June 19, 2005


Hot-hitting Young finds trouble inside (Dennis Manoloff, June 19, 2005, The Plain Dealer)

Buffalo Bisons outfielder Ernie Young is the classic “4-A” player — good enough to succeed, even thrive, in Class AAA, but not quite good enough to stick in the major leagues. Regardless, what Young has done with a bat as a professional is noteworthy.

Last Thursday at Indianapolis, Young grounded out to drive in his 1,000th career run as a minor- leaguer. A sizable chunk of them came on 289 homers. Young entered Friday at .306 with 16 homers and 52 RBI as a catalyst for the sizzling Bisons. The homers and RBI led the International League.

A 10th-round pick by Oakland in 1990, Young, 35, has played in more than 1,400 minor-league games but just 288 in the majors (.225 batting average). He appeared in three games for the Indians last season after batting .299 with 27 homers and 100 RBI in 115 games for Buffalo. No player in the storied history of the Bisons ever has posted back-to-back 100-RBI seasons. Incredibly, Young has cracked at least 14 home runs in eight consecutive seasons with a Class AAA club, dating to 1998 when he hit 22 for Omaha in the Kansas City system. Barring injury or recall, Young will make it seven of eight with 20-plus. He has appeared in at least 48 games at Class AAA in nine consecutive seasons.

As to why Young fails to solve major-league pitching, the answer is found in the inner half of the strike zone.

“Big-league pitchers can ride the fastball in on him and tie him up,” an International League scout said. “The bat speed is not sufficient there. Triple-A pitchers generally don’t have the command or the velocity to attack that area consistently, and he’s smart enough and strong enough to hammer mistakes.”

The scout said the ratio of doubles to homers often says a lot about the swing of a player (certain top-flight sluggers excluded). If he has more homers than doubles over a long stretch, a hole likely exists somewhere. Young had 252 minor-league doubles through Thursday.

There's an interesting corollary: a younger guy who hits a ton of doubles is often poised to start hitting the ball over the fence, as with Brian Roberts this year com ing off of an AL-leading 50 last year.

Posted by Orrin Judd at June 19, 2005 6:01 AM

Dave Parker, late of the Pirates and Reds, was like that. Lots of Doubles when he was younger. His power rippened later on.

Posted by: Robert Schwartz at June 19, 2005 3:54 PM