Blake Swihart’s career has already experienced a lot of ups-and-downs. Due to injuries, Swihart made his Major League debut much earlier than expected.
Swihart appeared in 84 games in 2015. In that time, the switch-hitter slashed .274/.319/.392 with 31 runs batted in and 47 runs scored. He roped 17 doubles to go along with one triple and five home runs. Meanwhile, he showed he could be a threat on the base paths with four steals.
Due to those impressive numbers, Swihart was the odd-man out in 2016. This confused a lot of fans. Although his defense wasn’t great, Swihart had endless offensively potential. His athleticism made him extremely intriguing as a catcher.
He was sent to the minors, and worked in the outfield. This is a move I’ve stated on multiple occasions that I didn’t really understand. His offensive prowess and athleticism were so special because he was a catcher. Swihart seemed like just another guy in the outfield though.
Soon he was brought back to in Majors (as an outfielder), but injured his ankle – ending his season after 19 games. While his stats during that time weren’t great, he did manage three triples in just 62 at-bats.
This year, Swihart is back at catcher – in Triple-A. There, he’s struggled at the plate, slashing .213/.265/.327.
An ankle injury has made it hard for the 25-year-old to catch on a regular basis though. Thanks to that, Swihart started to get work in practice at first and third base.
After another stint on the disabled list, Swihart is working his way back, starting in the Rookie League. On Monday he made his debut at first base. He made no errors in 11 total chances. At the plate, Swihart went 1-for-3 with a double and two runs scored.
Now the question is whether or not this is a permanent move though.
Swihart’s bat and athleticism are plus-plus for catchers. Anywhere else though and they just seem average. At first, his athleticism could still be a plus, but maybe not his bat.
The other problem is that while he wasn’t great defensively, Swihart still had a lot of promise at the position. If his ankle allows it, the Red Sox would be wise to keep Swihart at catcher.
There is another route though. With the outfield already under his belt, Blake Swihart could become a super-utility man. The only difference between him and the few others than can do this, he could still catch. Maybe not everyday, but on occasion.
With his bat struggling at the moment, and his future as a full-time catcher in jeopardy, Swihart needs a new gimmick. The unheard of “catcher-super-utility” could thrust him right back into the “extremely intriguing” category.