One of the biggest assets a young professional baseball player can have is discipline. Without that it is a tough road to do the necessary work and make the proper adjustments to keep moving upwards. St. Louis Cardinals farmhand Chris Swauger should have discipline in spades, having attended college at The Citadel, a military school known for its rigid preparedness of students. The left-handed hitting outfielder is using that experience as he makes his way through the St. Louis system and hopes that it will eventually pay off with a promotion to the major leagues.
Swauger left The Citadel in 2008 as one of their greatest players ever, ranking near the top of their all time lists in hits, doubles, triples, and home runs. The Cardinals rewarded his consistent production by taking him in the 26th round of that year’s MLB draft. Since then he has progressed through the minors, having made it as far as Triple-A. He doesn’t have a lot of power (possessing a single season high of 12 home runs) and he doesn’t run much, but he hits for a good average and plays good defense. He made his Triple-A debut this season, but struggled a bit and is now playing with Springfield in Double-A, but will likely be sent up again if he continues to play well.
This past off-season I was able to ask Swauger a few questions about his baseball career. Make sure to give him a follow on Twitter @cswag8
Who were your favorite team and player growing up and why?
I was an Atlanta Braves fan growing up. Their games were always on TBS, and we didn’t get a team in Tampa until I was 12 years old so I grew up watching the Braves. I was a big Chipper Jones fan and I loved Fred McGriff. When he came to play for Tampa Bay later in his career, that was a lot of fun to watch.
Which coach or manager has been most influential on you so far?
I have had many good coaches and I can honestly say I’ve taken positive lessons away from all of them. I would have to say that Jeff Albert has been the most influential of all. I have spent four seasons (short-season in Batavia, parts of two seasons in Palm Beach, and a winter ball season in Barranquilla, Colombia) working with him. His knowledge of the game and bio-mechanics is top notch in my opinion. His knowledge of me and my swing is unmatched and he has brought out the best in me as a player.
Can you run through what your draft experience was like?
After my senior season at The Citadel, I was pretty sure I would get a chance to play but I was not sure where I would land in the draft. I watched the rounds that were on TV and then kept the radio broadcast going on the computer. Hearing 784 names called before mine made me wonder if I might not get that chance I was hoping for. Once I heard my name I forgot about all of that and assumed the role of a little kid whose dream had just come true. I was excited and happy to get a chance to continue playing the game I had loved since I could walk.
How did attending The Citadel prepare you for a career in baseball and life?
I think attending a school like that forces a person to grow up in a hurry. I learned valuable lessons about discipline, hard work, time management, and mental toughness. Being in an environment like that shows true character. The adversity that the school provides creates men who are prepared to face any challenge, be it in baseball or life in general.
Do you have a favorite moment from your playing career?
Without question my favorite moment was winning the New York-Penn League Championship in 2008. Running in from left field to jump on the dog pile was one of the happiest moments of my life. There is no other feeling than realizing a goal that you work so hard for. Being a champion makes everything worth it.
How closely do you follow Cardinal organizational transactions and think about how those impact you?
I do pay attention to what happens with the Cardinals. I think anyone who cares about their career in any field pays attention to what goes on within their organization. That being said, I realize that my career and my production is dictated by me and my work ethic. I will work and push myself to the limit regardless of what happens in my organization.
What do you like to do in your spare time, that is not baseball related?
I love to read, listen to music, and watch movies. I like to fish and golf, too. Basically anything involving athletics would be something I’m interested in.
What do you think you need to work on most in 2012 to help you reach the major leagues?
I think I need to improve every aspect of my game. I know that the key for me getting to the big leagues is to get better. I think the only reason I am still getting the chance to play is because I have committed to getting a little bit better every day. I know if I continue to do the little things and put the work in, I will be successful.
Be sure to check out Chris Swauger’s baseball cards