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Orioles fans have been buzzing about the team's latest acquisition, Jon Knott. Although already 28 years old, Knott brings a long history of overachieving with him to Baltimore. He will be given every opportunity to stick with the big league club out of spring training and should provide some versatility and power from the right side.
ITW: You went undrafted out of Mississippi State, which makes you a pretty big success story already. Were there injuries or any other obvious reason teams overlooked you?
Jon: No, it was just one of those weird things. I did have a little injury at the end of my senior year but I went for a tryout in September, so it obviously wasn't that bad. It was just a case of tendonitis.
ITW: You've done very well at AAA for a number of years. In your eyes, why haven't you gotten a longer look with the big league club?
Jon: The Padres were a very big developmental organization when I first got in there and I think they, the last few years when I was moving up the system, went after some veteran free agents. I think the upper management preferred the experience more than the younger players. I guess that's just one of the reasons that never happened. I made it up a couple times but I didn't get many chances. It was just my cup of coffee, as they say.
ITW: The Padres originally signed you to a six year deal, but you're on your way to Baltimore after only five seasons. What happened there?
Jon: That was he Padres' option. I was on their 40-man roster and they non-tendered me, so that made me a free agent. I don't know if that is some kind of loophole or what, but they called me and let me know that I would probably be a free agent last week.
ITW: You've been signed to what is known as a split-contract. What does this mean for you?
Jon: From what I understand, that is pretty standard with players that have a little [service] time. They give you a certain dollar price if you're in the big leagues and for the minors. It's basically two different contracts, one for the big leagues and one for the minors.
ITW: You've moved around between 1B, LF, and RF. Can you tell us a bit about playing each position.
Jon: Well, I think that benefits me, because I have so much experience at each position. In college, I was actually half and half between first base and the outfield. Most of my professional experience has been in the outfield, but last year I probably played half the season at first base. I know that was one of the reasons the O's were looking at me for, giving them a little versatility and moving around to the different positions.
ITW: The Orioles have also struggled against lefties, who you have had a lot of success against. Is that a big part of why you came here?
Jon: You know what came in to my line of thinking more than that was that they had a lot of left-handed bats and not as many right-handed bats, but they did mention that to me. If someone had mentioned to me at the end of last season that I hit lefties that much better than righties, I wouldn't have known. It's just one of those things. I guess I'm more comfortable against them, but I really wouldn‘t have known.
ITW: Do you know any current O's players or coaches? Anyone in the O's system?
Jon: Well, I talked to Sam [Perlozzo] the Manager. I was looking at the roster and I've known a few guys on past Orioles' teams, but none of the current guys.
ITW: What did you talk to Sam [Perlozzo] about?
Jon: I enjoyed our conversation. He had done his homework on me and I appreciated that. He had done his homework on me and read up on some stuff I've done in the past couple years. He said that the lineup could use a bit more power, especially in that ballpark, and that I would fit in well there. I'm definitely excited about the move.
ITW: If things don't break your way in spring training and you're shuttled off to the new Triple-A affiliate in Norfolk, how would you react to that?
Jon: That‘s kind of the situation I‘ve been in for the past three years and it looks like that would have been the situation with the Padres again. I‘m just excited to have some fresh eyes on me with a new organization. I‘m excited to have a real chance to break camp with the [big league] team and, if not, work my way up there.
ITW: Any other tidbits you'd care to share for O's fans wishing to learn more about you?
Jon: Well, my family is very excited to be heading back to the east coast, because I am originally from Virginia and I went to school over there. They're pretty pumped up about us being much closer to home.
(*John Kazlo contributed to this article)
Michael Hollman is the Senior Writer for Inside The Warehouse and can be reached via email at Publisher@InsideTheWarehouse.com