He's a chip off the old Knoblauch
Aug. 11, 2012 at 3:11 a.m.
Trace Knoblauch has been hearing the comparison all his life, even if it doesn't fit.
Other than the name on the back of the jersey and a similar set of athletic genes, the Victoria Generals first baseman is nothing like his uncle Chuck, a quick second baseman who was a major league mainstay.
"I've kind of lived under the shadow of his name, but I'm trying to make a name for myself," said the younger Knoblauch. "We're two completely different players."
Chuck played 12 seasons in the majors for the Minnesota Twins, New York Yankees and Kansas City Royals. The former Texas A&M Aggie was part of four World Series Championship teams, was a four-time all-star and the 1991 American League Rookie of the Year.
Knoblauch is in his second full season and third overall with the Generals.
Through 47 games, he's accumulated a .243 batting average with 17 RBIs.
After helping the Generals win the 2010 Texas Collegiate League Championship, the 6-foot-5 Knoblauch spent most of the 2011 summer season playing for the SoCal Sklz in Poway, Calif., of the Western Baseball Association before returning to Victoria to play in three games at the end of the season.
"We're both good teams, we're just different teams," said Knoblauch about the 2010 and 2012 Generals.
Like many of the baseball players in his family, Knoblauch grew up in Houston and is a product of the storied Bellaire baseball program.
Generals head coach Chris Clemons said it was apparent that Knoblauch has been around his game all his life.
"He knows all the little things," Clemons said. "Stuff you can't teach that you only pick up through experience and he was lucky enough to experience it at a young age."
After helping Bellaire to a 33-1 record as a senior, Knoublauch went on to play for the University of Indiana and has seen his batting average, RBI numbers and starts increase each of the the last three seasons for the Hoosiers.
In 2012, his junior year, Knoblauch hit .244 with 14 RBIs in 42 appearances with 21 starts.
Knoblauch said he wants to work toward being in the everyday starting lineup in his upcoming senior season and improving his hitting and defense will help that.
Clemons said Knoblauch's a bigger bodied player that has to learn how to be consistent.
"When he does everything on time and good, he's a heck of a hitter," Clemons said.
For some of his teammates, it's Knoublauch's defense that's stood out.
"He's saved a million errors for me," said Generals third baseman Chad Kruse. "I've made a ton of bad throws that he scooped up, jumped up to get or will be halfway down the baseline and the guy will run him over and he'll still catch it."
Knoblauch has a team leading 322 putouts and has compiled a .982 fielding percentage.
Although his uncle's MLB career may cast a shadow over him, Trace said he keeps in touch with Chuck and asks him for advice throughout the year.
In the upcoming weeks Knoblauch will leave Victoria and return to Bloomington, Ind. to prepare for one last season as a Hoosier.
Knoblauch hopes his play will help him stand apart and help create a name for not only his program, but the entire conference.
"The Big Ten, I think is kind of underrated in baseball," Knoblauch said. "It's definitely a good conference and can definitely hang with the Big 12, SEC and all that."