Christian Vazquez’s time is coming. Whether it’s this season or in 2015, the 23-year-old catcher figures to be an important part of the Boston Red Sox’s future.
One could make the case the Red Sox should turn to Vazquez soon — if not right now. The defensively gifted backstop is making major offensive strides at Triple-A Pawtucket, and he sounds fully prepared to join Mookie Betts, Jackie Bradley Jr. and other former PawSox teammates in making the big league jump.
“I think that I’m ready. I’d like to play a long time in the big leagues. I want to be there tomorrow. But I don’t have that call,” Vazquez recently told WEEI.com. “ … When it’s time, it’s time. I’ll continue to have fun every day and continue to work hard every day. I feel great now at home plate. I was struggling a little bit, trying to do too much at the plate. I’m concentrating now on the middle of the field. I feel better. … It’s working now. I feel very good and I’ll just continue to do that.”
Vazquez enters Tuesday’s action hitting .276 with three homers, 19 RBIs and a .332 on-base percentage this season. All three homers came in June, during which Vazquez hit.299 with a .368 on-base percentage and .848 OPS. Vazquez is hitting .325 (13-for-40) over the course of a current 10-game hit streak.
“Doing less. I was trying to do more in the beginning,” Vazquez told the Providence Journal over the weekend of his offensive improvement. “I’m more reacting. Don’t think too much. See the ball and hit it. That’s better for me because when I’m thinking too much, things don’t go (my way).”
While things have been going Vazquez’s way at Triple-A, the same can’t be said for the Red Sox, whose big league catchers enter Tuesday hitting .225 with a .262 on-base percentage, .611 OPS and 70 strikeouts to 13 walks through 83 games. A.J. Pierzynski hit .173 (13-for-74) with a .200 on-base percentage and .413 OPS in June. The 37-year-old hasn’t homered since May 24.
There’s nothing to suggest the Red Sox will consider making a move to bring up Vazquez in the near future, but the young catcher’s offensive surge should have someone in Boston considering the possibility. Vazquez’s excellent defensive work — highlighted by a rocket arm, quick feet and renowned game-calling — already made him a viable option before the recent stretch.
“He’s been terrific,” PawSox manager Kevin Boles told the Providence Journal. “It’s amazing what a month (can do). People were talking, a month ago, ‘Oh his bat, his bat.’ We’ve never had any question about his bat. Really haven’t.”
For now, the Red Sox are letting Pierzynski work through his struggles. David Ross, meanwhile, continues to be an integral veteran for reasons that extend beyond the box score. If the Red Sox ultimately opt for a different path, though, they can do so knowing an impressive minor leaguer is ready to contribute.
“I don’t pay attention and play my game and have fun here. When it’s time, it’s time and they’ll call me up,” Vazquez said. “Everybody wants that goal.”