Height: 6'3" Weight: 220
Bats/Throws: Right / Right
Born: 09/04/1993 in Terrace Park, Ohio
Offseason home: Fargo, North Dakota
Family: Wife Madison, son Toby
Acquired: In trade from the New York Yankees, with Justus Sheffield and Dom Thompson-Williams, for James Paxton (11/19/2018)
Salary: Not available
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 last year with a two-inning relief appearance, then was returned to his then-familiar role as a starter. Though he was good in that role as a minor-leaguer, it became clear very quickly that he wasn't going to hack it as a starting pitcher in the big leagues so long as his repertoire remained limited to a fastball and slider—Major League hitters can hit a fastball, especially a straight one, no matter how hard its thrown if they're allowed to time it, and Swanson was getting lit up like a bonfire after a couple of innings. It took a while for manager Scott Servais to come around on the idea, but he did eventually realize that Swanson's future as a Major League pitcher is in short relief, a role wherein he can utilize that strong arm and unload for one inning only.
The fastball is his best and only real weapon, but he occasionally throws an adequate slider to throw off a batter's timing. He had toyed with a changeup when he was starting, but it was next to worthless as it offered very little difference off the slider—same general velocity, same general locations—and didn't move as much. But he can get away with just the two options as a short-reliever, especially when that fastball can hit 98 on the radar gun since he doesn't have to hold anything back for later innings. Used appropriately, Swanson could have a nice career as a Todd Worrell-like closer or setup man.