South Alabama center fielder Travis Swaggerty (21) is expected to be a first-round pick in the 2018 MLB draft on Monday. (Mike Kittrell/AL.com)
South Alabama’s Travis Swaggerty likely won’t have to wait long to hear his name called in the 2018 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft.
Swaggerty, the Jaguars’ two-time All-Sun Belt Conference center fielder, is projected as a first-round pick in the draft, which beings Monday (6 p.m. Central, MLB Network). If selected in the first round, he’d be the first USA player taken so early since pitcher Mike Zimmerman went No. 27 overall to the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1990.
The lefty-swinging Swaggerty batted .296/.455/.526 with 10 doubles, 13 home runs, 38 RBIs and nine steals in 57 games for the Jaguars in 2018. The Denham Springs, La., native scored 57 runs and finished among the national leaders with 53 walks, while also displaying fine range and a powerful arm in the outfield.
Swaggerty — who was not drafted out of high school — is one of six prospects expected to attend the draft in person at MLB Network’s New Jersey studios on Monday night. Set to join him are Wichita State third baseman Alec Bohm and a quartet of high school players: first baseman Triston Casas (Pembroke Pines, Fla.), shortstop Xavier Edwards (Wellington, Fla.), catcher Anthony Seigler (Cartersville, Ga.) and pitcher Carter Stewart (Melbourne, Fla.).
Swaggerty burst onto the 2018 MLB draft scene following an excellent showing last summer with the USA Baseball Collegiate National Team, proving to be one of the best players on the roster. Though his junior season at South Alabama did not live up to its preseason All-America promise, he’s still expected to be a first-round pick on Monday.
The Oakland Athletics, who hold pick No. 9, are a popular potential destination for Swaggerty. ESPN’s Keith Law has projected Swaggerty to Oakland in all three of his mock drafts, while MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo did the same in his final mock draft released on Wednesday. (Update: Law’s final mock draft posted on Monday morning has Swaggerty going at No. 14 to the Seattle Mariners).
However, there is some late buzz that Swaggerty might slip to later in the round due to his uneven performance as a college junior. CBS Sports’ Mike Axisa has Swaggerty lasting until the Washington Nationals at pick No. 27 in a mock draft released Sunday, while Baseball America’s Carlos Collazo hinted via Twitter on Saturday at some potential drop in Swaggerty’s stock.
Has Travis Swaggerty dropped out of the top 10 or he’s still guaranteed to be drafted that early?
— Toan (@sportsfantoan) June 2, 2018
Definitely not a guarantee now. It sounds like his fall is pretty real. Could get into the 20s. Check out where he goes in our latest mock: https://t.co/W7TMHQRWiK #MLBDraft https://t.co/5hHy8nlQ9t
— Carlos Collazo (@CarlosACollazo) June 2, 2018
Should Swaggerty go in the Top 10, he’d be guaranteed a signing bonus of more than $4.5 million according to MLB’s draft slotting system. If he lasts until the latter stages of the first round, he’d still be looking at a guarantee of more than $2.2 million.
With only the top 78 picks set for Monday (Rounds 1 and 2, plus compensation and competitive balance picks), Swaggerty is the only South Alabama player expected to be taken on Day 1 of the draft. Outfielder Dylan Hardy, third baseman Brendan Donovan, first baseman Wells Davis, catcher Carter Perkins, pitchers Tyler Carr and Zach Greene, as well as Jaguars signees Zach Young (a junior-college pitcher) and Ethan Wilson (an outfielder from Andalusia High School) could all be selected in the later rounds.
Rounds 3-10 of the draft begin at noon Central on Tuesday, with Rounds 11-40 commencing at 11 a.m. Wednesday. The final two days of the draft will stream live via MLB.com.