Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Top 15 Hitters: #6 Matt Sweeney

Matt Sweeney
6'3" 215 lbs DOB: 4/4/1988
First/Third Baseman
Bats: Left | Throws: Right
2009: Rancho Cucamonga Quakes/Charlotte Stone Crabs
Acquired: Trade with Los Angeles Angels(with Alex Torres and Sean Rodriguez for Scott Kazmir)

Behind Alex Torres and Sean Rodriguez, Matt Sweeney has sort of become the forgotten man from the Scott Kazmir trade, but he offers tantalizing potential with his bat if he can stay on the field and pull it together.

Drafted out of a Maryland high school in the 8th round of the 2006 draft, Sweeney had a hot debut and followed it with 18 homeruns in the Midwest League in 2007, but his entire 2008 season was wiped out with an ankle injury. He returned in 2009 and hit .299/.379/.517 in 58 games with Rancho Cucamonga(he also played four games with the AZL Angels and six with the Charlotte Stone Crabs after the trade). His strikeout and walk rates each improved from his 2007 season, but it's important to remember than his 2009 numbers came in the hitting-friendly Cal League.

Sweeney can generate power to all fields, though he only managed nine homeruns in 2009. His plate discipline improved but still needs work, though his contact rate was impressive. Sweeney isn't an adept third baseman and would project as fringe-average at best at the major league level. He has a strong arm but his range, footwork, and hands rate below-average. With Evan Longoria penciled in as the Rays' third baseman for quite some time, a move across the diamond to first base could be in store sooner rather than later.

Despite his struggles in the brief time he spent with Charlotte, Sweeney is ready for a promotion to AA. Both corner infield positions are "open" with no real prospects challenging for them, so while Sweeney could start at third, his future is almost certainly at first base though. An uptick in power from his 2009 season as well as continued development in the walk/strikeout categories will help Sweeney secure a ticket to the big leagues down the line.


  1. Is he the best power hitter ther Rays have?

  2. "He has a strong arm but his range, footwork, and hands rate below-average." Sounds like his next look should be RF not 1B. BTW, Sickels site is reviewing the Rays Prospects now for those interested.

  3. I don't think he has the speed to play right field at an above-average level(or even average). Also consider that outfield is more "jammed" than first base(Upton, should he move to RF, Jennings, Joyce, and Kang are all either capable or much better defensively) so a move to RF doesn't seem likely. If he moves to 1B, he's immediately atop the Rays 1B depth chart(with Malm still a long ways away) and with Carlos Pena possibly out the door after the 2010 season, 1B would get Sweeney to the majors quickly. If he has a big year with the bat and sees some time at 1B, it wouldn't shock me if he was the Rays starting 1B in 2011.

    As for his power, I think he's the best power hitter in the system, though that isn't saying a whole lot. The Rays are thin on hitting as it is, and their better hitting prospects are more contact-oriented(Jennings and Brignac). BaseballAmerica also rated him as having the system's best power.

  4. Glad someone else is wondering if He(Sweeney Matt, the Barber of Baseball)/Shealy are possibilities for Rays in 2011 when Pena leaves.

  5. Kevin, would you agree it takes more speed and athleticism and arm to play 3B than RF and more of each in RF than 1B? Sweeney has hung around 3B for a quite a while now. I can't see dismissing him to the lowest tool position just yet. All of the existing RFs on the depth chart would be just as capable of moving to 1B.

    Seperately, Just wondering how you would compare Sweeney to Dan Johnson in the depth chart at 1B?

  6. Greg Sexton has been a steady consistant hitter from the 3B spot through all levels. Is he no longer in the picture?

  7. Is it possible that youcan put the projected MLB debut for all the players when you are doing them(assuming they all wil debut)?

  8. That's a good idea, thanks. When the top 15s are done, I'll put them in list form with an ETA for each player.