Knapp making most of limited playing time

Backup catcher smacks longest Phils HR of '17 (434 ft.) vs. Reds

Knapp making most of limited playing time

PHILADELPHIA -- Andrew Knapp is biding his time, taking the playing time he's been given and slowly but surely earning more.

"I'm just trying to take my opportunities and take advantage of them," Knapp said.

In his 16th start of the year on Sunday in an 8-4 loss to the Reds, Knapp crushed the Phillies' longest homer of the season at 434 feet, according to Statcast™.

Rupp, Knapp try on informative wristbands

Tommy Joseph and Aaron Altherr have dominated the headlines of resurgent Phillies hitters on scorching hot tears. But Knapp's numbers, albeit in more sporadic playing time, are better than both.

Since April 27, Knapp leads the Phillies with a .306 batting average, a .405 on-base percentage (the only one on the team above .400), and a 1.016 OPS in 36 at-bats.

Knapp ranked fourth in OPS among Major League catchers with at least 30 plate appearances in the past month. Sunday's performance only helped his cause, and Knapp feels more in a groove with his increased role.

"The more at-bats I get, the better I feel," he said.

Phillies manager Pete Mackanin has noticed, and sees added benefits beyond the immediate on-field production. He relishes the added competition that Knapp's success brings from the backup role. For a Phillies team struggling to put together wins, that in itself is a small silver lining.

"Competition is great for pitchers and for position players, and I think it's good. ... That's going to only, in my opinion, make [Cameron] Rupp better," Mackanin said.

No performance in so few trips to the plate, regardless of how inspiring, could have given rise to Knapp usurping Rupp as the starting catcher. But Mackanin is becoming increasingly comfortable giving more playing time to Knapp, given how quickly he's taken to Major League pitching.

The three-run homer Sunday was his third of the season and his second in the last three games. If Knapp continues to take advantage of his playing time -- or even wins himself more of it -- he could be in line to become the first rookie catcher to slug double-digit home runs for the Phillies since Bob Boone in 1973.

Knapp's solo homer

That would be impressive for a 25-year-old switch-hitting catcher with less than two months of Major League experience, as he's yet to break 40 at-bats or the 150-inning mark in the field. There's still plenty of time (and room) for him to grow.

And Mackanin plans to give it to him.

"Cam will get the brunt of the playing time, and for me it's a great situation -- now we've got two guys that we think a lot of," Mackanin said.

Ben Harris is a reporter for MLB.com based in Philadelphia. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.