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2018 Phillies Draft Preview: Travis Swaggerty, CF

Atlanta Braves v Philadelphia Phillies Photo by Hunter Martin/Getty Images

Travis Swaggerty is a 5’11” 180 lbs, 20 year old, left-handed Center Fielder from the University of South Alabama. Swaggerty has also played in the Corners, but he has plus speed to stay in Center. In the event the other annual First Round Center Fielders that this pick would convert into a solid tradition are established in the Majors already, Swaggerty’s profile could work in a corner. His routes have been noted in scouting reports as being a little rough and sometimes his throws go to the wrong places, but the reports didn’t note them as a significant concern. His arm is in the 50-55 range across several reports. That would be playable, but not ideal in Right.

Running speed is an odd thing in this case. Times to First for Swaggerty are not very good, like 45-50 grades on the 20-80 scale. Typically that would suggest Left Fielder speed, but it’s misleading in this case, Travis has bunted for Singles, which is not something guys with actual 45 speed really do. The speed to First is something Swaggerty can fix. The problem is that by fixing his speed to first he might lessen another tool that is leading to his helium on draft boards this Spring. Swaggerty is an over-strider as a hitter and that leaves him frequently a little off-balance and needing to collect his footing before running to First. That over-stride has allowed him to put up a .277 ISO this year. Just for the sake of reference, a .277 ISO for a full season is Charlie Blackmon levels of Power. The only qualifying CF with a higher ISO (way higher) last year was Mike Trout. So the good thing about the stride is the power, but the bad isn’t only the time to First, the stride also limits reach since you’re a little less flexible on the Y axis when you stretch out like that, so he’ll be susceptible to low and away pitches that College Pitchers just don’t have the control/command to take advantage of the way Pitchers in the Majors and upper Minors do.

So, on to video of that swing. This first video is from Fangraphs. What I really like about the video: Bat speed looks excellent, swing is pretty quiet aside from the stride. the bat path has nice loft and there is one swing a miss. That last item is a recurring theme in video of Swaggerty, he rarely swings and doesn’t make contact. What I struggle with and I assume pro scouts do as well is how much of that is bat control and eye and how much is the very run of the mill pitching he faces in the Sun Belt Conference (of course, unlike me, pro scouts have likely seen him in out of conference games against better Pitching to judge that). My other level of competition concern is that he played in one Summer league season on the Cape and got a grand total of 8 Plate Appearances, which is pretty impossible to even consider in evaluations.

Rumor is that the Phillies have heavily scouted Swaggerty and he’s been seen by cross-checkers, so he is definitely a possibility at 3. Comps I’ve seen for Travis range from John Sickels mentioning Tyler Naquin to some overheated comps to Andrew Benintendi. A few more reasonable comps I saw were Denard Span and our own Odubel Herrera. The positional flexibility is nice and honestly just about any of those comps would be pretty solid outcomes for a #3 pick.