Former KU pitcher thrives in Chicago Cubs minor league

By Josh Liddick

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It’s not every day that a former KU athlete gets drafted by a professional sports franchise. On June 11, 2016, former KU pitcher, Matt Swarmer, did just that.

With the 584th pick in the 19th round of the 2016 MLB Draft, the Chicago Cubs selected the 22 year-old right-hander from Mohnton, Pa.

For many college baseball players, getting to the major leagues is the ultimate goal. Looking forward to the day they get drafted can be so surreal.

“I was watching my computer in the living room when I saw my name pop up,” Matt Swarmer said. “I was so excited. It was a dream come true. It was the greatest thing I have ever accomplished.”

After getting the call from the Chicago Cubs area scout, Swarmer began his professional baseball journey, signing with the Cubs on July 15. The following day, Swarmer made his professional debut with the Cubs’ rookie league team in the Arizona League (AZL) against the AZL D-Backs.

In seven games for the AZL Cubs, Swarmer has a 0-1

record with 22 strikeouts and a 2.70 ERA through August 24. Due to his success in the bullpen, the team decided to move Swarmer from the bullpen to the starting rotation.

In his first start on July 25, Swarmer pitched a brilliant game, striking out six batters, and allowing only two hits in three innings of work.

Swarmer’s success on the rookie league level will be sure to pay off in the long run as he finishes up the 2016 season and gears up for the 2017 year.

“In the offseason, I plan on training hard to gain strength and velocity,” said Swarmer. “My goal now is to pitch to the best of my ability so I can get promoted to the next level.” By pitching well, Swarmer will try to aim for a promotion to either the Cubs’ High-A Myrtle Beach Pelicans, which will lead to a promotion to Double-A Tennessee as a member of the Smokies.

While he has done a lot on his own to get to where he is now, Swarmer owes a lot to his coaches over the years, along with his parents and KU baseball coach, Chris Blum.

“I’ve learned from Coach Blum that by training hard and being mentally prepared, I can accomplish any task at hand,” said Swarmer. “My parents and coaches helped me focus on my goals. I want to thank them for always being there for me.”

While a member of the KU baseball team, Swarmer finished his career as a Golden Bear with a 12-11 record in 20 games, 224 strikeouts and a 3.11 ERA.

Swarmer becomes the first KU player to get drafted by an MLB organization since Shayne Houck in 2012 (29th round, San Francisco).

Though the road to professional baseball is tough, Swarmer never backed down.

“It’s very difficult to get drafted because there is so much talent out there, but I never gave up on my dream,” said Swarmer.

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