Cameron Rupp’s ascent from the Reading to the Majors was one of the few overwhelmingly positive aspects the Phillies organization experienced in 2013. The rotund Texan got his first sip of Major League sweet tea with four September starts in which he reached base five times in fourteen trips to the plate.
Of course, four appearances isn’t nearly enough to provide us with any meaningful conclusions so allow me to reiterate my thoughts on Rupp from the scouting perspective. Rupp has 60 grade raw power due to his terrific might. There are things that I believe will prevent that plus power from fully actualizing. There’s too much swinging and missing going on here thanks to a pretty nasty arm bar, bat speed that’s just ok and iffy hand-eye coordination compounded by an approach that’s not great. I think the ceiling is that of a 40 bat. Since my last report on Rupp we’ve seen him head to Fall League to get some more at-bats. Fall League pitchers and managers have recognized Rupp’s pull-happy approach and have begun working him away more often. His numbers, of course, look great, because it’s Fall League and the hitting environment is quite favorable.
Rupp’s defense is going to play and I’m confident he sticks behind the plate. His size (he’s listed at 6’1”, 240lbs) limits some of his lateral mobility behind the plate, though he’s quite good at getting down and blocking balls with his tennis racket-sized thighs. Rupp’s got plus arm strength the pop times come in around the two second mark, which is average because it takes him a while to rise out of his crouch and actually throw the ball. Erik Kratz has had similar problems in the past and we saw the Phillies nix his footwork altogether and encourage him to throw directly from his knees. It’s possible they’ll do the same with Rupp, though he’s not so slow to rise that he’s a liability. Rupp’s receiving skills are passable. Right now he presents pitchers with an exceptional target and accepts the ball into his glove with barely a whisper on anything that crosses the plate at or north of the strike zone’s equator. On low strikes, Rupp’s heavy hands and mitt often plummet toward the dirt as he receives the ball. I’d like to see him start twisting his glove as he receives these low balls, something you see Yadier Molina and other great low-ball receivers do.
One thing about Rupp that presents one with more optimism is how hard he works to hone his craft. A number of people within the Phillies organization have made unsolicited comments about his makeup and drive. He’s done what he’s had to lose weight (yes, he’s DOWN to 240lbs) and maintain his body enough to stay behind the plate. I think he’ll make for a nice backup catcher (I think he’ll be back at Triple-A to start next season) and we’ll likely see more of him in Philly next year. He’s an okay prospect who had on okay season in the minors.
My Grade: C+