Yankees love affair with Trey Sweeney clear after first-round selection at 2021 MLB Draft

Yankees Rachel Balkovec
Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports

From afterthought to a first-round selection of the New York Yankees, shortstop Trey Sweeney had quite the night to remember on Sunday when his name was called with the 20th overall pick of the 2021 MLB Draft.

“It’s absolutely surreal,” Sweeney told MLB Network. “It’s something I’ve dreamed about since I was a little kid. I’ve been watching this every year on TV and to be in this position is unbelievable.”

Opting to go the collegiate route after he was passed over 23 times at that year’s draft, the 21-year-old bet on himself to improve his standing at the only school that offered him a scholarship — Eastern Illinois. The maturation process has been a good one for Sweeney, growing three inches and putting on 25 pounds where he now stands at 6-foot-4, 200 lbs. while being named the 55th-best prospect in the draft class of 2021 by Baseball America and MLB Pipeline.

It turned out to be a good bet.

Sweeney slashed .382/.522/.712 in his redshirt sophomore season at Eastern Illinois with 14 home runs, 48 RBI, 52 runs, 10 doubles, and two triples in 48 games. He received First Team All-American honors from Baseball America, Perfect Game, and the American Baseball Coaches Association.

That resume prompted the Yankees to take Sweeney much earlier than expected at No. 20. 

“We are really excited to have selected Trey Sweeney. He has excellent raw power and contact ability, and he can hit to all fields with strong plate discipline,” Yankees scouting director, Daman Oppenheimer, said. “At shortstop, he has a good clock, doesn’t play rushed, and has good field awareness. His timing for both getting to groundballs and getting the ball across the infield is excellent.

“We also really like Trey’s make-up as he’s smart with good instincts. With his overall toolset, we believe he has the potential to be an impact player.”

Sweeney’s game, however, comes with its fair share of things to work on. Most notably, a lack of speed and range will likely force a move from shortstop to third base as he ascends through the Yankees’ system.

At the plate, he has a sizable leg kick and hitch in his swing that will need to be ironed out — but the intangibles that come with his plate discipline and ability to send the ball to all fields gives the Yankees a good canvas to work with.