Knecht has home town dreams

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Marcus Knecht

* OF Marcus Knecht (Toronto, Ont.) hopes to some day play for his hometown team at the Rogers Centre — and before that the Pan-Am Games this summer in Ajax, Ont. as Canada defends its gold medal from Mexico in 2011. ….

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Blue Jay Marcus Knecht ready to defend the gold for Canada
Toronto native would be thrilled to wear red and white at Pan Am Games

By Joe Narsa
DUNEDIN, Fla. – Blue Jays prospect Marcus Knecht  is ready to go gold mining this summer.

Knecht of the Dunedin Blue Jays, the single-A affiliate of the Toronto Blue Jays, is ready to reunite with the Canadian national team to defend the gold at the Pan American Games this summer in Ajax.

The 24-year-old knows how special it is to play for Canada and his enthusiasm was apparent at the Bobby Mattick Training Center.

“I would be honoured,” said Knecht standing outside at the Bobby Mattick Training Center, the minor-league facility of the Blue Jays. “I’m a big supporter of Team Canada and I hope I get picked up.”

Knecht has a strong connection with the Canadian baseball program. The outfielder was named to the tournament all-star team in 2008 at the World Junior Baseball Championship and won bronze at the 2011 World Cup.

His biggest achievement with the Canadian baseball team was winning gold at the 2011 Pan Am Games, a memory he treasures.

“The team was already really close,” said Knecht. “It was good to be a part of a winning team.”

Most Canadians dream of playing for a Stanley Cup or the Olympic gold medal in hockey, but in Toronto, many understand the magic of baseball.

Knecht felt the passion of the old summer pastime deep within his veins, for no reason other than it was just a part of him.

“It was always baseball,” said Knecht. “I don’t know how to explain it … it was baseball all the way.”

He had a slugging percentage of .388, 100 hits and an on base percentage of .328 with Dunedin in 2014. He raised his OBP 31 points last season thanks to a change in his plate approach.

Knecht reduced his strikeouts from 146 in 2012 to 87 in 2014 shrinking his strikeout percentage to 21.75%.

“I took that to heart and I knew my strikeout rate was high,” said Knecht. “if you just lock it and focus up and have the mindset, they won’t get you out”

The Blue Jays outfield underwent a transformation in the off-season, as Colby Rasmus and Melky Cabrera signed with the Houston Astros and Chicago White Sox, respectively.

Cabrera’s replacement, Michael Saunders, has gone down with an early season injury, while Dalton Pompey, Rasmus’ replacement, is a talented but unproven rookie.

Toronto’s question marks in the outfield could give Knecht some opportunities within the organization. When asked if he could move up in the ranks, Knecht believed he’s primed to take advantage of the chance.

“Yeah, for sure,” said Knecht. “I just have to stick to what I got to do. Focus on the game and help teams win.”

Being a part of the only Canadian franchise in Major League Baseball is a unique situation for all players but it is a special feeling for those that are from the north.

Knecht’s birth certificate and roots in Canadian baseball have allowed him to enjoy his time with the Blue Jays, but the former Ontario Blue Jays and Oshawa Dodger is excited to begin his career at the Rogers Centre.

“It’s awesome, it’s good to identify as a Canadian player with a Canadian team, said Knecht. “I can’t wait for it.”

    Follow @JoeyNarsa50 on Twitter

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