Who is Cole Young? 

June 22nd, 2022

In many ways, Cole Young’s journey to the Major Leagues started in 2014 when he was the 9-10 year-old division champion at Major League Baseball’s Pitch, Hit & Run program at Target Field. Eight years later, Young has a chance to etch another chapter into that journey, as the 18-year-old Pennsylvania native has a chance to be a first-round pick in this year’s MLB Draft.

Here’s what you need to know about the slick middle-infield prospect:

FAST FACTS

Primary position: SS
Height/weight: 6-foot, 180 lbs
Bats/throws: Left/right
Birthdate: July 29, 2003 (Age 18 on Draft Day)
High school: North Allegheny (PA)
Hometown: Wexford, PA
College commitment: Duke University

He’s consistent at the plate

A preseason All-American, Young’s feel for the game is well beyond his years, something that should become immediately evident should he choose to sign with whichever team selects him in this year’s Draft. While Young doesn’t project to be a power threat, he boasts some of the best natural bat-on-ball skills of this year's prospects.

As a slick-fielding, contact-hitting lefty middle infielder, Young has drawn comps to Adam Frazier and Stephen Drew. MLB Pipeline graded Young with a 60 hit and 40 power on the traditional 20-80 scouting scale. After batting .437 with 23 RBIs and six home runs in 27 games as a junior last year, Young hit .433 with 15 RBIs in his senior season for North Allegheny in the Western Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic League -- statistics he generated without using a hitting instructor.

“No one ever taught me to hit a certain way,” Young told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “I think everyone plays their best when they’re having fun and just enjoying it. So just teach yourself how to play and be yourself.”

He should stick at shortstop

While Young’s work at the plate is impressive, he might be even better in the field. In his 73 games in high school, Young finished with a .951 fielding percentage with only 12 errors. He also helped turn 22 double plays. He turned 12 double plays a year ago and had a .952 fielding percentage with five errors in 105 chances at North Allegheny.

That complete profile helped him earn numerous accolades over his high school career. Along with being named a Baseball America preseason high school All-American and one of MaxPreps top-10 high school prospects before his senior season, Young was named to Rawlings/Perfect Game’s preseason underclassman All-American team before his sophomore season. He was also selected to play in the High-School All-American game last summer at Coors Field.

Young is adding to Pittsburgh’s baseball legacy

While Pittsburgh will always be a football-first city, the Allegheny area has quietly become a hotbed for generating baseball talent. If Young ends up being drafted in the first round, he’ll become the seventh player from the WPIAL to be selected in the first round of the MLB Draft out of high school.

The most recent pick was Austin Hendrick, who was picked 12th in the 2020 Draft by the Reds and is currently playing for the High-A Dayton Dragons. Additionally, former Minnesota Twins No. 1 prospect Alex Kirilloff (currently with Triple-A St. Paul) is also from the area.

Perhaps the best known player on the list of Pittsburgh-area prep picks is former Pirate Neil Walker, another player whom Young has drawn some comps to. Walker, who is from nearby North Hills, hit 149 home runs across 12 Major League seasons (seven of which were with his hometown Pirates), and, according to the Post-Gazette, has even given Young some tips over the years.

He gets on base (and causes trouble once he’s there)

In his three years of high school ball, Young stuck out 24 times -- 15 of which came in his freshman year. Even if he may never hit for a ton of power, Young has already shown he has elite plate discipline to go along with a good eye (53 career walks in high school). Chances are Young’s going to make something happen once he gets on base, as he stole 34 bases in high school and was graded with 55 speed.

While Duke offered Young a baseball scholarship during his freshman year, the prospect of playing in the pros could end up being too much for Young, especially if he’s drafted early in the first round.