Whenever Pittsburgh Pirates Fans are targeting prospects from other teams, and especially when they actually trade for them, the player’s performance is often looked at through a lens that emphasizes the strengths, positive projections and of course the prospect ranking that portrays them in the most favorable light. It’s an almost exhausting never ending exercise of give and mostly take that serves only one purpose, which is to make it seem as if the Pirates won the trade.
And, if it eventually doesn’t work out in the Pirates favor, the goal posts are ultimately moved by making statements that are often contradictory to each other-such as saying trades can’t be judged by the end results concerning how the players involved produced during their respective careers or it was a good trade at the time based on some perceived future value-depending on the point that is trying to be made.
Although, it should be noted that there are amateur or professional prognosticators that make these statements from the get-go, and actually stick to them. Therefore, the negative connotations implied do not pertain to them. Just the flip floppers.
During this most trade season their were plenty of rumors, predictions and consequential evaluations (both positive and negative) based on actual transactions that took place involving the Pittsburgh Pirates, that could inherently be judged by the reactions they received from Pirates Fans; especially when there were strong feelings either way concerning a player that was acquired by the Pirates.
One such player, that was recognized for his propensity to exhibit power during the current Minor League Season, was Jack Suwinski; acquired by the Pirates from the San Diego Padres as a part of the much anticipated Adam Frazier Trade. Immediately following his addition to the Pirates Organization praise was bestowed on General Manager Ben Cherington for continuing to add power to a system that lacked such prospects; particularly since he was going to be assigned to the Altoona Curve, where their most well known power bat in the form of Mason Martin also resided.
On the season, for the Double-A San Antonio Missions, Suwinski slashed a career best .269/.398/.551 with 15 homers and 27 total extra base hits. And of course, right out of the gate Suwinki lived up to the hype; in essence punctuating these initial feelings and expectations by launching a home run into the Altoona night in his first game with the team.
However, this has not always been, and still really isn’t, as large of a part of Suwinski’s game as many would believe. Drafted by the San Diego Padres in the 15th Round of the 2016 MLB June Amateur Draft out of Taft High School in Chicago, Illinois, he began his professional career at only 17 years old in the Arizona League; almost a full three years younger than his average competitor. Playing in 30 games he batted .241 and didn’t hit for a whole lot of power (.287 SLG), but showed an advanced approach at the plate with his 19K to 12 BB ratio; ultimately earning a promotion to Low A; which at the time entailed skipping at least one level of Advanced Rookie Ball.
Over the next two years Suwinski would spend his summers in Fort Wayne with the TinCaps, raising his average from .227 to .255 and his wRC+ from 92 to 108, while dropping his K rate from 26.1% to 20.2%. However, the next season in 2019 would find him scuffling off and on to adjust to High-A Ball in Lake Elsinore with the Storm. On the year he belted a then career high 12 home runs, but saw his average fall to .208 and his K rate ballon to nearly 30%. At that point it seemed as if a possible reset was needed with either another repeat in Lake Elsinore or a demotion back to Fort Wayne; neither of which would be viewed as too detrimental to his development as he just turned only 21 years old.
Nevertheless, it subsequently wouldn’t matter as 2020 was a lost season of development overall for many in Minor League Baseball; including Suwinski, and bringing us pretty much up to speed on his current breakout season. Yet, if you remember it hasn’t totally been about the additional power; although his Pull Rate has been the highest of his career at 51.4 %, he is truly not selling out as much as he had been in the seasons were he has struggled. His K rate has dropped every so slightly to 27.5%, as his BB has risen to its peak at 15.75%; often taking what is given to him.
He has also matured, and become more comfortable in the field; playing all three outfield positions with a natural feel for the game, and displaying increased range.
Since, joining the Curve, Suwinski has slashed .254/.368/.396 with 4 homers; a slight decline in his general production. Still, I can’t help but look at his age, as he just turned 23.
Currently a 35+ FV according to Fangraphs, as well as being eligible for the Rule 5 Draft for the second year in a row, it seems unlikely that any team would take the risk at keeping him on their MLB 26-Man Roster for an entire season; but, if it were up to me, I would add him to the Triple-A reserve list in the off-season to provide him with at least some level of protection.