When the New York Yankees took shortstop Trey Sweeney with their first round pick (20th overall) on Sunday, lots of experts and evaluators warned that while he can evidently hit, there are questions about his defense that could force a move to another position in the not-so-distant future, with third base as the most likely alternative.
Generally speaking, prospects with a good hitting profile have more value if they are able to play an up-the-middle position (shortstop, second base, center field, catcher) because they are more demanding than the corners. However, the Yankees are not worried about this and think Sweeney has the goods to be a long-term shortstop.
â€œWe really see him as being able to play shortstop,â€ Damon Oppenheimer, the Yankeesâ€™ vice president of domestic amateur scouting, said to MLB.com. â€œHeâ€™s smooth; heâ€™s got good hands. He runs well enough. His range is good, and heâ€™s got a plus arm. Realistically, he has all the tools and the intangibles to be a shortstop. He has the clock to play shortstop, so defensively we donâ€™t see any issues.â€
The Yankees added another middle infielder to their collection
While Oppenheimer said Sweeney is versatile and could theoretically play other positions, the organizational priority is to give him all the necessary tools to stay at short.
â€œI feel confident sticking at shortstop, playing at the highest level,â€ Sweeney said. â€œBut I know thereâ€™s some things I need to work on, including my speed, to be able to do that. Iâ€™m confident in myself to play shortstop, but I also have experience around the rest of the infield, so it wouldnâ€™t be a problem to me either way.â€
Sweeney is a 6-foot-4, 200-lb hitter with the potential to hit for average and power, as he did in Eastern Illinois University.
As for the shortstop logjam there may be in the system now, with two fellow Yankees prospects playing the position (Anthony Volpe and Oswald Peraza, among others), Oppenheimer said that they couldnâ€™t pass on Sweeney and implied they approached the best player available and didnâ€™t draft on need.
â€œIn the amateur world, you just canâ€™t stop taking the best,â€ Oppenheimer said. â€œSweeney was the best guy that we thought [was available] at the time. Even though you have Volpe coming, you still make that pick.â€