P2Daily: Jack Suwinski Isn’t In Indianapolis To Hit Home Runs

Watching Jack Suwinski’s 2022 season unfold was one of the better storylines of the year so far in the Pirates system. Suwinski rejoined the Altoona Curve at the start of the year after playing there after last year’s trade deadline. He skipped right over Triple-A to be a replacement in Pittsburgh while a couple players were moved to the COVID list, and never gave up his roster spot.

Just how impressive of a start did he get off to? Suwinski still leads all NL rookies in home runs, despite being back in the minors the past two weeks.

Why the minor leagues? He was in the midst of a 0-for-29 stretch and looked like he needed a reset.

That reset looks like it might be working. In 13 games with Indianapolis, Suwinski has hit five home runs and owns a slash of .288/.362/.635.

He’s fixed now, right? They can call him back up pick up right back where he was before the slump? I don’t believe it’s that simple.

Hitting home runs hasn’t been the problem for Suwinski this season. With a .198 average and 14 home runs, it was clear going deep was one of the things he was doing well, but he was far from a well rounded player.

Suwinski hitting this many home runs in Triple-A after having the kind of success he has in the majors shouldn’t be as much a surprise and to an extent, expected. There’s a very good if the Pirates called Suwinski back up he continues this hot streak he is on, that’s the kind of hitter he’s been this year — very streaky.

There’s also a chance that the fact he’s striking out nearly 40% of the time he stepping to the plate in Indianapolis opens the door for a lot of the struggles to resurface after some time down. Granted, 13 games is harsh to judge a number like that, as he’s continued to bring it down over the past couple of games.

This is what I want to see from him, more than the home runs. Something so simple but big on a development scale. That’s the point of the minor league system, to become a better overall player. He’s shown that his power translates to the highest of level, now it’s time to become a better hitter so he can hang around the majors.

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joesolo6181

He reminds me of Joey Gallo. good at hitting home runs, great fielder but all those K’s are concerning.

emjayinTN

I thought you were talking about Chavis, but he is not much of a fielder. 83 K’s in 269 AB – about a K every 3rd AB. 13 Walks so 13.3 K’s for every Walk. Arb eligible after the ’22 season – we truly have crap for brains continuing to keep this 27 year old guy on the active roster. I wonder if he’d be there if BC was concerned about keeping his job.

patrick_kelly

Chavis is the only guy on the roster that even remotely resembles a competent 1B. He’s a fine utility guy that is the best option they have right now.

docdon385

Meanwhile the Pirates keep Gamel who since the start of July has been hitting .178 with 1HR, and 28 strike outs in 80 at bats as well as having no future whatsoever with the team.

emjayinTN

Well, if we cut Gamel, we may have the opportunity to see some much younger prospect get an opportunity to show us something. Wait a minute I think that would be positive. This is BC at his finest – keep the fans guessing!

NMR

christs sake, just go watch minor league baseball if that’s what gets you off.

GlypheNotes

The many lefty corner outfielders are so close in potential from what can be seen in the minors alone. It’s more than reasonable if they each take a few turns facing a large sample of major league pitching this season so the team can decide which might be more expendable in a roster crunch next year.

It wouldn’t be fair to Bligh Madris to age out of prospect status, or Mitchell to show his bat makes up for his defense, all because Jack is kind of better than them. Use the whole season to process this lot in a meaningful way; moving Suwinski down to AAA makes room for the org (and potential trade partners) to see what the others can do against major league pitching.

It also lets Suwinski get more playing time in a week, and play more center field, without Reynolds. Plus Gamel’s playing time and the Greg Allen project; to some extent a non-contending team can develop Gamel into something, and also owes free agents like Allen a chance to play so future free agents don’t think there’s a risk the Pirates will curtail their opportunity as soon as the next prospect is ready.

We don’t know how long Suwinski will be down. Until it’s been two months into 2023 and he’s still showing no signs of improvement, I’m not going to think this demotion was terribly unfair and unnecessary.

NMR

Tough to see much rhyme or reason to how this group is developing prospects in the upper levels.

Up through July 5th:
BB: 9.2%
K: 30.7%
Chase: 27.3%
Whiff: 11.1%

July 6 to demotion:
BB: 12.5%
K: 28.1%
Chase: 27.4%
Whiff: 12.1%

Anybody running a .000 BABIP over he course of a week is gonna “look” bad.

Sometimes a slump is just a slump.

And sometimes it comes down to putting guys in a position to succeed.

Jack is who he is. A power-focused bat with known platoon risk. For the year he’s yoking a 121 wRC+ against righties and just a 65 wRC+ against lefties. During his pre-demotion slump, more than half of his at bats came against…you guessed it…lefties.

You don’t see the Rays forcing dudes into roles they’ll struggle in, you see them supporting these types with complementary pieces.

Cherington and Co seem like they’re just flinging it against the wall and praying enough sticks.

jsdspud

Couldn’t agree more NMR. Suwinski’s demotion reeks of service time manipulation. The fact that he was in an 0 for 29 stretch just gave GMBC the proper cover. He isn’t going to learn how to hit major league pitching in AAA.

On a further note, we seem to expect every player that gets called up to immediately hit .300 or they are a failure. Cruz and Suwinski are young guys and need time to develop. Barry Bonds hit .223 with an OPS+ of 103 his rookie year at age 21. The Pittsburgh print and sports talk media want to talk about Cruz’s strikeouts. He is currently on a pace for 30 HRs and 100 RBI over a 150 game season despite his .215 batting average. He is only 23, he still has time to figure things out and he isn’t going to do it in AAA.

TNBucs

One of the strangest things about the timing was it came between Miami (not a hitters’ ballpark, especially with their pitching staff) and Colorado (the opposite). I would have given him the weekend in Colorado before making the decision, which is why I think you might be right that Cherington wanted to take advantage of the 0-29 for service time considerations. OTOH, one could argue that the Colorado series was a good time to bring up Mitchell.

TNBucs

It did seem that we had a stretch where we were facing an unusually high number of lefties and that it coincided the Suwinski’s slump. At the time I was somewhat opposed to sending him down (he’s still third on the team in WAR) but could understand the argument that there is less pressure working on things in AAA. Whether it’s randomness or improvement, he does seem to be responding well in AAA so maybe it’s for the best. One positive is that it opened up playing time for Mitchell and Allen, which should be useful in evaluating who we keep for next season.

(John posted that he needed at least a day in AAA for the Pirates to gain a year of control, but my understanding of what counts as a year of service time had the Pirates already with that extra year–I haven’t gotten clarification of which is correct. But there’s a chance that service time was a factor.)

NMR

That’s my critique…what is he working on?

Swing change? Approach? What?

GlypheNotes

Suwinski skipped AAA so maybe he can be more than he currently is against lefties with a bit of time tweaking his swing from what he learns facing AAA lefties that he didn’t learn against AA lefties.

RAS TN

Like many players in the new baseball making contact is almost obsolete, which is really a shame and if this trend doesn’t change will be another death nail to what’s supposed to be the national sport…

leefieux

Agree, AM. Good article.

JimEastTennessee

Going into Spring 2022 I had Suwinski as my dark horse to start in Pittsburgh, so I was pleased when he got called up. I was not disappointed he was sent back down for the development, if he can’t cut down the Ks and increase the BA, he will end up in the AL East as a bench player.
The thump needs to be in Pittsburgh.

TNBucs

I happened to be watching the first Indy game yesterday and that AB was really encouraging.

Relatedly, I was curious where Cruz ranked among rookies (how ironic would it be if he finished high enough in the ROY voting to earn a full year of service time?). As of now, Cruz if first among all rookies in ISO and Suwinski is second. If they can both become better overall hitters (they’re only 23rd and 21st in wRC+ among all rookies, for example), then they might be the start of the new lumber company.

TNBucs

As another aside, we lead the majors in rookie HRs with 43 (KC is second with 38). Of course that’s a counting stat but we’re 6th in ISO and 10th in SLG. When you get to stats like AVG and OBP, though, we’re much lower (20th in both AVG and OBP). Probably just the nature of who happens to be a rookie, but possibly an indication of where we need to focus some development.

TNBucs

Or, it’s an indication that starting with Huntington and continuing with Cherington, we’re prioritizing power after sticking with contact for too long in drafting, IFAs, trades. Nunez, though, offers hope of power with OBP.

PirateRican21

I think it has been the opposite…..

KirkV12

Glad to see him rebounding with the overall numbers. Guys like Rodolfo Castro (who’s finally hitting well again lately) and Hoy Park got demoted during cold spells and stayed cold for a long time even in AAA. Suwinski seems to have found his stroke very quickly, and the .288/.362 part of his slash line is the most encouraging aspect of that. Agreed that the strikeouts need to come down drastically, but that feels like the last (big) piece of the puzzle for him

GlypheNotes

They told Castro they were sending him down after a couple lapses in concentration and to rediscover his signature level of intensity.

JimEastTennessee

Park is playing his way out of the picture.

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