Young makes franchise history in win over Blue Jays

August 30th, 2023

This story was excerpted from Jessica Camerato’s Nationals Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

took the field at Rogers Centre on Tuesday for his fourth Major League game, still chasing a handful of career firsts.

By the end of the night, the 24-year-old outfielder had become the first player in Nationals team history (2005-present) to collect his first big league hit, stolen base and outfield assist in the same game, according to Elias Sports Bureau.

“There’s not too many words for it,” Young, ranked as the Nats’ No. 30 prospect by MLB Pipeline, said. “You always remember your first hit, but helping in a situation like that and helping the team win like that is something I’ll never forget for my first assist.”

Young, who was called up on Saturday, recorded his first hit with a bunt off reliever Bowden Francis in the seventh inning. He overcame a 31 percent hit probability with his 30.7 foot-per-second sprint speed. Young, the Nationals’ 2022 Minor League Base Runner of the Year Award winner, stole second base two batters later.

“You know it’s eventually going to come around,” Young said of his first hit. “But you just kind of enjoy the moment and try to help the team out in any other way you can while the balls aren’t falling.”

Helping the Nationals in any way turned out to be one of the biggest ways in their 5-4 win.

After the Blue Jays made it a two-run game in the bottom of the eighth, pinch-hitter Daulton Varsho lifted a fly ball 297 feet off Hunter Harvey into center field. Young caught it and quickly fired it off to catcher Keibert Ruiz as Alejandro Kirk attempted to score from third base.

“You know there’s no one else on base, so you can kind of let it fly,” Young said. “You want to give Keibert a chance, and Keibert made a heck of a play.”

Young’s laser throw was spot-on to Ruiz, who applied the tag on the slide. With a 93.4 mph arm strength, Young delivered the Nationals’ fourth-fastest tracked outfield assist of the season.

“I wasn’t sure if he was going to make that throw,” Ruiz said. “But as soon as I saw the ball, I thought we had a chance. He made a really good throw.”

When the Nationals promoted Young, the feedback included an “unbelievable defender anywhere, at all three [outfield positions],” manager Dave Martinez said. Following the play, Martinez lauded Young, who had a 1.000 fielding percentage throughout three seasons in the Minors, on multiple aspects of it.

As the ball flew toward the outfield, left fielder Alex Call also converged on it. The rookie Young called for it.

“We had that conversation the first day he got here: I said, ‘You’re the center fielder, you control the outfield. You call it, you take everything. I want you to catch all the balls,’” Martinez said. “And he did it tonight.”

Once Young caught the ball, he didn’t lose time thinking about his next step.

“He did the right thing,” said Martinez. “In that situation, you’ve just got to air it out and hope that you throw it on target. He threw it right on target -- it was beautiful.”