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Yorktown grad plays waiting game regarding Major League draft

Right-hander Knowles had strong season for William & Mary
Yorktown High School graduate Nate Knowles had a standout season on the mound for William & Mary this past spring season.

Now it’s an anxious waiting game for Nate Knowles.

The Yorktown High School graduate has  done all he can to be well prepared and set up for this month’s upcoming Major League Baseball draft, which begins July 14. The hard-throwing right-handed pitcher is projected to be chosen anywhere from the third round or lower.

Knowles’ draft potential is lofty because of the strong season he amassed for the College of William & Mary baseball team during the spring. He was the ace and leader of the pitching staff, compiling an 8-3 record and a 2.48 earned run average. Knowles threw a busy 80 innings, striking out 112, with batters hitting just .178 against him. All 19 of his appearances were starts.

Knowles was chosen as the Coastal Athletic Association’s Pitcher of the Year, earned first-team all-region honors and received All-America recognition.

“I got off to a good start this season and set a good example for the rest of the staff,  Knowles told the GazetteLeader. “That’s what I wanted to do. I kept pitching, staying simple and in my routine and trying not to look ahead.”

For this career at William and Mary, Knowles won 15 games, worked 172 innings with 204 strikeouts and 37 starts.

If selected, Knowles will be the first Yorktown baseball player chosen in the Major League draft.

“I had a good season for William & Mary, so now it’s let the chips fall where they may,” Knowles said. “I feel good physically, my confidence is high after a good college season, and I’m ready to start a professional baseball career.”

If drafted, Knowles said he will sign.

He already has participated in some dozen interviews with Major League teams as part of the league’s pre-draft combine.

Knowles had considered playing in the famed Cape Cod league this summer to keep his pitching fresh, but was advised otherwise after throwing 80 innings during the college campaign.

Knowles grew up in Arlington playing baseball in the county’s Babe Ruth League, prior to his high-school career. At Yorktown, Knowles was the Liberty District’s Player of the Year his senior season and a first-team all-region selection.

"He is a phenomenal kid and person," said John Skaggs, Knowles' head coach at Yorktown. "He made the varsity as a freshman, so we knew he had a lot of big potential as a hitter and pitcher."

Longtime former Yorktown assistant coach Kip Davis agreed.

“When I saw him as a freshman, I felt like he had the talent and work ethic to go places,” Davis said. “His progression as a player was better than others in his class.”

There are professional baseball genes in Knowles’ family. His father, Greg, played at the University of Miami, then professionally in the Baltimore Orioles and St. Louis Cardinals organizations.

“He has provided me with a lot of great advice and tips about pitching, the game and how to be prepared for what’s ahead,” Knowles said about his father.