Photo: Ryan Young

50 in 50: Blake Swihart

Draft : : Top Prospects
       
Published: Monday, May 02, 2011

Blake Swihart
C / Cleveland HS, Rio Rancho, N.M.

Bats-Throws:                B-R
Height/Weight:             6-2/175
Hometown:                   Rio Rancho, NM
College Commitment:  Texas
Birthdate:                     April 3, 1992

SCOUTING PROFILE: Along with Florida shortstop Francisco Lindor and Texas outfielder Josh Bell, Swihart provides the scouting community with a draft rarity: three legitimate first-round talents from the high-school ranks that are legitimate switch-hitters. Anyone questioning Swihart’s credentials to swing the bat from both sides only needed to have been at Perfect Game’s National Showcase at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla., last June. He took one of the best batting-practice sessions from the right side seen all summer by the PG scouting staff, then proceeded to hit lefthanded in a game later that day, and lined two solid hits off pitchers throwing in the 92-94 mph range. Swihart has more natural raw power from the right side, but has above-average bat speed from both sides and an uncanny ability to square up balls consistently. As a junior at Cleveland High, he hit .529-12-40. Swihart then proceeded to lead Team USA’s 19-2 junior-national team in hitting (.448) and home runs (5) during the summer, though the team lost to Cuba (its only loss in eight games) in the opening playoff round at the World Junior Championship, and finished fifth overall. Through the early stages of the 2011 season, he was hitting over .600 and had yet to strike out. Although Swihart has been catching for just two years, his agility, athleticism and cannon-like arm more than make up for his understandably raw, yet rapidly-improving receiving mechanics. He has regular pop times in drills around 1.85 seconds, despite a long release. Scouts have never suggested a potential position switch, but Swihart has also been clocked up to 96 mph off the mound this spring. As a freshman and sophomore at Albuquerque’s Rio Rancho High, Swihart played mostly first base and led that school to a state title as a sophomore. A year later, he moved on to Cleveland High, a brand-new school, and was immediately moved behind the plate. An obvious major-league comparison for the versatile Swihart is a young New York Yankees catcher Jorge Posada, who was a 6-foot-2,170-pound infielder when he was drafted in 1990 and actually played second base his first year in the minor leagues before subsequently becoming a catcher. Swihart could hold the distinction this year of becoming the highest draft pick ever from the state of New Mexico, although in all fairness he moved to the state from Amarillo, Texas, as a 12-year-old. Former big-league righthander Duane Ward, the ninth overall pick in the 1982 draft, currently holds the distinction of being New Mexico’s highest selection ever. The connection to Texas is still ever-present in Swihart’s life, as the 4.0 student has committed to play at the University of Texas, and it may take a substantial bonus for him to pass up the opportunity.

Projected Draft Position: First round / picks 10-25.

--DAVID RAWNSLEY

Perfect Game Events Attended:

    2006 Albuquerque Pre HS Showcase
    2010 National Showcase
    2010 AFLAC All-American Game

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