Knizner up for another challenge in Fall League

Cardinals' No. 27 prospect continues to learn intricacies of position

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Andrew Knizner has answered every challenge the Cardinals have placed in front of him thus far and hopes to do so again while playing with the Surprise Saguaros in the Arizona Fall League.

Knizner, the Cardinals' No. 27 prospect, was selected in the seventh round (226th overall) of the 2016 Draft and has already reached Double-A, skipping the Class A Advanced level in his first full professional season.

"I just go out there everyday and play hard and try to get better and that's something that I can work on and I can focus on," Knizner said. "Where I get sent, that's up to the organization."

Knizner can't control where the Cardinals send him, but the organization did opt to send him to the Fall League, a sign that the front office not only thinks highly of him, but also believes he may be relatively close to big league level.

An invite to the Fall League is certainly significant, a fact Knizner is well aware of.

"It's a huge honor," Knizner said. "Getting sent by the organization, it's really important... So as far as the development side, it's really big and it puts you on track to make the big leagues."

Knizner slashed .279/.325/.480 through 44 games with Class A Peoria and was promoted to Double-A Springfield, where he raked, hitting .324/.371/.462 in 51 games.

Hitting has always been a strength for Knizner.

The 22-year-old makes consistent contact and showed some pop, hitting 36 extra-base hits -- 12 homers -- across two levels in 2017.

While Knizner's has impressed at the plate, he is working hard to develop defensively as he transitioned to catcher -- a position he'd never played before -- while in college.

Knizner threw out 45 percent of would-be basestealers this season, but also acknowledges there is room for improvement as he's still relatively new to the position.

"Being out here and getting the reps is huge for my development," Knizner said. "I've come a long way and I've got a long way to go."

While he does have plenty of room for growth, Knizner has grown considerably and will likely expedite his development while working with advanced pitchers in the Fall League.

"It should be fun getting guys that have good stuff and stay around the zone," Knizner said. "So as far as calling a game, I should be able to take my game calling to another level because these guys are so advanced. So it should be fun getting back there and catching these guys."

William Boor is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter at @wboor. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.