Grant Hartwig, a Miami of Ohio right-hander, thought his baseball career was over when he walked off the mound in a loss to Ball State on May 29, 2021.
The Redhawks were not going to make the postseason, and Hartwig’s college career had been hindered by Tommy John surgery in April 2018 that cost him all of 2019, followed by the impact of COVID on the 2020 season. Hartwig thought no scouts talked to him before the 2021 draft, so he wasn’t surprised he wasn’t taken. “I was thinking I was done with baseball,” Hartwig said.
“It seemed less and less possible that anything would happen.”
The right-hander had spent five years invested in trying to go to med school, majoring in pre-med and microbiology.
After majoring in those subjects, he signed up for the MCAT to apply for medical school the following year.
But a few days after the 20-round MLB amateur draft ended, the Mets reached out to him, and Hartwig soon reconsidered his decision.
General manager Billy Eppler said the Mets signed Hartwig based partly on the evaluation of area scout Chris Heidt.
“We saw elements in his game that got our interest,” Eppler said. “He was a target of ours after the draft.”
Hartwig realised that nothing was filling that competitive void after he stopped playing. “I needed something more. The Mets calling got me to do it.”
So instead of preparing for medical school, where Hartwig intended to become an orthopaedic surgeon in part due to the importance of the elbow surgery that extended his career, Hartwig signed with the Mets and was sent to Port St. Lucie to finish out the year.
Last year, he got to Triple-A Syracuse and could be in play to pitch out of the bullpen in Queens at some point this season.
As for a possible medical career, the 25-year-old Hartwig said he’s locked in on pitching for now. “When I was thinking of med school, I wanted to be able to help guys keep their career going and give back what was given to me,” Hartwig said. “But whatever I’m doing, I’m focused on. And that’s baseball now.”
So far this spring, Hartwig has pitched two scoreless innings in a pair of Grapefruit League appearances, and his arm has impressed Buck Showalter and Eppler.
“He’s stood out at every level,” Eppler said. “Hitters will tell you if someone can pitch or not, and hitters are telling us that Grant Hartwig can pitch.”