Nash Knight was promoted to Vancouver in 2016 after hitting .402 with Bluefield.
Nash Knight and the Dark Knight have something in common – both have a lot of tools in their tool belts. The 2016 Vancouver Canadians utilityman is looking to add to his positional versatility by donning the tools of ignorance to round out his resume of playing on all four corners of the diamond.
Playing at first, second and third base, Knight wore the catcher’s gear for the first time during the Toronto Blue Jays instructional league session last fall and wore it again for two innings for the Lansing Lugnuts in a game against the Lake County Captains April 15. In an interview on LansingLugnuts.com last month, the 24 year-old from Denton, Texas said he only caught occasionally as a youngster and in high school.
“Catching’s not an easy position but we got Ken Huckaby, who’s our catching coordinator, and he does a great job of simplifying everything,” Knight said. “He’s taught me a lot as well as guys like (pitching coordinator) Jeff Ware and then other catchers in the organization so they’ve made it about as easy a transition as it could be. I’m learning more every single day. I’m really glad I did that because I’m learning more about the game. I think it helps me out as hitter, as a position player and as a teammate.”
Knight sees the opportunity of being a catcher as another way to help his team.
“I want to be a good teammate every single day. I want to come out and help my guys get better,” Knight said. “As far as being a catcher, I think you can do that really easily with your pitchers. You can tell them what they need to hear and at the same time, let them know them that they’re doing a good job.”
“Other than that, I just want to play hard. A lot of times you can’t control the results that you have during the game. You can hit four balls hard and still get out four times. I want to control the things I can control and I want to have a good perspective in baseball. I think just keeping in mind that baseball isn’t who I am, it’s something that I do…It’s a fun game but my goals aren’t really result-oriented.”
Knight signed with the Blue Jays as a free-agent out of Dallas Baptist University, the same school where Toronto infielder Ryan Goins attended. It was also where his older brother Austin was a Patriots infielder from 2007-2010. The elder Knight was named the new hitting coach of the Everett AquaSox last December after serving as head coach of Northeast Texas Community College.
Nash Knight started his pro career with the Gulf Coast League Blue Jays in 2015 and lined a single to left field in his first at-bat June 22. The switch-hitter had a trio of five-game hitting streaks and he hit his first home run August 5 but he didn’t get his batting average above the Mendoza Line until a three-hit game on the season’s final day August 29. He hit just .207 and slugged .286 but his on-base percentage was .331. He also homered twice and drove in 18 runs.
It was on to Bluefield in 2016 and Knight took the Appalachian League by storm by hitting .402 with an on-base-plus-slugging percentage of 1.060. He started the year with an 11-game on-base streak. In that stretch was two games with three RBI each, including a career-high four-hit effort on July 1 and his first home run with the Bluef-Jays against the Elizabethton Twins on July 2. He ran off a seven-game hitting streak that included four two-hit games in a row.
Nash Knight helped Vancouver to a walk-off win in his first game July 30, 2016.
That earned Knight a promotion to Vancouver where he got his first hit in his first at-bat with the C’s against the Tri-City Dust Devils at Nat Bailey Stadium July 30. He would be instrumental in helping the home side record a walk-off win in his last at-bat. The 6-foot-0 Knight had a three-game hit streak to start his Northwest League career but his average dropped to .148 before enjoying another three-game hit streak. He went 8-for-13 against the Hillsboro Hops, capped off by a four-hit game at Ron Tonkin Field August 15. Knight would get on base at least once in his last eight games with the C’s, finishing with a batting line of .261/.340/.372 with no home runs and 12 RBI compared to three dingers and 23 driven in with Bluefield.
Nash Knight saw time in left field for Vancouver last season.
This season, Knight hit and slugged just .257 with Lansing in April but got on base at a .422 clip. He was placed on the disabled list and wound up missing most of May. When he returned, he was a member of the Dunedin Blue Jays and made an immediate impact with a walk-off double in a two-hit effort to help the D-Jays down the Fort Myers Miracle May 25. He had another two-hit game, including a game-winning single in a victory over the Lakeland Flying Tigers May 29. Knight batted .222 in his six-game trial with Dunedin before being returned to Lansing near the beginning of June. He had his best game of the season Monday night with three hits and two runs batted in against the Fort Wayne Wizards. His two-run single in the seventh gave the Lugnuts the lead for good.
Knight has shown an outstanding eye at the plate with a walk rate that has been above double digits, save for his stint in Dunedin when he walked over a respectable eight percent of the time. With the Lugnuts, he has walked nearly 18 percent of the time and his line drive rate is just above 24 percent, above his career-best 22.5 percent with Bluefield. However, his strikeout rate is 25 percent and that is roughly 10 percent more than his rate in Bluefield and Vancouver last year.
So far, Nash Knight has risen as high as Dunedin in the minor league chain. He hopes to emulate fellow Dallas Baptist Patriot and Chicago Cubs utilityman Ben Zobrist in his drive for the majors.