Salem Red Sox
A New Mexico native and natural athlete – now a professional baseball player - Blake Swihart is a guy who brings a definite value to the baseball diamond that the Red Sox organization just couldn’t pass up on; taking Swihart in the first round, 26th overall in the First-Year Player draft during 2011.
Coming straight from high school (Cleveland HS in N.M.) into professional ball has been a fairly successful transition so far, as Swihart was promoted from Greenville to Salem and since then, he has been the go-to catcher for the Sox.
Since residing in Salem, Swihart has been named to the All-Star team and also been atop of the “caught-stealing” category throughout the 2013 season with a percentage of 38.2. And with the amount of talent he brings at AND behind the plate, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Swihart move up to AA-Portland during 2014.
But, with the Carolina League playoffs right around the corner and with Swihart riding a nine-game hitting streak, I had a chance to meet with him following a batting practice session and talk with him about a variety of things from his childhood up until now.
Here’s what Swihart had to say:
ON HIS SIBLINGS:
“I have an older brother and a younger sister. We are also guardians of another kid that is in college now, Romell Jordan, he’s a football player at UNM. My brother played baseball when he was younger but he doesn’t anymore and my sister played volleyball and softball.”
ON POSITIONS HE PLAYED GROWING UP:
“I was a shortstop in high school and utility player when I was younger. I mainly played infield and outfield and I just got converted over to catcher. When I was a junior in high school, one of my summer ball coaches said if you start switch-hitting and you start catching, that’s going to take you to the next level so he and I started working on that. He was a catcher for the Dodgers and I think he made it to triple-A or double-A.”
ON HIS MIDDLE AND HIGH SCHOOL LIFESTYLE:
“I was always doing something everyday to get better, I mean I had fun with it so I didn’t know I was actually getting myself better by working on stuff. But I mean I literally did something everyday.”
ON HIS FAVORITE THING TO DO AT HOME (as a child and now):
“As a kid I was out playing basketball, football, baseball, something…always something! Now, I just relax with my family and hang out with family.”
ON WHAT HE DOES DURING OFF-SEASON:
“In the off-season when I’m back home, I’m really close to mountains so we go up to the mountains and hang out in the snow, its always snowing! I’m close to ski resorts; I’m thirty minutes to four hours away from every ski resort. I used to ski and snowboard but unfortunately we’re not allowed to anymore.”
ON HOW HE LOOKS FOR RUNNERS TRYING TO STEAL:
“Just knowing the runners kind of. If he has twenty bags on the year then there’s a chance that he is going to go so just be ready at all times. Some runners sneak up on you and all the sudden they’ll take off and don’t usually steal so you just have to be ready at every single point in the game.”
ON HIS RECENT SUCCESS BEING LINKED TO ANTICIPATING THE PLAYOFFS:
“That’d be nice. That’s definitely a goal of ours; I’ve never been to the playoffs so that’s something I definitely want to experience. We all want to experience that and it’s an extra two weeks of playing baseball so it’s not bad at all.”
ON JULY STRUGGLES GOING INTO HIS POTENTIAL 10-GAME HITTING STREAK:
“They just weren’t falling. I was hitting the ball the same way, I was just lining out to people, hitting the ball hard right at people and now they are starting to fall. Last night I got a little chopper into a base hit so that’s what makes up for it. That’s the game of baseball, you’re going to have games that make up for it.”
ON HOW HE SEPARATES HIMSELF FROM THE PACK (as a catcher):
“Just staying focused, I guess. I just go out there and do what I’m told to do and having fun with it. I’m not trying to do too much behind there and I’m just doing what I’ve been coached to do.”
ON WHAT IT WILL TAKE MAKE THE POST-SEASON:
“Just keep doing what we’ve been doing the last three games, playing as a team and competing. Winning the close games, too, we’ve had a lot of close games that we haven’t won and some that we have but we need to win the close ones. The close games are what have changed the whole season.”
ON ADVICE FOR YOUNG ATHLETES WHO DREAM TO BE A PRO ATHLETE:
“Go out and do something everyday to get better. Weather that’s just playing around, having fun while you’re working. You may not know it while you are running around but you’re working on your speed, you’re working on your quickness. Just go out and do something to be active everyday and get better.”