Phillies prospect Cameron Rupp makes strides behind plate

Cameron Rupp batted .245 at Reading this year. He was batting .273 for Lehigh Valley entering the weekend. "If it happened I would be ecstatic," he said of a September call-up. ELIZABETH ROBERTSON / Staff
Cameron Rupp batted .245 at Reading this year. He was batting .273 for Lehigh Valley entering the weekend. "If it happened I would be ecstatic," he said of a September call-up. ELIZABETH ROBERTSON / Staff
Posted: August 26, 2013

Before the season, Cameron Rupp seemed to be at third in the Phillies' minor-league catching pool. He began the season sharing time with Sebastian Valle at Reading. When Lehigh Valley catcher Tommy Joseph suffered a concussion, Rupp was moved to triple A.

Always known as a defensive catcher, the 2010 third-round draft choice from the University of Texas has more than held his own at the plate. He has hit better at triple A than he did at double A.

Rupp batted .245 with eight homers and 21 RBIs in 143 at-bats for Reading. Entering the weekend, he was hitting .273 with six homers and 24 RBIs in 165 at-bats for Lehigh Valley.

Rupp's combined 14 home runs are four more than his previous high, set last season at Clearwater. Now in his fourth pro season, his best batting average was .272 in 2011 at Lakewood.

"In my first couple of years of pro ball I didn't hit for power, and the average wasn't quite there," said Rupp, who turns 25 next month. "I finally figured it out and did a lot of work in the offseason, and it is paying off."

With the uncertain status of Joseph, due to his concussion, and the lack of offensive development from Valle, Rupp could very much be in the Phillies' plans, especially since Carlos Ruiz is a free agent after this season.

Lehigh Valley manager Dave Brundage says that Rupp has the potential to be major-league catcher in a capacity still to be determined.

"He has the tools to be a backup big-league catcher, and his bat will put himself into a position to be an everyday catcher at the big-league level if he continues to improve," Brundage said.

Rupp says it would be a dream to earn a September call-up from the Phillies, but it is something he refuses to dwell on.

"It it happened I would be ecstatic, but right now I am focused on trying to help my team win," he said.

Combined no-hitter

Last Sunday, Williamsport had three righthanders combine for a no-hitter in an 8-0 win over the Mahoning Valley Scrappers.

Yacksel Rios, 20, threw the first five innings. Mark Meadors, 21, pitched the next three innings. Manny Martinez, 21, threw the final frame.

There was no thought of allowing the 6-foot-3, 185-pound Rios to keep going after he pitched his five innings.

"All of our pitchers are on a pitch count," Williamsport manager Nelson Prada said in a phone interview. "We are a trying to have them throw no more than 85 pitches."

Rios is a 12th-round pick from 2011 who is converting to a starter.

"In extended [spring training] he threw a lot of strikes, and now he has the opportunity to be a starter, and he's pretty much a fastball, slider guy who throws some change-ups," Prada said.

The Williamsport manager added that Rios throws in the 90-93-m.p.h. range.

Thrill of a lifetime

Lakewood catcher Chace Numata had a blast on Tuesday when he caught Roy Halladay's rehab start for the BlueClaws.

"It was a great experience, a two-time Cy Young Award winner," said Numata, a 21-year-old drafted in the 14th round of the 2010 draft. "I was really starstruck being able to sit next to him, and being able to catch him was an even better experience."

Numata even tried to settle Halladay down in the fourth inning after the righthander threw eight straight balls.

"It was just a normal conversation," Numata said. "I was just trying to give him a breather and doing what I was taught."

The game drew a sellout crowd of 8,000 at FirstEnergy Park.

"I never played in front of a big crowd like that," Numata said. "Being able to catch Roy, even if there weren't many people, that was an awesome experience and something I will never forget."


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