Jordan Swagerty isn’t the biggest guy on the mound. He stands 6’1″ tall on the mound and that small stature for pitchers was a drawback for some scouts as teams prepared for the draft in June.
The Cardinals weren’t among the doubters as they made him the 75th player drafted.
The surprising pick could pay off for St. Louis. Swagerty proved to be a solid closer at baseball powerhouse Arizona State and that build that scared many teams away could actually be reason for excitement.
At 6’1″ and 175 pounds, Swagerty’s modest build is comparable to some of the best relievers in the game. While it’s unlikely he’ll measure up to Mariano Rivera (6’2″ 185), Trevor Hoffman (6’0″ 220), or even this year’s favorite Brian Wilson (6’1″ 195), this small sample of outstanding closers proves that size doesn’t matter.
Give Swagerty a chance before you decide he’s too small to make an impact in the major leagues because size is the last component considered when judging a future closer or set-up man.
First, you look at stuff. Does he have the pitches and the physical tools to survive in the bigs? Looking at his production in college, the answer is yes. Swagerty led the Pac-10 Conference with 14 saves to go with an impressive 2.05 ERA. His season earned him First-Team All-Pac-10 honors, a nice achievement in a tough baseball conference. The pitches that produced those results say the answer is once again, yes. He has three very good pitches and can throw all of them for strikes, according to scouting reports from MLB.com, Baseball America, and ESPN. The reports say his fastball routinely hits in the 92-94 mph range, but can reach 96 when the adrenaline’s pumping. His curveball is his best pitch and has been described as a “true 12-6 hammer.” What’s not to like about that? The hammer comes in anywhere from 78-85 mph giving him the velocity contrast needed to be successful in the bigs.
Next, you look at his stuff — his mental make-up. Does he have the killer’s instinct necessary to be a late-inning hurler in the major leagues? All indications point to the yes. Swagerty is described as having an aggressive and competitive style on the mound. He gets pumped when his name is called in the ‘pen. He also has great baseball aptitude. Swagerty played some catcher in college, which should give him a unique and deeper perspective on pitching. He should have a good understanding of situations and in choosing pitches that many young pitchers don’t have. Buster Posey pitched and played all over the diamond in college and now as a catcher, he has a firm grasp on the game. Diverse experiences are of great value in baseball, which is the toughest sport to master mentally. Swagerty’s time behind the plate should only make him better and more prepared for pro ball.
It seems that Swagerty will certainly call the bullpen in Busch Stadium home one day. And many believe that day will come soon. He looks like a fast riser in the system.
His journey begins in the Arizona Fall League Tuesday with the Surprise Rafters. Swagerty will be documenting his experience on the MLBlogs Network.
Judging by the blog name — Walking with a Swagerty — he’s got the attitude everyone’s described. But in reading his first post, he’s just an excited kid ready to play professional baseball. While he may have confidence on the field, he seems like a good kid and it should be fun to get to know him on the blog and on the field in the future.
With the combination of talent and mental toughness — and maybe a little ninja as Brian Wilson would say — Swagerty has the potential to make a big impact on the mound.
From ESPN: “He’s aggressive, competitive, and a little hyper on the mound, and could move quickly through the minors as a one-inning guy who’s already accustomed to that role.”
Yeah, he definitely has a little ninja ready to come out in St. Louis. Maybe a little experience with Red Bull too. But you’d have to ask him that as he moves up the system.