With an 0-2 count on a batter in high school, Mitchell Knox likely would have thrown the breaking ball, a standard pitch when ahead in the count.
The former Greenbrier High School pitcher has learned pitching in college to throw a variety of pitches at any count. The lessons are part of the reason Knox is moving on from Young Harris College, where he is a redshirt freshman.
The left-hander signed with Division-I Winthrop University during the early period and will join the Eagles as a sophomore in 2011.
"It's a whole new level," Knox said of his playing experiences since Greenbrier. "I've really enjoyed it. I've felt like I've learned a lot."
When Knox left Greenbrier, he could hit spots with his fastball and had a serviceable breaking ball and changeup.
"Nothing spectacular," he said.
Knox worked with Young Harris coaches to improve his changeup and tinker with his cutter. He wants a reliable off-speed pitch.
His ultimate goal is a spot in the Eagles starting rotation. Winthrop coaches have told him he will probably begin in the bullpen.
"It could go from there," he said. "Hopefully, one day, I could start."
Knox moved onto Winthrop's radar thanks in part to the help of first-year Young Harris pitching coach Jeremy Plexico. Plexico pitched at Winthrop and arranged for Eagles coach Joe Hudak to watch Knox pitch during the fall.
In a statement posted on the baseball program's Web site, Hudak said Knox was a "late bloomer" as a pitcher and should only improve.
"(Plexico) has done a great job with him," Hudak said. "He throws 83-86 from the left side. He can throw his fastball on either side of the plate, and has a good feel for a change. We feel he will be able to contribute right away to our staff."
Knox was in town last week to participate in a youth baseball clinic with other former Greenbrier players. He signed autographs and caught up with friends.
He said he was looking forward to attending Winthrop, where he will know former Harlem standout Patrick Gamblin and Young Harris teammate Matt Lobacz, who signed at the same time.
Knox said he also visited Mercer University and Appalachian State, but felt Winthrop provided the best opportunity.
He selected his junior college knowing its reputation for sending players to the next level.
"My goal always was to go play Division I," Knox said.
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