This past week we got the chance to learn more about rookie Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher, Geoff Hartlieb. Our writer Andrew Parker went to a rival high school of his and knew about him because of his talent on the basketball court. Now, he is in a spot to show the rest of the world his talent on the baseball field.
To start out, we had to ask the question about the call-up, something that we are sure he has dreamed of his entire life.
Q: Getting called up to the MLB, what are the emotions like? Does the excitement outweigh the butterflies, or were you nervous at all?
A: “Getting called up was pretty unbelievable, purely from the standpoint that I have been thinking about, and working for it while it seemed so far away the whole time and then boom, suddenly it wasn’t. It was happening. The night I got called up and the whole next day flying to San Diego was a mixture of being insanely tired, excited, and just kind of in shock. I didn’t pitch until the next night thankfully and by then I felt much better. Oddly enough I wasn’t that nervous in my debut and it went really well. My family got to come and I knew they were all there with me so that made it easier for sure.”
It is pretty crazy to imagine that Geoff almost gave up baseball to pursue basketball following high school, which the BND did a great piece on back in 2017 on Hartlieb’s rise through baseball.
Q: “Some people might not know you were just as good at basketball as you were baseball. How was that decision picking one over the other in college?”
A: “It was a decision that kind of happened by accident honestly. When I threw my last pitch in legion ball my senior summer I thought I had thrown the last pitch of my life. Basketball had always been my focus and my dream and it’s what I went to college to do freshman year- no baseball at all. I ended up not enjoying basketball and just wanted to try and get a scholarship for anything and it worked out to where a few colleges had heard of me from baseball and I went and threw for Lindenwood and Coach Bletcher offered a scholarship on the spot. I never had a feeling it would lead me to the big leagues. I’m lucky they gave me a chance and that I figured out enough about pitching along the way to get me to pro ball where I could really get to work and focus. I’m here largely because of Brian Delunas and Sam Weber as well.”
Highland, Illinois is a small country town about 40 minutes east of St. Louis, but they are no stranger to producing successful athletes.
Q: “You are the second pitcher in the past decade to reach the majors from Highland. How special does it feel that both you and Jake Odorizzi are putting Highland on the map?”
A: “To be in the same company as Jake is extremely cool. He was the guy- still is the guy- and now he’s an All-Star too, so I wouldn’t put myself near the same category as him, but to be able to make it to the same league is awesome. I’ve spoken to him a few times over the years and he reached out when he found out I had gotten the call. I sincerely hope we get the chance to play against or with each other one day.”
Q: “The odds for a player drafted as late as you to reach the majors are slim. How was your journey once you reached the Pirates organization? Did you feel like you had a chip on your shoulder or did you feel like you had something to prove?”
A: “The odds of being a 29th-rounder who signed for next to nothing and was basically put in a sink or swim right off the bat situation are not good. Luckily I was given some guidance my first off-season on where I needed to be and what I needed to do to be ready to get myself noticed and sort of make a name for myself in the organization. After that I took it and ran. I absolutely have pitched with a chip on my shoulder and I love doing so. It has given me an edge over so many guys drafted ahead of me and I think I wanted it and was ready to take the opportunity more than most. I take a hell of a lot of pride in the work I do to get myself ready and in being the first person from my 2016 draft class to get to Pittsburgh”
Andrew: Remember that little country town about 40 minutes east of St. Louis that he went to? I attended the rival school of his called Triad and the rivalries were electric.
Q: Triad is/has always been better than Highland. But with all jokes aside, were those games some of your favorites to play in? Those basketball games I traveled to when Triad played at Highland were always insane.
A: “We will have to agree to disagree on the Highland v. Triad rivalry! But yes, I will always remember those games. Senior night at our place, even though we lost, was crazy- a ton of fun playing with some of my best friends and I’ll never forget it. I will also always remember Michael Buehne scoring seven touchdowns and beating you guys in football my junior year. Good times for sure.”
Also, in cased you missed it, check out Geoff’s touching story about the memory of his mom, and how he carried that with him throughout his baseball career.
We would like to give a huge thank you to Geoff for taking his time to answer some of our questions here on Edge Sports Network.
Follow Geoff on Twitter: @itsgeoffnotjeff
Follow Edge Sports Network on Twitter: @TheEdgeSN
Cover photo via: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports