P2Daily: What is Travis Swaggerty’s Future With the Pirates?

This kind of plays to a couple of players on the Indianapolis roster, but is there some kind of message that is getting sent by the lack of opportunities that Travis Swaggerty has gotten in the majors.

It’s not like the entire outfield picture is being locked down right now, with only Bryan Reynolds really laying a claim to center field. Jack Suwinski has had moments, followed by struggles, and Cal Mitchell really hasn’t gained a lot of traction in his time in the majors. That’s left Ben Gamel and Greg Allen still getting playing time with the Pirates.

Gamel has certainly had his moments, both at the plate and in the field, while Allen has mostly struggled. So why not give Swaggerty more of a shot? He got a whopping nine plate appearances over five games played earlier in the season before getting sent down, where he has remained.

Not really much of an opportunity.

Swaggerty had a rough month of August, but his overall body of work seemed to be good enough to warrant a promotion with actual playing time. He picked up three hits on Sunday, and has 15 total bases across 18 September at-bats.

The Pirates could think his offense isn’t ready to translate to the majors, and prefer to stash him in the minors for now. That would be unfortunate for the Pirates, namely their defense in the outfield.

Based off of Baseball Savant, Pirates’ outfields have a collective -12 Outs Above Average (OAA), ranking 25th in the majors this season. Swaggerty’s calling card has been his defense, making him a potential upgrade on the current roster.

Even if he maxes out as a fourth outfielder, which I’ve written before how that can still be win for the Pirates, that still helps out the major league team in one of their biggest area of needs.

The Pirates could feel confident in Swaggerty being able to hold down an outfield spot going into next season, and are just putting him in a position to get as many at-bats as possible, even if it’s in Triple-A.

What the Pirates do with Swaggerty, and how they start to put together their outfield for next year, will be one of the more interesting things to watch in the offseason.

Justin Meis Furthers Cause To Remain In Rotation

Something tells me Justin Meis is in line for some recognition for this past week, both on this site and elsewhere. The hometown kid pitched 14 shutout innings this week, including seven perfect on Sunday.

Justin Meis didn’t allow a hit on this pitch, nor any of his remaining 75 pitches on Sunday night. Photo: Tim Williams / Pirates Prospects

Meis flashed some really great stuff out the bullpen last season in Bradenton, making it look like he could be a fast rise should they keep him a reliever. He’s pitched out the rotation all season, both with Bradenton before moving up to Greensboro. It was a rough start to his High-A career, but he’s obviously made the adjustments.

Pitching 14 shutout innings in Greensboro is no easy task.

The options don’t seem as plentiful for rotation spots when looking way too far ahead at the 2023 Altoona rotation. The run Meis has been on over the last month or so, you would have to think he’s making a pretty good case to be a part of it.

Playoff Picture Update

Another week in the books, so we are that much closer to the Minor League playoffs. For Bradenton and Greensboro, this upcoming week is the last series of the regular season.

Bradenton is in the best place to make the playoffs, but have won just four games out of their last 10. They are two games back of the Dunedin Blue Jays for first place of the FSL West. Bradenton plays Clearwater this week, who are in last place. Dunedin plays Palm Beach, who lead the FSL East division at the moment.

Greensboro has won seven of their last 10, but remain five games back of a first place bid. Altoona is 5.5 games back, and have a 5-5 record over the last 10 games. Finally Indianapolis is getting hot at the end of the season, winning eight of 10, but still remain 11.5 games back right now.

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Bucs'N'Pucks (Jeff Reed)

Day late and a dollar short! But, I’m wondering if their dealing of Bae and Swaggerty has taken more of how I viewed the Bins promotion. Even Bae more than Swaggerty that they haven’t even bothered to give him a stretch in the bigs. It’s getting to the point that the fact their giving Marcano such a long leash is making me dislike him. *Conspiracy to follow* It’s almost as if they want Marcano to look so bad, cause they’re planning on DFA’ing him and want him to pass through waivers.

I know Cardinals and Dodgers have been brought up before, even they had no qualms calling up and demoting prospects multiple times. Cardinals with Herrera and Liberatore, Dodgers with Pepiot. I keep track of prospects path to graduation and had no damn idea where Luis Campusano was with the Pads (he just hit service time).

NMR

These guys are plenty bad enough not to delve into conspiracy for more to bitch about but Marcano’s treatment over Bae really gives me My Guy vibes more than even protecting Jack over Mitchell last year.

I can’t for the life of me think of anything Marcano can do that Bae cannot.

Bucs'N'Pucks (Jeff Reed)

I just wish something with this regime would make sense. Something lol

AttyMike

I don’t think Swaggerty make a compelling case for playing time. He’s basically the same as what they have in the majors now all things considered. He’s yet another “meh” 1st round pick for the Pirates. Frankly, if you want is offense to tank, put him together with Haines. That might be the most compelling reason NOT to promote him – he’s probably getting better hitting advice in Indy.

redwards60

If the Pirates don’t call up Swaggerty soon and give him an extended audition, they will have essentially wasted 2022 and using this dreadful season to find out if he has a future with the Pirates or not. My biggest concern with Swaggerty is that he has never dominated a level in his progression through the system – his performances have been average to slightly above average. Not very impressive for a pretty high first round pick.

Is the Pirates problem in their decisions in the draft or is it their inability to develop players once in the system – or both? The Pirates have squandered a lot of high draft picks and young talent….it seems like a lot of their prospects do much better after they leave the Pirates organization. Is that a coincidence?

Shultzie31

Amen. Reminds me of someone we just gave $80mm to

redwards60

Nolan Gorman

hoffmark83

Swaggerty is just another in a long line of Pittsburgh Pirates 1st rd, busts.

bianco599

Is he better, equal, or worse than Gamel? Just wondering because I mainly follow the minors since circa Pirates Prospects started. Although I did enjoy those few good years a little while back.

Shultzie31

Gamel doesn’t bother me. Guy has been exactly what he is and should have expected to be. It’s Allen that blows my mind

SBRO

Swaggerty is potentially better – better defense, better speed, equivalent power. If Swaggerty can hit like Gamel, who has a league average batting line, he’s a 3-win player. There just isn’t much reason to believe he could put up a .700 OPS in the major leagues right now.

Then again, he wouldn’t have to. Trent Grisham has a .650 OPS but his speed and defense turn that into a league average player, which is much better than Gamel.

bianco599

At one point or three I have had Grisham on my fantasy team over the past few years. I’m glad I asked this question and thanks for all your options. NMR and TNBucs been liking your perspectives for years. Join the club SBRO.

NMR

Only if we assume Swag’s minor league defense translates to CF and they move the franchise player off position in order to get the maximum value out of Swag.

Exchange Swag for Gamel in a corner and you’d almost certainly end up in the red, let alone with an established starter heading into the future.

Tough spot.

Shultzie31

And who really gives a shit if we’re “in the red” at this point. The whole team is fucking crimson

NMR

Comment stands past this year!

I’m just some jackass on the internet and I predicted every single outcome for promoted players this year, including Oneil Cruz and Jack Suwinski.

That’s not bragging, it was extremely predictable!

At some point in this godforsaken rebuild this site was hit with the stupid stick and adopted a logic that says to build a winner, you must give every prospect with a pulse some arbitrary amount of “consistent at bats” to “see what you have”.

You actually really, really don’t!

You can predict with a relatively high amount of certainty what prospects are good enough to generally deserve a long leash. You can predict with a relatively high amount of certainty which veterans will and won’t suck.

Combine the two and you get yourself a competent big league ballclub.

Making a good one is what takes some real skill. Let’s get there and then figure out which of our 27 Grade 40 prospects might be good enough to earn the 4th OF gig.

Shultzie31

Only one way to find out. We know what the others are

NMR

I humbly suggest the organization evolve beyond throwing shit against the wall in hopes of something sticking as their primary teambuilding strategy.

Shultzie31

I hear that but wish in one hand… I guess I’d just rather see a kid get a chance to become the next greg Allen then watch the actual thing

TNBucs

Gamel, despite some big hits and diving catches, has essentially been replacement level (0.1 bWAR, 0.1 fWAR). To quote fangraphs (which I know you know):

WAR offers an estimate to answer the question, “If this player got injured and their team had to replace them with a freely available minor leaguer or a AAAA player from their bench, how much value would the team be losing?”

Without Gamel, we’d likely be the same 49-84 that we are. So if we’re not gaining anything* with Gamel, why not get a look at Swaggerty or someone else?

The one objective measure that I can find that justifies Gamel starting is that he’s 2nd on the team (to Reynolds) in WPA–he has gotten big hits. But if you average over the last three years, he’s essentially at 0. Also, third on the team is…Park, so I’m not putting much weight on that stat (I do like it for relievers though).

1979andCounting

Well WPA (Win Probability Added) is really why we’re playing the game, isn’t it? But the other important metric is Gamel’s terrific production with RISP. It’s tough to find a guy who can hit in the clutch, and Gamel has excelled with a team that can’t score many runs.

SBRO

To be sure, playing Swaggs in CF and Reynolds in LF is the preferable alignment and would maximize both Swaggerty’s and the team’s value defensively.

But have you seen how badly Gamel rates in the OF? He’s bottom 10 in all of baseball among outfielders with 600+ innings. Choose your metric, they pretty much agree (OAA, RAA, Def). Just being AVERAGE in the field would give Swaggerty close to a win over Gamel over the course of a season. Any incremental value, regardless of whether he plays CF or LF, would increase that value.

It’s going to come down to the bat for Swaggerty, and I am not optimistic that he’s got the profile of even an average hitter. But in the narrow scope of “could he be equal to or better than Gamel?” the defense alone raises the floor.

NMR

The last paragraph is really what I should’ve led my commentary with.

SBRO

Probably a little early to declare him a bust, but he definitely needs to start making his mark. He’s behind his class as a college draftee in 2018, partially because he missed all but 12 games last year.

He’s finally hitting his stride at AAA (112 wRC+) after 2 years without competition. I have no idea where he tops out, but I think his floor is a lot higher than the recent first round busts we’ve seen (Craig, Tucker). The speed, plate patience and defense make up for a lot – he just has to hit slightly below league average to be valuable. If he can do that for 3-4 years, he won’t be a bust. Maybe a slight disappointment.

gosteelers69

Unfortunately, that looks to be the case right now. A 4th outfielder type that was drafted in the first round, and rather high in that round, is a total disaster of a pick. And this is why the franchise has been so bad for so long. They’ve had every opportunity to hit on big time talent in the first round, but have whiffed badly. But I do believe that’s starting to change and that the farm system has gotten better. The problem is that they still need to draft more impact players. We’ll likely get the chance to do that over the next few years, as this team is nowhere near to having a winning record.

Last edited 24 days ago by gosteelers69
ArkyWags

No it’s not a total disaster of a pick if he ends up as a 4th OF. A disappointment, sure. A total disaster of a pick is a guy who never sniffs the majors. A Tyler Kolek to pick an example.

TheDudeSaysThis

Can the Pirates really afford to take ABs away from VanMeter at this point? 🤡

docdon385

I’m sure BC and his bosses have a plan, but am not yet convinced that having a winning team in Pittsburgh is part of it. What they do, or don’t do, during this off season will say a lot. I just hope they make some moves to show they care about winning soon because so far there haven’t been many.

SBRO

It’s really hard to watch the Pirates cycle through their “outfield tryouts” progression, but for whatever reason this is the plan, and they’re sticking to it.

Clearly they favor Suwinski (66 OF starts) and Mitchell (35), and they’re currently evaluating Marcano (26) and Allen (24) to see if either one is worth carrying over the winter.

I think they already made up their mind on Madris (21) – he’s likely gone. My guess is Allen is gone too. Swaggerty and Smith-Njigba are part of next season’s tryouts. I fully expect Swaggerty will start the 2023 season at Indy, but I do think he’s an early call up and will get more than 10 games to show what he can do.

ArkyWags

I don’t have a problem with Swaggerty basically getting all minors time this year. He’s essentially coming off two full years off, and had 11 games at Indy last year. The idea that he’d have a lot of time in Pgh beyond a few weeks was silly. The only way that would happen is if he lit it up in AAA.

Swaggerty was a college pick that had offensive capability that could be unlocked AND a high floor as a very good glove CF. Some commenters have commented that he was another low ceiling guy that missed. That’s both lazy and incorrect; if the bat was unlocked and he busted out you could probably dream on a Grady Sizemore lite profile: a 2-4 win player for most of his Pirate career. Of course the elephant in the room is both this regime and the last has a shitful track record in developing hitting. So it’s more likely than not that we don’t get much out of him.

SouthernBuc

I threw this out there about a month ago, but my post trade deadline season should/could have been a time share with Swags, Suwinski, Mitchell, and Madris. Smith-Njigba would have been included if healthy. Basically 2 are in the majors at all times playing somewhat regularly the other 2 in AAA playing everyday. All get somewhat of an even amount of MLB at bats by the end of the year. It was not a make or break stretch for any of them, but given that nobody seized the moment up to now, it was a great way to say this is your chance to make your final impression of 2020 on somewhat of an even playing field amongst all of them. At some point (off season?) they will need to start deciding who will get a longer look and IMO none of shown they are more deserving than the other up to now.

SBRO

The implication is you wouldn’t be giving Allen or Marcano any playing time; based on how they’ve played, I can’t argue with that, but for whatever reason they have a priority order and it goes like this:

Suwinski
Mitchell
Allen
Madris (his time is probably up)
Marcano
========
Swaggerty
Smith-Njigba (I think even if he were healthy we wouldn’t be seeing much of him)

Over the last 29 games they’re going to give Suwinski, Mitchell, Allen and Marcano as many starts as they can. With the DH, the occasional off-day for Reynolds and the more frequent off-day for Gamel, that should amount to another 15-20 starts for each of them. Suwinski will be over 300 PA, Mitchell and Marcano over 200 and Allen at about 150. Whether that’s enough to make a determination to keep or move on, I don’t know. But that’s the cage they built for themselves.

chuck_conner

I believe the Pirates are going to trade some of their minor league players. If hey don’t they will lose some decent players. Maybe they cad trade a couple of MB ready with a couple of lower Milbs to get a pitcher. If you look at all the players that have to be protected, you are going to lose some major leaguers.

Anthony

If they were MLB ready, we wouldn’t be having this discussion.

Unfortunately, I don’t think this is a problem specific to the Pirates.

roberto

There are not many teams with 50+ legit prospects: Rays and Boston come to mind. Of course most legit prospects have no MLB impact.

Anthony

Agreed, I was just referring to the distinction, or lack thereof, between MLB ready prospects and AAAA guys. I think the misconception here is that a lot of our AAA prospects are MLB ready, but in reality, they’re just AAAA guys. Every MLB organization has the latter, and every MLB organization’s fan base overvalues them.

With that being said, I think next year’s AAA team becomes much more interesting w/r/t how the Pirates build their roster for late-2023 and 2024.

leefieux

AM….did you see my comment that one of Nicky G’s hits was off of an 84 MPH ‘bent’ pitch?

chuck_conner

One think that hurts him at times with the slower breaking ball is his swing. He has one of the fastest swing I’ve ever seen. He doesn’t spend enough time in the hitting zone, if that makes any sense.

leefieux

Hah! We had a really good Legion player on our softball team. It would take him a week of batting practice to slow his swing down. But when he did…..Wow!

leefieux

To me, it just goes to show that BC and Sheltie really don’t have a clue about roster management. They’d rather play light hitting infielders like Marcano in the OF. Those two should be flip flopped.

roberto

May I respectfully disagree? To say that BC doesn’t understand roster management better than you, me, or any other contributor to this site ignores history.

leefieux

JVM is exhibit #1 in my book.

roberto

Evidence is not the plural of anecdote. How does Mookie Betts work as exhibit #2 ? Get back to me when you’ve actually explored BC’s career.

JoeNastasi

Bucco’s should be really close to have the real prospects to have to force their way up & I don’t believe he’s there yet.

RAS TN

Trade Reynolds and that will open up an opportunity, now the question s/b is that the wisest move to make??? no for me…

roberto

Elsewhere on the site I argued that the hard decisions start now, so I agree. Who do you keep? Who do you trade? Who do you sign? I watched the Tigers game last night and thought, this is worse than being a Bucs fan. Avila (and most other people) thought they were ready to win. But players imploded or got hurt or didn’t perform. They are last in the AL Central. Glad I am not a GM.

TNBucs

Very timely article reading the prospects recap, I was just thinking “what is their plan for Swags?” With nearly an .800 OPS now and plus defense, he seems like someone we’d want to be evaluating in the majors. Your point that they’re trying to maximize his ABs this season with plans to give him a real shot next season makes sense, but I’d still like to see him get some regular MLB ABs heading into the offseason.

joesolo6181

Swags reminds me of the Mets Nimmo.

roberto

Roster management ain’t easy. You want to treat your current players with respect, give prospects a taste, and sometimes give prospects a lesson.

Bryan Hall

You make a great point. With much smaller September roster expansions and extended Minor league seasons, the ability to bring up players is limited. I can see releasing JVM and using that roster spot, but does that cut into the at bats of a crowded outfield. I could get also onboard with releasing Greg Allen, but he’d be great to have going into spring training since it is very likely you won’t have Gamel next year.

Last edited 24 days ago by Bryan Hall
roberto

Thanks. I think the toughest choice is when you make your two big FA buys. Two facts. The Bucs have more payroll flexibility than almost any other team. They could outbid the Yankees for Judge, but won’t. The Tigers pinch hit for Miggy on Friday. One of the best hitters of this century. Time is a bitch.

Wilbur Miller

I wouldn’t have a problem with dfa’ing Allen. Guys like him are available all the time, especially in the offseason. That’s where the concept of replacement player came from.

This is an error Huntington made constantly. Now Cheringtoon’s doing it too. He’s mistaking sub-replacement players for assets and thinking he has to horde them on the roster.

It’s also relevant that Cheringtoon so far has shown no ability whatsoever to identify potential with these waiver wonders. None. It’s time to try other sources for talent.

roberto

And how you know this? How does your experience in building championship teams compare with his?

ArkyWags

I don’t think an appeal to authority is the proper argument to make for him.

chuck_conner

It’s called “his opinion, ” and that’s an opinion most on this site agree with. A lot of people on this site have a very good grasp of baseball and knowledge with bad baseball moves,without being a Manger. Bringing Underwood in after throwing 37 pitches the night before is only the latest in strange moves.

Anthony

Can we say Dunning-Kruger effect?!

At best, only about 5% of the people on this site know anything about the game of “baseball” and that includes the writers. This game is so complex, almost all decisions have second, third, and fourth order consequences that most can’t even comprehend. Playing Monday morning quarterback does not demonstrate a “very good grasp of baseball and knowledge of bad baseball moves”. Thanks for the laugher!!

TNBucs

It’s easy to refer to Ben’s Red Sox winning a WS as evidence that he’s good at building rosters. But,

  1. His WS team went 71-91 the following year;
  2. His trade history was very mixed (https://www.masslive.com/redsox/2015/08/ben_cheringtons_trade_history.html);
  3. He succeeded in their WS year by dipping heavily into the FA market and hitting on nearly every signing (Napoli, Drew, Gomes, and Victorino were all signed that offseason, became starters, and put up well above-average stats).

A low revenue team needs

  1. A roster that can sustain success (because we can’t easily turn rosters over by spending);
  2. Way more hits than misses on trades (think Tampa Bay or Milwaukee);
  3. Reliance on free agents to fill a couple of holes rather than build cores.

We know he wanted the challenge of building a roster for a team like the Pirates, but it’s fair to question his ability to do so–there was a lot of losing in Boston around that WS year and what got him the WS (four big FA signings) isn’t likely an option in Pittsburgh.

Last edited 24 days ago by TNBucs
Wilbur Miller

You might add that nearly all those FAs tanked the following year, which is why they finished last. Basically, he got lucky with a bunch of mediocre veterans who all had career years at the same time, then reality set in.

Fortunately, he redeemed the situation by spending $72M on Rusney Castillo.

Wilbur Miller

It compares a lot better to that than to his experience in building last-place teams, which he’s now done in five straight seasons as a GM.

Bryan Hall

It’s also relevant that Cheringtoon so far has shown no ability whatsoever to identify potential with these waiver wonders. None. It’s time to try other sources for talent.

Does this mean he should stop looking for waiver wire talent? These guys are all low probability of success guys for any team. I think Gamel has been a success. I also think Stratton was a success if you consider him a waiver pickup. You can actually say that Shreve is a success at this point–he’s at 1.8 bWAR for this year. I don’t know what the expected success rate of a waiver wire guy should be. The problem seems less about the success of the waiver wire pickups and more about the need to rely on so many of them.

Wilbur Miller

It means he should start looking somewhere else once in a while.

And Stratton was an NH pickup, not Cheringtoon. Shreve was a FA, not a waiver claim. Gamel’s OK but nothing special. He only seems pretty good because the bar is so incredibly low in Pgh.

That’s the best you got? Do I need to go through the failures? It’s a long, long list.

Last edited 24 days ago by Wilbur Miller
roberto

So you are saying you’ve got nothing? If you or I were competing with BC for a GM job we would not get interviews. Can the snark. It demeans you. I say this with sadness, since I know you’re a well-informed, thoughtful person.

AttyMike

I’m pretty sure I could get the same results that Cherington is getting and I’d be a whole lot cheaper.

Wilbur Miller

I don’t need to compete with Cheringtoon for a job to comment on the job he’s done. Lessee — 97 games under .500 in Pgh. 18 under in Bos. with that massive budget. For his career, 115 games under .500. Damn, you need a doctorate in adding and subtracting to tell whether that’s good or bad.

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