Post Season Report Card–Catchers

Next up are the organizations catchers.  A reminder that grades are based on pre-season expectations for that player vs. actual production.  Look for the report on Outfielders, Tuesday or Wednesday.

Lehigh Valley

Andy Knapp, 24, Phils 2nd round pick in 2013; .266/.330/.390 in 403AB; 8HR 46RBI; 2/4SB; 8%BB/24%K; .277 vs LHP; .258 vs RHP; .253 last 30 days; 104 games caught with 7 errors (.991); 16 passed balls; 18/48 CS (38%); Decent but not outstanding offensive numbers combined with defense that was poor at the beginning of the year but much improved by years end.  The biggest issue for Knapp entering this season was that he was considered a liability defensively.  He is making significant strides.  Grade: B-; 2017: Lehigh Valley to start, expect to see him in Philly at some point.

Logan Moore, 26, Phils 9th round pick in 2011; .220/.282/.256 in 177AB between Reading and Lehigh Valley; 5HR 20RBI; 8%BB/28%K; Hit .218/.256/.391 in 110AB with Lehigh Valley; .138 last 30 days; 53 games caught with 5 errors (.988); 0 passed balls; 18/45 CS (40%); Pretty much what we expected from Moore which is minimal offense and very good defense.  He will be entering his final year prior to minor league free agency next season and I wouldn’t expect him to be Rule 5 protected.  Grade: C+; 2017: Lehigh Valley backup

Reading

Jorge Alfaro,23, Acquired from Texas in 2015; .285/.325/.458 in 404AB; 15HR 67RBI; 3/5SB; 5%BB/25%K; .213 vs LHP; .302 vs RHP; .263 last 30 days; 95 games caught with 6 errors (.993); 7 passed balls; 33/75 CS (44%): After significant injuries issues in 2015, Alfaro kept himself both healthy and productive for large portions of the season.  I believe he has the potential to be a top 5 major league catcher between the combination of a very good bat and an absolute gun for an arm.  Grade: A-; 2017: Phils, sharing time with Rupp.

Joel Fisher, 23, Phils 23rd round pick in 2014; Hit .250 in 36AB between Lakewood and Reading; 2HR 7RBI; 13 games caught with 1 error (.989); 0 passed balls; 8/16 CS(50%); Fisher was a spare part in Lakewood and Reading, playing very little, but playing with competence when he did.  If he is back in 2017, he will be floating around as a backup/3rd catcher were needed.

Gabriel Lino, 23, Acquired from Baltimore in 2012; .236/.312/357 in 199AB between Clearwater and Reading; 5HR 14RBI; 8%BB/21%K; 58 games caught with 11 errors (.978); 6 passed balls; 24/68 CS (35%); From seeing regular time in Reading and Lehigh Valley in 2015, Lino was predominately a backup in Clearwater and Reading this year with production perhaps a tick over mediocre.  Grade: C  The view the Phils brass has of Lino certainly appears to have changed and I think it likely he is not back for ’17.

Clearwater

Chace Numata, 24, Phils 14th round pick in 2010; .308/.377/.393 in 328AB; 2HR 35RBI: 3SB; 10%BB/11%K; .253 vs LHP; .328 vs RHP; .323 last 30 days; 85 games caught with 10 errors (.986); 14 passed balls; 33/83 CS (40%); Numata took his game to another level this year with excellent offensive production and a caught stealing rate significantly higher than any of his previous years. His receiving needs some work but the overall body of work for this season was outstanding.  Grade: A-; 2017: The Phils face decisions with Numata.  Still just 24, he has been in the organizations for six minor league seasons and is eligible to become a minor league free agent if he is not added to the 40 man.  The Phils simply will not have the space on the 40 man for Numata unless they decide to protect 4 catchers, which I believe to be unlikely.  All that said, I believe Numata to likely be with another organization come Spring, although I would like to see him back as a minor league free agent in Reading.

Austin Bossart, 23, Phils 14th round pick in 2015; .289/.347/.368 in 152AB between Lakewood and Clearwater; 1HR 18RBI; 7%BB/13%K; For Clearwater: Hit .340 in 53AB; 47 games caught with 5 errors (.988); 1 passed ball; 20/68 CS (29%); A very good year for Bossart who was more than proficient both with the bat and behind the plate.  Grade: B+; 2017: Reading

Lakewood

Deivi Gruillon, 20, Signed as a free agent in 2012; .256/.320/.375 in 320AB; 6HR 45RBI; 9%BB/24%K; .202 vs LHP; .277 vs RHP; .297 last 30 days; 79 games caught with 10 errors (.987); 13 passed balls; 27/97 CS (28%); The offense ticked up a notch after over 700AB in Lakewood over two seasons.  The defense, problematically ticked down a notch this season as that is where the Phils are truly expecting Gruillon to excel.  Grade: C; 2017: Clearwater

Edgar Cabral, 20, Phils 11th round pick in 2015; .203/.250/.266 in 79AB; 1HR 7RBI; 5%BB/13%K; .273 vs LHP; .175 vs RHP; 24 games caught with 1 error (.996); 1 passed ball; 7/27 CS (26%);  Poor with the bat, decent receiving.  Grade: C; 2017: Back up in Lakewood

Williamsport

Henri Lartigue, 21, Phils 7th round pick in 2016; .212/.265/.291 in 151AB; 1HR 15RBI; 2SB; 7%BB/16%K; .267 vs LHP; .189 vs RHP; .161 last 30 days; 39 games caught with 4 errors (.988); 11 passed balls; 17/57 CS (30%); I would surmise that the Phils expected alot more from Lartigue, who was a relatively high draft pick.  He struggled both with the bat, as well as receiving.  Grade: D+

Gregori Rivero, 20, SIgned as a free agent in 2012; .288/.327/.433 in 104AB; 1HR 9RBI; 1SB; 3%BB/19%K; .200 vs LHP; .321 vs RHP; 31 games caught with 5 errors (.979); 7 passed balls; 11/30 CS (37%); Received more playing time as the year went on and generally did a good job with a few defensive hiccups. Grade: B-; 2017: Rivero spent most of 2015 and 2016 in Williamsport.  I think he moves up to Lakewood

GCL

Rodolfo Duran, 18, Signed as a free agent in 2014; .305/.333/.463 in 82 AB combined between GCL and Williamsport; 3HR 14RBI; 5%BB/17%K; Hit .315 in 73AB for GCL Phils; .315 vs LHP; .310 vs RHP; .300 last 30 days; 34 games caught with 1 error (.995); 10 passed balls; 11/32 CS (34%); Duran had a very nice year playing predominately in the GCL for the second year; Produced with the bat, and was competent behind the plate, albeit with more passed balls than we would like to see.  Grade: B+; 2017: WIlliamsport

Daniel Garner, 22, Phils 32nd round pick in 2016; .310/.394/.379 in 29AB; 0HR 4RBI; 6%BB/32%K; 13 games caught, 1 error (.983); 0 passed balls; 2/12 CS (17%); Garner played very sparingly only starting 5 games and last playing on August 9.  2017: I would be surprised to see Garner back

Nerluis Martinez, 20, SIgned as a free agent in 2014; .248/.322/.307 in 101AB; 0HR 18RBI; 10%BB/11%K; .357 vs LHP; .205 vs RHP; .255 last 30 days; 32 games caught with 1 error (.995); 3 passed balls; 12/38 CS (32%); Played 7 games at 1B with 2 errors (.971); First year stateside for Martinez who did a nice job behind the plate and produced a solid number of RBI’s in just over 100AB: Grade: C+; 2017: WIlliamsport

Lenin Rodriguez, 18, Signed as a free agent in 2014; .340/.438/.453 in 53AB; 1HR 5RBI; 15%BB/13%K; .500 vs LHP; .282 vs RHP; 18 games caught with 4 errors (.959); 2 passed balls; 3/15 CS(20%); Rodriguez started 10 games in his first season in the U.S. and did a nice job with the bat but needs work behind the plate. Very small frame at 5’9, 165.  2017: Back in the GCL to get more regular playing time.

38 thoughts on “Post Season Report Card–Catchers

  1. The Phils have good depth throughout the system. I think Lino is sold a little short based on his performance in Reading where he hit .317 /.411/.524/.935 . Those numbers, combined with recognized catching skills, could well generate interest in another organization if, as expected, he is left unprotected.

    1. I don’t see anybody taking him. He’s not ready now and it’s very unlikely that he grows to be anything more than a back-up. He’s not the type of guy for whom you surrender a major league roster spot for an entire season.

      1. Catchers have their own time frames for development. Cameron Rupp played his age 23 season entirely in Lakewood.

        1. They do (which is why I’m still bullish on Knapp), but there’s nothing to suggest he’s likely to become another Cameron Rupp. If he projected to be even an average starter, maybe someone might do it. But he projects as a back-up AT BEST (actually, he projects to be a AAA/AAAA type guy) so there’s no reason to carry him for a year. This is especially true because teams don’t carry more than two catchers anymore – so it means that he would be your back-up catcher. No team in the major leagues is going to carry Lino on its roster for a year and give him 200 PAs and 45 starts – it’s not going to happen. He’s way too fringy a prospect.

          1. Good argument (yours) if it was borne out by history. 7 catchers have been taken in the Rule 5 (majors) in the last 10 years. Not all were kept and certainly none became All Stars. Jesus Flores is the most notable. It’s guys like Lino who’ve gotten selected. They’re your borderline guys which is what Lino is. On the Phils he’s competing with guys like Tocci, Valentin and Pinto. Could go either way for him.

            1. I’ll have to go back and check which catchers were selected and see if I agree with your assessment that they were Lino quality receivers.

              That none of them became all-stars is besides the point. The point is that you wouldn’t and shouldn’t take this type of Rule 5 guy and keep him if you think his ceiling is as a back-up catcher – that would be stupid and a waste of a roster spot.

            2. Here’s my review of Rule 5 catchers taken in the last 10 years.

              In 10 years, only 3 catchers were chosen that stuck in the big leagues for the season on teams that had to keep them or return them to the drafted team. Of these, two were very high ceiling picks: Oscar Hernandez and Jesus Flores.

              Only one was a head scratcher – Adrian Nieto and has not done well in the minors. He’s the only one I could comp for Lino. That’s one guy in 10 years where you could say – hey, this looks like Lino. That’s not a trend or a usual development and it was obviously a mistake by the team who drafted him (the White Sox). So if some other team wants to waste a roster spot drafting Lino, have at it guys!

              2015 – no catchers
              2014 – Oscar Hernandez – #1 pick; very young catcher with great power potential and inconsistent stats; once hit 21 homers and .402 as a 17 YO in rookie league. Much higher ceiling than Lino. Bombed out in AA, but he’s younger their Lino; he could still make it and the pick was an understandable “ceiling” pick.
              2013 – Adrian Nieto – had a really good season in high A ball before he was picked. Otherwise, had a profile similar to Lino. Did okay in the majors; terrible season this year at AAA. They probably wasted a roster spot with this guy.
              2012 – No catchers
              2011 – No catchers
              2010 – No catchers
              2009 – No catchers
              2008 – Lou Palmisano – older catcher with profile similar to Lino’s retained by Houston when Milwaukee did not want him back. Never amounted to anything. Did not play in majors.
              James Skelton – did not play in the majors.
              2006 – Jesus Flores – high ceiling catcher; kept all year by Nationals. Became back-up big league catcher.

  2. Gregg, I am very interested in where Alfaro and Knapp start the year. Knapp is clearly not ready for the Majors, and I didn’t think Alfaro would start the season with the Phils. That means I have no idea what to do with the 2 of them, but I believed that a veteran C would be brought in with Rupp. You think Alfaro starts with the Phils?

    1. I think Knapp goes back to AAA and catches a bunch and also plays first and DH.

      There are going to be MAJOR changes made in MLB rules this offseason to generate more offense and more fan interest. One of them is undoubtedly going to be bringing the DH to the National League. I’d be shocked if there’s no DH in the N.L. by 2018 at the latest. And, by the way, having watched pitchers hitting for all these years and having originally opposed the DH, I’m ready for the change too.

      1. I’m with you, Catch. I’ve always despised the DH but now with how the game is now managed universally, it won’t bother me since they’ll probably expand rosters anyway. A guy like Knapp will benefit. He’s probably not an everyday player as much as I love his swing, but valuable to a club as 3rd catcher and however else they might use him.

    2. If Alfaro shows something these last 3 weeks, I won’t be shocked to see him start 2017 at CBP. In fact I would say it’s likely.

      1. I disagree. I give Alfaro very little chance of starting in Philly. MLB Clubs these days just don’t go that way. At best they would probably bring him up sometime in May or June.

        They want to preserve those FA years.

        1. DMAR…agree.
          Alfaro goes to LHV for the duration…..Yankees Sanchez may have set some sort of precedent….approx. 850 PAs at AA level and 450 PAs at the AAA level.
          I do not see Alfaro needing all that time, but can see another 350/400 PAs at LHV next season.

          1. I actually think Knapp has a chance with a good spring to make the 25 man. He can spell Rupp and Joseph and conceivably get 300-350 PA’s. Eventually I would predict he is the odd man out.

            1. DMAR,
              That is how I see it.
              As for Alfaro….his K rate (25%) and BB rate (5%) at the AA level (741 PAs) is worrisome to say the least.
              As comparison….Gary Sanchez had 1300 PAs at both the AA/AAA level and had an 18% Krate and a 8% BBrate.
              I am not sure Alfaro will be able to drastically improve at LHV I both those metrics next season…he is what he is at this point….perhaps keeping him there longer in AAA may help.

        2. And by the way notice how I disagreed with 8mark instead of being lazy and 1 starring his posted. Also notice how easy it was to be polite about it 🙂

          And that’s not directed at anyone in particular

        3. I agree, I don’t think Knapp or Alfaro are ready defensively, and that is the key thing for a catcher, for the majors. The only snag would be if they need the 40 man spot that the veteran backup would take. In that case, one of these two would have to go up.

      2. I also disagree. Unless the team is confident enough to trade Rupp in the off-season they do not want Alfaro sitting on the bench with the ML club while he still needs work.

        Think it’s a better chance that Knapp becomes that back-up catcher on the roster and I don’t expect that either.

        1. I agree with you on Alfaro, I think he starts the season at LHV and plays every day until the major league service time date passes (Mid-May, I think). If that is the case, does Knapp back him up and play a little 1B (on days Hoskins sits) and DH?

  3. I hope I’m wrong, but I still don’t feel very confident in Alfaro. His striking out about 5 times for every walk, and guys with an approach that poor tend to get exposed once they reach the majors. Fangraphs had an article recently on him that was kind of down on his chances as well:

    http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/instagraphs/projecting-phillies-call-up-jorge-alfaro/

    I will say the article notes his improved pitch-framing and he had a nice year throwing out baserunners, so at least his floor is backup catcher.

  4. One of the last LV games I was watching the announcers said that Knapp was the most improved defensive player on the team from the start of the year to the end.

  5. Daniel, I agree with your comments about Knapp. I would not so quick to promote Alfaro as the Phillies starting catcher. The games I saw Alfaro at Trenton(a very small sample size) he was very impatient hitter and that used that against him. I can imagine that the experienced AAA will give him problems so allow him more seasoning. Alfaro is one of our top prospects and should start in AAA and bring him early if needed. Andrew Knapp has spent a full year in AAA and did well and deserves a chance as Rupp’s backup who can play 1B.

    1. One nice thing if Knapp plays with big club- he is a switch hitter and if he can play some first base could play multiple positions. We all know of the problems with the Phillies roster this year- one of those is having two players (Joseph and Howard) who can only play first base.

        1. Thank you! Jerry was one of my favorites but a great example that if you throw 97 MPH and the pitch has no movement, major league hitters will smack your stuff around the yard.

  6. Should be “and that was used against him” and “the experienced AAA pitchers will give him problems”. Darn Phone.

  7. I agree that Alfaro will go to AAA. It also seems that since Rupp gets traded the regular catcher will end up being Ellis ? or a combination of Ellis and Knapp ? The front office made it clear they wanted an experienced old hand in either Ellis or Chooch to work with a young catcher – and to work with the inexperienced pitching staff. At the very least, the pitching staff needs a highly competent pitch caller and tactician. At the minimum the lineup is so weak that Rupp has to play because he has some pop ! Either way, they need one of the young catchers to be schooled by an old experienced war horse (despite no offense) who also can handle the pitching staff. Its entirely conceivable that a new “old war horse” comes in (if Ellis retires) with a backup catcher (if Rupp traded) to fill in till the boys continue their work on the farm.

    Maybe Knapp gets the call after a good spring and platoons with Joseph at 1B but can also be the backup catcher ?

  8. Moore, Lino, Fisher, and Numata all could leave. That is a lot of upper level catching to lose at once. I think 1 or 2 will be back if the Phils can convince them to stay.

  9. Oh yeah, maybe I am reading too much into the Ruiz-Ellis trade, but are we looking for Knapp/Alfaro/Moore coming to Spring training to back Ellis up after a Rupp trade if one materializes. (I can’t blame Klentak to trade while value is high)

    1. Ellis isn’t a starting catcher in the majors, he doesn’t hit enough and he’s too old to play everyday. He’s also a FA and its unlikely he returns to the Phillies.

  10. Am I alone in thinking that Knapp might be included in a trade package for help on the ML roster? Some people have mentioned that there will eventually be a need to “consolidate” some of the depth we have in the minor leagues. I think it will depend on the opportunities Klentak gets but I wouldn’t be surprised if Rupp isn’t the one moved to clear up the catching logjam.

    1. I think Knapp’s potential outstrips his trade value. Catchers often develop slowly as hitters for many reasons, not the least of which is that they have to spend so much time and energy mastering their position and working with pitchers. Knapp’s mission this year was to improve his receiving skills. He did that, which is huge. I expect that, next year, Knapp will take the next step forward with his hitting skills. I’ve seen Knapp hit a lot. You never know how well a guy will adjust to major league pitching, but from what I’ve seen I believe in Knapp as a hitter. If the team gets an offer that it truly can’t refuse for Rupp, it might consider starting out with a share behind the plate with an experienced guy like Ellis and a rookie like Knapp. People have been trashing Ellis quite a bit, but from what I’ve seen, this is one of those rare instances of a player serving as something of a coach on the field – catchers and pitchers alike have raved about his impact on the team. Would it be a risk and leave the team exposed at that position? Yeah, I guess it would, but Alfaro will not be far behind if Knapp cannot handle the position and the team isn’t contending so it’s not that big of a deal.

      1. I hear what you’re saying. I wasn’t thinking of a Knapp trade because he was unimpressive offensively this year, but because catching is hard to find and he probably has decent value. Plus he’s stuck behind a semi-entrenched, still fairly young player in Rupp and another prospect that the org likes more in Alfaro.

        Klentak might find a team that wants to compete now and is looking for an upgrade at catcher. Or he could find a team that is looking to rebuild and has a young-ish player that they’re willing to part with. If it’s the latter situation, Knapp could be on the move. You may be right, however, that his trade value isn’t high enough to move the needle in a deal like that.

  11. Knapp and Blake Swihart, IMO, are moving along parallel tracks…with Knapp trailing a little….Knapp only slowed by the TJ surgery in ’13 for 9 months.
    Swihart now is in a real funk….Sox may have rushed him.
    I think Knapp is being groomed slowly, as catchers should be, not named Posey.
    He turns 25 soon and with over 250 games under his belt so far as a catcher I think he deserves a real shot in ST to come in and back up Rupp next season.

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