My favorite anecdote about Dans isn’t really about Dans, but about an early opinion of Dans from a man whose opinions I respect more than pretty much anyone else’s when it comes to baseball things.
Backstory: As I think everyone now knows, Dans went to Marietta High — “Dansby” is his mother’s maiden name; his father, a grown man, willingly goes by the name of “Cooter” — where he played both baseball and basketball well. He had some low-major offers to play college hoops, but when The Vanderbilt Baseball Machine offered him a chance to play shortstop in college, he jumped at it. He actually wasn’t that highly regarded as a recruit, especially by current Vanderbilt recruiting standards. (He ended up being ranked the 151st high-school player in the country by Perfect Game due in large part to the fact that he chose Vanderbilt, but when he committed, I don’t think he was even ranked in their top 500.)
Anyway, the kid comes into the program behind (prestige-wise) Carson Fulmer, Rhett Wiseman, and Walker Buehler in his own class, and with high-profile future pros like Tyler Beede, Kevin Ziomek, Connor Harrell, Mike Yastrzemski, Philip Pfeifer, Conrad Gregor, Tony Kemp, John Norwood, Jared Miller, and Adam Ravenelle already on the team. It’s early fall of his freshman year — there have been some summer workouts and the first intra-squad scrimmages, but nothing off-campus, and there will be no real games until February — and my buddy is having dinner with Tim Corbin (VU’s baseball coach). My buddy, expecting to hear that it’s Beede, or maybe Gregor, or maybe even Wiseman or Fulmer, asks, “Coach, who’s the most likely future major-leaguer on the team this year?
Corbs, without hesitating: “Swanson.”
Three-plus years later, as we know, he was the first player taken in the draft. I’m not going to give an in-depth scouting or statistical report, because those are available elsewhere. You can also find lots of highlight videos on YouTube. (And I would encourage you to do so.)
In short: He can hit; he can run; he’s an outstanding defensive shortstop with range, hands, and a good arm. His “makeup” — his character — is off the charts; he’s a great teammate. He has remarkable hair. He was the leader (on and off the field) of two elite, Championship-Series-participant teams and the College World Series Most Outstanding Player as a sophomore on the one that won it all. He’s about as likable as a baseball player can be.
If I had to guess, Dans will first appear in Atlanta sometime in 2017. For someone with such a good hit tool, he’s too strikeout-prone, but apart from that one red flag, I have high hopes. I hope he doesn’t bust if for no other reason than that I want Braves fans to get to enjoy his personality on the big stage for as long as possible.