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Blake Swihart


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#1 doctorogres

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Posted 28 March 2012 - 11:23 AM

SoxProspects recently posted its first extended (preseason) look at the prospect BA says has the "Buster Posey starter kit." Here are some excerpts:

Strengths: Swihart shows fluid swings from both side of the plate. He generates easy batspeed when bringing the head of the bat through the hitting zone... He has the hitting tool to develop into a plus hitter for batting average who drives the ball to all fields. Swihart’s swing is ideal for producing line drives and as his strength improves he has the potential for solid-average power... Defensively, he is light on his feet behind the plate and is very fluid with his actions.

Development Needs: Swihart presently lacks strength and needs to continue to fill out to push his overall game... He shows the defensive skills, but his body isn’t typical for the position. Even with physical maturation, his legs do not look like they may be able to get big enough to handle the grind of squatting behind the plate for 125-130 games a season.

2012 Outlook: Swihart has been working with the A-Ball group during spring training and a good chance to break camp with Greenville when the teams head north at the end of the month... The challenge of full-season baseball will also be good for pushing his approach and pitch recognition. If Swihart can work more to the whole field, he should produce hard contact and show doubles power this year.



His homerun power is expected to develop as he fills out over the next few years, but probably won't show up in games for awhile.

Edited by doctorogres, 28 March 2012 - 11:24 AM.


#2 The Mainahh

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Posted 29 April 2012 - 09:12 AM

Anyone seen him play this spring? Any first-hand reports you care to share?

#3 Again2004

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Posted 07 May 2012 - 12:02 PM

Ian (OH)



Any word on how Blake Swihart has looked defensively behind the plate? Was low-A an aggressive assignment given the relatively weak high school competition he faced in New Mexico?

Klaw

(12:21 PM)



Saw him. Better than expected on defense. Worse than expected with the stick. I wouldn't call it "aggressive" but you may have the best explanation for how bad he's looked at the plate.


#4 bloodysox

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Posted 30 May 2012 - 05:39 PM

He got off to a rough start, but he's really picked things up. I expected him to struggle early, as a jump from high school to A ball is a big one.

I expected the Red Sox to let Swihart go through XST and start the year off at Lowell, and I was surprised that they were aggressive with him.

#5 TheGoldenGreek33

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Posted 05 June 2012 - 03:13 PM

Since May 15, Swihart has thrown out 10/27 (37%) baserunners, compared to 4/15 (27%) before that.

Edited by TheGoldenGreek33, 05 June 2012 - 03:14 PM.


#6 doctorogres

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Posted 20 June 2012 - 12:18 PM

He's really picking it up: 289/329/408/737 in May and 314/350/514/864 so far in June.

#7 Koufax

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Posted 20 August 2013 - 03:00 PM

After a bit of a swoon in July, he's pick his OPS back up to .768. 



#8 Koufax

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Posted 23 August 2013 - 08:32 AM

2 doubles last night bring his OPS up to .772 for the season.



#9 Koufax

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Posted 26 August 2013 - 02:02 PM

3 singles bring his OPS for the season up to .781.  For the month of August, it is .875.



#10 Koufax

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Posted 30 August 2013 - 08:55 AM

A single and a double last night, and his OPS for the season is .788; for the month, it is .889.



#11 Koufax

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Posted 03 September 2013 - 12:05 PM

From WEEI.com:

 

Blake Swihart, 21, went 1-for-2 with a double and a walk to wrap up his year with a .298 average, .366 OBP and .428 slugging mark. He was particularly impressive down the stretch, hitting .372/.406/.500 in 23 games in August and September, at a time of year when a catcher might be expected to wilt. Swihart has positioned himself along with Vazquez in the next group of Sox prospects behind Bogaerts/Bradley/Cecchini/Betts.



#12 LondonSox


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Posted 03 September 2013 - 12:48 PM

The scouting reports on his defense, with a focus on his throwing ability re base stealing are off the charts.
In a game over the weekend he threw out a base stealer by 10 steps and is throwing out over 40% of runners. In short like nothing the big league team has seen in many years

#13 Koufax

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Posted 23 September 2013 - 05:31 PM

Defensive player of the year for the Red Sox farm system.  Combine that with a .794 OPS and you have a genuine prospect.



#14 Koufax

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Posted 01 October 2013 - 05:13 PM

Soxprospects Executive Editor Chris Hatfield lists him as the no. 5 prospect in the system.  Overall, Soxprospects lists him now as no. 8.



#15 Snodgrass'Muff


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Posted 20 January 2014 - 01:39 PM

Speier with an interesting write up on Swihart and how he's not a typical catching prospect.

 

http://fullcount.wee...second-edition/

 

The overall view of the young catcher is one of a player with an unusually diverse set of skills for his position, something that suggests a considerable ceiling as he continues to move up the ladder. After playing all of 2013 in High-A Salem, he’ll be in Double-A Portland to start 2014, with his first big league camp on the horizon (Swihart will take part as a non-roster invitee). There, Swihart — ranked the No. 5 prospect in the Red Sox farm system by Baseball America — will have an opportunity to show whether he is indeed his “own breed” against the more advanced competition of the upper levels.


#16 Dick Pole Upside

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Posted 29 January 2014 - 01:03 PM

Soxprospects Executive Editor Chris Hatfield lists him as the no. 5 prospect in the system.  Overall, Soxprospects lists him now as no. 8.

 

On the most recent SoxProspects podcast, there was a brief interview with Blake.  He has put on about 35 pounds since signing with the Sox and currently weighs 200.  There were concerns that his athletic (but trim) physique would cause him to wear him at the catcher position, but it seems like he has spent as much time on his physical development as he has on learning how to catch.  I'm excited about his overall growth.



#17 Plympton91


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Posted 29 January 2014 - 01:25 PM

 

On the most recent SoxProspects podcast, there was a brief interview with Blake.  He has put on about 35 pounds since signing with the Sox and currently weighs 200.  There were concerns that his athletic (but trim) physique would cause him to wear him at the catcher position, but it seems like he has spent as much time on his physical development as he has on learning how to catch.  I'm excited about his overall growth.

 

I saw the final series last year and he looked quite skinny still; so if that reflects some of the weight he's gained then it definitely has come mostly in lean muscle rather than bulk for the sake of bulk.  Though, I would guess that many young catchers are well below their goal weight by the end of a long season.



#18 Koufax

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Posted 15 April 2014 - 08:09 AM

Picking up where he left off, he's batting .353 with an OPS of .795 after eight games.



#19 The Mainahh

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Posted 12 May 2014 - 10:11 AM

Anyone have any insight as to how his defense is shaping up?  I have seen him play a few times and he looks decent, but then again I make no claim to having any clue as to how catchers develop defensively.  



#20 Year of Yaz

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Posted 13 May 2014 - 12:25 PM

Picking up where he left off, he's batting .353 with an OPS of .795 after eight games.


I'm troubled by him having walked only twice in 107 ABs. He would have to hit about .330 to have a decent OBP.

#21 WenZink

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Posted 13 May 2014 - 12:46 PM

I'm troubled by him having walked only twice in 107 ABs. He would have to hit about .330 to have a decent OBP.

 

Curious, indeed.  In Low A his walk rate was 7.5%; in High A it was 10%, and now it's dropped to 2 %. The Portland Sea Dogs have averaged close to 6 RPG this season, so maybe he's at the plate with runners on base, not getting pitched around, and seeing a lot of strikes thrown his way.  Still only 6 weeks of data, so let's check in at the end of June.



#22 Year of Yaz

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Posted 13 May 2014 - 04:08 PM

Curious, indeed.  In Low A his walk rate was 7.5%; in High A it was 10%, and now it's dropped to 2 %. The Portland Sea Dogs have averaged close to 6 RPG this season, so maybe he's at the plate with runners on base, not getting pitched around, and seeing a lot of strikes thrown his way.  Still only 6 weeks of data, so let's check in at the end of June.


Conversley, if he is seeing more strikes his BA of .290 should be given less weight. But, yes, we have a long way to go.

#23 radsoxfan


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Posted 13 May 2014 - 04:17 PM

I'm troubled by him having walked only twice in 107 ABs. He would have to hit about .330 to have a decent OBP.

 

Definitely worth paying attention to going forward, but it seems fairly common for prospects to take awhile to adjust their batting eye, especially at higher levels.  Xander had 1 walk in his first 97 PA in AA. 

 

If Swihart only has 2 BB in his next 100+ PA, I might start getting a bit more concerned. 



#24 ivanvamp


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Posted 14 May 2014 - 08:46 AM

Brief little writeup on rotoworld today on Swihart:  http://www.rotoworld...9/blake-swihart

 

"Red Sox prospect C Blake Swihart went 2-for-3 with a solo home run on Tuesday for Double-A Portland.

The home run was Swihart’s third of the season, and he’s batting .286 with four extra-base hits and five RBI during his current seven-game hitting streak. The 21-year-old switch-hitter has made a smooth adjustment to the Double-A level, batting .300/.319/.491 with eight doubles, two triples, three homers and 17 RBI through 27 games. He’s been equally impressive in 24 starts behind the plate, as he’s yet to commit a passed ball while throwing out base stealers 42% (8-for-19) of the time. Swihart is likely to debut in the major leagues at some point during the 2015 season."


#25 Koufax

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Posted 29 May 2014 - 07:20 AM

Mr. Swihart went 3 for 5 last night, bringing his season totals to .301/.366/.526/.826.   For the last 10 games, the figures are .316/.366/.526/.892. 



#26 OptimusPapi

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Posted 29 May 2014 - 10:13 AM

So what happens when it becomes apparent he is ready for triple A but is blocked by Vasquez? Jettison Ross and use Vasquez as a backup for the Sox?

#27 BCsMightyJoeYoung

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Posted 29 May 2014 - 10:32 AM

So what happens when it becomes apparent he is ready for triple A but is blocked by Vasquez? Jettison Ross and use Vasquez as a backup for the Sox?


I think Butler gets released to make room. As for
the future in Boston I think Swihart will be the starter with Vasquez as the backup.

#28 smastroyin


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Posted 29 May 2014 - 10:43 AM

His season totals before last night were 291/327/473.

 

Now they are 301/335/490.

 

Little hot streaks can have big effect on overall numbers.  I don't think we can really say Swihart has proven he is too good for AA yet.



#29 SouthernBoSox


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Posted 29 May 2014 - 11:44 AM

His season totals before last night were 291/327/473.
 
Now they are 301/335/490.
 
Little hot streaks can have big effect on overall numbers.  I don't think we can really say Swihart has proven he is too good for AA yet.

Totally agree.

His skillset is certainly unique for a catcher though. Very athletic kid.

#30 smastroyin


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Posted 29 May 2014 - 11:52 AM

I think he has a bright future for sure, I'm just not about releasing viable major league backups (which I think Butler is) to accelerate a 21 YO catcher.  Let Swihart and Vazquez continue to get the reps they need to be better backstops and worry about promotions later.  Obviously if Swihart were doing something stupid like Piazza did to AA (377/441/658) then you would put him on the fast track and maybe even consider swapping him and Vaz just so they both get reps.



#31 ScubaSteveAvery


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Posted 29 May 2014 - 01:21 PM

Plus if you look at Swihart's splits, he still has a lot of work to do against RHPs.

Vs LHP: .346/.393/.635
Vs RHP: .277/.305/.416

I'm a huge Swihart fan and think he'll be a viable starter one day, but there is still stuff he needs to figure out against righties.

#32 WenZink

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Posted 29 May 2014 - 01:42 PM

Plus if you look at Swihart's splits, he still has a lot of work to do against RHPs.

Vs LHP: .346/.393/.635
Vs RHP: .277/.305/.416

I'm a huge Swihart fan and think he'll be a viable starter one day, but there is still stuff he needs to figure out against righties.

 

Does it make that much of a difference if Swihart figures RHP out at AAA or AA?  I'm not sure, and while I don't think the Sox are the type of organization to accelerate a catcher's developmental time table, it might have more to do with his developing his catching tools at AA.  Looking forward to 2015, it seems almost a foregone conclusion that at least one of the Sox current farmhands will be part of the big club's catching duo (trio).  Neither Butler or Vasquez appears to have a MLB bat, so the Sox might want to move Swihart up to Pawtucket in a few weeks to see if he can hold his own against older pitchers.  He has to walk more than 5% of his PA's.

 

If Lavarnway is cut, there should be enough PA's to go around with Butler, Vasquez, Swihart and Shaw sharing the C, 1B and DH spots.  I also wonder if Swihart might get some time in at 1B, given his slight (for a catcher) build.



#33 OttoC


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Posted 29 May 2014 - 02:09 PM

According to this article, http://blogs.eagletribune.com/smittyonbaseball/2013/12/02/blake-swiharts-a-fast-learner-at-catcher-and-switch-hitter/, Swihart did not start catching until he played in the 2010 Perfect Game Showcase and as a natural right-handed batter he did not take up switch hitting until his coach suggested before his junior year that it might open more doors.


Edited by OttoC, 29 May 2014 - 02:09 PM.


#34 Eddie Jurak


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Posted 29 May 2014 - 06:19 PM

According to this article, http://blogs.eagletribune.com/smittyonbaseball/2013/12/02/blake-swiharts-a-fast-learner-at-catcher-and-switch-hitter/, Swihart did not start catching until he played in the 2010 Perfect Game Showcase and as a natural right-handed batter he did not take up switch hitting until his coach suggested before his junior year that it might open more doors.

 

Wow...

 

Here is what Chris Mellen had to say about Swihart at BP:

 

The last time I saw Swihart his left-handed swing was considerably off. The switch-hitter was pulling his shoulder off the ball and opening his hips early, which caused his typically fluid stroke to yank through the zone. The majority of the results were balls beaten into the ground toward the right side or lazy popups carved off without much behind them. His lack of balance was also noticeable. In my latest look, the 22-year-old’s swing was crisper. Swihart’s shoulder stayed square toward the pitcher during his stride, and his weight transfer was smoother as well. The ball came off his bat with jump up the middle and to right field. He showed the ability to muscle up on a pitch in his spot with loft and carry.

This is a prospect who continues to show definitive progress with his hitting skills. I see him being capable of hitting in the .280s during his peak. The quick hands and pitch recognition skills are there. He’s also more than willing to use the whole field, with a sweet spot for driving the ball into both gaps. While the power numbers will never be gaudy, Swihart has been growing into some and he’s going to continue to. A projection of 15 or so home runs annually is reachable. Most importantly, this is a player who demonstrates strong makeup. There’s drive to get better at his craft, and an ability to make adjustments against rising competition. I see a regular here

 

 
I went to a Portland game a couple of weeks ago.  Swihart was the DH, batting lefthanded, and he had one hit - a double the landed at the base of the wall in left center.  But he also absolutely crushed a ball down the first base line that the 1B caught.  I thought he was a natural LH hitter...


#35 OptimusPapi

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Posted 29 May 2014 - 10:55 PM

If Vasquez defense is as good as it is reported to be, how well would he need to hit to beat out Swihart for the starting catcher job?

#36 Drek717

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Posted 30 May 2014 - 07:35 AM

  Neither Butler or Vasquez appears to have a MLB bat, so the Sox might want to move Swihart up to Pawtucket in a few weeks to see if he can hold his own against older pitchers.

Vazquez is your prototype elite defensive catcher, which inherently means that he's going to move up too fast for his bat and will have to finish is offensive development on the ML roster.

 

That said, he's had a bad May but at the end of April he was hitting .292/.342/.417.  Lets not over-project a bad month.  He's also carrying a pretty dramatic negative split against LHP so far this season while as a right handed hitter he's generally shown a minor positive split against them, so the small sample to date should be taken with a pretty large grain of salt.

 

The Sox' road map at catcher seems pretty clear at this point in time.  Pierzynski and Ross carry them through 2014, Vazquez takes over with a veteran (maybe one of those two, maybe someone else) as his #2, knowing full well he's probably going to put up a .240/.300/.350 line but will make it up with elite defense behind the dish.  Then in 2015 they incorporate Swihart and the two go into a timeshare until one takes a commanding lead.  If Vazquez pulls a Yadi and becomes a .300+ BA hitter then Swihart gets moved to a different position.  If instead Vazquez remains a .240-.260 low power guy and Swihart is a .280+ guy with nice power then Vazquez is probably the best #2 catcher in all of baseball and the Sox enjoy that luxury until some team makes a nice offer for him.



#37 BosRedSox5


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Posted 30 May 2014 - 08:50 AM

 

 

The Sox' road map at catcher seems pretty clear at this point in time.  Pierzynski and Ross carry them through 2014, Vazquez takes over with a veteran (maybe one of those two, maybe someone else) as his #2, knowing full well he's probably going to put up a .240/.300/.350 line but will make it up with elite defense behind the dish.  Then in 2015 they incorporate Swihart and the two go into a timeshare until one takes a commanding lead.  If Vazquez pulls a Yadi and becomes a .300+ BA hitter then Swihart gets moved to a different position.  If instead Vazquez remains a .240-.260 low power guy and Swihart is a .280+ guy with nice power then Vazquez is probably the best #2 catcher in all of baseball and the Sox enjoy that luxury until some team makes a nice offer for him.

Yup, I'd say this is right on. In a way, it's like the Varitek and Hatteberg situation. Varitek moved up really quickly because of his glove. People knew he had pop for a catcher but it's probably safe to say he wasn't considered the same offensive prospect Hatteberg was. They kind of split time/platooned until Hatteberg was hurt, traded for Reese and then, that was it. Hatteberg and Varitek were actually remarkably close offensively, but Varitek started to pull away because of his much better defense. I could see a situation where Vazquez/Swihart do a similar thing. DH/Platooning until a winner emerges. It seems like the smart play, since prospects are so unpredictable. Teams should slowly bring along as many decent players as they can and see what sticks. Glad to see they're taking this approach with these two. 



#38 Merkle's Boner

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Posted 30 May 2014 - 12:59 PM

Vazquez is your prototype elite defensive catcher, which inherently means that he's going to move up too fast for his bat and will have to finish is offensive development on the ML roster.

 

That said, he's had a bad May but at the end of April he was hitting .292/.342/.417.  Lets not over-project a bad month.  He's also carrying a pretty dramatic negative split against LHP so far this season while as a right handed hitter he's generally shown a minor positive split against them, so the small sample to date should be taken with a pretty large grain of salt.

 

The Sox' road map at catcher seems pretty clear at this point in time.  Pierzynski and Ross carry them through 2014, Vazquez takes over with a veteran (maybe one of those two, maybe someone else) as his #2, knowing full well he's probably going to put up a .240/.300/.350 line but will make it up with elite defense behind the dish.  Then in 2015 they incorporate Swihart and the two go into a timeshare until one takes a commanding lead.  If Vazquez pulls a Yadi and becomes a .300+ BA hitter then Swihart gets moved to a different position.  If instead Vazquez remains a .240-.260 low power guy and Swihart is a .280+ guy with nice power then Vazquez is probably the best #2 catcher in all of baseball and the Sox enjoy that luxury until some team makes a nice offer for him.

This is spot on with the only variable being that people shouldn't undersell Blake's defensive skills.  He's no Salty and I could see a situation before too long where Blake's entire package overwhelms Vazquez and makes him tradeable, a good position to be in.



#39 OttoC


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Posted 30 May 2014 - 02:53 PM

This is spot on with the only variable being that people shouldn't undersell Blake's defensive skills.  He's no Salty and I could see a situation before too long where Blake's entire package overwhelms Vazquez and makes him tradeable, a good position to be in.

 

For whatever reason, bb-ref.com doesn't have his fielding numbers for SB and CS in 2013 but according to Sox Prospects he was the Red Sox Minor League Defensive Player of the Year for 2013 and he has thrown out 50% of would-be stealers this year (13/26) while only committing 1 error and allowing no passed balls. Looks like he is well on his way.



#40 Eddie Jurak


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Posted 27 June 2014 - 09:12 PM

Nice BP debate: Hedges vs. Alfaro vs. Swihart

 

Jason Parks, who rates Hedges #1, has this to say about Swihart vs. his binky, Alfaro:

 

What Swihart lacks in elite tools he makes up for with elite makeup and the safety and security of a high floor, which given his position on the field and switch-hitting chops at the plate, isn't exactly anything to discount or discredit. Swihart is going to push himself above his tools-based paper grades, likely developing into a true first-division talent in the majors, a .275+ bat with good gap pop and very strong fundamentals behind the plate. His work ethic is still applauded by the amateur scouts who followed him around during his high school days, and that choir has been joined by the pro scouts who picked him up after he signed.

Given the complexity of his position on the field, the elite makeup carries a lot of weight for me, and if given the choice between a no-doubt major-league catcher with enough feel for hitting to make it work or a franchise-altering talent who still comes with considerable risk, particularly with the stick, I'm taking the no-doubt catcher with elite makeup at this stage of the developmental process. I'm still on board the Alfaro bandwagon, but Swihart is more legit than some seem to recognize, and his ranking on this list should showcase his present and future value.



#41 Koufax

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Posted 07 July 2014 - 05:35 PM

Through July 6, he has brought his slash line up to .294/.432/.400/.832. 

Against righties:  .296/.355/.450/.805

Against lefties:  .291/.333/.551/.848

runners in scoring position:  .363/..411/.600/1.011



#42 Brianish

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Posted 08 July 2014 - 09:09 AM

Through July 6, he has brought his slash line up to .294/.432/.400/.832. 

 

 

Those OPS numbers are only for his last 10 games, though you have his season average right. 

 

On the season, he's .294/.347/.474/.821.



#43 Danny_Darwin

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Posted 15 July 2014 - 09:33 AM

So Vazquez is in Boston, but Swihart is still in Portland. I assume this decision was neither arbitrary nor capricious, and that the coaching staff and front office want Swihart to work on some aspect of his game. My question does anyone, perhaps those who've been to see him in person, have specific insight as to what that might be? Receiving/framing? Game planning/pitch calling? Controlling the running game? Something even simpler than that?



#44 LondonSox


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Posted 15 July 2014 - 09:41 AM

I think it's not defensive. It's either offensive goal setting, or that he's comfortable and doing nice things and they aren't in a rush.

 

I think he'll be up soon myself. The earlier Vasquez settles at the top and they aren't in danger of wanting them both at AAA, that will help.

 

If Vasquez had gone up and been a disaster he might have been sent down. That looks less and less likely, defensively he's ready, and the bat will play even if he struggles with that in mind (and no better plan)



#45 semsox

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Posted 15 July 2014 - 09:42 AM

I think the something simpler might just be waiting until after the Eastern League All-Star game to pass. I imagine Swihart will be promoted to AAA in the very near future.



#46 Lose Remerswaal


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Posted 15 July 2014 - 09:53 AM

Or they want Butler catching nearly every day in AAA to try to build value.  He's been hitting pretty good lately, so keeping him in the lineup would mean Swihart not catching at AAA.



#47 Marbleheader


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Posted 15 July 2014 - 09:54 AM

He's also been working very well with Owens and Brian Johnson, who have raved about his game calling. They may want to keep them together.

#48 Bigpupp

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Posted 15 July 2014 - 10:15 AM

I always felt he was a one year per level type of prospect. Catchers take the longest to fully develop and Swihart didn't really start catching full time until he turned pro. As nice as the improvements have been, I'm sure there is a feeling that he can become even better with time.

#49 BosRedSox5


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Posted 15 July 2014 - 03:17 PM

Is a 27 year old OPSing .635 really blocking Swihart's development? What value could Butler actually have/provide? 



#50 Snodgrass'Muff


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Posted 15 July 2014 - 04:04 PM

Is a 27 year old OPSing .635 really blocking Swihart's development? What value could Butler actually have/provide? 

 

There is almost no chance that if the front office felt Swihart was ready to be in Pawtucket, Butler would get in the way of that. Swihart is one of the gems of the player development machine.  Butler is minor league filler most likely, and a major league back up at the absolute best.






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