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9 days till FSU baseball: Cooper Swanson aiming to put it all together in 2020

Swanson returns with highest HR% on team after 7 HR’s in 88 at-bats / Haylee Blitch

Cooper Swanson has the tools to be a productive college hitter, but he hasn’t really ever been given a consistent opportunity since arriving at FSU. Through two seasons, Swanson has started 43 games, while being used mostly as a platoon hitter. The Fort Myers-native came to FSU as the 93rd overall player in Florida before hitting .255 in 55 at-bats through his freshman year. Swanson’s average tumbled to a team low .159 in 2020 after finishing the season hitless in his last 22 at-bats. In his last 61 AB’s, Swanson produced just five hits. Despite the struggles to produce hits, Swanson still produced a slugging percentage over .400 and an OPS of .771. When he put the bat on the ball, he did good things such as hitting the ball nearly 500 feet.

Out of his 14 hits in 2019, eight were extra base hits including seven homers. Of FSU’s returning hitters, Swanson had the highest HR% in 2019, homering in eight percent of his AB’s. The junior also homered in 26% of his 27 starts last season. Swanson has one of the most powerful bats in the ACC. The raw power is evident in one round of BP for the corner INF. Swanson can easily flick the ball over the RF fence at Dick Howser and generates a lot of top spin on the ball to the pull-side of the field. I’d expect him to attack fastballs early in the count to try and get the strikeout rate down in 2020. On the basepaths, Swanson is a surprising burner. The 6’1, 211 pound Swanson runs 60 times in the 6.6 range and showed the ability to steal bags with ease in fall.

On the infield, Swanson is likely the favorite to start at third base in the fall. Last season, Swanson had a .965 fielding percentage and five errors, mostly at first base. The glove is sure-handed for Cooper, but the arm isn’t very reliable. Most of the errors last season came on throws to second base from first. The former short stop has looked comfortable at third, but the throws still need some work. He also played 1B, LF, and RF during fall.

If Swanson starts for a full season, he’ll likely hit double digit home runs and steal double digit bags. For him to start everyday and win over a job, the strikeout rate will have to go down. A more aggressive approach at the plate in 2020 could help the junior finally hit his stride at the plate. The junior is in a four-way battle with Tyrell Brewer, Dylan Simmons, and Carter Smith for three spots in the opening day lineup. If the K-rate goes down, the raw tools will show in a productive season for the junior.

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