Blake Aubry Swihart
- Bats Both, Throws Right
- Height 6' 0", Weight 175 lb.
- High School V. Sue Cleveland High School
- Debut May 2, 2015
Blake Swihart was a first-round pick in the 2011 amateur draft.
Swihart hit .370/.469/.741 with 7 runs and 8 RBI for Team USA in the 2010 World Junior Championship. In the 5th/6th place game, he had 3 hits, 3 runs and 5 RBI (falling a triple shy of the cycle) in a win over the Netherlands. He tied Guillermo Aviles and Francisco Lindor for 5th in the event in slugging, tied for first with four doubles, tied for second with two homers (one behind Australia's Ryan Battaglia) and tied for second with 20 total bases (trailing Taiwan's Tzu-Wei Lin). He also played error-free ball at first base for the US squad. Swihart had a college commitment to the University of Texas when the Boston Red Sox took him 26th overall in the 2011 amateur draft. He was the first catcher that they had taken in the first round since John Marzano 27 years prior. The pick was Boston's second, following Matt Barnes at #19, and was compensation for the loss of Adrian Beltre to free agency. He was signed by scout Matt Mahoney at the August 15th deadline for $2.5 million and made his pro debut with the GCL Red Sox, going 0-for-6 over 2 games.
In 2012, he spent the season with the Greenville Drive of the South Atlantic League, hitting .262/.307/.395 in 92 games. He moved up to the Salem Red Sox of the Carolina League in 2013, where he .398/.366/.428 in 103 games. He hit only 2 homers, but 29 doubles and 7 triples. He took two big steps towards the big leagues in 2014, first by opening the season in AA with the Portland Sea Dogs, and then by earning a promotion in early August to the Pawtucket Red Sox of the AAA International League. Between the two stops, he hit .293 with 13 homers and 64 RBIs in 110 games. He would have been considered the heir apparent to be the Red Sox's major league catcher, were it not for the fact that Christian Vazquez was ahead of him on the depth charts, and that it was Vazquez's promotion to the big leagues that had opened the way for Blake to go to AAA ahead of schedule. However, in spring training of 2015, Vazquez got hurt, and suddenly, Swihart was the next option. He began the season back in Pawtucket and hit .338 in 18 games over the first month, confirming that he was ready for the next step.
Swihart was called up to Boston on May 2nd when starting catcher Ryan Hanigan was placed on the disabled list with a fractured knuckle. He was immediately inserted in the starting line-up against the New York Yankees. He went 1 for 3 with a walk and a run scored. On August 15th, he was at the center of things when the Red Sox crushed the Seattle Mariners, 22-10, contributing his first four-hit games, two of them being doubles, with a walk, scoring 4 times and driving in 3 runs. He had another four-hit game a week later, on August 21st, in a 7-2 win over the Kansas City Royals. On August 28th, he hit an inside-the-park homer in the 10th inning off Carlos Torres to give Boston a 6-4 win over the New York Mets. He ended up playing 84 games, hitting .274 with 5 homers and 34 RBIs in a fine rookie performance as the team's most-used catcher.
In 2016, however, young Christian Vazquez, whose spring training injury had opened the door for Blake's rise up the depth chart the previous season, was back healthy and re-claimed the starting job. With Hanigan also around, opportunities to catch were limited, which is why the Red Sox began to use him in left field, taking advantage of his natural athleticism, in order to get his bat in the line-up. That backfired on June 4th, however, as he crashed into the left field wall at Fenway Park and injured his ankle. At first, the Red Sox were hopeful for a quick return, but he was placed on the 60-day disabled list on July 9th and a month later the team announced he would be undergoing surgery, ending any hope of a return that season. In 19 games, he had .258 with no doubles or homers, but three triples. He then played only 6 games in the majors in 2017, going 1 for 5. He also hit just .190 in 53 games for Pawtucket. Out of minor league options, he was kept on the roster for the first half of the 2018 season, filling in in a utility player role with Vazquez and Sandy Leon handling the bulk of catching duties. He had just one start at catcher in the first half, also seeing action at first base, in left field, right field, at second base and third base and hitting .185 in 41 games but just 81 at-bats. Plans changed on July 8th when the Sox had to place Vazquez on the disabled list with a finger injury, meaning that Swihart would now back up Leon and likely see a lot more playing time until the starting catcher's return. He finished the year with 82 games and 182 at-bats, his highest totals since his rookie season, and hit .229 with 3 homers and 18 RBIs. He saw only limited action in the Sox's run to a World Series title, getting one at-bat in their win over the New York Yankees in the Division Series, and two more in the World Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers. He did not record a hit.
In 2019, he and Leon were competing for the back-up catcher's job, and Blake won the contest, starting the season in Boston. However, the Red Sox got off to a rotten start, and while he did not do particularly badly, hitting .231 with 1 homer and 4 RBIs in his first 12 games, Boston's pitching was flailing and the team was missing Leon's superior defensive skills. On April 16, he was designated for assignment while Leon came back up from AAA.
- Ian Browne: "Swihart feels healthy, ready to prove himself: Catcher looks to impress Red Sox at Spring Training", mlb.com, January 25, 2018.