2016 Phillies Report Card: Andrew Knapp

Matt, I am writing the Crashburn Alley report card on Andrew Knapp. Since I am largely unqualified to comment on his defensive attributes, do you have any kind or unkind words on the subject? Or possibly a resource I could refer to?

Below average, arm is average, framing improved but not smooth, blocking needs work

Likelihood that he gets to average? Or is the bat going to have to be his carrying tool?

Low, combo of bat and being a catcher could make the whole package average

The above correspondence with prospect aficionado Matt Winkelman provides a simple context in which to view Andrew Knapp. Due to terms like below average and needs work, Knapp’s emergence as an effective major league entity will rely on both (a) his ability to hit, and (b) his very existence as a catcher. To his credit, Knapp has the being a catcher part down quite well. That leaves only the bat as unresolved.

To that end, a hurried glance at Knapp’s player page supports the notion that 2016 was a successful year. The 108 wRC+ is, by definition, better than the league average. Quality result. But a more thorough perusal of the numbers gives cause for hesitation. Consider Knapp’s year over year regression in two critical areas:

Year Level K% ISO
2015 AA 17.8% .271
2016 AAA 24.2% .124

The drop in power was not unexpected, as whatever supernatural forces that inhabit Reading were clearly at play. The concern is that it occurred in concert with a significant rise in K%. Or a significant drop in contact rate, you might say. The low contact, low power approach to hitting is not often employed to much success in baseball. With Knapp’s survival contingent on his aptitude for hitting, one of these will need to reverse course.

Despite these harbingers of offensive futility, Knapp did advance another rung up the affiliate ladder, and performed well enough to be considered a possible option for the Phillies’ opening day roster next year. But with neither a big step forward or very obvious step back, there’s little to convince his showing was anything but average.

Grade: C

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  1. Romus

    December 09, 2016 09:26 AM

    Were it not for the TJ surgery in Oct.’13 which delayed his off-season developmental progress for awhile, at least until his first PA in May 2014 but limited his catching duties until June or so, he could have been further along. Who knows how much is questionable.
    Him and one-time hot Sox prospect catcher Blake Swihart seemed to have been on parallel tracks…metric wise and abilities. And now at 25-years old he is on the fringe of the prospect world. If I were matt K. I would try to package him in a deal as added value. And sign a veteran catcher as a back-up until Alf is ready.

  2. a2403

    December 09, 2016 11:02 AM

    Gotta believe Knapp will be Rupp’s backup in 2017. Switch hitting catcher with some (potential) power seems like a pretty good way to break in (I’m happy Ellis signed with the Marlins). His swing looks simple & powerful and shouldn’t require a lot of maintenance. He seemed to have trouble with change-ups/offspeed stuff like every young hitter.

    • Steve

      December 11, 2016 10:24 AM

      I’d rather see Knapp get another year of regular ABs and every day catching duty. The article suggested that he could be a useful MLB player if he continues to develop, that wont happen catching twice a week and maybe pinch hitting occasionally. If Alfaro was a more polished prospect and the obvious successor at C, id say sure let Knapp be the back-up this year. At this point however, there is just as good of a chance of Knapp becomming the better MLB catcher, and so he needs to be in a situation where he can get regular reps.

      • Krylon

        December 11, 2016 12:14 PM

        OTOH – he’s 25. 2017 is the year to push prospects to the field.

        As long as he’s not a defensive embarrassment, he can stick with the big club to see what happens with him & Alfaro (just flip-flop/shuttle those guys between CBP & Lehigh Valley based on who’s looking more grooved in). If stuff is looking really bad by August and the team is somehow competing by some miracle, the team can pick up the Tuffy Goosewisch/Jeff Mathis’ of the world at any time, thereafter. Hopefully, the team can find someone as entertaining as Sal Fasano or with a good story like Chris Coste to mop up.

      • Steve

        December 12, 2016 09:21 AM

        I hear you about his age, but a2403 wasnt talking about pushing Knapp on to the field, he mentioned Knapp being used as a back-up. Im just saying id like to see him get regular starts at least for the first half. As long as he doesnt regress, lets see how he can handle MLB pitching in June/July when we may be shopping Rupp anyway.

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