What would you do?
You throw a 98-mph fastball. You have major-league spin rate on your slider and curveball. Your skill set has grabbed the attention of all 30 MLB organizations because you have electric stuff.
Professional scouts, pitching directors and scouting cross-checkers have arranged their schedules to see you pitch.
You are senior Josh Knoth, 17, an extraordinary righthanded pitcher for the Patchogue-Medford Raiders.
Knoth shares every boy’s dream of being a major-league player and donning his favorite team’s uniform, but really any would suffice. He’s worked his whole life for the moment when his name is called in the Amateur Draft on July 9.
He has been an integral piece of the heart of the Patchogue-Medford baseball program since he was in the NPMYAC Little League. He’s played with his teammates and best friends his entire life, and they’ve all dreamed of winning the state Class AA title.
Knoth led the Raiders to the brink of the school’s first Suffolk championship in 51 years, forging arguably the greatest single season of pitching in Long Island high school history.
The numbers are outrageous: a 7-0 record; 109 strikeouts in 41 2⁄3 innings; only five hits yielded along with 15 walks; one run allowed for an ERA of 0.17.
Knoth won the Yastrzemski Award as Suffolk’s top player last year, only the fifth junior to do so. He is the heavy favorite to become only the third player to win the Yaz a second time.
And here’s the situation he faces: He’s six weeks away from the MLB Draft and has set himself up for a life-changing contract. There are millions of reasons why, after coming this far, he shouldn’t take the chance of having it crumble with something unforeseen such as some kind of injury.
“We set an innings limit for Josh this season,” Patchogue-Medford coach Anthony Frascogna said. “And we exceeded that number in our last playoff game. We maxed out with what we could do before the major-league draft. We were 100% protecting him all season against the risk of injury.”
Frascogna added: “What high school coach takes a .500 hitter out of his lineup and out of rightfield all season to keep him safe? We did that with Josh because we all understand what’s at stake.”
Knoth was at Saturday’s playoff game in uniform and supporting his team in a 7-0 loss to Commack in the first game of a three-game series for the Suffolk Class AA title.
“I always want to win and I’ve done whatever was needed of me for my team,” Knoth said. “These are all the guys I grew up with — all my best friends. I must do what’s right for me at this moment in time — and that’s to stay healthy. This is a smart decision and not a selfish one.”
Patchogue-Medford catcher Bryan Frascogna said Knoth is the most unselfish guy in the dugout. They’ve played together since Little League.
“I’ve caught Josh my whole life,” Bryan said. “We’re best friends. I wish we had one more game together, but I get it. We all love Josh, and we know he wants to be out there with us more than anyone. The team understands what’s going on, and even though we’re disappointed, we know it’s bigger than another win.”
Anthony Frascogna hopes the loss of Knoth for the championship series will galvanize and motivate his team.
“We want this Suffolk title for all of us,” he said. “We want it badly for Josh because we know how competitive he is and how conflicted he feels about whether he pitches or not. There is life-changing money coming his way and he’s earned it. We fully support what he must do.”
What would you do?