The Red Sox designated catcher Sandy Leon for assignment today and activated catcher Blake Swihart.
John Farrell said he’s looking for more offense from his catchers, so Leon — who has hit abysmally — has been DFA’d in favor of Blake Swihart. Swihart hasn’t hit well in the majors this season but he did hit better than Leon. At Pawtucket Swihart has hit .311/.363/.351.
Before this season Swihart, considered one of the top if not the top catching prospect in the game, had only played 18 games above Double-A.
Red Sox catcher Ryan Hanigan was removed during the seventh inning of Friday night’s loss to the Yankees due to a fractured finger on his right hand. He was hit in the hand by a pitch while behind the plate for reliever Tommy Layne. Sandy Leon replaced him in the game.
Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe reports that Hanigan will need surgery to repair the damage. As Hanigan was the starting backstop in Boston, the club is in need of a catcher. To fill the void, they will promote catching prospect Blake Swihart from Triple-A Pawtucket, CSN New England’s Sean McAdam reports. McAdams adds that the Red Sox will continue to look for additional catching help, but Jarrod Saltalamacchia — recently desginated for assignment by the Marlins — is not a consideration.
In 67 plate appearances this season, Hanigan hit .222/.354/.315 with one home run and five RBI.
At Triple-A, the 23-year-old Swihart was hitting .338/.392/.382 with three extra-base hits (all doubles) and 11 RBI in 74 plate appearances.
With Christian Vazquez potentially facing Tommy John reconstructive elbow surgery, many have speculated that the situation will speed up the timeline of top prospect catcher Blake Swihart. That might still be the case, but the Red Sox acquired Sandy Leon from the Nationals earlier today and manager John Farrell indicated to Ian Browne of MLB.com that Swihart will likely begin the season with Triple-A Pawtucket.
“The view is that, with a young player like Blake, we’d prefer to get them on a little bit of a roll at the Minor League level before they come to us,” said Red Sox manager John Farrell. “There’s also a need to continue to refine the receiving side of things. He’s had quite a bit of opportunity here in camp. He’s shown well.
“Just in the big picture, I think we can probably all benefit by playing every day and continuing to work on the areas, the developmental areas that are there.”
Swihart is widely regarded as the top catching prospect in the game, but he’s just turning 23 this week and has only played 18 games above Double-A. This isn’t a service time situation like with Kris Bryant and the Cubs. It just makes sense to give him some more time in the minors.
Ryan Hanigan and Leon figure to handle catching duties in the early part of the season, but Swihart could force a call-up if gets off to a good start.