Travis Swaggerty wasn’t a highly-ranked recruit coming out of Denham Springs (La.) High School as a senior in 2015. The few universities from Louisiana who had interest in Swaggerty envisioned him as a pitcher in college.
Despite pitching on occasion as a left-handed closer with a mid-90s fastball in high school, Swaggerty wasn’t attracted to the idea of being a full-time hurler.
Swaggerty was an undersized hitter with little potential power, but wanted to remain a position player in college. South Alabama gave him that chance, and he gladly accepted the opportunity.
In Swaggerty’s first two years at South Alabama, the left-handed hitting outfielder has developed into one of college baseball’s top players. He was the starting center fielder for USA Baseball’s Collegiate National Team this past summer, becoming the first South Alabama player to play for the Collegiate National Team.
“I’ve always played with a chip on my shoulder, so I think that’s carried me over what kind of limits I thought I had at that time,” Swaggerty said. “I think that’s what’s carried me to my success and what has drove my work ethic.”
Baseball America ranks Swaggerty as the 10th-best college prospect for June’s MLB First-Year Player Draft. While a successful junior season would cement his status as a first-round pick, Swaggerty isn’t paying attention to the draft chatter.
“It’s easier said than done, but I think for me right now, the draft is the least of my worries,” he said. “The main thing for me is to block out all the scouts, phone calls and whatever it might be. Anything about the draft, mocks drafts or write ups I try to block out so it’s not in my head.
“I just try to go about my business and work for the team. I want to focus on winning that way everything else will take care of itself.”
Swaggerty batted .356 with 11 home runs, 60 RBIs and 19 steals in 2017, before being one of the top hitters with the CNT last summer.
He’s known for his combination of speed and power and ability to cover a lot of ground in centerfield. Scouts project him as a top-of-the-order bat in the professional ranks.
“I barrel up a lot of baseballs,” he said. “I think I can hit really well at this level. I’ve proven that, and I’ve proven that I can do that time and time again no matter what. That’s what helps the team the most and what I bring to the table.”
With his junior season quickly approaching, Swaggerty’s goal is to get on base at a higher percentage and utilize his speed even more on the bases.
“I would like to strikeout less,” he said. “Being the type of hitter I am, I shouldn’t be striking out that much. I think that goes along with the mature approach. I want the strikeout numbers to be down. I want the stolen base numbers up as well.”
Swaggerty has gone from being an unknown recruit to a potential top-10 pick in the MLB Draft. He knowns what’s ahead, but is trying to help the Jaguars improve on last season’s 40-21 record and NCAA Regional appearance.
Swaggerty is confident in his ability to help the team accomplish that task, especially after his successful first two college seasons and with the Collegiate National Team.
“Being able to do that and knowing there’s a target on my back every weekend we play is nice,” Swaggerty said. “It motives me to push over the edge and push us over the top and do everything I can for the team.”
Find more 2018 MLB Draft profiles here.