The Boston Red Sox have brought Blake Swihart back to the big leagues. As he battles for playing time in the outfield and behind the plate, should the 24-year old really be marketed for trade?
Blake Swihart may have found his niche. The newest edition to the Boston Red Sox outfield gained the minor league experience, and has positioned himself back into the starting lineup in Fenway, for now. While Swihart adapts to left field and the problems the Green Monster gives all its victims, he must improve at the plate to be considered down the stretch on a highly competitive ball club.
Christian Vazquez has all but assured himself primary catching duties when healthy. Injuries have been a factor in Vazquez’s career however, leaving the door open for Swihart to play at two different positions. The situation seems right on the surface; changing the position of one player so that two prospects can see major league time, rather than one sitting on the bench behind the other. Ultimately this should be the right move by John Farrell and the organization, but it seems to be affecting Swihart at the plate in the short term.
Swihart’s minor league stint gave the 24-year old experience getting out from behind the plate and into the outfield. Splitting time between catching and left field, he only hit for a .243 average over his 29-game stay in Pawtucket, taking one ball deep in his 122 plate appearances. The decision was made however to bring Swihart back to Boston, disregarding his below average numbers in favor of the promise he brings to a lineup that has yet to be slowed down this season.
The decision was made however to bring Swihart back to Boston, disregarding his below average numbers in favor of the promise he brings to a lineup that has yet to be slowed down this season.
There is cause for concern in Swihart’s numbers, as his major league stats stand way lower than last year’s terrific performance. His .238/.346/.238 line is not exactly appealing, a disappointing start to a season which fellow teammates cannot relate to (sparing Pablo Sandoval).
The lack of production from Swihart this season, paired with Vazquez’s early success, has sparked interesting trade rumors. In a year where it seems everyone in the lineup is hitting at a record pace, it might be okay to afford a young player to take his lumps, offensively and defensively. As the youth movement continues to rise in Boston, there seems to be an added pressure felt by prospects progressing more slowly than others.
Red Sox Nation has become spoiled with our prospects making an immediate impact. Most teams don’t have a Xander Bogaerts or Mookie Betts, who are young, immensely talented players ready to produce from their rookie year to their last. Those are the guys who you have seen play at a high level for a few years and they’re still only 23. Players mature, strengthen, and learn the game at different points in their careers. It’s important to note that the 26-year old who currently resides as MLB’s consecutive games with a hit leader, batted only .249 last season and .198 the year before last.
Jackie Bradley, Jr.’s slow start in the big leagues doesn’t seem to bother Red Sox fans today. Props to the Red Sox organization for keeping Bradley around, and I suggest they do the same for Swihart. So maybe it’s another minor league stint in the future that will help further develop his position(s) on the field and get his bat back on track. But to already hook him as trade bait with his talent at this age isn’t something the Red Sox should be interested in. And neither am I.