Padres Prospect Interview: Jon Knott

Jon Knott is the very thing the Padres were missing last season. A true, legitimate power hitter. Now the question is where to play him. Left field is locked up with Ryan Klesko, meaning if and when Knott gets his chance, it will likely be at the expense of one of the most popular Padres in history. In an exclusive chat with, Knott discusses that pressure, along with defense, strike outs, and Ichiro.

James Renwick:  You got a cup of coffee last season with the Padres, how big was that?

Jon Knott:  It totally changed my perspective on everything.  First of all it showed me that I can play at that level, and at the same time it was a dream coming true, but the biggest thing was that I can play there and I belong there.  It was incredible to go to the places I went and play at the parks I played at.  I had only seen Yankee stadium on TV.

James Renwick:  You've got huge power potential, does PetCo Park scare you since that's your strength?

Jon Knott:  I think it helps me actually.  It gives me an advantage over those guys with in-between power numbers.  Depending on what park they are going to they might be able to fill a team's need for power, but not for the Padres.  I don't think legit power hitters get hurt by PetCo as much as those in-between guys.  I have the power, the legit power, that eventually the Padres are going to need. 

James Renwick:  Is it even a bigger deal since the guy you might be replacing is Ryan Klesko?

Jon Knott:  I don't think so, but Klesko really is their guy.  I just look at it as very exciting, I've got big shoes to fill, but I've had that before.  When I went in to Mississippi State, I was following Raphael Palmeiro.  He did really well there, and it was the same thing, I was more excited about coming in after him than I was worried. 

James Renwick:  You're going to start at Triple-A, but you could be one of the first call ups for injury or to replace someone who isn't producing, will that make it hard to focus down in Portland?

Jon Knott:  No, and let me tell you why.  I don't follow that stuff at all.  I've always sort of been that way, but I got some great advice from [Padres minor league hitting coach] Rob Deer.  "Just go about your business," that's what he said to me, and I listened.  I'm like a horse with blinders on, I'm thinking about helping my team win and driving in runs.  They gave me some things to work on, mainly last year it was my defense, and they say that's improved a lot, and that's all I can do is keep working and getting better.  I'm not really looking at injury reports because when you start doing that you start struggling.  The way these things work is that when you least think you're getting called up you get called up.  It's like being traded, at the deadline your name is everywhere and everybody says you're being traded and then it never happens. 

James Renwick:  What the biggest thing you learned this Spring?

Jon Knott:  There wasn't really a ‘biggest thing.'  I picked up a lot of little things, I guess one big thing is the confidence that I could play at the big league level.  Last year it was "Wow, I'm playing with Ichiro!"  This year it's "Okay it's Ichiro, but I'm here to do my thing." 

James Renwick:  Was there a focus of the offseason?

Jon Knott:  My defense is an ongoing thing.  This winter I really tried to improve my arm strength, take more balls in the outfield, get more reps everywhere, all over the outfield.  At the same time though, if you stop hitting for a week you can lose your timing, and that's the last thing anybody wanted.  That's what the Padres like in me, is my bat, but at the same time there's that huge park.  They need guys to rundown balls, and I want to make sure I'm not allowing more runs than I'm driving in.

James Renwick:  Are you frustrated you haven't really gotten the opportunity yet, or are you just looking at it as a situation where you know you're going to get your chance eventually?

Jon Knott:  That's the thing, you have to take it that way.  There are guys who've done it at Triple-A forever, and they've never gotten a chance, I know how tough it is, but I know that if I go out and do my job I will get the opportunity.

James Renwick:  Anyone you've learned from this spring?

Jon Knott:  Rob Deer has been the best, and Dave Magadan has worked with me some.  As far as the players Mark Sweeney has really helped me out this year, he's helped me with stuff like pinch hitting, because I know I'm going to have to do that and I really wasn't comfortable last year.

James Renwick:  Are your high strikeout totals a problem for the organization, or do they view that as something that comes with power?

Jon Knott:  They haven't specifically said anything one way or another.  What they have told me is that they expect a quality at bat, every at bat, for 500 or 600 at bats a season.  They told me, "We know you're going to drive in runs and hit home runs," and they haven't said don't K.  I think I'm not as concerned because I'm a power guy and I've been a good average guy before.  I won a batting title a couple years ago and I felt like I never struck out, and then I go to Mobile and I felt like I struck out a bunch of times. 

James Renwick:  Scout yourself, what are your biggest strengths and weaknesses?

Jon Knott:  My biggest strength has got to be consistency as far as driving in runs and hitting homers year after year, day after day.  My biggest weakness would have to be defense, I've improved a lot, but I'm never going to be Carl Crawford chasing it down out there.  It's funny though, I'm not as slow as I thought, it kinda feels good after the work I put in this winter when we're running I guess I kinda don't look like I'm running that well because I'm a little lanky and I've got really long strides, but I'm not finishing dead last or anything, so I guess the work is paying off. 

James Renwick:  You've gone from a non-drafted free agent to a potential major leaguer, did you ever think that would happen?

Jon Knott:  No way, it's crazy man.  When I went to tryout out of college I remember thinking how could I not get drafted, I did well in college, and I had this kinda minor injury.  I remember thinking I'm going to make this team, but really, I don't ever think playing in the Majors was in my head.


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