Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Prospect Nation 2014: #16 Catcher Cameron Rupp

Cameron Rupp, Image- Jay Floyd
Drafted in the 3rd round of the 2010 draft, catcher Cameron Rupp has steadily been an improving prospect for the Phillies. After debuting in the big leagues last year, the 25-year-old has certainly proven himself as a talented backstop that could have quite a career ahead.

Rupp, a University of Texas product, made his professional debut with the short-season A level Williamsport Crosscutters in 2010. In 55 games that year, Rupp posted a .218 batting average with five home runs and 28 RBI against NY-Penn League competition.

The following season, as a member of the Class A Lakewood BlueClaws, Rupp proved himself to be capable of serious adjustments, as the 6-foot-2-inch 230-pounder had a tough time through the first half of the South Atlantic League season, posting a .219 batting average with two home runs and 13 RBI in 48 games. Working hard behind the scenes with the BlueClaws' coaching staff, Rupp altered his approach at the plate and showed considerable improvements after the All-Star break, batting .318 with two home runs and 31 RBI in 51 games.

Rupp was honored as a Florida State League All-Star in 2012, posting a .267 average with 10 homers and 49 RBI in 104 games for the Class A Advanced Clearwater Threshers.

The 2013 season saw Rupp open the regular season with Double-A Reading, where he split time behind the plate with Sebastian Valle. In 41 games there, Rupp sported a .245 batting average with six doubles, eight homers and 21 RBI. By early June, the youngster earned a promotion to Triple-A Lehigh Valley, where he tallied a .269 average with 10 doubles, six homers and 24 RBI in 53 games.

When September rolled around, the Phillies promoted Rupp once more, having him join the big league team as a late season call-up. In four games there, Rupp was 4-for-13 (.308 avg) with a double and two RBI. His longest pro season to date was then extended even longer as Rupp was assigned to the Arizona Fall League where he batted .278 with four doubles, a triple, a home run and six RBI through 14 games with Peoria.

At the plate, Rupp's bat has shown increasing power during his time in the minors. His .740 career OPS leaves room for improvement, but he has shown an increase in homers each season in the pro ranks and is capable of driving the ball to the gaps.

Rupp's strike out rate in 2013 of 25.6% was up a hefty amount from his 19.8 mark the season before. Additionally, his walk rate of 6.8% last year, which fell off from 10.3% a year earlier, was a bit concerning as well. He'll need to thwart those trends to show that the right type of progress is being made on offense.

The mental aspect of the game is a strong suit for Rupp, who thrives on being the smartest baseball mind on the field. He's worked closely with coaches such as Dusty Wathan and Ernie Whitt in his career to learn how to guide his pitching staff and to detect tendencies of opposing batters. Rupp has also made an effort to pick the brain of former All-Star and World Series champ Carlos Ruiz, who welcomes all opportunities to teach the Phillies' younger talents.

Regularly praised by coaches for his work ethic on defense, his strong throwing arm, his solid footwork and especially his ability to lead, Rupp, whose father Kevin pitched in the Montreal organization during his playing days in the 1970′s, has become a complete package on that side of the game.

Speed is not a facet of Rupp's game, but a catcher that lacks great quickness is no big deal in baseball, for sure.

Look for Rupp to begin the 2014 season back in Triple-A, but if a need arises in the majors this year, he could be called upon to fill in at any time.

Click here to view the running list of this year's countdown.

No comments: