Three Bold Predictions For The Pittsburgh Pirates 2020 Season

SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA - SEPTEMBER 10: Mitch Keller #23 of the Pittsburgh Pirates pitches in the bottom of the first inning against the San Francisco Giants at Oracle Park on September 10, 2019 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)
SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA - SEPTEMBER 10: Mitch Keller #23 of the Pittsburgh Pirates pitches in the bottom of the first inning against the San Francisco Giants at Oracle Park on September 10, 2019 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images) /
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(Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images) /

Travis Swaggerty finishes as a top 60 prospect

Last season, Travis Swaggerty fell off the top 100 list. This was because of a rough start to the season. Swaggerty’s first few months in Bradenton saw his OPS dip below .700 (.646), but it seemed the 21-year-old just needed a bit of time to get used to the league. His second half gave renewed hope in the former first round pick, as he hit for a .306/.375/.430 line, with 20 extra base hits. I see him carrying this second half production into next season.

I like to say Swaggerty is a poor-man’s Cristian Pache. Although their hit tool doesn’t make them stand out, their speed and overall fielding skill make them notable. Pache is the Braves best prospect in their organization, ranking as the 13th top prospect in all of baseball. Now yes, Pache is a better fielder and faster than Swaggerty, but that doesn’t mean the Bucs’ prospect isn’t an elite defender in his own right. Fangraphs gives Swaggerty a 55 fielding rating with a future of 60, and an arm grade of 60. Pache is given 70 grades for both fielding and arm ability. They also give both Pache and Swaggerty a 65 run grade.

But it seems FanGraphs feels Swaggerty has a higher ceiling with the bat, as he is given a 40/50 hit grade, and 30/50 power grade, and Pache is given a 35/45 hit grade and 30/45 power grade. It’s understandable when you look at their numbers. Despite Swaggerty’s slow start to 2019, he still finished off the year with a strong 120 wRC+. Pache, who spent most of the time in AA, wasn’t too far ahead at 134 wRC+. Swaggerty has much better plate discipline with a 10.9% walk rate and 22.1% K rate, while Pache walked less and struck out at a similar rate last season (7.9%/22.6%).

If Swaggerty continues to show the Gold Glove level fielding prowess he has his entire career, and hits somewhere in the .280/.360/.440 range during 2020, I could see him easily cracking the top 100 list once again, and even possibly getting up in the 60+ range of top prospects.

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