With all the talk the last few days of Phillies free agent catcher Carlos Ruiz getting big offers to go elsewhere, it is no better time than right now for 25 year old Cameron Rupp to break out and prove he is a major league prospect no matter what the Phillies Front Office might think. He was a third round Phillies draft pick in 2010 and is showing the Phillies they made the right decision in drafting him.
Rupp started the 2013 season by hitting .245 at Reading. Then he hit .269 after being called up to Lehigh Valley in mid-season. He was rewarded by a September call-up to the Phillies and made his major league debut by going 4 for 13 in three starts for a .308 average. In the Arizona Fall League he is hitting .333 playing in 11 of the 24 games so far for the Peoria Javelinas including three games as a DH.
It’s hard to believe Rupp has not seen more action with the current state of catching in the Phillies organization. Rupp is far and away the only Phillies catching prospect who is ready right now for major league action.
Once considered the to top catching prospect in the organization Tommy Joseph has been plagued by health issues all season. He is headed to winter ball in the Dominican Republic to see if he can continue to catch after missing most of the season on the Disabled List with ramifications from a concussion.
Also on the 40 man roster is catcher Sebastian Valle who hit only . 203 at Reading and is currently playing little for his home town Los Mochis in the Mexican Pacific League. He is hitting under .200 there as his prospect status is quickly fading.
On the other hand, Rupp has been getting better and better with the bat in the AFL. He is hitting .333, 12th best in the league and leads all catchers in slugging percent. He is eight in the league overall in OPS.
In Wednesday’s game Rupp hit two doubles and six of his 15 hits so far have been for extra bases. Only seven games remain in the AFL season which ends next week but Rupp has been one of the biggest surprises with the bat in the league where the best young prospects from all 30 teams play in October and November every year.
Baseball Betsy and I were fortunate enough to watch Rupp play last season with the Threshers where he was a Florida State League All Star catcher. This season we watched him on MiLB-TV catch Jesse Biddle’s 16 strike out performance for Reading early in the season in Harrisburg against the Senators. Rupp has been Jesse’s personal catcher most of the young left-hander’s career. Defensively, Rupp is ready. Now his bat has caught up to major league status too.
It’s looking more and more likely that longtime Phillies catcher Carlos Ruiz, who turns 35 years old in January, will be leaving for a big payday with another team. Cameron Rupp has quickly emerged as the leading prospect to replace him as the Phillies catcher of the future at some point.
With a less than ringing endorsement from GM Ruben Amaro who believes he needs more experience and Rupp’s limited catching opportunities recently it is highly unlikely he will start this season as the Phillies No. 1 catcher or even make the opening day 25 man Phillies roster. Instead he likely will be in Lehigh Valley getting even more experience. That’s the Phillies way.
If the Phillies do not re-sign Ruiz, they will no doubt be looking to add an experienced catcher either by free agency or trade to the catching mix at the major league level to go with current backup Erik Kratz.
But even the Phillies Front Office will have a hard time denying Cameron Rupp the opportunity to be an every day catcher some where in the the major leagues very soon as he keeps getting better and better both behind the plate and with the bat.