San Diego Padres Draft: Landon Knack a small school star in the making

(Photo by Andy Hayt/San Diego Padres/Getty Images)
(Photo by Andy Hayt/San Diego Padres/Getty Images) /

With the MLB Draft just over a month away, the San Diego Padres may consider East Tennessee State’s Landon Knack in the fourth round.

I can already see ESPN’s next 30 for 30 headline: “What if I told you the 2020 NCAA strikeout leader came from a school with less than 11,000 students?” That’s East Tennessee State’s Landon Knack in a nutshell, and he presents an intriguing opportunity for the San Diego Padres if he remains on the board in the fourth round of June’s draft.

At 6-foot-2, 220 pounds, Knack already has good size for a future starting pitcher and displays incredible command, walking just one batter in 25.0 innings before the shutdown this season. So why haven’t we heard much about him? For starters (no pun intended), he doesn’t get the same exposure as the SEC and ACC baseball factories.

Knack also spent his first two years playing his collegiate baseball at Walters State Junior College. There, he would go from a middling starting pitcher and leave as one of the top-ranked seniors in this draft class. Last year, he made 15 starts and struck out 94 batters in 97.0 innings while allowing just 16 walks and a .241 average.

As noted, he was virtually unhittable in four starts this year, allowing just a .136 average while striking out 51 batters (18.4 K/9). Knack features a fastball that touches 98 MPH, and he’s likely being held back because his secondary pitches are considered to be just average at this point.

Some scouts have given his curveball an above-average rating, but he’ll need to continue to develop his offspeed pitches in the minor leagues. The big righty could be an attractive arm to a team in the third round, who feels that he may not be there in the fourth. That said, I am curious how he fares against better talent.

Next. 2020 player profile, Trent Grisham. dark

Based on his statistics at East Tennessee, Knack profiles closest to Lance Lynn or Trevor Bauer.

Lynn 2019: 3.67 ERA, 8.4 H/9, 0.9 HR/9, 2.6 BB/9, 10.6 K/9

Bauer 2019: 4.48 ERA, 7.8 H/9, 1.4 HR/9, 3.5 BB/9, 10.7 K/9

Knack 2018-2019: 2.29 ERA, 7.5 H/9, 0.4 HR/9, 1.3 BB/9, 10.7 K/9