From high school to college and now the minor leagues, Jimmy Swift has been overlooked his entire baseball career.
It’s hard to miss what he’s doing now.
The West Des Moines native has gone from undrafted minor-league free agent to vending-machine stocker to possible major-league infielder.
“It’s pretty crazy,” said Swift, a 2006 graduate of Dowling Catholic.
Swift, an infielder for the Salt Lake Bees, the triple-A affiliate of the Los Angeles Angels, has turned heads throughout minor-league baseball with his stellar start to the season.
After opening the season in double-A, Swift was promoted to Salt Lake, where he has torn through Pacific Coast League pitching. Through 15 games after going 2-for-4 Monday night, he’s hitting .357 with four doubles, five RBIs and a home run in 56 at-bats.
It’s something many, including Swift, didn’t see coming. The former three-sport star at Dowling has flown under the radar.
In high school, he drew little interest from college coaches before landing with Creighton. Earning first-team all-Missouri Valley Conference honors in college didn’t catch the attention of many scouts, either.
As Swift sat around a pool on draft day waiting for the phone to ring, two other teammates got their calls. His never came.
“I was starting to think about what I was going to do,” Swift said. “(I was) thinking about putting my resume out and stuff like that and trying to get a real job.”
The Texas Rangers eventually came calling, offering him a minor-league contract.
Life hasn’t gotten any easier for Swift, who caught on with the Angels after getting released by the Rangers. During the offseason he’s worked odd jobs, spending parts of his winters painting and stocking vending machines.
His career almost came to an end after last season, when he once again went looking for offseason work after becoming a free agent.
Swift eventually returned to the Angels’ organization.
“You don’t really know what to do,” he said. “You don’t know if you should start looking for full-time stuff. You just kind of wait and see.”
The decision has paid off for the Bees, who have found Swift’s versatility across the infield and in the outfield useful.
“For him to put together as many good at-bats as he has and to have as much success as he’s had this quickly, I think it’s a bit of a surprise,” Salt Lake manager Keith Johnson said.
The stellar start to his season isn’t much of a surprise to those who have watched his rise.
Swift hit .307 in 48 minor-league games in 2011 and .240 in 106 games last year.
“His desire, his intensity and competitiveness were really unmatched,” Dowling coach Tim O’Neill said. “That’s what’s carrying him today.
“I think he’s starting to make a name for himself.”
Even Swift can’t remember a start to a season going this well.
“At times I’m seeing the ball really well,” he said. “I have just kind of kept my approach consistent. (I’m) not trying to do too much at the plate.”
Now 25, Swift could be one injury — or perhaps continued torrid offense — from a major-league call-up.
“I think I just kind of go about my business and don’t worry about that stuff,” he said. “You can drive yourself crazy if you think about that too much.
“Everybody dreams about it. Everybody wants to get here or wants to get to the big leagues. I don’t know if I ever thought I’d be here.”