PITTSBURGH -- Travis Swaggerty wasn't necessarily nervous on Monday night in MLB Network's Studio 42. He was invited to attend the Draft in person, so he knew he'd get picked at some point -- but he didn't want to know when. Swaggerty told his advisor to handle it and enjoyed
PITTSBURGH -- Travis Swaggerty wasn't necessarily nervous on Monday night in MLB Network's Studio 42. He was invited to attend the Draft in person, so he knew he'd get picked at some point -- but he didn't want to know when. Swaggerty told his advisor to handle it and enjoyed Draft night with his family.
"I just wanted to let the whole night play out and wanted it to be a surprise for me," Swaggerty said.
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So it was a surprise when Commissioner Rob Manfred announced that the Pirates made Swaggerty, an athletic outfielder from South Alabama, the 10th overall pick. Swaggerty, MLB Pipeline's No. 11 Draft prospect, became Pittsburgh's first top-10 MLB Draft pick in five years since Austin Meadows went No. 9 overall.
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The Bucs began Competitive Balance Round A with their second Day 1 selection, taking Florida high school right-hander Gunnar Hoglund with the 36th overall pick. Hoglund, MLB Pipeline's No. 66 Draft prospect, went 7-0 with a 0.27 ERA, 105 strikeouts and two walks (both in his last game of the season) as a senior for Fivay High School. Hoglund is committed to play at Mississippi.
The 6-foot-4, 210-pounder's advanced control and command of his fastball captured the Pirates' attention. Every time their scouts visited Hoglund, they would ask: Have you walked anybody yet?
"It clearly stands out," Pirates senior director of amateur scouting Joe DelliCarri said. "It became something within the group. We just never saw him walk anybody."
With their third and final Day 1 pick, the Pirates selected right-hander Braxton Ashcraft from Robinson High School (Texas) in the second round. The 6-foot-5, 195-pound 18-year-old, MLB Pipeline's No. 64 Draft prospect, throws a sinking fastball that topped out at 94 mph in the postseason, a slider that sits in the upper 70s and athleticism that helped him set what's believed to be a national high school record with 37 touchdown receptions as a junior.
Ashcraft, a Baylor commit, gave up football as a senior to focus on baseball and emerged as one of the most athletic arms available in the Draft. DelliCarri said the Pirates saw Ashcraft's delivery and arm speed improve as the spring went on.
"The progression through the spring, coming out of football … he took off," DelliCarri said. "You see the athleticism keep coming out in the delivery, how he gets to it. You see the arm speed start to play really well."
Swaggerty knew the Pirates had some interest in him, but he wasn't all that familiar with their organization. A vision of PNC Park quickly came to mind, though.
"All I could think about was that beautiful ballpark and being able to run around center field there in the future," Swaggerty said. "I can't wait."
Swaggerty, 20, went undrafted out of high school. On a conference call with reporters, he recalled a game in high school when he hit a double and stood on second base. The opposing shortstop asked him where he was going to play in college, and Swaggerty answered South Alabama. The shortstop responded in shock: Really?
"I promise you, it doesn't matter where you go to school. It matters what you do when you're there," Swaggerty said. "Just having that mindset and putting that chip on my shoulder when I play every day has been huge."
DelliCarri said Swaggerty is "strong in all facets" of the game, and the Pirates were intrigued by that driven, chip-on-his-shoulder attitude.
"There's probably not enough words to describe that baseball is first. How he approaches it, his drive and motivation to be really good at baseball," DelliCarri said. "That is a component of what drew him to us."
Swaggerty entered college as a two-way player but quickly ditched pitching to protect his left arm and focused on hitting. He hit .303 with 20 steals as a freshman. Swaggerty said he put on about 17 pounds between his freshman and sophomore seasons, and that unlocked his power, as his slugging percentage increased from .422 to .571.
He played in 19 games last summer for the USA Baseball Collegiate National Team and ranked second in hits (21) and on-base percentage (.449) and third in steals (six) and batting average (.328). His time with Team USA also helped him handle the expectations that come along with playing in front of scouts.
Swaggerty could project to be a 20-homer, 20-steal threat with his power and athleticism. He should stick in center field, but his strong arm would allow him to move to right field as well
"Travis Swaggerty is one of the best hitters in the draft and we are pleased to add such a multi-dimensional player to our organization," Pirates general manager Neal Huntington said in a statement. "Travis is a gritty, driven, well-rounded athlete who can impact a game with his bat, his speed and his glove."
The Draft continues today with Rounds 3-10. The MLB.com preview show begins at 12:30 p.m. ET, with exclusive coverage beginning at 1 p.m. ET.
The Pirates are one of seven clubs with an eight-figure bonus pool this year, as they have $10,390,400 to spend in the Draft. Their first pick comes with an assigned slot value of $4,560,200, while the 36th pick is valued at $1,967,900 and their second-round selection (51st) at $1,382,400.
Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and read his blog.