- Full name Anthony Ray Swarzak
- Born 09/10/1985 in Fort Lauderdale, FL
- Profile Ht.: 6'4" / Wt.: 215 / Bats: R / Throws: R
- School Nova
- Debut 05/23/2009
Drafted in the 2nd round (61st overall) by the Minnesota Twins in 2004 (signed for $575,000).
View Draft ReportExpected to be a difficult sign, Swarzak could go high enough--in the second or third round--to justify it. He has a scholarship offer to Louisiana State. Swarzak has the look of a big leaguer. He has an excellent pitcher's frame at 6-foot-3, 190 pounds and has drawn comparisons to John Smoltz. He pitches in the low 90s with his fastball, sitting at 93-94 in relief outings, and has shown the ability to move his fastball, curveball and changeup in and out of the zone, never catching too much of the plate. He went 12-2, 0.33 with 19 walks and 140 strikeouts in 87 innings for Nova High, one of the nation's top high school teams. Swarzak has good command for a high school pitcher and sound mechanics, staying tall in his delivery. With physical maturity, his solid-average stuff could improve across the board down the line, making him a No. 2 or 3 starter eventually.
Organization Prospect Rankings
The third prep pitcher Minnesota drafted in 2004, Swarzak has stayed healthy, unlike the two selected before him (Kyle Waldrop, Jay Rainville). Swarzak's career hit a bump when he drew a 50-game suspension after testing positive for a recreational drug in 2007. He struggled in Double-A in 2008 before finishing with a flourish after his first promotion to Triple-A. Swarzak has the best combination of stuff, youth and experience of any Twins starter in the minors. He has two plus pitches in his 91-93 mph fastball that touches 95 and his high-70s curveball with 12-to-6 break. He has become better at locating his curve. While he threw a solid changeup as an amateur, Swarzak has lost the feel for it as a pro. In Double- A, he struggled locating his fastball down in the zone, a mechanical issue tied to finishing off his pitches, and got hammered as a result. He has improved his mound demeanor but some scouts still question his competitiveness. Swarzak's fastball-curveball combo would make him a prime bullpen candidate, but club officials prefer him in a starting role. He responded positively to his exposure to Triple-A, where he'll return in 2009.
Swarzak's season started inauspiciously, as he made two brutal starts, then was suspended after two brutal starts for 50 games for violating MLB's drug policy. It was for a recreational drug, not a performance enhancer, and he returned from the suspension to post a solid season, capped by a solid stint in the Arizona Fall League. After he worked through 2006 with modest stuff, Swarzak's fastball and curveball ranked among the best in the system last year. At its best, his fastball sits at 91-93 mph and touches 94, and he stays tall in his delivery and pitches with a good downhill angle. His curveball can be a true hammer with power and depth, and he has improved his ability to throw strikes with it. Swarzak lacks the feel for a true changeup. He'll keep throwing it, but he likely will have to use his curve as his offspeed pitch while adding a cutter or slider to give hitters a different look. The Twins were impressed with how he came back from his suspension and believe it forced him to mature. Minnesota has enough pitching options ahead of Swarzak that he could return to Double-A New Britain. He's more likely to push his way up to Triple-A and could make his big league debut later in the year.
He began 2006 in the same rotation as Matt Garza and Kevin Slowey, but Garza couldn't keep pace with his older teammates. Instead, he served as the rock of the Fort Myers rotation, making every start and leading the Florida State League in strikeouts. Swarzak has an ideal pitcher's body and has shown three solid-average to plus pitches at times. His fastball touched 94-95 mph in 2006, and his curveball is major league average already. It could be a plus pitch as he improves his consistency and command of it. Swarzak also shows a feel for his changeup and savvy beyond his years. Fastball velocity and command were issues for Swarzak, especially in the first half of the season. He pitched at 89-90 mph much of the year and had to learn to succeed without his best stuff. He'll need to pitch down in the zone more consistently without the FSL's big ballparks and heavy air to help him. Swarzak moves to Double-A, where he'll pitch the entire season at age 21. If his velocity bounces back to 2005 levels, he could speed up his accelerated timetable.
As a senior at Nova High in 2004, Swarzak was the ace for a team that won a Florida 5-A championship, the first state title for a Broward County public high school in 57 years. He was the best pitching prospect on a loaded low Class A Beloit staff last year, and he reached high Class A Fort Myers by the middle of his first full pro season. Swarzak was dominant at times during the first half at Beloit. He pitched at 91-93 mph with his fastball, showing a hard downer curve and a devastating changeup as well. He has touched 95 mph and has electric stuff to go with a prototypical pitcher's frame, loose arm and strong mound presence. He stumbled a bit near midseason, so the Twins promoted him to jar him out of perceived boredom. Pitching close to home in the Florida State League, Swarzak seemed to press at times and developed minor delivery issues. He doesn't trust his changeup enough at times. His body is starting to fill out and he must be careful not to pack on weight in the wrong places. The fifth of six pitchers the Twins took in the first three rounds in 2004, Swarzak remains near the head of that class. He figures to return to high Class A to start 2006, where he'll again head a prospect-laden rotation.
Swarzak was the ace of a Nova High team that won the Florida 5-A championship in 2004, the first state title for a Broward County public school in 57 years. Area scout Brad Weitzel started following him the summer before his senior year and stayed on him. Swarzak spurned Louisiana State to sign for $575,000 and quickly proved to be a bargain. The fifth of six pitchers Minnesota drafted in the first three rounds in 2004, Swarzak may have the highest ceiling of the group. He pitches at 90-92 mph and has touched 95. His curveball is a strikeout pitch, and his changeup also induces swings-and-misses. He's tall with a loose arm, lean body and impressive arm strength that should only increase. He also has a strong mound presence. Swarzak's slider is the least advanced of his pitches. He joined the Twins with a reputation for cockiness, but he has shown a willingness to learn and a receptiveness to coaching. Like many of Minnesota' promising young arms, Swarzak will begin his first full season in low Class A. He's nearly as polished as Kyle Waldrop and should move along with him.
Minor League Top Prospects
One scout said the typical MWL club had five worthwhile prospects. Just counting pitchers, Beloit had nine. Observers couldn't remember the last time the league had a staff that deep, with Swarzak making the biggest impression among the Snappers. Swarzak combines good stuff and a feel for pitching with a projectable 6-foot-4, 200-pound frame. His fastball already sits at 91-92 mph and tops out at 94, and he throws his changeup with the same arm speed. His biggest needs are to tighten his curveball and to improve his fastball by adding life and locating it lower in the strike zone. Swarzak made progress in those areas and earned a promotion to high Class A as a 19-year-old in mid-July.
Lost in the shuffle on a Twins staff that featured two first-rounders, Swarzak showed impressive stuff himself. His fastball was clocked in the low 90s as he posted a 42-6 strikeout-walk ratio in 48 innings. Swarzak has more work to do than either Waldrop or Rainville, but he has an easy delivery and flashes a decent breaking ball. "He's got a free, easy motion with a lot of late sink," Ingram said. "When he keeps the ball down in the zone, he's tough to hit."
Top 100 Rankings
Best Tools List
- Rated Best Curveball in the Minnesota Twins in 2006
- Rated Best Pitching Prospect in the Midwest League in 2005