With so many teams and so many players flooding Major League Baseball recently, a player has to be prepared to be plucked from a team one day and dropped somewhere else the next day. Luckily for these players, baseball is the same everywhere you go. It is just a matter of adjusting to a new town, new teammates, new coaching staff, and a new uniform.
The Texas Rangers in the 8th round of the 2014 Major League Baseball draft drafted Erik Swanson, a 22-year old right-hander out of Iowa Western Community College. The 6’3’’, 220-pound Ohio native made 15 appearances in his debut season and then ten more last year over four different minor league levels, all in relief.
He began transitioning to the starting role this year, however. He was putting together a nice season in Hickory as a starter this year for the Crawdads too, posting a 3.43 ERA and 78-to-25 strikeout-walk- ratio over 81.1 innings, when all of the sudden he was sent packing to the Yankees in the Carlos Beltran trade.
The trade from the Rangers to the Yankees was somewhat of a shock to Swanson. He had to adjust and do it quickly---and it started in the Lowcountry in Charleston, South Carolina.
“I was getting ready to throw a bullpen and they shut me down so I kind of had an idea something was going on," Swanson recounted the trade. '[Dillon] Tate came out of the clubhouse and said he had gotten traded to the Yankees and after that they called us into the front office and let us both know we had been traded.
"Everything happened so fast after that. I was excited but also kind of bummed that I had to say goodbye to all the teammates I had played with over the last three years. Once everything settled down, the excitement started pouring on me.”
Unsettled in his role at the time, Swanson, who has potential as a starting pitcher but the fastball of a reliever, had been up to 99 mph at one point this year and was mostly sitting 94-97 mph with some movement between. The coaches seem to think that his changeup has the most potential and if that, along with the slider, comes along more then he could provide some role flexibility for the organization.
“This year, my biggest challenge with my pitches is the changeup I would have to say," Swanson admitted. "I need to be throwing it more consistently and making the pitch a strike every time, which has been a lot better as of lately. My fastball is my best pitch lately velocity-wise and I’m able to command it well."
Yankees pitching coordinator Danny Borrell has begun working with Swanson and was excited to get the chance to work with him some more after the trade.
“He was really good his first night," Borrell said. "His fastball was really good---had a lot of life to it. It seems like he repeats his delivery very well and another kid with a good quality arm. He pitched four plus innings in his first outing here. At times his command came a little loose, but that was to be expected. He’s out here with a new team so he just has to adjust.”
According to Swanson, his arm felt great in his first outing.
“It had been almost 7 days since I had last thrown a pitch, so it was a little longer than what I was used to. Obviously the atmosphere is incredible here for being a Low-A team. I was just trying to soak it all in. It was awesome.”
Going from relieving to starting is as hard of an adjustment as any in baseball, but Borrell and Swanson were both pleased with the way it has turned out so far. With over 81 innings under his belt at the time of the trade, some 65 innings more than he had thrown last year, the Yankees took it easy with him upon his arrival. He made just five more appearances [two of them starts] in a clear innings-limit capacity.
“I think he just needs to get comfortable with this new team and adjust to what we’re trying to do with him. He just needs to get his innings [next year] and get his touches. In order to get those touches and get those reps he needs to be in a starting role. So long term, we’ll have to wait and see if he will adjust well enough to be a starter full-time. We will just maintain and monitor him from here on out and work with him continuously.”
Riverdogs manager Luis Dorante would like to see him improve mostly with is command overall. He wants to see him continue to throw strikes and he believes he can climb the ladder quickly.
Swanson is thankful for a chance to play in this organization and is excited to see where the rest of his career takes him.
“I realize I have a great opportunity here in Charleston right now and with the New York Yankees in the future hopefully. This is a great organization and I’m lucky to be a part of it. I just need to continue to do what I’m doing and see where it takes me.”