But a funny thing happened for the undrafted free agent in ’05. He saw himself passed by as other players were called up to the big league squad and Jon Knott floundered in Triple-A. Instead of making it back to the show, Ben Johnson and Paul McAnulty surpassed him as the top options.
It could have been his slow start to the year – a .208 average in April. After hitting .319 in May, Knott hit .235 the rest of the year.
His power numbers remained consistently high – his 63 placed him in a tie for third best in the league – but his average and on base percentage suffered.
“Jon hit .250 but still hit 25 homers,” Padres minor league field coordinator, Bill Bryk, said. “I still think Knott – his makeup is so good and he will figure things out and have a chance to play at the major league level and be an extra guy at least.”
It was just two years ago that Knott drew 86 walks in the same amount of games as he had this year. Knott drew more walks in fewer games in 2004 and his 55 this year didn’t inspire confidence in his pitch selection.
His ability to come through in the clutch was virtually non-existent. He managed just a .203 average with runners in scoring position (RISP) and was awful with RISP and two outs – just seven hits in 66 at bats for a .107 average. This from a player that spent a large part of the year in the cleanup role – it was simply unacceptable and was the main reason he was bypassed for promotions.
Interestingly enough, Knott was at his best playing first base rather than the outfield. He hit .301 as a first baseman but just .227 in the outfield.
First base is also his best position on the diamond. While he has an above average arm, Knott does not have great range and is bogged down by a lack of speed (he grounded into 17 double plays). He is much better at first base where he receives the ball well and looks the part of being comfortable.
Knott, now 27, is quickly becoming an afterthought, despite a .284 career minor league average with 242 extra base hits and 341 RBI’s in 511 games.
“Maybe I am dreaming a little bit but power is hard to find and he has great makeup and will figure things out with the bat,” added Bryk. “It may not be with us but there is a chance for him even though he is a bit older. He has to bounce back. He has to show the same stroke that we saw that got him to the big leagues. He has slider bat speed right now and has some holes he has to figure out. If anyone can do it he can do it.”
“I don’t think legit power hitters get hurt by PETCO as much as those in-between guys,” added Knott. “I have the power, the legit power, that eventually the Padres are going to need.“
The power is there but consistently at the plate and the ability to drive in runs in the clutch outweighs the power he possesses. Thirty-five of his extra base hits came with the bases empty, including 14 of his homers. Yet, he had one more at bat with runners on base than he had with the bases empty.
“My sense is that Jon was pressing a bit this year,” said a Padres scout. “He got that taste of the majors in 2004 and I’m sure he was anxious to get back.”
Knott must string together a run of successive months with invariable at bats. His pitch selection this past year was poor and it appeared that he was pressing after reaching the majors the year before. He will have to get back to his 2004 form to be reconsidered for a major league spot in the future.