3-16-23 By Craig W. Toth (aka @BucsBasement on Twitter)
Following the 2020 Pandemic Cancelled Minor League Season, the former 1st Round Draft Pick from was given an extremely aggressive assignment by skipping Greensboro and Altoona altogether; landing in Indianapolis to begin 2021.
Clearly he he impressed Ben Cherington and Company at the Alternate Site during the shutdown; ultimately making the most of his promotion for the first 12 games of the year. In 48 plate appearances Swaggerty launched 3 homers, had an OPS of .747, swiped 3 bags and walked 6 times and only had 8 strikeouts.
Then on May 18th, as he made a routine dive back into first base-to avoid a pickoff attempt, his season came to an abrupt end.
Ultimately he would undergo season ending right shoulder surgery due to what was described at the time as recurrent instability.
While rehabbing, Swaggerty would return home from Pirate City for the birth of his daughter on September 12th; who arrived six weeks ahead of schedule, and weighed only 4 pounds, 14 ounces.
A little over two months later the new dad would be added to the Pirates 40-Man in order to protect him from the Rule 5 Draft; setting up him up to have a chance to make an impact on the Big League Club.
Unfortunately, as Spring Training began Swaggerty was still dealing with some soreness in his shoulder, and struggled for the first 17 games of the season, before ending up on the 7-Day IL in early May with a concussion after colliding with Oneil Cruz.
At the time he was slashing .194/.286/.258 with only 1 homer and a 31.0% K-rate in 71 plate appearances; however-when he returned-proceeded to slash .357/.430/.600 with 3 homers and a slightly more reasonable/manageable 25.3% over 79 plate appearances.
By showing such improvement, and consistency, Swaggerty finally forced the Pirates hand into promoting him Pittsburgh.
But, then something curious happened; leaving people to question why he had been promoted in the first place.
In 5 game across 6 days of play, Swaggerty received just 9 plate appearances; recording only one hit, before being unceremoniously sent back down to Triple-A for the remainder of the season.
Over the final 72 games of the Indians season he would slash .241/.341/.380 with 5 homers, 21 total extra base hits and a 24.4% K to 13% BB-rate.
For Swaggerty the end of 2021, and all of 2022, were filled with challenges off the field as well. Starting with the previously mentioned premature birth of his daughter, and ending with health scares for both his wife-who had been diagnosed with thyroid cancer shortly after he was drafted-and and his daughter-who was bitten by a raccoon.
Both are doing well now. Still I can’t even imagine the toll this could take on me at 43, let alone at 24/25 years-old; with a career on the line.
During the off-season Swaggerty was constantly mentioned as a potential DFA candidate with every acquisition Ben Cherington would make.
From the beginning it was apparent that this wasn’t something that bothered him; but, was more than likely used as a motivator.
Then, a couple of weeks ago on his show, Gary discussed how he was starting to talk himself into Travis Swaggerty making the Opening Day Roster.
At that point he was batting .333 with a homer; all while playing consistently strong defense.
Although, let’s be honest, his defense has never been something that anyone has ever questioned.
Since that episode, Swaggerty has simply continued to hit; which is why I feel like I am trying to talk his spot on the 26-Man into existence.
At the moment he is slashing .400/.429/.700 with two homers.
Yes, I understand it is only 20 at bats. Nevertheless, something feels different this time around.
And for Swaggerty’s sake it kind of has to be; as the outfield competition has only continued to get more crowded, with the additions of Conner Joe, Andrew McCutchen, Ryan Vilade, Chavez Young and Mark Mathias. Not to mention Canaan Smith-Njigba, Cal Mitchell, Tucupita Marcano, Ji-hwan Bae and Lolo Sanchez, who are all still hanging around.
This could truly be Travis Swaggerty’s Last Stand.
One thought on “Through The Prospect Porthole: Travis Swaggerty’s Last Stand”
This young man has faced enormous challenges and continues to fight back. Pretty impressive.