Friday was the deadline to add any eligible player to each respective team’s 40-man roster or expose them to be selected in the Rule 5 draft.
For the Pittsburgh Pirates, there was a lot of tough decision to be had as General Manager Ben Cherington had made it a focus to inject as much young talent into the team’s farm system over his young tenure.
Going into the decision process, it became evident that there was going to be some players left off the roster that could instantly become targets for other teams. It wouldn’t be a lock for the Pirates to lose any player permanently, as anyone selected would have to remain on the major league roster for the entire season or be sent back.
Pitchers are usually the most susceptible to be taken in the Rule 5, but position players do get taken and do find success sometimes, Akil Baddoo a prime example of that.
The Pirates made a shocking decision in who to protect, not only opting to not adding any of their eligible pitchers but also putting Jack Suwinski on the 40-man roster.
Suwinski, 23, was acquired by the Pirates in the Adam Frazier trade with the San Diego Padres. He was drafted in the 2016 draft out of Taft High School in the Chicago area and was given an over slot deal to sign with the Padres, as they saw the power potential the young lefty possessed.
It was a slower start to his career, but the power slowly started to creep in, and things really exploded for him the first part of the 2021 season after the minor league season was cancelled in 2020.
The outfield had posted a .361 slugging percentage and .131 ISO from 2016-2019, while also posting a 24.7 K% to go along with a 10.2 BB%. After the cancelled season Suwinski entered 2021 with a new approach that saw him increase his walk rate (15.5 BB%) and hit for more power (.482 SLG%).
That also made him an interesting add-in to the Frazier deal that also landed the Pirates Tucupita Marcano and Michell Miliano, as the approach and power seemed to be coming at the perfect time in his development.
Suwinski struggled once getting into the Pirates system, getting 182 plate appearances with the double-A Altoona Curve after the trade that came on July 26th.
During that time, he put up a slash of .252/.359/.391 with four home runs, and 21 RBIs. The slugging percentage saw an almost 200-point drop from his time in the Padres’ system to coming over to Pittsburgh.
The strikeouts will also be something to monitor, with his K-rate making an almost 4% jump in 2021 from his career mark.
With Cherington adding him to the 40-man roster, the Pirates are betting that Suwinski is close to being able to make an impact on the major league roster or are banking on the new approach at the plate caught more eyes around the league.
It was certainly a little bit of a shocker when first seeing it, but Suwinski took the right step at the right time to be able to get this opportunity.