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Salem's Blake Swihart is reletively new to catching and to switch-hitting.
Friday, April 19, 2013
In the eighth inning Tuesday night, Potomac outfielder Will Piwnica-Worms broke for second. He hadn't been caught stealing in six tries as a pro. He got a good jump this time, too, hoping to put himself into scoring position in a tie game.
Salem catcher Blake Swihart received the pitch, popped out of his stance and fired a strike to second, nabbing Piwnica-Worms to end the inning.
Not a bad effort for a shortstop.
Swihart, a first round draft pick in 2011, is still a bit new at catching. As an amateur, he played mostly shortstop and outfield, but he moved behind the plate at the request of the Red Sox when he turned pro.
"I'll play wherever I need to play to get to the next level," he said.
Swihart threw out 31 percent of would-be basestealers at Greenville last season. That's a solid rate, but he vowed that he would do even better this year.
So far, he has. He entered Friday's game having nailed 4 of 11 - a 36 percent clip.
Still, throwing is just part of the learning process.
"Honestly, it's everything," he said. "You've got to read balls in the dirt. You've got to be in the flow of the game. You've got to know every count, every situation.
"Learning the pitchers is pretty hard - what they want to throw, when they want to throw it. Just getting on the same page and in the same routine with the pitchers is probably the hardest thing."
Catching isn't the only thing he's a relative novice at. Swihart didn't start switch-hitting until his junior year of high school.
"At first, I wouldn't switch-hit in the games or anything; I would just go to the cages and do it," said Swihart, a natural righty. "And then my summer coach said, 'Hey, we're actually going to have you start hitting left-handed in games now.' I picked it up pretty quickly and took off with it.
"You're getting half the cuts in BP everyone else is, so you've got to make sure every swing is what you want and accurate," he added. "It's a lot of work, but I enjoy it."
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