- Full name Walter Ernest Young
- Born 02/18/1980 in Hattiesburg, MS
- Died 09/19/2015 in Purvis, MS
- Profile Ht.: 6'5" / Wt.: 315 / Bats: L / Throws: R
- School Purvis
- Debut 09/06/2005
- Drafted in the 31st round (932nd overall) by the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1999.
Organization Prospect Rankings
Acquired off waivers from the Pirates in November 2003, Young is one of the most intriguing players in the minors, if only because of his amazing size. His listed weight is always just an estimate, and fluctuates depending on how serious he's about conditioning. He let himself go a little bit in 2005 and hit just 13 home runs in Triple-A. And while he made his major league debut, he didn't show enough to get a long look in Baltimore despite plenty of job openings. Young went to Venezuela for the winter to get himself in better shape and hone his swing, which produces top-end power when he's in a groove. For his size, he's a good athlete who moves well around the first-base bag. He cut down on his strikeouts last year, but his production slipped as well. His size always will be an issue and probably limits him to part-time duty at first, so he'll have to hit enough to prove he can be a DH. Last year was his first Triple-A experience and he has an option remaining, so the Orioles will send him back to Ottawa to get more at-bats before giving him another big league opportunity.
In an organization that needs players with premium tools, Young offers top-of-the-scale power. They grabbed him after the 2003 season when the Pirates tried to take him off their 40-man roster at the suggestion of Mickey White, who was the Pirates' scouting director who drafted Young. He showed his stuff in his first season in the organization, breaking the Bowie franchise home run record previously held by Calvin Pickering. Young earns obvious comparisons to Pickering, another giant human with plus power. While Pickering's big body proved to be his undoing, Orioles officials say Young is a better athlete and hitter who has worked hard to improve his conditioning. Aside from his power, he's a run producer who works counts and is willing to take a walk, though he has holes on the inner half. They say a better comparison might be to David Ortiz. Young also moves well around first base and has good hands, but his limited range probably will relegate him to DH. Young had a good winter in Venezuela, hitting six home runs, and if he comes to spring training in good shape he could contribute in the big leagues in 2005.
Before taking Jose Bautista from the Pirates in the major league Rule 5 draft, the Orioles snatched Young from Pittsburgh off waivers. He immediately became Baltimore's best first base prospect and top power hitter in the minors. Young committed to play defensive end at Louisiana State until the Pirates swayed him with a $500,000 signing bonus in 1999. He broke through with an MVP performance in the low Class A South Atlantic League in 2002. He encored by leading the high Class A Carolina League in RBIs despite being slowed by a groin injury early last year. Young is a huge man with intriguing light-tower power. He's fairly mobile for a big man and has decent actions around first base, making plays on the balls he can reach. But his size is a major concern. It hampers his ability to get around on inside pitches or cover much ground defensively. He may profile best as a DH. Young also needs to improve his plate discipline. The Orioles will unleash him on Double-A to open 2004.
The Pirates took a flier on Young in 1999 and persuaded him to forgo a football scholarship to play defensive end at Louisiana State. He was stuck in short-season ball for three years until being promoted in 2002 to low Class A, where he took off. Young was named Pirates minor league player of the year and South Atlantic League MVP as he led the circuit in hits, homers, total bases (277) and extra-base hits (61). Young is big and strong with light-tower power. He can pull inside pitches a mile and can take outside pitches over the fence to the opposite field. He's personable and popular in the clubhouse. Young has lost weight since turning pro but needs to shed some more pounds. He's a slow runner and a poor defensive first baseman who lacks range and proper footwork. Young got his career on track last season and his lefthanded power is intriguing. He's still a project, though, and the Pirates want to see how he does in high Class A this year.
Minor League Top Prospects
Young headlined a potent Hickory attack by making a serious run at the triple crown. In addition to leading the league in home runs, the mammoth first baseman placed second in RBIs and third in hitting. The league named him its MVP and top prospect. While the 22-year-old Young proved he could rake in low Class A, there are questions aside from his age. He has a long swing with some serious holes that will be exposed at higher levels. The 6-foot-4 Young weighs more than 300 pounds, which limits him to first base and DH. Yet while some observers see the next Sam Horn or Calvin Pickering, others believe Young could be a poor man's Cecil Fielder after watching him hit .333 against both lefties and righties. He also concluded the season by hitting .384-8-24 in August. "He's a guy who is going to hit for power and average if he keeps his body in shape," Manto said. "He has the same approach against lefthanders and righthanders, and he can absolutely crush the ball. He's going to make a lot of money with his bat if he stays on track."
Best Tools List
- Rated Best Power Hitter in the Baltimore Orioles in 2005
- Rated Best Power Hitter in the Baltimore Orioles in 2004
- Rated Best Power Prospect in the Carolina League in 2003
- Rated Best Power Prospect in the South Atlantic League in 2002
- Rated Best Defensive 1B in the South Atlantic League in 2002