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Knapp talks baseball

By Michael Butler

When it comes to knowing what Major League Baseball teams are looking for, MLB scouts know. Davis Knapp should know. He is one.

Knapp broke into the bigs in 2020 with the Milwaukee Brewers organization after a college coaching role at Albany State. Today, he is a scout for the Miami Marlins.

"I got lucky," said Knapp. "The Marlins had an opening. We call it the 'Deep South' in scouting. I'm responsible for Alabama, Mississippi, the Florida Panhandle. We claim West Tennessee, but I go all the way over to the timeline."

A typical day includes traveling from park to park and watching lots of baseball with professional prospects - of course.

"There's not a lot of shade at these facilities," he joked. "It's definitely hot."

Knapp graduated at THS in 2011. Four years later, he finished up his baseball playing career at South Alabama with a degree in hand. After the stint in coaching, he got the opportunity to try scouting.

"It may be cliche, but it's true. You know somebody who knows somebody. I was coaching in Georgia and my pitching coach at South Alabama got let go and jumped into a scouting job with the Mariners. He called me and said, 'I think you'd be good a this.' Long story short, I saw the posting with the Brewers. I shot it to him. Within 20 minutes I had the phone number of the guy who ended up being my boss."

There is a lot to evaluate - not just the baseball, Knapp noted.

"I've got to get to know these guys not only as players but who they are off the field, get in homes and meet with families. That side has been really refreshing to me."

Just like at the plate, there are hits and misses.

"Your assessment on whether you're right or wrong may not come for eight, ten or twelve years. You say a guy's an everyday big leaguer out of high school. If he makes it at 28 and plays three years as an everyday guy, you were right. But it took you ten years to get that answer."

Knapp talked about when Major League teams start focusing on players.

"Professional scouts are not scouting 12-year-old travel ball tournaments or 14-year-old travel ball tournaments. Nor are we really scouting 15-year-old travel ball tournaments. The majority of scouting goes on the summer before your draft year. That'd be the summer for a rising senior for next year. The college recruiting starts sooner."

Thanks to social media and other technologies, getting the scoop on the next batch of great players has become more accessible.

"In today's world, if you're good enough we'll know about you," Knapp concluded.