The Philles were once again were run over by the Miami Marlins yesterday 11-1. The lack of potency in this Phillies offensive is wearing thin among the Philly faithful. Yet there is one offensive bright spot the team can look to: the development of Cameron Rupp. Rupp is listed at 6 foot 2, 260 pounds – a man that large usually doesn’t go unnoticed. However, this season, the Dallas native has flown under the radar not only in Major League Baseball, but even in our own eyes.
The Phillies have a couple of catchers in the minors waiting in the wings, projecting to be the future starters for years to come. Andrew Knapp, a homegrown product currently residing in Triple-A, has a career .276 average in the minors. Knapp was named as the organization’s All Star in each of the last two seasons. The other up-and-comer is Jorge Alfaro, who was acquired in the Cole Hamels trade last July. The 23-year old Alfaro is hitting .287 while belting an impressive 12 home runs in Double-A this season. With young catchers in the pipelines, the Phillies were entering this campaign with a 37-year old Carlos Ruiz and 27-year old in Cameron Rupp. Both catchers combined to hit just .222 in 2015. With a club option on Chooch’s contract at the end of the season, it is unlikely the Phils will bring him back. The 2016 season was the one for Cameron Rupp to sink or swim. He’s swimming along nicely, quietly making GM Matt Klentak’s job a lot harder.
In 16 fewer games played this season and rest of August and September still to go, Rupp has already surpassed his home runs, RBIs, and doubles totals from a year ago. He’s just one run shy of his total from last season as well. With 240 ABs this season (270 all of last year), Rupp has displayed what he can do with substantial playing time.
The right-handed slugger has positioned himself as one of the better catchers in all of baseball. Rupp’s .271 average is good enough for a seventh place tie among 24 qualified catchers in the MLB. With a few two or three hit games in Atlanta this weekend, Rupp can leapfrog the likes of Buster Posey, Salvador Perez, and A’s solid catcher Stephen Vogt. Before finding himself in a little rut after the All Star break, the slugger was carrying a .287 after a 4-for-5 day in Colorado. Rupp has provided pop in the lineup and ranks sixth in the league in extra base hits. The former Texas Longhorn lands fourth among MLB catchers in slugging and OPS (.475 and .802 respectively). With Rupp having a decent batting average for a catcher and the displayed power he has shown, the Phillies should be pleasantly surprised – getting something they never thought was coming.
Like most good hitters, Rupp uses all fields, and has the most success when staying through the middle or taking pitches opposite field. The righty sports an underwhelming .222 when pulling the ball. When the big man stays through the baseball up the middle, Rupp then sports an impressive .485 average. When making contact the other way, Rupp hits .377 where half of his home runs are belted. Only two home runs were hit to left field.
Interestingly enough, Rupp is a well above-average fly ball hitter. Most players and coaches try to stay away from fly balls as line drives are the best chance to record a hit. Fly ball hitters tend not register as many hits as line drive and ground ball hitters. Rupp has a solid .351 average when hitting fly balls. It’s not surprising because eight of his 17 doubles and half of his home runs went to right field as he takes advantage of the hitter-friendly Citizens Bank Park.
With Rupp coming into his own this season, the Phillies have a good problem on their hands. With Andrew Knapp likely filling Chooch’s roster spot next season, it looks like Rupp will continue as the starter. The Phillies may want Alfaro to get seasoning in Triple-A before making the jump straight to the show. Cameron Rupp will get every chance possible to prove himself in either Phillies pinstripes or perhaps another club looking for a reliable catcher. Right now, he is doing just that.
If you’d like to meet the blossoming Phillies catcher, Rupp will be making an appearance at Dynasty Sports and Framing (Oxford Valley Mall) for a charity autograph signing. Don’t miss your chance to meet the big slugger on Saturday, August 13th from 11:30-12:30. Tickets can be purchased here for just $10 and all proceeds will benefit the Autism Cares Foundation.