The Pittsburgh Pirates center field position has lacked and one of their top outfield prospects, Travis Swaggerty, could force his way to Pittsburgh.
The Pittsburgh Pirates have looked to buy low on reclamation outfielders this season in Anthony Alford and Dustin Fowler, but with both players struggling and being designated for assignment, the club has now found Ka’ai Tom, a rule five pick on the roster. Collectively, Pirates center fielders have hit .235/.320/.358 but this includes Bryan Reynolds .292/.380/.453. Alford and Fowler had hit just .138/.240/.154 before their DFA’s and Tom has hit .111/.219/.111 with Oakland and Pittsburgh this season.
There is some potential intrigue here as the Pirates were aggressive in promoting Travis Swaggerty to Triple-A Indianapolis, as he has previously topped out in High-A before the pandemic eliminated the minor league season. He is known for his speed and defense, but FanGraphs did give him a future average hit tool. One interesting this is the 60 raw power translating to future 45 game power, making the former first round pick an interesting option for a swing change.
Last night, in his Triple-A debut, Swaggerty hit a home and went 3-4 with a walk. Given his age, 24 in August, and the timeline, Swaggerty would be a potential call up this season if not for missed minor league season a year ago. But with him already being in Triple-A to start, a hot start could propel him to the Major Leagues by mid season.
The Pittsburgh Pirates have not seen much production from outfielders besides Reynolds as Gregory Polanco has continued to struggle and Phillip Evans has cooled off. The organization is usually passive in promoting players but that was the old regime. This new regime was already aggressive in promoting Swaggerty to Indianapolis. With some members of the front office the same, there could be parallels to Bryan Reynolds, who had just 57 plate appearances before his call up and his bat allowed for him to never be sent back down.
While Swaggerty didn’t have time in Double-A Altoona, the fact that he is in Triple-A already gives him a chance to be added to the Major League club at some point this season. He can solidify himself as an option with a hot start in Indianapolis, and at the very least would represent an upgrade defensively to the club. It’ll be interesting to see how Swaggerty develops with this new regime, especially his overall offensive impact, and a hot two months could put him inline to be in Pittsburgh this summer.