Height: 6'3" Weight: 220
Bats/Throws: Right / Right
Born: 09/04/1993 in Terrace Park, Ohio
Offseason home: Fargo, North Dakota
Acquired: In trade from the New York Yankees, with Justus Sheffield and Dom Thompson-Williams, for James Paxton (11/19/2018)
MLB Debut: 04/11/2019
Free Agent after: 2024 season
The first—and least-highly touted—of the three prospects acquired for James Paxton to reach the Majors, Swanson made his debut during the Mariners' recent series in Kansas City. He threw two innings of relief and was then promptly sent back to Tacoma, where he waited until he would slot back into the Rainiers' starting rotation. Before that happened, though, Wade LeBlanc strained his oblique muscle and Swanson was boomeranged back up to Seattle to take LeBlanc's spot, both on the roster and in the starting rotation.
At least for now. Much depends, of course, on how he performs, but having had a soft landing with his big-league debut already, he may be more relaxed when he next toes the rubber. "It was a good first one to get under my belt," Swanson said of his debut game. "I really, really enjoyed it. I'm ready to get rolling now for sure."
The hard-throwing righty features a straight fastball and a slider and changeup, but the latter two offerings have so far been considered marginal. Last year he earned a promotion to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, where he started 13 games and was a respectable 3-2 with a 3.86 ERA and a WHIP just a hair over 1.000 after crushing it at the Double-A level (5-0, 0.42 ERA, 0.867 WHIP in 422⁄3 innings).
Though Scott Servais has said repeatedly that no role is set in stone for Swanson, starting is what he prefers. “I felt like I made that adjustment (to the bullpen) pretty well, but definitely [starting] is what I’m most comfortable with.” He was Tacoma's opening day starter this season (his only appearance so far for Tacoma), and went five shutout innings, walking none and striking out eight.
While in the Yankees' organization, Swanson was listed as their 22nd-best prospect, though Baseball America rated him somewhat higher. That said, the Yankees were fine letting him go in the trade as they likely weren't going to keep him on their 40-man roster anyway, so expectations on their end were obviously modest. We'll see if he surprises anyone after a few starts as a Mariner.