One of the more positive developments during this season of slow growth for the rebuilding Philadelphia Phillies organization has been the progress of the starting catcher.
Cameron Rupp, who turns 28 years old in September, was the club's 3rd round selection in the 2010 MLB Amateur Draft out of the University of Texas.
Rupp was born in Dallas, Texas, and is a huge, vocal fan of the Dallas Cowboys. Philly fans can decide on your own whether you want to hold that against him.
He rose incrementally through the Phillies farm system before making his big league debut in 2013, but didn't see consistent playing time until last season, when he began to platoon with aging veteran Carlos Ruiz.
This season, with Ruiz in the final year of his Phils' contract, the club has turned the starting role over to Rupp for the first time, and he has responded well.
Rupp is hitting for a .276/.323/.487 slash line with 10 homers and 29 RBI. His offensive production is up, in some areas significantly, in every major category.
Defensively, Rupp has proven himself to be a tough, durable performer. His tremendous handling of a putout at the plate earlier this season was voted by fans as the Phillies top play of the first half of the season.
Rupp is also in a favorable contract situation for any acquiring club. He made just $518,000 this season, and is not arbitration eligible until after next season. The 6'2", 260-pound strongman cannot become a free agent for another four years.
The Phillies are in an interesting position with their current organizational catching situation. Three of the club's top 30 prospects are catchers, and there is even more talented depth in the lower levels.
Two of those prospects, Jorge Alfaro and Andrew Knapp, are among the top 10 with the organization, and neither is considered far off from being MLB ready.
Knapp was the organization's Paul Owens Award winner last season as the top position player prospect. Now 24 years of age, he has overcome a slow start to the 2016 season and hit .282 over the last 30 days, and for a .300 mark during July.
Alfaro just turned 23 years of age last month, and is probably a year away from pushing for the big league job. Knapp appears to be ready right now for a shot, and could get a call-up should Ruiz be dealt by the deadline, as many expect.
That puts a wrinkle into Rupp possibilities, the apparently imminent exit of the popular "Chooch" in a trade to some contending team.
Would the Phillies deal both of their catchers, and turn the position over completely to inexperienced backstops, even during an acknowledged rebuilding year? That would seem unlikely.
Still, if another team believes that Rupp can step in and become their starting catcher, such a situation could take place.
If is possible that Knapp and his soon-to-be 26-year old backup with the AAA Lehigh Valley IronPigs, Logan Moore, could take over those roles in Philly.