TRAVIS SWAGGERTY, CENTER FIELDER
|Born: August 19, 1997
Height: 5′ 11″
Drafted: 1st Round, 10th Overall, 2018
How Acquired: Draft
College: University of South Alabama
WTM’s PLAYER PROFILE
|The Pirates were heavily linked to prep players, especially pitchers leading up to the 2018 draft, but with a lot of those options still on the board they went with Swaggerty. The center fielder is a five tool talent who projects to have the defense and arm to stick in center field. Baseball America gives him a future 60-grade defensive potential, along with an above-average to plus arm on defense. Offensively, scouts believe he can be at least an average hitter with 60-grade running ability, and fringe-average to average power. The power is the one thing arguably lacking, although he does profile well for a guy with a small frame. Keith Law and FanGraphs ranked him fourth among draft prospects, while BA and MLB.com ranked him 11th.
Swaggerty got off to a hot start at the plate in his junior year with South Alabama, with a 1.316 OPS in the first few weeks, but cooled off and finished with a .296/.455/.526 line by the end of the season. He drew a lot of walks, with a 20.9% walk rate, and struck out in just 13.95% of his plate appearances. He was, though, facing weak competition, which adds perspective to the rest of his numbers, and the scouting reports suggest that he has some swing and miss. He showed some good power, with 13 homers and a .230 ISO, but the poor competition disclaimer comes into play, and he might not carry that same power rate over to pro ball. Swaggerty signed shortly after the draft for $156,200 below the slot amount.
Swaggerty went initially to Morgantown and hit well without dominating. His slugging average was good when you consider that the league average was .346. In mid-August, the Pirates moved Swaggerty up to West Virginia and he got into 16 games there. Things didn’t go well at all, obviously. Overall, he hit LHPs much better than RHPs, with an .887 OPS vs. .643. He showed range and arm in line with his reputation, although he had some error issues, with seven total.
Swaggerty had a decent first two months at Bradenton before slumping badly in June. He finally got hot in July and hit well the rest of the season. His monthly OPS:
Overall, Swaggerty’s line was comfortably above the anemic Florida State League norm of 242/313/353. For some reason, he had a large reverse platoon split, with an OPS of .845 against LHPs and .699 against RHPs. Swaggerty made much better contact after those first three months: he struck out in 25% of his plate appearances through June and 18% afterward. He showed very good range in center and had seven outfield assists.
Hopefully, Swaggerty made adjustments in the last two months of 2019 that will stand up going forward. He would have opened 2020 in AA, but went to the Pirates’ alternate training site at Altoona.
Swaggerty started off as the center fielder at Indianapolis but, in his third game, separated his shoulder running into an outfield wall. He missed the rest of the season. The injury was a minor disaster for the Pirates. Apart from Bryan Reynolds, the major league outfield was horrendous, so Swaggerty would have had an opportunity if he’d been doing anything whatsoever at Indy. The Pirates added him to the 40-man roster after the season.
Swaggerty got off to a terrible start, with a .506 OPS in April, but he improved to .895 in May and .887 in June. He got a callup in June that netted him five games and nine plate appearances, then the Pirates sent him back to AAA and seemingly forgot about him. He didn’t hit as well over the last three months, with OPS figures hovering around .700. That left him with an OPS on the season that was almost exactly league average. Still, given the large amount of playing time the Pirates were wasting on players with zero short- or long-term upside, he seemed an obvious choice to get a callup at some point, but he didn’t. He had a fairly large platoon split, with an OPS of .774 against RHPs and .641 against LHPs. In the field, he played the majority of his time in center, but also saw time in both corners.
The Pirates appear to have little interest in Swaggerty. That’s remarkable considering that he’s a former first-round draft pick, as well as the fact that they’ve frequently gotten obsessed with much older “prospects” with similar or weaker track records. It’ll be interesting to see whether he gets any sort of chance in spring training, or whether he’s even still on the 40-man roster by that point.
|2023: Major league minimum
|Signing Bonus: $4,400,000
MiLB Debut: 2018
MLB Debut: 6/7/2022
MiLB FA Eligible: N/A
MLB FA Eligible: 2027
Rule 5 Eligible: N/A
Added to 40-Man: 11/19/2021
Options Remaining: 2 (USED: 2022)
MLB Service Time: 0.008
|June 4, 2018: Drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 1st round, 10th overall pick; signed on June 15.
November 19, 2021: Contract purchased by the Pittsburgh Pirates.