No. 8: Catcher Andrew Knapp
Andrew Knapp flew under the radar as a prospect in his first two seasons in the Phillies system. After a quiet debut with short-season Williamsport in 2013, Knapp underwent Tommy John surgery. He was able to return to action the next year, but he hit for a .710 OPS in 2014.
2015 was when Knapp truly came alive as a prospect. He started off the year with a .262/.356/.369 line with High-A Clearwater. Upon a promotion to Double-A Reading, Knapp completely ripped the cover off the ball. In 55 games with the Fightin’ Phils, Knapp hit 11 home runs with a 1.050 OPS. He was a key cog in the lineup that made it to the Eastern League Championship.
After the year, the Phillies named Knapp their hitting prospect of the year. Baseball America named Knapp the No. 4 prospect in the system and the No. 96 prospect in all of baseball.
With numbers as high as Knapp’s in 2015, they were bound to come down, and they did this year. Knapp spent all of 2016 with Triple-A Lehigh Valley, finishing the year with a .266/.330/.390 line. He hit just eight home runs in 107 games. Knapp struck out a significantly higher rate than in Double-A, striking out 24.2% of the time this year.
Knapp’s production this season is more in line with his future potential at the plate. Scouts see Knapp as line-drive hitter whose power mostly comes from mistake pitches. He is a switch-hitter, hitting for more power from the left side of the plate. He should be able to hit for average, but his power will be limited.
Behind the plate, Knapp projects as average at best. His arm is solid, nabbing 18 of 48 runners stealing this season. David Buchanan liked throwing to Knapp, saying “Knapp has been a great guy to throw to,. He has learned the way I throw and how I like to work through a line-up. He receives the ball very well and also is very quick to second base so I have confidence in guys being thrown out.” However, Knapp’s defense struggles, allowing 16 passed balls this year and 10 last year.
If Knapp doesn’t pan out as a catcher, he may get some time at first base in the future. This notion may only be exacerbated by Jorge Alfaro, who is an overall better defensive catcher. Knapp should get major-league experience behind the plate in 2017 as Cameron Rupp’s backup.