Fresh Faces On The Bench For Phillies

CLEARWATER, Fla.—The rebuilding Phillies won’t have any new faces in their Opening Day lineup—their top prospects need more time—but they will have some on their bench.

Andrew Knapp emerged from big league camp as the backup catcher and first baseman-outfielder Brock Stassi won a job on the bench with a strong performance in the Grapefruit League.

The 27-year-old Stassi was a four-year player at Nevada. He was selected as a lefthanded pitcher by the Indians in the 44th round of the 2010 draft, then by the Phillies as a first baseman in the 33rd round in 2011.

The well-respected organizational player put himself on the map when he won the Eastern League MVP award at Double-A Reading in 2015. He jumped to Triple-A Lehigh Valley in 2016, received an invitation to big league camp this spring and won a job by hitting .339 with six home runs.

Knapp, 25, was much more heralded than Stassi on the way up. The switch-hitter was a second-round pick out of California in 2013. He moved steadily up the ladder, was a regular at Triple-A last season and was one of 11 players added to the 40-man roster in November.

“He was the all-star catcher at Lehigh Valley last year,” Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said. “He’s had success as a hitter in the minors leagues. He’s got a nice-looking swing. He’s considered highly by the organization and he’s come quite a ways defensively.”

Knapp is still a developing player, so carrying him as a backup is not ideal. But playing time would have been an issue at Triple-A, too, because the Phillies are committed to fellow catching prospect Jorge Alfaro.

“He’s not going to get 500 at-bats, but we’ll get him in there,” Mackanin said. “Any exposure to the big league scene is valuable.”

Knapp is ready for the challenge.

“Everyone hopes to get called up at some point, but to make a team on Opening Day is pretty special—a dream come true,” he said.


• Shortstop Cole Stobbe and righthander Sixto Sanchez were honored as the top position player and pitcher performers in minor league camp.

The Phillies signed first baseman Alex Wojciechowski, their 15th-round pick last year. He hit 33 homers in 55 games as a senior at Division II Minnesota-Duluth last season. He did not immediately sign because of an elbow injury.

— Jim Salisbury covers the Phillies for

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