BRIDGEWATER – It takes a lot to bother Trey Sweeney.
Not long before the first pitch was thrown at TD Bank Ballpark Friday night, the Somerset Patriots shortstop was heading into the clubhouse after batting practice wearing his New York Yankees-issued shorts, despite the seasonably cold temperatures.
The 6-foot-2, 200-pound Louisville native brushed off the good-natured jokes headed his way for not adjusting to the elements the way many of his teammates had, insisting he’d be fine once gametime rolled around.
Much like questions two days prior about his perhaps moving to another position, it didn’t seem to bother him, as he went 2-for-3 with a double, run scored, walk and two stolen bases in the Patriots 6-5 win over the Harrisburg Senators, ultimately helping them take two out of three in the season-opening series.
But about playing somewhere else in the field, however?
That wouldn’t bother him either. Taken with the 20th overall pick out of Eastern Illinois University in the 2021 MLB Draft by the Yankees despite their wealth of shortstop prospects at the time, including now-starter Anthony Volpe and Oswald Peraza, Sweeney hasn’t played a professional game at another position just yet.
As he’s now firmly at Double-A, and his progression moving up is blocked by those two players, that may change. Just not yet.
“I haven’t heard anything specifically about that yet,” Sweeney said. “I know they want me to get some reps and practice every now and then just in case, but as of now, I think I’m going to be playing shortstop, so we’ll see.”
Set to turn 23 April 24, Sweeney has some experience at third base both at Eastern Illinois and with Lafayette in the summer collegiate Prospect League, as well as some time at second base with the latter as well.
“I’ll play wherever they need me to, whenever they ask me to,” he said. “(Versatility), you want to be as (versatile) as you can, so you can have more opportunities.”
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Sweeney joined Somerset in early September last year, not long after Volpe was promoted to Triple-A Scranton, and helped them win a championship, hitting .233 with two homers and five RBI in 11 regular season games.
Given the glut of shortstop depth, many have floated Sweeney’s name in trade speculation ever since he was drafted, not unlike Peraza, who remains with the organization in Scranton. But barring a change in plans, Sweeney is set to be a key piece of the Patriots this season, as he continues to develop and perhaps starts to show some defensive versatility in pro ball moving forward.
With his bigger frame, many have wondered how he might look at third base down the road, especially with shortstop seemingly locked up in the big leagues, but it’ll be wait-and-see for now.
“I don’t have that answer now,” said manager Raul Dominguez. “I know he’s going to be playing a lot of shortstop here. Things are going to change; maybe that will change this week, or next month. It depends what they want him to do, it depends what they need in the big leagues or what they need him to be in the future. But for now, he’s going to start playing shortstop.”
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