Ascending Young puts championship cap on strong season
Andy Young didn't expect to be here. At least not yet.
Having already earned one promotion in 2018, the former West Fargo High School baseball standout and current St. Louis Cardinals prospect was in offseason mode, returning home for what he thought would be an extended stay after wrapping a stretch with the Springfield (Mo.) Cardinals, the organization's Double-A affiliate, on Sept. 3.
But his return to West Fargo proved to be a short one.
After less than a week in town, Young received a surprise call from the Memphis Redbirds, St. Louis' Triple-A affiliate. Looking to replace a few players who'd been promoted to the big leagues, the Redbirds offered Young a spot on their roster as they prepared for the Pacific Coast League Championship Series.
"That call came so fast," said Young, who was one of only two players the Redbirds called up for their postseason run. "It was actually very surprising."
Though he played in just two games, Young's time with Memphis wasn't without its memorable moments.
After topping Fresno for the Pacific League title, the Redbirds jumped all over Durham in the National Championship Game in Columbus, Ohio on Sept. 18, building up a 14-4 lead heading into the ninth inning.
With the game in hand, Young was inserted as a pinch hitter in the top of the inning, then headed out to second base in the bottom half, where became a part of a historic team moment.
With a runner on first and one out, Durham's Rob Refsnyder hit a grounder to Young, who fielded the ball cleanly and tossed it to shortstop Tommy Edman for the first half of a game-ending double play that put a stamp on a ten-run win and Memphis' first ever national title.
Happy to soak in the environment of a championship clubhouse, Young wasn't clamoring for such a standout individual moment, but says it put a nice cap on a great experience.
"Just being in Triple-A in general was pretty awesome," he said. "(The double play) was just the cherry on top."
Young says the biggest thing he took in was seeing how veteran leaders set the tone, handling all issues in-house and keeping everyone in line and focused on the task at hand.
"I learned a lot more from just being in the locker room with those guys," he said. "Learning by being around guys who've been in the big leagues, what it takes every day and what they do. Just being able to see (how to be a professional) and know what you're shooting for, that was the best part."
What Young is shooting for now is opening next season on a Double-A roster after a strong showing at that level over the summer.
A Class-A All-Star in both 2017 and 2018, Young was called up to Springfield in July and immediately made his presence felt. In just his third game, he went 4-of-5 with two homers, six RBIs and 10 total bases in a 16-5 win over Tulsa.
In 35 games in Springfield, he hit .319 with nine home runs and 24 RBIs. In 119 games across two classes, he hit 21 home runs, one more than he had in his first two seasons combined.
Aside from improving his power numbers, Young was most pleased with dropping his strikeout total from 104 last season to 85 this year.
Young's current sabbatical from the diamond will be a short one, as he plans to take part in the Arizona Fall League next month. He'll then return to West Fargo for a few months off before reporting to spring training in February.
While happy with the progress he's made, Young will enter his fourth professional season with a sense of urgency, as he attempts to prove his worth to Major League organizations.
"This is a big year coming up," he said. After this year, I'm really hoping to get put on a roster, and that's a big step for the ultimate goal of being a big leaguer."