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MIAMI — Despite only being in the game for a few moments on Saturday, outfielder Jacob Young — just called up from Class AAA Rochester — showed a taste of what he could offer the Washington Nationals in the future. In the ninth inning, he hit a pinch run that set the ball rolling before Lane Thomas was knocked out at home. He then provided the deciding hit, scoring with a Jake Alu single as the Nationals rallied to beat the Miami Marlins.
“I thought that might happen, especially since I’m starting on the bench today,” Young said. “I figured a pinch run or defensive substitution might happen, so I was prepared for that. Feels great when [Manager Dave Martinez] calls your name because you know he trusts you and it was great to hit that crucial run and get the win.”
The Nats earned another win, this time battling Miami
Young has always been known for his speed – he has stolen 104 bases in three seasons with the Minors while only being caught 14 times. Last season, he was named Minor League Base Runner of the Year by the Nationals. This type of profile goes well with a fourth outfielder who can contribute as a pinch runner and strong defender.
But Young has evolved as a hitter. And over the next month, he’ll have a chance to prove he can be more than just a run-flat.
“He’s going to get a chance to go out and play every day for the most part,” Martinez said on Saturday. “We’re going to play him in a midfield, play him in a left field and then we’re going to go from there. But I want to see what he can do.”
Young, a seventh-round draft pick from Florida in 2021, started this season in the High Class A Wilmington. He made it to Rochester last week and played four games there. His parents came to visit – and then he was told he would be promoted again. At three levels this year, Young scored .305 with a base percentage of .376 and a slugging percentage of .418. He has credited mechanical adjustments for his improved numbers on the plate.
“He’s a leadoff guy,” Martinez said. “He gets on the base and can steal bases for us. He has a lot of speed. But we’re going to get him started and hope he does as well as he did in the minor leagues. He comes here and can inspire us a little again.”
Young’s excelling in the Nationals’ farm system is an achievement given Washington’s plethora of talented youngsters. Dylan Crews, James Wood and Robert Hassell III occupy the outfield of the Class AA Harrisburg. Daylen Lile, Andrew Pinckney and Jeremy De La Rosa are in Wilmington. Elijah Green and Cristhian Vaquero are in Lower Class A in Fredericksburg. However, there seems to be a lack of depth in the AAA class.
Robert Hassell III and James Wood share an outfield and a future
The Nationals started the season with Alex Call, Stone Garrett and Derek Hill battling for fourth place outfield behind Victor Robles, Lane Thomas and Corey Dickerson. But their depth has diminished. Robles was sidelined for most of the season with a back injury. Dickerson was released in early August. Garrett broke his left fibula last week and is done for the season. Hill hit .170 in 13 games before being called out in July and is now injured in Rochester.
Call was rejected in June due to offensive problems and has not improved since returning to the big leagues. Blake Rutherford, who has had a strong year in the Minors, has scored six goals in 34 plate appearances with Washington. All of that left few options for the Nationals, who were firing at full speed but needed reinforcements.
“They played really good baseball, so it’s exciting to join a team that plays good ball,” Young said. “I just hope I can help wherever I can and wherever I’m asked.”
The Nationals can be proud that Young is a developmental win as a seventh-round pick. So did Jake Irvin, the fourth-rounder who pitched six innings Saturday, and Alu, the 24th-round pick who drove Young on Saturday.
Young is the newcomer to the clubhouse, but you couldn’t tell from the crushing hug he and first base coach Eric Young Jr. had on his pinch run. Young looked like he was circling bases to get his first run. He’ll have to do it again in Sunday’s series finale, which will likely be his first start.
“I think no matter what, that first start is always going to be nerve-wracking,” he said. “If that’s not the case, frankly, there’s probably something wrong with you. [It’s] something you’ve always dreamed of. But getting in today was definitely a nice little moment to get your feet wet.”
Source : www.washingtonpost.com