Reno Aces infielder Andy Young is proving he’s more than just a throw in on the Paul Goldschmidt trade.
Young, 24, was one of the players in the Dec. 6 trade that sent Arizona’s six-time National League All-Star first baseman to the St. Louis Cardinals.
Young went 3-for-4 with a home run, two doubles and four RBIs in the Aces’ 10-9 walk-off win over the Sacramento River Cats on Friday at Greater Nevada Field. He hit the go-ahead RBI double that bounced off the left field wall in the eighth inning.
The Diamondbacks received youthful talents in right-handed pitcher Luke Weaver and catcher Carson Kelly, but Young’s name wasn’t mentioned much in the deal.
On the field, it’s his ascension in the minor leagues that’s helped added onto the Dbacks’ return of investment.
“It’s good to be wanted and I was happy with that,” Young said. “It’s good to be traded for someone so well known and respected for a guy like Goldschmidt. In that regard, I was really happy. I knew coming in here was going to be different, but I just take it as it’s no different than the year before. I’m just working on the things I can control.”
Assigned to Triple-A Reno on June 16, Young is hitting .272 with four homers, a triple and 12 RBIs in 18 games with the Aces. Before his promotion, Young batted .260 with eight home runs and 28 RBIs with Double-A Jackson. He leads the minor leagues in being hit by a pitch.
He’s making a good impression with the Triple-A club.
“That’s what you try to do when you come up in levels,” he said. “I want to stick with the guys and help them win and make an impact so I can stay at that level. I think I’ve done a good job of bouncing around and making a few swings.”
[pullquote]You see guys from colleges like Alabama, LSU, Virginia and you think it’s bigger than life and they’re so much better than you. But then you play with them and they’re not all that different. So it doesn’t matter where you get drafted, everyone ends up in the same place.”[/pullquote]At 6-foot-1, 195 pounds, the right-handed batter has quick hands which helps him attack all areas in the strike zone, hitting and lifting pitches to the gaps.
Now in his fourth season, Young has developed a leg kick to tap into his raw power potential. He launched a career-high 21 total homers with Double-A Springfield and the Palm Beach Cardinals last year.
The adjustment at the plate has paid dividends toward Young’s future on the diamond.
“It’s funny how you can find different things with your swing,” he said. “I’ve been playing with that since my first full year two years ago. I think it’s helped me create better angles and hit for more power. It’s something I have to keep working on because it’s a complex move but it’s helped my career.”
Young has already received the Triple-A treatment in the Pacific Coast League. He blasted two homers in back-to-back games against the Las Vegas Aviators on July 1-2 and took a flight back to Greater Nevada Field with the rest of the team.
“It’s the first league where I’ve been flying to games, so that’s nice,” he said. “I can get used to that. It’s a good hitter’s league. There’s a lot thinner air here than in the Southern League so there are some differences. … You don’t notice those differences until you play here.”
Young has bounced all around the infield defensively. The rangy infielder has eight starts at second base, eight at shortstop and two more at third base.
He flashed the glove with a sliding dive and throw for the final out in eighth inning.
“Anyway you can get on the field is a good thing,” he said. “If you can play short, second and third you can get on a little more often. That’s what I’m happy with so far that I’m able to be able to plug me in and play. If they need me in the outfield, I’ll step in there too.”
A West Fargo, North Dakota native, Young had to wait three days to hear his name called in the 2016 MLB Draft. More than 1,000 players were taken before he was selected by the Cardinals in the 37th round out of Indiana State University.
Young used his low draft selection as motivation to push him to new heights.
“Right away, I wasn’t expected to get drafted,” he said. “So that helped build some adversity within me. I just keep that same mentality.”
When Young arrived in the Cardinals’ Rookie Gulf Coast League in 2016, dozens of his teammates were drafted from several prominent Division 1 schools.
The Indiana State alum learned an important lesson in his first season of professional baseball: Let your play speak for itself. No matter which college or round, each rookie prospect is battling for the same opportunity with the big-league team. (Larry Bird is the most notable athlete to come out of Indiana State.)
Young was called up to the Cardinals’ Low-A team that same season, leaving some of his higher-drafted competitors behind.
“Once I got there, I learned that everyone is the same; it’s just baseball,” he said. “You see guys from colleges like Alabama, LSU, Virginia and you think it’s bigger than life and they’re so much better than you. But then you play with them and they’re not all that different. So it doesn’t matter where you get drafted, everyone ends up in the same place.”
For a 37th round draft pick, Young has learned to appreciate each game and has made the most of his four-year tenure. But his hard work and determination isn’t finished until he gets a call-up to the show.
He’s one step closer with the Reno Aces.
“You just have to show up and keep working,” he said. “The game doesn’t change, no matter where you are, so I don’t get caught up in the levels and where I’m at. I just have to keep doing what I’m doing and it’ll take care of itself.”
Walk-off homer for Decker wins it for Reno
An expected pitcher’s duel was turned upside down by the fifth inning between the Aces and River Cats.
Starting pitchers Dereck Rodríguez and Taylor Widener were both victims of a typical PCL contest on Friday night.
Down 8-7 heading into the ninth, Sacramento rallied to score two runs to take the lead. Cody Decker sent the 6,612 fans home happy with a walk-off two-run homer in the bottom of the ninth.
Widener pitched 5.1 innings for Reno, giving up four earned runs on nine hits and one walk with six strikeouts. MLB Pipeline’s No. 3 rated Dbacks prospect, Widener’s 93 strikeouts before the All-Star Break set a new franchise record.
Optioned to Triple-A Sacramento on July 1, Rodríguez surrendered three earned runs on four hits with four strikeouts in four innings of work. The right-hander appeared in 18 games with the San Francisco Giants this season.
Reno had 12 hits. Yasmany Tomás launched his 23rd homer on the year 472 feet over the batter’s eye in center field. Travis Snider went 1-for-4 with two RBIs. Cody Decker finished 2-for-5 with two RBIs. Juniel Querecuto added three hits.
Sacramento third baseman Zach Green was 3-for-4 with two homers and three RBIs. Left fielder Mike Gerber went 2-for-5 with a double and three RBIs.
The Aces jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first. Sacramento plated one run apiece in the second, third and fourth innings. Both teams scored one run in the fifth inning and three more in the seventh. Young’s RBI double gave Reno the lead heading into the final frame. The River Cats scored two more runs runs. Decker’s two-run blast walked it off in the bottom of the ninth.
Leyba called back to Dbacks: Domingo Leyba was recalled to the Arizona Diamondbacks on Friday. Leyba, 23, made his Dbacks’ debut on June 22 against the San Francisco Giants. He had a pinch hit in his first MLB at bat.
Notes: Jonny Gomes will be filling in with the Aces’ coaching staff over the next three games. Gomes won a World Series with the Boston Red Sox in 2013. He played 1,203 career games for 13 different Major League teams. … Wyatt Mathisen has been hit by 19 pitches this season for a new franchise record. He was hit twice in last night’s game. … Dating back to June 29, the Aces’ leadoff hitters have swung at the first pitch in seven-straight games. Abrahman Almonte and Juniel Querecuto combined to go 2-for-4 with a home run, single and three foul balls during that span.
On Deck: Reno, 39-48, faces Sacramento for the third game of the four-game series on Saturday at 7:05 p.m. at Greater Nevada Field. Matt Koch is expected to take the hill for the Aces. Left-handed pitcher Conner Menez will get the start for the River Cats.