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Nola, Knapp honored for rising through system

Rookie righty Phillies' top pitching prospect of season; catcher named top hitter

PHILADELPHIA -- It has been a heck of a year for the Phillies' farm system. recently ranked Philadelphia's organization No. 7 in baseball after it finished last season in the bottom 10. A big reason is the influx of talent from multiple trades since December. But another reason is that some of the Phillies' recent Draft picks have developed as expected or better than expected. on Thursday named two of the Phillies' recent Draft picks -- righty Aaron Nola and catcher Andrew Knapp -- the Phillies' top pitching and hitting prospects of 2015, respectively.

Video: [email protected]: Nola dazzles over eight scoreless innings

Nola entered the season as the No. 2 prospect in the system, behind only shortstop J.P. Crawford, currently the club's top prospect. But Nola has lived up to the hype. The Phillies selected him with the seventh overall pick in the 2014 Draft and said at the time that he was the most Major League-ready pitcher in the Draft.

He made the big leagues a little less than a year later.

Nola went 7-3 with a 1.88 ERA in 12 starts with Double-A Reading. He went 3-1 with a 3.58 ERA in six starts with Triple-A Lehigh Valley before making his big league debut on July 21.

Nola is 6-2 with a 4.11 ERA in 11 starts with the Phillies. He should be a solid piece of the rotation for years to come.

The Phillies selected Knapp, the club's No. 17 prospect, in the second round of the 2013 Draft. He posted a .710 OPS in 404 plate appearances last season with Class A Lakewood and Class A Advanced Clearwater after undergoing Tommy John surgery in October 2013. He hit .262 with 14 doubles, three triples, two home runs, 28 RBIs and a .725 OPS in 63 games with Clearwater this season before being promoted to Reading.

Video: Top Prospects: Andrew Knapp, C, Phillies

And his season in Reading is why Knapp earned Hitter of the Year honors.

Knapp, a switch-hitter, has hit .360 with 21 doubles, two triples, 11 homers, 56 RBIs and a 1.050 OPS in 55 games with Reading, which is in the Eastern League Championship Series. Despite the fact that Knapp has spent about a half-season with Reading, it would not be a surprise to see him open next season in Triple-A and even make the big leagues before the end of 2016.

Todd Zolecki is a reporter for Read his Phillies blog The Zo Zone, follow him on Twitter and listen to his podcast.
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