Travis Swaggerty made a significant bid to open the 2023 season on the Pirate Opening Day roster during spring training. Alas, he lost out to Canaan Smith-Njigba, who was recently optioned. With that, Swaggerty could rejoin the Major League ballclub again within the coming week.
The former first-rounder isn’t off to a great start in 2023. It’s only been 89 plate appearances, but he’s batted .231/.310/.442 with a .332 wOBA and 89 wRC+. Swaggerty is hitting for some decent power with a .212 isolated slugging percentage, but his walk rate clocks in at a career-worst 6.9% rate, and his strikeout rate is at 24.1%.
But Swaggerty was a slightly above league-average batter between 2021 and 2022, slashing .251/.347/,403. That came with a much better-looking 12.5% walk rate and a respectable .153 isolated slugging percentage. The only major downside was he struck out nearly a quarter of the time with a 24.7% strikeout rate. Overall, he had a 102 wRC+.
Swaggerty is mostly known for his fielding and running ability. Swaggerty has swiped 20+ bases in two minor league seasons and has displayed a strong ability to play center field. If Swaggerty could reliably reproduce his 2021-2022 numbers, he’d be a pretty good outfielder. New York Mets’ outfielder Mark Canah is about a .250/.350/.400 batters, and he still averages nearly 3.0 fWAR in 600 plate appearances the last three years with so-so defense in center and left field. Though that’s a major assumption to think that Swaggerty could be a league-average/slightly above-average batter.
Swaggerty is already on the 40-man, had a great Spring, and has looked great at Triple-A. But the Pirates calling up Swaggerty would make him run into the same problem CSN did: he’s not getting consistent playing time and potentially stalling any potential development he could make at the major league level. I believe that Swaggerty is the most talented option we’ll talk about today, but I’d rather him get consistent playing time than to come up and not make any potential progress.