Last week the Florida State League announced the rosters for its 54th annual All-Star Game with five Phillies prospects being honored. Leading the way among the group that will represent Clearwater is standout catcher Andrew Knapp.
The switch-hitting Knapp was the Phillies’ second round draft selection in 2013 out of California. With the Class A Advanced Threshers this season, the 23-year-old has a .258 average with 10 doubles, three triples, two home runs and 28 RBI in 57 games.
He missed a portion of last season after undergoing Tommy John surgery. Following a disappointing stretch in which he tallied a .157/.222/.205 slash line initially in 24 games at Clearwater, Knapp joined the Class A Lakewood BlueClaws and got things back on track. In 75 games with the ‘Claws, Knapp posted a .290 average with five homers and 25 RBI.
The six-foot-one 190-pounder ranked 25th on the organization’s prospect list prior to this season, according to Phillies Nation.
Knowing now that has made improvements with a bat in his hands, Knapp, who is considered a strong defender, is looking to take strides in the other half of his game as well.
“As far as my progress, (the coaches) just want me to keep playing and learning. I have been learning a lot as far as calling a game and controlling a pitching staff goes, as well as leading on an offensive level as well,” Knapp said.
Joining Knapp in the upcoming exhibition will be lefty starter Brandon Leibrandt, who was the Phils’ 6th round draft pick last year. Leibrandt has tallied a 5-2 record along with a 3.13 ERA and a .227 batting average against in 11 starts. The 22-year-old is currently on the disabled list. Reliever Ulises Joaquin, 23, has a 3-1 record with five saves and a 2.88 ERA in 20 appearance. Infielder Angelo Mora, 22, splits his time between shortstop and second base. He has a .299 average with eight doubles, two triples and 11 RBI in 41 games. Mark Leiter Jr., a righty NJIT product, has posted a 3-1 record with one save and a 1.97 ERA while having struck out 60 batters and walking 15 in 68 2/3 innings for Clearwater.
Heading to the All-Star festivities with a group from his everyday team is something that makes the honor more important to Knapp.
“It’s a pretty cool honor to be selected to the All-Star team and I’m very proud to represent our organization there. It definitely makes it better to be able to go with a couple other teammates and it shows what kind of talent we have on this team,” Knapp said.
Leiter, who will miss the FSL All-Star festivities after being promoted to Double-A Reading on Sunday, has credited Knapp with much of his success this year, as have other members of the Threshers’ staff.
“Mark has done very well this season and I think we have both been on the same page when it comes to our approach when he pitches and I think that has led to a lot of success. It means a lot for them to acknowledge me with their success and it’s appreciated for sure,” Knapp asserted about his battery mates recognizing his efforts.
There’s no hesitation by Knapp to acknowledge that the recognition from the league and his teammates means a lot to him. But these types of nods only make him hungry for more.
“Any time you get some credit it feels great and that’s kind of where I’m at with the All-Star Game, but I also am not satisfied at all and am definitely going to keep working hard to get to the next level,” Knapp stated.
The FSL All-Star Game will take place in St. Lucie on June 20th.