Monday, January 13, 2014

PhoulBallz Interview: Catching Prospect Andrew Knapp

Catcher Andrew Knapp was selected by the Phillies in the 2nd round of the 2013 draft out of the University of California. In a half-season in the organization, the 21-year-old posted very good numbers, batting .253 with four home runs, 23 RBI and seven steals in 62 games for the Class A short-season Williamsport Crosscutters.

Prior to being drafted by the Phillies last year, Knapp led the Cal Golden Bears in batting average with a .350 mark, and slammed eight homers with 41 RBI in his junior season, proving himself worthy of the ranking as a Preseason All-American by Baseball America.

This off-season the Phillies announced that the switch-hitting Knapp had undergone Tommy John surgery on his right elbow and would miss considerable time recovering.

This weekend, the six-foot-one 190-pounder took some time to answer questions about his first pro season, his recovery and more. Read ahead for that full interview.

- Andrew, what was your draft experience like last year? What were you doing when you found out? Were you watching the draft?

My draft experience was awesome. I was at home with friends and family just sitting around watching it on TV. It was pretty stressful just sitting and waiting but I had talked to my agent earlier that day and he had told me that he would give me a call if he heard from any teams. Supposedly, he was trying to call me right before the Phillies pick in the 2nd (round), to let me know they were gonna take me, but his call didn't make it through to my phone and I ended up watching Jim Bunning read off my name at the draft, which was very cool. Everyone that was over just went nuts and there were tons of hugs and stuff so my draft experience was very awesome.

- Were you expecting to be selected by the Phillies or was it a surprise?

Being drafted by the Phillies did come as a surprise for me because I had not had very much contact with them before hand, however I didn't go into the draft thinking a certain team was going to pick me. I tried to go into it with no expectations.

- After your pro debut with Williamsport last year, you posted some really good numbers. Was the transition to pro ball tougher or easier than you expected and why?

I think that the transition from college to professional was pretty simple. From the baseball side of things there is not much transitioning that needed to be done, however from the mental side of the game there was some adjustments that I needed to get used to. For example, playing so many games in a row is a big change that I needed some getting used to, but I think that playing in collegiate summer leagues like the Northwoods and Cape (Cod) helped me with my transition to pro ball as well.

- What was the highlight of your first minor league season?

I think one of the highlights from this past season was when our pitching staff threw a combined no-hitter. It was the first no-hitter I have ever been a part of and to be able to call a no-hitter from behind the plate was very cool.

- I know you wrapped up 2013 with an injury which resulted in Tommy John surgery. What can you share about that, what your reaction was and if you battled through it for a while?

I did have surgery in October of this past year and I am on my way back to getting on the field again. I was pretty upset at first but I know that everything happens for a reason and that God has a plan for me and this is just a little piece of adversity that I will overcome. My family has been very supportive and helped me through this as well as the Phillies staff.

- Is the recovery process from that procedure different for a non-pitcher?

The recovery process is different than that of a pitcher, however it is not as short as being a normal field player. Being a catcher, I throw much more than any other position so it takes longer than a normal field player, but I should be able to hit earlier than I can throw, which is helpful.

- Where are you now in the rehab process and what's the time frame for in-season game action?

I am just over three months into my recovery and I am doing well. I am running and lifting weights now, trying to get my legs back into shape. I am doing some light lifting with my upper body and I am hoping to start swinging and start my throwing program here pretty soon.

- How would you scout yourself, if given the chance? Describe your game.

I think one of my best attributes as a player would be that I am a student of the game and I pride myself on being a leader on the field. I am a smart player and being the catcher, I need to be the quarterback of the field, so leadership is key. I also pride myself in being a catcher that pitchers like throwing to. It is very important that pitchers are confident throwing to their catcher and I try to really work for my pitchers. Offensively, I try to have a quality at bat every time I go to the plate, and be consistent with my game, not try to do to much.

- Thoughts on the coaches you've worked with in the Phils organization thus far?

All of the coaches I have worked with so far have been very helpful and I have really enjoyed working with them. They all know the game and it is very fun to listen to what they have to say and their experiences with the game and their careers. I have really enjoyed working with the catching coordinator Ernie Whitt, he has helped me a ton with my catching and I'm excited to continue to learn from him.

- And lastly, who were your favorite players growing up?

One of my favorite players growing up was Chipper Jones. Being a switch-hitter I always loved watching Chipper rake from both sides of the plate. More recently I have really enjoyed watching Josh Hamilton and Buster Posey play. They both rake and play the game right.

Image- MiLB.com

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