Three starts into his full-season debut, Blaine Knight is showing no chinks in his armor -- and developing a new weapon.The 10th-ranked Orioles prospect worked around a hit and a walk while fanning a career-high nine batters over five scoreless frames Wednesday, leading Class A Delmarva to a 2-1, 11-inning
Three starts into his full-season debut, Blaine Knight is showing no chinks in his armor -- and developing a new weapon.
The 10th-ranked Orioles prospect worked around a hit and a walk while fanning a career-high nine batters over five scoreless frames Wednesday, leading Class A Delmarva to a 2-1, 11-inning win over Kannapolis at Arthur W. Perdue Stadium.
Gameday box score
"For the first time I had my changeup working, and it was a great pitch for me today," Knight said. "It's something I've been trying to develop. I didn't have to use it in college, and I was never able to get it down last season. But I hammered trying to get a feel for it all off-season, in Spring Training and in my bullpen sessions, and today it finally acted the way I wanted it to perform. It was a lot of fun to throw it."
This latest addition to his arsenal -- which already featured a mid-90s heater, a 55-grade slider and a curveball -- propelled the 22-year-old to his second consecutive strong effort while extending his scoreless streak to 11 2/3 innings. Over 15 2/3 frames this season, Knight has posted a 1.15 ERA and 0.64 WHIP. The right-hander has yielded six hits and four walks with 18 punchouts.
"I don't really pay attention to that much," he said. "As long as I give the team a chance to win, that's what I'm happy about. That's my job. That's my main concern. Whatever my pitch count is that day, I'm gonna go out with those pitches, compete and hopefully give our team a shot at winning that day."
Against Kannapolis, the 2018 third-round pick did just that. After starting the game by yielding a 3-2 base hit back up the middle to Ian Dawkins, Knight plunked Ramon Beltre with a 3-1 off-speed pitch. With two on and none out, Knight locked in and whiffed the next three hitters on 16 pitches -- including 11th-ranked White Sox prospectSteele Walker -- to escape the frame unscathed.
"Any time you beat adversity, especially right off the bat like that, it's going to help you get momentum the rest of the game," Knight said. "I think my tempo was off at first, but once I got my stride back it was all downhill from there."
Knight retired the next nine batters he faced -- fanning four -- to bring his consecutive outs total to 12. After Chicago's No. 21 prospect, Bryce Bush, worked a seven-pitch walk to lead off the fifth, the Arkansas product finished his outing with back-to-back punchouts of Alex Destino and Luis Curbelo followed by an infield groundout on an 0-2 pitch to Michael Hickman.
Knight (1-0) did not factor into the decision after throwing a career-high 78 pitches -- 52 for strikes.
Baltimore's 14th-ranked prospect, Adam Hall, collected a pair of hits, walked and scored the Shorebirds' first run on a single to left by Will Robertson in the sixth. Andrew Fregia drove in Delmarva's winning run with a two-out single to center off lefty Bennett Sousa. Right-hander Tyler Joyner notched his Minor League-leading fourth victory -- and extended Delmarva's win streak to nine -- after pitching a perfect frame, with one strikeout, in the 11th.
"We've been playing really good baseball, and that's because everyone has been doing what they're supposed to do," Knight said. "I think when everyone does their job right and baseball is played right, it gets contagious and it keeps rolling. Right now we're just having fun playing baseball and that's what it's all about."
Hickman tied the game for Kannapolis with a one-out RBI single to left in the ninth.
Rob Terranova is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow him on Twitter, @RobTnova24.