The Orioles this afternoon agreed to terms with their third-round draft pick, Arkansas right-hander Blaine Knight. The agreement beat today’s 5 p.m. Eastern time deadline for clubs to sign 2018 draft picks. The club has not made an announcement yet, but this deal did get done today and Knight has already passed his physical.
Knight agreed to a bonus of $1.1 million, well over the slot amount of $663,200 for the 87th overall pick. The Orioles will wind up signing 32 total draft picks. They got their first 19 picks over 19 rounds before their first unsigned player. That was Texas Tech pitcher Caleb Kilian from the 20th round. The club used up just about every penny of its total pool amount of $8,754,400, which was the 13th-most of any team.
Earlier today, the Orioles finalized two other agreements, getting their 13th-round pick, Sam Houston State third baseman Andrew Fregia, and their 25ht-round pick, Florida outfielder Nick Horvath. Fregia got a bonus of $125,000.
Knight had a remarkable Junior season for Arkansas in leading the Razorbacks to the College World Series finals. He won Game 1 of that best-of-three series, but Arkansas lost the series to Oregon State.
Over 19 starts counting the postseason, he went 14-0 with a 2.80 ERA, 25 walks and 102 strikeouts in 112 1/3 innings. Knight went 4-0 with a 2.88 ERA in the NCAA playoffs and 2-0 with an ERA of 2.45 in two starts in the College World Series. He pitched Arkansas to a Game 1 win over Oregon State, allowing one run and seven hits in six innings.
Knight has a live fastball that often sits between 90 and 94 mph and has topped at 97 mph, along with a plus slider, solid curveball and a changeup. He has one of the best spin rates in college baseball on his breaking pitches.
After the Orioles selected him, scouting director Gary Rajsich expressed surprise that Knight lasted until the O’s picked in round three.
“We never though Blaine Knight would be there,” Rajsich said. “That is someone we talked about (taking) on day one. Very dynamic starter and we think he could be a quick mover through the organization. Undefeated in the SEC this year. He beat six guys this year that were drafted higher than he was, including (Casey) Mize, (Brady) Singer, all those guys.
“He is a fierce competitor with a great delivery. 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 that doesn’t like to lose.”