StrategyAugust 31, 2009


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Recent MLB Call-Ups: Eric Young Jr.

By Bryan L. Schubert

Hello Cafe members and welcome to this weeks edition of Recent MLB Call-Ups, this series highlights one recent minor-leaguer called to the big club. Whether you are looking for a guy with a long-term keeper potential for a dynasty league, or help getting a jump on all the owners in your league scouring the waiver wire for a player to help contribute during your playoff run, I am here to to help decide if the guy you have your eye on is worth that waiver priority.

Eric Young Jr., Colorado Rockies, Age 24

It is quick for many to draw reference between Eric Young Jr. and his father Eric Young Sr; however, it would not resonate with those around baseball if it was not accurate. Much like his father, Junior is lightning quick on the bases. They both were buried on draft boards on their respective draft days: Junior was a 30th-round selection by the Colorado Rockies in the 2003 First Year Player Draft and his All-Star father was not selected until the 43rd round by the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1989. Eric Young Sr. went on to win the Silver Slugger at second base in 1996, the same year he was selected to the National League All-Star roster. He stole 40-plus bases six times, led the league with 53 stolen bases in that same great 1996 season and ended with 465 counts of theft for his career. While his proud father may not have the privilege to give his son credit for frequent trips to “Souvenir City” (props to Eric Young Sr. and his work on Baseball Tonight), Eric Young Jr. will not need provide value from power.

When Eric Young Jr. finally made his professional debut in 2006 he wasted no time displaying his plus-plus speed and, much like dad, has been giving catchers at every level nightmares since. During his first professional season in 2006 with the Rockies Single-A club, Young stole an astounding 87 bases, getting caught 31 times, in 128 games, all-the-while hitting .295. The following year in Single-A Advanced he stole another 73 bases and got caught less frequently, only 18 times, in 130 games and again hit in the .290s.

The advancement to Double-A, during the 2008 season for Young, seemed to hinder his base stealing ability a little, at least from the perspective to which we had been made accustomed. In the 105 games he appeared in that year he only stole 46 bases. Most professional players would love to “only” steal 46 bases. Compared to what Young had done previously this was a drop in production, but when you are putting up gaudy stolen base totals like he was in Single-A, it is expected to see somewhat of a decline as you progress through the system. He remained productive again at the plate hitting .290, and taking a walk in just above 13% of his plate appearances.

Young started this season down in Triple-A for the Sky Sox and continued to impress with his lead-off man skills. In the 119 games he played for Colorado Springs, before getting the call this week to join the Rockies and their playoff battle, he scored an average of almost once a game in 118 times total. There is not a professional baseball team anywhere that would not love a guy on their roster that, on average, crosses the plate at that rate, especially one that also hits .299 while doing so! During his time in Colorado Springs to start the season Young stole another 58 bases to give him 264 during his time working through the Colorado system.

Eric Young Jr. – Colorado Springs (Triple-A) 2009 Statistics

ABRHRRBISBBBKAVGOBPSLGOPS
472118743585679.299.387.430.817

When Dexter Fowler was placed on the disabled list, with a bruised knee, the Rockies called up Eric Young Jr. on Tuesday, August 25. In 19 at-bats for Colorado Young has not had time to get his feet wet, but some time and a consistent role at the top of the Colorado lineup should pay dividends for the Rockies. The only thing to point out is that he has struck-out five times already in his 19 at-bats, something that will need to change if he plans on being a lead-off man in the majors. When Fowler comes off the disabled list, currently on the 15-day DL (but it looks like it could be longer), Eric Young Jr. will probably stay-up in Denver with the expanded rosters and aid the Rockies with his plus-plus speed.

Eric Young Jr. – Colorado Rockies 2009 Statistics

ABRHRRBISBBBKAVG
19000005.263

Young was only a top-ten prospect in the Colorado system to start out the season, but all throughout his progression as a professional baseball player he has shown the ability to develop into a great lead-off hitter. His glove will probably keep him from playing second base like his father, so it looks like he will see a majority of his at-bats while playing center field.

If Young can maintain an average around .280 while at the top of the lineup he will provide the Rockies a wealth of runs and stolen bases. While Young has shown the ability early to hit to all parts of the field, he has to get on base to realize his true value. If he can consistently get on-base he will continue to provide catchers with nightmares at the Major League level because of his speed.

If you are looking for steals toward the end of the fantasy season, Young is a great guy to grab. He has been starting in centerfield and leading off for the Rockies while filling in for the injured Fowler. That combination, assuming he can get on base consistently, will make him excellent at producing steals and runs. However, when Fowler comes back from the disabled list, Young’s role will more than likely be limited, but from what the Rockies are making it sound like that is a little down the road.

I would love to hear from you, loyal members of the Cafe, so please PM me with any comments or questions. Talk to you next time, meanwhile I will keep an eye on those transaction reports!

 
Bryan L. Schubert is one of a growing number of fantasy experts who write for the Cafe. You can catch up with Bryan in the Cafe's forums where he posts under the name of Ninja BlackSox.
 
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