Blake Swihart Gets the Call in Boston

After taking a pitchon the hand Friday night, the Red Sox placed Ryan Haniganon the DL having a broken finger. Hand injuries will always be tricky for hitters, and this one appears to be rather serious, as it will need surgery. Based on Red Sox skipper John Farrell, Hanigans time to recover willbe lengthy, and he wont return to action until following the All-Star break. The Red Sox will be without their starting catcher for some time. Hanigans injury leaves the Red Sox thin at catcher. Really thin. Hanigan wasnt even actually said to be Bostons primary catcher That distinction was slated to visit Christian Vazquez. However, Vazquezs season came to a close before just before it started as he suffered an elbow tear in spring training. To help meet the increasing demand behind home plate, the Red Sox called up top prospect Blake Swihart, who placed 9th on our pre-season top 200 list, higher than any othercatching prospect. At the time of the phone call up, the switch-hitting catcher was hitting an empty but solid .338/.392/.382 in Triple-A Pawtucket. Still, despite his solid start, most felt he needed a bit more seasoning before he was ready [url=][b]Lynden Trail Jersey[/b][/url] for the show. But the Sox were built with a gaping hole at catcher, and Swihart was next lined up, here we are. Swiharts hot begin in Triple-A had just about everything related to his lofty .411 BABIP, which is obviously unsustainable. Remove these lucky bounces, and there isnt anything else left. He posted middling strikeout and walk numbers, and had all of three extra base hits in the 18 games. Although he hasnt hit for much pop this year, Swiharts demonstrated power in the past. And also, since power numbers take relatively long to stabilize, we should defer to Swiharts track record instead of obse s with whats taken place within the last month. In 92 games with Double-A Portland last year, Swihart belted 12 homers on his way to a .187 ISO. That mark was more than a full standard deviation above the Eastern League average. Swihart clearly has some pop, and that he marries it with solid bat-to-ball ability. Based on Minor League Central, he made contact on 94% of pitches he swung at within the zone in Triple-A Pawtucket, which was among the highest marks within the International League. However, some have noted that hes very aggre sive at the plate, that could wind up holding him back offensively. This characteristic can also be borne in the information. Minor league zone data could be a tad sketchy, but the body of these agree that Swihart swings more often than most, especially at pitches outside the strike zone. Both this year and last, he swung more often than the typical hitter within the International League (There is no data readily available for his games in Double-A and below). Although, it looks like hes done a more satisfactory job of reducing pitches away from focus 2015 [url=][b]Kareem Jackson Jersey[/b][/url] . His undiscerning eye hasnt stopped him from hitting well within the minors, but big league pitchers will probably test his aggre sivene s by throwing him pitches outside the zone. As is the case with every hack-tastic prospect, theres a risk thatmore polishedpitching will find methods to exploit Swiharts le s-than-stellar plate discipline. Not only does Swihart swing a solid bat, but hes an excellent defensive catcher too. Kiley McDaniel slapped a 60 on his throwing arm in October, noting that its a little bit much better than that in practice because of his quick release. His receiving skills are also solid by most accounts, which scouting reports are maintained by the information. Baseball Prospectus minor league framing model had him because the third best framer in Double-A last year, behind Tony Wolters and defensive wunderkind, and recent contact,Austin Hedges. This data point probably explains why Ben Cherington made Swihart an untouchable commodity in trade talks over the winter. The Sox make a routine of deploying excellent framers during the last year or two Vazquez, Hanigan and current backup Sandy Leon all rate one of the better framers in baseball. Swihart looks like hell continue that trend. KATOH, my prospect projection system, is really a fan of [url=][b]Houston Texans NFL Jersey[/b][/url] Swiharts schtick. Based on his 2014 numbers, it forecasted him for 4.3 WAR through age-28, which was great for 85th on KATOHs list. While promising, this rating likely even sells Swihart a bit short. The current KATOH model doesn't directly account for playersdefensive positions, and this flaw conspires to underrate catchers. Anyway, pay le s focus on the actual projection. The takeaway here is that KATOH really loves what Swiharts done with the bat in the minors. Everyone loves a comp, so lets go ahead and produce a few for Swihart. Using Swiharts league-adjusted stats and his age, I calculated the Mahalanobis distance between Swiharts 2014 season, and every Double-A season since 1990 where a player recorded a minimum of 400 plate appearances. Below, youll find the historical players who have been nearest and dearest to Swiharts 2014 campaign with this methodology, ranked from most to least similar. NamePA thru 28WAR thru 28WAR/600 PAKelly Johnson2,57313.43.1John Roskos530. [url=][b]Denzel Rice Jersey[/b][/url] 00.0Kyle Parker*260.00.0Daryle Ward1,2860.00.0Matt Brown270.00.0Justin Morneau3,60114.62.4Carlos Villalobos00.00.0Luke Allen110.00.0Val Majewski130.00.0Thomas Neal*410.00.0Derrick White1190.00.0Jim Tatum1610.00.0Todd Frazier1,84611.33.7Danny Lewis00.00.0Rene Tosoni*1890.00.0Seth Smith1,4495.62.3John Bowker6220.00.0Mark Smith5771.31.4Troy Tulowitzki3,68927.94.5Sean Henry00.00.0Since the offensive requirements for big league catchers are vastly diverse from those for other positions, I includeda second table that just considersplayerswho madethe most of theirstarts at catcher. NamePA thru 28WAR thru 28WAR/600 PAJohn Roskos530.00.0Angel Pena2060.10.3Ronny Paulino1,3764.21.8Justin Towle00.00.0Brook Fordyce2760.00.0Robert Fick1,3234.52.0Willie Morales110.15.5JD Clo ser5080.00.0Travis dArnaud*5781.61.7John Baker6562.92.7*Batters who've yet to play their age-28 seasons Swihart is obviously a really talented player. Most agree he's the tools to make an impact on both offense and defense, but its by no means clear hes ready to be that two-way player at this time.Thats exactly what the stats suggest, a minimum of. Swihart has minimal experience against pitchers above Double-A, and didnt exactly tear it up in the [url=][b]Wendall Williams Jersey[/b][/url] time he did spend in Triple-A. He basically hit a clear .300 .303/.349/.381 in 41 games at the level between this year and last, which was only a tick above league-average. Taking this into account, Steamer and ZiPS forecast him for wRC+s of 76and 75 respectively from now on. Unpolished bat and all, Swihart should be in a position to a sist the Red Sox right now. The offensive threshold for catchers is comically low, so even when he hits .241/.283/.367as ZiPSanticipates, thats still a 1 or 2WAR player. He may potentially cost even morethan that ifyou take into account his excellent pitch framing. All told, Swihart will likely give the Sox more value than they might have gotten from playing Sandy Leon, or any of the other in-house catching options. Swiharts likely to be a excellent player some day. He may be also a star. But for now, the Red Sox neither need nor expect him to become that guy. So long as he fields his position adequately and doesnt embarra s himself at the plate, hell still be an a set. And based on his minor league numbers, it appears as though hell have the ability to do this, whilst learning at work offensively.