The age-old adage is that defense wins championships. The Knights went with this strategy when selecting players in this year’s amateur draft. We will break down each pick the team made, along with exclusive content from team personnel.
1st Round: SS Cayman Richardson (Cal Poly University)
The months leading up to the draft, the Knights were sending someone to watch Cayman Richardson and Florida University second baseman Dylan Bohnert every game they played. Former scout Dan Kantrovitz, newly hired scout Jeff Clement, bench coach Dino Abel, assisstant general manager Rubén Gómez and even general manager Matt Wells were all in attendance for several games played by each of these talented young players. Similar in playing style, they are entirely different people. Bohnert grew up in Bridgeton, New Jersey, the town next to Mike Trout’s hometown. Growing up with freezing, snowy winters, Bohnert spent much of his time in middle school and high school throwing a ball off of the wall and fielding it in his garage, until his mother would yell at him that he’d put a hole in the wall. He also did many footwork drills, and had a small gym in his basement where he worked out. He was a small kid, which is why he played second base for so many years, but his freshman year of college he grew 8 inches, to be 6’4″, and put on a ton of weight as well, getting up to 210 pounds. His college coach, Jose Zapata, then started playing Dylan at third base and shortstop, as he may have been their best option at both of those positions as well. When the Knights talked with Zapata, he said that Dylan was a quiet type, really kept to himself, and if he wasn’t working out or at practice, he was at the school library studying for an upcoming exam. Although only at college for three years, he got his degree in psychology. Cayman on the other hand, grew up in San Luis Obispo, California, the city that his future college was in. He grew to 6’0″ at a young age, and was always the best player on his teams, so he played shortstop for his entire life. He was so good defensively there, Max Gray, his college coach, left him there. It paid off, as the, now, three-time draftee, won the Gold Glove there in 2019, and finished in 3rd for the Golden Bar voting. When asked, Cayman credits it to his “good vibes and positive energy” as he is heavy into meditation and yoga. He also rarely went to class, but still maintained a high-grade point average, working his way towards a degree in English. A lover of writing, he often wrote the write ups for the team’s games, adding a touch of beauty to it. Named team captain as a freshman, Cayman is a loud vocal player, constantly pumping up his team and the crowd.
The Knights had many team meetings to talk about the upcoming draft, which often included who would be their first pick, if both were available come the 18th pick. The talks went back and forth, with both players taking the top spot at some point. When asked, general manager Matt Wells said of both “they’re elite defensive players, who both have upside as hitters, it’s just a matter of when they make the CBL, not if they do”. Ultimately, Dylan Bohnert was taken 14th, so now if Cayman fell to the Knights, it was a no-brainer for the team. Thankfully, he did, and the team got the man they wanted, as they think his defense may be even better than Bohnert’s, and like his hitting slightly more as well.
Cayman may never develop into a top hitter in this league. He may not even become the best hitter on his own team. But the Knights selected him for two things: mental approach and defensive abilities. When they did a private workout with Richardson, they worked him at second base, shortstop, third base, left field and right field. And he impressed everywhere. Whether it be sliding to his right and firing from a knee at second base, or making jump throws deep in the whole at shortstop, or fielding a ball in foul territory and planting to fire a laser across the diamond at third, or fielding a bouncer “through” the middle, while spinning and throwing to a waiting glove at first base. Anything hit on the ground near this kid was fielded and thrown on a line to first base, or second base where he turned beautiful double plays. Then came the pop ups. When taking them in the infield, he tracked them down wonderfully, ranging deep into the outfield or foul territory to make the play. Then in the outfield, he struggled on his first step, often times going the wrong way, but made up for it with solid speed, and he did not drop a single ball, every one landing softly in the webbing of his glove. When asked to throw, he displayed one of the most beautiful crow hops the team had seen and every throw was a low one-hop to the glove right above the bag. The team was sold on him right then. Then during his batting practice round, where he faced several CBL players and top prospects, he routinely hit the ball to the gaps, but also displayed good plate discipline and awareness of the strike zone.
Then came his interview with the team, where he really stood out from the rest. Constantly talking of his mother, who had raised him by herself after an accident to Cayman’s father when he was still in the womb, he said everything he did was to become the person that his father would be proud of, and he wanted to take care of his mother after all her years of taking care of him. When asked about his workout schedule, Cayman was in every day, lifting weights six days a week, doing body weight the other day and cardio all seven days a week. He wants to take advantage of all six feet he was given, and he has done just that as he is lean, but he is very muscular. He also goes to church weekly, and the main reason to stay so close to home for college was to have dinner with his mother twice a week, Tuesdays and Saturdays. He is also a strong advocate against driving under the influence, as his father was killed in a car crash with a drunk driver. Although Cayman never knew him, he hears all the stories about what an amazing guy his father was, who was actually returning home from volunteer work at the local food shelter, where Cayman, once he was old enough, volunteered at every Thursday and Sunday. Cayman donates to the food shelter often, and recently started a service that pays for the taxis of people who leave bars drunk, and Cayman and other friends go to pick up the person’s car and drive it home for them. He is a community man, a family man, and a team player.
After being drafted, he was asked what his thoughts were. His response: “What time is lift and when can me and my Mom go looking for houses?” Be on the lookout for him to progress through the system quickly, and possibly be on the Knights roster come September 2021.
Second Round: RF Terrence Boudreaux (Torrance High School)
The Knights decided to go with a high schooler with their second round pick. A remedial student, Boudreaux is not the brightest kid, or so it would seem. His problem is he never goes to class, he just skips and goes to the batting cage, where he hits close to 5,000 baseballs a day. In his four years of high school, he spent close to 10,000 hours total at the cage, around 7 hours a day. After his first semester of high school, his guidance counselor called him in, asking why he missed almost every day that semester, he simply smiled his slightly crooked smile, and said “I’m gonna get drafted.”
When he does make it to class, he’s charming, which is why his teachers love him. Also since he is in remedial classes, he is able to pass (most) of his classes, even without any studying or any work whatsoever. He’s also had a girlfriend since his sophomore year, the school valedictorian, Jessica Devereaux, who he intends to marry following his first season as a professional baseball player. Jessica is his coach’s daughter, and he approves of their relationship. “Although Terrence never goes to class, he’s such a good kid, he knows how to treat a girl, a teammate, a family member, an elder, he knows how to be respectful, and he’s a charming young kid. As long as he’s not interfering with her classes, he’s allowed to date her. Unless of course he goes 0-4, but that would never happen.”
As a freshman, he was a measly 5’6″ and soaking wet he’d be lucky to weigh 120 pounds. Thinking he’d always be small, he worked on pitch selection constantly, learning the strike zone like the back of his hand. The pitches he knew as strikes, he worked on spraying them to the green grass on the field, hitting the lines and the gaps constantly, then he would run, which he certainly could. He does strike out a lot though, as so much of his hitting was against batting practice fastballs, so he struggles against high velocities and sharp moving breaking pitches.
His junior year he started to grow, and by baseball season his senior year, he was 6’5″ and 190 pounds. Built as a spray hitter that could run, he continued playing this way, but began hitting balls further and further, ending up with 7 home runs in his senior year, to go along with his 12 stolen bases. Despite putting up his best numbers yet, he was still amazed that he heard his phone ringing to tell him he was drafted so early. He was so excited when he saw the caller ID from Charlotte, as he knew they were on the clock, he couldn’t answer himself, he just started running, all the way to the community pool three miles down the road where he dove in fully clothed. Once he got back to his house, he packed some underwear, socks, batting gloves and a few tank tops in a suitcase, kissed Jessica goodbye and hitchhiked to the airport. It was there that his mother called him to say that Charlotte would only be signing him if he completed high school, which meant summer school, and no skipping classes.
He went back, and although every hour at summer school he was day dreaming about being in the cage, he managed to pass everything, quickly too, enough that by the time he would be allowed to make his professional debut, he had already received his degree. He was told he will be starting the year in Hickory, as the team thinks his bat is advanced enough, but he will work a lot of pitch selection, seeing different pitches out of the hand, and playing defense.
Third Round: 3B António Hernández (Oregon State University)
Charlotte went back to the college ranks with their third round pick, but they picked a kid that still plays the game like he’s in Little League. May that be because he helped lead his Little League team to Williamsport, when he was only 11 years old, facing some kids who were already 13. It did help that at the time he was already 6’0″, only an inch shorter than his height now, 10 years later. Back then he was also throwing a 76 mile per hour fastball at that time, which the reaction time would be compared to that of a 100 mile per hour pitch at the CBL level. Combine that with his bat, which at the time he would routinely hit home runs, including 7 in 11 at bats in Williamsport, he was easily the top player in the tournament.
When he got to college, several teammates recognized his name, and would ask where he was from, thinking maybe they had played him in high school, or at a travel tournament. They were all puzzled when he lived nowhere near them, and hadn’t gone to any of the same tournaments. It wasn’t until several weeks in that his teammate, Pat Kennedy, realized where he knew Tony from, and decided one day, while watching film on an upcoming pitcher, to slip in a few clips from back in the glory days. Tony was immediately embarrassed, and tried hiding his face, before scurrying out of the room. He had always felt he was a disappointment, because he was supposed to lead his team to a state title, he was supposed to get drafted and become a superstar, but things just never really panned out for him. He still had the talent to play at the college level, and he did, winning to Gold Glove awards, and being named an All-Star once. He also hit 19 home runs in his college career, a fairly good number, good enough to put him 79th all time, despite only playing two seasons.
Although he never did live up to all the expectations, he still loves to play the game. He shows up each day with his old beaten glove, a dirty cap, and he’s ready to go. He profiles best as a third baseman, but he plays all over the field, infield, outfield, and he’s thrown in some intersquad games before. He just goes wherever coach will let him go, playing as much as he can.
While it’s a few years later than everyone hoped, but it appears as though Hernández will be signing a contract, thus becoming a professional baseball player. Whether he makes it to the CBL is yet to be seen, but he has the love and passion for the game, now just needs to see the on field results of his work.
Third Round: SS Dan Roberts (Pepperdine University)
Charlotte never actually got an opportunity to scout Roberts live, or interview him. They got all of their reports on him from an outside scouting consultant company that they work with each draft. The company, StatsLab, projects Roberts as a very solid defensive player, with a projectible bat. They think if his defense can pan out to where it profiles as, then his hard work and concentration batting may give him a good enough bat to become a utility fielder for a CBL team.
A perfectionist, Roberts works deep into the night on his footwork fielding, and catching fly balls, and his swing. He wants to know that any mistake is not a mechanical error, and very few are ever made because of it. He is also a professional rock climber, which is why he is often injured, usually nothing serious, but bangs and bruises that sometime get to be too much and he has to sit out. While he has signed to continue playing baseball, he has said he plans to continue climbing.
Fourth Round: CF Phil Hartwig (Louisville University)
A player that the Knights saw in highlight reels, Hartwig might be one of the best centerfielders out of college this year. Although he’ll never hit (he was actually pinch hit for all throughout high school and college) he does not let a ball drop in the outfield, and adds a strong-arm with it. He has been working on his hitting, and will likely spend several years in rookie ball developing his bat as he continues to take away hits from opposing teams.
Fifth Round: RF Ken Wilson (Baton Rouge High School)
The high contact hitter was a guy Charlotte had their eye on for a while now. A Louisiana State University commit, he was ready to go play in his hometown college. That was until Charlotte swooped in during the fifth round and offer him the signing bonus he wanted. He’ll be joining the Knights organization pending a physical, and they look for him to become a strong leadoff man, and hope he can be a player that hits for high average like he did in his senior year of high school. That year he batted .338, which caught Charlotte’s eye, as they’re always in the market for speedy leadoff guys. They also hope he can learn a position, as they don’t need another DH only hitter.
Seventh Round: RP Tim Thomas (Santa Monica High School)
Expect very little out of him, the Knights made a mistake and called the wrong Tim Thomas on their directory of draft-eligible players. The person in charge of crossing off already drafted players has been fired for not crossing off the Tim Thomas they thought they were drafting. The Knights offered a $1 signing bonus, and the youngster, realizing it was his only chance to play professional baseball jumped at the opportunity. The Knights are hoping maybe one of their coaches can turn him into a bona fide ace, but expect nothing out of him.
Ninth Round: SS Cisco Montaño (Texas Tech University)
The starting shortstop on the losing team of the National Championship, Montaño is also Ernesto Encarnación’s roommate for two straight years now. This was chosen because while Montaño is American, he is of Hispanic heritage, and speaks fluent Spanish, so he could help Ernesto communicate. He also comes from a family who has stuck with their heritage, so he understands the culture that Ernesto came from. While Ernesto was the star for the team this past year, he attributes a lot of his success to Montaño. Cisco helped Ernesto adapt to the United States in his first year, and they would do everything together, including countless hours at the cage and hitting each other balls to work on fielding. That’s part of why Cisco is such a fantastic defender, and using tips from Ernesto, he raised his batting average out of the .100’s close to 100 points higher, and then raised it again last year. While the Knights think he may develop, they hoped that by signing him, Ernesto may request a trade to the Knights to be with his best friend.
Sixth Round: CF Dave Sanders (Spring Valley High School)
Talks have broken off between Sanders and Charlotte, and he will go to college to continue his education and play collegiate baseball. Look for him to improve and possibly be an early round draft pick following graduation of college.
Eighth Round: CF Charlie Hicks (Hartford High School)
Talks have broken off between Hicks and Charlotte, and he will go to college to continue his education and play collegiate baseball. The team hoped to sign him, but feel this is the best decision for him, as a college education is extremely important, and he can continue playing baseball there and hope to be drafted again soon.
Tenth Round: C Joel Sellers (Louisville University)
The last pick for the Knights was a solid player at a position with little depth, but they were unable to come to an agreement, and Sellers will return to college. Look for him to continue his improvement and possibly become a top catching prospect in the future.