Should the Phillies go with a young backup or a veteran leader at catcher?
The Phillies expect Jorge Alfaro to be the teams starting catcher in 2018. This leaves us with the question of who will be Alfaro’s backup? Right now, we have two options in Andrew Knapp and Cameron Rupp. This issue should be right up there with the logjam we have in the infield. It is unusual for a team to carry three catchers going into the regular seasons. The Phillies management will have to decide on whether it will Rupp or Knapp.
Knapp is 26 years old and just completed his first full season in the majors. Despite a stint on the disabled list, Knapp still managed to start 51 games while slashing .257/.368/.368. While they aren’t the most impressive number, he was a rookie and saw limited at-bats. Something to be excited about is his strikeout-to-walk ratio. Knapp walked 31 times to just 51 strikeouts, showing pretty good plate discipline for a young catcher.
When it comes to the defensive side of the ball, Knapp threw out just 20% of base stealers compared to Rupp’s 29%. He seems much better at calling a game, and his pitch framing is better than Rupp and Alfaro.
The biggest difference between Rupp and Knapp is their leadership ability. The Phillies were the second youngest team in the MLB in 2017 with an average age of 27.4. A team this young needs some leadership. With Freddy Galvis shipped off to San Diego, Rupp becomes one of the senior members in the clubhouse.
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While the controllability and youth point all signs to Knapp, the Phillies have to keep Rupp. Philadelphia has a young core and a first-time manager. The clubhouse needs his leadership ability whether or not it is in a backup role.
Even if he is behind Alfaro, Rupp has plenty of offensive upsides, and would be one of the better offensive backups. He hit 14 homers while driving in 34 runs in a down year offensively. Klentak should keep Rupp and either trade Knapp or option him to Triple-A until needed.
Either way, the fans should be excited to see a full season out of Alfaro and the rest of this young core.