ST. PETERSBURG – When the Pittsburgh Pirates acquired the outfielder from the San Diego Padres last year, he was not universally regarded as one of the top 30 prospects in the Padres system.
The scouting reports liked his power surge at the Double-A level, but not much else about his game. The Pirates seemingly bought into the power surge, but may have just preferred the overall work ethic.
Back in January, Cody Potanko wrote about how Suwinski had been improving his swing over the offseason. The result has shown in the majors, with 12 homers in 202 plate appearances this year.
That wasn’t the only thing Suwinski worked on. The list he recited to me included hitting, throwing, lifting, running, sprinting, and doing some trial and error with breathwork, soft tissue, mobility, and yoga.
“Just whatever I can do to get an edge,” said Suwinski of his offseason work.
He seems to have gotten that edge.
The Pirates started Suwinski in Double-A this year. He was an emergency call to the majors as a COVID replacement in April, following a hot start with Altoona. He didn’t cool off in the majors, hitting well enough to stick around. At this point, he looks like he’s up for good.
“A lot of thanks and a lot of gratitude goes to the people that help me in the offseason, in the early mornings and late nights and a lot of training sessions that go into it,” said Suwinski. “A lot of back and forth. A lot of it is talking, and how can we push this a little bit. How can we take it to the next step? I owe a lot of credit to those guys.”
Suwinski is hitting for a .209/.287/.445 line so far this year. Most of his production has been from his 12 home runs. His 31.7% strikeout rate and 8.4% walk rate pair with his .236 ISO to paint a three-true-outcomes picture. Based on what we’ve seen, it seems like a mistake to think that anything is finalized in the 23-year-old’s game.
When he was acquired, the reports on Suwinski’s base running and fielding were poor. He’s been fine in both regards this year. At worst, he’s not losing any value. At best, some outfield metrics show him as a positive value defender, and he can play all three positions — with 50 innings in center field so far.
“Obviously, I want to be good at everything I do,” said Suwinski. “I know some categories are going to be stronger than others, but at the same time, I’m going to work as hard as I can in all of those categories. I want to be a good player, a good teammate, and when I’m here I want to be the best that I can be in every one of those categories. I don’t want to leave any stone unturned.”
A year ago at this time, Suwinski was arguably seen as a fringe prospect with a short-term power surge.
One year later, he’s tied for the MLB rookie lead in home runs.
That is hard work paying off.
THIS WEEK ON PIRATES
Williams: The Major League Baseball Mindset
How Mitch Keller’s New Sinker Complements His Other Pitches
JT Brubaker Discusses the Short Memory Needed in the Majors
Pirates Roundtable: When Did Realize You Would Reach the Majors?
Zach Thompson Made an Important Change to His Mindset in 2021
Jack Suwinski Put in Work to Gain an Edge
Bligh Madris Discusses Core Value of Perseverance and His Power Increase
Diego Castillo is Hitting a Lot of Homers and Very Little Else
Cam Vieaux Finding Success With His Slider in the Bullpen
Yerry De Los Santos Impressive So Far in His MLB Debut
Tim started Pirates Prospects in 2009 from his home in Virginia, which was 40 minutes from where Pedro Alvarez made his pro debut in Lynchburg. That year, the Lynchburg Hillcats won the Carolina League championship, and Pirates Prospects was born from Tim's reporting along the way. The site has grown over the years to include many more writers, and Tim has gone on to become a credentialed MLB reporter, producing Pirates Prospects each year, and will publish his 11th Prospect Guide this offseason. He has also served as the Pittsburgh Pirates correspondent for Baseball America since 2019. Behind the scenes, Tim is an avid music lover, and most of the money he gets paid to run this site goes to vinyl records.
Always good to see a player take an opportunity and run with it. Doesn’t seem like a guy who’ll sit on his laurels, deserves a hearty handshake.
I see two big take-aways here. One is that Suwinski stepped up and tackled areas where he needed to improve. That’s impressive. The other is that the Bucs’ pro scouts saw his potential. I have no clue how they did.
In terms of seeing potential, as the article suggests a big part of that might have been his work ethic. It sounds like he worked harder in the offseason than is typical. With more and more development happening with personal trainers in the offseason, it’s increasingly important to be able to assess a player’s personal drive.
A kid from a blue collar family and parents that spent their “free time” at the ballfield. I think both Jack and his sister played on competitive traveling teams – he in baseball and she in softball. That means a lot of miles and money spent on motels and fast food joints around Chicago and other parts of the Midwest allowing their kids to chase their dreams. Great story.
Glad to see him up and staying up. The trade of Adam Frazier for Suwinski 24, Tucupita Marcano 22, and RHRP Michel Miliano 22, (A+) has to be one of the most lopsided trades of recent Pirate history, and this one is in our favor. And, both Suwinski and Marcano coming directly to MLB from AA.
I’m a big believer in players that develop themselves. He’ll do the same thing this off season he did last year, and likely will focus on the weaker parts of his MLB game.
Hence I now have zero concerns that Jack can hit .250+ during his career. Added to the power, patience, base running, & defense we’ve seen so far – that’s a valuable starting Outfielder and part of our New Core.
I always root for guys that put in the effort and show they are willing to do whatever it takes to get better.
He, like mentioned in the Diego article, has shown really nice power that will play, but they both could use a boost in their hit tool. Jack will provide plenty of power even if he just finds a way to hit .240 with power and walks