Thursday, February 18, 2016

Meet a Prospect: Anthony Swarzak

The New York Yankees continue to stockpile pitchers for the arms race that the American League East is about to turn into and the latest mercenary to join the squad is former Minnesota Twins starter and relief pitcher Anthony Swarzak. Swarzak was playing in Korea as recently as the 2015 season as a member of the Doosan Bears and is said to be grateful for a second chance after signing a minor league deal with the New York Yankees. The minor league deal will come with an invitation to spring training camp so before we officially meet him down at George Steinbrenner Field let’s meet him today. This is Meet a Prospect: The Anthony Swarzak Edition.

Anthony Ray Swarzak was born on September 10, 1985 in Florida where he attended Nova High School in Davie, Florida. While at the school as a pitcher Swarzak earned two High School All-American titles in 2003 and 2004 which led to the Louisiana State University Tigers to offer him a full ride for college. The scholarship promises were enticing but the Minnesota Twins offer of $575,000 after drafting him in the second round of the 2004 MLB First Year Players Draft was even more enticing and Swarzak accepted the Twins offer to begin his professional career.

Swarzak entered his first professional season ranked the 15th best prospect in the Gulf Coast League according to Baseball America while on his way to a Midwest league All-Star Game. Swarzak moved up the list and moved up the Twins ladder in 2005 and 2006 but in 2007 his stock and his development took a bit of a hit after a drug suspension handed down by Major League Baseball. On April 20, 2007 Swarzak failed a drug test for marijuana and received a 50 game suspension. Swarzak took a step back after being reinstated from the suspension and stumbled into the finish line in 2007.

In 2008 Swarzak was promoted to Triple-A and took off for Minnesota posting a 5-0 record with a 1.80 ERA in seven starts leading the Twins to add him to their 40 man roster. Swarzak was invited to the club’s spring training camp in 2009 although he did not make the club and was sent back down to Triple-A to begin the season. Swarzak was not long for the minors though as the team called him up on May 20, 2009 and he made his Major League debut three days later against the Milwaukee Brewers. Swarzak pitched seven innings of shutout baseball earning his first MLB win. For every high though for Swarzak was another low.

Swarzak missed a lot of the 2010 season after shattering his foot on a line drive and spent the entire season either on the disabled list or in the minor leagues rehabbing the injury. Swarzak entered 2011 looking to rebound from a 6.21 ERA the previous season and looked to do so while pitching both in long relief and as a spot starter for the Twins. Swarzak would continue to be a swingman for the team not only in 2011 but in 2012 as well as he became an asset for Minnesota. Another high for Swarzak and another low ad he began the 2013 season back on the disabled list with fractured left ribs while what he described as “wrestling around a little bit.”

Swarzak spent the remainder of the 2013 season as a long relief pitcher and appeared in 48 games posting a 3-2 record with a 2.91 ERA with 69 strikeouts in 96 innings. That was not enough to stick around with the Twins though after the 2014 season as the team outrighted him off the 40 man roster and allowed him to hit the free agency market. Rather than try to latch on with another team Swarzak went to the Korean Baseball Organization to rebuild his value with the Doosan Bears. Swarzak must have done something right while over in Korea because the New York Yankees came calling on a minor league deal that will pay him $750,000 if he makes the Major League roster this season.

Welcome to the team, welcome to the organization and most of all Anthony, welcome to the family.

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Sorry for the Capatcha... Blame the Russians :)