High school baseball teams across the state never got the opportunity to take the field for competition this spring due to the coronavirus pandemic, but that didn’t stop Malakhi Knight from being recognized for his immense talent on the diamond.
Knight, a Marysville Getchell junior, was named the 2019-2020 Gatorade Washington Baseball Player of the Year on Thursday, as the well-known sports drink company continued to honor prep athletes across the country despite the cancellation of their spring sports seasons.
“It’s obviously a big honor,” Knight said. “… For me to be named to it without even playing, that kind of means something because it shows people know I’m good.”
Knight is the first Snohomish County product to earn award since Jackson’s Travis Snider in 2006, and the first Wesco competitor since Shorewood’s Trevor Mitsui in 2011.
“I’ve been fortunate enough to play with a lot of great players and see a lot of great players in my time in baseball,” said Marysville Getchell coach Gabriel Rochon in a press release from Gatorade. “Malakhi is easily one of the best I’ve been around. Anything he wants to do on the diamond is achievable.”
🚨🚨🚨🚨🚨🚨🚨🚨🚨🚨🚨🚨@MalakhiKnight has been named Gatorade WA Player of the Year! Although we did not get a season @Gatorade has still honored players around the nation! https://t.co/Vi8uNceV1t pic.twitter.com/5eg5e4rKa2
— Bolts Baseball (@MGBoltsBaseball) May 21, 2020
Knight, a 6-foot-4 outfielder, hasn’t played much more than a year of high school baseball. After being named second-team All-Wesco North his freshman season, the Oregon State University commit missed all but four games during his sophomore campaign.
The lack of playing experience in high school games doesn’t matter much for Knight, though. He’s had plenty of chances to wow scouts during summer ball and high-level showcases with his all-around skill-set that has him projected as a legitimate five-tool prospect.
Ranked as the No. 20 prospect in the country for the Class of 2021 by Baseball America, Knight was nothing short of spectacular on his way to being named the Most Outstanding Player of the 2019 Underclass Area Code Games, one of the country’s premier showcases for high school baseball players.
“That was one of the best experiences of my life,” Knight said. “It was just so fun all around. And I think I kind of proved to myself that I could play with other kids from around the country and different states, not just Washington. So I think I kind of proved myself with having that performance down there.”
Knight delivered a stat line that would make longtime Seattle Mariner on-base-machine Edgar Martinez proud. Knight reached base in all nine of his plate appearances, going 3-for-3 with a home run and a whopping six walks.
“I don’t think I got pitched around. I think it just ended up happening,” said Knight, who recalls walking in his first five plate appearances at the showcase. “I was just trying and stay patient up there and not be reaching for pitches and chasing pitches out of the zone. I was just trying to stay within myself and take what comes to me.”
In February, Knight was in the midst of leading Marysville Getchell’s boys basketball program to its most successful season. He was named The Herald’s 2019-2020 Boys Basketball Player of the Year for his efforts.
While he was dominating Wesco opponents on the hardwood, Knight ended up adding another impressive achievement to his list of baseball accolades.
He was invited to play in the second annual MLB Prospect Development Pipeline League, a showcase of the top 80 high school juniors in the country put on by Major League Baseball and USA Baseball. The top 40 performers from the league were to be selected to play in an All-American game during MLB All-Star weekend in Los Angeles, but the league was canceled on April 30 due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
Knight received a personalized invitation to the league on Twitter from former Mariner Harold Reynolds. Last year, former MLB stars Derek Jeter, Barry Larkin, Chipper Jones and Ryan Howard served as team captains for the PDP teams.
— Malakhi (@MalakhiKnight) February 21, 2020
“That was a huge deal,” Knight said of the invitation. “It was probably the biggest event of the summer I was going to go to.”
Knight’s future on the baseball field looks to be very bright. He has the potential to be a high draft pick in next year’s MLB draft.
Last year’s Gatorade Player of the Year from Washington, Corbin Carroll of Lakeside, went in the first round with the No. 16 overall pick to the Arizona Diamondbacks.
“I think recently it’s been kind of coming into more of a reality to me,” Knight said of potentially being an early-round draft pick next year. “I’m kind of realizing I can actually do this by winning some of the awards, especially this Gatorade one really shows that I could potentially be a first-round pick or a second-round pick or something like that. But yeah, I’m starting to have more hope for that and it’s becoming more real for me.”
If Knight were to go off the board in the first couple of rounds next year, he’ll have to decide whether he wants to go pro or play college baseball at Oregon State. He said he hasn’t given much thought about that choice at this point.
“It’s obviously a big decision,” he said. “I think that will all play out when I get drafted. There will be a lot that goes into deciding if I wanna go pro or if I want to go to college.”
Until then, Knight is looking forward to getting back on the field with his high school teammates next season.
“After next year when it’s all said and done, I’m only gonna get like two out of four years playing high school baseball,” he said, “and high school baseball is always a great time. So I’m really excited for next year and to see how we do.”