San Diego Padres Prospect Jon Knott

Tired, not quite. <br><br> Iron will, definitely. <br><br> Undrafted to the Majors…a dream on its way to becoming true. <br><br> That is just part of the story of Jon Knott, the San Diego Padres prospect that went from unheard of to common knowledge in less than two years. He has seen the depths of despair and is proud to defy the odds.

After four years at Mississippi State University, his name went uncalled and he only got a shot at professional ball after impressing San Diego Padres scouts at a tryout camp. Jon Knott suffered an ankle injury in college that many pointed to in regards to him going undrafted.

Was the injury that serious in college that you shouldn't have been drafted?

"I guess so," says Knott. "I don't really know for sure but that's what I have been told.

"I didn't get to play in much of the postseason at all. What hurt me is I kept trying to play for a while and that made it worse than it actually was so I had to take off a little over a month just rehabbing and rest it."

A whole career hinging on an injury in his senior year of college. Some would never recover from something so challenging to the body and soul.

Then the Padres dial him up and let him know they want him to come out to a tryout camp.

What brought you out to the Padres tryout camp and did you think you impressed that day?

"They contacted me and said whenever I got healthy to come out. They gave me a couple dates to come out. I came out there and had a pretty solid tryout and went back to school and they called me up a week later and said they wanted to sign me – come out for spring training in February."

Just like that, the life of a minor leaguer is born. In his first season, 2002, he simply earned Co-Minor League Player of the Year for the Padres. Knott knocked in 91 while hitting 11 home runs between Fort Wayne and Lake Elsinore. He had an amazing .413 OBP. He started 2003 in Mobile and continued to get on base at an alarming rate of .387 before a late season callup to Portland. An undrafted free agent, Knott was almost on the same pace as Khalil Greene who went in the first round of the 2002 draft.

Now he is the surprise of the organization, but he isn't necessarily tired of people continuing to place that label on him.

"No, I am not tired of it necessarily.

"I think it is always good to open up peoples eyes, to show them what I can do. I mean these two years I have learned a lot about baseball. I have had a lot of fun and I have learned a lot. These full seasons in pro ball are a lot different than any other baseball you play in your life because 140 games and what do you have – five off days in there somewhere," Knott says laughing. "It's pretty intense."

It isn't that he took it for granted coming in. Most don't realize the grind playing in the minors really has on a player.

College players have the leg up, but as Knott says, "It is a little different in college. I guess you have classes but here you don't have Monday's and Thursday's off.

"The travel is also a factor. We have some pretty long bus trips."

Knott has made it to Portland, leaving bus trips behind.

The next trip he wants to make is a callup to the Majors. Considering all he has been through on the way up, that should be a breeze.

Denis Savage can be reached at safage@cox.net

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