Highland native Geoff Hartlieb signed a standard minor league contract with Major League Baseball’s Pittsburgh Pirates last Friday after being drafted the weekend before in the 29th round on June 11 by the Bucs with the 885th selection.
His 2016 selection was an eight-round improvement from the prior year when the right-handed hurler was drafted by the New York Mets in the 37th round with the 1,109th pick. Instead of signing with New York, he opted to return to college Lindenwood University in St. Charles, Mo.
After inking his deal with Pittsburgh, terms of which were not disclosed, Hartlieb has been assigned to the the Bristol Pirates, a rookie-level team based in Virginia that competes in the Appalachian League. He flew out to Bristol, Va., from Pittsburgh on Saturday afternoon. His new team plays its first game on Thursday against the Bluefield Blue Jays, the Toronto Blue Jays affiliate.
The 2012 graduate of Highland High School will play in Bristol until September, and then he will head to the Instructional Fall League in Bradenton, Fla., where the Pittsburgh Pirates hold spring training.
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“I’m excited and thrilled to start my time with the Pirates,” Hartlieb said after signing the contract on Friday. “They flew me out and took me around the ball park, front offices and gave me a feel for Pittsburgh. Since I signed my contract, I’ll be sent to Virginia, where they aren’t sure yet if I will start or relieve. This is all becoming really real, really quick, and honestly, all I want to do is slow down and play ball.”
This past spring at Lindenwood, Hartlieb averaged more than 7.5 strikeouts per nine innings and threw three complete games, while starting 11 games and appearing in 13 contests. Hartlieb also led all qualifying pitchers in only allowing 20 percent of hits allowed to be for extra bases.
The hurler has also found success in the classroom as 2016 marked the second consecutive year he was named the MIAA Academic Honor Roll.
Hartlieb still had one year of collegiate eligibility left after first playing basketball his freshman year at Quincy University during the 2012-13 school year.
Both as a junior and senior at Highland High School, Hartlieb garnered Class 3A All-State recognition in basketball while he was also an All-Area performer in baseball. In addition, Hartlieb was named to the Mississippi Valley Conference All-Conference First Team as a junior and senior in both baseball and basketball.