Advancing to College World Series, drafted by D-backs ‘pretty awesome’ for Vanderbilt’s Dansby Swanson
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — The timing was impeccable.
Within minutes of helping lead Vanderbilt to the College World Series to defend its title, junior shortstop Dansby Swanson heard his name called by Commissioner Rob Manfred announcing him as the No. 1 overall pick by the Arizona Diamondbacks in the 2015 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft.
“I was able to watch it on my iPhone right there on the field with all my guys surrounding me, so it was pretty awesome,” he said.
Swanson went 2-for-4 Monday, hitting the game-tying home run in the fourth and scoring the go-ahead run after a leadoff double in the sixth in Vanderbilt’s 4-2 road win at Illinois.
The home run was his 15th; the RBI his 62nd of the season.
Add a .350 batting average with 16 stolen bases and 74 runs scored in 65 games, plus solid defense on the left side of the infield, and it’s no wonder why Swanson had long been considered the D-backs’ choice for the No. 1 pick.
“I definitely had that thought,” he said, speaking to reporters on a conference call. “It was one of those things where I had the thought, but it was a pretty important game (Monday) in front of me. Just my focus for that and to be able to play well, and that’s what was most important to me was playing well, because I knew I couldn’t control everything else that was going on around me.”
A finalist for the Golden Spikes Award, given to the nation’s top collegiate player, Swanson is a 6-foot-1, 190-pound right-handed hitter that was rated by both MLB.com and Baseball America as the top collegiate prospect in the draft.
Swanson, 21, joined Justin Upton (2005) as the only No. 1 overall selections in D-backs history, and he is the first collegiate position player chosen by the franchise in the first round since Stephen Drew (15th overall) in 2004.
“If you want me to be honest with you, not too much,” he said when asked how much he knew about his new team. “I remember the Luis Gonzalez’s walk-off against the (New York) Yankees and Mariano Rivera (in Game 7 of the 2001 World Series), but that’s about it. It’s a West Coast team and I’m from the Southeast.
“They’ve had good (teams) in the past and hopefully they’ll be successful here in the future, too.”
Swanson had been drafted once before, out of high school as a 38th-round pick of the Colorado Rockies in 2012.
He chose not to sign, staying firm in his commitment to Vanderbilt, where, prior to this season, he made the move from second base to shortstop.
“It was more of a transition from short to second last year because I played shortstop my whole life,” he said. “It got to a point (as a sophomore) where playing short I could barely get the reps to get myself back in the groove over there, but I was definitely comfortable and confident in moving back over to shortstop.”
It was as a second baseman in which he was named Most Outstanding Player when Vanderbilt won its first-ever championship in 2014.
“We want to win another national championship; that’s all there is to it,” he said. “We have business to attend to, and all the professional stuff can wait until after the season is over because we definitely want to win again.”
Of course, there’s no forgetting that moment earlier when Swanson went from celebratory dogpile participant to instant, soon-to-be millionaire professional athlete.
“This day definitely couldn’t have been scripted any better,” he said.