7:25PM: The Pirates are calling up outfielder Travis Swaggerty, Jason Mackey of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports. Swaggerty will officially join the active roster prior to tomorrow’s game, and is likely in line to make his Major League debut. No 40-man move is required, as Swaggerty was already added to Pittsburgh’s 40-man roster back in November.
The 10th overall pick of the 2018 draft, Swaggerty received some top-100 attention from Baseball Prospectus and MLB Pipeline in advance of the 2019 season. However, his stock dropped after only an okay year at high-A ball in 2019, no minor league baseball at all in 2020 due to the canceled season, and then a 2021 that was cut short after only 12 games due to shoulder surgery.
Starting the 2022 campaign again at Triple-A Indianapolis, Swaggerty has performed well to date, hitting .280/.362/.439 over 150 plate appearances, with four home runs. This promising start could help answer lingering doubts about Swaggerty’s bat, as both MLB Pipeline (who rank Swaggerty 13th in Pittsburgh’s farm system) and Baseball America (25th) cite the 24-year-old’s lack of any real track record at the plate. Swaggerty was showing some improvement due to some adjustments at the plate even as late as the 2019 campaign, but BA’s scouting report considers him “an open question” due to what was essentially two lost seasons.
Swaggerty’s hitting may determine whether or not he can become a regular at the MLB level, but he could stick around as a fourth outfielder based on plus glovework alone. Bryan Reynolds’ presence would seem to block Swaggerty from the center field job in Pittsburgh, though since Swaggerty has a strong throwing arm, he could also be deployed as a right fielder. Swaggerty joins Jack Suwinski, Tucupita Marcano, and Calvin Mitchell as left-handed hitting young outfielders on the Pirates roster, though it would seem plausible that any of these players could be optioned to Triple-A in the corresponding move for Swaggerty’s promotion.
With plenty of veterans (including outfielders Ben Gamel and Jake Marisnick) on the injured list, the Pirates have had to dip in their farm system numerous times already in the first two months of the season. Given that the Bucs are still in the midst of a rebuild, it is quite possible that Swaggerty or any of these other youngsters would’ve gotten the call at some point anyway, and this opportunity gives Swaggerty a chance to establish himself as a building block.