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Interview with Marcus Knecht: Toronto-kid trying to play for the home team

Interview with Marcus Knecht: Toronto-kid trying to play for the home team

August 22, 2011

Marcus Knecht is living the dream of any Canadian baseball player. He’s playing professional ball in the Toronto Blue Jays’ organization.

“It’s exciting knowing that one day you could go back home. I think about it every day,” says Knecht, referring to his hometown of Toronto.

So far this season, Marcus Knecht is hitting.287 with 15 homers and 78 RBI

Knecht is swinging the bat well for the Jays class ‘A’ affiliate, the Lansing Lugnuts. Through 108 games this season, he is hitting .287 and showing great power as the 21-year-old has already swatted 15 homers and collected 78 RBI. This season he played in the Midwest League All-Star game and competed in the Home Run Derby. He also showed his power last weekend, when he hit grand slams on back-to-back nights.

This power enables this former Connors State Cowboy to be an integral part of the Lugnuts post season run. Lansing will take part in the 2011 Midwest League playoffs as a result of being the season`s first half wild card winner.

It can often be a challenge for Canadian ball players to land a Division 1 scholarship in the NCAA. However, a couple years back, Knecht had his break while playing at the Perfect Game baseball tournament in Jupiter Florida as a member of the Ontario Blue Jays at both 16 and 17 year old. It was there he was seen by the Oklahoma State University Cowboys, where he played Division 1 ball for a couple of season before transferring over to Connors State.

While attending College in the summer of 2009, Knecht made a stop playing in the Intercounty Baseball League for the Oshawa Dodgers. That summer he clocked 6 homers in 21 games and was third on the team in batting average hitting .349. This excellent season entitled him as, ‘Rookie of the Year.’

“The competition was good, some guys played pro [prior to playing in the IBL]. They threw pretty hard, maybe not as a hard as the guys here [in the Midwest League], but their stuff was good location-wise and experience-wise. ”

Knecht said he enjoyed playing in the IBL because it gave him a chance to play with some of the guys he played with growing up. “Playing with all the guys that I played with growing up was awesome,” recalls Knecht.

When asked about his favourite park to play in while in the IBL, Knecht said he was most comfortable playing in his home park in Oshawa. But, the former Dodger did have one road park that he remembered well. That park was Christie Pitts where center field is only 355 feet deep.

“I remember playing there looking out to center field trying to hit a homer every time and I never did,” joked Knecht.

Last year, Knecht was a 3rd round selection of the Toronto Blue Jays and decided to sign a contract soon after so he could begin his professional career. He had some advice from former Ontario Blue Jays coach Dan Bleiwas who advised him to sign early and get his professional baseball career started.

“You can wait and try and get hundreds of thousands of dollars more, but in the end experience is all that matters,” says the Toronto native.

Upon signing, Knecht played in 61 games with the Auburn Doubledays of the New York Penn League. There, he batted .268 and hit 5 homers.

Even after the grind of his first taste of pro-ball he wasn’t satisfied so he rented an apartment at Front and Spadina, in Toronto. For those not familiar with the city its walking distance to the Rogers Centre. Knecht would head to the Rogers Centre daily for off-season workouts in the batting cage by himself. “I didn`t have any coaches, I just went there and got my stuff done,” said the aspiring Major Leaguer.

If all goes well for Knecht soon enough he’d be putting work in at the Rogers Centre for the big league team.

JaysProspects would like to thank Marcus Knecht for his time and wish him the best of luck in the future.