HOUSTON — Grant Hartwig’s decision to forego medical school has seemingly paid off. The right-hander was called up to the Mets from Triple-A Syracuse on Monday and made his major league debut in the 11-1 win over the Houston Astros.
Hartwig allowed one hit and a walk in the ninth inning to secure the blowout victory in Houston.
Syracuse Mets manager Dick Scott told Hartwig about the call up after the team returned from a series in Buffalo on Sunday. It was unexpected, but then again, Hartwig’s entire career has been a little unexpected.
“Dick Scott told me right after we got off the bus yesterday,” Hartwig said Monday at Minute Maid Park before the Mets began a three-game series against the Houston Astros. “We came back from Buffalo last night and then found out around all of my teammates. It was a great experience got to call my parents afterwards.”
When Hartwig was playing college baseball at Miami (Ohio), a professional career wasn’t on his radar. His focus was on a different kind of baseball career: Hartwig wanted to be an orthopedic surgeon.
He was hoping to stay involved in the game he had played his entire life and was inspired by his own Tommy John surgery. That Tommy John surgery in 2019 scared away a lot of scouts. He hadn’t heard from a single one or talked with any teams after his career in Oxford concluded.
So when he got a call from an unknown number in the middle of an MCAT practice test, he sent it to voicemail. As it turns out, it was the Mets. His college pitching coach had to call and tell him to pick it up.
“He was like, ‘Hey, you’re gonna get a call here pretty soon,’” Hartwig said. “I ended up taking that call, and then kind of took a little bit of time to talk to my family and then made a decision.”
The Mets were offering Hartwig a contract as an undrafted free agent. He wasn’t immediately sold.
The 25-year-old had grown up wanting to become a doctor. His mother was a doctor who owned a private practice in the Detroit area and he developed his own interest hanging around her office. Deviating from the plan seemed counterintuitive.
“You spent five years of grinding through long nights of studying and tons of schoolwork. And on top of that, also playing baseball at school,” Hartwig said. “It’s a lot to invest in something and kind of walk away from it for a little bit.”
Ultimately, Hartwig knew school would always be there. He decided to put his future ambitions on pause to pursue baseball.
“He could still do both,” said manager Buck Showalter. “He’ll be operating some here.”
The word “operating” might be apt for a pitcher like Hartwig. He prides himself on his horizontal movement. His low arm slot makes for a deceptive delivery and he primarily works off of his sinker and slider, which means a lot of weak contact and groundball outs. His fastball velocity has been around 95 as of late. He went 3-2 with a 4.21 ERA in 21 relief outings with Syracuse this season. He attributes the ERA to a few bad outings he had earlier in the season before settling in and mixing his pitches more effectively.
“I had a couple tough outings earlier in the year,” he said. “Being able to mix things up. Seeing how hitters like higher level hitters tried to approach me and being able to combat that. But I think at first, I was trying to go a little bit away from what I do well. The last couple of weeks, I’ve just been really focused on sticking to myself and trusting what I do.”
With right-hander Drew Smith still serving his 10-game foreign substance suspension, the Mets are utilizing their Triple-A bullpen to prevent overtaxing the entire relief group. Hartwig takes the place of right-hander John Curtiss on the roster, who pitched 2 2/3 innings Sunday in the Mets’ 7-6 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals. Hartwig may not be around for long, but the fact that he reached the major leagues has validated his decision to wait on medical school.
“I’d say after last year, I kind of put it a little bit on the back burner,” he said. “I’m just trying to stay in today. Every moment, I’ll be where my feet are, so I haven’t thought about it.”
Source: Berkshire mont