In 2012, Swanson graduated from Marietta High School in Georgia with a 4.0 grade-point-average and a baseball scholarship to Vanderbilt in hand. Dansby also was team captain on the basketball team both his junior and senior years.
Swanson was born and bred to play baseball. But he also played basketball, though baseball's always been his first love.
Swanson excelled on the hardwood in high school. A sharpshooting, fast-twitch athlete, Swanson put down his glove for four months out of every year to play basketball, and would hit in batting cages just once per week.
Dansby had a storybook career at Marietta High, serving two seasons as captain of the basketball team in addition to three seasons of varsity baseball—one as a teammate of 2010 Angels first-round pick Chevez Clarke.
In 2012, the Rockies chose Swanson in the 38th round, out of high school. But he didn't sign, instead accepting a baseball scholarship to Vanderbilt.
- Dansby comes armed with a sharp wit and academic prowess.
At Vanderbilt, Dansby majored in behavior aspects and management. He was named the Most Outstanding Player of the 2014 College World Series.
Swanson's nicknamed Dans. His favorites include Nomar Garciaparra (baseball player), Atlanta Braves (baseball team), Remember the Titans (movie), Criminal Minds (TV show), steak, creamed corn, fried okra and biscuits (meal), Chris Young (musician), peanut butter and cookies with a glass of milk (late night snack).
Dansby says actor Tom Hanks would play him in a movie about his life.
During the 2015 regular college baseball season, Swanson hit .347/.438/.616, swatting nine home runs and stealing 13 bases in 15 attempts.
"I'd love to be a big leaguer,” Swanson says, holding back slightly. “But my ultimate goal is to be a Hall of Famer.”
Swanson says this with an understanding of what it means. He wants to be the best player he can possibly be. Would he love to be a bench player in the majors? Sure. Will his hunger to improve himself ever be satisfied? Probably not.
He is not content with anything less than greatness.
- Swanson uses the word blessed to describe himself. He gets praise for his work ethic and makeup.
Dansby brings character and intangibles that you can build a team around. No wonder he gets Derek Jeter and Alan Trammel comps.
In 2016, the Baseball America Prospect Handbook rated Swanson as the #1 prospect in the Diamondbacks organization.
After the Braves aquired Dansby, he was rated as the #1 prospect in their farm system in the winter before 2017 Spring Training.
Swanson has leadership traits and excellent makeup. His mental package allows his physical tools to play up.
A two-sport star at Marietta, Dansby is a staunch critic of making kids specialize in a single sport (with a little help from his parents). He threw himself completely into whatever was in season, and it worked out OK in his case.
“I was always naturally driven,” Swanson said. “When I was younger, when I was playing basketball I was like I don’t want to play baseball anymore. My parents were like, no, you need to go play baseball, too. “And when I’d play baseball, I’d go, I don’t want to play basketball anymore. And they’d say, no, just go out there and do it and have fun.”
The youngest of three children, Dansby describes an idyllic family life growing up in Cobb.Yeah, it got interesting with two siblings who were sports-oriented as well.
But, he said, “It was not an uber-competitive environment where it makes you a complete jerk. You learned to love competition and winning.”“My family is like the model for families. We all love each other, keep in touch all the time, feel like we’re all best friends. We don’t ever argue. We are honest and open about everything,” he said.
And does he realize just how special that arrangement is?
“Oh, yeah, very aware,” Swanson said. “That’s why I’m super grateful. I’ve been around a lot of different families, obviously, playing in college and high school, and it’s rare to see that.”
Dansby gets a load of media attention. And there is even more clamor for his autograph. Swanson, though, handles the requests as smoothly as he does reporters' questions.
"It's humbling to be asked to sign," he said. "The kids come first, but I'll sign for everyone as long as I have time."
Dansby grew up just outside Atlanta in Marietta—where his mother is in the high school's athletic hall of fame—and has always been a big Braves fan.
He was never into autographs himself, though.
"I was always into playing, not collecting," said Swanson, the youngest of three children. "I probably would have been too shy to ask for an autograph anyway." (May 2016)
Swanson has excelled on large stages, particularly the College World Series, so there won't be any deer-in-the-headlights moments as he joins the Braves in August 2016. He'll play a very solid and heady defense, and it won't take long to become a general of the infield. (Mayo - MLB.com - 8/16/16)
Swanson was a successful child actor, too? That's right: When Swanson was simply an amateur player with a great name, he also starred in a commercial for the 2004 Aflac All-American High School Classic. (Michael Clair - MLB - 2016 - Cut4)
2017: Swanson will no longer be wearing the No. 2 jersey that he was given after making his Major League debut in 2016. He tweeted that he will be switching back to the No. 7 jersey that he donned during his brief Minor League stint and throughout his heralded career at Vanderbilt University.
Major League Baseball approved the change after reaching a financial agreement with Swanson to compensate for the already-manufactured merchandise that linked Swanson to the No. 2 jersey.
BIG FAN TOO
Feb 3, 3017: When Dansby Swanson arrived at Nashville International Airport on Jan. 22, he quickly made his way toward the exit while doing everything he could to remain oblivious to how his beloved Atlanta Falcons were doing in the NFC Championship Game, which had started 40 minutes before his flight landed.
"I was walking with my head down so I couldn't see anything," Swanson said. "I had my fingers in my ears so I couldn't hear anything. I didn't want to know anything."
Swanson, who is Atlanta's top prospect and the No. 4-ranked prospect in baseball, was in this situation because he had spent the previous day soaking in the splendor of witnessing his first basketball game at Duke University's Cameron Indoor Stadium. The Braves shortstop described himself as "a kid in a candy store" when this opportunity arose.
Consequently, he booked his travel while forgetting about the possibility that the Falcons might be playing during a portion of his return flight. Fortunately, Swanson successfully avoided receiving any updates before he returned to his Nashville residence to watch the entirety of the NFC Championship Game, which he had recorded. Swanson caught up to live action midway through the third quarter, then basked in the glory as the Falcons advanced to the Super Bowl with a convincing 44-21 win over the Green Bay Packers.
"I was so ecstatic," Swanson said. "I get so intense when I watch games, especially big games with teams I'm passionate about. I was going nuts, to say the least."
Swanson weighed his excitement and disbelief for approximately an hour before he booked a flight to Houston for the 2017 Super Bowl on Feb. 5. He'll be accompanied by his childhood friend Logan Marshall, who was still feeling some disbelief even after Swanson received their tickets in the mail earlier this week.
"[Marshall] was like, 'Send me a picture,' and I was like, 'I can't, because the picture wouldn't even do it justice,'" Swanson said. "I opened the envelope and it was like a light was coming out of them. It was like 'Space Jam,' where I was taking power from somebody."
Swanson was a couple weeks shy of his 5th birthday in January 1999, when the Falcons made their only other Super Bowl appearance. The suburban Atlanta native wore a Michael Vick Falcons jersey as early as second grade, and he vividly remembers some top moments—like Vick's memorable run to end a 2002 overtime game over the Vikings, and the 2004 playoff win over the Rams.
Basketball has long been Swanson's favorite sport, and he has fervently followed Duke. But his passion for the Falcons might now supersede all of his other interests as a sports fan. He responded to their last-second playoff win over the Seahawks in 2013 by ecstatically running up and down the halls of his dorm at Vanderbilt University.
"Duke will lose a game, and I won't be very happy about it," Swanson said. "But if the Falcons lose a game, whoever is around me is probably going to be miserable for the rest of the day. I've always loved them, and I take a lot of pride in them. Now that I play for another Atlanta team, I just think it's so cool with what they're able to do to create unity with this whole #InBrotherhood thing. God, I love that so much."
"If we take care of the ball and don't turn the ball over, I think we have a great shot," Swanson said. "When we don't turn the ball over, we're really hard to stop. With first-down plays, we can't have negative plays. Then, once we get in the red zone, we have to score touchdowns. If we do those things, I think we'll put ourselves in position to win. That's all you can really ask for." (M Bowman - MLB.com - Feb 3, 2017)
- Swanson has the epic Moroccan Argan Oil-enhanced “flow.” Yep, he has true Show Hair.
If Dansby ever wanted to retreat into anonymity and ease his burden as one of the most scrutinized players on the Braves’ roster, there’s an easy solution: the 24-year-old shortstop can just pass himself off as Charlie Culberson.
Fans and media members drifting through Braves’ spring training camp at Lake Buena Vista, Fla., noticed the resemblance between Swanson and Culberson. The two infielders are fellow Georgia natives who are similar in stature, have close-cropped beards, hair straight out of a shampoo commercial and the classic attribute that scouts refer to as the “good face.”
“It happens way more often than you would think,” Swanson said. “I got a tweet from a person the other day who said, ‘Thanks for signing the ball,’ and it was clearly Charlie’s autograph. You can see a couple of ‘C’s’ and a No. 16 on it. It’s pretty funny. We both have a good sense of humor, so neither one of us gets upset about it.”
Like Barry Larkin, Joe Mauer and other players who stayed close to home, Swanson discovered that unworldly expectations and geographical ties can make for a daunting combination. He grew up in Marietta, Ga., about 20 miles from Atlanta, and he’s reminded of the organization’s run of success in the 1990s and early 2000s whenever Chipper Jones drops into camp as a special assistant or John Smoltz passes through on assignment for the MLB Network.
“I watched it happen in Kansas City with Alex Gordon,” Braves hitting coach Kevin Seitzer said. “He was a Nebraska guy who replaced George Brett. He was the (second) pick in the draft, the whole thing. And it wore on him. Gordo is a fighter, a gamer, a warrior and a grinder, and Dansby has the same makeup. When you try really hard in this game, usually things don’t work too good.”
Freed from the shackles of the daily box score, Swanson spent the winter tinkering with his game. He changed the positioning of his hands in his stance to shorten his path to the ball, and he got back to basics in the Grapefruit League during regular tutorials with Braves infield coach Ron Washington. (Jerry Crasnick - Baseball America - 3/23/2018)
Dansby talks about the value of his faith in keeping him grounded, and he shares inspirational sermons from his church in Nashville that remind him of his purpose in life to make a positive difference every day.
June 2015: Swanson was the very first pick in the draft, by the Diamondbacks, out of Marietta High School in Marietta, Georgia. And he finally signed, right on the deadline: July 17. He received $6.5 million, considerably under the $8,616,900 slot.
December 8, 2015: The Diamondbacks acquired RHP Shelby Miller and LHP Gabe Speier from the Braves by sending SS Dansby Swanson, OF Ender Inciarte, and RHP Aaron Blair to Atlanta.
Braves general manager John Coppolella said: “Our professional scouts and analytics department also liked him a lot and felt he could be an impact player at the Major League level. Perhaps most important was the importance we place on makeup and just knowing what kind of player and person we were getting—(he’s) a true winner in every sense of the word.”
May 2, 2017: After taking the morning off to tend to a family issue, Nancy Swanson certainly didn't anticipate what greeted her after she was told to report to suburban Atlanta's West Side Elementary to tend a "fifth-grade matter."
When Swanson entered the school's media room, she initially thought the students waving Braves foam tomahawks were simply wishing her well during Teacher Appreciation Week. But the children served as the undercard for the real surprise, which occurred when her son, Dansby, strolled across the room to greet his unsuspecting mother with a bouquet of fresh flowers.
"It was cool," Atlanta's shortstop said. "I hadn't seen her for two weeks, and being able to be here for this was really cool. It was funny, because I asked the Braves if they were going to bring anything for her, and they said, 'Yeah, flowers.' That was good, because that's what I would have gotten her. It was just cool to be here and see the kids and see how excited they were."
When Nancy Swanson arrived at her school, she noticed a sports media truck parked outside. But she still didn't deduce that its presence for a Teacher Appreciation Week event might mean her son was there, too.
"I really had no idea," Nancy Swanson said. "It still had not hit me that [this was Teacher Appreciation Week]. I had some other things going on this week, so it was interesting that it was here. But I still had no idea, so I was extremely surprised."
While attending Marietta High School, Dansby Swanson occasionally walked a few blocks to visit his mother while she was teaching at West Side Elementary. Now that he's playing for the hometown Braves, the 23-year-old lives just a few miles from his parents during the regular season. But the daily grind of the Major League Baseball season has made it difficult for him to consistently spend time with his family.
"We don't see each other," Nancy Swanson said. "He does have a house here now. Even when he lived with us last summer, there wasn't much seeing him. Our work schedules were very different. So Saturday mornings, Sunday nights and any other opportunity we get to see each other is nice." (Bowman - mlb.com)
|Birth City:||Kennesaw, GA|
|Draft:||Diamondbacks #1 - 2015 - Out of Vanderbilt Univ. (TN)|
Swanson has a simple, fundamentally sound swing. He consistently makes good, hard contact, with consistency, but lacks power. He should reach double figures in homers, with lots of doubles from his line-drive stroke. So he should hit for a good batting average—a 60 hit tool on the 20-80 scouting scale, with average power, developing into a 50.
He is a prototypical #2 hitter.
Dansby has good bat speed, a quick, loose swing, athleticism and plays with energy. His hit tool plays up because he is such an intelligent hitter. He is patient at the plate, and is able to adjust to pitchers.
Swanson is a patient hitter who knows how to work a walk because of strike-zone awareness, and has a sound two-strike approach. He has some pop in his bat, especially when he can turn on the ball but gears his swing more for hard contact, hitting line drives.
Swanson drives most of his extra-base hits to his pull side and has average power. His plus speed will enhance his offensive value by helping him take extra bases, including the occasional steal. (Spring 2017)
Scouts and managers say he has the “winning gene” and is a player who already is seen as a leader with a top-step mentality.
“His intensity is through the roof,” one NWL evaluator said in 2015, “especially for the No. 1 pick. He has a desire to be really good.”
Swanson has an advanced approach at the plate."His strike zone adjustment is outstanding," said Jonathan Schuerholz, the Braves' assistant director of player development. "He doesn't change his approach. He believes in what he's doing and knows what he has to do to get to the big leagues." (May 2016)
At the plate, it would be unfair to expect too much from Swanson right out of the gate as he joins the Braves in August 2016.
There is little question he'll be a major offensive contributor long-term. He maintained an advanced approach at the plate in the 2016 season in the Minors, showing an ability to work counts, even when he wasn't swinging the bat as well with Mississippi.
That should serve him well as he makes the double-jump to the big leagues, as his on-base skills, combined with his speed, should allow him to help the Braves' offense, currently 11th in the National League in OBP. It might not happen right away, but he should hit for average and approach Major League average power in the future. (Mayo - MLB.com - 8/16/16)
Dansby's first big league home run was on September 6, 2016. And, it was not what he'd envisioned.
It was an inside-the-park home run. Swanson became the first Braves player since Paul Runge in 1985 to record his first home run with one of the inside-the-park variety.
According to Statcast™, it took Swanson 14.97 seconds to round the bases. That is the third-fastest trip from home plate to home plate recorded this season, but the fastest on a home run. Melvin Upton Jr. covered this distance in 14.85 seconds while scoring on a triple and an error. Brett Gardner was clocked at 14.89 seconds, but he was thrown out as he attempted to complete an inside-the-park home run.
"When you get going, it's all about the angles," Swanson said. "That is one of the biggest things in baseball, just being able to hit the base and get a good angle going from one to the other. I just thought it was going to be my first triple. Then, as it kept going, judging from the reaction in the dugout and the crowd, I thought maybe I'll be getting an inside-the-parker. So I just kept going and created that angle to go home."
Swanson has an impressive cerebral approach at the plate. Dansby exhibits a real feel for the game on both sides of the ball. He consistently makes hard contact. He works the pitcher deep into counts, piling up walks.
He likes to take the extra base when it is possible.
- As of the start of the 2018 season, Dansby's career Major League stats were: .246 batting average, 9 home runs and 152 hits, with 68 RBI in 617 at-bats.
Dansby is a quick-twitch athlete and has the smooth actions and impressive footwork that make for a solid shortstop. He should stay at short into his major league career. He gets a 60 grade for his defense, on the 20-80 scout scale.
"I love it at shortstop,” Swanson said. “I just feel at home.”
And advanced body control and supreme glove work allow him to excel there. He also has impressive instincts.
Swanson's arm is at least big league average (getting 55 or 60 grades) and has improved a bit. He gets rid of the ball quickly and his throws are accurate, so his arm plays up, with some scouts grading his arm at 60. He can throw accurately from many angles. (Spring 2017)
Swanson has soft hands, outstanding quickness, and exceptional lateral range at short. He has impressive anticipation with superb footwork on the double play.
As of the start of the 2016 season, his first full pro season, Dansby was rated the best defensive infielder in the D'Backs' organization.
In 2016, he led all minor league shortstops with an average of 3.27 assists per game.
- Damsby has a high baseball intellect. He has an advanced feel for the game, making him able to anticipate plays.
- Braves infield coach Ron Washington is sold on Swanson’s intelligence, positioning, soft hands and footwork around the bag. But Swanson had a tendency to rush things as a rookie, and Washington is working with him to slow down and make sure that he secures the ball before he throws it.
“I think the kid can play shortstop, and he’s gonna be a shortstop for a long time to come,” Washington said. “I’m around this kid and I’ve seen his mind work. He doesn’t have the kind of talent where you say, ‘Ooh, man, look at that quickness,’ or, ‘Ooh, man, look at that arm.’ All he does is make the plays.”
Dansby is an above-average runner. He displays good instincts on the bases (and on the field, and at the plate). He is a plus runner (60 on the 20-80 scouting scale) and knows how to steal bases.
- Swanson has plus speed and a quick first step. He is clocked at 4.15 to first base consistently. And he has solid instincts on the bases. (Spring 2016)
2013: Swanson's freshman season was almost wiped out by a shoulder injury
May 4, 2018: Swanson was on the DL with left wrist inflammation
Swanson, the club's No 1