On The Road To The Show With Kellen Sweeney
Drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays in the second round of the 2010 MLB Amateur draft, Kellen Sweeney is a six foot tall, left hand hitting infielder, currently improving his game with the Lansing Lugnuts of the Midwest League. Kellen was born in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and attended Jefferson High School, becoming only the eighth baseball player(and third Blue Jay) to be drafted by a big league club. Despite being in the middle of his third full season as a professional baseball player, Kellen was nice enough to take the time and answer a few questions for me.
When asked about his favourite ball player growing up, Kellen echoed the statements of many young infielders who grew up in the Midwest.
[quote]“My favourite ball player growing up was Chipper Jones. Growing up in the Midwest, the [Atlanta] Braves were always on TBS so I would always watch them. [He] was a great player and someone to look up to.”[/quote]
Like many youth today, Kellen played two sports growing up, but it didn’t take long for him to find his playing focus and how to relax off the field.
[quote]“I played basketball until my freshman year of High School until I decided to just focus on baseball. I enjoy watching probably the two most boring sports in most people’s minds; golf and soccer. I just feel they are two relaxing sports to watch and impersonally enjoy each sport.”[/quote]
[quote]“In my spare time I like to watch TV shows on Netflix or play with my dog. In the off season that’s what I do most of the day, which is watch my dog Bella. She’s a boxer and has a lot of energy so she keeps me busy.”[/quote]
Excelling on the baseball diamond at Jefferson High School forced Kellen to make a tough decision when it came time to graduate. While most of his peers were planning what schools they were going to attend for college, Kellen had to decide to go to college or play pro ball. The decision wasn’t made lightly.
[quote]“It was a very difficult decision in choosing professional baseball over college. Obviously, I would have loved to go to college and get an education because it’s very important these days, and you can’t play baseball forever. But I really wanted to get my career started as soon as I could and get into professional baseball.”[/quote]
Looking back at his path to being drafted, it wasn’t hard for Sweeney to identify the people that helped him get where he is today.
[quote]“The most influential person growing up that helped me get to where I am today would have my dad. Even though he never played baseball, he knew a lot about the game. “[/quote]
Most athletes use the lead up to their upcoming season to put their work in to get physically prepared and Kellen is no different in that aspect.
[quote]“In the off season I work out 5 times a week and usually 3 of those times are with a personal trainer. Then for baseball activities I work out at Perfect Game. Their headquarters are in my hometown and they have a little indoor facility that I hit at.”[/quote]
Like most young players, Kellen has had to adjust to playing pro ball and has set some goals for the upcoming season.
[quote]“The biggest adjustment that I have had since turning pro is that baseball is now my job. It’s a lot more difficult when it becomes your job. It takes some of the fun out of it but you have to learn to try and still have some fun. I have also learned that baseball is a huge mental stop and that makes it hard too.”[/quote]
[quote]“My goals for this year are to figure out my swing. I feel comfortable with it but I have to learn the timing of it because that is the most important thing. If you are not on time then it doesn’t matter how good your swing is.”[/quote]
Finally, I asked Kellen about where he sees himself hitting in a big league lineup and what kind of effect the Blue Jays off season has on younger players in the organization.
[quote]“I see myself hitting in the 2 hole or towards the end of the lineup. I don’t have too much power but I believe that it will develop as I do.”
“The Jays off season was crazy. They got a lot of big name guys to go along with the guys they already had. It impacts us younger players a little but all that matters is performing to the best of your ability. Everyone would love to play for the team they are drafted by but you gotta realize there are 29 other teams out there that you might have a chance with too.”[/quote]
Sweeney could soon become a household name with Jays fan as he perfects his craft on the road to the show.