TURNS 25: APRIL 3, 2017
FINAL RATING: 5.7
After a solid start to his career in 2015, Blake Swihart was the Red Sox' starting catcher at the start of the 2016 season. He got off to a 5-for-18 start, but showed no power and scuffled behind the plate; so when the rehabbing Christian Vazquez got the medical green light to rejoin the big-league club, Swihart went down to Pawtucket and spent time in the outfield.
He worked his way back to Boston, starting 13 games in left until he hurt himself tracking a ball in the limited foul territory down the line. His sprained left ankle turned into a 60-day DL stint and season-ending surgery, limiting him to 19 games on the year.
Despite the mishap Swihart is a good enough defensively in left to play there consistently, but doesn’t hit well enough to be an outfielder. Besides, Andrew Benintendi has taken hold of the left-field spot.
The oldest Red Sox player (at age 24) to make this list, Swihart hasn’t fully lived up to the hype. He’s battled Vazquez every step of the way, and now Sandy Leon sits in front of both of them both entering 2017.
The spot for backup catcher is open, but the edge seems to be in Vazquez’s favor at the moment. If he and Leon struggle early, Swihart will get his shot -- but he needs to take full advantage if he hopes to contribute to Boston now and in the future.