Christian Vazquez: Red Sox Secret Weapon

Christian Vazquez never got much attention before this season. His dismal batting average kept him in Pawtucket for much of 2016. His .227 with only eleven extra base hits wasn’t exactly impressive. What did impress everyone though was his fielding percentage. He currently has a .990 fielding percentage as of August 2nd. Fortunately for Vazquez, his bat finally caught fire this season. Vazquez was outed as the Red Sox secret weapon Tuesday night after hitting a walk-off home run defeating the Cleveland Indians 12-10.

Vazquez’s home run came at a critical time for the Red Sox. After a rough post All-Star losingred sox secret stretch, the Red Sox relinquished first place to the Yankees. The ongoing feud between David Price and Dennis Eckersley didn’t help their performance either. The game itself didn’t seem like a sure victory at all at first. Chris Sale surrendered eight hits and seven runs in five innings in a rare poor performance on the mound. The Indians’ Austin Jackson robbed Hanley Ramirez of a home run that just might go down as one of the greatest catches in the history of baseball. So for a while, it looked like the Red Sox weren’t going to win.

Then Christian Vazquez stepped to the plate. Little did anyone know, but the Red Sox secret weapon was about to push back at the Indians.

The Red Sox Secret Weapon Came At a Critical Time

As I stated before, the Red Sox really needed a victory here. Poor publicity, bad pitching, and lazy offense allowed the Yankees to snatch first place away. But in a game that had everything from drama, to suspense, to the perfect climax, you can’t say the Red Sox didn’t snatch back first place in style. More importantly, after years of writing him off as a sure out, opposing teams now have to take Vazquez much more seriously as a hitter. It’s bad enough for them that he has a high caught stealing percentage, making opposing runners think twice about stealing.

No one, not even those in Red Sox Nation, thought Vazquez could come through in the clutch like he did last night. But there’s only one thing that makes me angry about the whole thing.

I wasn’t in the mood to go to the ballgame and I gave my tickets away, so I wasn’t there to watch it live.

Red Sox Seized 1st Place for First Time This Season

On Tuesday, June 20th the New York Yankees lost their seventh straight game. After a dominating win over the Houston Astros, the Red Sox pulled ahead of their long-time rivals to take first place. The AL East is heating up as the Red Sox seized first place, albeit temporarily. This is only the beginning of a battle for first place with the Orioles not too far behind with a dog of their own in the fight.

But oh how the mighty have fallen…

The Yankees held an at-times commanding lead in the AL East before their bullpen fellred sox seized apart. Manager Joe Girardi has 100% faith in reliever Aroldis Chapman right now but that’s about it. All their other relievers couldn’t save a file on a Macbook. Girardi also can’t quite plug the hole at first base either. The Red Sox took advantage of their rival’s deficiencies and managed to pull ahead. But that only lasted a day after losing two out of three to Kansas City.

Red Sox Seized First Place By Default

The Red Sox didn’t pull ahead of the Yankees because they started playing better. John Farrell didn’t suddenly find a magic lineup. The Red Sox managed to gain first place because the Yankees started playing badly. So in a way you could argue that the Red Sox seized first place by default. This is why it’s the perfect time to shake things up.

Now Is Their Chance To Hold Onto First

The Red Sox have had plenty of time to figure out what does and doesn’t work. At this point they should focus less on platooning and more on consistency. Keep Josh Rutledge at third base. Keep Christian Vazquez behind the plate. He’s got a killer arm and his batting average is steadily climbing. Keep Sam Travis in Boston and send Matt Barnes down to Pawtucket, or just trade him.

As the last few seasons have proven, first place in the AL East is anyone’s for grab. Well except for Tampa Bay, they haven’t been contenders for years. But with Boston, Toronto, and Baltimore having made the playoffs in the last few years, and now the Yankees vying for a spot, the Red Sox can’t afford to lose anymore ground. This is their time to go with what works and dump what doesn’t.

Scouting Report: Jordan Procyshen

Most pro-athletes born in Alberta are in the ranks of the National Hockey League, but not Jordan Procyshen. The 24-year-old Calgarian is the starting catcher for the Portland Sea Dogs and the organization’s top catching prospect. Of course, knowing full well that Blake Swihart and Christian Vazquez are already major league caliber players.

Jordan Procyshen

The Boston Red Sox drafted Procyshen in the 14th Round in June 2014. He had previously played at Northeastern Junior College and Northern Kentucky. While in junior college, Procyshen hit 15 home runs and batted .418. At NKU, the Canadian catcher batted .276 with 33 RBI in 51 games.

Procyshen developed quickly through the low minors as he was generally older than his counterparts. In 2015, Procyshen had his first full professional season and hit .285 with Greenville before being promoted to Salem in June. This was despite late season injuries. He then spent all of 2016 with Salem, where he hit .249 in 61 games and tallied 29 RBI.

Scouting Report

He has a very solid build for a catcher – 6’10” and 210 lbs.

He has strong contact skills at the plate for a catcher and will hit his fair share of doubles. Power isn’t necessarily one of his plus tools, but he displays some home run ability is spurts.

Procyshen’s best tool is his ability behind the plate. He has a career fielding percentage of .984 and only 17 passed balls in the minors. Additionally, Procyshen has thrown out 80 of 157 runners in his short career- that’s just above 50%.

Via his SoxProspects.com profile, Procyshen has the “potential to be a plus defender. Projects confidence while working with pitchers and setting the defense. Moves well behind the plate and does a good job smothering balls in the dirt. Solid footwork, able to control the running game.”

Scouts, as well as myself, notice that he hustles on every play, which can sometimes tire him out early in a game. However, the fact that he is engaged fully in every play is a desirable trait.

Overall, Jordan Procyshen has a chance to make a big league roster as a backup/emergency catcher who adds value behind the plate. The fact that he can stay consistent at the plate helps as well. I see him maybe serving as a personal catcher for a major league club sometime by early 2019.

Christian Vazquez Should Start Full-time

The Red Sox catching situation has been interesting fr years, to say the least. This has led some to question whether or not Christian Vazquez should start full-time. I believe hevazquez should start full-time should.

At the beginning of the year, I wondered what we should expect from Sandy Leon in his second full season. He’s currently hitting under .200, which is why Vazquez has been getting playing time. Interestingly enough, this is what led to Leon starting in the first place a year ago. For it was Vazquez who struggled at the plate.

A Better Long-Term Option

The difference, to me at least, is pretty simple. Vazquez is a guy with superb defense and someone in which the Red Sox drafted and developed. Leon, although solid defensively and an average hitter, is not necessarily the long-term plan at catcher. Ultimately, Vazquez is the future catcher of this team. Therefore, why take time away from the future catcher for a guy that you don’t plan on committing to?

Right now, Vazquez is technically the starter, as Leon is only the personal catcher of Rick Porcello and Chris Sale. But to me, this doesn’t signify that the Red Sox have decided if Christian Vazquez should start full-time. Many outlets have been quick to call him the primary catcher, though I’m not convinced. If Sale, Porcello, and potentially Price are here to stay long-term as well, shouldn’t the younger guy be catching them?

Not that there is really a huge difference in their game, but rather that Vazquez is simply the better long-term option. After all, Vazquez is hitting .412 in the games he has started, so why not play him full time?

Vazquez Should Start Full-Time

However, if the Red Sox are committed to remaining consistent with their personnel moves and battery match-ups, then keep Leon where he is. But if it’s simply because they’re relying on Leon to be someone he was last year, then that’s a bad move. Vazquez should start full-time indefinitely and keep Leon as the personal catcher for one of the pitchers once the rotation is set.

Red Sox Rally To Beat Pirates In Makeup Game

The Boston Red Sox played an exciting make-up game against the Pittsburg Pirates Thursday afternoon. It started off rough for starter Eduardo Rodriguez. The southpaw surrendered a home run to Andrew McClutchen in the first inning to give the Pirates a 2-0 lead. The thin and dejected crowd at Fenway Park settled into their seats to watch what they thought would be another loss. But a Red Sox rally in the bottom of the 8th changed all that. This important victory represented so much more though. The offensive and defensive strategies used in this game are exactly what the Sox need to use from now on. It’s exactly what will help dig them out of holes.

Down 3-1 going into the 8th, Hanley Ramirez’s double drove home the winning run. A replay,red sox rally however, showed that the Pirates catcher tagged Mookie Betts before he could touch home plate. So instead of Betts representing the winning run, he was out and the score remained tied. After the Pirates intentionally walked Mitch Moreland, Xander Bogarts hit a go-ahead single to right allowing Ramirez, who had advanced to third, to score the winning run.

The Red Sox Nation erupted in cheers.

This victory was unique in that it didn’t turn into another lazy loss. More often than not fans have seen the Red Sox fall behind, and stay there. Rallies late in the game often come up short. John Farrell would have untested players pinch hit only to see them fail to get on base. Pitchers couldn’t retire the side and had to come out. At times, watching the Sox fall behind was like getting caught in quicksand. The more they struggled, the deeper they sank. So it was good to see that change, even if it was only for an afternoon.

Red Sox Rally Possible In Part to Christian Vazquez’s Defensive Skills

The Red Sox offensive wasn’t the only thing on fire yesterday. Christian Vazquez displayed a level of skill behind the plate that was a show in its own. Vazquez threw out Starling Marte at second in the 6th. What made Vazquez’s cannonball throw to second all the more impressive was that Marte stole 47 bases last year with an 80% success rate. Vazquez did it again in the top of the 9th, this time against Adam Frazier. Vazquez has thrown out 46% attempted base runners, definitely not a number to ignore.

Red Sox Nation saw the kind of solid offense and defense needed to win games. While Eduardo Rodriguez stumbled out of the gate in the 1st, he and the subsequent relievers managed to get it together long enough for Craig Kimbrel to save the game. And while opposing teams will now have a better idea of the team’s strengths and weaknesses, the Red Sox can also use this opportunity to reassess what works when they’re trying to rally.

The team has been on the receiving end of criticism about their inability to bounce back later in games. The Red Sox rally over Pittsburg showed that may no longer be the case.

What Else Should Red Sox Fans Expect From Sandy Leon?

In 2016, Sandy Leon had a breakout season, hitting .310 and averaging at least one base knock per game. Leon had historically been a weak hitter during the first part of his career with the Washington Nationals. Some will say that it was leonbecause he finally had consistent playing time, while others will look to his changing plate mechanics. But perhaps his success may have been due to the unfamiliarity of Leon as an everyday player among major league pitchers.

Ultimately, the Red Sox benefited from Leon’s renaissance en route to a record-setting offense and an American League East title.

What should Red Sox fans expect from Sandy Leon in 2017?

Should they expect the same kind of explosive offensive production? What about the consistency?

Well, the only real explanation for any such prediction would be his recent performance and Spring Training statistics. In 13 games, Leon batted .265 with only 34 at-bats. Small sample size, but respectable considering much of Spring Training consists of low-level minor league players and journeyman bench players.

His Opening Day performance highlighted another element of Leon’s game. In the second inning, Leon threw out Gregory Polanco as he attempted to steal second. In the fifth, Leon beat the shift on a bunt down the third-base line with two outs, setting up a three-run home run by Andrew Benintendi.

Leon blasted a walk-off home run in the twelfth inning on Wednesday night to secure a hard-earned second win. He previously hit a single and double earlier in the affair.

But despite these factors, he is not alone at the catching position on the Red Sox depth chart. For the past couple of seasons, Christian Vazquez and Blake Swihart have been developing young catchers in the high minor league levels and, at times, the major league level. Vazquez has superb defensive ability and must work on his bat; Swihart is a reliable hitter who needs to improve his defense behind the plate—even though the Red Sox have toyed with him in left field.

The presence of Swihart and Vazquez puts pressure on Leon to be successful in 2017. Red Sox fans should expect him to have consistent, but not spectacular, contributions this season.