Position: Starting Pitcher
DOB: September 10, 1985
Swarzak has always been the ace of the pitching staff. When he was in high school, he was one of the best pitchers in the state of Florida, as he led his public high school to the first state title by any public high school in Broward County in 57 years. Armed with a nasty arsenal, the Twins selected Swarzak in the second round of the 2004 draft, and as the 61st pick, the young right-hander signed right out of high school for 575,000 dollars.
He got his first taste of professional baseball in 2004, when he was a member of a loaded Gulf Coast League Twins pitching staff. Like our number seven prospect Jay Rainville, Swarzak was dominant during his inaugural season of pro ball, finishing with a 2.63 earned run average in 11 appearances (nine starts). He also struck out 42 batters in 48 innings, picked up his only professional save, and displayed an arsenal that showed the Twins that he was ready for full-season baseball.
For his efforts, he was ranked the 15th best prospect in the Gulf Coast League, and it was clear that the Twins had found a gem in the second round.
Last season, Swarzak began the year with Beloit of the Midwest League, and he showed some of the best stuff in the entire league. He made 18 starts for the Snappers, won nine games, and struck out an amazing 101 batters in 91 innings of work. He showed great control, walking only 32 batters, and held the opposition to a .238 earned run average. Those numbers were good enough to make him the eighth ranked player in the entire league, and he was given a promotion to High-A Fort Myers towards the end of the season.
For the Miracle, Swarzak made ten starts, and did not pitch badly. Although he ended with a 3-4 record, he did finish with an ERA under 4.00, and again showed great control by walking only 11 batters in 59 innings of work. He ended the year by winning three of his last four starts, and struck out 11 in his season finale against Sarasota on September 3.
This season, Swarzak is again back with the Fort Myers Miracle, but this time in the role of ace. He has pitched extremely well so far, posting a 2.92 earned run average, but seems to be lacking some command, as he has walked ten batters in 12.1 innings of work. Still, the Miracle are relying on him to carry the talent-heavy pitching staff, and he is doing just that.
Repertoire.Fastball, Curveball, Changeup
Fastball. Swarzak has a lightning bolt for a fastball, and with his command, he can be almost unhittable on some nights. His heater usually sits in the low-90s, but he has shown the ability to get it up to 95-96 on some occasions. When a player throws that hard, at such a young age, it is almost scary to think about what kind of pitcher he is going to develop into. When you mix in his other pitches, it is clear to see why the Twins are so high on him.
Other Pitches:Like Rainville, Swarzak has a nasty curveball as well, and he mixes it with one of the better changeups in the farm system. His curveball is a power-curve, which buries down on hitters, and almost seems like it drops off a table. His changeup is so much slower than his fastball, that Swarzak could honestly just throw the heater and the change and have hitters off balance all night long. His three-pitch arsenal is just fun to watch, and when he is on, he is one of those rare Minor League pitchers that could throw a no-hitter on any night.
Pitching.Swarzak is the kind of kid who expects a lot from himself, so some believe he was getting bored at the Low-A level last season, and that caused a bit of a slump last year. However, he is a great pitcher, and one who knows his weaknesses, and ties to make them part of his strengths. He is going to go out there every fifth day and give you everything he has, and that is what makes him a front of the rotation starter. While he has yet to show it this season, he has the stamina to go late into games, and should pick up a complete game this season.
Projection.Swarzak is going to be a Major League starting pitcher, it is just a matter of when. There is not even the slightest but of worry as to whether he will move to the bullpen, as he is a born and raised starter. If he continues to develop, he could be a number one in the big leagues, but only time can tell that. Right now, the safe play is a number two or three, just until he begins to trust his changeup more, and starts to fill out his body
ETA. 2008.Swarzak appears to be on the fast-track to the Major Leagues, and while he is in High-A right now, he could make his way up to Double-A New Britain by the time the season is out. In 2007, he should be the ace of the New Britain staff to start the season, but will be in Triple-A before it is out. He will most likely make his first Major League start in 2008, at age 22, and will probably be coddled the way they are doing with Francisco Liriano right now. If he stays healthy, it may be a fast ride for Swarzak, so Twins fans should get to know his name right now.