Suwinski heating up, aiming to finish season on high note

September 11th, 2022

PITTSBURGH -- Oneil Cruz isn’t the only rookie who’s heating up.

Jack Suwinski hit his second home run in as many days in the Pirates’ 4-3 loss to the Cardinals on Sunday at PNC Park, tying Atlanta’s Michael Harris II for the most home runs by a National League rookie this season in the process before Harris hit his 17th and 18th later in the night.

“Just working hard and sticking to the things that have been helping me prepare and feel good going into the game,” Suwinski said.

As evidenced by his past two games, Suwinski is starting to rediscover his footing offensively. In his past nine games, Suwinski is hitting .303/.343/.485.

Suwinski isn’t just getting the results, but making more hard contact in the process. In his first nine games back from Triple-A Indianapolis, Suwinski had three batted balls that generated exit velocities over 100 mph. In his last two games alone, Suwinski has had five batted balls that generated exit velocities over 100 mph -- four of which turned into hits.

“It all comes from the beginning of that preparation; that’s where more consistent hard contact will come from,” Suwinski said. “Hard contact is the goal. You can’t control what happens after the ball leaves the bat. Just getting into more consistent positions to get better, more hard contact.”

This last handful of games has been reminiscent of Suwinski’s performance in May and June. During those two months, Suwinski hit .224/.312/.503 with 13 home runs and a 124 wRC+, evolving from a last-minute roster addition to an everyday starter. A rough July resulted in the Pirates sending Suwinski down to Triple-A for several weeks, but now that he’s back in the mix, he’ll likely receive the lion’s share of starts at the corner spots the rest of the way.

"I think anytime you're working really hard at something and you're working hard to get better at something and you get positive feedback, it's affirming to that work,” general manager Ben Cherington said of the team’s rookies. “It's always a good thing, especially when it's happening against good teams, pitching we're going to see in October. I think it's a good thing. It just continues. We have to continue to work, continue to make adjustments, like I said before. Albert Pujols is still making adjustments out here. It just never stops. It's good to see those young guys get some positive feedback from them.”

Over these next couple weeks, Suwinski will have an extended runway to solidify himself as part of this team’s core moving forward. A lot can happen between now and next season, but as things stand, Suwinski has a very strong chance to be this team’s Opening Day left or right fielder in 2023.

“Not trying to look too far ahead and still just taking it one day at a time,” Suwinski said. “Just going through every day and focusing on our work and everything that we’re facing that day. I just want to finish the season mentally strong and spiritually strong. Those are my two big goals right now.”