According to a recent list released by MLB.com, Red Sox prospect catcher Blake Swihart is ranked top catching prospect heading into the 2015 regular season. Swihart will turn 23 in April and is already on the cusp of reaching the majors very quickly. Swihart was drafted 26th overall in the 2011 draft and has drawn comparisons to San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey.
Swihart’s power emerged in 2014 at both the AA and AAA levels, as he reached double-digits in home runs for the first time in his professional career and tallying his usual 20+ doubles. To be exact, Swihart has a batting average of .293 with 13 home runs and 64 RBI’s between Portland and Pawtucket. Although he is more of an extra-base machine from both sides of the plate, he has shown more over-the-fence power as a righty, with a fly-ball rate that trails his ground-ball rate only slightly.
Swihart projects as an above-average base runner relative to others at his position thanks to his athleticism and surprising speed. He won’t steal bases at the highest level, but his knack for piling up both doubles and triples throughout his career speaks to his solid wheels. I normally expect most catchers to be slow as molasses, but having a catcher that can hustle around the bases for the best possible scoring scenario is always a plus.
Swihart was ranked one of the best defensive catchers in the minor leagues as he threw out more than 46 percent of attempted base stealers between AA and AAA last season. One other positive skill that Swihart possesses is that passed balls are a complete rarity. His athleticism and agility makes wild pitches not even passable for the young catcher, which will only improve as his secondary skills continue to improve.
Unfortunately, Swihart is currently at a disadvantage because the Red Sox already have Christian Vasquez up in the majors along with Ryan Hanigan. Swihart will be the first one to be called upon if one of them goes down to injury or the lack of productivity occurs. The Red Sox understand the value that Swihart brings to the table and refused to deal him to the Phillies for Cole Hamels.
Having Blake Swihart is an absolute privilege and the talent at the catcher position is very thin, unless you have Buster Posey or Yadier Molina. One scout projected the future of Blake Swihart as being an everyday catcher for the better part of the decade. I’m excited to see what Swihart can bring to the Red Sox in the near future and could become the next best franchise Red Sox catcher along with Carlton Fisk and Jason Varitek.