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Wherefore art thou, Blake?

Discussion in 'Red Sox Forum' started by Trotsky, Apr 11, 2018.

  1. Trotsky

    Trotsky Member SoSH Member

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    How long does DD and Cora stick with both Leon and Holt? Obviously with X out and Lin up.... it’ll be a while but this guy seems to be wasting away....
     
  2. PrometheusWakefield

    PrometheusWakefield Nasty, brutish, and short SoSH Member

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    With D'Arnaud out for the season and the Mets looking competitive I wonder what they'd give for Blake...
     
  3. Savin Hillbilly

    Savin Hillbilly loves the secret sauce SoSH Member

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    WHEREFORE DOES NOT MEAN WHERE

    Sorry, somebody had ta. That said....

    He's only got two fewer PA than Leon, and half as many as the other two bench guys. Cora just hasn't used the bench much yet.

    But yeah, if they don't start giving him some C starts soon, with Leon starting as badly as he has, it does start to look like they just don't think he can play there.
     
  4. Adrian's Dome

    Adrian's Dome Member SoSH Member

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    I'll be patiently waiting for the explanation behind leaving Swihart pasted to the bench and PHing Leon for Holt today with the game on the line, because no matter how I try, I can't make sense of it.
     
  5. Maximus

    Maximus Member SoSH Member

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    It makes no sense, terrible decision. Cora cutting his teeth.
     
  6. UncleStinkfinger

    UncleStinkfinger lurker

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    i feel like we have a wrong mix of bench guys. i feel bad for swihart. his career is dying on the vine. and benny should play every day. i know, im incoherent.
     
  7. tonyarmasjr

    tonyarmasjr Member SoSH Member

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    I took the Xander injury thread on a tangent questioning trading Marrero instead of Holt. This is another (lesser) reason I'd prefer having Marrero. If Holt and Swihart split utility time behind Nunez, that means Swihart doesn't get enough PAs to develop/show what he can do/establish value. Marrero's a guy that you'd have no problems stashing on the end of the bench and using as a defensive replacement or occasional fill-in for Bogaerts/Devers. He wouldn't take playing time away from Swihart, who has the biggest upside - which necessitates opportunity to identify/confirm/unlock. And, seriously, if Sandy Leon is pinch hitting for Holt, why are we paying him $2.25M? It's early and we have two injured middle infielders, so I'm not reading too much into the bench usage yet, but I'd certainly prefer to see more Swihart than Holt or Leon.
     
  8. geoduck no quahog

    geoduck no quahog Well-Known Member Lifetime Member SoSH Member

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    I took the use of Leon this way: Swihart has only a nominal chance to be better than Leon against Chapman. If Leon gets a hit, there's the possibility of pinch running Swihart for Vazquez and Lin for Leon, with Betts coming up. Or maybe not.
     
  9. timlinin8th

    timlinin8th Member SoSH Member

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    Couldn’t you let Swihart hit for himself (considering both he and Leon both don’t have a great chance against Chapman), and if he gets a hit pinch run Lin for Vaz? Then you still have Leon on the bench.

    Cora doesn’t trust Swihart. Not sure why he trusts Leon more though.
     
  10. Trotsky

    Trotsky Member SoSH Member

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    1,634
    WHEREFORE DOES NOT MEAN WHERE

    WHY is Swihart nailed to the bench? Is what I was asking in thread title. Yeah..., the construction of it seems sub-optimal. JDM should JUST DH. Then Swihart and/or Holt would make more sense...
     
  11. Merkle's Boner

    Merkle's Boner Well-Known Member Gold Supporter SoSH Member

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    I get why Cora may be anxious to give Blake a start at 2B, but he needs to take the dive. Nunez looks absolutely lost, and if Blake is going to have a spot on this team, he is going to need to play 2B and 3B, as well as C. I'm hoping today's the day.
     
  12. geoduck no quahog

    geoduck no quahog Well-Known Member Lifetime Member SoSH Member

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    Yeh, you're right.

    So it just comes down to Cora having more faith with Leon in that situation. Something about seeing the fastball maybe? We'll never know.
     
  13. bosox79

    bosox79 Member SoSH Member

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    They probably just don't trust him as a catcher. Blake did have a case of the yips throwing back to the pitcher and they did move him off the position last year. It's always been speculated they didn't care for him much at C, most of us just kinda shrugged it off as nonsense.
     
  14. BillMuellerFanClub

    BillMuellerFanClub Well-Known Member Silver Supporter SoSH Member

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    I chalk this up to Cora taking behaviors and traits that he likes from the managers he's had over the years. I think he's giving rope to the veterans to allow them the opportunity to establish themselves in the pecking order. If Swihart doesn't get an opportunity while Leon and Nunez continue to suck into the late days of April, I would hope that Cora changes gears and adjusts his lineups accordingly.

    I can't fault the guy for coming in as a new manager and giving the veterans a puncher's chance at getting going. We're 11 games into the season.
     
  15. Hawk68

    Hawk68 lurker

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  16. Van Everyman

    Van Everyman Member SoSH Member

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    I think it’s simpler than that: someone has to get hurt.
     
  17. Red(s)HawksFan

    Red(s)HawksFan Member SoSH Member

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    Exactly. Bench players don't hit their way into more playing time unless someone gets hurt that gives them the opportunity to hit at all. One start and one late inning substitution a week isn't enough for anyone to make a significant impression. Just look at Lin. After he came up, he sat until Nunez's knee got balky and gave him an opportunity that thus far he's made the most of.

    Frankly, I'm a little surprised that Swihart didn't get the start in LF (or RF) on Sunday with Betts down. He did go 2 for 3 replacing Betts on Saturday. Maybe he starts tonight if Betts still isn't 100%.
     
  18. chawson

    chawson Well-Known Member Bronze Supporter

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    Likely someone on another team.

    Lin seems to have rightfully surpassed Blake as the backup backup second baseman when Bogaerts returns, and Devers is looking great at third. The Sox have been too good to need it, but it's kind of wasted roster spot.

    Joel Sherman tweeted a couple days ago that the Mets should consider trading Zack Wheeler for Swihart, who would replace the injured and otherwise disappointing Travis D'Arnaud. That may look lopsided in our favor with Wheeler looking good out of the gate, but Blake has three additional years of team control.
     
  19. PrometheusWakefield

    PrometheusWakefield Nasty, brutish, and short SoSH Member

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    Right... but then what do you do with Zach Wheeler. We don't have any openings in our rotation either once Pomeranz comes back.

    I would prefer us address our real need: the dearth of prospects on the farm.
     
  20. grimshaw

    grimshaw the new rudy SoSH Member

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    There's probably some veteran treatment favoring Holt so far. I don't think it's a stretch that Swihart could outhit Brock over 200 PA but Cora evidently wants to get him going.

    He has worked out at 3b, 2b, and obviously LF and 1b, but has just 10 innings in the field between the latter two. Blah, blah college athleticism but It's entirely possible he doesn't look very good at those positions at the major league level in practice.

    I can't recall another top prospect on the Sox both be this unlucky with injuries and never get an extended chance to prove himself. I'm not advocating for him, but it's a shame.
     
    #20 grimshaw, Apr 17, 2018
    Last edited: Apr 17, 2018
  21. OurF'ingCity

    OurF'ingCity lurker

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    Yeah, I feel like this is the heart of the issue. If JDM was solely a DH, I think Swihart would be seeing a lot more playing time in LF. However, if that were the case it would mean Hanley would be playing first and Moreland would be on the bench.

    Put another way, there's no real way short of injuries to get JDM, Hanley, Swihart and Moreland in the lineup all at the same time, so it becomes somewhat of a crapshoot as to whether they play more Moreland or Swihart. YMMV but so far they've obviously mostly gone the Moreland route, probably both because he is a veteran and because of JDM's stated desire to play outfield as much as possible (I assume there is a handshake deal involved in his signing where the Sox promised to try to get him at least a solid amount of time in the outfield, as unoptimal as that might be).
     
  22. judyb

    judyb Member SoSH Member

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    Fortunately or unfortunately so far, their only serious position player injuries have been at SS and 2B , I would think if they thought Swihart could handle 2B at all competently, he might have gotten a start or 2 there. If an OF misses some time, I would expect him to get starts in LF. And obviously if a catcher does, he'd get some there.
     
  23. nvalvo

    nvalvo Well-Known Member Silver Supporter SoSH Member

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    Wheeler has two options...
     
  24. chrisfont9

    chrisfont9 Member SoSH Member

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    Yeah Cafardo's piece says they have looked more at 1b and 3b for infield options, plus OF. Being a switch hitter obviously gives him some platoon value, and while he can't simply hit his way into the lineup barring an injury, he can hit his way into some sort of increased usage whenever there's a platoon issue, minor injury, rest needed, etc.
     
  25. chawson

    chawson Well-Known Member Bronze Supporter

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    It was surprising to learn Wheeler wasn't the long term asset I thought he was. He'd hit at the same time Sale, Porcello, Bogaerts, Nunez, and potentially JDM would. Trading Swihart for him is still something I'd consider — could free up EdRo for a trade, but that's a more complicated conversation.
     
  26. Pozo the Clown

    Pozo the Clown lurker

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    If by "complicated" you mean "It's hard to imagine a trade of EdRo that would make sense for the Sox", I concur. With Pom in his walk year, Price able to opt out after after this year, Sale and Porcello FAs after next year and EdRo controlled through 2021, I'm not envisioning the Sox having any willingness to move him unless the return is overwhelming.
     
  27. chawson

    chawson Well-Known Member Bronze Supporter

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    Agree, that overwhelming return being part of the incentive. The market for cost-controlled pitching is a far better one to be selling in than young catching. Getting Wheeler from a going-for-it Mets team desperate for a backstop in April may be one of the better chances to get value from Swihart left.

    Otherwise, I feel like DD will eventually need the roster spot and end up swapping him for a middling A's reliever with options. Lucroy, Ramos and Realmuto will all likely be traded by the summer, and maybe one of those teams would be interested in Blake for their vacancy. Here, he's on pace for 108 PAs in his age-26 season, most of them garbage time.
     
  28. Maximus

    Maximus Member SoSH Member

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    Cora has been adamant about getting all the positional players playing time with the exception of Swihart which is ridiculous since he clearly has the ability to hit.
     
  29. Adrian's Dome

    Adrian's Dome Member SoSH Member

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    I think a combination of factors has gone into Swihart's lack of playing time, including Hanley's hot start, JDM actually playing the outfield, Mookie being otherwordly, and Cora (seemingly) being unwilling to sacrifice defense for offense at C.

    I think if he could play a competent 2B, we would've seen him there. Otherwise, 1B, C, and the OF are pretty locked up, so...
     
  30. Savin Hillbilly

    Savin Hillbilly loves the secret sauce SoSH Member

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    Looking at some numbers today on FG....Christian Vazquez is now at a 67 wRC+. That's about his 2014/2016 clip (in fact his slash is uncannily similar to 2014).

    It's early, but so far Christian has been the fairly terrible hitter he had always been prior to last year. And of course Leon, in an admittedly tiny sample, has been that much worse.

    How much longer does this continue before we can say definitively that the Red Sox do not intend to play Blake Swihart at catcher, like, ever?
     
  31. lexrageorge

    lexrageorge Member SoSH Member

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    6,077
    Vazquez did add 80 points to his OPS last night, so there's that. :)

    I do get the feeling that the organization doesn't really view Swihart as a catcher except as the break glass in emergency option. I haven't seen enough of him myself to really judge whether their assessment is correct.
     
  32. rmurph3

    rmurph3 Well-Known Member Gold Supporter SoSH Member

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    As long as the other two are on the roster, then it seems Swihart's not going to catch. I've still got the notion that Leon could get DFA'd at some point, but.... with the staff ERA at 2.82 and the SP ERA at 2.05, why on earth would anyone mess with the catching right now? Who cares how they're hitting?

    Others have noted this, but the kind of developments that would create room for Swihart just haven't happened (yet). He's currently a casualty of things going so well. But it's a very long season. Maybe the best thing for him right now would be that the team keeps winning, runs away and hides from the rest of the division, and allows Cora to spread some ABs around all summer long.
     
  33. tonyarmasjr

    tonyarmasjr Member SoSH Member

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    Can you either define "terrible" or "always" for me? Because that statement is either saying a .734 minor league OPS for a catcher who was age-advanced at every level is "terrible" or 384 MLB PAs prior to last year as a young catcher is "always."
     
  34. Buzzkill Pauley

    Buzzkill Pauley Member SoSH Member

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    Leon: .167/.167/.167.

    This defines terrible.

    Now, a hot game or three could totally turn this slash line around. Swihart will be kept around, in case it doesn’t.
     
  35. Jerry’s Curl

    Jerry’s Curl lurker

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    If you’re the manager, and the team is doing well as are the pitchers that Sandy catches, do you overlook the poor offensive performance?
     
  36. Buzzkill Pauley

    Buzzkill Pauley Member SoSH Member

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    For now. Leon can ride the team’s hot start and overall superb offensive performance to try to turn things around.

    However, that’s not sustainable as a long-term strategy because an 83.3% out-making rate (even hidden at the bottom of the lineup), puts the offense at significant disadvantage when compared to the Astros and MFYs.

    A better strategy, if Leon continues at such woeful production (say < .500 OPS) is to hand off duties of catching the challenging pitchers with sweeping breaking pitches (Sale’s slider and Price’s cutter, e.g.) to Vazquez, while letting Swihart catch part-time for pitchers whose stuff is easier to glove.
     
  37. Savin Hillbilly

    Savin Hillbilly loves the secret sauce SoSH Member

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    Sorry, should have added a qualifier -- I'm talking about his MLB performance. And yeah, you're right, that does gloss over the still-small sample a bit.
     
  38. rmurph3

    rmurph3 Well-Known Member Gold Supporter SoSH Member

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    I think we all know that 18 AB doesn't represent a true talent level for Leon. He's a career 660 OPS guy. If that's an approximation of what he'll give this year, is that enough to just leave him alone as the 2nd C, rather than take the defensive downgrade to Swihart? I think it probably is.
     
  39. tonyarmasjr

    tonyarmasjr Member SoSH Member

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    Not in my opinion. Leon had a half season of success at the plate in 2016 that was great for us. But outside of 2012, he hasn't cracked a .700 OPS at any level. He's a replacement-level catcher who plays good defense. Dan Butler is his equivalent. If he had an option, I'd be wondering why Swihart isn't already the 2nd catcher. At some point, the Sox have to figure out 1) if Swihart can catch 50+ games in a season and 2) if he can hit at the level expected/hoped. He's a much more valuable player than Leon if he can, but I think it's going to be hard to find out #2 before #1.
     
  40. joe dokes

    joe dokes Member SoSH Member

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    I think it probably is, too. But, what I think doesn't matter. Vazquez has started 3 of every 4 games. [extrapolation alert!!] If Cora's intended use of the backup catcher is only 40 starts, is that few enough to accept the defensive downgrade, get Swihart more ABs, and add another position player to the bench? (Again, assuming the team thinks Swihart is a bona fide catcher).
     
  41. Philip Jeff Frye

    Philip Jeff Frye Member SoSH Member

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    Maybe they think they already know the answer to #1.
     
  42. OurF'ingCity

    OurF'ingCity lurker

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    I think if the Sox thought Swihart could catch 50+ games a season Leon would already be gone. The fact that he isn't strongly suggests they think the answer to #1 is "no," although whether that is due to overall defense, framing, pitch calling, respective comfort level with pitchers, who knows. I would guess a combination of all those factors.
     
  43. Andrew

    Andrew broke his neck in costa rica SoSH Member

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    So you're saying that this thread titles does work?
     
  44. Marco

    Marco lurker

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    Hey guys, this thread spurred me to finally sign up. Sometimes I think we hold on to things well past their due date, and this particular one drives me batty. Prospects bust all the time, and sometimes prospects were always overrated. At some point you gotta just let it go.

    I guess I just don't really get the obsession with Swihart - even in the past, but especially now.

    MLB

    Swihart (26): 403pa, .357babip, 93wrc+
    Vazquez (27): 780pa, .313babip, 76wrc+
    Leon (29): 842pa, .308babip, 74wrc+

    AAA

    Swihart (26): 485pa, .285babip, 73wrc+
    Vazquez (27): 445pa, .331babip, 101wrc+
    Leon (29): 498pa, .296babip, 105wrc+

    MILB

    Swihart (26): 1716pa, .316babip, 102wrc+
    Vazquez (27): 2193pa, .312babip, 107wrc+
    Leon (29): 2319pa, .284babip, 89wrc+

    aside from that babip blip in his smaller MLB sample, what exactly are we trying to hold on to here?

    especially given that the other two are plus defensive catchers while Blake is probably below average behind the plate at best?

    it's what, 4yrs now since he had that power blip in AA for half a season that got us all excited about him?
     
  45. Buzzkill Pauley

    Buzzkill Pauley Member SoSH Member

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    Actually, we don’t know what is a realistic approximation of what Leon will give the team on offense this year. The reason for that is because he’s only had 842 PA at the MLB level, spanning 6 different seasons. These seasons range from an OPS+ of -28 to 122, throwing out the sample of one PA from 2013.

    I agree that if his true talent level is approximately the .650 OPS level from last year and averaged over his career, then that’s good enough. If, however, his production ends up more like is the .439 OPS from 2015, it may be worth it to swap out and see what Swihart can do.

    Doing that isn’t needed at this juncture, but the Red Sox won’t remain this potent offensively throughout the full season, and the team may need to take a gamble on getting a better than ~50 OPS+ from one of the nine hitters.

    Keeping Swihart around to ride pine allows them to retain that option.
     
  46. tonyarmasjr

    tonyarmasjr Member SoSH Member

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    Context needs to be considered.

    Leon's MLB stats are buoyed by the 3 months in 2016 where he was someone other than Sandy Leon. In 198 PAs he slashed .350/.405/.571 with 7 HR for a 159 wRC+ (and a .220 ISO and .430 BABIP to round it out). In his other nearly 3000 professional PAs, he has 32 HRs. I don't know how this happened, but that was not the hitter that is or ever was Sandy Leon. 2012 is the only other season of his professional career in which he bested a .700 OPS. He's a .650 OPS guy. I'd love to see 2016 Sandy Leon again, but I think there's a very small chance of that ever happening. He is an adequate backup catcher, but nothing more unless lightning strikes the same place twice.

    Vazquez, on the other hand, came to the bigs with a track record of mild success at every stop in the minors - while being one of the younger players in each league (and as a catcher). He's had trouble translating it to MLB, but consider that he was doing it at a young age and was interrupted by a year off due injury. His 2017 (.290/.330/.404) is pretty well in line with his minor league career, and I think approximates what should be expected.

    Previous to Swihart's 2014 success that you cite, he put up a .794 OPS as a 21yo C in A+. He then followed up that 2014 with a 93 wRC+, 1.5 fWAR season in Boston. In the last 30 years, 12 other catchers** have had a season that matched those numbers at such a young age (23). 2016 started off in a similar fashion. So, it was two years ago that he was showing why his soxprospects write-up summarizes with this: "Future first-division regular and solid contributor across the board. Potential above-average hit tool and average power potential at a premium defensive position. Athleticism behind the plate immediately stands out. Natural instincts. Confident actions. Elite makeup and strong work ethic. Arguably the best catching prospect in the game right now." And then he got hurt. He's worked through that injury, but has been open about the fact that it affected his performance the last year and a half. I think it's clear that it did, and it drags down the numbers you posted. 2016-2017 is by far his worst period as a pro, and quite dissimilar from everything else. So, what I'm waiting for is a return to the player he was showing he was pre-injury two years ago. I don't know that it will happen. I don't know if he can even catch on a regular basis. But he never busted as a prospect. He got hurt. If good health returns him to the player he was becoming, he's possibly a notch above Vazquez and certainly more valuable than Leon. I'm waiting to see if he can be who we thought he was.


    ** - It's pretty good company: Joe Mauer, Jason Kendall, Brian McCann, Buster Posey, Salvador Perez, Gary Sanchez, Charles Johnson, Ivan Rodriguez, Wilson Ramos, Russell Martin, Yasmani Grandal, and Craig Biggio.
     
  47. Marco

    Marco lurker

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    all i see with swihart's quick start in mlb is that .360babip (with lots of strikeouts and no power), and suspect defensive war due entirely to positional adjustment, and not actually on being good at it.

    and he had decent hitting numbers at age appropriate A+ and AA, but imo nothing good enough to confidently project a quality mlb bat, especially dialling down to his bb/k numbers.

    and "getting hurt" doesn't explain his overall very mediocre milb career and poor mlb career, imo.

    either this kid busted or he was overrated to begin with - and i don't think holding on to some good but not great milb performance from 4+ years ago makes much sense anymore, tbh.
     
  48. bosox79

    bosox79 Member SoSH Member

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    He was regarded highly only because of his position. It looked like he would be an above average hitting catcher. Remove him from the backstop and you got yourself a utility player.

    Swihart made some top 20 lists but he was always more in the mold of a Will Middlebrooks or JBJ than a Ben10, Betts or Xander.

    edit: He was also drafted at 19 coming out of HS. Someone did research on the age of prospects coming out of HS and 19 year olds fared far worse than 17-18 year olds. FWIW.
     
    #48 bosox79, Apr 20, 2018 at 3:52 PM
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2018 at 3:57 PM
  49. Pozo the Clown

    Pozo the Clown lurker

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    As recently as Jan 2015, Swihart was a very highly regarded prospect. From the article linked below:

    "Catcher Blake Swihart, who continues to impress with his consistent approach at the plate and his skills on the defensive side, is ranked No. 18. Though he didn't become a regular catcher until 2010, Swihart is now the game's top prospect at the position, reminding many of a young Buster Posey. He threw out 46 percent of potential basestealers in 2014 and didn't commit a passed ball in 97 games.

    Mayo: Breaking down the Top 100 | Callis: Best tools in the Top 100

    "Each year, [Swihart has] become more refined in his entire game," said Red Sox director of player development Ben Crockett. "At the plate, it's a lot about consistency, it's a lot about staying within himself, staying with the approach he needs at the plate to be successful attacking pitches. It's something that I think you saw improvement on over the course of the year in Double-A last year in terms of the pitches he was swinging at, the confidence that he had in the box.

    "Then defensively, the same. He talked about some of the biggest challenges he had once he got to Triple-A last year was just learning the entire staff and really focus his energy on the defensive side. I think any of these guys, when they get called up to the Major Leagues for the first time, those are the kinds of basic expectations that the staff is looking for: reliable, consistent defense, knowing what you're supposed to be doing, knowing where you're supposed to be. Obviously that's amplified behind the plate, where you're trying to lead a starter or a guy you may not have caught or a guy you may not have caught for some time."

    https://www.mlb.com/news/catcher-blake-swihart-leads-five-red-sox-prospects-in-top-100/c-107841818
     
  50. Rovin Romine

    Rovin Romine Johnny Rico Lifetime Member SoSH Member

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    You can't really parse Blake without taking into account the positional bobbling in 2016 and 2017, or the surgery in 2016.
     

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