TCN 2013 Cards Prospect #11: Jordan Swagerty

A lost year due to Tommy John surgery leads to different points of view about the proper ranking of the right-handed pitcher.

The Cardinal Nation/ Player Profile
(including links to full 2012 and career stats)

2012 rank Pos. DOB Ht. Wt. Bat Thw Signed Round
10 RHS 7/14/1989 6-1 172 B R 2010 2nd

School: Arizona State University

Selected 2012 stats
Did not pitch due to injury.

Staff comments (individual rankings in parentheses)

CariocaCardinal (20): The legend of Jordan Swagerty continues. This legend has resulted in Swagerty, despite undergoing major surgery and not throwing a pitch in 2012, to only fall one place in the overall rankings. This was the case even though there is a general consensus that the Cardinals overall system vastly improved in the last year.

This legend seems to assume that it is a 100% guaranteed that he will return to at least his pre-surgery form. While most players these days do return from elbow surgery such as Swagerty's, it would seemingly merit a hedging of his ranking (if not for his legendary status).

The Swagerty legend also seems to assume a near 100% chance that he will remain a starting pitcher as he progresses to the major leagues. This was not a certainty before his surgery and would seem even less certain after his surgery.

Don't get me wrong; I like Swagerty as a prospect. I rated him #11 overall last off-season. I just don't see how with the increased risk due to injury he can continue to be rated nearly that high - unless you buy in to the legend.

It is hard to say where Swagerty will start the 2013 season. Much depends on how healthy he is. Will he be ready to start the season, ala the way Adam Wainwright was a year after his surgery? Or will he need a longer recovery time and open 2012 on the disabled list or in extended spring training? When he does return, it would seem logical that he would start back in Double-A Springfield, but whether he returns as a starter or reliever most likely depends on a combination of the perceived strength of his elbow and the needs of the organization - and possibly the legend of Jordan Swagerty.

Message board community (12): Swagerty was the community's 12th prospect this year, a slide from 11th last year. That stability is remarkable given that he missed the entire season after undergoing Tommy John surgery. The Cards added five first-round or supplemental picks and saw the development of several other players in the meantime.

Swagerty will be a year past surgery when the minor league season begins, so he could quite likely be pitching from the start. But his command is likely to be a bit rusty as he gets used to his new biology, so give him time to adjust.

Swagerty was dominant in 2011, fanning 8.6 per 9 innings, spread across three leagues and topping out at Springfield. He only allowed four home runs in 93 2/3 innings pitched, and walked just 23. He has the stuff to be a starter, though there's always been speculation that he could end up in the pen.

The righty won't turn 24 till Bastille Day and there are enough power arms ahead of him that there will be no need to rush him back from surgery. - Gagliano

Brian Walton (10): I have to assume that some others are in the "out of sight, out of mind" mindset when they leave Swagerty out of their Cardinals system top 20's. I still see the right-hander as a top 10 player and think he will remind people why in 2013.

I did drop Swagerty on my prospect list from year-to-year, but it was just one place compared to his ninth spot 12 months ago. He was my sixth-ranked pitcher last year and he is sixth again this year, but as always, players come on and off. Eduardo Sanchez and Lance Lynn from last year were supplanted by Trevor Rosenthal and Michael Wacha this year among the five Cardinals prospect hurlers I placed ahead of Swagerty.

Any discussion of relative placement should also take into account those who might be viewed as having a better chance at a more fruitful major league career. I placed these pitchers after Swagerty on my 2013 list: Sam Freeman, Seth Blair, Kevin Siegrist, Eric Fornataro and Seth Maness. Others may project one or more of them to have a brighter future ahead than Swagerty, but at this point, I don't.

Tommy John surgery is very commonplace these days and recovery is almost assured. Though some actually throw harder post-surgery, I am not assuming that. However, I have no problem expecting Swagerty to pick up his career in 2013 where he left off in 2011. Though given his experience relieving, I could see the Cards putting him in the pen temporarily to open the season and build up his arm.

I continue to be an admirer of Swagerty's aggressive mound approach and his offerings (low-to-mid 90's fastball, curve and change). Further, I still remember that at Palm Beach in 2011, he outpitched both Shelby Miller and Carlos Martinez (two of the other three pitchers I ranked ahead of him - along with Tyrell Jenkins). That is pretty lofty company to keep.

Our 2013 top 40 countdown continues: To see the list of top Cardinals prospects announced to date and remaining article schedule, click here. You can also read each of the voters' philosophies in making their selections.

There's more! Monthly and quarterly subscribers who upgrade to our annual pass will receive in the spring the 2013 FOX Sports NEXT Prospects Guide, a $4.95 value, for FREE. The perfect hardcopy companion to "40 Days" includes the top prospects from all 30 MLB organizations and much more. We author the Cardinals section of the guide as always.

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