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Chasing The Dream: The Blake Swihart Story and Interview

In this weeks feature we take a look at Boston Red Sox prospect Blake Swihart as he begins his first full season of professional baseball. We take a look back at the decision he needed to make between college and the pros and take a look at some of Swihart’s early professional experiences and accomplishments.

Blake Swihart: Quick Stats

Team: Boston Red Sox  Twitter:  @BLAKESWIHART_1

Height: 6′ 1″, Weight: 175 lb. Born: April 3, 1992 in Rio Rancho, New Mexico, US (Age 20)

Drafted:  Boston Red Sox in the 1st round of the 2011 MLB June Amateur Draft

Favorite Player Growing Up: Mark McGwire

Chasing The Dream: The Blake Swihart Story

Blake Swihart, like many young extremely talented players at the high school level faced an extremely difficult decision last summer. The Rio Rancho, New Mexico native had to make one of the toughest decisions of his life after the Boston Red Sox selected him in the first round of the 2011 draft. That decision? To attend his dream college, the school he dreamt about attending for years, the University of  Texas or start his professional journey with the Boston Red Sox. Chasing MLB Dreams takes a look at this decision and more as we begin to follow Blake Swihart’s chase from the low levels of the minor leagues to the day he dons the Red Sox colors and makes his way on to the field at Fenway Park in Boston.

In high school, Swihart split time between two high schools, he started out playing three sports at Rio Rancho High School. After his sophomore year, Swihart transferred to a brand new school, Cleveland High School which was just opening up in the area. It was here where Swihart began to not only convert himself into a catcher but also a full-time baseball player. By the time Swihart reached his senior year he had given up both football and basketball and was a star on the Cleveland Storm baseball team.

Before his senior year even started Swihart was racking up the accolades and getting valuable experience.  Following a Junior season in which he hit .580 with 12 home runs and 40 RBI Swihart was named an Aflac All-American, played in the Area Code Games and was selected to play on the USA Baseball 18-and-under national team. Each of these experiences are only available to the elite players in Swihart’s age group.  The Aflac game is the premier high school baseball all-star competition, showcasing 38 of the nation’s best players while Team USA highlights the best 20 players in his age division to represent the country in international competition.

During his senior season Swihart who only picked up switch hitting during his sophomore season batted .545 for the year he also showed off his athletic abilities swiping 19 bases. This impressed the cavalcades of scouts coming to check out the skill set this athletic switch hitting catcher had to offer. The majority of major league teams were represented at his games during his senior year. Due to his natural athletic abilities Swihart ended up playing all over the diamond his senior year but was always in the line up. Most scouts drooled at the possibilities of Swihart behind the plate. Some have compared him to some of today’s games most athletic and talented back stops including Buster Posey, Joe Mauer and Jorge Posada.

Swihart went 1 for 5 with a run scored and an RBI when I saw him in action in April

Following the season Swihart was awarded even more accolades including Gatorade State Player of the Year. The University of Texas awaited Swihart, a life long dream of his was to attending the University of Texas, to be able to put on the burnt orange uniform of the Longhorns would make that dream all the better. Before officially becoming a student at Texas the MLB draft was set to take place in June and Swihart was high on the lists of many general managers and scouting directors. It would not take long for him to hear his name as with the 26th selection in the first round of the draft the Boston Red Sox selected Swihart. A critical decision would loom over the coming months as Boston like many other teams where well aware of Swihart’s strong desire to attend the University of Texas.

As the summer progressed, Swihart seemed destined to be headed to Texas. As time was ticking away and the signing deadline was in sight, the Red Sox called and offered a reported 2.5 million dollars for the catcher to join the Red Sox organization. A decision had to be made and with the help of his family Swihart decided to trade in the Texas burnt orange for Red Sox red. A new chapter of Swihart’s story was set to begin but not one even himself might have expected would happen so soon, Blake Swihart was set to start out his career in the professional ranks.

After signing with the Red Sox Swihart spent most of  is time learning and preparing for the professional game. Before the season had ended however he was given a taste of some game action with Red Sox entry in the Gulf Coast League. While he did not register a hit in six at bats, those two games there would be many games to be played in the future.

With his first Spring Training now under his belt, Swihart was assigned to the Greenville Drive, Bostons star-studded team in the South Atlantic League. Not only does the drive feature Swihart but it also features other talented prospects including Pitchers Matt Barnes, Henry Owens, and Madison Younginer who along with the coaching staff will help Swihart develop his game calling skills behind the plate.

Early on in 2012 Swihart has already has had some positive experiences and accomplishments. Two Red Sox pitchers Andrew Miller and Rich Hill started the season on a rehab assignment with the Drive. Swihart not only caught the duo but he was also able to bounce questions off of them and learn from them. At the plate Swihart got off to a hot start before going through a tough four game stretch versus the West Virginia Power. In a recent game on April 17th, 2012 playing the Lexington Legends Swihart hit his first professional home run off of Tanner Bushue in a 10-6 Drive victory.

As his 2012 season continues and his career evolves we plan on covering Blake every step of the way. Be sure to check back at Chasing MLB Dreams for updates on Blake’s season and be sure to follow Blake on twitter @BlakeSwihart_1 . You can also follow us on twitter @CTD_Sypien 

Seven Questions with Blake Swihart

What was it like to be drafted? What were you doing when you found out?
It was a great experience! I was at a sports bar with friends and family and they went crazy when my name popped up on the screen and was announced.
After being drafted by the Red Sox you had a tough decision to make. You had an opportunity to experience college and play baseball at the University of Texas. How hard of a decision was it to make to go professional and pass the college experience up? Who was the Red Sox scout most responsible for the team drafting and signing you?
It was very difficult, Texas has been my dream school since I was young. The decision was made at the last possible second! The scout was Matt Mahoney.
You also have had the opportunity to play for Team USA. What was that experience like for you? Is there a particular moment that stands out from your Team USA experience?
It was awesome to get to play with the best group of guys possible wearing USA on your chest. The best moment would have to be when u hear the national anthem, you get chills because your up against another country.
What has been the hardest part of your transition from High School to the Professional Game?
 (Hmmm) I guess I’d have to say learning how to call the game for the pitchers and knowing what they want to throw and when they want to.
 What are your strengths to your game? On the flip side what is one aspect of you have you hope to improve on during the 2012 season?
I’m extremely coachable and will do whatever is asked of me, I hope to improve every aspect of my game it can always be better.
This season with the Drive will be your first full season experience in professional baseball, your currently you off to a hot start with the bat. What are the keys for you to continue to maintain a high level of play through out the course of an entire full season of baseball?
Baseball is a game of failure, you fail more than u succeed. I just gotta keep going out there every night and walk off the field knowing i gave 100%.
Early on in the 2012 season you have had a chance to catch two major league pitchers in-game action who are on rehab assignments (Rich Hill and Andrew Miller) How have they helped not only you but also the team as many of you set sail on what will be your first full season in professional baseball?
They are great role models for us. They play the game the right way and reach out to us when we ask a question to help us along with our careers.
A Few For Fun
Favorite player growing up? Favorite non-baseball athlete? Why?
Mark McGwire and Lebron James. I love how they play the game or their sport and look up to them.
At bat song for 2012?
Make it hot by Wiz Khalifa.
Favorite TV Show?
The Big Bang Theory
I would like to thank Blake for taking some time out of his schedule to answer some questions during the regular season. I look forward to following him during the 2012 season and into the future. If you don’t already please follow Blake on twitter at @BlakeSwihart_1 .  Also please give us a follow for updates on Blake and other featured players all through out the season. You can follow our site at @CTD_Sypien

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