Continuing with their rundown of the top prospects by position at MLB.com, the prospect writers at MLB Pipeline unveiled their Top 10 catchers on Thursday. Travis d’Arnaud of the New York Mets came in atop the list, but Boston’s Blake Swihart checked in at #5.
While he’s still relatively new to catching full time, Swihart’s development, particularly in 2013, points to a long career as an everyday big league backstop. The switch hitter can really swing the bat from both sides, and he has the chance to be an above average hitter with at least average power. He runs better than most catchers and that athleticism should help him eventually become a solid defensive receiver, one with an above average arm. The 22 year old New Mexico high school product, who was Boston’s First Round Draft pick in 2011, has plenty of time to refine his skills in the Minors.
Swihart’s already being pegged as the team’s catcher of the future in most circles, though most understand that he’s still a little ways away from being Boston-bound. Some scouting reports (the one above) even suggest that he could end up developing into a very Jason Varitek-like backstop, potentially even better, but there needs to be some patience displayed for Swihart. He spent the 2013 season with High-A Salem (batting .298/.366/.428 in 422 PA), so a jump to Double-A Portland should be expected – but isn’t necessarily guaranteed – this coming season. His arrival in Boston likely won’t happen until late 2015 at the earliest.
Boston has the luxury of not needing to rush Swihart. David Ross and A.J. Pierzynski should form a reliable duo at the Major League level. Ryan Lavarnway and Dan Butler will share duties at Triple-A, where both hit extremely well in 2013. The team also has Christian Vazquez on the 40-man roster. He’ll likely play everyday at Portland until there is room for him to do so in Pawtucket.