By BEN JOHNSON
A lot of people have helped guide Dusten Knight throughout his baseball career. Yet, his parents — Lisa and Duncan — rank atop his mentor list.
“The person I would credit (the most throughout my career) would have to be my mom,” Knight said. “She was always there to give me words, whether it was humbling me after I pitched a great game or lifting me up when I pitched bad. My dad was my first baseball coach back in tee ball. Ever since then he has been there to help me whether [it was] going outside to take ground balls or just to play catch in the front yard.
“He taught me everything I know.”
So when Knight saw he had been drafted by the San Francisco Giants with the 852nd pick in the recent Major League Baseball draft, it was no surprise who his first phone call was to.
“As soon as I found out, I called my mom right away, and before she finishing saying hello I yelled, ‘I JUST GOT DRAFTED!’” Knight said. “We both were just ecstatic and couldn’t believe it. She was talking about how proud she was of me, and I wasn’t saying anything. It felt like a dream.”
The first two days of the MLB draft had come and gone without Knight — a 6-foot, 180-pound right-handed pitcher who starred at Tahlequah during his high school career — having his name appear on the draft tracker. But on the third day, and in the 28th round, Knight saw his name appear moments after Joe Bennie of East Stroudsburg University (Pa.) went to Oakland.
“I was speechless,” Knight said. “I just threw my hands up and smiled from ear to ear. It was the most incredible feeling in the world.”
When the draft rolled around, Knight wasn’t sure what to expect.
“I was hoping that I would get drafted,” he said. “I had talked to a couple of scouts on and off throughout the year, but I wasn’t really expecting the Giants. Although, that would be my team of choice if I could pick, anyway.”
Knight, during a conversation with the Tahlequah Daily Press, said he was already in Arizona and was primed to begin his professional career with the Giants after signing his contract.
“Right now the plan is playing in the AZL (Arizona Rookie League) for the AZL Giants,” Knight said.
After posting a 3.58 earned run average with 96 strikeouts during his senior season at Texas-Pam American, Knight became the 33rd Bronc to ever be drafted out of the south Texas institution, which is rougly 20 miles from the Mexican border. He was also the 17th Texas Pan-American pitcher taken and the first since the St. Louis Cardinals selected Roberto Gomez in 2006.
“Being one of the only few players from Pan-Am being drafted is very special to me,” said Knight, who was the first Bronc to be drafted by the Giants. “The players that go there are very talented and [are] hard workers, but players just aren’t being taken. So knowing that there are a lot of great players that go there and hardly anyone gets picked up, [it] makes getting picked up all the more special.”
Attempting to become only the fifth-ever player to make it to the big leagues out of Texas-Pan American, Knight said it’s all about having the right mindset.
“I need to stay focused and driven,” said Knight, who logged 78 innings while sporting a 5-4 record for the 28-30 Broncs in 2013.
“Also, I need to stay humble. The road once you get into the minors is long and hard, but with a positive attitude and a never-quit attitude, I think that will help a player get to the bigs.”