It's a bit of a light year in the Northeast for college pitchers. One of the most exciting draft-eligible arms in the region was on display in Cary, N.C., on Opening Day, so there were about a dozen scouts taking in the 2013 Ron Fraser Classic at the USA Baseball National Training Complex.
Righthander Pat Young from Villanova took the mound against Monmouth to open the season. Young, who stands 6-foot-7 and 208 pounds, gave up three runs on nine hits with a walk and three strikeouts over 5 1/3 innings for a no-decision.
Young sat in the 92-94 mph range and topped out at 95 with some natural sinking action. His 79-81 mph breaking ball is developing right now, but showed signs of becoming an average slider. He only threw a couple changeups during his first outing.
Young was undrafted out of College Park High in The Woodlands, Texas, where he was teammates with Rice righthander John Simms. He headed to Villanova at 6-foot-5 and 190 pounds.
"Out of high school, I wasn't really a prospect at all," Young said. "I didn't really hit my stride until I got to college.
"In college, I came in freshman year and gained 15 pounds, and the same thing sophomore year. I just tried to work hard with the strength coaches and the pitching coaches to get a stronger delivery. There was a ton of repetition and I was thankful that I got to pitch right away as a freshman and got a lot of important innings under my belt right away."
Young is the rare college pitching prospect who still has even more room to fill out and get stronger.
"His arm looks strong and he really competed out there," a scout said. "He's a kid where I think there's still some projection there and you don't often say that for a junior or senior in college. He has good size already, and who knows if he'll put on more muscle, but if he does, I think it'll add to his stamina more than his velocity."
The above-average velocity is new for Young, who spent last summer pitching out of the Bourne Braves' bullpen. He went 2-0, 3.76 with 21 strikeouts and nine walks over 26 innings.
"The first time I did it was over the summer," Young said about touching 95 mph. "One of the games had the radar gun right behind you on the scoreboard and you try not to look, but I had my dad in the stands and he told me I hit 95, so that was really exciting for me."
Young said that pitching in the Cape was a tremendous experience and really helped him develop as a pitcher.
"It was really exciting," Young said. "Being from a smaller school, I was a little nervous. I didn't know how to compete with some of those bigger-name prospects. But then as soon as you get up on the mound and throw your first strike, get your first out and get through your first inning, you start to realize that you can really compete with some of those guys."
He said he's been working to sharpen up his slider and has been working to gain some feel for his changeup in games.
"It's not a pitch I ever really leaned on my freshman and sophomore years," Young said. "It's something I worked on a lot over the summer and fall and something I've really starting to feel comfortable with heading into this season."
But even more than helping to develop his secondary pitches, the time in the Cape Cod League gave Young a confidence boost. He said he worked on his mental approach to pitching this summer and his newfound swagger should help him continue to improve on the mound. But that confidence doesn't just benefit Young, it benefits the entire Villanova pitching staff.
"I got all this confidence this summer and I wanted to carry that into this year," Young said. "I told all the young guys right away, 'If you guys need anything, if you have any questions, you can come talk to me. I've been though whatever you've been through.'"
Below is video of Young's first inning of the 2013 season . . .
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