Photo Credit: Swagerty’s personal blog
Considering I just got shoulder surgery from a high school pitching injury, I decided it was the perfect time to write a post on St. Louis Cardinals’ prospect, Jordan Swagerty, who is currently at the tail end of the rehab process required after Tommy John surgery.
2010 MLB Draft
The Cardinals selected Swagerty in the second round of the 2010 draft out of Arizona State University. His unique skill set along with his impressive sophomore season at Arizona State convinced the Cardinals to take him with the pick.. He had a 2-0 record while compiling a school record 14 saves. Something unique about him is that he had 12 starts at catcher, with two being the 8 innings before he closed the game out as pitcher. Thus, he, like a lot of St. Louis prospects, is an incredible athlete.
2011 Minor League Statistics
Quad Cities (A): 5 games (all starts), 3-1 record, 1.50 earned-run average, 30 strikeouts to just 2 walks, .178 batting average against.
Palm Beach (A-Advanced): 22 games (7 starts), 2-2 record, 1.82 earned-run average, 5 saves, 52 strikeouts to 16 walks, .214 batting average against.
Springfield (AA): 9 games (0 starts), 0-0 record, 2.89 earned-run average,?3 saves, 7 strikeouts to 5 walks, .222 batting average against.
2011’s performance made him an MiLB.com Organization All Star.
According to one scout’s book on him, he definitely has “shut-down” stuff that suits well for late-inning appearances, but his impressive command on all his pitches at the very least intrigues the Cardinals into possibly using him in the starting role as well.
1. Fastball: If the Cardinals choose to use him as a starter or long reliever, this will probably run at around 92 MPH. However, as a one-inning set-up man or closer, he can dial it up to 94-96 MPH. He employs both a four-seam fastball (harder, less movement) and a two-seam fastball (slower, more movement) that he uses based on the situation.
2. Slider/Curveball: He calls it a spike slider/curveball based on his unique grip used for it. It comes to the plate anywhere from 78-86 MPH–allowing for the necessary contrast from his fastball speed. This is his best and favorite pitch. For a lack of a better word, it has an absolutely dirty break on it. It can make hitters look foolish at the plate because it comes out of his hand looking like his fastball. This has been developed into his go-to pitch–see interview questions below for his personal take on it.
3. Change-up: He throws a circle change-up (named after the grip style in which the thumb and pointer finger form a circle on the side of the ball). It comes out of his hand at his fastball’s release point and arm speed–both attributing to the deception it provides hitters. It can be clocked at anywhere from 83 MPH to 87 MPH depending upon the situation and grip tightness.
The intangibles he possesses will help him succeed at the big league level. Almost every question I asked him, he stressed how much he loves competition–something that is absolutely necessary to be a late-inning reliever. As a catcher in college as well, he should be able to take some of that knowledge and apply it to his pitching–à la Yadier Molina and what he has done with his hitting the past few seasons.
In 2012, after a solid 2011 season (highlighted above), Swagerty and the Cardinals set high expectations of continued success and Triple-A Memphis in sight.
However, in May, Swagerty was diagnosed with bone spurs in his elbow. With the risk of injuring his ulnar collateral ligament sometime in the future, it was decided that proactively performing Tommy John surgery was his best option. And for those wondering, he did discuss the situation with Adam Wainwright since he had just come back from the surgery himself.
Now for the fun part…
Me: Being a Texas boy, what player(s) did you look up to when you started playing baseball?
Swagerty: The biggest one was Nolan Ryan. (He) went after hitters and never backed down. Good role model for me.
Me: Since the injury, has there been any one thing that has motivated you most on the road to recovery?
Swagerty: I get motivation from my competitive nature. I hate missing games, and I want to be back.
Me: I saw your latest tweet about the ‘Birds. What was your first thoughts on being drafted by the team?
Swagerty: My first thoughts were: “What a great tradition I’m joining,” and “what great fans the Cardinals have.”
(A great answer for my viewers. Give him some love and support, Cardinal Nation!)
Me: I also saw some pictures of you throwing. What has the rebuilding process been like? Both the strengthening component and regaining your range of motion.
Swagerty: For me, it wasn’t too bad. Just followed the protocol, and it all came pretty easily. It’s just a grind you have to stick with daily.
Me: In a pressure situation where you really need an out, what is your go-to pitch?
Swagerty: I like my slider. Really worked on it to the point that I feel comfortable enough to throw it in any situation.
Me: What is a day in the life for you on a game day? This is the type of question my readers really enjoy.
Swagerty: I show up to the park and get a good meal then joke around with the guys a bit. Once it gets to an hour and a half before, I get serious–turn on the music and focus. I get in a good stretch then get on the field 30 minutes before the game starts to warm up.
Me: How about your routine on days you know you are not pitching?
Swagerty: On days I don’t pitch, I hang around the locker room, get a good lift in. I also try to rob home run balls in batting practice. Just try to have fun.
Me: Two more, what are your hobbies that you enjoy doing during the off-season?
Swagerty: I hunt and fish all the time. I go shooting a lot. I play golf too. (Of course he does, it seems like all MLB pitchers do).
Me: Last one, any time-table on returning to action? I know it’s a tricky question but was just wondering if you knew of anything.
Swagerty: It’s soon, ha. Shouldn’t be too long, but I don’t even know for sure.
Me: Again, thank you very much. Good luck the rest of the way, I wish you all the best.
Swagerty: No problem, have a good one.
I just may have a new favorite minor leaguer. Swagerty was the man for being so generous and helpful throughout the interview. I cannot thank him enough.
If you aren’t following him on Twitter already, make sure to check him out @JordanSwagerty. He also has his own blog here
Be on the lookout for his return to live action in the near future, and when necessary, I will provide you with updates.
Until next time…
- Looking to the Future: Tyrell Jenkins (stlcupofjoe.com)