With the tenth overall pick in the 2018 MLB amateur draft, the Pittsburgh Pirates selected South Alabama outfielder Travis Swaggerty. You can check out our scouting report on him here, which also includes a video.
Swaggerty, who stands 5’11”, 180 pounds, made a name for himself last summer and has been rated among the top college hitters in the draft since the beginning of this spring. Baseball America calls the 20-year-old center fielder a five-tool talent. MLB Pipeline rates his tools as 50 power (on the 20-80 scale), 55 for hitting, fielding and arm, and 60 for running. BA gives him a 60 for defense and says he may also have a plus arm.
He’s a complete player, whose biggest concern is that there is some swing-and-miss to his game. He will probably top out at 20 homers according to scouts, but his lefty swing should work well at PNC Park. He will get on base at a high rate, steal bases and play above average defense in center field.
Swaggerty hit .296/.455/.526 this season in 57 games, with 54 walks, ten doubles, 13 homers and he went 9-for-14 in steals. Those slash line numbers are all down from his sophomore year, when he also stole 19 bases, but he did improve his walk rate and cut down on his strikeouts this season.
The Pirates have been tied to a lot of high upside prep arms, so this pick doesn’t have that huge potential upside. It’s a pick that is a lot safer and should contribute much sooner than any of those players will in the majors. You might see a run on those prep arms coming up. Their next pick will be 36th overall.
UPDATE: Pirates GM Neal Huntington had this quote about Swaggerty after the pick:
“Travis Swaggerty is one of the best hitters in the draft and we are pleased to add such a multi-dimensional player to our organization. Travis is a gritty, driven, well-rounded athlete who can impact a game with his bat, his speed and his glove.”