With the call up of Red Sox minor leaguer C Christian Vazquez, have the Boston Red Sox finally found their catcher of the future?
Ryan Fox (@Spider_Fox87)
They said that shortstop on the Boston Red Sox is like a revolving door with a new face every year. You could also say the same thing about the catcher’s position.
Since Jason Varitek retired in 2011, the Red Sox have been trying to find his replacement with the likes of Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Kelly Shoppach, Ryan Lavarnway, David Ross, and in this season A.J Pierzynski. This past Wednesday, the Red Sox decided to try out another catcher in hopes of finding the next Varitek when they called up C Christian Vazquez from the Pawtucket Red Sox.
Now many people are wondering who this newcomer is. Is he just some minor leaguer who will fizzle out or is he the real deal? Let’s take a look.
Christian Vazquez was taken by the Boston Red Sox in the 9th Round in the 2008 MLB First-Year Player Draft out of Puerto Rico Baseball Academy High School in San Juan, Puerto Rico. He started playing that year in the Gulf Coast League with the Red Sox, going .190 (11-for-58) with only 5 RBIs but threw out 5 of 32 base runners (15.6%) in 21 games. The following season, Vazquez split time between GCL Red Sox and Short-A Lowell Spinners, going .178 (18-for-101) with 2 HR, 16 RBIs and threw out 6 of 23 base stealers.
Vazquez was then called up to Single-A Greenville Drive where he spent the next two seasons (2010-2011) at. He also had one of his best seasons in the minor in 2011, hitting .283 (111-for-293) with 18 HRs, 84 RBIs, OBP of .358, slugging % of .505, and OPS of .863. He also threw out 37 of 111 base stealers (33.3%) and was named Red Sox Minor League Defensive Player of the Year and was ranked by Baseball America as the best defensive catching prospect.
After 2011, Vazquez stock kept rising. In 2012, he split time between High-A Salem Red Sox and Double-A Portland Sea Dogs (.254 batting average with 7 HR and 46 RBIs in 101 games). Then in 2013, he split time between the Portland Sea Dogs and Triple-A Pawtucket Red Sox (.287 batting average with 5 HR, 48 RBIs in 97 games). He also participated in the PawSox’ Governors’ Cup run in 2013, hitting .273 (3-for-11) with 2 RBIs and 2 BB in 3 games.
2014 Season and Red Sox Debut
At the beginning of 2014, Vazquez was named the #8 overall prospect according to SoxProspects.com and the #10 overall prospect according to MLB.com in the Red Sox Farm System. In 66 Games with the PawSox, Vazquez has a .279 batting average (68-for-244) with 20 XBH, 3HR, 20 RBI, .336 OBP, .385 slugging %, and .721 OPS. He also has a fielding percentage of .996 (452 out of 454 chances), which leads all International League catchers, and has thrown out 19 of 48 attempted base stealers (39.6%), which is second overall International League Catchers. He was also named to the 2014 Sirius XM All-Star Future game next week.
On Wednesday, July 9, Vazquez got his first call-up to the major league level after the Red Sox designated A.J. Pierzynski for assignment. He also played his first game against the Chicago White Sox that same night. During that game, Vazquez went 0-for-3 and had a play at the plate during the 7th inning where he tagged out White Sox LF Alejandro De Aza in the 7th inning. Vazquez was then pinch-hit for in the bottom of the 9th by Daniel Nava as the Red Sox went on to win 5-4.
Vazquez could be the final answer to the catching problem that the Red Sox have. Though he won't wow you at the plate with 20+ HR and 90+ RBIs, Vazquez will be able to put the ball in play and get on base for the big Red Sox hitters (i.e. David Ortiz, Mike Napoli).
On the defensive side He can guide pitchers during games, commits very little errors, and has a good reaction of what is going on around him. Also Vazquez has a cannon of an arm that can gun down a base runner trying to steal a base, something that the Red Sox desperately need on defense.
So for now, it seems that the Red Sox have found their catcher of the future. However with the trade deadline just 3 weeks away, it wouldn't shock anybody that perhaps the Red Sox brought up Vazquez to bait other teams in trading for him. But if they do trade him away, the Red Sox will miss out on a quality defensive player and the final solution to the hole behind the plate. Hopefully it won't come to that.
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