It seems like a past life time when Blake Swihart was considered the #1 catching prospect in all of baseball after the 23-year-old put together a very solid MLB debut back in 2015, appearing in 84 games with a .274 AVG with 5 HR and 31 RBI.
Since then, the Red Sox organization has somehow managed to turn this blue chip prospect into a fuzzy memory of a once promising career, that is now slowly decaying in Pawtucket Rhode Island. At this point, you’re far more likely to hear people discussing the future impact of low to mid level prospects like Tzu-Wei Lin and Michael Chavis than the formerly untradeable and now forgotten Swihart.
The worst part is, it’s hard to even blame Swihart for his swift descent into oblivion. After a rash of injuries decimated the Red Sox outfield in the beginning of the 2016 season, the organization deemed it a worthy experiment to test Swihart out as an outfielder in AAA for a couple of games. After no major mishaps in the OF, Swihart was called back to the Majors and thrust into LF where he quickly suffered a season ending ankle injury.
In what should have been a key developmental year for Swihart both offensively and defensively, he ultimately accumulated just 48 games played and 196 PA between AAA/MLB and oh yea just 15 games as a backstop.
This season, Swihart has regressed tremendously at the plate, batting just .213 before his July 7th trip to the DL due to another injury to his surgically repaired ankle. Now, due to that injury, Swihart will be splitting his time between the corner infield spots and occasionally playing catcher. Here’s what John Farrell had to say about the situation-
“He’s been on the DL because of the ankle issue and as he gets back active because the stress of catching is not allowing him to catch as a regular everyday catcher,” manager John Farrell said Tuesday. “We’re going to begin moving him around the infield. He’s going to take groundballs at first, he’ll take some at third, he’ll still catch some, but the ankle is a limiting factor as far as how many games consecutively he can catch.”
So because the Red Sox organization did not demonstrate patience when it came to Swihart’s development by attempting to use him as a quick OF fix last season, the former top prospect now can’t even play catcher on an everyday basis. Instead of trying to fix his struggles at the plate and raise a dismal .213 batting average, Swihart is now going to have to focus on learning two positions that he has never played professionally. That should go swell.
A couple of years ago Swihart was touted as the second coming of Buster Posey, now due to the Red Sox organization’s heedless mismanagement, Swihart will be lucky to get a whiff a couple of September call up at bats.