Photo Credit- Bucs Dugout
With the fate of the season sealed, the Pittsburgh Pirates have been calling up top prospects to see what they can do at the highest level of the game. The Bucs have taken a conservative approach to this in the past, usually staying on the safe side when promoting talent throughout the organization. As a whole, team ownership and management are believers in hitters getting enough at bats in the farm system, and pitchers getting their innings pitched throughout each league, progressing one stage at a time.
With the Pirates lack of depth in the outfield however, there is one emerging prospect that is forced to play at the highest level now. And in a perfect world, this player may benefit from more time in the minors. Enter—Jack Suwinksi.
The Pirates obtained Suwinski from the San Diego Padres in 2021 as part of the Adam Frazier deal. At the time of the trade, Suwinski had only played ball at the AA level.
In 2022 the Pirates started him at AAA Indianapolis and in 117 at bats he hit .214 with 6 homers but also struck out 49 times. He was recalled by Pittsburgh in late April and showed some much needed power at the plate and played above average defense in the field. He ended the season hitting .202 with 19 home runs in 106 games. But Suwinski struck out more than ⅓ of the time, totaling 114 K’s in 326 at bats.
In 2023, Suwinski made the big league club out of spring training, but registering only 8 hits in 44 at bats. In part, the club had no choice. He was one of the few outfielders—true outfielders that is—that could play at the major league level.
During the Pirates 20-8 start Suwinski put up solid numbers and ended April hitting .279 with 6 home runs. Major League pitchers have made adjustments against Suwinski and, as evidenced by his struggles, he has not been able to adjust to them. He hit his 21st home run on July 24th to become the fastest Pirates player to hit 40 homers, accomplishing this in 595 at bats. But he hasn’t hit a homerun since then and is hitting a paltry .134 (9-67) with 31 strikeouts. His batting average has dropped to .202 since his hot start in April. As of August 21st, Suwinski has struck out 138 times in only 338 at bats and to make matters worse, 55 of those strikeouts he was caught looking.
His struggles manifest both mentally and physically. When he’s doing poorly at the plate, it carries over into poor body language on the field. His two strike approach is non-existent and his play has been worsening as the season progresses. Though he leads the Pirates in homers with 21, he appears to be stalled in his growth as an overall hitter.
Jack Suwinski is only 25 years old and may benefit from some at-bats at AAA, allowing him the time he needs to figure things out. The game plan seems different with Suwinski than with all the other prospects. Why? Is an occasional homer worth watching a young player crash and burn? One thing is certain, Jack is lost and he needs time in AAA to find his swing.