This article was originally published at the Redbird Daily by Colin Garner, and is now proud to call the Cards Conclave home. Throughout July we’ll be re-running all 30 Prospect articles as we lead up to Colin’s Mid-Season Prospect Update later in the month.
In Collaboration with Kyle Reis and Birds On The Black, Colin Garner presents you with The Cardinals Top 30 Prospects! Today, we have #29 Andy Young.
Prospect #29: 2B/3B/SS Andy Young
Entering age 24 season.
Drafted in the 34th round of the 2016 draft.
Peoria wRC+: 158, Palm Beach wRC+: 110
Before we get started with my take on Andy Young, I encourage you to read my friend Kyle Reis’ post on him on Birds on the Black.
What I Like
Andy Young isn’t a huge guy, checking in at an even six feet and 195 pounds. Nevertheless, he has a quick bat and good power for someone who can bounce around the diamond the way he can. He hit 17 homers in 470 plate-appearances last year, but that stat is a tad bit misleading.
In Peoria, where he started the season, he averaged about 0.06 HR/PA. Upon being promoted to the uber-pitcher-friendly Florida State League, he averaged just 0.03 HR/PA. Normally, I’d chalk that up only to the fact that the player was promoted to a higher, more difficult level. We know that the Florida State League is a ridiculously hard place to hit. If not for spending half the season there, it’s likely Young hits 20+ homers and we might have heard more about him last season.
The reason I think the power he showed at Peoria is sustainable is the fact that Young loves to a) lift flyballs and b) pull the ball. According to Fangraphs batted ball data (which for minor leaguers isn’t the most accurate), Young hit over 42% flyballs and pulled over 46% of the balls he put in play. So, while Roger Dean Stadium has a negative effect on all hitters, it had an even bigger effect on Young.
Andy Young showed the ability to adjust to pitchers last season. In fact, he did it twice. In April he posted an OPS of .820. He improved on those numbers in May and June, posting OPS’s of .966 and .984 respectively. The same thing happened in Palm Beach, too. In July, his first month in High-A, his OPS was a paltry .551. The next two months he did much better, averaging a .754 OPS over the final two months of the season. .754 isn’t a great OPS, but it’s over .200 points better than July. The ability to make adjustments is a huge thing for me. As any player rises through the minor leagues, each level is going to bring new challenges that, without the ability to make adjustments, could sink a player.
Another great thing about Andy Young is his versatility. He appeared at second, short, and third last year, but there isn’t much out there regarding his defensive ability. You’ll just have to take Kyle’s word for it:
In the field, I’ve been impressed with what I’ve seen from Young at both second and third. His arm is strong enough to stay at 3rd and he’s agile enough to stick at 2nd. He’s average at both positions, creating another potential for versatility that’ll suit him well as he progresses through the system.
What I Don’t Like
Before I give you my conclusions, I’ll start with the data. (All stats from the Palm Beach level).
OPS Ahead in the Count: .891
OPS Behind in the Count: .611
Based on those two stats, I think it’s reasonable to conclude that Young feasts on fastballs, especially early in at-bats or when he’s ahead in the count. It’s super-duper common for big league power hitters to profile as dead-red fastball hitters (think Randal Grichuk), let alone players in A-ball.
The other knock on Young is that he’s entering his age-24 season. As a college senior, the clock was working against him since he was drafted. Young touched Double-A last year and I would start him in Springfield. He needs to continue to hit the way he did in 2017 and keep climbing the organizational depth chart. The good news is his versatility will give him a chance to be promoted in a myriad of different ways, but there are a bunch of infielders in Double and Triple-A. None of them have the power that Young does, so he could separate himself if the homers return.
Thanks for reading!