Christian Vazquezâs time is coming. Whether itâs this season or in 2015, the 23-year-old catcher figures to be an important part of the Boston Red Soxâs 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.
âI think that Iâm ready. Iâd like to play a long time in the big leagues. I want to be there tomorrow. But I donât have that call,â Vazquez recently told WEEI.com.Â â â¦ When itâs time, itâs time. Iâll 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. Iâm concentrating now on the middle of the field. I feel better. â¦ Itâs working now. I feel very good and Iâll just continue to do that.â
Vazquez enters Tuesdayâs 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.
âDoing less. I was trying to do more in the beginning,â Vazquez told the Providence Journal over the weekend of his offensive improvement. âIâm more reacting. Donât think too much. See the ball and hit it. Thatâs better for me because when Iâm thinking too much, things donât go (my way).â
While things have been going Vazquezâs way at Triple-A, the same canât 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 hasnât homered since May 24.
Thereâs nothing to suggest the Red Sox will consider making a move to bring up Vazquez in the near future, but the young catcherâs offensive surge should have someone in Boston considering the possibility. Vazquezâs excellent defensive work — highlighted by a rocket arm, quick feet and renowned game-calling — already made him a viable option before the recent stretch.
âHeâs been terrific,â PawSox manager Kevin Boles told the Providence Journal. âItâs amazing what a month (can do). People were talking, a month ago, âOh his bat, his bat.â Weâve never had any question about his bat. Really havenât.â
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.
âI donât pay attention and play my game and have fun here. When itâs time, itâs time and theyâll call me up,â Vazquez said. âEverybody wants that goal.â