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Scouting restrictions loosened, Knack hearing from MLB teams

Joe Avento • Apr 18, 2020 at 9:30 PM

JOHNSON CITY — Landon Knack is hoping a short spring was good enough to launch a long professional baseball career.

Now that scouting restrictions have been loosened, the East Tennessee State right-handed ace has been hearing from major league teams again.

An article on ESPN.com listed Knack, a Johnson City native, as 85th among the top 200 prospects for this year’s draft. That would make him a third-round pick.

It would also make him very happy.

After talking to several teams, Knack said he’s confident he’ll get a call on draft day even if the draft gets knocked down to five rounds, which is a possibility.

“I hope so,” he said. “I’ve got some pretty good feedback. I feel good about it. We’ll just see what happens.”

Scouting restrictions enacted because of the coronavirus pandemic were loosened last week. Teams were allowed to contact prospects by phone or text and communicate via video, basically anything they wanted that didn’t include face-to-face contact or organized workouts.

“I’ve heard from a pretty good amount of teams since they opened it back up,” Knack said. “As of right now, everybody’s just trying to get some one-on-one time, just talking, more than trying to figure out what’s going to happen with the draft.”

The uncertainty of the draft — from June to later in the summer and MLB has the option to shorten it to as few as five rounds from the 40 from last year — has left everybody involved wondering what might happen.

“It’s still a question mark,” Knack said. “They still don’t know for sure how the rounds are going to be set up, how it’s going to work. So for right now, it’s a lot of just building personal relationships with them.”

Knack’s draft stock has risen because of a combination of production in ETSU’s short season — 4-0 in four starts with 51 strikeouts and one walk — and the fact that he’s gained velocity. His fastball topped out at 98 mph this spring.

The season was shut down March 17 when the Southern Conference announced the cancellation of all spring sports, and Knack was among the most disappointed players of all.

“It does stink,” he said. “Obviously how well everything was going, how good I think our team was this year … I think it would have been really fun to see how things went, to see if we could have made it to a regional. Personally, to see if I could have gone for some of those records I was on pace for. I could sit here all day and think about it, but it would just drive me nuts.”

The NCAA has ruled that collegiate spring sport athletes can have back the year of eligibility they lost because of the pandemic. Knack seems ready to get on with his life, but he’s not ruling anything out.

“It all depends,” he said. “I’m not going to completely rule out coming back to school. If things were not to work out, draft-wise, it’s still a possibility. I would like to be able to start my professional career now after five years of college, but I still will not rule out coming back.”

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