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Ryan Sweeney

Once rated by Baseball America as the best fifteen-year-old baseball player in the United States, Ryan Sweeney (Cedar Rapids, Iowa) went on to play nine years in the Major Leagues with four different teams. Although he had the talent for a promising career, it was cut short by injuries.

Born in Cedar Rapids on February 20, 1985, Sweeney started to play baseball at the age of seven on the nine-and-under Cedar Rapids Reds. He earned all-state honors his sophomore, junior, and senior years while playing high school ball at Cedar Rapids Xavier. He hit .489 with nine home runs and 49 RBIs in 32 games as a senior. He also pitched for Xavier, posting a 4-1 record with an 0.62 ERA in his final year. The National High School Baseball Coaches Association selected him as a first team all-American.

The Chicago White Sox drafted Sweeney as an outfielder in 2003 in the second round of the MLB Amateur Draft, and he received a $785,000 signing bonus. By accepting a professional contract, Sweeney declined a scholarship to play at San Diego State under the leadership of Hall-of-Famer Tony Gwynn.

Sweeney made his MLB-debut in September of 2006 after hitting .293 with 14 home runs and 77 RBIs with Triple-A Charlotte in 2006. His first appearance was as a defensive substitution in center field in the eighth inning of a 7-5 Kansas City Royals victory.

In 2007, Sweeney bounced back-and-forth between Chicago and Charlotte and played in the Arizona Fall League where he hit .286 in 23 games against some of the best talent in the minor leagues.

The White Sox traded the 22-year-old outfielder and two other players to the Oakland Athletics for Nick Swisher in 2008. In three of his four years with Oakland, Sweeney appeared in more than 100 games. His best season came in 2009 when he set career highs in games (134), at-bats (484), runs (68), hits (142), doubles (31), triples (3), and RBIs (53).

The A’s packaged Sweeney in a deal with the Boston Red Sox during the 2011 offseason. In 2012, he was hitting .260 through 63 games with Boston when he sustained a broken hand that ended his season. The Red Sox released Sweeney in March 2013 and he signed a minor-league deal with the Chicago Cubs in April.

On May 6, 2013, the Cubs purchased Sweeney’s contract after he torched Triple-A Iowa to the tune of .337. In 70 games with the Cubs, he hit .266 with 13 doubles, six homers, and two triples. He missed 60 games that season after breaking a rib while trying to make a catch that ended with a collision with the outfield wall.

After the conclusion of the 2013 season, the Cubs signed Sweeney to a two-year, $3.5 million contract that included a 2016 team option. The team expected him to replace David DeJesus in centerfield. Sweeney’s 2014 season ended prematurely when he landed on the disabled list with a strained right hamstring he sustained while running down a fly ball on the warning track.

Sweeney appeared in only 147 games for the Cubs over the course of two seasons and they released him in April of 2015. The Minnesota Twins signed him to a minor league deal on December 17, 2015, but they later released him in March 2016.

In 682 Major League games, Sweeney collected 584 hits, 265 runs, 124 doubles, 14 triples, 23 home runs, and 224 RBIs. He finished his career hitting .275, with a .333 OBP and .713 OPS. Currently, Sweeney, lives in Naperville, Illinois, and is an analyst for the Chicago Cubs’ Marquee Sports Network.

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