The 21-year-old Sweeney was the Yankees’ top selection in the 2021 MLB Draft (20th overall), joining a promising crop of shortstops that includes Volpe and Oswald Peraza, the organization’s No. 3 prospect. Sweeney may eventually shift to another position, possibly an infield corner, but his focus remains on improving at shortstop.
“Obviously, I would like to stay at short and play there for as long as possible,” Sweeney said. “But [changing positions] wouldn’t bother me. I’m here to help my team win and try to make an impact in the lineup, so that stuff doesn’t really bother me or get to me at all.”
At 6-foot-4, Sweeney has garnered comparisons to DJ LeMahieu in terms of his build, demeanor and work ethic. LeMahieu’s versatility at multiple infield positions could eventually be added to Sweeney’s tool kit, but not at the moment.
“He’s a bigger guy, and his measurements are off the charts,” said Kevin Reese, the Yankees’ vice president of player development. “Those things tell us that we think he can continue to play shortstop. Some guys come in from [college] that have been in the weight room for four years and they might be maxed-out body-wise.
“I think he’s got some room to go there, and so that could potentially make him faster and quicker. It could also make him a guy that’s going to hit 30 home runs and maybe we do move him to third base over time, but right now we look at him as a shortstop.”
The left-handed-hitting Sweeney enters 2022 ranked as the Yankees’ No. 7 prospect, coming off a 32-game professional debut last year in which he posted a .261/.384/.548 slash line with seven homers and 14 RBIs, mostly with Low-A Tampa.
“The main difference to me was the fastball, not velocity-wise, but how much they move,” Sweeney said. “It’s definitely an adjustment, and it took me a little while to get used to. I think that first year of professional experiences is going to be big for me.”
Sweeney could open 2022 at Low-A Tampa or High-A Hudson Valley. He aims to be more aggressive at the plate, showcasing the live bat that drew scouts’ attention at Eastern Illinois University. Sweeney hit .328/.437/.517 over his three-year collegiate career, playing for former Yankees pitcher Jason Anderson.
“Right now, I think it’s just swinging at more pitches,” Sweeney said. “Last season, I was taking a few more hittable pitches that I think I should have swung at. That’s just one adjustment that will help me for this season.”
Sweeney said that his goals for the upcoming season are to improve his speed and strength, while making tweaks to reduce the choppiness of his swing and build consistency at the plate.
“Everybody’s working toward the same goal -- to play in Yankee Stadium,” Sweeney said.