Carlos Ruiz has been a mainstay behind the dish for the Phillies for nearly the last decade. With Ruiz having turned 36 this year and his better years certainly behind him, many Phillies are asking who’s next?
When General Manager Ruben Amaro Jr. dealt outfielder Hunter Pence to the Giants for a package that included catching prospect Tommy Joseph, many believed that it was only a matter of time before Ruiz finished out his contract with the Phillies and Joseph took over as the starter. A broken wrist and multiple concussions, including the most recent one this May, have proven that the Phillies may be in no better shape today at catcher than they were prior to the trade.
While there is no sure long-term solution behind the plate for the Phillies, the prospect who just may be next in line could potentially be 2013 second round pick Andrew Knapp.
Coming out of Cal Berkeley, Knapp showed above average arm strength both at catcher and right field. Early in his professional career however, Knapp suffered elbow soreness and later Tommy John surgery in 2013.
With surgery now behind him, the 23-year-old Knapp has found a role as the primary catcher in high-A Clearwater. Through 41 games this season, Knapp is hitting a solid .275 on the season with 1 HR and 22 RBI. Patience at the plate has been an area that Knapp will have to work on if he hopes to ever get shot in Philadelphia, striking out 42 times, nearly once per game.
Projections on Knapp are all over the board, but one thing that should be certain is that given some of his early professional successes, he deserves the shot to call games for the Phillies ahead of any of the other catching prospects within the organization.