BRADENTON -- Brett Hanewich is one of those lucky few who are living a dream while chasing one.
It's all about baseball. It's his passion.
Ever since he was a little boy, Hanewich has dreamed about being drafted by a major league team.
In the meantime, all he wants to do is play baseball -- morning, noon and night.
The 6-foot-3, 210-pound two-way prospect began to make that possible after the 2011 season, when he left Lakewood Ranch High to play baseball at IMG Academics and attend school there.
After the season, Hanewich joined the Florida Travel Ball (FTB) team based in Kissimmee. By the time his year is over, the pitcher/infielder will have played about 100 games.
"It was a tough decision leaving all my friends and the other sports at Lakewood Ranch and I knew some people might be mad at me, but I needed to look
out for my best interests," Hanewich said. "I knew there was not another opportunity like this for baseball. I get to play baseball every single day, and half of my day at school is playing baseball. Not many kids can do that because they are in school most of the day."
The Mustangs advanced to the state final four without Hanewich, who said he followed the team's progress but didn't regret his decision to leave.
Most of Hanewich's games are with his FTB team, which takes him to various parts of the country where scouts can get a good look at him. He has cut down on some of his travel because it was putting a strain on his family.
"Traveling almost every week got to me and was expensive for my family with flights and everything like that," Hanewich said. "I've got a tournament this week in Georgia and then a big one in Jupiter in October where there are supposed to be hundreds of major league scouts."
Hanewich is rated among the top high school players in the country heading into his senior year. It's uncertain when he will get drafted and whether teams see him as a pitcher or position player.
In the Class of 2013, Perfect Game ranks Hanewich No. 6 among first baseman nationally, No. 82 overall nationally and No. 13 overall in the state of Florida.
Last year for IMG, the switch hitter had a .394 batting average with 20 RBIs and eight extra-base hits, including two homers in 66 at-bats. In 40 1/3 innings, he compiled a 1.56 earned-run average with 36 strikeouts and 19 walks, holding opponents to a .143 batting average.
"I can't tell you what I like better, pitching or playing the field," the 17 year-old said. "If I ever get to the pros, I will have to let them decide for me because I can't. I don't even know what I am better at. I love both."
His position won't be the only thing Hanewich has to decide. He has verbally committed to Stanford and is not sure what he will do if he is selected in the early rounds of next year's Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft.
"My dream is to get drafted and so far the college thing is pretty much set," Hanewich said. "The next step would be pro ball, but I don't know how that is going to work out. I have no idea what I am going to do, I just know that I love baseball and can't see myself not doing this 10 years from now. I've been around the game ever since I grew up with my sisters playing softball."
Brett is the youngest of five siblings. His brother, Matt, played baseball at Lakewood Ranch and is attending Miami as a student. If Brett chooses Stanford, he would join his sister Corey, who plays softball for the Cardinal. His other sisters also played softball: Ashley at Wisconsin and Katelynn at Wheaton College.
Hanewich played third base and first base last season after playing shortstop at Lakewood Ranch. He likes third because hot shots test his reflexes. Right now, Stanford sees him as a two-way athlete at pitcher and as a position player.
"I am not being groomed into one particular position, which I like though I know that will be harder to do in college," Hanewich said.
Hanewich has no illusions about how difficult it is to reach the major leagues, but is content because he enjoys the process of trying to make that happen.
"In my mind, it's about preparation. You play like you practice, and if I prepare myself better than anyone else I improve my chances," he said. "Baseball is my life and my social life. But I am not complaining. I love the game and I just can't see myself giving it up even a couple of decades from now. I always make sure I get my work in every day."