INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Typically, the strongest performers earn the opportunity to break Spring Training with the big league club.
Travis Swaggerty ranked second on the Pirates this spring with three home runs and tied for fifth with his 11 hits, while gaining just 29 at bats with the big club. He easily passed the eye test on the field in Bradenton.
Swaggerty will be chasing down balls to start the season in Indianapolis. This assignment could create a setback for some players, but not for Swaggerty.
The decision was based on getting him consistent at bats in Triple-A, rather than sparingly appearing with the Pirates. Swaggerty agrees with this choice and would rather take the regular play with Indianapolis than potentially stunting his long-term growth in not seeing action.
“If you can play everyday, that is what you want to do,” Swaggerty said. “To be able to piece consistent at bats together, helps you get better and into mid-season form faster. In Spring Training, I had a lot of days where I came in for the last three innings of the game and got one at bat and ‘see you later.’ It’s hard to piece things together.”
Indianapolis manager Miguel Perez sought out Swaggerty, as he likes to do a mental health check on any player who might endure a let down after being sent down so late in the spring after a strong performance. Perez labeled it as a great conversation.
“I like where his mindset is at,” Perez said. “He is intent to carry over where he finished [in Spring Training] to the season here. I was excited that he brought that to me… He is a pro and he knows that it’s not where you start, but where you finish.”
Swaggerty is approaching the strong spring as a positive that he was unable to enjoy last year. Combine the lockout and an arm injury early in camp, it is not a shock Swaggerty hit just .164 in 15 games last April.
“The body is feeling good, healthy and ready to go,” Swaggerty said. “To start like I did is just good for my confidence. In the past, my Spring Trainings have been, not necessarily tough, but they haven’t been like this year’s.”
While he thinks the decision is for the best, Swaggerty did admit that he hopes to continue his roll to force a hand “and get to the big leagues sooner, rather than later.”
Ryan has been following Indianapolis baseball for most of his life, and the Pirates since they became the affiliate in 2005. He began writing for Pirates Prospects in 2013, in a stint that ran through 2016 (with no service time manipulation played in). Ryan rejoined the team in 2022, covering Indianapolis once again. He has covered the Pirates in four different big league stadiums. Ryan was also fortunate enough to cover the 2015 Futures Game in Cincinnati.
It seems to me the Pirates have decided that Swaggerty is their center fielder, and if he is, their adding a year of control by starting him in Indianapolis. The problem will be Swaggerty vs Suwinski vs Smith-Njigba. All three of them are left-handed, meaning one of them must go. Swaggerty is in Indianapolis to add a year of control while the Pirates are choosing between the other two, who they don’t think are as valuable.
Well, apparently the hold up for a Reynolds deal is an opt out clause. I always have felt that Reynolds intends to hit market. He would be foolish not too because if he extends even 2 years into his FA years, he would cost himself on that FA contract. Of course he would want an opt out. If he is dead set on an opt out, that would tell me that he intends on using it unless he craters or gets a significant injury. If I am the Bucs, why pay a lot more for the next 3 seasons when he will most likely hit the market no matter what?
I’m wondering whether I missed something. I’ve read and heard their were issues, but nobody said it was Reynolds that required an opt-out clause. Could it be the Pirates want an opt-out clause with a back-loaded contract, or is it something else? In the end, both parties concern is $’s, regardless of who’s ‘holding up’ the deal.
Good point. If I am the Bucs, I am insisting on a back loaded deal if he is demanding a 2 or even a 3 year opt out. That means for sure he is gone for FA.
The guy should be playing everyday in the majors as of yesterday. A first round draft pick and if he wouldn’t have had injuries, and probably nagging injuries that hindered his performance he would hopefully already have been our starting cf last season. He is no young pup either, he is at an age where the stage should not be too big for him. Suwinski should have been the one in AAA working on his swing and miss.
This is great to read about Swaggerty and while I was disappointed that he was sent to AAA, if he wasn’t going to be the everyday CF with the Pirates, starting in AAA makes the most sense. After the missed time last year, he does need some regular ABs.
He SHOULD HAVE been the regular CFer for his glove alone!
Skenes 7 IP 1ER 12 K 1BB
Crews 1 for 4 with SB
Dollander 4.2 IP 2 ER 3 BB 3 K
Man I want both of skenes and crews
I watched 3-4 innings of the game and maybe it’s because it’s what I want to see, but for me there is separation between Skenes and Dollander. A lot of that may be his frame, but the apparent ease with which he was hitting 99+ was impressive. That and the way he froze a couple of batters on his off-speed stuff. Just very impressive.
As for Skenes vs. Crews, there’s a long way to go.
Agree, skenes has to be above dollander right now, performance this year alone is a huge factor in separation.
This still seems like service time manipulation to me. He hit well early in games and late in games in ST, and he had over 400 ABs in AAA last year. The last 10 games or so of ST could have had Swaggerty get a lot of starts and ABs, not like the starts to Young, Mathias, Andujar, etc…. needed to occur. Instead it seemed intentional on the part of the Pirates to make sure Swaggerty hitting his way onto the club wasn’t going to be allowed. And of course Suwinski struggled at the plate and in CF, and CSN is not as good defensively and probably needs more time in AAA than Swaggerty does. I think it will take about 26 days for the Pirates to get an extra year, so he’ll be up around May 1st. Having Bae, Cruz, Hayes, Reynolds, Castro, Joe and McCuthen stealing bases, and then adding Swaggerty to that mix sounds exciting, at least if the games are close.
I don’t know if I buy the service time manipulation idea with someone that’s already 25 and isn’t likely to be an impact prospect.
Maybe… Or the signing of Cutch AND Suwinski’s 19 HRs last year (and being two years younger that Swaggerty aka more upside) means Swaggerty is at best a 4th OF to start the season.
Home runs are nice, but you shouldn’t under sell CF defense and not striking out. Suwinski had the second most HRs in 2022 for the team, but was sixth in RBIs, trailing both Chavis and Gamel. The 8th inning yesterday was a good example of why strike outs are more costly than other outs. With Bae on third and 1 out all you want from Cruz was solid contact to bring him home, which is what Cruz did with the fly out to left field. A strike out by Cruz would look like any other out in the score box, but in fact would have resulted in the run not being scored as oppose to picking up the RBI and the game winning run.
So is it poor baseball judgement or a grand service time manipulation conspiracy?
You gotta pick one, brother.
Not sure why it has to be a “grand conspiracy” when service time manipulation is practice by all teams as a normal business practice, but “normal” doesn’t mean it is always wise to do so, as in this case. I think it mainly has to do with 1) Pirates are not fully in “win now” mode. this is the most disappointing aspect of what is happening. Clearly if BC and those above him were trying to win (within reason) as many games in April as possible, Swaggerty would be in CF, and not Suwinski. 2) Pirates have a hard time of not feeling like they have to play all the angles because of being small market. At some point they need to switch, they need to miss some angles in order to win now. 3) I doubt they look it as “we are keeping him for his 32nd year”, but just that he has more value to them, like for trading, if he has an extra year of control. 4) finally, it seem obvious. Clearly Suwinski is not in a good place to be the starting CF, even replacing him late yesterday shows the faith they have in him as a defensive upgrade from Reynolds. Swaggerty has hit better since July 1st of last year than Suwinski, CSN, and Bae, and yet he is the odd man out, and the oldest, and the best defensively. The mental gymnastics it takes to arrive at him being the odd man out is way too complicated to be correct. So if you go with Occam’s Razor, it is service time manipulation.
Teams don’t utilize service manipulation for 25 year old fringe prospects. If you’re looking for Occam’s Razor, there it is.
Springer was 24, Rutschman was 24, and I haven’t really looked that hard. but whatever, believe what you want.
Fringe prospects? Don’t think the top prospect (Adley) in baseball qualifies as a candidate for fringe.
Travis is a fringe prospect. Again, just because he’s not up in the big leagues doesn’t mean it’s service time manipulation. It really could be several different factors (whether those factors are smart is another story). You’d have an argument if Travis tore it up last year. But he was league average. In Indy.
I can’t understand how some believe that this is all a ploy to get an extra year of control of Travis Swaggerty when he’s 32.
One massive brain worm infecting all logical thought.
They rostered two players on Opening Day in successive years all so that they can manipulate the service time of Travis Swaggerty.
“successive years” ? that makes no sense, we are only talking about his year.
No, we’re not.
The player who ostensibly has kept Swag off the club is Jack Suwinski, who was promoted straight from AA last year onto the Opening Day roster regardless of service time.
This year it was Canaan.
Two years in a row they’ve demonstrated they will ignore service time, but you want us to believe it’s all a ploy to f*ck over Travis Swaggerty.
sorry, it isn’t worth my time to keep replying to this type of argument.
It’s both man, if you don’t know that about the pirates regime by now, you’ll never know it. It’s pretty much ridiculous, I love suwinski and hope he figures it out, but he skipped AAA and you can see it’s not working, he is as strong as a bull, but it doesn’t mean Nything with all the God dam strikeouts.
So then it’s not both! F*cks sake!
For F*CKS SAKE!!! For F*CKS SAKE!!!! For f*cks sake it’s isn’t even worth an argument, it’s the pirates….
period, what does it matter why they do shit and will continue to do this shit forever, it’s not a move that will help this team win more ball games now or in the future, it’s just bad management, period.
Suwinski is a bad center fielder, and this swing and miss thing is pretty bad. I think we might see Swaggerty within a month or two.
He’s a bad CF in Bradenton… he’s at least Reynolds caliber in normal stadiums.
I’ve been surprised alk along. Suspension so at a 30% clip for his entire Minor League career. To expect a different result in MLB is ridiculous.
I too am of the thinking that those regular ABs should be in Pittsburgh until/unless he shows he can’t do it.
But that isn’t where things landed — so I just hope the description/interaction is accurate as described, and that TS is really in a good space versus just saying the right things. End of day though, if he does have the makings of a pro in him, he’ll push through and make the best of whatever the situation throws at him.
should be getting regular at bats as the starting center fielder on the big league club right now
With a Reynolds trade nearing Seats will be his replacement.
I’m glad he is getting regular at bats and of course in the perfect world, Jack, CSN, and Swags all play well making decisions tough. I’ll embrace the current assignments and revisit in a month as I think that long is needed (unless some real extreme good or bad performance) for a fair appraisal.
Ryan, I’ll disagree with one of your comments. I think the winner of the CSN/Swags (CSN for now) roster battle will do more than ‘sparingly appear’ in the lineup. Given the roster makeup and Cutch saying he will primarily be a DH (and with his current arm issue maybe only DH early on), the CSN/Swags roster spot looks like they will play full time against RHP. That already is the majority of games. We will get the first clue Saturday how they might align against LHP. Reynolds and Joe are givens IMO so that leaves one OF spot for CSN/Bae/Jack (with Cutch at DH). So there is a chance (and if Swags with his glove – decent chance), they will also get some starts against LHP. I am nit picking some, I just don’t buy into that roster spot being a spare part.
I agree Swaggerty should play where he gets regular ABs, but if it was up to me, that would have been in Pittsburgh. I would have sent down Suwinski, and kept Swaggerty as the starter in center. For me this was as much about Suwinski as Swaggerty. Swaggerty did have a great ST, but in all fairness, a lot of his ABs came late in games as a replacement. This is after teams have replaced their pitchers that will make the team. Unlike with CSN, Swaggerty was often facing weaker pitching, but with Suwinski, he has looked terrible this year. I would have kept Swaggerty, because of how bad Suwinski has done. It is not terrible with Swaggerty going down where there would be less pressure, but we need to find out about him this year. We do not need him to be the next Michael Harris, but if he could be somebody like a Trent Grisham or Harrison Bader he could be invaluable to us in CF.
I was in this boat, but repeating my comment in my post – I will embrace these assignments for now and see how it plays out. I don’t think any change should occur too quickly at this point (a month?), just to get a large enough regular season sample.
It would have been fun to have Swags speed in the line up along with Bae and Cruz yesterday.
Suwinski I think has a higher ceiling, but if he can’t start producing consistent results at the plate, Swaggerty will definitely have a shot at the big leagues. I’m hoping that both players pan out since Cutch will only be around a year or two.
I don’t agree that Suwinski has the higher ceiling. A year ago I was certainly not on the T-Swag bandwagon. Now, however, I just don’t see the K rate improving for Jack. With CF defense, T-Swag has a higher floor and possibly a higher ceiling. Average or above defense and empty power (face it, there was no run production increase with Jack’s power due to his contact issues) is not good enough for a competitive team.
HRs win games. singles and nice catches in the OF don’t.
I know what you are saying but just yesterday a bunt, steal, and a flyout won a game. I believe when Tswag came into the pirates his profile was more than just a singles hitter with quality defense fwiw. Jack has had contact issues all the way up the minors as well as with the big club. I would want the more complete player all day every day. And I like Jack’s all out play and work ethic…
Defense wins more games than HRs. We need to PREVENT runs.
Roberto Clemente and his 16HR/162Games would agree with you.
Why not both? Honestly, I still maintain this is a matter of roster construction that was complicated by Cutch signing. Trading for Joe, they had already secured a short side platoon bay for DH and OF, and Cutch duplicates that skill set. And this is before you even get to Choi and Santana in the 1B/DH mix.
Once they remove one of the olds from the equation (be it injury, trade, etc.) or if another young ‘un struggles and is sent down, Swag will be up.
Because of his potential defense in center, Swaggerty does not need as high a ceiling. If he is the next Trent Grisham or Harrison Bader, he would be invaluable to us. Suwinski has the higher ceiling, but right now is much less likely to get to that ceiling. Right now, I fear Suwinski will be the next Brad Eldred, who could not avoid the SOs in the MLB, and wound up in Hiroshima hitting bombs.
I’m leaning your way, and I really hope BOTH pan out. But of the two, it looks like Swaggerty will prove to be much more consistent in the field and at the bat than Suwinski. But given that they’re probably not going to even fighting for a wild-card spot this year, at least we definitely will get to see both play at the MLB level this year and see how it pans out.