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July 17, 2014

Nine Red Sox story lines to follow post-All-Star break

The Red Sox (43-52) are tied for last place with Tampa Bay in the AL East, but they still are going to be fun to watch during the second half because they have a lot of young players and pitchers with a lot of talent who are going to receive a lot of playing time.

The Sox return from the All-Star Break tomorrow when they begin a three-game home series against the Kansas City Royals at 7:10 p.m.

There might be more storylines to follow right now than if this team was in first place. Here are nine of them:

1. Vazquez’s offense.

We all know Christian Vazquez is a tremendous defensive catcher. Red Sox manager John Farrell already has raved about the way Vazquez frames the low strike and how his muscular forearm doesn’t move when he catches the baseball.

But will this 23-year-old hit enough to be the long term everyday catcher, a.k.a. the next Jason Varitek?

Upon Vazquez’s promotion, GM Ben Cherington said the main focus for him right now is to concentrate on catching, but so far he’s 5 for 11 with three doubles, five RBIs and three runs in three games.

Vazquez did improve a great deal as a hitter as he moved through the minor league system and it should be interesting to see how he handles the bat in the next couple of months.

2. Watch Swihart, too.

The Red Sox drafted Blake Swihart, a catcher, in the first round in 2011. Now 22-years-old, he’s at Double-A Portland where he entered yesterday batting .296 with a .351 on-base percentage, .485 slugging percentage, .836 OPS, 10 homers, 48 RBIs, 19 doubles and three triples.

Swihart is in line for a promotion to Triple-A Pawtucket. Baseball America ranked him the 14th top prospect on its 2014 Midseason Top 50 list.

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