Name: Alex Young
DOB: 9/8/1993 (Age 25)
Acquired: 2nd Round Pick, 2015 MLB Draft
Most Notable Tool: Low 80s Slider
Season Stats: 29 G (21 GS), 10-5, 5.17 ERA, 130 2⁄3 IP, 15 HR, 109/39 K/BB, 1.43 WHIP, 43.1% GB
2018 Season Summary: After a pretty underwhelming career for a 2nd round selection, the 2018 season put the final nail in the coffin for the idea that Young will be a starter. After 9 solid starts with AA Jackson, Young got a promotion to AAA Reno and the PCL League. He had a few solid starts, but had too many starts of getting knocked around. While the PCL is notoriously hitter friendly and Reno is 4500 feet above sea level, all of Young’s peripherals took a big step backwards. Strikeouts went down while hits and homers allowed went way up. The team moved him to the bullpen for the final month-plus of the minor league season, although that’s not much of a sample size to work with in determining his long term role to the organization.
Tools: Fastball 45/50, Slider 55/60, Command 45/50
With a below average fastball and an above average breaking ball, Young’s best utility will be from the bullpen instead of the rotation. However, the tools aren’t enticing enough that the team should scramble to add him to the 40-man roster ahead of the Rule 5 Draft. In the bullpen, Young’s fastball velo should jump from 88-91 to 91-93 and make his slider more effective.
Upside: Interestingly enough, Alex Young’s career arc is starting to look eerily similar to current Diamondbacks LH reliever Andrew Chafin in terms of disappointing as a starter. However, Chafin had and still has superior stuff with walks being the big problem and necessitating a move to the bullpen. Young doesn’t have the walk issues that Chafin had and still has, but he lacks Chafin’s ability to miss bats.
Risk: The biggest risk is that Young simply lacks the stuff to be an effective pitcher in any capacity at the MLB level. Comparing him to the other LH relievers on the Dbacks roster, Chafin throws mid 90s with a plus slider to miss bats and T.J. McFarland relies on his sinker to induce heavy ground ball contact. Young lacks the type of put-away pitch both those pitchers possess.
Likely 2019 Assignment: Assuming Young isn’t poached off the roster in the Rule 5 Draft, although I won’t be sad if he is, the team will complete the transition to full time reliever. In 2019, he’s likely headed back to Reno unless he has some crazy good Spring and even that might not be enough. Young still has some value as a match-up reliever with an average FB/SL combo that will play up more against LHH. If Young can consistently get LHH out while hold his own against RHH enough, it may earn him a chance to get a trial run at the MLB level. 2019 will likely be Young’s last year to show the organization that he’s worth keeping around.
ETA: 2019 Season