Pittsburgh Pirates: Travis Swaggerty Looking to Make an Impact
By Brian Jones
Travis Swaggerty is hoping that in 2021 his career can take a big leap forward. The Pittsburgh Pirates 2018 first-round draft choice has a lot to be excited about as he has earned his first ever non-roster invite to spring training.
The 23-year-old Louisiana native spent last season at the Pirates alternate training site in Altoona where he worked on mastering his craft in center field, as well as hitting drills. Although Swaggerty has yet to advance past High-A, he believes that this could be his big opportunity telling Jason Mackey of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, “Confidence-wise, I think I’m ready now.”
Swaggerty is used to aiming high and achieving, even dating back to his days as a high school senior at Denham Springs High School where he batted .451. He would eventually be named to the Louisiana Sports Writers Association Class 5A All-Star team. Swaggerty would face a setback as he went undrafted in the 2015 Major League Baseball Draft, and decided to enroll at the University of South Alabama.
In his freshman season he appeared in 59 games for the Jaguars batting .303, with 4 home runs, 27 RBIs, and 19 stolen bases. As a sophomore in 2017 he continued to progress playing in 58 games hitting .356, with 11 home runs, 60 RBIs, and 19 stolen bases. After that season the accolades continued for Travis as he was named to the All-Sun Belt First Team, and also got the call to play for the USA Baseball Collegiate National Team where he hit .328 in 19 games.
Swaggerty would find out success wouldn’t come so easy at the next level as he struggled in the first three months of the season in 2019, but would finally recover to bat .265 in 121 games with High-A Bradenton, and accomplish Florida State League All-Star honors. With minor league baseball being canceled in 2020 due to the pandemic, it gave Swaggerty an opportunity to work exclusively on hitting in Altoona.
Scouts focus on his speed, and solid defense as his strengths, while a big downside is at the plate where he has a potential be too aggressive leading to a high strike rate. He will need to eliminate his high swing-and-miss ratio if he wants to take his game to the next level. In 2019 with Bradenton, he struck out 76 times in 305 plate appearances at a rate of 24.9%.
MLB Pipeline has Swaggerty listed as the Pittsburgh Pirates sixth-best prospect. With a number of veteran players being moved in the offseason by the Pittsburgh Pirates and openings in the outfield, it may give him the needed opportunity to showcase his talents in his first big league camp. He will certainly be one of the young stars out to prove themselves on a Pirates team that is getting younger every week.