On Sunday the Tampa Bay Rays, and the rest of Major League Baseball will start the 2021 MLB Draft. With just a few days before the draft, we wanted to look at some prospects who have been linked to the Tampa Bay Rays.
The first prospect we want to spotlight is Eastern Illinois University Shortstop Trey Sweeney. Sweeney was mocked to the Rays last week by SportingNews.com, so let’s take a deeper look into Trey Sweeney.
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Who is Trey Sweeney?
Sweeney was the starting shortstop for the Eastern Illinois Panthers in 2021, and played in 47 games for the Panthers this season. According to MLB.com, Sweeney is the 55th ranked prospect in the entire 2021 MLB Draft.
Sweeney, a redshirt sophomore, put his name on the map in his freshman season in which he played in 55 games for the Panthers. In those games, Sweeney hit .271 with a .342 on-base percentage.
Sweeney got off to a fast start in the 2020 season, slashing .351/.439/.456 in the first 14 games of the season. However, that is where Sweeney would see his stats finish, as the season was cut short due to COVID-19.
This brings us to this past season, Sweeney continued to raise the bar for himself at the plate, as he finished the season with a .382 batting average. However, what developed for Sweeney in 2021 was the power.
Sweeney hit only three home runs in his first 69 games with Eastern Illinois through two seasons. However, in 2021, Sweeney dropped 14 long balls in 48 games. Naturally, Sweeney saw the highest RBI total in his NCAA career, driving in 58 runs this past season.
As well as his RBIs, Sweeney raised his slugging percentage from .456 in 2020, to .712 in 2021.
What is Trey Sweeney?
Sweeney is a left-handed hitting shortstop, who will likely need to move to third base, or possibly first due to his size. Sweeney measures 6′ 4”, and isn’t a speedster, which will likely cause the move to a corner-infield spot.
However, the 21-year-old hasn’t made his name in the field, but at the plate. MLB.com rated Sweeney’s bat a 60, on a 20-80 grading scale. Sweeney’s overall is rated a 50 on the same scale, which is the same as multiple prospects ranked inside the top-20 according to MLB.com.
How would Trey Sweeney fit with the Tampa Bay Rays?
First off, I personally would pick a college player over a high school player in the first round, every time. So, the pick of Sweeney wouldn’t bother me much. However, the Rays have a stockpile of shortstops/third basemen.
Now that Taylor Walls has returned from the IL, it appears Wander Franco will play more third than short. Walls might be the future at shortstop, but if he isn’t, two of the Rays’ top-10 prospects, aside from Walls and Franco, are listed at shortstops. So, it appears the Rays are set at short.
If Franco stays at third, and is the player many believe he will become, there would be no reason to draft a guy in the first round that plays third base. Which makes me wonder about first base.
The Tampa Bay Rays do not have a true first baseman in their top-30 prospects, and Ji-Man Choi is 30 years old. This is a position of concern for the Rays going forward.
With that said, there is no evidence that Sweeney can, or would play first base if selected by the Rays. However, with his size, I would imagine it would be considered.
However, at the end of the day, it’s his bat that will make the decision. If the Rays believe this guy will hit, they will find somewhere for him to play.
We are just getting started with prospect profiles here at Rays Colored Glasses, so check back throughout the rest of the week before the first round of the MLB Draft on Sunday.
Trey Sweeney is without a doubt a very solid option for the Rays at #28, but there are many more intriguing players to take a look at!