The “pause” button has been hit on Kellen Sweeney’s prep baseball career. In a couple of weeks, it could be the “off” button.
The senior shortstop has not played with Cedar Rapids Jefferson since being taken in the second round of the 2010 MLB First-year Player Draft last week by the Toronto Blue Jays. Sweeney has been practicing with the J-Hawks, just not playing games.
The reason for that makes sense. Or rather cents.
Sweeney is looking at a substantial bonus well into six figures when he signs a professional contract. The Sweeney family and adviser Larry Reynolds feel it’s not worth the risk to let Kellen play.
“The Blue Jays said he could play, but if you get hurt, you could be out that (potential) money, Kellen’s father Gary Sweeney said. “Our adviser has advised us not to play, which only makes sense.
“As much as Kellen wants to be out there and play …”
Gary Sweeney didn’t have to complete the thought. He said serious negotiations with the Blue Jays have not begun, with teams likely targeting first-round picks first.
As soon as someone around Kellen Sweeney’s draft spot of 69th overall signs, it shouldn’t take long for everyone else to slot in.
“We’d love to have it done in probably two or three weeks,” Gary Sweeney said.
Cedar Rapids Xavier pitcher Jon Keller, meanwhile, continues to pitch for his team, possibly in an attempt to further his stock with the Seattle Mariners, who drafted him in the 11th round. Keller is 4-0 in five appearances, with 43 strikeouts in 23 2/3 innings.
The big right-hander has given up only 11 hits. MLB teams have until Aug. 15 to sign all draft picks.
Around the horn
— Going into this week, Cedar Rapids Kennedy had the early lead in the Mississippi Valley Conference’s Mississippi Division (6-1), though by only a half-game over Waterloo West, Dubuque Hempstead and Cedar Rapids Xavier. Iowa City West was just a game back at 5-2.
In the Valley Division, it was surprising Cedar Rapids Prairie on top at 4-3, 8-4 overall. Hawks junior Dustin Spaw was hitting near .500 and had four home runs.
— South Winneshiek’s Taylor Hageman and Solon’s Tyler Smith are among the state’s leaders in home runs with eight apiece. Sigourney’s Andrew Utterback was one back with seven.
Valley Community junior Blaine Everman was 18 for his first 27 plate appearances, a cool .667 batting average.