Braves' Young Gaining Fans South Of The Border
ATLANTA—Matt Young defines the word "gamer." Southern League managers confirmed as much last season when they selected the outfielder and leadoff hitter for the circuit's best hustler award.
Fans in Navojoa and throughout the Mexican Pacific League can also attest to how hard—and well—Young works on the diamond. The former standout at New Mexico helped guide the Mayos to an unexpected spot in the playoffs, where they pushed Hermosillo to six games in a best-of-seven series. For his efforts, Young was tabbed the team's most valuable player.
"The team I was on is not a perennial powerhouse," Young said. "The fact that we made the playoffs was a big step for the entire city. It was exciting to be part of that. During the playoffs, the stadium filled up and the crowd was electric. The crowds and the atmosphere made for one of the most incredible experiences I've had playing this game."
Young became the cornerstone of the Navojoa offense, which ranked last in the league with a .254 average, by batting .315/.435/.523 with eight home runs and 32 RBIs in 66 games. He finished eighth in the batting race and fourth in on-base percentage.
"Matt's a ballplayer," farm director Kurt Kemp said. "He does so many things well, and he gives you everything he has every time he takes the field."
At age 27, the 5-foot-9, 180-pound Young still isn't mentioned in any serious discussions regarding the future in Atlanta. He likely will spend this season at Triple-A Gwinnett, where he will continue to try to earn a shot at the major leagues. In the meantime, Young believes his most recent experience helps him progress toward that goal.
"I believe playing in Mexico will help prepare me for that next step that I want to make, which is the big leagues," said Young, who signed as nondrafted free agent in 2004. "But regardless of what happens there, I'm looking forward to going back to Navojoa next winter."
• The Braves lost Brandon Jones on a waiver claim to the Pirates after they had designated the 27-year-old outfielder for assignment to make room on the 40-man roster for free agent Eric Hinske. The one-time top prospect has frequented the Triple-A-to-Atlanta shuttle over the past three seasons. He batted .281/.360/.419 at Gwinnett in 2009.
• Atlanta released outfielder Jon Mark Owings, the younger brother of Reds righthander Micah Owings, after he battled injuries during his six years in the organization. He hit 16 home runs in both 2007 and 2008.