BBvsCCU Knizner Catches a Warm-up Pitch

Junior catcher Andrew Knizner warms up before an inning. NC State lost its second regional game to Coastal Carolina 4-0 on June 4, 2016, at Doak Field after rain delayed the game from the previous day.

With the second half of the season underway, each of the three MLB Pack Pros are stepping up and delivering at the plate as well as on the mound. With Washington Nationals shortstop Trea Turner raking from the dish and Chicago White Sox left-handed pitcher Carlos Rodón entering the second act of his Cy Young bid, St. Louis Cardinals catcher Andrew Knizner is showing signs of progress in his first consecutive appearances since early June.

Andrew Knizner, catcher, St. Louis Cardinals

The Cards relied on veteran catcher Yadier Molina to handle the backstop duties for most of the first half, but Knizner is showing immense improvement at the plate since making his first second-half appearance July 23. On that day, Knizner went 2 for 4 in a 6-5 loss to the Cincinnati Reds. This outing included a second-inning single, Knizner’s first hit since June 6, and a two-run ground-rule double to put the Cardinals ahead 4-3 in the sixth.

Knizner followed up his big day with another solid performance, drawing three walks against the Reds on July 24. His plate discipline is perhaps his greatest strength this July, as Knizner’s season on-base percentage is primed to touch .300 for the first time since June 4 thanks to his four walks and just one strikeout in the month of July. If Knizner can keep this run of form going, St. Louis will be in good hands at the catcher position even as Molina’s career approaches its end.

Trea Turner, shortstop, Washington Nationals

Coming off the heels of his first career All-Star selection, Turner is picking up right where he left off. Swiping two more bases to bring his season total to 21, Turner is 10 for 31 with a home run and seven RBIs since the All-Star break. During this period, the 28-year-old registered four multi-hit games, the first of which came on July 19 against the Miami Marlins. In an 18-1 massacre of the Marlins, Turner drove in four runs with a first-inning triple, Turner’s third three-bagger of the year, and a three-run bomb in the second.

Despite playing on a struggling Nationals squad that sits fourth in the National League East, Turner and his .319/.367/.521 slashline on the season are showing no signs of slowing down in the second half.

Carlos Rodón, left-handed pitcher, Chicago White Sox

Also following his first career All-Star selection, even if he did not appear in the All-Star game in an effort to stay healthy down the stretch, Rodón kept up his first-half quality by tossing seven innings of one-hit ball against the Houston Astros on July 18, striking out 10 in the process. 

The southpaw did not fare as well in his most recent outing, though, giving up two earned runs on four hits, including two home runs, in a 6-1 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers on July 24. Despite striking out five batters, Rodón was pulled after four innings. Rodón’s inconsistency is still apparent heading into the second half of the season, and he will have to keep that in check if he is going to stay in the conversation for the American League Cy Young Award.