Jared Young out to ‘prove myself right’ in opportunity with Cubs
Whenever a player is set to make their MLB debut, it’s always a whirlwind.
But for Jared Young, the last couple days have been especially hectic.
When Cubs outfielder Rafael Ortega broke his finger during Tuesday night’s game in New York, the team needed some reinforcements. They settled on Young, a left-handed hitter who can play all over the diamond (first base, second base, third base, outfield).
Young was preparing for a day game in Iowa with the Cubs’ Triple-A affiliate when he found out about 15 or 20 minutes before first pitch that he was being pulled.
“[Triple-A manager] Marty Pevey came up to me and he was like, ‘hey, I can’t play you today because you’re going to the big leagues,'” Young said.
Young gave Pevey and his teammates hugs and then rushed to his apartment to pack a bag. He called his parents on the way to the airport, which included a lot of excited yelling from his mom.
“It’s [a conversation] I’ve been looking forward to for a long time,” Young said. “When I called and told her, it was a good feeling.”
But things didn’t calm down from there. His flight got delayed and he didn’t make it to Citi Field until the 5th inning of Wednesday’s game against the Mets.
He arrived in time to see the Cubs pull off the 3-game sweep in New York but then the team returned to Chicago for an off-day.
On Friday, Young drew his first MLB start, playing first base and hitting 6th against the Rockies. He went hitless in his first 3 at-bats but then roped a double to right field in the 8th inning:
First major league hit for Jared Young! 👏 pic.twitter.com/XWRTn3N5EN— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) September 16, 2022
After the hit, the 31,775 fans in attendance gave Young a standing ovation.
“A lot of excitement; a lot of relief,” Young said after his first hit. “It felt great. … It’s probably the loudest building I’ve ever been in. That was pretty cool. It was a surreal day.”
About 15 friends and family members were on hand at Wrigley Field to see Young’s debut from his hometown of Prince George, Canada.
“It’s exciting. A little bit of a whirlwind,” Young said. “Stuff comes at you pretty fast.”
The Cubs selected Young in the 15th round of the 2017 MLB Draft out of Old Dominion University and he debuted with short-season Class-A Eugene that summer.
Young moved up the Cubs’ system from there, playing at Double-A Tennessee and in the Arizona Fall League in 2019 before the pandemic wiped out the minor league season in 2020.
He has played all of 2022 at Triple-A Iowa, where his season batting line is .228/.310/.413 (.723 OPS) with 16 homers, 57 RBI and 60 runs scored.
“A long [journey],” Young said. “It’s been awesome. I wouldn’t trade it for the world.”
Despite the ups and downs, the 27-year-old said he never felt like hanging up his spikes.
“That thought had never crossed my mind,” Young said. “It’s something that I always knew I could do and I’m here to prove myself right.”
Young is one of a bunch of players who is eligible for the Rule 5 Draft this winter so the Cubs want to get a look at him in the big leagues before deciding whether to protect him on the 40-man roster all offseason.
Ortega is done for the season, Patrick Wisdom just returned from a finger injury (he was not in the lineup Friday) and Seiya Suzuki (hand) is day-to-day, which opens up opportunity for the likes of Young, Alfonso Rivas, Nelson Velázquez and Michael Hermosillo at first base or the outfield.
David Ross has seen Young a little bit firsthand in Spring Training, when the utility player has been in big-league camp. The Cubs skipper came away with a solid impression of Young’s ability at the plate and in the field and now wants to see what he can do on the game’s biggest stage.
“Getting this opportunity with some injuries,” David Ross said. “You always love that stuff, letting guys show you what they can do. It’s a great opportunity for him.
“I think he’s really excited for this opportunity and we’re excited to watch him play.”