Former first-round pick Travis Swaggerty is finally healthy and has been turning heads this spring
Few players were more overlooked and forgotten when the Pittsburgh Pirates got to spring training than outfielder Travis Swaggerty. Despite being a former first-round pick, few people looked at Swaggerty as a player with much to give to the Pirates.
The past two seasons Swaggerty has been plagued by injuries. In 2021 he lloked primed to make his MLB debut and potentailly lockdown a starting job before a shoulder injury cut his season short. Then last season, he battled a concussion at Triple-A Indianapolis.
Swaggerty did make his MLB debut last season. He went just 1-for-9 at the plate, with that lone hit being an infield hit. Following a short stint with the Pittsburgh Pirates, Swaggerty was optioned back to Triple-A where he spent the rest of the season.
Throughout the offseason there were questions surrounding if Swaggerty would even remain on the team's 40-man roster. Swaggerty survived the offseason with a 40-man roster spot and went to spring training looking to surprise people.
So far this spring, Swaggerty has been one of the biggest positive surprises in Pirate camp. Swaggerty has looked healthy, consisntely putting together storng at-bats. He has also hitting the ball with authority and is reminding people why he is a former top-10 draft pick.
So far this spring Swaggerty has 16 plate appearances. In those 16 PAs he has hit for a .333/.375/.733 slash line. He has struck out four times, hit a pair of home runs and has driven in five runs.
There could be at-bats to be had in the Pirate outfield as well. Bryan Reynolds will play every day and Andrew McCutchen likely will as well, but Jack Suwinski will likely have a short leash. Even if Suwinski is hitting well, McCutchen could always slide to a DH role to create outfield at-bats. If Swaggerty has turned a corner as a hitter, he'll get every opportunity to prove it in the majors.
If Swaggerty continues to hit the way he has thus far he could hit his way onto the team's Opening Day roster. Swaggerty is 25-years-old and having consistent MLB at-bats is what would be best for his career.
There is a scenario where Swaggerty could crack the Opening Day roster as a bench bat. Other than Ji-Hwan Bae and a backup catcher, there are not guarantees for the team's bench to start the season. Swaggerty could be hitting himself into one of those roles.