Tiger mowing em down on the farm
Chris Young 02s star continues to rise in professional
baseballs minor leagues
Few Minor League baseball players had to field questions from
the national media a few weeks ago when the National Basketball
Association was holding its annual draft.
But Chris Young 02 is not your average Minor Leaguer. In
the two years he spent playing for the Tigers, the 6-10"
righthander was as well known for his dominance on Ivy League basketball
courts as he was for his presence on the pitching mound. The 1999
Ivy Rookie of the Year in basketball was projected as a possible
first-round NBA pick before deciding to sign with the Pittsburgh
Pirates, who drafted him in the third round of their draft in 2000,
leading to sadness for many Tiger fans.
For Young, currently 10-4 with the Hickory Crawdads of the South
Atlantic League, the decision seems to be working out just fine.
He graduated on time with his class in June, and then a few weeks
later pitched his way onto the SAL All-Star team. Youngs 9-3
record, along with his 2.34 ERA and 83 strikeouts in 77 innings,
helped the Crawdads win their division in the first half of the
season, which assures the team a postseason berth.
"I have no regrets. Things have worked out perfect. I couldnt
have scripted a better plot," says Young, who had to forfeit
his final two years of college eligibility at Princeton when he
signed with the Pirates for a reported $1.65 million due to Ivy
Youngs story is far from over, though, if you ask his Princeton
baseball coach and former Major Leaguer Scott Bradley. While Young
is currently traveling on buses to and from towns such as Kannapolis,
North Carolina, and Charleston, South Carolina, at the Class A level
(AAA is the top Minor League classification), Bradley foresees Young
rising through the ranks and into the "big show" at the
Major League level.
"Chris is going to be a good Major League pitcher," says
Bradley, who spent nine years in the Major League as a catcher.
"Hes as focused and disciplined a young man as anyone
weve ever seen around here. Hes one of those guys you
point in the right direction and show him the finish line and hell
figure out what he has to do to get there."
The Pittsburgh Pirates front office is extremely pleased with
Youngs development thus far, including a 90-93 mph fastball
he is gaining more command of and an improving curve ball.
"Hes made great strides this year, mostly because he
was able to attend spring training from start to finish," says
Brian Graham, the Pirates director of player development.
"Hes definitely one of our top pitching prospects. Hes
610", hes got a good athletic body, and a tremendous
make-up very competitive, a great work ethic. Everybody likes
him and gets along with him. Hes a model player."
Graham says he would like to see Young spend the entire season with
Hickory so he can focus on continuing to develop his curve ball
and his arm strength. Young had his pitching elbow scoped earlier
this year to remove a bone spur and rehabbed it at Princeton, where
he stayed until spring training began in April.
The politics major was able to complete his senior year, which included
two classes and his senior thesis, via e-mail. His thesis was on
the impact that Jackie Robinsons integration of professional
baseball in 1947 had on racial attitudes and stereotypes within
the media, particularly the New York Times.
Youngs girlfriend, Elizabeth Patrick 02, did the leg
work in Princeton, getting his thesis bound and delivered to his
adviser, as the pitcher started his first full season in the pros.
"She was the savior in all this," he says.
But Youngs Ivy League degree has not led to any ribbing from
teammates, many of whom also went to college, including his roommates
who attended Notre Dame and Arizona State.
Hes been pleased with his performance in the minors thus far,
but has had to adjust to the long bus trips, which he says are the
worst part of the experience, and playing everyday.
"Theres no off days. You play everyday. In the college
baseball season, the most youll play is 50-60 games. Here
you play 60 games in two months," says Young. "Its
also a business, and your sole job is to go out there and perform.
At times, its a lot of pressure. But thats what you
His teammates have come to expect solid performances from Young,
the ace of the Hickory staff.
"We have a lot of confidence in him," says Hickory third
basemen Jose Bautista, who was also an All-Star. "He knows
what hes doing out there, and hes not someone you think
is going to slip. It makes you work to make sure you dont
slip either or commit an error when hes out there."
Bautista says that although Young is a bonus baby thanks to his
$1.65 million signing, he gets along with all his teammates. He
also said the pitcher is able to communicate with his Latin American
teammates, who call Young "El Hombre Grande" the
But the righthanders other nickname might give a little peak into
Youngs future C.Y., as in Cy Young, the name for the
awards that go to the best pitchers in the major leagues.