Red Sox Prospect Update: What happened to Blake Swihart?
By Cody Collins
Once seen as the catcher of the future for the Boston Red Sox, Blake Swihart is trapped in Triple-A Pawtucket. What’s next for the once promising prospect?
Professional baseball scouting is a difficult industry. The scouts are tasked with evaluating young talent and projecting future growth and development. Enter Blake Swihart. The young Texas catcher was a “Can’t Miss prospect,” with intangibles that would make any team, especially the Boston Red Sox, salivate.
Swihart was tabbed as the catcher of the future in Boston. He had a sweet stroke, a solid arm, and plus-speed for a catcher. Christian Vazquez and Swihart were usually side-by-side in evaluations; however, Swihart usually held the upper hand. Blake could hit, Vazquez could throw, and when Christian tore his Ulnar Collateral Ligament – requiring Tommy John – it was Swihart’s chance.
The rookie made a solid impression upon his arrival to Boston. He hit .274 with 23 extra-base hits – showing his upside as a hitter
Unfortunately, the same could not be said about his defense. Swihart struggled and proved to be a liability behind the plate. Due to defensive struggles, he ended up platooning with Ryan Hanigan.
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In 2016, Vazquez came back healthy and was expected to split time with Swihart and Hanigan. After a rough Spring Training, John Farrell sent Blake to the outfield to best utilize his athleticism. The experiment proved to be beneficial, as Swihart was capable of making outstanding plays with his solid speed and play-making ability.
It was all going right, until it didn’t. On June 4th, 2016, Swihart badly injured his ankle – crashing into the wall along the third base line.
Now a year later, Swihart is stuck in AAA and was the odd man out (behind Vazquez and Sandy Leon) after a poor defensive showing in Fort Meyers. He even struggled accurately throwing the ball back to the pitcher.
As the trade deadline fast approaches, Swihart is a blue-chip prospect who could be dealt. Most likely, if the Red Sox are in the market for a reliever, Swihart would be too much to part with. However, if Dave Dombrowski decided to target a third baseman – Todd Frazier or Mike Moustakas – Swihart could be the type of player that would tempt a GM.
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Despite only hitting .231 this year in Pawtucket, Swihart has the potential to develop into a solid big league catcher. However, with Leon, Vazquez, and Swihart all in the organization, the Red Sox will be forced to make a decision on their future. Will they keep Swihart? I’m not sure, but the trade deadline could prove to be a crucial point in Swihart’s career.