ALFARO AND KNAPP GIVE PHILLIES QUITE A CATCHING FUTURE

By Michael Donovan

The Phillies have a couple of great catching prospects, and Jorge Alfaro and Andrew Knapp both impressed in yesterday’s 8-3 victory over the University of Tampa at Bright House Field.

Alfaro went 0-for-2 with one walk and one run scored. His power has enthralled Phillies coaches in the first week of camp, but Sunday he impressed with his arm and legs. He nabbed a would-be basestealer in the fourth inning. He also beat out a double play in the first, which led to a run, and scored from second on a ball hit to left field in the third.

“I like to see that, boy,” Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said. “He runs pretty good for a catcher.”

Knapp (above) went 1-for-3 with one walk, two RBIs and one run scored. He ripped a bases-loaded single off Spartans first baseman Adrian Chacon’s glove to score two runs in the first.

“I like hitting bases loaded with one out. It’s easy,” Knapp said with a smile. “You can hit a ball like that and get a couple RBIs. It was good. I felt good at the plate today. I felt pretty comfortable.”

Knapp started the game as the designated hitter, but he moved to first base in the seventh inning (he borrowed Darin Ruf’s mitt because he does not own one) as the Phillies were shorthanded with Ryan Howard not playing, Ruf out of the game andCody Asche’s and Brock Stassi’s sides bothering them.

The switch-hitting Knapp’s versatility afforded him an extra plate appearance, and his first of the spring as a right-handed hitter.

“It’s nice to have that in my back pocket if I can stay in the lineup that way,” Knapp said of his ability to play first.

MLBPipeline.com ranks Alfaro as the No. 96 prospect in baseball, while Knapp earned the Phillies’ minor league player of the year honors in 2015. In a perfect world, both catchers continue to improve and live up to their potential and the Phillies ultimately have to move one of them to a different position.

If that would happen, Alfaro could move to the outfield and possibly even first. Knapp could play first or outfield. He has played both in the past.

“Whatever it takes to stay in the lineup,” Knapp said. “If that’s where I end up and I’m in the big leagues, I don’t think I’m really worried about it as much, you know? As long as I’m in the big leagues playing every day.”

But those are discussions for another day. The Phillies look at both players as catchers, and they will both catch this spring and once their Minor League seasons begin in April.

Until he heads to Minor League camp, Knapp is soaking in everything he can.

“I’ve been just trying to pick [Carlos Ruiz’s] brain as much as I can,” he said. “He’s got so much knowledge, it’s just like, why would you not just ask him a ton of questions?

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