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Blake Swihart one of the most wanted players in baseball? Someone thinks so

Someone in the Cactus League really likes Blake Swihart.

Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

Lyle Spencer of put the question before "18 Major League executives and managers" among Cactus League teams: Which three players would you want to start a franchise?

Guess who won? Yes, it was Mike Trout. Somehow three executives did not include Trout on their lists, which has to mean that at least three of the executives were from the Angels because the executives weren't allowed to choose players from their own teams. But down at the bottom, with one vote (tying him, for the record, with Miguel Cabrera, Adam Jones, Corey Kluber, Corey Seager, and Carlos Correa) was Boston's own Blake Swihart.

That one vote, though, places Swihart on a list of only 15 different players to receive a nod. That's more than, say, Felix Hernandez or Chris Sale got. More than any of the hundreds of other players in the game, be they yearly MVP candidates or organizational guys in Double-A, save those other 14.

So does Swihart deserve to be there? Short answer: no.

For a longer answer...

Swihart isn't even ranked as a top-10 prospect in baseball by most, so it might seem exceptionally weird to see him on this list. And it is. But this isn't a question of the best players or best prospects. The question that was asked was "who would you want to start a franchise with?"

Blake Swihart isn't just a prospect, after all. He's a catching prospect. And one who is expected to excel both at the plate and behind it. It's difficult to find good catching in this league, and if you're doing it in free agency as a new franchise might have to, it's particularly difficult to find good catching without putting yourself in big risk of a terrible contract. Catchers usually don't hold up as long as other baseball players, after all. And by the time they hit free agency they've already put plenty of innings on their knees. But with competition still fierce for the best players at such a scarce position, teams still have to pony up plenty of dollars and years to sign anyone of note.

So it's not unreasonable to consider Swihart a slightly better pick for this particular "draft" when considering how bad that particular market can get. But that still doesn't cover the massive gap between Swihart and a proven high-quality Major League player. There's just so much more risk involved with a player like Swihart who has yet to escape the minors than in a player like, say, Josh Donaldson, Anthony Rendon, or Chris Sale. All three have already had big seasons in the majors, and all three are cost controlled until at least 2019.

There's an argument to be made for not starting a franchise with a player like Felix Hernandez, who already costs an arm and a leg. This is particularly true if you consider it unlikely for a new franchise to succeed for a few years. But when we're talking about the difference between Swihart entering his first year of arbitration and Chris Sale being on a $13.5 million option, the fact that Swihart will only get to that point if he clears the significant hurdle of transitioning to the majors more than covers the difference.

I don't know who that one executive is who voted for Swihart. And before you start shouting about Ruben Amaro Jr., know that the Phillies play down in Florida, like the Red Sox. But whoever he is, the Red Sox might consider tracking him down and hoping against hope that he's got the power to send them one of those players who really should be taken first. Nothing against Blake Swihart, but he's not completely untouchable. Not if he's being viewed as one of the three most valuable players in the game.