Feature photo courtesy of Duane Richard Swanson Jr.
Vanderbilt, one of the top college baseball programs in the country, has found perhaps its shortstop of the future in the 2017 recruiting class, and his name is Cooper Swanson.
Swanson isn’t related to former Commodore and current Braves prospect Dansby, but he is a 6-foot-1 shortstop and pitcher at Canterbury High School in Fort Myers, Fla. The junior didn’t have a difficult decision to make after he received an offer from Vanderbilt, especially after he took his official visit.
“After visiting Vandy I just knew I had to be a Commodore,” Swanson said.
On that visit, Swanson was really able to experience what it is like to be a student-athlete at Vanderbilt, which played a large role in his final decision.
“As expected, the athletic facilities and the overall campus was pretty impressive but what impressed me the most was the feeling of family,” Swanson said. “I knew I was going to receive a very good education and just truly develop as a player overall.”
Although playing at Vanderbilt has Swanson very excited, he still has a good chunk of his high school career to play out. During this season, he is batting .343 with an OPS of .996 and 18 RBIs through 29 games.
Swanson has also been one of Canterbury’s top pitchers so far this spring. In eight appearances through May 2, he has posted a 1.58 ERA in 17.2 innings pitched, recording 24 strikeouts and allowing only six hits. Vanderbilt has recruited Swanson as both a pitcher and a shortstop, but Swanson knows where he can best contribute for the Commodores.
“As of right now [Vanderbilt has] me as a two-way player but you don’t see a lot of two-way players in D1 college baseball. I would rather be a shortstop at the next level,” Swanson said.
With help from Swanson in all facets of the game, Canterbury has started the season 28-1. However, a lot of the credit has to go to the team’s head coach, Frank Turco. Turco was drafted in the 17th round of the 1990 MLB Draft by the Texas Rangers after playing his college baseball at Barry University in Miami. He ended up playing eight professional seasons (six in the minor leagues and two in an independent league) and has used that baseball experience to help his players, especially Swanson.
“[Coach Turco] has been helping me a lot with mostly my mental side of the game. That’s probably my biggest weakness right now and he’s been helping me a lot with that,” Swanson said.
As Swanson continues to have success during his high school and summer seasons (he plays for the Durlin Dodgers in the summer), he could have a tough decision to make in 2017. Although he is committed to Vanderbilt and loves the school, Swanson has not yet completely ruled out the possibility of getting drafted out of high school and going straight to professional baseball.
“I’ve thought about [being drafted]. I’m not sure what I want to do, but Vanderbilt has been a dream school of mine, so it would be hard to sign pro,” Swanson said. “I think that right now I would go to Vandy. Just the opportunity, you can’t miss it.”
Obviously, the prospect of making money playing baseball right out of high school is enticing, but Swanson values more than just the money, which will make it even more difficult for him to forgo Vanderbilt.
“I just want to get a very good education and [Vanderbilt is] one of the top academic schools in the nation,” Swanson said. “I want to just get a good education so I would go to college and get my degree and then go pro.”
Some of Swanson’s values have come from his parents, especially his father. Swanson says that he is the one who has really helped him develop as a player and a person.
“[My dad] is the one who has helped me the most just from the very beginning since I was four years old. Throwing out back behind the house, hitting on the tee in the garage. I can’t thank my dad enough for helping me out,” Swanson said.
Not surprisingly, the other Commodore shortstop named Swanson is the one player that Cooper says he looks up to, even though they aren’t related.
“Just the way he plays, he goes out there every day 100 percent and tries to help his team win,” Cooper said of Dansby. “Someday I want to be in his shoes.”
Cooper may not have the same blood as Dansby, but he may have the same skill, which will lead to much more success for the Vanderbilt baseball program in the near future.
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