Swanson right at home with 2-hit debut

Georgia native gets to share highly anticipated moment with parents

August 17th, 2016

ATLANTA -- When called his mother early Tuesday evening to tell her he was packing his bags and coming home, her immediate maternal reaction was to ask if her son was OK. After a brief chuckle, Swanson clarified his message by making it clear he was coming home to experience a Major League debut that he, his family, friends and countless Braves fans have long anticipated.

Given the chance to take the big stage for the first time on Wednesday night at Turner Field, Swanson certainly did not disappoint as he recorded the first two hits of his career and soaked in his new life as a big leaguer. Unfortunately, the lifelong memories that were created were realized during a 10-3 loss to the Twins.

"Honestly, I didn't really feel nervous the whole game," Swanson said. "I guess it was just the visualization. My whole life, this is what I've wanted and now it's here."

Swanson arrived approximately nine hours before Wednesday's first pitch and immediately took delight in seeing his name and number adorned on a Braves jersey that hung in his locker. But he said the greatest thrill might have simply been the realization that he was no longer a guest at Turner Field -- the stadium he visited while fostering his big league dreams during his suburban Atlanta childhood.

No. 1 pick Swanson called up for debut

"Driving up to the stadium was pretty surreal, just because I'm driving up to play in a game, not to watch or not to do FanFest," Swanson said.

While making the six-hour drive from Pearl, Miss., to Atlanta on Tuesday night, Swanson repeatedly listened to his walkup song -- Ludacris' "Georgia" -- to prepare himself for what he would experience during his debut. He believed this helped him as he was showered with applause before and after he lined out to center field during his first plate appearance.

Swanson energized the home crowd with two outs in the fourth inning when he lined a single to right field for his first career hit. He added a ninth-inning single to cap a memorable night, in which his only defensive action came on a pair of forceouts at second base.

"It was about as close to a dream come true as possible," Swanson said. "That's about the only way you can sum it up. Playing for your hometown team and basically going out there and doing what you've worked your whole life for is pretty special."

As the always cool, calm and composed Swanson prepared for his debut, he maintained his goal to hide his emotions until he was asked about all his parents -- Cooter and Nancy Swanson -- did to make this dream a reality. The question led the highly touted prospect to hide the tears of appreciation as he thought about the many sacrifices others had made for him to debut for his hometown team, just 14 months after being selected as the first overall pick in the 2015 MLB Draft.

"I didn't think I'd get emotional, but yeah," Swanson said. "I can't even say it, really. [My parents] have done a lot."

The Swansons have been looking forward to this day since the Braves acquired Dansby as part of the blockbuster package from the D-backs in exchange for this past offseason. The 22-year-old shortstop made a great impression during big league camp this year and then passed the developmental tests while playing for Class A Advanced Carolina and Double-A Mississippi.

Within the Braves' realm, the hype surrounding Swanson's debut has been rivaled by only a couple of other hometown phenoms -- (2005) and ('10). But the even-keeled Swanson, who ranks No. 5 on MLBPipeline.com's Top 100 Prospects list, seems fit to deal with the pressure, much like he did when he was named the '14 College World Series Most Outstanding Player and then led Vanderbilt back to the CWS finals in '15.

Fellow hometown hero Frenchy advises Dansby

"Pressure is something that comes about when you don't believe in yourself as much [as you should] in something you can do or accomplish," Swanson said. "I'm just worried about what I can control, and there's no pressure on myself when it's everything I can control. It's that simple for me."

Swanson learned of his promotion as he was watching "Battleship" in his Mississippi hotel room around 6:30 p.m. ET on Tuesday. Over the course of the next hour, he informed his family and began packing to prepare for the long trek to his parents' house in Marietta, Ga., which is about 30 minutes north of Turner Field.

Once Swanson arrived around 2 a.m. ET, he immediately stirred the family dog, who then did his part to make sure the proud parents were awake to share a special congratulatory welcome with their son.

"I slept at my parents' house last night," Swanson said. "I don't know how many people can say they did that the night before their debut. But I know the list is short."