Young could be an under-the-radar selection for the Detroit Tigers at 12.
Draft month here at Motor City Bengals is coming to a close, and with the Detroit Tigers passing on a high school shortstop in last year’s draft, let’s take a look at a high school shortstop for this year’s class in Pittsburgh’s own Cole Young.
Young is a guy who currently doesn’t hit for a lot of power, drawing comparisons to the likes of Adam Frazier, but he possesses some great contact ability. Scouts also believe he has what it takes to stick at shortstop long term.
As the Detroit Tigers look to restock their farm system with hitters, Young is an interesting option. Let’s see what he’s about.
Young hails from Wexford, PA and attended North Allegheny High School in the Pittsburgh area. He hit .437 last season with six home runs and .433 this season. He is committed to Duke.
An interesting nugget from a feature that MLB.com ran on Young notes that he doesn’t have a hitting instructor.
"“No one ever taught me to hit a certain way,” Young told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “I think everyone plays their best when they’re having fun and just enjoying it. So just teach yourself how to play and be yourself.”"
His swing is almost reminiscent of Adalberto Mondesi with how he keeps his head down and lets the bat stay through the zone. His 6-foot stature, left-handed swing, and projection as a hitter have also drawn comparisons to former big leaguer and first-round pick Stephen Drew.
Young wouldn’t be the first player to be taken in the first round from the Pittsburgh area. Former big league All-Star Neil Walker and Minnesota’s Alex Kirilloff are a couple names to come out of the Steel City.
Young’s contact ability is one of the best among prep hitters in this draft class. MLB Pipeline gives him a hit grade of 60 on the 20-80 scale.
Here’s what they have to say about his hitting ability:
"“[He has] impressive bat-to-ball skills from the left side of the plate. He doesn’t swing and miss much, doesn’t look overmatched against velocity and shows the ability to use the whole field. While he’s not a huge power guy, there is some impact here, with gap power.”"
Most scouts agree that he’ll never hit for a ton of power, but his bat is still worthy of a first-round selection.
The other major strength for Young is his defense. Most scouts think he’ll be able to stick at shortstop long term. Fangraphs calls him “the most polished infield defender of the high school group.” He’s got quick hands and an above average throwing arm. He’s also a plus runner.
Young’s lack of power is what may very well keep him from ever reaching his full potential. Some scouts worry that it will keep him from being an everyday player.
Here’s what Fangraphs has to say:
"“While gifted in relevant ways, Young has middling physical projection, and will be 19 on draft day. He’s a high-probability big leaguer whose feel for contact will need to carry him to an everyday role since he’s unlikely to ever have impact power. If he falls short of that, he’ll still be a valuable utility man.”"
His contact ability and defense will likely assure him a spot in the majors one day, but nobody wants to spend a first-round pick on somebody who might end up being a utility guy. His success will greatly depend on the organization that drafts him.
Fit with Detroit Tigers
Young was recently mocked to the Tigers by Keith Law of The Athletic. It’s no secret they lack depth among position players in the organization, so this wouldn’t be a bad pick on the surface.
But then you realize the Detroit Tigers have quite possibly the worst hitting development team in the majors. Do we really trust them to help Young develop the amount of power he needs to be successful?
It’s not that a slap hitter can’t succeed. Look at the aforementioned Adalberto Mondesi. When healthy, he’s really fun to watch. The Tigers lack of success with developing hitters is well-documented. Could they mold Young into the hitter that he could be?