any lineup I’m going to face and they were using metal bats. So it was a really good experience for that part.”
Knight signed just before the July 6 deadline and took three weeks off before throwing again. Now, he just hopes to begin logging pro innings and carry that into next season. With his big-school Southeastern Conference pedigree, he’s definitely not intimidated.
“I’m just trying to get back on the saddle,” Knight said. “I’m not going to approach it any differently than I did in college. I faced SEC guys every weekend all of them in one year. I’m not worried about who I’m facing. It’s more about getting back in the saddle and getting back to pitching again and getting familiar with it again because I did take some time off. So that’s all I’m looking forward to.”