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Andy Young goes from UJ to the big leagues along winding path

The former Jimmie has played for three colleges, eightminor league teams and two MLB teams.

AndyYoung
Andy Young prepares to swing during the Nationals spring training game vs. the Houston Astros on March 20, 2022 at The Ballpark of The Palm Beaches.
Contributed / Joe Territo, Rochester Red Wings
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Aug. 9, 2020, was a very memorable day in Andy Young’s early Major League Baseball career. The West Fargo, North Dakota, native and former Jimmie ended San Diego Padres starter Dinelson Lamet’s bid for a perfect game after he was hit by a pitch that barely avoided his head and hit his first career home run.

He reflected on getting hit by the pitch, noting that the 88 mph slider flying toward his head made it a memorable at bat.

The second baseman is one of 11 professional baseball players who have gone through Tom Hager’s program at the University of Jamestown. Young is not the first member of his family to play at the University of Jamestown, though, as his father, Jeff, also played baseball for the Jimmies. The connections to Jamestown don’t stop there as his grandfather, Clyde, still lives in Jamestown.

Young has moved around a lot in his young career, transferring after his freshman year at UJ to Neosho Community College, which served as a launching pad to move up to NCAA Division I Indiana State University, where he was drafted by St. Louis Cardinals in the 37th round of the 2016 MLB Amateur Draft. He was a member of the Cardinals until 2018 when he was part of a trade package to acquire Paul Goldschmidt from the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Young would climb up the Diamondbacks system, making his MLB debut on Aug. 1, 2020, and was picked up by his current team, the Washington Nationals, off waivers in December.

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"It was pretty easy. I knew a few of the guys from playing," Young said. "I think it's my seventh professional year so I've been playing with all these guys for a while, you against them, you play with some of them. So, I knew some of the guys and the facilities are all similar to other pro facilities, so it was a pretty easy transition."

Young said the number of teams and coaches he has been taught by over his journey have helped him develop on and off the field.

“I got older so I got more mature but being able to work with so many different coaches and so many different viewpoints from three colleges to seven or eight minor league teams to the big leagues,” Young said. “I think at some point you grow just because you have so many different coaches and so many different viewpoints.”

The call to the big leagues is a special moment for ballplayers as they see the dreams they’ve had since they were kids finally come to fruition. Young said that moment was no different for him after getting the call from Josh Barfield, Diamondbacks head of player development.

“It was super exciting, I got done with an alt-site game and I was driving home and he called me and he said, ‘Hey, come get your stuff from the spring training facility in the morning and head over to Chase (Field), you’re a big leaguer,’” Young said.

Young was one of 212 players to make his debut in the COVID-shortened season in 2020, meaning family members were unable to see his momentous achievement in person. Young said the excitement of the occasion overpowered the disappointment of his family not being able to attend.

“I was just so excited I don’t think I really cared,” Young said. “But looking back on it now, it definitely wasn’t how I imagined it would be, but no, I think that you’re just so excited to be there that you could be playing on a little league field and you wouldn’t care.”

Young’s debut came as a defensive replacement for left fielder David Peralta, pushing him out of his comfort zone on the diamond because he normally plays second base.

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“When I ran out to left field, I was like, ‘Man I hope I’m standing in the right spot,’” Young said. “But no, it was pretty surreal, so much work went into it and then to have it finally pay off, it was pretty cool.”

Young’s first career hit came two days later on a double to left field, and his first career RBI came on a fielder’s choice, which he admitted is certainly not the way he dreamed the achievement would come about.

As a member of the Nationals during spring training, Young said his .286 average and one run were his best spring of his career so far. Despite his impressive spring, the Nationals sent him down to the team’s triple A team, the Rochester Red Wings, to start the season. Young said he was told about the news by Nationals manager Dave Martinez.

“We had a meeting and we talked about spring training, he said, ‘You had a good spring, go down to triple A, play well and your time will come,’” Young said.

During the spring, Young joined a veteran-laden Nationals team that is only a few years removed from winning a World Series. Young said the veterans and the coaches allowed him to pick up a lot of knowledge during the spring.

Young has played in front of empty stadiums during COVID and in stadiums with fans in 2021 and 2022. While he said that he loved playing in the big leagues regardless of the attendance figures, he noted the experience is elevated by the senses' tingling moments in the stands at a packed park.

“There is something special about an MLB stadium with fans in it,” Young said. “Going to Chicago and having Wrigley (Field) packed and old-time ballparks like that, San Francisco, all these places where I grew up watching games. It’s just special with all these people there and how loud it gets, it’s definitely a lot more fun with fans.”

Hello,
My name is Max O'Neill. I am a Sports Reporter at The Jamestown Sun. I am a native New Yorker, who graduated from Ithaca College in 2020 with a degree in Television-Radio.
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