Blake Swihart: Do Multi-Year Looks Change The Red Sox Prospect’s Profile?
The top-50 fantasy baseball prospects scouted in 2014 is on the books and Blake Swihart’s inclusion in the top-10 stunned this author. Having first scouted the switch hitting catcher as a member of the Greenville Drive in 2012, it was an opportunity to follow up and continue growing the profile. After scouting the consensus top-100 prospect, the tools remained stable while Swihart’s baseball skills have grown steadily. And while the sum of the parts isn’t sexy, my appreciation for prospects with an all-around skill set has grown substantially in two years.
After the 2012, Blake Swihart was ranked as the ninth best catcher scouted during the season behind eight players with louder tools. Whether arm strength, power or athleticism, the other players were flashier and garnered more attention. In reflecting on the list, it was a mistake to assume they were better than the Red Sox prospect because of it. Here’s the blurb.
Billed as an offense-minded catcher, Swihart struggled to produce in the South Atlantic League. It’s a smooth swing and I didn’t see any glaring omissions from his defensive game, but I’m on the fence as to whether Swihart has fringe average or average tools across the board leaving the projection pretty murky. One thing’s for certain, Swihart will have to hit more to really establish himself as a force within the organization.
At the time, the scouting was correct, but the summation was off. Blake Swihart having no real weakness is an asset, not a hindrance. And as he’s developed, the tools have consolidated and he’s now one of the best catching prospects in baseball.
In person, Swihart presents as an undersized catcher in need of additional physical development. Maybe it’s the no batting glove look, but the former first round pick presents as a throwback type of player whose frame will set off red flags in the mind of scouts who’ll question his endurance over a grueling MLB season. However, Blake Swihart is an above average athlete for the position and this offsets a perceived lack of strength.
With explosive wrists, Swihart presents with above average bat speed and the ability to drive baseballs into the gaps. In one plate appearance, he stayed inside the baseball beautifully and hit a laser down the left field line for a double. It’s average raw power, but command of the strike zone and a feel for contact will allow it to play well at the MLB level. It doesn’t take much to be an average offensive catcher. Josmil Pinto batted .219/.315/.391 and posted a wRC+ of 101. At .264/.337/.430, John Jaso was 21% better than the league average. Compared to his peers, Blake Swihart is a potential impact catcher offensively.
On defense, Swihart presents as a quiet receiver with solid blocking skills. The arm is average, but he benefits from a quick release. The defensive tools leave little doubt he can catch at the MLB level. When he’s ready for Boston, it will be interesting to see how the organization splits playing time between Swihart and Christian Vazquez. Vazquez has long been considered an elite defender at catcher without the bat to match. Will the Red Sox opt for balance or better defense as they develop a less experienced staff than they’ve had in years?
Owning Blake Swihart
Swihart is an exciting piece for the Red Sox as they continue to reposition themselves for future years. And with Boston struggling through a poor season in 2014, the timing is right for them to allow young catchers to develop on the job. For Blake Swihart, this means an opportunity in the second half of 2015 and a chance to establish himself as Jonathan Lucroy lite. As the elite fantasy baseball catcher for the moment, Swihart’s an excellent dynasty keeper who may be undervalued by his current owner.
2 Oct 2014 / Mike Newman /
1-On-1 ROTO Strategy Session
The Best Of RS
- Can Alex "Chi-Chi" Gonzalez Crack the Texas Rangers Opening Day Rotation?
- Fantasy Baseball Trade Deadline 101: A Former MLB GM’s Take
- Felix Hernandez and Solo Home Run Situations: A Blueprint For Longevity
- JR Graham: Is He Still An MLB Arm For The Atlanta Braves?
- Mason Williams: Is It Time To Label Him A Bust For The Yankees?
- Mike Newman's Top-50 Fantasy Baseball Prospects Scouted in 2014
- Nick Kingham Scouting Report (2014)
- Rangers Joey Gallo, Marlins Giancarlo Stanton And Strikeouts
- The ROTOscouting Baseball Podcast
- Top-10 Fantasy Baseball Prospects By Team
- Will Mike Moustakas Finally Put It Together Next Season?