It hasn’t been the easiest of runs for Pittsburgh Pirates outfielder Travis Swaggerty.
The 2018 first rounder from South Alabama University has had to deal with injuries, and the pandemic wiping out an entire minor league season — leaving him short on development time.
He was off to a strong start in 2021, before an injury sliding back into first base on a pickoff move forced him to miss the remainder of the season. He had just 48 plate appearances at the time.
While he did make his Major League debut, and picked up his first hit, Swaggerty spent the majority of the 2022 season in Triple-A Indianapolis, posting some solid numbers. He had a .254/.348/.399 slash, to go along with a 102 wRC+ and 32 extra-base hits (nine home runs).
There was maybe more to his season than what the final numbers suggested. Swaggerty had an injury early in camp on his left shoulder, followed up by a mild concussion, and got off to a really rough start.
Through May 15, Swaggery had just a wRC+ of 40, followed with a strikeout rate of 36.7% and a slash of .174/.269/.232.
Travis Swaggerty. Dead center. pic.twitter.com/qH8SRmeNOu
— Young Bucs (@YoungBucsPIT) May 12, 2021
Over his final 88 games played, Swaggerty was a different player at the plate, slashing .271/.364/.435 with a 114 wRC+.
His strikeout rate dropped down to 23.2%, while keeping the walk rate strong (12.7%). He also recorded 30-of-those-32 extra-base hits in that span as well, and swiped 17 bases along the way.
Finding a spot for Swaggerty isn’t going to be easy. The Pirates added to their outfield picture through a trade (Connor Joe) and free agency (Andrew McCutchen), as well as having a couple of waiver claims (Ryan Vilade and Miguel Andujar). He’s also one of several lefties that were already in the picture.
His calling card has always been his defense, but the Pirates played with Ji-Hwan Bae in center field with Bryan Reynolds in left at the end of the season.
At this point Bae relies on his speed and athleticism in the outfield compared to Swaggerty, who has played the position for much longer.
Bae has also hit better in the upper levels, and has been able to apply his game-breaking speed on the base paths as well.
The top-10 price tag will always put unfair expectations on Swaggerty, but I mentioned going into last season that if he could carve out a role even as a bench player, that wouldn’t actually be too far off what the position usually generates out of hitters.
It will be interesting to see if Swaggerty can carve out a role in the majors. His defense can play a big part of that, especially if the team wants to protect how much McCutchen is in the field. They can use Swaggerty as a late game replacement as well as get some playing time against righties.
Highlight of the Day
Pirates Prospects Daily
By Tim Williams
**In the latest Pirates Winter Report, John Dreker looks at Tsung-Che Cheng’s offseason in Puerto Rico.
**Our new format for Pirates Discussion on Friday had Jeff Reed, Anthony Murphy, and NMR discussing the top 100 prospect lists.
**Missed yesterday? Anthony looked at how Jase Bowen hit the ball really hard in 2022.
Song of the Day
Pirates Prospects Weekly
John Dreker looked at Tsung-Che Cheng’s winter in Puerto Rico, and the level of talent he was up against.
Pirates Winter Report: Tsung-Che Cheng Gains Valuable Experience in Puerto Rico
Ethan Hullihen will have his latest Pirates Business feature on Sunday at noon.
one way or another, Swaggerty is probably the only surefire defensive CF on the 40 man roster.
i mean you can stick reynolds there for another year and he’ll survive. Maybe Bae develops the tools.
every time a player’s been added this offseason, people have brought up swaggerty as a possible DFA candidate. for the reason that he’s the only bonafide CF, he’s gonna stick around for another year.
Chavez Young is an outstanding CF and would be a nice platoon partner with Swaggerty
oh come on now….I was ready to permanently get off the Swags train and now you are making me question everything. Can’t we have any certainty around here? lol
of course Nick Gonzales could throw a wrench in these plans long, but i think Bae could be the main 2b, at least this year.
castro, despite switch hitting, seems so far to only really be able to handle hitting LHP. My darkhorse roster move before the season is that they send down castro and sign a UTIL who can legit play short.
Bae is at least the big part of a platoon.
this is all a long way of me saying that there’s still a path to Swaggerty being the guy in CF. i’m still a truther. great up the middle defense goes a long way.
and with all THAT said, i think the current outfield mix needs to get less left handed as opposed to more left handed.
in the version of the future where swaggerty is good but only hits righties well, i suppose we could see, idk, reynolds play LF vs righties and play CF vs lefties.
Swaggerty’s future probably depends on how they see Bae going forward? Is he a CF or a utility guy who plays all over. I’m still in the Swaggerty corner and hope he gets a legit chance. Still hurts a little that the best pitching prospect in Baseball was taken one spot later- but that’s not his fault
I don’t think they’re going to permanently change Bae’s defensive position. His athleticism allows him to play the OF, which increases his internal value from a roster flexibility perspective. He’ll probably get the majority of his bats at 2B with some additional opportunities at SS and OF. It will be interesting to see who gets the first shot at 2B though.
Shelty does the opposite of all that is normal, so with that in mind
Please take this Bae info FWIW
I watch all the Indians and Curve games on line, best $39 spent
Also, Altoona only 90 min drive, great balllpark
Bae is a second baseman and all around the best we have at the moment. He and Cruz work well together the tandem played close to
100 G last 2 years
Bae 80% and Swags 20% led off, Cruz followed in the BO until the vets rehabbing Newman, VanWeezer etc dismantled the line up.
Shortly after Cruz got the call, Bay started at SS (original POS) for the first time since 2018, He has the GLOVE and RANGE but not the ARM to play SS or any OUTFIELD position LONG term. Early in his career
an alarming number of errors mostly throwing forced the move to 2nd
Bae is a Diamond in the rough and i hope a staple for a long time
Example of his division of work for 2 wks,@ Indy
Minors play 6 a week Tue-Sun. Alway’s in line-up, Shelty will take him out because, why? just because
2B, 2B, 2B, 2B, 2B, 2B, SS (cruz 2 off
Double Header Tue 2B, CF (2nd) (cover Swag)
2B, 2B, 2B, 2B
Hope that helps
Swags 25 will be 26 in August., time to put up or get off the pot.
If he hasn’t used all of his college eligibility, he could still play QB at UGA
Roberto Perez signed with the Giants, almost ensuring that Blake Sabol finds his way back
Well that would mean he can’t hit major league pitching a lick if he comes back so it’s lose – lose for the Pirates. I’d rather see Sabol do well and stick in SF and let’s not forget that Perez is injury prone and the giants plan in using Sabol in the outfield and I see them trying Sabol out at first with Belt gone.
The Giants DH’s, actually most of the team posted yoshie like numbers against RH’s. I checked it because I’m a fan of Sable
It was hideous!
IMO this slash keeps him ,230/330/.360/.690 and they have an emergency backstop.. I hope i’m wrong
Giants are trying to win. That means Blake Sabol has an extremely short leash…I don’t he makes it to May with the Giants.
Why would they *tryout* Sabol at 1b? They’re trying to win, and this isn’t the place for tryouts. Sabol has never played 1b as a professional.
Very bad Giant hitting team vs lefties
He doesn’t have to do much, believe they were bad
DH-C-LF to hit RH’s and cover backstop POS
Swaggs has the tools to be an average or above major league outfielder. The things he hasn’t had is luck staying healthy both physically and mentally. I think he still has a bright future. If they trade Reynolds he would be my choice to replace him.
It will good to get Swags on the field in ST, and let the eye test begin vs Joe, Vilade, CSN, and Cal. A true competition, bring the best OF north. Although I know BC and DS will slow play this more than likely. At worst you’ve got an elevator all year from Indy to Pitts. and back.
Lastly on TS
Didn’t know he had a motor on him like that until i saw a couple games in Indy. He looks fast on the streams however the break he gets out of the box, he beat out a routine ground ball.
On way home I looked at his SB’s 56/16
those unsure of his motor how about this stat
He’s hit into 1 DP out 57 chances in his career
Get Anthony on the Sean Sullivan train: ✔️
Get him back on the Swaggerty train (though he was already a Swaggy T guy): ✔️
Anyone remember Chris Duffy? Maybe Swags can carve out a career like him. Would be cool to see him have a year like McLouth did before we traded him. I have always pulled for him.
Both Duffy and McLouth were much better hitters in the Minors. McLouth never showed the HR power in the Minors, but he had 50+ XBHs in Altoona. Duffy never was really that great except his 1st year up. I see Swaggerty more likely being the next Greg Allen.
There are a lot of questions with Swaggerty but the only OF in our upper levels who doesn’t come with a lot to prove is Reynolds. So maybe Swaggerty will be the one to come out of the pack. For example, I love Suwinski but until his home/road splits even out to give us a better idea of his true ability, I’m not assuming he’s locked up a position.
I just hope he makes it and contributes, maybe carve out a 6 year career or so, 4th outfielder type
The Pirates really need a 1st round draftee like TSwag to be more than a 4th OFer type. We’ve had enough lousy #1 draft picks in the past.
Hopefully he can put it together b/c I don’t find the Pirates outfielder prospects at AAAA all that inspiring.
The things that force you to not give up on Swaggerty are non-debatable: speed and defense, STRONG arm, raw power and patience.
If he was RHH and crushed LHP he’d be an easy short side of a platoon. Maybe he shouldn’t face LHP anymore as he’s struggled against them the last two years… but we really need one more season to determine.
Agree with all of this, but I’m not sure if he’ll ever tap into that power enough. I have a soft spot for him, I hope he does well at Indy and forces the issue.
Thank you Anthony, I think you made the case to not give-up on him. I’ll give credit to those saying other players passed Swags and I was in that boat until I read this and looked at Baseball-Ref. and realized just how much time he lost. And those players who we are saying passed him by no means are sure fire starters yet and all still have a lot to prove.
The guy is 24 and really hadn’t played for 2 years.. shook off the rust and finished reasonably strong. I’d prefer he just be sent to AAA and quite frankly be told to prove you belong in the majors. That may mean just pick up where he left off. I’ll disagree with Anthony as i don’t want him to be a defensive replacement, 5th outfielder in the majors(I may not have translated his comment properly).
I was always rooting for him, but his injuries always got in the way. I remember him getting Benitendi comps when he came out.
Odds are greater he gets traded away before he gets another shot in Pittsburgh. Pretty obvious from how he was treated last year this regime doesn’t think much of him.
I have nothing to truly back this up, and it’s mainly conspiratorial and working backwards from my conclusion, but, I believe otherwise.
First off he was dealing with a newborn daughter that spent a lot of time in NICU. Travis seems like a very big family guy, and imagining that they’d want to stick with the same Dr they’d been seeing in Indy, he probably wanted to be around.
Secondly, there was A LOT of shuffling in OF last year. We KNEW Diego was brutal out there, and they were still trying him out there. As season went on, it felt more like they were determining who had value moving forward, and they wanted Swags to be getting everyday PT and ABs rather get lost in the shuffle. First thing they did when they sent him down was have him begin to play the other OF spots. He had never played an inning outside CF up until his MLB stint. That itself showcases, “Hey, we got something we want you to work on, and we’re gonna let you do it in Indy”.
Thirdly, he’s still here. There’s been vast opportunity to let him walk this off-season, and he’s still here.
I agree. His personal life was really trying for awhile there, and I think that the Pirates really propped him up from that standpoint and said “take care of the important stuff and this will still be here for you when you get through it”. We forget baseball players are people too, even 1st rounders.
Wasn’t aware of the family issue. Certainly adds a dynamic which would explain seeing it differently than I and many others have.
Thank you for bringing up the family matter, I didnt want to push the envelope she was born pre-maturely at just a few pounds.
Correct me if wrong but i believe it was right after his shoulder surgery in the middle of rehab
He went from STRONG rookie year into COVID followed by a year he will never forget.
There was one GOOD thing that CAME TO FRUITION IN 2021
EVEN WITH JUST 48 AB’S IN TWO YEARS
THE REGIME THAT DIDN’T DRAFT HIM
ADDED HIM TO THE 40 JUST 14 MONTHS AGO
GIVE HIM A SHOT BEFORE YOU TRADE OUR BEST HITTING CF ALONG WITH OUR BEST DEFENSIVE CF
THIS TEAM IS 2 YEARS FROM OUT SLUGGING ANY TEAM
Help your STARTERS out a little more this year and run your best defense out there AMAP. THAT MEANS SWAGS AND MARCANO
And in my non-expert opinion, you could see it in his swing in 2022. I went back to 2021 to match to 2022. Nothing changed about his swing. It was just timing and getting the bat on the ball, and you could see a difference when it finally clicked again. He has a good eye at the plate. I think he could have a surprising year, if he stays healthy
I’ve been clamoring for a Swaggerty break out and how important it would be based on his defense (which I haven’t heard much lately, is it still above average?). I hope he establishes himself this year.
Defense is still above average
D’accord. I’ve seen nothing to suggest that his D is not a plus tool. He’s got a plus arm (which was not injured) and is very fast. I see his promotion pattern as saying that the FO thinks highly of him.
Availability. Swagg’s has had a tough experience since being drafted with some injuries that kept him from being available. Sh-t happens, and one thing that rings true in baseball is that there will always be somebody ready to step up and fill that gap.
Jack Suwinski got his shot in RF with the Pirates, did well, and then played another dozen or two games in CF, spelling Bryan Reynolds. Ji-Hwan Bae, came up late to play some MI and also got a few games in CF. Jared Triolo was lighting it up at the plate and in the field at AA, and was given some games in CF at the end of the season. Add our best defensive CF in AA, Matt Fraizer, and also Matt Gorski and Connor Scott, who also saw time in CF at AA.
Time to move on beyond the last No. 1 pick of NH
You’re ready to move on from Priester?
NH gets a lot of criticism, but his last draft is still looking very good.
I know you didn’t mean Priester, obviously, and you’re not a NH-basher. I’m just taking the opportunity to note that his last draft is looking lots better than BC’s first and may stand up well to BC’s second and third after you adjust for draft position.
My mistake – I knew Cherrington was hired in 2019.
In the 2019 Draft, I only like Priester, Siani, Gorski, Triolo, Fraizer, Flowers, Sabol, Roberts, Bowen, Wilson, Dixon, McGough, Bellomy, and Walker.
He has the misfortue of being a ‘tweener…not drafted by the current regime. This is too bad, because I think he will no longer be with the club when Reynolds is traded this summer. I feel his ceiling and floor are very similar, a 4th outfielder who can start.
Most underrated prospect in the system who has had a target on his back since he was drafted. I remember he wasn’t a popular #1 , however he’s
done nothing to warrent criticism’s.
2019, first full season was strong one as he was voted FCL all star CF
2020 Altoona was wiped out
2021 Skipped AA >> In Indy, 3 HR then injured after just 48 AB’s
2022 Rehabbing for 2nd go around at Indy but he gets locked out
When the season started, it started slow because of a concussion received after colliding with O Cruz.
Once that was behind him, well you read the stats
This team needs SPEED, GLOVES and most of all,
strong accurate ARMS in the OF along with a
good EYE and SPEED at the dish
PLEASE to avoid a possible break out somewhere else
see if he can do it here first. Aren’t you tired of hearing
” Pirates don’t know what they have in their own players”
YOU SHOULD KNOW, somebody DEVELOPED this kid
between a lost season, season ending injury and being locked out
Unless he’s better than you thiink
TS seems the type of player that BC is targeting currently-high OBP, professional hitter-type players, with other streams of value besides power (especially defense and baserunning). I can’t imagine they are giving up on him.
Yeah, they aren’t going to give up on him just yet. His defense alone could make him an average everyday MLB CFer despite the questionable bat.
Spot on, John. I remain bullish on TS.
his 2019 slugging was .381. He was a FCL Allstar based on potential not performance.
.381 slugging is not bad for a 20 yr old at High A Bradenton in his first full season, he had a really good year,
Player of the week BTB months gets you ALL STAR recognition
PLAYING AGE 19
2018 WV BEARS- MID SEASON ALL STAR NYP LEAGUE
2019 BRADENTON-MID SEASON ALL STAR FSL
MILB ORGANIZATIONAL ALL STAR
*not bad for a 20 yr old
2022- 32 XBH & 20 SWIPS
I’ll say that’s at least half true. League wide OPS that season was 666, with Swaggerty having a 728 OPS on the season. But his second half alone he had an 801 OPS
If I remember correctly, his wife was also battling thyroid cancer that year too.
I don’t recall that. Kid has been put through the ringer off the field just as much on it.