Name: Erik Swanson
DOB: September 4, 1993
Repertoire. Fastball, Slider, Curveball, Changeup.
Fastball. Big bodied and strong, Swanson is big man with an even bigger arm. He sits mostly in the 94-96 mph range as a starting pitcher, topping out routinely at 98 mph, and he's able to hold his plus velocity for a solid five to seven innings at a time too. It just isn't a quick fastball either, it's extremely heavy too and it's tough to barrel up let alone lift with any sort of regularity. He shows solid command for such a power arm but is more of a natural strike-thrower more so than someone who can paint corners. There's a good bit of looseness in his arm and delivery too, so while there isn't much physical projection left in his body there does appear to be the potential to possibly add a tick or two to the velocity given his natural athleticism, solid delivery, and loose arm, especially in shorter inning stints.
Other Pitches. Swanson has more than a power fastball up his sleeve, he actually has the makings of three solid secondary pitches as well. He throws both a power slider in the high-80s to low-90s as well as a mid-80s curveball but the Yankees have had him concentrating more on the curveball since coming over from the Rangers. It's too early to tell if he will continue throwing both pitches going forward [the Yankees like their minor league pitchers to master one breaking pitch first] but both shows at least average or better long-term potential at their current track. Neither pitch has the big sweeping or diving action just yet but the Yankees are encouraged by the feel he has shown so early in his breaking ball's development. The same can be said for his changeup too. Not exactly a consistent weapon for him yet, Swanson shows a good feel for the pitch, an ability to throw it for strikes, and it has okay movement too. Like his breaking pitches his changeup has solid big league average or better potential but just isn't quite there yet.
Pitching. Swanson is more noted for his power than anything and it is obvious why; he throws a ton of hard fastballs and tries to overpower batters. Not exactly a command pitcher, he is more than a true grip-it-and-rip-it guy too though as he has just enough in his secondary arsenal and innate strike-throwing ability that opposing batters can't sit dead red either. He has a very good feel for his pitch package and shows a bit more pitch-ability for such a heavy fastball hurler. Thicker than most pitchers too, he is actually very athletic and it lends itself to very repeatable mechanics, solid command, and a leg up fielding his position and holding runners too. He displayed some serious power in his Yankee debut with the RiverDogs last year too, averaging 96 mph. He didn't average nearly that high once he settled in but it does show he has the ability to dial it up a notch when the adrenaline is flowing.
Projection. Swanson has the requisite foundation in place to have three big league average or better pitches to project long-term as big league starting pitcher. While the high-end velocity [which can approach triple digits now and potentially even more so down the road] might suggest a potential front-half of the rotation type ceiling, the more reliable than knockout secondary pitches bring that more likely ceiling down to a middle to back-end starting pitcher, and there is still some work to do be done with all three to tap even that kind of potential too. None of the three secondary pitches are a consistent out-pitch for him just yet and he'll need to take one of them to the next level stuff-wise to keep advanced hitters off of his harder fastball. Should he do that, however, not only does it beef up his chances of fulfilling his starting potential but it also would increase the likelihood of becoming a back-end of the bullpen guy too if need be, especially since conventional wisdom suggests he has the kind of fastball that could flourish even more in shorter relief stints. His is a developmental story still in the works and like current Yankee farmhands Cale Coshow and Cody Carroll he gives the Yankees a lot of long-term role flexibility.
ETA. 2019. Swanson seems ready to get a steady diet of starting innings for the foreseeable future to assure he gets all the time he needs to continue developing his secondary pitches, at least for now. He should open up in high-A Tampa this coming season as a starting stalwart in the Florida State League with a decent chance of getting some late-season, Double-A innings later in the year if all goes well.