RIGHT HANDED PITCHER
|| Born: August 15, 1985
Height: 6′ 2″
How Acquired: Amateur FA, 2006
WTM’S PIRATE PLAYER PROFILES
|The Pirates signed McSwain as a free agent late in the 2006 season. His career at Elon was interrupted during his sophomore year by Tommy John surgery. He left school and was pitching in a summer league at the time the Pirates signed him. The Pirates cited him at one point as one of the most improved pitchers in the organization, but I don’t think that means they’ve ever regarded him as a prospect. He throws from a three-quarters arm angle, with an upper-80s fastball with a lot of arm-side run and a sweeping, 10-4 curve. He’s generally been a groundball pitcher.
Made two relief outings in the GCL after signing.
Made two more relief appearances in the GCL before moving up to Hickory when its struggling staff needed a body. He pitched better as starter (4.91 ERA) than in relief (7.71), but not very well in either role. Opponents hit .283 against him and he had trouble with walks and HRs (8).
McSwain pitched in every possible role with the two class A teams, moving back and forth several times, and making some strides. He was much better as a reliever at Hickory and as a starter at Lynchburg, and was far better overall at Hickory (2.17 ERA, .237 opponents BA vs. 5.02 and .300 at Lynchburg).
Had a solid season in the Lynchburg rotation, finishing tied for second in the Carolina League in wins. McSwain gave up a lot of hits, as opponents hit .285 against him, but he walked very few and allowed just three HRs. He had a very low K rate.
McSwain evidently got discouraged about his progress, because he retired before the 2010 season. He returned, however, when Bradenton needed pitching due to injuries. He pitched pretty much the same as 2009, and about the same in both starting and relief roles. He walked and struck out very few and allowed only two HRs.
McSwain pitched in four games at Bradenton at the beginning of the season, then moved up to Altoona, where he pitched in middle relief. He wasn’t nearly as hittable overall as he’d been in class A–opponents batted just .239 against him–but HRs were a problem as he allowed eleven. His K rate was lower than ever. The low arm slot may have helped him against right-handed hitters; he had an OPS that was over 200 points lower against them than against left-handed hitters.
McSwain has been a very reliable organizational pitcher, but the extremely low K rates raise some doubts about whether he’ll be able to make it beyond AA. He’ll return to Altoona in 2012.