- Full name Christian Rafael Vázquez
- Born 08/21/1990 in Bayamon, Puerto Rico
- Profile Ht.: 5'9" / Wt.: 205 / Bats: R / Throws: R
- School Puerto Rico Baseball Academy
- Debut 07/09/2014
Drafted in the 9th round (292nd overall) by the Boston Red Sox in 2008 (signed for $80,000).
View Draft ReportA catcher with strong catch-and-throw skills, Cristian Vazquez is a good defender with an accurate arm. But at 5-foot-10, 210 pounds, his body is maxed out and he will have to watch his weight.
Organization Prospect Rankings
Vazquez grew up in Puerto Rico watching Ivan Rodriguez's catching instruction video, and the lessons evidently took, as he shows above-average defensive ability behind the plate. Pitchers love throwing to him, and swear by his judgment when it comes to understanding their strengths and reading hitters' swings. Vazquez routinely records pop times between 1.7 and 1.8 seconds on throws to second base. "He can be a difference-maker," one evaluator said. "He's going to be so good defensively that he won't have to hit a ton." However, his aggressiveness on defense resulted in a bit of a regression in 2013. While Vazquez led the Double-A Eastern League in assists (80) and total chances (871), he also led the way in errors (10) and passed balls (23). At the plate, he cut his strikeout rate nearly in half while hitting .289/.376/.395 at Portland, finishing eighth in the EL batting race. Evaluators feel that, despite Vazquez's five homers, he possesses sneaky pop that could permit double-digit home run totals in tandem with an ability to swing at strikes and get on base at a respectable rate. That package suggests a ceiling as a big league starter, with his defense being a separator that will buy him time to develop his bat in the majors. A return to Triple-A Pawtucket awaits in 2014.
After smashing 18 homers in 2011, Vazquez got too power-conscious to open last season. He hit just .211 with one homer through the end of May before making adjustments. With a shorter swing and more of an up-the-middle approach, he batted .322/.434/.534 in the next two months to earn a promotion to Double-A. He swings and misses too much to hit for a high average, but he draws his share of walks and has solid power. He should provide more than enough offense to profile as a regular, because he stands out most with his work behind the plate. Managers rated him the Carolina League's best defensive catcher in 2012, and he led the circuit by throwing out 42 percent of basestealers. He enhances average arm strength with a fast release, regularly recording 1.9-second pop times. He has improved as a receiver and blocker. He speaks both English and Spanish well, allowing him to communicate effectively with his pitching staff. He's a well below-average runner but has instincts on the bases. Vazquez struggled offensively during his month in Portland, so he'll head back there at the outset of 2013.
Overmatched in his first exposure to full-season ball as a 19-year-old in 2010, Vazquez returned to Greenville last season and raised his OPS from .665 to .863 and his home run output from three to 18. And his bat isn't even the most impressive part of his game. The Red Sox named him their 2011 minor league defensive player of the year, quite an honor in a system that also includes standout glovemen such as Jose Iglesias and Che-Hsuan Lin. Vazquez has plus catch-and-throw skills, though he still needs to clean up his receiving a little more. His average arm strength plays up because he gets rid of the ball quickly and makes accurate throws, and he threw out 33 percent of basestealers last year. A strong leader with passion for the game, he's bilingual and communicates well with English- and Spanish-speaking pitchers alike. Vazquez is strong and has solid power potential. With his compact swing, willingness to use the opposite field and command of the strike zone, he has a chance to hit for a decent average as well. He's a below-average runner but not terrible for a catcher. Vazquez is ready to make the jump to high Class A.
Minor League Top Prospects
The Red Sox called up Vazquez, one of the top defensive catching prospects in the game, immediately after releasing A.J. Pierzynski in mid-July. Vazquez is the first player drafted from the Puerto Rico Baseball Academy to reach the big leagues. Vazquez has a strong, wide frame in the mold of Ivan Rodriguez, whose catching video he grew up watching. He gets out of the crouch quickly and displays a plus, accurate arm. Scouts uniformly laud Vazquez's defense and the way he calls a game for such a young catcher. Vazquez won't hit for much power because he doesn't hit the ball in the air all that often. Pawtucket coaches worked with him to quicken his swing load and to better recognize breaking balls, but he emphasizes contact over power and can serve breaking pitches to right field. Given his defensive prowess, Vazquez won't have to be much better than a fringe hitter with poor power to serve as a backup catcher for many years, though he projects to be capable of starting for many teams.
Vazquez continues to prove he has the skills behind the plate to play in the big leagues, but his performance at the plate could delay his arrival. Managers rated him the Carolina League's best defensive catcher one year after he received the same honor in the South Atlantic League. He led the league by throwing out 42 percent of basestealers. With an average arm that plays up because of his quick release and sound footwork, Vazquez regularly gets the ball from home to second in 1.9 seconds. He has improved his blocking and receiving skills, and his passion for baseball shows on the field. He's a natural leader who's learning to call a game. While Vazquez may have focused too much on swinging for the fences this season after hitting a career-high 18 homers in 2011, he's at his best when he shortens his swing and drives pitches up the middle. He projects as a decent hitter with perhaps average power. Like most catchers, he's a below-average runner.
Best Tools List
- Rated Best Defensive Catcher in the International League in 2014
- Rated Best Defensive Catcher in the Boston Red Sox in 2014
- Rated Best Defensive Catcher in the Boston Red Sox in 2013
- Rated Best Defensive Catcher in the Carolina League in 2012
- Rated Best Defensive Catcher in the Boston Red Sox in 2012
- Rated Best Defensive Catcher in the South Atlantic League in 2011
- Puerto Rico activated C Christian Vázquez.