Leading up to the 2021 draft, draft models loved Trey Sweeney. Why? There are a few reasons. For one, he performed like crazy at a relatively small school. On top of that, he was a young performer with advanced feel for contact, despite having what some have called a quirky swing.
Sweeney’s swing is very loud by traditional definitions. There are a lot of moving parts. For many players that can be an issue, and Sweeney’s odd mechanics could be part of what had some scouts lower on him than the models. But in Sweeney’s case, he has great sequencing of those loud movements.
It’s important to make clear that Sweeney has room to clean up his swing mechanics, but that could be said about almost any player in the world. That’s just baseball. The point is, at this moment in time, he has an advanced feel for contact because of the way he sequences his swing and handles the barrel.
Sweeney wiggles his bat around as he gathers his body. This is a rhythm thing for most hitters so they can stay loose as they prepare to stretch their core. When wiggling your bat like Sweeney does, you put your body in a position to counterbalance the leg lift. For both pitchers and hitters, balancing your forward momentum is very important. For one, it lets you create separation between your shoulders and hips. That same movement then creates space for one to rotate.
He already has a great feel for how that works, but in the clip above you can see a few swings where he gets a little stuck on his back leg. Over time, he will refine his leg kick so it’s not just lift, but also a rotation with his lead hip that he can then uncork. Fully refined or not, he creates movement that is crucial for any hitter to produce effortless power.
Among those movements is a very smooth bat comb. While the timing of the bat comb is sometimes not fully in sync with his lower half, it’s still a movement that a lot of players can’t afford to make at all. Combing the bat like Sweeney does creates a movement that provides early entry into the hitting zone, therefore giving a better chance at making hard contact in different quadrants of the zone. That movement is one of the reasons for his advanced hit tool. Pairing that with superb pitch recognition leads to the great numbers that he put up in college.
It may sound aggressive, but the player that pops into my head when looking at different angles of Sweeney’s swing is the one and only Robinson Canó. Sure, it’s unlikely that Sweeney reaches the fluidity of one of the best second baseman of all time, but I think this swing comp helps give an idea of the kind of batted ball profile his swing could produce.
I’ve heard many DJ LeMahieu comps because of the body similarities, but I don’t at all see it when it comes to Sweeney’s swing. It’s easy to compare draftees to players on the current roster, but it can also be a little lazy. A player’s swing is the most unique thing about them, and without taking their specific movements into consideration, it’s not all that valuable to draw those types of comparisons.
I may have just compared some of the movements in his swing to Canó, but loads of things would obviously have to fall in place to even sniff Canó’s ceiling. The Yankees are beginning to establish that they can help young players achieve about average outcomes relative to themselves, but it’s always a toss up with the level of prospects in the 45 future value range. Here, the classic cautiously optimistic mindset is in order. I will choose to see the best in Trey Sweeney for now. He’s got a great swing and some serious hitting skills. There are surely loads of outcomes where he falls short of the majors, but just as well, there are some that include that loud swing producing loud contact in the bigs.