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Ryan Hanigan fractures knuckle, out ‘substantial’ amount of time; Blake Swihart to join team 05.01.15 at 11:59 pm ET
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Ryan Hanigan

Ryan Hanigan

The Red Sox‘ catching situation took a turn for the worst Friday night.

After losing starter Christian Vazquez during spring training to Tommy John surgery, new starter Ryan Hanigan went down Friday night with a fractured knuckle with surgery likely being needed.

Manager John Farrell said he will be out a “substantial” amount of time.

A source tells WEEI.com’s John Tomase, Blake Swihart will be the guy called up to replace Hanigan, which leaves Sandy Leon and Swihart as the Red Sox‘ catchers.

“It’s a big loss,” Red Sox starter Justin Masterson said of losing Hanigan. “He’s a big part of helping everything come together. Really smart. Works hard. He’s been having some really good at bats too. That’s kind of under the radar there. He’s been doing a lot of things well. It’s going to be a tough loss. There are going to be people that need to step up to kind of make up for him being gone.”

It was an awkward injury as it happened in the seventh inning when reliever Tommy Layne hit Mark Teixeira with a pitch, and the ball ricocheted off him and hit Hanigan’s right, and throwing hand. He was in immediate pain and after a brief discussion with the trainer, he came out of the game.

Swihart is just 23 years old and has only played in 37 games at Triple-A. He could have made the Opening Day roster when Vazquez went down, but the organization felt he needed more seasoning in Triple-A and traded for Sandy Leon. Now, the team doesn’t much choice as Swihart is the only other healthy catcher on the 40-man roster.

Going into play Friday, Swihart was hitting .338 with 11 RBI with Pawtucket this season.

“Ryan leading the pitching staff, things were starting to gain some traction,” manager John Farrell said. “He’s put up a lot of competitive at-bats, including a couple more tonight. We’ll miss his presence behind the plate, but we as a group have to be resilient at times like this and look to fortify the position.”

Hanigan was hitting .222 with a home run and five runs batted in so far this season.

Read More: blake swihart, Ryan Hanigan,
Red Sox Minor League Notebook: What has Yoan Moncada been doing at extended spring training? 04.16.15 at 5:26 pm ET
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Yoan Moncada

Yoan Moncada

One of the most hyped players of Red Sox spring training isn’t even on a minor league roster yet.

Yoan Moncada is still in Fort Myers for extended spring training, as the 19-year-old gets settled into playing baseball stateside after signing a minor league contract that featured a $31.5 million signing bonus on March 12.

The infielder hadn’t played organized baseball since the end of 2013, thus needing more time to get back into the swing of things, as well as learn what it’s like to play professionally in America.

Reached via phone on Thursday, Red Sox minor league hitting coordinator Tim Hyers broke down Moncada’s start and praised his talent and athleticism.

“He’s getting more reps, getting comfortable identifying pitches and being able to repeat his swing,” Hyers said. “Going through the process of working out with a lot of teams, it wasn’t that day-to-day active action and facing live pitchers. It’s making the daily adjustments and seeing pitches again and matching his AB’s. Probably most of all is getting the feel back in the batters box, being able to have a consistent swing with what he wants to do with the baseball.”

Hyers worked extensively with Moncada during the first few weeks after he signed in Fort Myers. He was headed back down there Thursday to get another look at the 19-year-old sensation.

“He’s definitely a gifted athlete that has a ton of potential,” Hyers said. “We’re excited to have him and he’s worked really hard so far. It’s a big adjustment jumping into professional baseball. I think he was out for a period of time and he’s he’s getting accustomed to the daily work and process of becoming a major league player. They are really happy with him so far and excited to watch him develop.”

Things got off to a good start for him in game action, as he ripped a triple to deep right-center on one of the back fields at JetBlue Park in his first at-bat of extended spring training on Monday.

Hyers said he could turn out to be a power hitter, or a guy who hits for average. He possesses traits for both and it’s too early in his career to project.

“I think he’s got both in him,” he said. “Right now, which one is going to be the better of the two? I think it’s pretty early in his career. He’s shown flashes of both so far.”

As for where and when he’ll get his first taste of competitive professional baseball, there’s no exact timetable.

“I would assume possibly (Single A) Greenville,” said Hyers. “I don’t know — that’s for Ben [Cherington] and the guys up top to kind of watch him day-to-day and see what fits his development. I just know that Junior [Zamora] and Iggy [Suarez], our hitting coaches, have said a lot of positive things about him. Each day he’s getting better and getting him accustomed to the day-to-day work. Getting his body back in shape, his hands back in shape, just swinging that bat on a daily basis. Where he’s headed next month, I don’t know, it’s more for me just concerned about every day trying to help him understand what we expect.”

Added Hyers: “It could be any day. It could be a month, I’m not sure. There haven’t been any discussions with me yet. It’s been take it slow with him and make sure he feels comfortable and understands what we expect and how to prepare for the game.”

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Read More: blake swihart, Red Sox, Red Sox Minor League Notebook, yoan moncada
Red Sox assistant GM Mike Hazen on MFB: ‘No time frame’ for Blake Swihart call-up 04.06.15 at 12:49 pm ET
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Mike Hazen

Mike Hazen

Red Sox assistant general manager Mike Hazen joined Middays with MFB on Monday to discuss Opening Day and the upcoming season. To hear the interview, go to the Middays with MFB audio on demand page.

The Sox open their season in Philadelphia on Monday afternoon for their first interleague Opening Day in team history. They will be without Christian Vazquez for all of 2015, as the expected starting catcher underwent Tommy John surgery last week. There has been speculation that Blake Swihart, who is being touted as the top catching prospect in baseball, will be called up at some point this year.

“When you’re talking about, from a catching standpoint, there are multiple job responsibilities, that’s why it’s the toughest position to develop,” Hazen said when asked about Swihart’s potential call-up. “Every guy is concerned about their offense, but you have to run the pitching staff, you’ve got to run a game. There’s a lot of things that we ask our catchers to do. … There’s no time frame on when [Swihart’s promotion] is going to happen.”

The Red Sox also will be shorthanded in the bullpen to start the season, as closer Koji Uehara is on the disabled list with a hamstring injury.

“He’s doing fine, he’s making progress on his way back, threw a bullpen the other day and looked great,” Hazen said. “I think he’ll be fine. We certainly need him, he fills a big role out there in the back of the pen, pushes everybody forward a little bit into that seventh-, eighth-inning role. … We’re expecting he’ll be back and settling into that spot soon.”

The Phillies starter on Monday will be Cole Hamels, who has been the subject of several recent trade rumors, including a few that involved him coming to Boston.

“It’s just that, speculation. There hasn’t been anything that’s been overly hot and heavy here recently,” Hazen said, adding: “For the first couple of weeks or first month, everybody’s kind of figuring out what they have. And then that talk will start to pick back up as we all go through the season.”

For more Red Sox news, visit the team page at weei.com/redsox.

Read More: blake swihart, Koji Uehara, Red Sox,
Source: Red Sox acquire catcher Sandy Leon from Nationals 03.30.15 at 8:42 am ET
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Sandy Leon

Sandy Leon

FORT MYERS, Fla. — The Red Sox have acquired some organizational catching depth.

A source confirms to WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford that catcher Sandy Leon is on his way to the Red Sox. Details as to who would be going the other way in the deal were not immediately available. Leon first told James Wagner of The Washington Post about the deal Monday morning.

Leon is 26 and out of options, and was considered a long shot to break camp with the Nationals. Christian Vazquez is scheduled for a second opinion on his right elbow with orthopedic specialist Dr. James Andrews Wednesday in Pensacola. He has been all but ruled out for the beginning of the season and his availability this season is up in the air. Manager John Farrell repeated again Sunday that the Red Sox are focused on internal candidates to fill the role of a second catcher on the team.

With Ryan Hanigan the clear choice to start most of the games, the battle for backup was between super prospect Blake Swihart and 35-year-old veteran Humberto Quintero.

Leon is a switch-hitter who has played sparingly over the past three seasons, totaling just 107 plate appearances in the majors, hitting just .189/.280/.253. Leon has fared better at Triple-A where he’s posted a .257/.358/.414.

Leon has, for the most part, been a minor league catcher, batting .236/.324/.329. Like Quintero, he’s considered a defensive specialist, throwing out 45 percent of would-be base stealers in his minor league career.

Read More: 2015 spring training, blake swihart, Boston Red Sox, Chistrian Vazquez
Christian Vazquez set to have second opinion after MRI spots ‘something’ in his right elbow 03.28.15 at 9:38 am ET
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Christian Vazquez

Christian Vazquez

The Red Sox and Christian Vazquez are keeping their fingers crossed.

The club’s 24-year-old super catching prospect told reporters in Fort Myers Saturday morning that an MRI performed on his sore right elbow “found something” but added doctors have not concluded a firm diagnosis as of Saturday morning.

For that reason, Vazquez indicated he will have a second opinion on the elbow.

“I’m waiting, I’m waiting,” Vazquez said, before adding “I’ll be fine.”

Friday’s MRI came after Vazquez caught Joe Kelly for three innings in an intersquad game in Fort Myers. Vazquez was kept from throwing to any base in an effort to protect the arm. In three plate appearances, he went 1-for-2 with a walk. He singled on a ground ball up the middle and grounded out to shortstop.

If Vazquez, who indicated earlier in the week that he’d be ready for the season, isn’t ready to go, then rookie Blake Swihart could get a chance to stick with the team when they break camp next Saturday.

Read More: blake swihart, Boston Red Sox, christian vazquez,
Blake Swihart, Eduardo Rodriguez assigned to Pawtucket 03.20.15 at 9:22 am ET
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Blake Swihart

Blake Swihart

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Their time will come, just not in the near future.

The Red Sox ended Blake Swihart’s and Eduardo Rodriguez’s stints in major league camp Friday, sending both players to Triple-A Pawtucket.

Swihart acquitted himself well throughout his first major league spring training, going 7-for-18 (.389) with one home run and a 1.006 OPS.

“Both very strong. You look at two young guys who are talented, strong in their own respective positions,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said. “Both had very good springs for the positions that they’re in. That is Blake coming in and not just being happy to be in big league camp, but to come in and compete. To know he, himself, is getting closer to becoming a major league player. When that time comes, who knows? And I think there are some areas that we recognized he has to continue to develop, and that’s probably as much on the receiving side, some blocking. That’s ongoing maintenance for any catcher. But I thought he showed well, very well.”

Farrell noted last week that he would not hesitate to call on Swihart if the need arose at the major league level, although the 22-year-old wouldn’t necessarily be the first option.

Rodriguez opened eyes as well, giving up one run over 7 2/3 innings, striking out nine and not walking a batter. While it would appear both Steven Wright and Brian Johnson might be ahead of the lefty in regard to the starting pitching depth chart, it is believed that the 21-year-old Rodriguez has the most upside of the group.

“In Eduardo’s situation, we don’t have the history with Blake, but a young, poised, extremely talented left-handed pitcher that has got a bright future,” Farrell noted. “There was one outing in particular in Bradenton where he didn’t have his best stuff and yet he didn’t let the traffic or the challenge of the inning effect the body language and poise to make pitches. He’s an impressive young guy.”

Read More: 2015 spring training, blake swihart, eduardo rodriguez,
What the Red Sox are expecting from Christian Vazquez in 2015 02.23.15 at 6:19 pm ET
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Christian Vazquez

Christian Vazquez

FORT MYERS, Fla. — At the start of spring training 2014, Christian Vazquez sat in his same corner locker right next to the main entrance of the Red Sox clubhouse at JetBlue Park. That hasn’t changed but his role certainly has.

Last year, David Ross was the starting catcher coming off a World Series in which he caught the final pitch from Koji Uehara in Game 6 against the Cardinals. A.J. Pierzynski was the back-up. And Vazquez was taking his reps, trying to show the organization he could handle the job if either or both went down for an extended period.

He got that chance in earnest when Pierzynski was traded out of town in July and the team was falling quickly out of the playoff race in the American League. He played 55 games. He batted .240 with just one homer and 20 RBIs.

But clearly that’s not what earned him the job. He handled the pitching staff as a 23-year-old rookie and blew away everyone with some eye-popping defensive numbers. Twenty-nine base runners attempted to steal with him behind the plate. Fifteen were thrown out. That 52 percent rate was nearly double the 27 percent league average. And that didn’t even include the four pickoffs he executed with his gun of a right arm.

Now, in 2015, there is no doubt — Vazquez is the starting catcher, with Ryan Hanigan the veteran back-up. What are the Red Sox expecting in terms of the next step for the 24-year-old defensive weapon?

“The step that we would anticipate him taking this year is handling the pitchers that he did for the half of last year, and understanding even more so what their trigger points are and how to get the most out of them,” manager John Farrell said Monday. “His development as one of the leaders of our pitching staff is going to be challenged because of the number of new faces that are here. Spring training is going to be critical for he and Ryan Hanigan to understand what each pitcher likes in certain situations, what pitch to go to. But I know that in Christian’s commitment to those conversations and the time spent to learn individuals, that’s who he is as a person. That’s him evolving as a game-caller and a catcher behind the plate.” Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: blake swihart, Boston Red Sox, christian vazquez, MLB
Top prospect Blake Swihart preparing to take final step 01.16.15 at 3:20 pm ET
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Blake Swihart

Blake Swihart

Blake Swihart’s time is coming. But he won’t be rushed.

The team’s No. 1 prospect –€“ and one of the top prospects in baseball –€“ is on the cusp of the big leagues. He’s everything a club could want in a developing catcher, a switch hitter with legit power potential, a live arm, and an athletic build that’s reminiscent of Giants MVP Buster Posey.

The Red Sox have resisted including Swihart in deals for established talents like All-Star left-hander Cole Hamels of the Phillies, because they believe he has the chance to be something special.

The 22-year-old has only played 18 games at Triple-A, though, and the Red Sox have learned from the problems that a number of their prospects faced last year. It wouldn’t be a surprise if Swihart spends most or all of this season in the minors. Quicker isn’t always better.

“That’s always a goal, but no matter where I’m at, I need to just play where I’m at and do what I know I can do,” Swihart told reporters on Friday at Harvard, where he was one of 10 prospects to take part in the team’s rookie development program. “There’s always opportunities. You’ve got to take them in stride and take advantage of them.”

There’s plenty to like about Swihart, who hit .293 with 13 homers and an .810 OPS between Double-A Portland and Triple-A Pawtucket last year. Drafted in the first round as a raw high school talent out of New Mexico in 2011, Swihart has slowly but surely improved while ascending through the minors.

He has grown as a game caller, and last year he threw out an impressive 45.6 percent of opposing base stealers (31 for 68).

“Just the knowledge of catching,” Swihart said when asked how far he had come. “Like you said, I was new when I first came in. Now that I’m more grown into it, I guess you’d say, I’ve developed in overall aspects. I know how to call pitches now. I know how to get chemistry with my other pitchers. That’s what it takes, is get your chemistry going and get your feet wet and now everything’s running smoothly.”

Farm director Ben Crockett knows the team struggled integrating Jackie Bradley Jr. and Xander Bogaerts into the lineup last year. Without speaking directly about Swihart, he said the club plans to be sensible about promoting its prospects, while also cautioning against being over-cautious.

‘€œThere were a lot of areas that, organizationally, from our end and on the field, it could be done better,” Crockett said. “We try to learn from that. At the same time, we’re not going to be shy or hesitate to trust the next young player to make an impact and to have an important part on the team.”

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Update: Blake Swihart, Eduardo Rodriguez headline four Red Sox added to 40-man roster 11.19.14 at 8:38 pm ET
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Blake Swihart

Blake Swihart

Thursday represents a day of notable roster change, as teams face a deadline for adding players to the 40-man roster for the purposes of protecting them from the Rule 5 draft. The Red Sox appear likely to add four prospects to the 40-man, including top prospect Blake Swihart. That’s convenient, since the Sox have four open spots on their 40-man roster.

A brief look at the players expected to be protected:

UPDATE: On Thursday, the Red Sox announced that they had indeed added the following four players to their 40-man roster.

Blake Swihart, C, 22 years old

2014: Double-A/Triple-A – 110 games, .293/.341/.469, 13 HR

The top-ranked Red Sox prospect is among the top catching prospects in the game based on his potential for above-average offense and defense. Swihart could become a big league consideration sometime in 2015, with a more likely lasting big league opportunity to come in 2016.

Eduardo Rodriguez, LHP, 21 years old

2014: Double-A (Orioles and Red Sox systems) – 22 starts, 120 innings, 3.60 ERA, 8.1 K/9, 2.8 BB/9

Rodriguez probably has the best stuff of any starting pitching prospect in the Red Sox system, with the left-hander sitting at 92-94 mph and capable of reaching back for 96-97 mph while featuring an excellent changeup and a slider that shows the potential to be an above-average pitch. It remains to be seen if Rodriguez looks more like the pitcher who struggled through the first four months of 2014 in the Orioles system or like the singularly dominant pitcher who proved a head-turner once in the Sox system. Either way, adding him to the 40-man roster is a no-brainer. If Rodriguez builds on his Portland performance, he has a chance to force his way into the big league rotation sometime in 2015.

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Read More: blake swihart, eduardo rodriguez, sean coyle, travis shaw
Blake Swihart tops Baseball America’s list of top 10 Red Sox prospects 10.29.14 at 10:13 am ET
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Blake Swihart is the Red Sox' top prospect, according to Baseball America. (365DigitalPhotography.com/Portland Sea Dogs)

Blake Swihart is the Red Sox‘ top prospect, according to Baseball America. (365DigitalPhotography.com/Portland Sea Dogs)

Looking for a catcher in the minors to whom to compare Red Sox top prospect Blake Swihart?

“There isn’t one,” said one evaluator.

Swihart — an extremely athletic switch-hitter who shows well above-average defensive tools, the ability to hit the ball very, very hard on a fairly consistent basis (a skill that translates more often to doubles than homers given that he typically hits screaming liners instead of lofting the ball) and runs well heads the list of Baseball America’s Top 10 Red Sox prospects for the 2015 season. (Disclaimer: I authored the list.)

Given the low standards for offense behind the plate, and the fact that he has a chance to be well above-average in every phase of the game, the 22-year-old stands the best chance of perhaps any Red Sox prospect of being a perennial All-Star. Some rough edges remain in his game (as evidenced by the fact that he walked just twice and struck out 15 times in a year-end stretch in Pawtucket after being promoted following a standout run in Double-A Portland), but the combination of a fairly well-defined floor as a big league starter with a ceiling that suggests the potential to be one of the top starting catchers in the game makes Swihart the Sox’ top prospect.

(Note: Mookie Betts had too many big league at-bats to qualify for the list. Otherwise, he would have been the No. 1 prospect. #feats.)

Here’s a look at Baseball America’s full top 10 list, with their 2014 performance lines and links to stories about the prospects on WEEI.com:

1) Blake Swihart, C – Age 22

Triple-A Pawtucket: 18 games, .261/.282/.377, 1 HR
Double-A Portland: 92 games, .300/.353/.487, 12 HR

Other: Threw out 46 percent of would-be base stealers.

Catching On: Blake Swihart’s accelerating development behind the plate

Blake Swihart most difficult Red Sox prospect to trade

Why Blake Swihart looks increasingly like an elite prospect

Blake Swihart taking off the gloves

2) Henry Owens, LHP – Age 22 Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: blake swihart, eduardo rodriguez, henry owens, Rusney Castillo
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