2-25-22 – By Ethan Smith – @mvp_EtHaN on Twitter
***First a little note of welcome from us here at Inside the Bucs Basement, specifically Gary as it were. Ethan is a young Pirates fan who’s brought stability to the Locked on Pirates Podcast by holding the host duties longer than anyone as of late. He’s never afraid to say he’s learning and we are excited to give him a place to hone his skills as a writer and take advantage of his youthful energy. You’ll see more from him on here, especially when baseball gets it’s act together and plays games. Welcome Ethan, and give him a follow if you don’t already.
The Pittsburgh Pirates are in the rebuilding stages and with those stages comes new waves of young players to be excited for as fans of the team, but every prospect comes with caution even if many in the system right now come with more excitement than caution.
One of these players is 2018 first round selection, outfielder Travis Swaggerty, who this off-season saw himself added to the 40-man roster alongside outfielders Canaan Smith-Njigba, acquired in the Jameson Taillon deal to the Yankees and newly acquired Jack Suwinski from the San Diego Padres in exchange for Adam Frazier last season. None of these players have seen MLB action yet in their young careers, but statistically speaking from their respective times in the minor leagues, Travis Swaggerty has an advantage over some of the other young outfielders in the system.
I actually got the chance to speak with Swaggerty in an interview on the Locked On Pirates Podcast where he spoke in length about rehabbing from his shoulder surgery this past season and how much better he feels now.
Smooth sailing is a perfect way to describe Swaggerty’s swing, which has considerably improved since his time at South Alabama and continued to do so after his time with the West Virginia Power and Bradenton Marauders. In 2019, Swaggerty’s best season in the minor leagues by far, he slashed .265/.347/.381 with a .728 OPS, and 2019 also happens to be his last full season of minor league baseball to date with the 2020 season seeing no minor league action and his season being cut brutally short in 2021.
There is cause for concern health wise after a shoulder injury, but Swaggerty assured me that he will bounce back and only continue to improve.
Now getting things going is the most important thing for Swaggerty at this point in his career, seeing as he is now on the 40-man roster and hasn’t played baseball since May of 2021, but one major part of his game that will age like fine wine for him is his defensive ability in the outfield.
Defensively, Swaggerty has played centerfield his entire minor league career and has posted a .981 fielding percentage, for comparison Smith-Njigba has posted a .979 and Suwinski has posted a .979, so Swaggerty offers an advantage defensively from these two guys mainly in the putouts department, specifically his 320 PO season in Bradenton in 2019.
To put it simply, Swaggerty is a ballhawk in the outfield defensively, being a natural tracker of the baseball and what moves he needs to make next to prevent extra base hits and keep runs off the board. Swaggerty spoke highly of himself defensively as well.
His statistics and general play back that up defensively as I mentioned earlier, and pairing Swaggerty and Bryan Reynolds in the outfield is a scary good defensive duo bearing in mind that Ben Gamel would be in the fold as well after a solid season last year with the glove in Pittsburgh.
So, of course Swaggerty is someone to be excited for because why not? He has yet to see action in the big leagues, his minor league track record is good, he’s a smooth hitter of the baseball and plays well defensively and has been highly touted in the system for some time, so why not be excited to see what he can bring to the table in 2022?
As mentioned earlier, there is always cause for concern with prospects and young players because they are all virtually unknown commodities until they prove their worth at the MLB level, but Swaggerty has a certain swagger and gameplay style that I think can translate to a solid defensive outfielder who hits around .240-.260 every season and brings mostly positive things to the lineup day-in and day-out.
The 2022 season will likely be cut short due to the current CBA negotiations, but I fully expect Swaggerty to make his big league debut at some point this season and burst onto the scene to make a real impact and he expects himself to do the same.
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