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2021 Arizona Diamondbacks Player Reviews, #47, Alex Young

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The second-round pick failed to materialize the potential he was heralded with over the last six years.

Colorado Rockies v Arizona Diamondbacks Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images
  • Rating: 2.50
  • Age: 28 years old
  • 2021 Stats: 2-6, 6.58 ERA, 1.769 WHIP, 52.0 IP, 68 ERA+
  • 2021 Earnings: $563,500
  • 2022 Status: On AAA roster for Cleveland Guardians

While the MLB draft always seems to be an inexplicable crapshoot, the 2015 draft for the D-Backs continues to be a painful disappointment. With the first overall pick of that year, they selected Dansby Swanson - yep, the same Dansby Swanson who just helped lead Atlanta to a World Series win. Meanwhile, their second-round pick, Alex Young, was substantially less heralded than Swanson, but whose D-Backs tenure was equally disappointing. At the time, Young was described pretty positively with Bleacher Report then calling him an, “...advanced left-handed college arm…” and a player that could, “help out at the big league level in the near future.”

WHOOPS

We all make mistakes. It’s what makes being human so laughably frustrating. And to be fair to the Bleacher Report author, Young did have three solid years at Texas Christian University, compiling three separate seasons with ERAs under 3 while also making a jump from the bullpen to the rotation in his junior year. Even more, the D-Backs weren’t alone in their evaluation with Baseball America ranking him as the number 32 prospect in the draft. So it wasn’t all that unreasonable when the D-Backs signed him at his full slot value of $1,431,400 that came with his No. 43 overall selection.

Initially, his selection seemed somewhat worthwhile as he posted two durable, if not spectacular, seasons in 2016 and 2017 across Low-A, High-A, and AA. Across those two seasons, he managed ERAs of 3.56 and 3.68 over 118.2 and 137.0 IP before seeing his run prevention take a significant hit in 2018 with an ugly 5.16 ERA across 130.2 IP. Luckily, he bounced back with a strong debut in 2019, along the way becoming one of the more reliable arms in the rotation - even beating out recent CY Young Winner Robbie Ray (across an albeit substantially smaller sample size).

Needless to say, these results created a not insignificant amount of excitement heading into the 2020 season. Unfortunately, as was noted in his 2020 review, his 2019 results may have been more a factor of luck with a BABIP of .252. And unsurprisingly, that luck quickly switched in 2020 as his BABIP bumped up to .288 and his ERA ballooned all the way to 5.44 ERA as a result - almost exclusively relegating him to the bullpen. Sadly, Young’s 2020 season was not a fluke as we had hoped, as both his topline numbers (6.26 ERA and 1.680 WHIP) and advanced numbers (.333 BABIP and 5.7 HR%) took an even greater nosedive.

Altogether, Young’s cratering production couldn’t justify him staying on the big league club, and he was optioned back to Reno before eventually getting DFA’d in mid-July. He was quickly picked up by the Guardians where he was assigned to their AAA affiliate. Young did make 10 appearances for Cleveland in August and September, but evidently did not show enough to warrant staying at the big league level as he was DFA’d again earlier this month to make room for other players in need of protection from the Rule 5 draft. However, he made it through waivers and was assigned back to their AAA affiliate.

Overall, there is still some hope for the young leftie as he holds two minor league options and isn’t arbitration eligible until 2023. Even better, Cleveland has a penchant for reclaiming and rehabilitating pitching prospects back into their former potential. He still clearly has some potential and at 28, he’s certainly not a lost cause, but he has firmly moved into the rehabilitated prospect part of his career. I wish him all the best.

Up next: another middling pitcher looking to reclaim some of his former potential. Stick around to find out who...