Image credit: Carter Young (Photo by Bill Mitchell)
SEATTLE—The 2019 season hangs heavy with draft implications for Carter Young.
That’s because the Selah (Wash.) High shortstop is attempting to bounce back after struggling mightily on the national stage last summer. Young doesn’t want those struggles to obscure what had been an eye-opening run for the USA Baseball’s 18U National Team in 2017.
As a 16-year-old rising junior and lone Team USA underclassmen, Young showed defensive versatility on the diamond and discipline at the plate, sending his stock soaring. The switch-hitter batted .294/.429/.353 with nine walks and four stolen bases in nine games at the World Cup. Team USA went undefeated and cruised to its fourth straight gold medal.
“That was the best year of my career,” Young said. “It was the best feeling in the world representing my country and what Team USA is all about.”
Selah head coach Mike Archer had no doubts that Young would provide value to Team USA thanks to his versatility. After all, Young had helped Selah win a Washington state title in 2016 while playing primarily catcher.
“The kid is an exceptional thrower of the baseball,” Archer said. “It’s just different, you know? He can let a couple (throws) go from anywhere on the diamond that are just special.”
But then came 2018.
Invited to USA Baseball’s Tournament of Stars, Young went 1-for-13 in four games and believes that showing affected him all summer.
“I just couldn’t recover,” Young said. “It was a struggle mentally. It wasn’t my best summer. I just lost confidence as the summer continued.”
Invited to play for the 18U National Team again, Young bowed out at the last minute after talking things over with his coaches. He knew there were things he needed to clean up if he was going to reach the level he expected from himself.
“We both decided it wasn’t going to be the right fit,” Young said. “I didn’t feel I was in the right place mechanically or mentally to perform.”
Desperate to leave last summer in his rear-view mirror, Young set out to improve his consistency at the plate. He and his family created “vision boards,” because Young believes seeing his goals on paper helps raise his confidence level and reach his potential.
“I got down on myself last year, but I know what I can do out there,” Young said. “The vision board helps me see my abilities and reinforce that I can produce.”
Young has made big strides physically as well. He said he now weighs 185 pounds, 15 more than a year and a half ago. He also has placed greater importance on his mechanics, focusing all winter on staying inside the ball during countless hours of batting practice. Archer believes he’s getting close to becoming a complete hitter from both sides of the plate.
“From the left side, he’s got more pop, but he’s more polished from the right side,” Archer said. “Carter is starting to drive the ball to the opposite-field gap with more frequency, which really complements his speed game.”
Young is committed to Vanderbilt because Commodores head coach Tim Corbin has “created a culture that he couldn’t turn down.” Young believes Vanderbilt offers a family feel that not many other programs can replicate.
But with a strong senior season, Young could be in play on day one of the 2019 draft. He recognizes the position he is in but said the draft is not actively on his mind. He has an open mind on whether to attend college or turn pro.
“Everyone says they have their (dollar figure to sign), but I’m not really concerned with that,” Young said.
What Young is concerned with is crystal clear.
“I want to lead my guys (at Selah) back to a title—that’s it,” Young said. “The rest is noise.”