Can Sox steer Swihart from Austin to Boston?

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Can Sox steer Swihart from Austin to Boston?

By MaureenMullen
CSNNE.com

Blake Swihart, the switch-hitting catcher from V. Sue Cleveland High in Rio Rancho, NM, who was Red Sox' second pick in the draft, has committed to the University of Texas, calling it his "Plan A."

So committed is he to the Longhorns that he's planning to travel to Omaha to watch Texas in the College World Series when it begins June 18.

Still, he pledges to keep an open mind and will listening to the Sox' overtures between now and the Aug. 15 signing deadline.

"I love the atmosphere out there in Texas and if I do end up signing, it probably will be at the end just because I'm really dedicated to Texas," he said.

Swihart is relatively new to catching. At the suggestion of a coach in his sophomore year, he moved to the position.

"I can actually play any position," he said. "Every position feels natural but at catcher I actually feel pretty good right now. I worked a lot on my arm slot, a lot on my quickness on my feet, and if I keep working, I think I can develop a lot more there.

"I can play any position. So where ever I need to play, I'll play. If it's catcher, I'll succeed there and work my butt off to get where I need to be."

Texas, he said, has promised him an opportunity to catch "about 75 percent of the time and play another position the rest of the time because they like my bat in the lineup every day."

He likes that the Sox have switch-hitting catchers at the big-league level now, in Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Jason Varitek this season, and Victor Martinez last season.

"It's amazing. It's awesome," he said, of his selection by the Red Sox. "They have a great organization. I'm just excited. It's pretty cool."

He had a good inkling the Sox might be the team that picked him.

"In the past couple weeks Red Sox area scout Matt Mahoney's been trying to get a hold of me a lot," Swihart said. "But I've been really busy and haven't been answering too many phone calls, just because I've been doing a lot of family stuff here in town. So he was showing a lot of interest, calling almost every day and so I expected the Red Sox to be one of the picks for me. I kind of saw it coming but wasn't sure at the same time, just because of my commitment to Texas, I didn't know if anything was going to happen."

Swihart's first Little League team was the Cardinals. With no big-league team in New Mexico, he adopted the St. Louis Cardinals as his favorite. He's now willing to throw his allegiance behind the Red Sox.

"I guess I do like the Red Sox now," he said. "I guess that'd be my favorite."

His allegiance taken care of, now the Red Sox just have to compete for his commitment.

Maureen Mullen is on Twitter athttp:twitter.commaureenamullen