The Phillies' recent trade of Cole Hamels to Texas may have netted them a top catching prospect in Jorge Alfaro, but another prospect, Andrew Knapp, has been making waves in Reading for a solid six weeks now.
Knapp crushed his 7th homer for Reading on Thursday night, another ho-hum evening en route to a victory for a Fightins club that should make some noise in the Eastern League playoffs.
Knapp has slowly created a narrative since his callup from Clearwater in late June. He has torn up Reading in every sense imaginable, leaving little doubt about whether it was the right time for a callup. His time spent in Clearwater led him to a .262/.356/.369 line, respectable numbers for a guy who turns 24 in November. But nobody could really see what was coming in Reading.
Knapp seemed to flip a proverbial switch after joining the Fightins. Since June 26, Knapp has hit .411/.459/.709 in 36 games (141 at-bats).
He has displayed power. He has gotten on base. He has done everything imaginable at the plate. And, best of all, he's done it at home and on the road.
Reading has been known as a hitter's park for years, and it has gained that sort of reputation in minor league circles. But Knapp has comparable numbers on the road. He's raking in any park in any situation.
So, where is the downside here? We should just go ahead and put the Phillies' 2013 second round pick in the top five prospects list and be happy that a guy came out of nowhere to do just that, right?
Well, not so fast. Knapp's numbers are impressive, but it certainly is a small sample size. He's had just those 141 at-bats in Reading, and although they are gaudy numbers, we've been taught that small sample sizes should be taken with a grain of salt.
He has taken the Eastern League by storm, but he'll need to prove his skill over a longer period of time to be taken seriously as a top-tier prospect in an organization. What Alfaro brought along with him in the Hamels trade is the skill behind the plate. Some scouts haven't hesitated to say Alfaro has an 80 arm, a premier rifle behind the dish.
Knapp is still working to improve behind the plate. The Phillies' coaching staff seems to be happy with what he has done over the last 6 weeks or so in Reading, but he's still pretty raw at the catching position. Alfaro and Knapp could make for a heck of a pairing come 2017 if everything goes right, though.
Nobody would expect a .464 BABIP to be sustainable, either. That's where Knapp is at since joining Reading. His numbers will come back down to earth eventually. But this is a game of adjustments. If Knapp makes them, he will survive. He's hard to place as a prospect at the moment. You can check out Cormican's top 20 update here, where Knapp is rated #15 in the Phillies' organization.
As he mentioned, Knapp's a tough guy to grade right now. Even the next few weeks will go a long way to determining where he'll be rated this off-season. Right now though, there's no way that Knapp cares about where he's going to be rated in prospect lists. That's for folks like us to arbitrarily decide.
The on-field performance has been there for Knapp for an extended period of time. It's pretty easy to buy in to what he's doing right now, but 2016 will bring new challenges. Whether or not those challenges are conquered is up to him.