Michael Young (SI photo)
Per reader request, a Prospect Retro for Michael Young
Michael Young was drafted by the Blue Jays in the fifth round in the 1997 draft, from UC-Santa Barbara. Assigned to St. Catherines in the New York-Penn League, he hit .308/.392/.493 in his pro debut, showing a broad range of offensive skills. I didn't put many short-season players in the book back then, but I would probably have given him a Grade C+.
Promoted to Hagerstown in the Sally League for '98, he hit .282/.354/.456 with 16 homers and 16 steals, continuing his broad-based offensive contributions and improving his defense at second base. I gave him a Grade C+ in the '99 book; in retrospect, that looks a notch too low, and B- may have been more appropriate.
Moved up to Dunedin in '99, he hit .313/.389/.428 in 129 games. His power production dropped off with just five homers, but his other numbers remained solid. I gave him another Grade C+ in the '00 book, curious how well he would adjust to Double-A. At this point in his career, Young's best attribute was said to be an excellent work ethic.
Young began '00 in Double-A for Tennessee, hitting .275/.340/.426. He was involved in the Esteban Loaiza trade that summer, moving over to the Rangers system in late July and hitting .319/.368/.457 in 43 games for Double-A Tulsa. I moved him up to Grade B-, noting that Young faced a battle for position with prospect Jason Romano, who was younger and more physically talented, but less polished.
Young began '01 in Triple-A at Oklahoma City, hitting .291/.363/.460 in 47 games. He took over a regular job for Texas in the second half, hitting .249/.298/.402 in 106 games. After a mediocre '02 season, he emerged with strong performance in '03 and '04, and again in 2005.
In the minors, Young showed a broad range of offensive skills, including decent power, the ability to hit for average, and reasonable plate discipline. Despite his good performance, some scouts were skeptical about him at times, praising his work ethic, but concerned that he was too small to become a truly outstanding offensive player.
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Did you know that Young has played like a possible Hall-of-Famer the last three years? Can he keep it up for a long time, as Larkin and Sandberg did, or will he fade out gradually?