<
>

Swihart top-ranking catching prospect

BOSTON -- Blake Swihart is the top catching prospect in the major leagues and the highest-ranked Red Sox player on the Baseball Prospectus Top 101 Prospects list released by the highly regarded website on Monday.

Swihart was one of five Sox players to appear on the list, checking in at No. 17, rising 56 places from his No. 73 ranking in 2013. Other Sox players on the list are left-handed pitcher Henry Owens (No. 46), outfielder Manuel Margot (No. 61), left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez (No. 65) and third baseman Rafael Devers (No. 90).

Last season, the Sox had five players on the list: shortstop Xander Bogaerts (No. 12), outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. (No. 27), pitcher Matt Barnes (No. 38), right-hander Allen Webster (No. 69), and Swihart.

Here is BP’s assessment of Swihart from the recently published book, "Baseball Prospectus 2015":

“Stumbles out of the gate but previous top Red Sox prospects should in no way factor into one’s opinion of Swihart. The latest player bestowed with the honor has everything you want in a prospect, with plus defensive ability up the middle, a major league-caliber bat and elite makeup, the latter of which is extremely important given his position and home ballpark. While not necessarily a middle-of-the-order slugger, Swihart will hit enough to be a first-division regular, and the defensive profile grades out even better than his bat. He should be an everyday catcher for the better part of a decade, and could be the best player on a contending team."

That scouting report underscores why the Red Sox have not succumbed to the Phillies asking for Swihart as part of a Cole Hamels deal.

Swihart will be in big-league camp and is expected to begin the season with Triple-A Pawtucket.