Philadelphia Phillies Predictions 2017: Five Players Who Could Break Out

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Aug 21, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Vince Velasquez (28) throws a pitch during the first inning against the St. Louis Cardinals at Citizens Bank Park. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 21, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Vince Velasquez (28) throws a pitch during the first inning against the St. Louis Cardinals at Citizens Bank Park. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports /
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Mar 24, 2017; Tampa, FL, USA; Philadelphia Phillies designated hitter Andrew Knapp (64) singles during the second inning against the New York Yankees at George M. Steinbrenner Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /

Backup Catcher Andrew Knapp

When the Phillies released Ryan Hanigan and Bryan Holaday Monday, it essentially guaranteed that Andrew Knapp will be the backup catcher for the 2017 season. While this seemed certain heading into spring training, releasing the two veteran catchers ensured Knapp‘s role as the backup.

Knapp’s prospect power rides off of a stellar 2015 campaign that saw him hit for a 1.050 OPS in 55 games with Double-A Reading. He didn’t perform as well upon reaching Triple-A in 2016, posting a .266/.330/.390 line in 107 games. Knapp’s power is fringe-average at best, and it showed as he hit just eight home runs last season.

Citizen’s Bank Park is more like Reading’s FirstEnergy Stadium and less like Lehigh Valley’s Coca-Cola Park, so Knapp should benefit from a hitter-friendly stadium. While he won’t get the lion’s share of playing time behind the plate, backup catchers still play a decent amount of games, more than other backups. Knapp’s ability to switch-hit should also help him get some at-bats later in games as a pinch-hitter.

If Knapp can channel some of his 2015 hitting into 2017, he could very well push the needle back to his favor in the incipient catching battle between him, Cameron Rupp, and Jorge Alfaro. A breakout 2017 is just what Knapp needs to re-insert himself into the catching conversation.

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