Swihart with the Boston Red Sox
|Boston Red Sox – No. 23|
|Catcher / Left fielder|
April 3, 1992 |
|May 2, 2015, for the Boston Red Sox|
(through 2016 season)
|Runs batted in||36|
Blake Aubry Swihart (born April 3, 1992) is an American professional baseball catcher and left fielder for the Boston Red Sox of Major League Baseball. He stands 6'1" and weighs 205 lbs. Blake hits effectively from both sides of the plate. He made his major-league debut in May 2015 and ended that season hitting .274 with 5 HRs and 31 RBIs in 84 games played.
Swihart attended V. Sue Cleveland High School in Rio Rancho, New Mexico, where he competed in basketball, baseball, and football. Playing mainly as a shortstop, he had a .602 batting average (56-for-93) with 17 doubles, five triples, five home runs, 41 runs batted in (RBIs) and 58 runs scored in 28 games as a senior. As a pitcher, Swihart's fastball could reach 85 miles per hour (137 km/h) before he began high school, and was up to 98 miles per hour (158 km/h) by the time he was a junior. However, it was during his junior season that Swihart quit pitching because he preferred to hit, and it was also during his junior season when Swihart first began playing catcher.
Swihart played for USA Baseball's 18-Under National Team in 2010 and led his team with a .448 average, earning Louisville Slugger All-American honors. For Team USA, Swihart played first base and left field. He played in the 2010 Aflac All-American High School Baseball Classic. Off of the baseball field, Swihart had a 4.0 GPA. He committed to attend the University of Texas at Austin on a college baseball scholarship.
The Red Sox selected Swihart in the first round, with the 26th overall selection, of the 2011 MLB Draft. He became the highest-drafted player out of New Mexico since Shane Andrews in 1990. Though he played as a shortstop in high school, the Red Sox converted Swihart into a catcher because of his athleticism and strong throwing arm. The Red Sox signed Swihart, giving him a $2.5 million signing bonus to convince him to bypass his commitment to the University of Texas.
Swihart played briefly for the Gulf Coast League Red Sox of the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League in 2011, gaining consecutive promotions to Greenville Drive of the Class A South Atlantic League in 2012, the Salem Red Sox of the Class A-Advanced Carolina League in 2013, and began the 2014 season with the Portland Sea Dogs of the Class AA Eastern League. In August, the Red Sox promoted Swihart with pitching prospect Henry Owens, to the Pawtucket Red Sox of the Class AAA International League. He was ranked as the second highest-ranked prospect in the Red Sox organization for the 2014 season, according to MLB.com.
Prior to the 2014 season, Swihart was named the 73rd-best prospect by Baseball America. Swihart was added to the 40-man roster in November 2014. With fellow prospect Christian Vázquez considered more developmentally advanced, the Red Sox assigned Swihart to Pawtucket to gain more experience at the level. Vázquez underwent surgery before the season.
On May 2, 2015, Swihart was called up to the big leagues for the first time after catcher Ryan Hanigan was placed on the disabled list with a broken finger. On that day, he recorded his first major league hit against the New York Yankees. Swihart hit his first career MLB home run on June 4, 2015 off of Tommy Milone of the Minnesota Twins. When he faced Pat Venditte on June 5, 2015, Venditte saw he was batting using a righty helmet. Venditte then requested that he could switch his arm (Venditte could throw with both hands), and Swihart also changed his helmet. Swihart would strike out later, for Venditte's first strikeout.
On June 4, 2015, Swihart hit his first major league home run in the third inning of an 8-4 loss to the Minnesota Twins. A switch-hitter, Swihart hit the home run from the right side of the plate off Twins' starter Tommy Milone. At 23 years old, Swihart is the youngest Red Sox catcher to hit a home run since Rich Gedman in 1982. On August 28, 2015, Swihart hit his first inside-the-park home run in the 10th inning with a 6-4 win against the New York Mets. On September 29, 2015, against the New York Yankees, Swihart had his first career multi-home run game and a career high of five RBIs.
Swihart moved to left field in the 2016 season.
A gifted athlete from a young age, Swihart also won a national wrestling championship at the age of nine. His father, Arlan, is a nuclear engineer and played basketball for Southern Illinois University.
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