Last weekend I spoke with catcher Andrew Knapp, who has been one of the most steady bats in the Class A Lakewood lineup for the second half of the South Atlantic League season.
Knapp, at the time, was at the tail end of a 15-game hitting streak, and a stretch in which he hit safely in 19 of 20 games.
The switch-hitting backstop had Tommy John surgery over the off-season and began playing defense about four weeks ago, when the BlueClaws returned from the All-Star break. Prior to that, Knapp had strictly been used as a designated hitter this season.
Through 40 games with Lakewood, the six-foot-one 190-pounder has posted a .270 average along with four home runs and 16 RBI.
Knapp, who was a 2nd round draft pick by the Phillies last year, spoke with me about his recent success at the plate, how the comfort that comes with playing both side of the game helps him as well as some members of the pitching staff he gets to guide.
-On the topic of his recent hot streak...
I haven't really thought about it much. I've just been trying to go out and do the same thing every day. I feel pretty good at the plate. I think getting behind the dish has helped with that. It's taken a little pressure off my offense, just being able to go out there and hit and not have to worry about doing so much because I'm DH'ing, I get to help the team defensively, so that helps a lot.
-Speaking about the comfort level he feels-
I mean, it's really hard to DH every day and when I'm finally getting back behind the plate, getting to be able to focus on some defense, it takes pressure off the offense. And I think, you know, I've been focusing on my defense a lot, so when I go to the plate, I'm just trying to see a good pitch and hit it, so I'm not doing too much at the plate.
-Talking about the pitching staff in Lakewood-
We've got a good staff here. Everybody's been pitching well. I think Tyler Viza's been doing really well. He's a young guy. He's 19-years-old and he's pitching here against some pretty good hitters. I think Jon Prosinski goes out every time, he's around the zone, he gets ground balls. I mean, for the most part we've got a lot of guys that are going after hitters and I'm just happy to be back there working with these guys.