The 2021 MLB Draft begins on July 11, 2021, and unlike in 2020, this will be a twenty round draft — shorter than the forty rounds the draft has been in the most recent years prior to 2020, but longer than last year’s five round version. The Rangers’ top three picks are at #2, #38, and #73.
In the coming days, we will be doing write-ups of potential Texas Ranger draft picks, looking both at players who are in the mix at #2 and players who would be candidates to be picked in the second or third rounds. Today we are looking at Eastern Illinois shortstop Trey Sweeney.
Trey Sweeney is a 6’4”, 185 lb. lefthanded hitting shortstop who is a junior at Eastern Illinois. Sweeney was unranked and undrafted coming out of high school, and didn’t do much his freshman year at EIU, slashing .271/.342/.354 in 209 plate appearances.
Sweeney had a very strong summer league performance in 2019, however, slashing .354/.453/.524 in 257 plate appearances for Lafayette of the wood bat Prospect League. He was off to a good start (.351/.435/.456) in his sophomore year before COVID-19 canceled things, and then slashed .397/.481/.676 in 79 plate appearances in the Coastal Plain League over the summer. Sweeney then exploded once college play began in 2021, putting up a .382/.522/.712 slash line in 226 plate appearances, with 46 walks against 24 strikeouts.
Sweeney is a bat first guy whose hit tool is considered his carrying tool. His bat to ball skills are considered to be very strong and he has very good strike zone judgment, as reflected by his walk and strikeout rates. He is generally not viewed as a big potential power guy, despite being 6’4”, although the thought seems to be that the hit tool and approach may allow him to produce more power than would be expected.
Sweeney does seem to have an unusual swing. There’s a big leg kick and a lot of moving parts, but he’s had success with it thusfar. That being said, it may be that once he gets to the pros he may have to simplify some of what he’s doing. The unconventional swing is going to be seen as something of a concern, though.
Sweeney is a shortstop currently but is expected to have to move to third base at the next level. He’s not particularly fast, but he does have the arm to play any of the four corners, it appears, and there’s some thought that he could also play second base. He is not seen as someone likely to be an asset defensively at any of those positions, however.
We currently have a pretty good sized spread in where Sweeney shows up on the boards. Baseball America has Sweeney at #55 on their current top 500 draft list, up from #82 previously. MLB Pipeline has Sweeney at #53 on their board. Over at ESPN Kiley McDaniel has Sweeney at #33 on his current board, while at the Athletic Keith Law does not hav Sweeney ranked at all. Fangraphs has Sweeney at #58 on their board.
Kiley McDaniel’s most recent mock draft does not have Sweeney going in the first round, but mentions him as a possibility for Tampa Bay at #28. Jim Callis has Sweeney falling out of the first round, though he mentions that the New York Yankees at #20 and the Los Angeles Dodgers at #29 are possible landing spots for Sweeney. Jonathan Mayo has Sweeney going to the Oakland A’s at #25, and also mentions him with the Chicago Cubs at #21. Fangraphs, Baseball America and Keith Law don’t have Sweeney in their most recent mocks.
Sweeney is another one of these players I never would have bothered writing up a few years ago, but who would seem to be in the Rangers’ wheelhouse given their recent shift in emphasis. He reminds me a bit of Davis Wendzel, who the Rangers took in the supplemental first round in 2019, a guy who doesn’t necessarily project for a ton of power but whose approach, hit tool and potential defensive versatility make him attractive.
There’s a pretty good chance that Sweeney is off the board when the Rangers pick at #38, but if he’s there, I wouldn’t be surprised at all if he is the pick.