Two backup-catcher options for the 2022 Phillies season
The Phillies will enter the 2022 season with Andrew Knapp off the roster for the first time since 2017. Knapp was never the flashiest player in the dugout, but he was always good enough to be the backup catcher for many years.
Andrew Knapp signed a minor-league deal with the Cincinnati Reds back in December, heading to just the second team of his career. This departure leaves a hole in the backup catcher spot, but the Phillies do have options going into the upcoming season.
Wheeler/Nola/Eflin/Suarez/Gibson is going to be one of the best rotations in the league *if healthy*and they need the right guy behind the plate backing up JT Realmuto.
Two in-house backup catcher options for the Phillies
Rafael Marchan has only played two seasons in the majors and recorded only 65 total plate appearances in that span. His .267 career batting average could be a cause for concern, but his defense can certainly make up for it.
Marchan has recorded just two errors in 20 games behind the plate. He’s caught 138 major league innings and has a fielding percentage of .995. Marchan has also thrown out 50% of runners trying to steal throughout his career and has a cannon for an arm.
The ideal situation for a backup catcher is a guy with a ton of major league experience. Marchan certainly doesn’t have that, but from what we’ve seen behind the dish so far, he will certainly be the front-runner for the spot this year.
The 22-year-old has blossomed throughout his time in the minor leagues. O’Hoppe slashed .270/.331/.458 in 104 games throughout three leagues in 2021, crushing 17 HRs and 58 RBIs. Starting off with Jersey Shore, O’Hoppe’s increase in skill brought him all the way to Triple-A by the end of the year.
Along with Bryson Stott, O’Hoppe was selected to the Arizona Fall League “Fall-Stars” game after his dominant stint in the AFL with the Peoria Javelinas. He crushed a .299/.440/.520 hitting line, while tallying 17 RBIs in 22 games.
Once again, the problem with O’Hoppe is experience. He’ll most likely start the season in Triple-A, depending on how his spring goes. He’s not ready for the backup catcher position just yet, but it won’t take long for his skills to be ready to fill in that spot.
The Phillies also added Garret Stubbs in the offseason, who was acquired from the Houston Astros in a trade back in November. Stubbs has the biggest major league workload out of the three, but is ranked third on my list for the Phillies. He isn’t familiar with any of the current arms on the Phillies’ big-league roster, and having him up on an everyday basis is the start of a failed experiment.
Prediction: Marchan starts the season as the #2 catcher, O’Hoppe continues to dominate in the minors, and is called up in injury situations, depth, etc.