Malakhi Knight is going the college baseball route.
The recently graduated Marysville Getchell High School star announced Sunday night on Twitter that he withdrew his name from the Major League Baseball draft and will play Pac-12 ball for UCLA.
Knight was widely considered a top-100 prospect in this year’s draft class, as well as the top prospect from Washington state. His decision to play Division I baseball means he’ll be eligible for the draft again after his junior year of college.
“After much thought, I’ve decided to take myself out of the 2021 MLB draft,” Knight tweeted at 10:15 p.m. Sunday after the conclusion of the draft’s opening night. “I’d like to thank all of the scouts who have followed me to this point. I’m looking forward to the next 3 years at UCLA. #GoBruins”
Knight’s announcement came about 2 1/2 hours after the conclusion of the draft’s opening night, which consisted of the first 36 picks. The draft resumed Monday with rounds 2-10 and concludes Tuesday with rounds 11-20.
Knight said in a phone interview Monday that he and his adviser had a signing-bonus dollar amount they were looking for. He said that after talking with various teams on Sunday, it seemed unlikely he was going to get that amount.
“It wasn’t looking like I was going to get the number I wanted to. It was like a very small chance,” Knight said. “… So then I just talked with my family and my adviser, and I was kind of leaning toward college the whole time. And I didn’t really want to miss college, and so it kind of worked out perfectly in the end. And so I’m happy to be going to college, and then I can re-enter (the draft) in three years.”
After much thought, I’ve decided to take myself out of the 2021 MLB draft. I’d like to thank all of the scouts who have followed me to this point. I’m looking forward to the next 3 years at UCLA. #GoBruins💙💛
— Malakhi (@MalakhiKnight) July 12, 2021
Each draft pick in the first 10 rounds comes with an assigned value for the signing bonus of the player taken in that spot. Teams can go over or under those assigned values for individual players. But based on those assigned values, franchises have a total pool value for the first 10 rounds that they can’t exceed without incurring a penalty.
The assigned value for the first pick of the second round in this year’s draft — pick No. 37 — is $1,999,300. The assigned value for the final pick of the third round — pick No. 101 — is $577,000.
“The baseball draft is a lot different than the NFL or the NBA draft,” Joe Doyle, the MLB draft director for Prospects Live, said last week. “It’s not so much take the best player available. It’s take the player that makes sense financially with your bonus pool that fits into that slot.
“(The players’) advisers are helping them develop a number that they’re worth,” he added, “and it’s up to the teams to meet that number and make it fit in the budget.”
Knight was one of several potential early-round picks who recently withdrew from the draft and chose to play for UCLA instead. The others were pitcher Thatcher Hurd (MLB.com’s No. 60 draft prospect), shortstop Cody Schrier (MLB.com’s No. 63) and outfielder Nick McLain (MLB.com’s No. 142).
Knight originally committed to Oregon State just prior to his sophomore year of high school, but decommitted from the Beavers last fall after a coaching change. Shortly after that, he committed to UCLA. The Bruins went 37-20 this past season and reached the NCAA Tournament.
“We have a really, really special (recruiting) class,” Knight said. “… I think we have one of the best, if not the best recruiting class in the nation. So I’m just excited to see what we can do and to see if we can hopefully make a run at (the College World Series in) Omaha.”
Knight said the NCAA’s new name, image and likeness rules — which allow athletes to profit from endorsements and other business ventures in the multi-billion dollar industry of college athletics without losing their eligibility — didn’t have an impact on his decision.
“That’s a plus, but that didn’t even have a role in my choice,” he said.
Knight, who was a two-sport star at Marysville Getchell in baseball and basketball, had a strong finish to his prep career in both sports during this spring’s condensed high school seasons. He recently was named The Herald’s All-Area Boys Basketball Player of the Year for the second consecutive season.
Knight participated in the first-ever MLB Combine last month and is currently playing collegiate summer ball for the Bellingham Bells of the West Coast League.
“My ultimate goal is to make the big leagues some day,” he said in a phone interview last week. “I think that’s every kid’s dream (who grows) up playing baseball. … But it’s obviously gonna be a long process. It’s gonna be a lot of hard work, a lot of failure and stuff like that. But I’m ready for it.”