There has been a young catcher opening eyes during spring training for the Boston Red Sox, but it is not the one that you would have hoped or expected.
Ryan Lavarnway came to camp with something to prove to new manager John Farrell, but it has been Christian Vazquez that has been the catcher getting the most notice from the Boston skipper.
The 22-year-old Vazquez looks exactly the way you would expect a catcher to look, squat, small and thick behind the plate. Vazquez is listed at 5’ 9” and a 195 lbs.
I am a big believer that the Red Sox should be able to carry a defensive catcher as their primary catcher if that person can be a difference maker with the pitching staff and preventing runs.
Watching Vazquez throw behind runners and controlling the other team’s running game this spring, it is very apparent that it is something that the Red Sox don’t have in camp other than David Ross.
Farrell and the Red Sox’ coaching staff have spent some time marveling at Vazquez’s quick delivery to bases on stolen base attempts this spring.
For a team that has almost immediately conceded the stolen base to their opponents the past few seasons, it would certainly be attractive to have Vazquez be the equalizer to that.
The other positive side effect is replacing the veteran leadership that Jason Varitek provided to the pitching staff behind the plate. Ross could have a huge potential impact on the Red Sox staff and Vazquez looks to be very much in charge as well, even as a Double-A player.
The question with Vazquez is if he can hit enough to continue his climb up the ladder to the majors. At two levels of the minors in 2012, Vazquez hit .254, very much in line with his career .256 batting average.
The impressive number for Vazquez last season was the 40% caught stealing ratio against other teams.
Vazquez is likely to start the season at Double-A again, simply due to the fact that Lavarnway is likely ticketed back to Pawtucket to pair with Dan Butler.
If Vazquez can continue to keep his batting average in the .250 range and catch 40% of potential base stealers, he could have a big impact for the Red Sox, maybe by the end of this season and put himself into the mix in 2014.
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