In 2011, the Boston Red Sox drafted two high school catchers in the first three rounds.

Blake Swihart, the 25th overall pick, is on Boston’s major league roster – a spot solidified when Hanley Ramirez was designated for assignment last week. Boston still considers Swihart a catcher, although they move him around the infield and outfield.

Jordan Weems, the 111th overall choice, is no longer a catcher. The Red Sox moved him twice, the second change to the mound – a transition that could have Weems joining Swihart someday.

“He’s got a good live arm,” said Portland Sea Dogs pitching coach Paul Abbott.

“There are still going to be some bumps in the roads simply because he hasn’t pitched … we’re coming up on only two years of him being a pitcher and here he is in Double-A, and throwing the ball pretty well.”

Promoted to Portland in May, Weems is showing a fastball that sits around 95 mph and hits 97 mph, with a change-up and developing slider. In eight games (92/3 innings) with the Sea Dogs, Weems has 11 strikeouts, three walks and a 3.72 ERA.


Weems, 25, has been in Portland before, as a catcher at the end of the 2015 season, and as a first baseman to begin 2016.

“They moved me to first base so I would focus on hitting,” Weems said. “I thought the catching aspect was coming along, but you have to hit.”

Weems didn’t hit. After 22 games in Portland in 2016 – and a .207 career average – the Red Sox proposed pitching.

“Even when he was catching, we’d talk about it – just me and him,” said Abbott, who was the pitching coach in Class A Salem when Weems was catching and, later, pitching.

“His fastball had life. He had the mechanics and the simple arm movement … I didn’t think it would be that hard a transition for him to get.”

While most pro players pitched for their high school teams, Weems played for a talented Columbus (Georgia) High School team.


“We had two lefties throwing low 90s and one right-hander throwing mid-90s, so I didn’t need to get on the mound,” Weems said.

He seemed destined to wear the gear. His father, Rick Weems, was an All-America catcher in college and played in the Cardinals’ minor league system. His older brother, Chase Weems, caught in the Yankees’ system (a sixth-round pick in 2007) and is no longer playing.

Jordan Weems batted .443 in his senior year at Columbus High. As a catcher, most scouting reports noted his “plus arm.”

But the bat did not translate in the pros. So, Boston had Weems follow the path of Williams Jerez, a high school outfielder chosen one round before Weems. Jerez turned to pitching in 2014. He has not reached the majors but is on Boston’s 40-man roster, pitching at Triple-A Pawtucket.

Weems is not the first Sea Dogs catcher to pitch. Edgar Martinez caught in 2004 and pitched in 2006, eventually reaching Triple-A.

Weems’ breakthrough came last year in Salem when his slider became consistent. He pitched four straight scoreless outings (six innings) in July before pulling an oblique muscle, ending his season.


“That possibly prevented him from starting (2018) with us,” Abbott said. “He’s making big strides. He just needs to log innings and understand what pitches work and when.

“He can manipulate the change-up, and the slider has power to it. He has three pretty good weapons and he’s still going to get better.”

IN PAWTUCKET, outfielder Cole Sturgeon is adjusting to Triple-A since his promotion from Portland. After going 3 for 27 his first eight games, Sturgeon is 7 for 18 (.389) in his last five.

Left-handed reliever Robby Scott (1.53 ERA) is looking ready for a return to the majors. In 172/3 innings, he has struck out 27 and walked five with a 0.91 WHIP.

IN SALEM, third baseman Bobby Dalbec leads all Red Sox minor leaguers with 10 home runs. He also has 11 doubles and 12 singles. Dalbec needs work before he gets to Portland. He’s batting .208 with 62 strikeouts in 158 at-bats.

Dalbec was a fourth-round draft pick in 2016. The second-round pick, shortstop C.J. Chatham, reached Salem on May 8. He’s hitting .313 with an .806 OPS. If he stays healthy and consistent, he could be a late-season addition at Hadlock.

Staff Writer Kevin Thomas can be reached at 791-6411 or:

Twitter: @ClearTheBases

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