After the Pittsburgh Pirates traded away stalwart centerfielder Starling Marte to the Arizona Diamondbacks this week, they are likely to be searching for a future replacement for the former All-Star and Gold Glove Award winner.
Luckily for the Pirates, that replacement may already be in the organization in the form of Travis Swaggerty. Swaggerty, who was the tenth overall selection by Pittsburgh in the 2018 draft, is currently ranked as the seventh-best prospect in the Pirates organization.
After a standout high school baseball career at Denham Springs High School in Denham Springs, Louisiana, Swaggerty opted to play baseball at the University of South Alabama.
He would thrive at South Alabama, being named a pre-season All-American by Baseball America, the pre-season Sunbelt Conference player of the year and an All-Sunbelt Conference first-team All-Star in 2018.
Following his stellar career at South Alabama, the Pirates would select him in the first round of the 2018 draft. After signing with Pittsburgh for $4.4 million, Swaggerty would be assigned to the West Virginia Black Bears, the short-season Single-A affiliate of the Pirates.
In 158 plate appearances with West Virginia, Swaggerty would bat .288 with four home runs, 15 runs batted in, 22 runs scored and nine stolen bases. After his solid performance with the Black Bears, he would begin the 2019 season with the Bradenton Marauders, the Pirates Single-A affiliate of the Florida State League.
In 524 at-bats with the Marauders, Swaggerty would hit for a .265 average, with nine home runs, 40 runs batted in, 79 runs scored and 23 stolen bases. In the process, he would be named a Florida State League All-Star.
Swaggerty is a prospect who is solid at every facet of the game, despite not possessing any single elite skill set. On a rating scale of 0-80 with 80 being the best, Swaggerty rates above average in everything but power, which rates as average at rating of 50.
His hit tool, arm strength, and fielding ability all rate above average at 55. Meanwhile, his speed is his greatest asset, rating at 60. Currently he projects as a four-tool player, who could develop into a five-tool player if he increases his power.
Even if his power never comes, he still projects as a player who can hit 15 or more home runs annually in the major leagues. Swaggerty currently is expected to be a top of the lineup bat that hits for around a .275 average, 15 home runs, 30 stolen bases and multiple Gold Glove Awards.
The lefty is expected to stick in center field due to his excellent speed and elite glove. However, he possesses a very strong arm, which would allow him to move to a corner outfield position should the need arise in the future.
Swaggerty will likely begin the season with the Pirates Double-A affiliate, the Altoona Curve this year. There he will need to work on his occasional tendency to over swing at pitches to hit for power. The result of doing so it a higher strikeout rate.
If Swaggerty can reduce the number of over swings he takes and put the ball in play instead of trying to hit for power, he is likely to increase his batting average and become an even more dangerous player in the future.
Swaggerty is the best outfield prospect in the Pirates organization at the moment. At 22-years of age, he is still a young outfield prospect. Currently, his estimated time of arrival in the major leagues is projected to be sometime in the 2022 season.
However, if Swaggerty can make some minor adjustments to his swing and can continue to progress through the minor leagues, a promotion to AAA this season and an earlier than expected promotion to Pittsburgh is certainly plausible for the extremely talented outfield prospect.