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December 1, 2013

Blake Swihart a fast learner at catcher and switch-hitter

(Continued)

Like Vazquez, Swihart has a strong arm. He threw out 42 percent of base stealers for Single-A Salem in ‘13. The organization has had him work with former Red Sox catcher Jason Varitek to improve his overall defense.

“One thing I really like about it, you’re in every play,” Swihart said. “You’re calling the pitches. You’re in control of the game. You’re also the coach outside the dugout.”

Meanwhile, he batted .298 with a .366 on-base percentage and 38 extra-base hits this past season. He is better from the right side (.367 batting average, .419 on-base percentage, .519 slugging percentage). But his numbers weren’t too shabby from the left side either (.279/.352/.404).

“Right-handed I can make more mistakes and correct them in the middle of my swing than I can lefty just because I’ve been doing it longer,” he said. “But some days my lefty swing feels like I won’t miss a ball. I really feel comfortable both ways.”

A year after he began switch-hitting, Swihart’s scouting report on the Perfect Game website stated: “He took one of the best batting-practice sessions from the right side seen all summer by the PG scouting staff, then proceeded to hit lefthanded in a game later that day, and lined two solid hits off pitchers throwing in the 92-94 mph range. Swihart has more natural raw power from the right side, but has above-average bat speed from both sides and an uncanny ability to square up balls consistently.”

Swihart took a week off after the ‘13 season, then began his prep work for 2014. He is training at Elevate PHW in Albuquerque, N.M. When he was drafted, he weighed 164 pounds. He ended this past season at 184 and now is up to 197 pounds.

“My trainer puts me through the (Red Sox) workouts and he makes me eat,” Swhart said. “I don’t really stop eating. I’m still flexible. I’m keeping that flexibility I have. I’m getting a lot stronger.”

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