'Let's do this': SS Sweeney ready for Yankees

July 13th, 2021

The Yankees are envisioning a future in which Trey Sweeney helps anchor the infield in the Bronx, selecting the Eastern Illinois University shortstop in the first round of the 2021 MLB Draft on Sunday night.

Sweeney was taken with the 20th overall pick, and the 21-year-old attended the Draft as part of the live audience at Denver's Bellco Theatre. Sweeney wasted no time delivering a message to the Yankees' fan base.

"Let's get to work; let's do this," Sweeney said on MLB Network. "I'm excited."

Sweeney is coming off a terrific redshirt sophomore season in which he was named a first-team All-American by Baseball America, Perfect Game and ABCA, becoming the first player in Eastern Illinois history to earn first team All-American honors at the NCAA Division I level.

Of trying on the Yankees pinstripes for the first time, Sweeney said: "It feels awesome. It feels great to put this iconic logo on my chest and my hat. I'm thankful and blessed."

Standing 6-foot-4 and weighing 200 pounds, the left-handed hitter has something of an unorthodox swing, but it has worked for him. Sweeney has added power to his game and was named the Ohio Valley Conference Player of the Year this past season.

“I can hit for power or situationally, hit singles for average or hit some doubles, or hit some out of the park for home runs,” Sweeney said. “I’ll provide a little spark. Overall, I just do my job at the plate any way I can, whether that’s moving runners or getting them in.”

Sweeney has earned raves with good bat-to-ball skills, plate discipline and strong exit velocity numbers, factors weighed heavily by the Yankees' hierarchy. Scouts saw improvements in Sweeney's defense this past season, rating him as owning a plus arm, though there is a chance that he may move to third base as a professional.

“I feel confident sticking at shortstop, playing at the highest level,” Sweeney said. “But I know there’s some things I need to work on, including my speed, to be able to do that. I’m confident in myself to play shortstop, but I also have experience around the rest of the infield, so it wouldn’t be a problem to me either way. Whatever I have to do to help the Yankees’ organization is what I’ll do.”

In 48 games this past season, he slashed .382/.522/.712 with 52 runs, 65 hits, 10 doubles, 14 home runs and 58 RBIs in 48 games this year, walking 46 times against only 24 strikeouts.

“We are really excited to have selected Trey Sweeney,” said Damon Oppenheimer, the Yankees’ vice president of domestic amateur scouting. “He has excellent raw power and contact ability, and he can hit to all fields with strong plate discipline.

“At shortstop, he has a good clock, doesn’t play rushed and has good field awareness. His timing for both getting to ground balls and getting the ball across the infield is excellent. We also really like Trey’s makeup as he’s smart with good instincts. With his overall tool set, we believe he has the potential to be an impact player.”

A product of Louisville, Ky., Sweeney helped lead his high school team to a state championship but received only one Division I offer. It has been a rapid climb to the first round and Yankees pinstripes. He was rated as the No. 55 prospect entering the Draft by MLB Pipeline.

“I did see that [ranking], but I try not to think anything of that and leave that behind,” Sweeney said. “It’s OK, but actually the Yankees thought a little bit higher of me and I’m happy with that. I’m happy to prove the Yankees right and work hard for their organization.”

The Yankees' first-round selection last year was catcher Austin Wells, who went 28th overall and is currently playing for Low-A Tampa. The last time that the Yanks made the 20th overall selection was 1996, a pick which they used on left-hander Eric Milton.

This marks the second time in the last three years that the Yankees selected a shortstop in the first round (after Anthony Volpe from Delbarton High School in New Jersey in 2019), but just their third first-round middle infielder selection since 2011 (also Kyle Holder in 2015).

Like many shortstops, Sweeney said that he considers Derek Jeter one of his idols. Unlike most, he’ll now have the opportunity to pursue Jeter’s path and play shortstop for the Yankees.

“There’s nobody like The Captain,” Sweeney said. “Those are definitely some big shoes to fill, but it’s my honor to try to do that any way I can. I’m coming in to work hard and try to follow in his footsteps and be a great Yankee. I’m up for the challenge, and I’m really excited for it.”