Blake Swihart: the Forgotten Man

Blake Swihart was part of the stacked Red Sox draft class that included Jackie Bradley Jr, Mookie Betts, and Matt Barnes, all of whom have made appearances with the Red Sox, with Barnes, Betts, and JBJ becoming mainstays on the roster.

However, injuries and the rise of Christian Vasquez, have derailed what was once a very promising career for Blake Swihart.

Swihart, who made both his Red Sox and MLB debut in May of 2015, played minimally, but did have many firsts including an inside the park home run, against the Mets at Citi Field, late in the season.

Despite moderate success, during the 2016 Spring Training, he was told that Christian Vazquez was to become the everyday catcher due to throwing issues. His inability to throw the ball back to the pitcher was like something out of Major League.

Predictably, Swihart was sent down to AAA to begin the season. His demotion led to time in the outfield. Swihart had only ever played outfield as part of Team USA, or as a high school senior in Albuquerque. He progressed well under the tutelage of AAA coach, Billy McMillion and by the end of April, was deemed ready to take his skills to Boston and the Green Monster.

However, the outfield experiment came to a crashing halt, when on June 16th Swihart collided with the left field wall. After the game, it was announced that he would need to undergo more tests, which led to season-ending ankle surgery.

Swihart, again, came into the 2017 season, hoping he’d put the injuries behind him. Sadly, that was not to be the case when very early on he suffered a succession of foul tips off his left ring finger. This nagging injury left Swihart with difficulty swinging the bat and had him in a prolonged 0-17 slump at one point.

The young prospect’s season never really took traction and though he was granted a small cameo at the end of the 2017 season, the past two seasons could be characterized as disappointments.

Swihart was asked and accepted the invitation by the Red Sox to play in the Dominican Winter League. Currently, he’s hitting at .417/.517/.500 with five walks and four strikeouts through eight games as a catcher and designated hitter. While he has yet to play a defensive position other than catcher, he’s also available to Escogido as both a first baseman and left field.

The Red Sox still possess high expectations for the young catcher. He presents a unique skill set that could open the door to making the 25 man roster in 2018.

With the Red Sox having the luxury of Christian Vazquez, they will need to make a decision between Sandy Leon and Swihart – both of whom are out of options. Leon presents value as a defensive catcher, while Swihart flashes a Major League ready bat and above average speed for his position.

Since Christian Vazquez skill set favors his defense, it would not be unlikely for Blake Swihart to finally become a main stay in Boston.

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