This is the first in a series of articles about Red Sox prospects that are expected to make an impact in the future of the club. There are a number of such prospects, and I expect to cover one such prospect every Saturday.
The Red Sox are currently mired in a rough patch. After winning the World Series in 2013, there were many who had high expectations for the team in 2014. Instead of meeting those high expectations, the Red Sox are providing the bridge to the future this year that many thought 2013 would be.
And that's OK.
There are a number of prospects in the minors that project to have an impact on the big club. Today, we will look at one of the catchers of the future.
Christian Vazquez, C
(Clicking on the link will open a new window with the player's Baseball Reference page.)
Christian Vazquez is a 23 year old catcher currently playing at AAA Pawtucket. He was drafted in the 9th round of the 2008 MLB Amateur Draft. He projects as an above average defender with a bat that plays as good enough to play in the majors with his defense.
Vazquez works out in the offseason with Ivan Rodriguez and the Molina brothers, some of the best defensive catchers in the game today. He also works with Red Sox legend Jason Varitek during the season. This combination of players that Vazquez works with is a prime contribution to his work ethic as a catcher.
Vazquez really caught the attention of Boston's fans in Spring Training of 2013 when he caught all runners trying to steal bases against him. He further impressed with pop times (The time it takes to go from when the ball is caught to getting into position and throwing the ball to second) between 1.7 and 1.8 seconds, times that are well above average.
Many scouts agree that, while he will never be, say, Mike Piazza with the bat, Vazquez should produce enough with the bat to keep him in the lineup regularly with his defense. In his career in the minors over 7 seasons, Vazquez sports a .263/.343/.389 slash line. He doesn't hit for much power, but he will take a walk, and there's a lot to be said for a patient approach. He does take a little while to adjust after each promotion.
The Red Sox signed A. J. Pierzynski to a one year deal, presumably, to have a catcher for one year while Vazquez got a little more seasoning in Pawtucket. Expect Vazquez to get some time with Boston before the end of 2014 and it is more than likely that Vazquez will be on the 25 man roster in 2015.
Next week... the legend of Mookie Betts