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2018 MLB Draft Profile: Travis Swaggerty

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If Bohm and Madrigal are gone by the Sox pick, expect the toolsy Travis Swaggerty to be considered

KW’s Guy? Travis Swaggerty is the top outfielder in the 2018 draft class.
Mike Kittrell/AL.com

Who is Travis Swaggerty?

The five-foot-eleven, 180-pound centerfielder can do it all on the diamond and in the batter’s box. The lefty arrived at South Alabama undrafted out of high school, but quickly made a name for himself. In his freshman season, he slashed .303/.431/.422 with 20 stolen bases, four homers, and 49 strikeouts. Swaggerty vastly improved in his sophomore season, slashing .356/.484/.571 with 19 stolen bases, 11 home runs, and more walks (49) than Ks (45). His sophomore season earned him a spot on Team USA. However, so far this season, it seems Swaggerty is making an effort to prove his power is real. He is slashing .295/.450/.540 with nine stolen bases, 13 bombs, and again, more walks (49) than strikeouts (36). Swaggerty’s fielding percentage has been around .980 every season, and is at .987 in 2018.

How Does Swaggerty Rank?

Jonathan Mayo Mock: Nine to the Athletics

Jim Callis Mock: Nine to the Athletics

Fangraphs: Six to the Mets

What is Swaggerty’s Game?

Coming into the season, Swaggerty was more of a hitter for average, with average pop. Scouts also believe the lefty has the speed, arm, and fielding to stay in center field. This season, he is proving to scouts that he has good raw power, which is why his low batting average is not worrisome. MLB Pipeline ratings are as follows; Hitting 55, power 50 (and rising), speed 60, arm 55, and fielding 55. I am sorry for White Sox fans remembering Jared Mitchell and Keenyn Walker, but Swaggerty is this high in the draft because he is ... toolsy. He can do everything, and do it well. MLB Pipeline has noticed some downside, but it is nothing new for a young hitter: He has trouble with breaking balls. His eye is very good, with an OBP in the mid-.400s every year, so he could potentially lead off.

What does Travis Swaggerty look like?

Why would the Sox draft him?

If Kenny Williams still has pull in this new regime, we can deduct that his top guy is probably Swaggerty. However, center field is not a position that is solidified for him, and as a potential leadoff hitter, Swaggerty is a heavily sought-after draftee. MLB Pipeline compared him to Brett Gardner, but with more power. Now, Gardner is no Hall-of-Famer but he has been a very successful leadoff hitter on championship-caliber teams.

Why wouldn’t the Sox draft him?

If a player like Nick Madrigal is still available, the Sox should go with him over Swaggerty. But there are also some concerns in Swaggerty’s game. His batting average has fallen more than 50 points this year, for the sake of power. That drop in batting average is concerning because of the lack of competition in the Sun Belt conference compared to the SEC.