Linton — a former Dobyns-Bennett and Tusculum pitcher — signed a free-agent contract with the Atlanta Braves on his 22nd birthday.
“It honestly just left me speechless,” Linton said Monday. “I knew that they would be calling the bigger names at like 9 a.m., so it was stressful at the same time. I went out shopping to get my mind off of it and when the Atlanta Braves scout number popped up on my phone, my legs went numb.”
In a 2020 season shortened because of the coronavirus pandemic, Linton appeared in 11 games for the Pioneers and posted a 1-1 record with a 1.35 ERA. In 13 1/3 innings pitched, he notched 20 strikeouts while issuing seven walks.
“We had a great group and even though we got off to a slow start, I think we were going to do great things,” he said.
Linton started his collegiate career at Columbia State Community College before transferring to East Tennessee State in 2018.
While at D-B, Linton helped guide the Indians to a Big 7 Conference title and reach the semifinals of the regional tournament.
Linton’s three best pitches include a 90-93 mph fastball that can top 95, a changeup and a curveball/slider.
“I felt like I developed a lot over the summer,” he said. “Coach (Micah) Posey at ETSU helped lay the foundation for the kind of player that I am today and I can’t thank him enough.”
The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Linton’s father, Doug, spent 18 seasons in the majors and is still a pitching coordinator for the Colorado Rockies.
The older Linton spent time with the Blue Jays, Angels, Mets, Royals, Twins, Orioles, Rockies and Braves.
“I knew that from being around my dad that I would always have to develop,” he said. “The junior college life is a grind every day and I knew once my little girl came along that I would have to be closer to home.”
As for the 2020 major league season, owners and players seem to be on opposite ends of the spectrum, but Linton just hopes it starts sooner rather than later.
“I’ve heard some rumors that there’s going to be a spring training 2.0, but I just want to get down to camp and get to work,” he said. “I think that we’re all wanting to get back to baseball soon.”