Highland native Geoff Hartlieb has been so dominant as a relief pitcher that he has been called up one level to the Bradenton, Florida Marauders, the Class A-Advanced affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates, which competes in the Florida State League.
Hartlieb, who pitched out of the bullpen this season for the West Virginia Power, left at 5:15 a.m. Friday morning and arrived in Tampa around noon, where he then headed to Lakeland, Florida, to meet up with his new club on the road.
“I am very excited to get the call up and jump into a new level of professional baseball,” Hartlieb said. “It definitely feels good to have my play rewarded. I feel like with the body of work I’ve put together thus far, I feel I’ve earned it and I’m really looking forward to proving myself here as well.”
For the West Virginia Power this season, Hartlieb has compiled impressive numbers. The 2012 Highland High School graduate converted all six save opportunities and compiled a microscopic 0.83 ERA. He only surrendered three earned runs, 22 hits and six walks while striking out 26 in 32 2/3 innings of work.
Hartlieb got stronger the more he pitched as he did not allow a single earned run in his last nine appearances, which was a span of 15 innings. He also converted all four save opportunities and yielded just 12 hits and one walk while punching out 13.
“My groundball rates being high — around 70 percent — with my velocity jumping to 93-96 normally, and touching 98 at times, have been major keys to my success this year,” Hartlieb said. “I just try get out there and relentlessly attack the hitter and try to impose my will on them. Quick outs are good for everyone and that’s been my approach so far.”
The 6-foot-6 right-hander spent the 2016 season with the Bristol Pirates, a rookie-level affiliate located in Bristol, Va., which competes in the Appalachian League. While there, Hartlieb went 4-1 with 28 strikeouts and a 4.44 ERA in 26 1/3 innings spanning 16 games.
Hartlieb was taken in the 2016 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft by the Pittsburgh Pirates with the 885th selection in the 29th round.
That was an eight-round improvement from 2015 when he was drafted by the New York Mets in the 37th round with the 1,109th pick. Hartlieb opted not to sign with the Mets and instead return to college for one more season.
Prior to being drafted, Hartlieb pitched two years at Lindenwood University in St. Charles, Missouri, after transferring from Quincy University upon completion of the 2014 school year. At Quincy, Hartlieb played college basketball for one season.