Last night’s opening night baseball is full of pomp and ceremony but I do not go to the game for that . I go to see the stars of tomorrow play right now! And I saw that last night in the Clearwater Threshers 2015 home opener.
My favorite minor league season was 1996 watching the Montreal Expos AA team in Harrisburg Pa. I got to see the then soon to be great Vladimir Guerrero play almost an entire minor league season. He would play only 20 games at high A and then 118 games with the Senators at AA and nine games with Expos that season. What a treat it was for me. He would never play at AAA that year and played the 1997 season with the Expos and as they say the rest was history.
I am not suggesting that after last night’s first game of the season at Bright House Field such a scenario could play out for the Phillies farmhands with the Clearwater Threshers but one guys might come close. He is catcher Andrew Knapp. Knapp was phenomenal in the Phillies minor league spring training camp, winning the Bill Giles Award as the best player in the 2015 camp. He hit a long home run to right center in an intrasquad tune-up game on Tuesday night and went three for four with a double to open the Florida State League season last night. See Knapp batting last night HERE and HERE.
The Phillies are normally slow to move up young talent in the organization. Knapp the 23-year, second round draft pick in 2013 was sideline by Tommy John surgery later in 2013 and is now fully recovered could be the exception to the pace of player development usually associated with the Phillies organization. With the Phillies in need of a young catcher, the switch-hitting Knapp is ideally situated to move up quickly in the Phillies organization and eventually become one of the core players for the Phillies. Current Phillies catcher Carlos Ruiz has been injury prone and is playing at baseball age 36 this season.
Traditionally, the Phillies use the time around Florida State League All-Star game to move up talent from high A. The likes of Cody Asche, Maikel Franco and Kelly Dugan moved up to AA Reading around the time of the FSL All-Star break in previous seasons. This season the date of the All-Star game is June 20th. This time is usually moving day for players from high A to AA.
Two other Threshers players stood out last night in the game against Dunedin. The Phillies third round draft pick from the 2014 draft centerfielder Aaron Brown is proving us right that he is a sure fire major league prospect. He made a great catch leaping up off the right center field wall to rob Blue Jays rehabbing major leaguer Michael Saunders of extra bases last night. He would later double in the game. See Here. Reliever Edubray Ramos, a 22-year old international free agent signing from Venezuela, would come on for two innings showing a 94-96 mph fastball and a 79-80 mph slider. Ramos broke Saunders bat to get him to ground out. See Here.
Because Knapp, Brown and Ramos are playing now at baseball ages 22-23 it would not be surprising to see them move up the Phillies chain quickly this season. They showed last night they have the skill sets to make it all the way to Citizens Bank Park even this season.