When Spring Training started, Blake Swihart was in an open competition. The Boston Red Sox had three catchers and two spots. Sandy Leon and Christian Vazquez ended up winning those spots, which meant Swihart was sent to Triple-A.
Although he was in the minors, Swihart still served a large role. The 25-year-old is essentially the third catcher. Even though he’s not on the roster, should an injury arise he’s clearly the first replacement option.
Despite a strong Spring Training, Swihart has struggled in Triple-A — the switch-hitter has a .216/.270/.324 slash line on the year. He has just three doubles, one triple and two home runs. Meanwhile, he’s driven in 16 runs and scored 14 more. Not only are those stats not eye-popping, they’re downright disappointing.
Even though Leon is struggling at the plate (.230/.285/.365), his defense has been superb. Meanwhile, Vazquez is hitting better than anyone could’ve imagined (.324/.356/.432).
Thanks to those two, Swihart doesn’t have an opening in the majors. Although, even if he did his numbers wouldn’t warrant a call up the way he has been playing this season, but his past tenure could be a larger influence.
Swihart has been solid at the Major League level over the last two years. He’s combined for a .271/.328/.386 slash line with 36 RBI and 56 runs scored. He has 17 doubles, four triples and five home runs in that time as well. In fact, Swihart even stole four bases, and did it all in just 103 games.
Given those numbers, if another catcher was needed, Swihart would be called on, disappointments and all. Even if he’s still set as the next man up, it would be nice to see him push the others.
If Swihart can be the offensive juggernaut he’s shown in the past, it would put pressure on the others to perform. Yes, both are playing at a high-level right now, but there’s nothing wrong with some more competition.
It will be interesting to see how Swihart plays the next time he’s with Boston. He’s been swinging a little bit better of a bat lately, but his numbers still have a long way to go before looking good.
But Red Sox fans shouldn’t worry. Blake Swihart is still the athletic freak with a good bat, he’s just going through a slump.