Geoff Hartlieb: Lindenwood’s only Major League Baseball alumni


Photo by Don Adams Jr.

Geoff Hartlieb pitches during a game at Lindenwood.

Joshua Calloni, Sports Editor

Of 22,883 players that have appeared in at least one Major League Baseball game, only one has been drafted out of Lindenwood University, and that is current Miami Marlins pitcher Geoff Hartlieb.

Hartlieb pitched at Lindenwood from 2014 to 2016 and was drafted twice by major league organizations. The first time was in 2015 when he was drafted in the 37th round of the draft by the New York Mets, but he did not sign. Hartlieb was again drafted in 2016 by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 29th round of the draft and signed with the organization roughly a week after the draft.

“I take more pride in helping to pave the way for guys to come out of Lindenwood in the future and make it as well, more so than being the only one to do so,” Hartlieb said. “I would love for some other alumni to join me in the MLB fraternity.”

While at Lindenwood, Hartlieb pitched across three seasons, being utilized as both a starter and a reliever. He compiled five wins in a Lions uniform, and struck out 104 different batters, owning an earned run average of 6.04. In 2016, he won the Lindenwood Male Student-Athlete of the Year award.

“Some of my favorite memories are the road trips with the baseball team and just doing stuff with the guys. You never realize how much fun you were having and how much you appreciate times like that until you get a few years out and you look back,” Hartlieb said. “Late nights in the dorm, intramural basketball, walking back from Main Street, hanging out in the clubhouse after practice, and playing ping pong.”

During his studies at Lindenwood, Hartlieb was a double major, focusing on mass communications and corporate communications. He was also a part of Lindenwood’s Alpha Delta Sigma National Advertising Honor Society.

“I think Lindenwood really helped me grow up during those post-high school years and being on the baseball team with Bletcher did as well,” Hartlieb said. “I figured out how to form relationships away from home and really work to get what I wanted”

After being drafted by the Pirates, and signing with the organization, Hartlieb reported to his first minor league destination, Bristol, Tennessee, where he spent the 2016 season with the Bristol Pirates. Hartlieb rose through the Pirates minor league system the following two years. In 2017, he spent time in Bradenton, Florida with the Bradenton Marauders and Charleston, West Virginia, with the West Virginia Power. That season, he dominated opposing hitters, pitching to an earned run average of 2.12, which is solid for a relief pitcher.

“I will never forget that phone call I got from the Pirates when my scout, Matt Bimeal, said to me that I was going to be a Pirate and they couldn’t be more excited to have me. It was surreal then and still is a bit now,” Hartlieb said.

The following season, 2018, Hartlieb found himself pitching at the AA level, which is two steps away from the majors, in Altoona, Pennsylvania. He spent the full season with the team, pitching 47 games out of the bullpen as a reliever. The Lindenwood graduate had an ERA of 3.24, striking out 56 hitters.

Hartlieb started off the 2019 season in Indianapolis, the Pirates AAA affiliate. Through his first 12 games, he allowed seven earned runs, and saw an uptick in strikeouts, posting his highest strikeouts per nine innings numbers in his career. That start was good enough to catch the eye of the Pirates’ front office, as on May 18th, Hartlieb was promoted to the majors for the first time. He pitched that night against the San Diego Padres and struck out the first hitter he faced, Ian Kinsler.

Hartlieb spent the better part of the following month with the major league club, before being optioned back to AAA. He was again called up at the end of July 2019 and spent the remainder of the season with the Pirates. During his second tenure with the team, he pitched two games against the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium, the team he grew up watching, at the stadium he grew up attending games at.

“Getting to play catch on the field and shag batting practice and just taking in the stadium skyline was awesome. Then actually pitching in the game and having a ton of friends and family in the stands was awesome,” Hartlieb said. “It will always go down as one of the coolest sports memories I have, right up there with facing Albert Pujols in LA.”

The following season, Hartlieb spent the entirety of the COVID-19 pandemic-shortened year in the Pirates bullpen. He appeared in 21 games, 16 of which he held the opposing team scoreless. It ended up being his season at the major league level statistically, pitching to a 3.63 earned run average, and only allowing nine earned runs over 22 innings pitched.

The start of the 2021 season brought about some change for Hartlieb’s career. He didn’t crack the opening day roster with the Pirates that season and was sent back to the Pirates AAA team, the Indianapolis Indians. He made four appearances for the Pirates that season, pitching twice more at Busch Stadium.

On July 3, he was designated for assignment by the Pirates, meaning the team removed him from their 40-man roster, which is the pool of players that can freely come up from the minors, and play in the majors. A week later, he was selected off waivers by the New York Mets, essentially meaning the Mets bought his contract, and placed him on their 40-man roster.

Hartlieb spent the next three months shuttling between the Mets AAA team in Syracuse, New York, and the major league team, being sent down and called back up six separate times. He appeared in three games for the Mets, allowing seven runs in four innings.

On Sept. 2, he was once again designated for assignment by the Mets. Two days later, he was claimed off waivers by the Boston Red Sox and sent to their AAA team in Worcester, Massachusetts. He never made it to the majors with Boston and remained with the Red Sox organization throughout the entirety of the 2022 season.

After pitching in ten games in the Venezuelan Winter League, Hartlieb signed on with the Miami Marlins for the 2023 season and is currently rostered with their AAA team, the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp.

“My biggest goal for 2023 is now to get healthy again and back on the field. I got hurt in Spring Training and am working my way back from that now. Aside from that, getting back to the big leagues is goal number one,” Hartlieb said. “I’ve put in the work and I believe in what I’ve done and am excited to prove it when I come back and hopefully be pitching in Miami soon.”

As of writing, Hartlieb is not only the lone Lindenwood alumni to make the majors but is currently the only alumni currently in professional baseball. He’ll look to crack the majors for the first time since 2021 out of the Marlins bullpen this season.