The Boston Red Sox have one of the deepest farm systems in baseball. They are tapping that depth today, promoting top catching prospect Blake Swihart to the major league roster, replacing injured veteran Ryan Hanigan who is out with a broken finger.
Probably the best overall catching prospect in baseball, Swihart was off to a fast start with Triple-A Pawtucket, hitting .338/.392/.382 in his first 18 contests, with six walks and 12 strikeouts in 68 at-bats. He hit a combined .293/.341/.469 in 2014 in 110 games split between Pawtucket and Double-A Portland.
Originally a first-round pick in 2011 from high school in Rio Rancho, New Mexico, the 23-year-old Swihart is a 6-1, 185 pound switch-hitter. He has a line drive bat and while he doesn't have enormous home run power at this point, he makes contact readily and should hit a good number of doubles with a sound batting average. He is an aggressive hitter and doesn't draw large numbers of walks, though in the minors he maintained strong batting averages that kept his OBPs at acceptable levels. He does not strike out excessively and plate discipline should be a long-term asset for him even if there are short-term issues.
Swihart is highly-regarded defensively: he is very effective at controlling the running game, throwing out 39% of runners in his minor league career. He is a sound receiver as well: amazingly, he gave up zero passed balls in 97 games behind the plate in 2014. He hasn't maintained that impossibly perfect pace this year, coughing up four PBs for Pawtucket already, but there seems little doubt that he is ready for major league competition with the glove. Scouting reports regarding his leadership skills and field generalship abilities are also glowing.
As with any prospect it may take a while to settle in, but with his balance of offensive and defensive abilities, Swihart should be a long-term regular behind the plate. If his power fully blossoms, he could be truly outstanding.