Newcomer Swift’s defense key to infield success

Drew Swift’s defensive abilities have provided a mainstay to the shortstop position

Last season, the shortstop position saw multiple names penciled in for ASU head coach Tracy Smith’s lineup card. Jeremy McCuin, Carter Aldrete and Andrew Snow shared the position, with Snow playing shortstop more toward the end of the season.

This year, however, has been quite different. Smith has found a mainstay man between second and third base. 

That man is freshman infielder Drew Swift, a local product from Chandler. The 6-foot freshman played high school baseball for the Hamilton Huskies, serving as both a shortstop and a closer.

Coming out of high school, Swift was the No. 13 overall prospect and 4th ranked at the shortstop position in the state of Arizona. 

“I think Arizona is one of the top places in the nation to start off and keep on playing here,” Swift said. “The weather’s great and the coaching here is phenomenal. The fans we get here (at ASU) is one of the top in the Pac-12 it’s fun to come out here and play every day.”

Swift has started every game this season at shortstop for the Sun Devils. And early on, Swift has proven the ability to cover a wide swath of the field. 

“Working hard during practice is one of my main things I like to keep myself to a high standard on,” Swift said. “Before every pitch during the games, I like to visualize … what am I going to do (in certain scenarios).” 

Swift has earned high praise from Smith for his defensive abilities.

"The really cool thing about him is he is in every pitch," Smith said. "He's thinking, he's talking, he's communicating. He is, to me, the definition of a baseball guy."

Last year, ASU recorded 70 errors. Of those 70, 36 were attributed to Snow, McCuin and Aldrete.

With about half of the 2018 season to go, Swift has a .956 fielding percentage with just four errors committed.  

"He takes hits away," Smith said. "From a shortstop perspective, he's what you want out there. When the ball gets hit in that direction, I get a really good feeling the play is going to be made."

Since coming to ASU, Swift said he has improved on the mental aspects of playing college baseball and how things were going to work. 

“Now I’ve got a good clue what’s going on and I think the rest of the year should be smooth,” Swift said. 

Defense to Offense

While defensive skills have been strong, Swift has sought out improvement to his game, most notably on the offensive side. 

“Earlier in the season, I was striking out a lot, and so we tried to shorten my swing, and it’s helped a lot,” Swift said. “I’m putting more balls in play which has helped the team out more by producing, getting some RBIs and moving runners over.”

Currently, Swift sits at a .222 batting average with 16 hits and 11 RBIs. However, of those 16 hits, none have been extra base hits. 

"The thing about him is, he's hitting .220, but he's getting some walks and getting on base and we feel that's key," Smith said. "He's a good player, but I think he's better than ... he's doing right now."

Swift could be seen near the top of the batting card earlier this season, but has since been moved down to around the eighth or ninth spot in the order. 

"(For) some of the younger guys, it was a little bit tough hitting at first," junior outfielder Gage Canning said on March 11. "Some of them picked it up and they're just having better at-bats, squaring more balls up and just being more of a threat throughout the lineup."

Despite just being 24 games into his collegiate career, Smith has noted Swift's approach to the team and collegiate baseball.

"I love just the mature mindset of him and his willingness to step outside the box and help all those around him too," Smith said. "He's always talking in the game. Always."

Swift and the Sun Devils begin a three-game series at Washington State Thursday night. They return to Phoenix for a five-game homestand beginning Tuesday, April 3. 


Reach the reporter at michael.baron@asu.edu or follow @Michael_Baron96 on Twitter.

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