For the second time in three years, the Yankees went shortstop with their first-round pick.
The Yankees drafted Eastern Illinois’ Trey Sweeney with the No. 20-overall pick Sunday night, going off the board to swipe the MLB draft’s No. 55 prospect with a plus hit tool, according to MLB.com.
Sweeney, a 6-foot-4, 200-pound shortstop, hit .382 with 14 home runs this spring as a redshirt sophomore on the way to first-team All-American honors. The left-handed hitting and right-handed throwing 21-year-old went undrafted out of St. Xavier High School in Louisville before breaking out as the 2021 Ohio Valley Conference Player of the Year.
“It’s just a lot of hard work and using my strengths and being able to put the bat on the ball and do it consistently and well,” Sweeney told ESPN. “To help put my school on the map a little bit, it was nice to see.”
It marked the third time in their last four first-round picks that the Yankees selected a college product, and the second time they nabbed a shortstop in the last three years, joining Anthony Volpe (No. 30 pick in 2019).
The Yankees have not had a strong track record with first-round picks in recent years. Of 14 first-round picks from 2007-2017 — 2018 pick Anthony Seigler is still only at High-A — only Aaron Judge has made a real impact in the major leagues. That does not include Gerrit Cole, their 2008 pick, who did not sign. Two others, James Kaprielian (2015) and Blake Rutherford (2016), were used as trade chips, though Rutherford is one of seven first-rounders from that span who have yet to make the big leagues.
The last time the Yankees drafted 20th overall was in 1996 when they selected pitcher Eric Milton, who went on to have an 11-year MLB career — none with the Yankees, as they traded him as part of the package for Chuck Knoblauch in 1998.