Pittsburgh Pirates: Projecting the Team’s 2023 Line Up

BRADENTON, FL- FEBRUARY 22: Oneil Cruz #61 of the Pittsburgh Pirates throws during a game against the Minnesota Twins on February 21, 2020 at LECOM Park in Bradenton, Florida. (Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn/Minnesota Twins/Getty Images)
BRADENTON, FL- FEBRUARY 22: Oneil Cruz #61 of the Pittsburgh Pirates throws during a game against the Minnesota Twins on February 21, 2020 at LECOM Park in Bradenton, Florida. (Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn/Minnesota Twins/Getty Images) /
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PITTSBURGH, PA – JULY 07: A closed concession stand is shown during summer workouts at PNC Park on July 7, 2020 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA – JULY 07: A closed concession stand is shown during summer workouts at PNC Park on July 7, 2020 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images) /

Center Field: Travis Swaggerty

2023 Opening Day Age: 25

The Pirates’ first-round selection in 2018 has shown he can be a future Gold Glove candidate, and be productive with the bat at the same time. Travis Swaggerty has a future 60 fielding grade, and future 60 throw grade by FanGraphs. This makes him the second best fielder in the Pirates system, and is a top 10 defensive outfield prospect in all of baseball.

Not only can he field and has a strong arm, he also can cover a lot of ground. Swaggerty stole 23 bases, and has a 65 current and future speed grade which helps him track down balls in center while also rounding the bases at a good rate.

Batting wise, there’s still some questions. Swaggerty did really well in his first 158 professional plate appearances, hitting .288/.365/.453 with a 140 wRC+. He finished out the 2018 season at A-Ball hitting .129/.225/.226 through just 71 plate appearances. Last year, Swaggerty got off to an awful start at High-A hitting .221/.318/.329 before the all-star break, but then went on a tear and hit .306/.375/.430 throughout the rest of the season. Despite the slow start, Swaggerty still had a really solid 120 wRC+, 10.9% walk rate and .341 wOBA.

Swaggerty has a future 50 hit tool, and future 50 game power tool. However he has potential for more with a 60 raw power grade, both current and future. Currently, he ranks as the 63rd best prospect in baseball according to FanGraphs. A good comp could be Jason Heyward from 2011 to 2014 when he hit .262/.351/.429 with a 114 OPS+. That’s really good production considering that both are elite defenders.

Other possible options: Jared Oliva

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