Some people might have been puzzled when the Boston Red Sox decided to replace 28-year-old catcher Jerrod Saltalamacchia with 37-year-old A.J. Pierzynski. The signing of Pierzynski just shows that the Red Sox are confident in their young prospects at catcher.
The Red Sox held their annual rookie program during the week of January 14 and Christian Vazquez and Blake Swihart, two of their highly touted catching prospects were in attendance.
The more experienced Vazquez had a good season in the minor in 2013. The 23-year-old from Puerto Rico has been named the best defensive catcher in the Red Sox system by Baseball America each of the past three seasons. In 2013, Vazquez led the Portland Sea Dogs with a .289 average and was the starting catcher for the Eastern League All-Stars.
Vazquez also threw out 47 percent of attempted base stealers with Double-A Portland last season before being promoted to the Pawtucket Red Sox last fall. Vazquez was invited to Fort Myers again this spring and he will have a chance to work with veteran catchers Pierzynski and David Ross.
Swihart, who was selected by the Red Sox with the 26th overall pick in the 2011 draft, has played three seasons in the Red Sox farm system. He represented the Salem Red Sox on the Carolina League mid-season All-Star team last season as he hit .298 with two home runs and 42 RBIs in 103 games. In the fall, Swihart was also named the 2013 Red Sox Minor League Defensive Player of the Year.
Swihart will also be in Fort Myers, Fla., as he was also chosen to participate in to spring training. This is excellent considering Swihart didn’t start playing the catcher position until his junior year of high school.
Ross and Pierzynski will both be free agents after the 2014 season. It is not farfetched to think that we may see Swihart or Vasquez play at Fenway Park in 2015. Keep your eye out on these two catches because the Red Sox organization surely has.