Pittsburgh Pirates Prospects: Rum Bunter’s Top 5 Position Player Prospects

PITTSBURGH, PA - JULY 18: Catcher Henry Davis (R), who was selected first overall in the 2021 MLB draft by the Pittsburgh Pirates, poses with General Manager Ben Cherington after signing a contract with the Pirates during a press conference at PNC Park on July 18, 2021 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA - JULY 18: Catcher Henry Davis (R), who was selected first overall in the 2021 MLB draft by the Pittsburgh Pirates, poses with General Manager Ben Cherington after signing a contract with the Pirates during a press conference at PNC Park on July 18, 2021 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images) /
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Indianapolis centerfielder Travis Swaggerty hit a leadoff home run to start the game against Iowa at Principal Park in Des Moines on Tuesday, May 4, 2021.20210504 Iowacubs /

Number 5 – Outfielder Travis Swaggerty

The Pittsburgh Pirates selected left-handed outfielder Travis Swaggerty with their first-round pick in 2018. In 2019, Swaggerty showed some promise, having a 120 wRC+ and .341 wOBA. Swaggerty started the season out slow, having just a .244.340/.345 line, .325 wOBA, and 109 wRC+ through the first two months of the season. Though once the weather started to heat up, so did the outfielder. From June 10th onward, he hit .293/.369/.410 with a .363 wOBA, and 134 wRC+.

After not playing professionally in 2020 due to the MILB season being canned, he returned, completely skipping Double-A and jumping right into Triple-A action. He didn’t look too bad either, hitting .220/.333/.439 with a .343 wOBA, and 107 wRC+ in his first 48 plate appearances.

Though he was on pace to join the big league club by summer at the latest, his season was cut short because of shoulder surgery. He was a whole lot better than his surface numbers suggest. Swaggerty had a .200 batting average on balls in play despite having a 26.7% line drive rate. Now small sample size for sure, but since batted ball data has been tracked, only 8.2% of players have had a line drive rate of at least 25% and BAbip lower than .280 in 100+ plate appearances.

Swaggerty has always been praised for his power potential. FanGraphs sees his raw power as a 60-grade tool, reaching into elite territory. But he never showed off that power in-game, until now. Through his limited time at Triple-A, he had a .220 ISO, a .104 increase from 2019. A big part of his huge power increase is because of his GB% going from 49.3% in 2019 to just 36.7% at Triple-A.

Swaggerty has always had plus plate discipline, drawing his fair share of walks while keeping his strikeout rate around or above average. Throughout the last two minor league seasons, his walk rate has sat above 10%, 10.9% in 2019, and 12.5% at Indianapolis. His hit tool is considered average, projecting with a 50-grade. Though combined with his speed and defense, you could be looking at a guy with five-tool potential. It’s easy to envision a .270/.350/.450 hitter who will be gunning for a lot of 20/20 seasons and Gold Gloves within Swaggerty.

Swaggerty has a 65-speed grade, 60-fielding, and arm grade per FanGraphs. He’s among one of the best defensive outfield prospects in the game. If he can keep hitting the ball like he was at Triple-A, he will surely make an impact in the major leagues very soon. Next year will be his age-24 season, so he should get a call to the big league club within the first month or two of the season if all goes well with his rehab.

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