Every baseball player dreams of playing in the major leagues one day and during the 2017 Major League Baseball Draft, but Desert Vista High School graduates Garrison Schwartz and Keenan Bartlett have achieved it.
Bartlett was picked up in the 31st round by the San Francisco Giants and became the 39th Richmond Spider to be drafted into the major leagues since 1995.
He’s not sure where his professional career will start with Giants, but it’s something he’s been looking forward to since he was young.
“I've been playing baseball pretty much my whole life and I've always known that I've wanted to be a professional baseball player,” Bartlett said.
Schwartz was drafted in the 16th round by the Atlanta Braves, becoming the highest picked outfielder from Grand Canyon University drafted since 2004. After signing his contract, Schwartz started his professional career in Virginia with the Danville Braves in an advanced rookie league.
“It is a great feeling to know that the work that I have put in my whole life has taken me to a professional level,” Schwartz said. “I have always desired and worked towards being drafted and to see it happen and get the call from the Braves is very exciting and I cannot wait to get my career started at this level.”
The 6-foot-1 outfielder finished his career at Grand Canyon University with a batting average of .322, driving in 126 runs while belting 14 home runs in three years.
In his final season, Schwartz was named the WAC preseason player of the year and the player of the year after hitting for a .303 average and a career-high .530 slugging percentage. Although Schwartz had one more year of eligibility at GCU, he had a certain number in mind when he was drafted.
“Anything other than that, I would have decided to come back to school and be a part of a special year for the program,” Schwartz said. “I felt that the opportunity could not be passed up and I was ready to take the next step in my career.”
Long before the pair of DV grads made it big time, they were close both on and off the field as well.
Before Schwartz headed to GCU and Bartlett to the University of Richmond in Virginia, the pair had played baseball together since they were 6 years old.
Schwartz said they had always dreamed of making it to the next level together and when his name was called, he might not have had a louder cheerleader than Bartlett.
“I was so pumped when I heard his name called,” Bartlett said. “It's crazy because Garrison almost didn't even play college baseball, and not because he didn't want to but because scouts and coaches overlooked him. Fortunately, GCU gave him a chance to continue playing because he is and was way too good of a player to be done after high school. I couldn't be happier to be experiencing this with him.”
With both players in the National League, the Giants in the NL West and the Braves in the NL East, there is a possibility you might see these two friends square off one day, Schwartz in the batter’s box and the 6-foot-1 Bartlett staring him down from the pitcher’s mound.
“We talked about it and know that we might cross paths at some point in a game and it would be cool facing him and playing against him,” Schwartz said.
If that day does come, Bartlett said, “That's something I'm looking forward to. Hopefully he doesn't get too upset when I hit him.”
Through three years at the University of Richmond Bartlett amassed 36 appearances, including 16 starts, for the Spiders and accumulated 111 innings for a 5.92 ERA.
He arguably turned in the best season of his career during his junior year, including an eight-inning, three-strikeout performance against St. Bonaventure University in May. Although he had one year of eligibility left, Bartlett never thought about going back to school, but he does have future plans for his education.
“I've been waiting to be a professional baseball player for way too long,” Bartlett said. “I do plan on finishing my degree at some point, but I'm not sure when that will be.”