MLB.com Columnist

Terence Moore

Swanson quickly becoming likeable, rising superstar

Swanson quickly becoming likeable, rising superstar

Dansby Swanson is so likeable. It goes beyond the fact that when you combine his splendid potential at the plate, and in the field as a shortstop for the Braves, with his overall charisma, you get the feeling you're in the presence of the next, well, perhaps Derek Jeter.

"That would be great, if that happens," said Swanson, always confident in his ability, but never with a hint of arrogance.

See why he's likeable?

Oh, and check out Swanson's Twitter profile. Right under his name and Twitter handle of @LieutenantDans7 (a Forrest Gump reference from somebody born the same year as the movie's debut in 1994), it says, "I am Second. Proverbs 3: 5-6. Professional Athlete for the Braves."

How many pro athletes have a Bible verse on their Twitter page?

"I mean, Proverbs 3:5-6 is great, because of everything it preaches, and it preaches life to me," said Swanson of the verse which reads: "Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not into thine own understanding. In all ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy path."

"It's about just trusting in a plan, and about handling things that are under your control and not worrying about things that are out of your control," Swanson said. "It's kind of like a reminder that there is somebody who is creating that path for you, and He knows what's best, and it's your job to have faith. I was just telling somebody that faith is so cool, magical and powerful, because it's so strong, but it's so hard to maintain."

More than a few folks have faith that 2016 was just the beginning of Swanson evolving into one of baseball's next big things. He has plenty of time. He's still a couple of weeks from his 23rd birthday, and he didn't make his debut in the Major Leagues until mid-August of last year, when he was promoted to the Braves from Double-A Mississippi.

Snitker on Swanson's development

He grew up pulling for the Braves in Marietta, Ga., just north of Atlanta, which is another reason much of northern Georgia roared during his first game, when he collected two hits.

The kid was so calm. Not only that Aug. 17 night at Turner Field against the Twins -- with his parents, other relatives and most of Marietta in the stands -- but throughout the rest of the season. He finished with a .302 batting average, three home runs and 17 RBIs, while looking Jeter-like in the field.

Swanson's first career hit

Just 38 games. That's all of Swanson's Major League experience, and he finished an at-bat shy of 130 to keep his rookie status for 2017.

None of that has mattered in the big picture, though. The Braves will have a bobblehead night for Swanson this season, after they open their new ballpark within a few fungoes away from his childhood home. In addition, the bosses at New Era Cap named him one of their ambassadors to join Mookie Betts, Corey Seager, Jose Altuve and Noah Syndergaard.

The New Era honor. The bobblehead day. The comparisons to baseball's all-time greats despite being just five years out of high school.

Swanson is also less than two years removed from his playing days at Vanderbilt University, where you have to do more as an athlete than learn how to hit curveballs. He did the latter well enough to become the Most Outstanding Player of the 2014 College World Series, and he helped Vanderbilt win the championship that season over Virginia.

Swanson and his college teammates formed such a tight bond that they call themselves the "Vandy Boys," and many join Swanson as residents of Vanderbilt's home of Nashville.

"I've never had a bad experience here, nor have I ever met anybody who didn't like to spend time in Nashville," Swanson said. "Then you combine the city with the brotherhood we've created -- you know, the 'Vandy Boys' -- and this puts everything into perspective. This is a down year, and we probably have 20 guys here working out. They're re-doing the baseball facilities. They've put $12.5 million into them. A new pro locker room. A cafeteria area. Batting cages. A weight room. It's going to be gorgeous. I've seen the blueprint, and it's going to be nothing short of amazing.

"There were so many things we did together as teammates while we were in college that we're all like brothers to each other. So we all come back and get a chance to hang out with each other."

Swanson receives ovation

Now don't get the wrong idea. Swanson still has the Atlanta area in his heart, and not just because he works for the local Major League team. Let's return to his Twitter profile -- you know, the one with the Atlanta Falcons logo as its avatar. So guess which team he'll be cheering for next week when the Falcons meet the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LI?

In fact, Swanson is flying to Houston next week for the game with one of his best friends from high school.

"Oh, yeah. This is like Mecca, because I've been living and dying with the Falcons since I was a little kid," Swanson said. "I loved all the Braves players, because I loved the team and I loved the fact that they won. So I grew up obsessed and addicted to winning, because that was the standard the Braves set when I was kid. That's why I like to hold myself and everybody else up to that standard. You're not just out here to play. You're out here to win. You know what I mean?"

Yes, we do, which is why everybody who loves baseball should begin hugging Dansby Swanson right now.

Terence Moore is a columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.