Well Folks, The Cat’s Out Of The Bag

I’ve been a strong critic of the 2010 Bowman Chrome Baseball 18U USA set since it released. The sticker autos are growing on me, mainly because it can’t be changed, but the checklist was underwhelming. There are a bunch of repeat players, some 2012/2013 wait-and-see types, and lower talent overall than other years.

When I went through the checklist, one name stood out to me besides Bubba Starling. For a while, that name was a relative forgotten and unknown to sellers, which made the cards affordable. Then, the prices started to pick up as this prospect’s cards dried up. Now, the cards have all but vanished from the market and a gold refractor auto looks to make an all-new high market price.

Blake Swihart is arguably the top name in the set, in terms of offensive players. While Starling might be labeled the freak athlete with multi-sport upside, Swihart’s ability is in many ways higher. Swihart is a switch hitting catcher, with a tremendous knack for squaring up the ball and producing hits. He has power from both sides of the plate, as well as a sub 2.0 pop time. While he might be on the smaller side right now, his frame shows some great signs of filling out, which will help his power potential.

If he has a very strong senior season and Starling continues to have mixed results (due to his wavering sport choices and tool development), Swihart can easily pass him as the top dog from the set. They are neck-and-neck on the eBay market right now, so follow this closely.

The last remaining Swihart Auto Color Parallel (Gold Refractor) on eBay is almost at the price of Orange Refractor sales in the last few weeks. It’s clear people are taking notice (and being on the front page of Baseball America didn’t hurt either).

Here are a few thoughts from various sites on Blake Swihart. For a great write-up of Swihart vs. Bell vs. Starling, check out this BA article as well.

From Perfect Game Summer’s Best:

This was a tough call between Hedges and Blake Swihart …. even if Swihart may very well be the best hitter not named Anthony Rendon available for next year’s draft.

From Perfect Game Profile:

Blake Swihart is a 2011 C/IF with a 6-1 175 lb. frame from Rio Rancho, NM who attends Cleveland HS. Lean athletic build, some developing strength. Switch-hitter, outstanding bat speed and power right handed, ball jumps, hard pull/lift contact, effortless. Shorter swing left handed, handles the barrel, sees the ball very well, solid contact against top level stuff. Can really hit! 6.95 runner, agile and athletic behind the plate, good quickness, flexible set up, plus arm strength, 1.86 best pop, can shorten release. Excellent student, verbal commitment to Texas. Selected for the Aflac All-American team.

From Baseball Beginnings:

Switch-hitting catchers with good arms and potential to drive the ball are hard to come by. Here’s a summer break down. ….. Swihart has a long way to go in his development, but especially from the right-side, he shows a very good offensive platform with a firm front, extension and lift. His footwork behind the plate was still coming along when I saw him, but you couldn’t take away the pure arm strength he had. He had very soft hands defensively and good presence behind the plate. I have to say that in a year where there are not a lot of bats, there are some catchers to be had, which is a rarity. I think Swihart is easily in the conversation among the best high school catchers and most projectable pro prospects.