Phillies Announce Plans for Jorge Alfaro and Andrew Knapp

Mar 7, 2016; Bradenton, FL, USA; Philadelphia Phillies catcher Andrew Knapp (80) catches as umpire Phil Cuzzi (10) looks on during the seventh inning of a spring training baseball game against the Pittsburgh Pirates at McKechnie Field. The Phillies won 1-0. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 7, 2016; Bradenton, FL, USA; Philadelphia Phillies catcher Andrew Knapp (80) catches as umpire Phil Cuzzi (10) looks on during the seventh inning of a spring training baseball game against the Pittsburgh Pirates at McKechnie Field. The Phillies won 1-0. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports /
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Phillies general manager Matt Klentak hints at where Jorge Alfaro and Andrew Knapp will start their 2017 seasons

For years the Phillies had no reason to worry about the man behind the plate. Carlos Ruiz solidified the catching position in Philadelphia for 11 seasons, and was a favorite not just of the fans, but the pitching staff.

More recently, the lack of catching in the Phillies organization made fans worried knowing Chooch did not have much longer.

Ruben Amaro Jr’s deal with Texas involving Cole Hamels resulted in the acquisition of Jorge Alfaro, one of the best catching prospects in baseball. Shortly after Alfaro was acquired, Andrew Knapp had a breakout season, hitting .308 with 13 home runs in Reading.

Sep 13, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Phillies catcher Jorge Alfaro (38) in action against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Citizens Bank Park. The Pittsburgh Pirates won 5-3. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 13, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Phillies catcher Jorge Alfaro (38) in action against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Citizens Bank Park. The Pittsburgh Pirates won 5-3. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports /

Knapp followed up his stellar performance in Lehigh Valley with a .266 average and eight home runs. Alfaro on the other hand hit .285 with 15 home runs in Reading, and played six games in the majors after the September call-ups.

Having two top-100 prospects at the same position is a problem every team wants, but the Phillies must determine what their future is at the position.

With Cameron Rupp locked in as the starter, many speculated the Phillies could acquire a veteran catcher to start the season on the bench. A.J. Ellis, who expressed interest in returning after coming to Philadelphia in August, recently signed a one-year deal with the Marlins.

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“I don’t think we need a veteran backup catcher. If it works out we’re open minded to that,” general manager Matt Klentak said. “But Andrew Knapp just finished age 25 season in Triple-A. He has a full year of at-bats in Triple-A. At some point for both he and Alfaro we’re going to have to find out what those guys can do at the big league level. During 2017 we’ll have to find out – not just about those two guys – but others.”

Knowing Knapp could be the guy to get the first crack at being the future could help push Alfaro when he’s in Lehigh Valley. He showed he clearly was not ready to jump from Reading to Philadelphia during his limited time.

While acquiring a journeyman catcher to stash in Triple-A may still be an option, it appears the Phillies are ready to give Knapp a chance heading into Spring Training.

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