Phillies Nation was once again on the call to cover another great autograph signing hosted by Dynasty Sports and Framing in the Oxford Valley Mall on Saturday morning. With a sellout crowd of 200, it was Cameron Rupp‘s turn to meet his biggest supporters. Along with receiving an autograph, picture, and perhaps a short conversation with the Phillies blossoming catcher, fans supported the Autism Cares Foundation.
The Autism Cares Foundation provide an environment for children with Autism to play sports, music, engage in arts and crafts, and much more. Their goal is to open The Autism Center of Excellence and Life Enrichment Facility, which will provide job opportunities, independent or assisted living, resources, and entertainment. Cameron, Dynasty Sports, and the Autism Cares Foundation raised $1,965 for the event. Awesome job to all involved to support such a wonderful cause!
As always, Phillies Nation likes to get a vibe of the crowd – to hear what they think about the team and the particular player at the signing. First up, I met three youngsters, KJ, Dylan, and Tyler from Holland, PA. All three play for the Holland Little League in the eight and ten year old age groups and, perhaps not coincidentally, all three are catchers. I asked the young backstops what their favorite Cameron Rupp moment was this season, and all three simultaneously said, “the tag up play.” Of course, they were referring to fly ball double play all the way back in May, when Tyler Goedell nailed Reds third baseman Eugenio Suarez at the plate to end the game. Rupp was on the receiving end on the play, who took a nasty shot from Suarez, but still hung onto the baseball. When asked if the team is fun to watch, after a long pause, one of the boys shouted, “only when they win!”
Next up, I walked up to two gentleman, introduced myself and asked, “What do you think of Cameron Rupp and the season he’s having?” The one gentleman said “well, I’m a little biased, because I’m his uncle.” Cameron’s uncle, Tom, was in attendance to check out the event his nephew was hosting. Tom, as well as Cameron, are both from Plano, Texas, which is 20 miles north of Dallas. This was Tom’s first trip to Philadelphia as well as Citizens Bank Park, in which he was very impressed with the ballpark. Cameron’s uncle, is not surprisingly a Texas Rangers fan, but invested in MLB.TV to catch his nephew’s at-bats.
Finally, I caught up Michelle from Northeast Philadelphia. She likes Cameron Rupp as a catcher but her favorite player on the team is Odubel Herrera. When asked why, and she said, “I like his flare.” That is certainly a good reason to like the All Star.
Cameron Rupp is coming into his own as a catcher this season. On Friday, he posted a 2-for-5 day, boosting is batting average to .277 on the season en route to a 10-6 Phillies win. Rupp started off slow coming out of the break, posting just a .143 average in eleven games. Since July 30, the big man has posted a .353 average while driving in eleven runs in eight games. The Phils find themselves at 55-63 and playing better ball as of late, posting a 7-4 record in their last eleven. It was time to ask Cameron a few questions on the season thus far.
Me: Last year you finished the year at .233 and this year you’ve been consistently in the .270s. What do you attribute your improvement from last season?
Rupp: Consistent at-bats definitely helps. I know I started getting consistent at-bats towards the end of last year and then just sticking with my approach. I think it also helps I’m not trying to do to much at the plate and taking what the pitcher gives me. And when I get a mistake, I’ve been driving it out of the ballpark.
Me: Do you think being a catcher gives you a better idea of the strike zone?
Rupp: Absolutely. You’re back there with the catcher the whole night and you see what pitches he’s calling but at the end of the day you’re still looking for one spot and one pitch. Regardless of the strike zone, whenever you get that pitch you have to be ready for it.
Me: When you see guys not pitching well and end up going on the DL, for example Nola and Eflin as of late, are you able to notice anything in their delivery to signal they’re hurt?
Rupp: Not necessarily their delivery. You kind of just go by how they’re feeling. If they’re not feeling right, obviously something’s bothering them and going to keep them from pitching well, but they’re still out their battling and they’re going to do their best to give us a chance to win the ballgame.
Me: You guys are seven out of the wildcard and barring a torrid run in the month of August, a playoff spot is unlikely. Is there a personal goal you want to reach by the end of the year?
Rupp: Just keep playing. Continue to have quality at-bats, put good swings on the ball and help my pitching staff pitch as well as they can and finish up the year strong.
Me: The organization has a couple of catchers on the rise – possibly one coming up next ear in Andrew Knapp and Jorge Alfaro down the road. How would you feel about the possible competition? Do you feel you still have more to prove?
Rupp: I feel like I’m going to have to prove myself every year, no matter what organization I’m in, no matter who they have. Somebody is always coming for my spot, it doesn’t matter. So I’m always going to feel I have something to prove.
Me: Your name was quietly mentioned quietly in trade rumors this season. Is that something that crossed
your mind at all?
Rupp: Nope, because I have zero control over that and whatever is best for the organization they’re going to do and I love playing here. I enjoy the guys I’m in the clubhouse with and I’m happy where I am.
Me: How do you think Tuesday night will be for Chase’s return?
Rupp: I’m excited. I don’t even know if we’ll be able to play a game. For as much as he’s done, these fans, as awesome as they are, they love him – I don’t know if we’re going to be able to throw the first pitch of the game because he’s leading off.
Me: What’s your favorite place to eat in Philly?
Rupp: I’m a big breakfast guy. I like Honey’s and Green Eggs Cafe.
Cameron and the Phillies will look to finish what’s left of the season strong. With Rupp’s surprise production this season at the dish and behind it, will make GM Matt Klentak’s job a lot harder with some catchers in the minors rearing to go. But as Cameron stated, he’s not worried about that. He’s still going to play like he has something to prove everyday. A great approach to what could be a crowded bunch of catchers next spring.