Jordan Sweeney’s goal always has been to play NCAA Division I baseball.
That’s been his goal, even though he has the potential to be an MLB draft pick in 2019. On Sunday, Sweeney took the first steps in achieving his goal when he verbally committed to play for Rutgers University. He will receive a partial athletic scholarship.
Sweeney, a rising junior at Egg Harbor Township High School, is one of South Jersey’s most exciting young players.
“It feels awesome. It’s like a lot of weight is off my shoulders,” said Sweeney, who turns 17 on Thursday. “Now, the only thing on my mind is winning and getting better.”
Sweeney, a 6-foot-5, 200-pound pitcher and outfielder, was recruited by Rutgers for his bat. He could also get a shot to play first base and pitch.
Rutgers, which plays in the Big Ten Conference, went 19-34 last season under fourth-year coach Joe Literrio. Rutgers’ roster includes rising sophomore pitcher Kyle Gerace (Mainland Regional).
Egg Harbor Township senior pitcher Drew Hickman was 5-2 with a 2.54 ERA. He threw three complete games and struck out 35 and walked 11 in 49 2/3 innings.
Mainland Regional senior pitcher Anthony Capasso went 4-3 with a 1.27 ERA and 44 strikeouts in 44 innings.
As a sophomore, Sweeney hit .467 (35 for 75) with nine home runs, 10 doubles, 29 runs and 46 RBIs in 25 games for the Eagles, who finished reached the South Jersey Group IV semifinals and finished 20-5. He also went 3-1 with a 2.80 ERA and 31 strikeouts in 35 innings and was a first-team Press All-Star.
“I think (last season) just solidified everybody’s thoughts,” EHT coach Bryan Carmichael said. “Everyone saw a sample size of how good he can be. It was one of the best high school seasons in the area in recent years, and he was only a sophomore.”
Already, the thought of being an MLB Draft prospect has crossed his mind, Sweeney said. Carmichael would like to get Sweeney involved with some area showcase games and teams.
“I do want to go to college and experience it,” Sweeney said. “I feel I’ll grow as a player there and be more prepared going into the draft as a junior in college as opposed to being a senior in high school. I think I can be drafted out of high school, but if I keep working hard, my goal is to go after my junior year in college.”
The list of colleges in contact with Sweeney was long and full of high-level programs, including St. John’s, Boston College, Villanova and Virginia. But the two most active were Rutgers and Delaware.
Rutgers and Delaware had coaches at Sweeney’s games all spring. One of those coaches was Rutgers assistant Tim Reilly, a 2005 Holy Spirit High School graduate and former standout catcher for the Scarlet Knights.
“It definitely made me feel wanted by those two schools,” Sweeney said, “which weighed into the decision that narrowed it down to those two. They showed a lot of interest in me.”
Sweeney visited Delaware on Wednesday and Rutgers on Sunday. He announced his choice on Twitter when he got home Sunday night.
He became the second rising junior from EHT to commit to a Division I school. Robbie Petracci announced July 26 he will play for Old Dominion.
“We’re leaders on the team, and our goal is to get past the sectional semifinals and make it to the Group IV championship,” Sweeney said. “That is all that’s on our minds now.”