The Phillies have struggled to get very much if any production from the back-up catcher position.
With long-time backup Andrew Knapp signing a minor league contract with the Cincinnati Reds before the lockout, the Phillies need someone to fill Knapp’s shoes.
“We need home-grown talent…we need guys to come up from the minor leagues and be successful,” Phillies’ right fielder Bryce Harper told reporters at the end of last season.
The Phillies have a few options, with a couple of young players with great potential to fill the role. With the universal designated hitter basically guaranteed to be included in the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, the backup catcher wouldn’t need to be a pinch hitter very often- if at all. Their defensive ability will be more of a necessity than their bat.
Here are three of the best options to be the Robin to J.T. Realmuto’s Batman
Rafael Marchan will be entering his age 22 season in 2022 and has very minimal service time to his name.
Marchan has a total of 60 at-bats across 23 major league games for the Phillies over the past two seasons. He has a career slash line of .267/.323/.417 with two home runs and seven RBIs in his very short major league career.
Marchan has a .986 fielding percentage in the majors with only one passed ball. He is a very solid option for the Phillies to have behind Realmuto, who can serve as a mentor for the young backstop in the process.
Stubbs was acquired by the Phillies for outfielder Logan Cerny back in November. He turns 29 in May and has a little over a year in service time.
Since making his debut in 2019, Stubbs has only played in 51 games, with a career average of .182. He has six total RBIs and is yet to hit his first big league home run.
The lefty bat is also decent behind the plate also. In 33 games behind the plate, Stubbs has a .994 fielding percentage with only one error. However, he does have 11 wild pitches and a single passed ball.
Stubbs probably isn’t the first choice for the position, but his acquisition makes you think that he will be in contention when spring training commences.
Logan O’Hoppe is the only option on this list that has zero MLB service time to his name. O’Hoppe, 22, was the Phillies 23rd round selection in the 2018 Amateur Draft.
O’Hoppe made it all the way to Triple-A Lehigh Valley in 2021 before lighting up the Arizona Fall League.
In 183 minor league games, across three seasons, O’Hoppe has a career .273/.329/.458 slash line. He slugged 24 career home runs and 105 RBIs to go with 181 hits.
While playing in the AZFL, O’Hoppe slashed .299/.440/.520 in 22 games. He hit three home runs, drove in 17 RBIs, stole three bases, and walked 21 times.
Defensively, he has a .989 fielding percentage, with 14 total errors and 13 passed balls across the minors and Fall League.
Much like Marchan, O’Hoppe provides major potential, learning from J.T. Realmuto could also benefit him.
Sign a Veteran, Free Agent Catcher
There are many options for the Phillies outside the organization, but they aren’t youthful. Some options include players like Wilson Ramos or Kurt Suzuki. Many free-agent catchers are towards the end of their careers. With Realmuto on year two of a five-year contract (that could possibly be his last), an option that has most of, if not all, his career ahead of them could be better for the Phillies.
Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire