Catching Prospect Andrew Knapp
Sometimes a player just won’t be able to fit on the big-league roster long-term, and that’s what might happen to Andrew Knapp. He would be the best catching prospect on a lot of other teams, but Knapp is stuck behind Jorge Alfaro on the Phillies. Alfaro got a cup of coffee in the majors in September, yet Knapp didn’t get to make his debut.
Knapp put himself on the radar in 2015 with a ridiculous stint at Double-A Reading. In 55 games, Knapp had a 1.050 OPS and hit 11 home runs. He mashed his way to the Paul Owens Award as the best hitting prospect in the organization that year.
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However, 2016 didn’t nearly go as well for Knapp in Triple-A. Knapp posted a .266/.330/.390 line with Lehigh Valley. As mentioned before, Knapp was leapfrogged by Alfaro as the latter got to make his major-league debut in September.
Josh Norris of Baseball America said after the season wrapped up that Alfaro was ahead of Knapp in terms of development. Norris said Alfaro “projects as the long-term heir to Carlos Ruiz.”
If the Phillies really do see Alfaro as the long-term option behind the plate, Knapp may become the odd one out. Considering the rarity of hitting catchers in baseball these days, a top-100 propsect like Knapp would be a valuable acquisition for many teams. Just five catchers landed on Baseball America’s Midseason Top 100 list, and the Phillies have two of them.
Most project Knapp to be Cameron Rupp’s backup in 2017. However, he is by no means the only option to back up Rupp if the Phillies so desire. The Phillies obviously have enough confidence in Alfaro to be in the major-leagues if they called him up in September and he is already on the 40-man roster. If the team would rather see Alfaro get some more time to develop in Triple-A, multiple free agent catchers are on the market as well.
Knapp could fetch an average starter on his own in a trade, or he could become part of a package for a higher-quality player. The best time to cash in on Knapp would be now since he is just one year removed from his monster season at Reading.