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Hilton’s Schwind living the dream
Jonathan Schwind of Hilton is living the dream of many baseball playing boys growing up – playing professional baseball with the Pittsburgh Pirates affiliate in Bradenton, Florida.
Drafted in 2011 in the 41st round, the Pirates tried to convert the four-year Cadets varsity member and Marist College product to catcher. This season, he is listed on the roster as an outfielder, but can play virtually anywhere on the field.
“I spent the first two years as a pro learning how to catch, but also played some third base and outfield,” said Schwind by phone.
“Then there were higher (draft) picks ahead of me so they came to me and asked me if I would be willing to move to the outfield. I said ‘whatever gets me on the field’ so I’m mostly playing the outfield though I did catch one game last year. I’ll probably be an emergency catcher down the road.”
As of the end of June, Schwind was batting .288 this season with 47 hits in 163 at bats and 16 RBI’s.
He played all four season of high school baseball with varsity following in the footsteps of older brothers Erik, Matt and Greg, though admitted not getting a single hit his freshman year. His first year in Hilton was the final season under head coach Ory Mee with the final three under current head coach Jeff Murphy. Then it was Marist College in Poughkeepsie before his draft selection.
“I learned everything from them by following them around,” said Schwind about his older brothers. “I’m sure I was bullied a bit, but came out better for it.”
His first professional season came in the Gulf Coast League also in Bradenton. He split 2012 between the GCL and the NY-Penn League with the State College Spikes in Pennsylvania. Then the promotion to High-A level in the Florida State League this season. The next step with the Pirates would be AA with Altoona in the Eastern League.
But it’s not just baseball this year that is included with the dream. He is engaged to be married this October to his fiancee Lindsay, who he met his senior year of high school and is a graduated nursing major from Nazareth College.
“I’m just taking this day-by-day,” said the son of Cheri and Dan Schwind about his playing timetable. “I wasn’t taken until the 41st round, but Keith Hernandez was a 45th round pick.
“It’s not easy, but I love what I do. I did not have a good year last year swinging the bat, but I changed some things this past offseason to help keep the bat in the hitting zone longer and it’s helped.
“I’m not a guy who is going to play every day, but we’ll see if the cards fall right. Ultimately I’ll sit down with my family and my fiancee at the end of the year and re-evaluate, but I love playing the game and feel I’m progressing.”