Photo Credit: Boston Herald
As Spring Training winds down, difficult decisions loom over the final spots for the Red Sox.
Spring Training is about hope.
Every team has the opportunity to build on the success from the previous season or leave the disaster of the past season behind them and start fresh. While the fate of most teams will likely be determined by June, this time of the year gives each fan base something to be excited about. It’s also about competition, emergence, and redemption.
Throughout the majors you can find little-known prospects making names for themselves, or aging veterans making a push to make a roster. You can also find once-hyped, blue-chip prospects and those that never lived up to their promise showing flashes of why they were once so coveted.
The latter is happening in Fort Myers right now with Blake Swihart.
The former #1 prospect in the Red Sox organization is batting around .400 and flashing pop, athleticism, and versatility. Swihart is the feel good story for the Red Sox this Spring.
Once considered among the top catching prospects in all of baseball, Swihart has played some first base, outfield, and is scheduled to put in some work at third this week, in addition to his normal catching duties as he attempts to break camp with the Major League team. The hot bat and positional flexibility would seem to give the former first round draft pick (2011) the upper hand in claiming one of the Red Sox final roster spots heading into Opening Day.
Blake Swihart with the Red Sox first HR this Spring! 🔥🌴 pic.twitter.com/lqYJKGf7ug
— Boston Strong (@BostonStrong_34) February 25, 2018
Further complicating matters, but also working to the advantage of Swihart, is that he is out of minor league options, meaning that the Sox would have to expose him to waivers, he would surely be claimed by another organization.
A year after selecting Swihart with their #1 pick in the 2011 draft, the Red Sox used their first round pick in 2012 on slick-fielding Arizona State shortstop Devin Marrero.
Upon his introduction to the Red Sox, Marrero flashed mid-level potential. He routinely hung around the middle of the Red Sox top thirty organizational prospect rankings as he worked his way through the minor leagues. The general consensus among scouts was that Marrero would have a lengthy Major League career as a utility infielder that was capable of playing Gold Glove defense, but that his inconsistency at the plate would likely keep him from an everyday job on a contender.
Red Sox fans will remember Marrero due to the third base struggle last season. His defense was as advertised, and he did come up with a few clutch hits, but in 383 career plate appearances he produced an anemic .208 batting average with just a .259 OBP. Like Swihart, Marrero finds himself out of minor league options, and would likely be claimed by another team if exposed to waivers.
It would seem that Swihart has the edge based on his ability to catch and superior offensive game, he hasn’t had a meaningful at-bat at any level for the better part of the last two seasons as he dealt with a serious ankle injury.
The Red Sox have an interesting decision to make. Devin Marrero has largely been blocked by the re-signing of Eduardo Nunez, while Swihart is blocked by Sandy Leon.
If Sandy Leon were to get dealt to a catcher-needy team, the door would then open for Swihart.
It looks like the final roster spot will come down to either Swihart or Marrero, with the odd man out likely playing his last game in a Boston uniform.
The choice will not be an easy one…
Be sure to leave your choice in the comments!