|After graduating high school in Oregon, Dean Hartgraves attended junior college in the Northern California town of Weed at the College of the Siskiyous. He lettered in baseball both years while also excelling academically. The New York Mets drafted him as the 12th pick in the January 1986 draft, but he declined to sign.|
For 1987, he moved on to Fresno State University, where he also lettered. On June 2 of '87, the Astros made the lefthander Hartgraves their 20th round pick, and two weeks later, he signed.
The Astros assigned him to Auburn, where he posted good strikeout numbers, finishing second to only Todd McClure of those who pitched more than 3 games for the team in strikeouts per nine. Although his 1990 Star card at Columbus would later say Hartgraves had good control, in '87, he would finish tied for 8th of the 11 pitchers who threw in more than three games for Auburn that year in walks per nine.
For 1988, Hartgraves would get the promotion to Asheville, and was in the midst of what might be most charitably described as an OK year, when he threw the gem described on this page. Hartgraves would win another and lose another after his no-hitter to finish the year 5 - 9, with an ERA of 4.49. And although he struck out 11 of the 24 men he faced during the no-hitter, his strikeout rate for the year was nearly cut in half from what it had been in '87 with the short-season team. He did, however, slightly improve his walk rate from what it had been the year before.
He spent most of 1989 repeating at Asheville, but he was promoted to High A Osceola late in the year, and it was at Osceola where Hartgraves threw a second gem, on Monday August 21st, in a shortened six-inning home game vs. the Winter Haven Red Sox. Hartgraves then became (and still remains) only the third pitcher in the history of the Astros chain to pitch two no-hitters while employed for the organization. Juan Quintana threw two for Durham, once each in 1965 and 1966, while Don Wilson threw a pair for the major league club , notching one in 1967 and one in 1969. Hartgraves is the only one of the three to throw one for two different teams, and also the only one not to have mustered one of their no-nos over nine innings.
Having two minor league no-hitters on your resumè is nice, and it'll definitely get you noticed on a website like this, but it didn't help all that much in getting Hartgraves a major league job. He continued to pitch in the 'Stros system, being promoted to AA for 1990 and to AAA for 1991. Finally, in 1995, Hartgraves began the season as the closer at AAA Tucson, but had his contract purchased by the Astros on April 24th. He made his major league debut at the Chicago Cubs on May 3rd, giving up a run in an inning. He made 10 more appearances, and posted a 3.48 ERA before being optioned back to Tucson when Mike Hampton came back off the DL on June 12. Hartgraves returned to the Astros on July 4th and notched his first career victory at Philadelphia on August 16, just six days before his 30th birthday. Hartgraves' '96 Donruss card notes that he didn't give up a run at home until September 27th, and indeed, his ERA at the Astrodome in 1995 was 0.45.
Hartgraves was invited to Spring Training in 1996, but he was optioned to Tucson as the second-to-last cut on March 30 after going 0 - 1 with a 13.00 ERA in six Grapefruit League contests. Hartgraves pitched well at Tucson, and was recalled again on May 22nd. He continued to pitch well at home, and posted a 0.69 ERA in ten home games. But the road ERA was 15.00, and he was transferred back to Tucson on July 14. He was recalled yet again on the 19th, but five days after that he was placed on irrevocable waivers.
The next day he was claimed by the Atlanta Braves and sent to AAA Richmond.
The Braves recalled him and he made his debut for Atlanta on August 7, and he got into 20 games for the Braves. He spent all of 1997 at Richmond, and was given his release by the Braves on October 15 of that year. He was able to catch on with the Giants organization for 1998, and after opening the year at AAA Fresno, got into 5 games for Frisco, one of which was against Houston, and in which he gave up 3 runs over an inning and a third. Another three-run appearance six days later against the Cardinals became his swan song; the Giants optioned him back to Fresno, and in late September, Hartgraves made his last professional appearance in the same city where he'd pitched collegiately twelve years earlier. The Giants released him, and closed the book on the lefty's career, on October 15 of 1998.