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Young Expects Speedy Trip To Bigs

June 4, 2003
By Marc Tompkin

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla.--Getting drafted first by the Devil Rays was a nice honor for 17-year-old Camarillo (Calif.) High outfielder Delmon Young.

But getting to the major leagues is what's really going to matter.

"By 19, that would be my ultimate goal," Young said. "Just to be there as quickly as possible, to try to be like Andruw Jones, Ken Griffey Jr., and A-Rod. I'm trying to be just like them, to be in the big leagues as fast as possible and have a dominant career."

That might sound like an ambitious goal, but it's not surprising.

Young has always played against the big kids. He was an eight-year-old playing against 12-year-olds, 11-years-old playing against teenagers, an eighth-grader against high schoolers.

"He was always playing against older competition," his father Larry Young said. "That's what I wanted for him. From the time he was little, I knew he was going to be special."

The Devil Rays think so too, choosing Young over Southern University second baseman Rickie Weeks, who many thought would be a safer pick and a better fit since he could get the big leagues quicker and plays a position where the Rays need more help.

Even Young thought the Rays would take Weeks, admitting he had gotten ready the Brewers cap and shirt he had on hand for the draft party at his house.

But Devil Rays scouting director Cam Bonifay said he had decided on Young several days before the draft.

"He is one of the finest power hitters our scouts have evaluated, not only this year, but over the years," Bonifay said. "He's the kind of guy that you don't get out of your seat and go buy a hot dog when you know he's coming to the plate. You want to stay there and watch him hit. He lights up your eyes."

Young has already been exposed to the game by hanging out with older brother Dmitri, an eight-year big-league veteran. He has had the chance to see what the major-league game, and lifestyle is like, to work out with big leaguers, to get tips and instruction from some of the best.

He isn't shy about his future, comparing himself to Montreal superstar Vladimir Guerrero and looking forward to joining the Rays.

"(Rocco) Baldelli moved up fast, (Carl) Crawford moved up fast, hopefully I can move up fast too," Young said.

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