It’s A Family Affair For Marlins’ Aaron Knapp

JUPITER, Fla.—Outfielder Aaron Knapp, his older brother Andrew and their father Mike all starred at the University of California.

But Aaron wanted no part of one Knapp family legacy: catching. He hated the position that his brother and father played, and he told Mike as much after one particularly bad day as a 15-year-old backstop in travel ball.

“The next day, they put me in center field, and I made a couple of diving catches and threw a kid out at the plate,” said Aaron, a 5-foot-10, 175-pound lefthanded batter.

The Marlins drafted Knapp in the eighth round last year, and he batted .253/.339/.318 in 60 games at short-season Batavia.
On the plus side, he stole 19 bases in 26 tries and showed disruptive ability. The 22-year-old said he gets his speed from his mother, who ran track in high school and still competes in marathons.

Aaron, a history major at Cal, likely won’t be the first Knapp in the majors.

Mike never quite got there after spending most of his 11-year career at Triple-A. But 25-year-old Andrew is a member of the Phillies’ 40-man roster who is on the cusp.

Aaron will have to wait a while longer, but he has a certain grit to his game. He makes pitchers work, and he wants to do the same to infielders by busting it down the line on ground balls.

“When I come up (to the plate),” Knapp said, “I want the other team to say, ‘This kid again? I hate this kid.’ ”

Don’t expect power from Knapp. His only home run in three years at Cal was an inside-the-park job. Defense is a big part of his game.

“When I watch Andrew, I can smell, feel and taste what he’s going through because I caught,” Mike said, “but when I watch Aaron, I’m more like a fan.

“I will see a batted ball that looks like a for-sure double, then all of a sudden Aaron flies onto to the screen and makes the catch.”


• The Marlins signed 22-year-old Taiwanese shortstop Shao-Pin Ho after assistant general manager Mike Berger saw him play in the independent California Winter League.

• The Marlins converted 27-year-old shortstop Austin Nola to catcher. He began the process at the Arizona Fall League last year and continued to work all offseason with his big league brother Aaron, a righthander for the Phillies.

— Walter Villa is a reporter based in Miami

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