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 another top right-handed starting pitching 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.
During the 2005 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.
The 2006 season was an up and down year for Swarzak, but in the end, he was one of the better starting pitchers in the Florida State League. Overall, Swarzak won 11 games for the Miracle, posting a 3.27 earned run average in 27 starts. He threw two complete games, one shutout, and struck out 131 batters in 145.2 innings of work.
Over his last ten starts, Swarzak was undoubtedly one of the best starters in the FSL, posting a 7-2 record. In 59.2 innings, Swarzak had a 1.66 earned run average, and struck out 48 batters.
The 2007 season was a rough one for Swarzak, as he was suspended for 50 games for violating the Minor League Drug Prevention and Treatment Program. However, like the great prospect he is, Swarzak came back strong, and finished the season with more positives than negatives. After dominating the FSL upon his return, Swarzak posted a 3.23 earned run average in 15 games for the New Britain Rock Cats, and held the opposition to a .241 batting average.
He returned to New Britain in 2008, but struggled mightily for the Rock Cats. After posting an earned run average over 5.00 in 20 starts, Swarzak was actually promoted to Rochester, where he regained his dominant form. In seven games for the Red Wings, Swarzak went 5-0, and had an earned run average of 1.80. He looked like a completely different pitcher, and has himself in position to crack a Major League roster in 2009.
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 you mix in his other pitches, it is clear to see why the Twins are so high on him.
Other Pitches: Swarzak has a decent chanegup, and he mixes it with one of the better curveballs 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 a top pitcher, and he is the kind of guy who loves to take the ball every fifth day. He has a nice move to first, and he really knows what pitch to throw in any situation. He sometimes struggles with his confidence, but when he is feeling good, he is very hard to hit. He also prepares well, and loves to go deep into ballgames.
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.
ETA. 2009. Swarzak has some of the best stuff in the organization, and Twins' Manager Ron Gardenhire loves what he brings to the table. He will start the 2009 season back in Rochester, where he was dominant in 2008, and could be with the Twins by the middle of the season. His mix of pitches would make him a great bullpen guy, but the Twins will keep him in a starting role.