The Pittsburgh Pirates’ best outfield prospect saw his stock rise in 2019. Currently, where does it stand, and how does his future look?
Pittsburgh Pirates’ prospect Travis Swaggerty is ranked as the team’s best outfield prospect and for a good reason. While he may never be a Mike Trout with the bat, the 2017 first rounder (10th overall pick) will surely provide the Bucs with value in many facets of his game. Most notably his fielding and base running skill.
The Bucs selected Swaggerty with the 10th overall pick in the 2018 draft. He was selected out of the University Of South Alabama. At USA, Swaggerty was crushing the ball. He finished 2018 with a .296/.455/.526 slash line in 277 plate appearances. His 13 home runs were the most he hit in college, and he had stolen 20 and 19 bags in the two seasons prior.
Swaggerty got off to a good start in Low-A. While it was just a 158 plate appearances sample size, the lefty slashed .288/.365/.453 with 4 long balls and 9 stolen bases. However once he was moved to the full-season West Virginia Power, Swaggerty fell into a slump. His overall line fell to .129/.225/.226, but in a limited 71 plate appearances.
Heading into 2019, Swaggerty was ranked by MLB.com as the 87th best prospect in baseball. He was given a 50 rating by MLB.com for his hit and power tools, but above average ratings for his running ability (60), fielding (55), and arm capability (55).
But he would soon fall off the top 100 boards when the first updates came in.
This was because of a first half slump that saw him hit .221/.318/.329 in 222 at-bats. But Travis turned on the jets heading into the second half. From the All-Star Break on Swaggerty hit for a strong .306/.375/.430. He also struck out less in the 2nd half. Regardless, the prospect finished the season with a .265/.347/.381 line and a 120 wRC+.
Swaggerty is pretty much a step above your usual glove-first kind of outfielder. He has speed, a great glove, and good arm strength, but that’s not the only value he is bringing to the table. He will never be your middle-of-the-order hitter. A comparable outfielder, in terms of overall offensive output is 2012-2014 Jason Heyward. Heyward hit .266/.345/.431 with a 113 OPS+ in 1740 plate appearances. But Swaggerty would have a slightly higher OPB and slightly lower slugging.
The 22-year-old showed a fair amount of potential in 2019, indicated by his second half performance. Swaggerty will definitely make it to the Majors with his fielding ability alone. FanGraphs gives his fielding prowess a 55 future rating. He is fast enough, and a good enough of a defender to remain in center, but has the arm strength to move to a corner if need be. Swaggerty posted a decent 10.9 walk percentage, and .347 OBP in 2019. For a guy with a 65 speed rating on FanGraphs, he has the making of a good leadoff or number 2 batter in the line-up. Swaggerty will never be a big power threat, but I could see him being a 10-12 home runs a season kind of outfielder. In the majors, I could see Swaggerty batting somewhere around .270/.350/.400 a year with 25-30 stolen bases, and being a consistent Gold Glove finalists.