The big boss for the Chicago Cubs dropped for a visit this week to the Iowa Cubs’ clubhouse and one the players he wanted to speak to was 26-year-old Prince George product Jared Young.
In his first full season playing for Chicago’s triple-A farm team, Young has been a standout for all the right reasons.
Through 32 games the left-handed Young has hit nine home runs (fourth-best in the International League), five doubles, 21 RBI, has a .254 batting average and ranks second on his team with a .864 OPS (on-base percentage plus slugging).
His defensive stats are also stellar. Young has gone error-free as a fielder, racking up 124 put-outs on 136 total chances. The Cubs have moved him around a bit and he’s played 17 games at first base, 12 at left field, one at right field and been the designated hitter in three games. Whatever it takes to get in the lineup, Young will play anywhere he’s asked.
Now in his sixth year of professional baseball, there’s only one level left for Young to climb and that’s the major leagues. The way he’s been playing, don’t be surprised if he gets that call sometime this season.
Chicago GM Carter Hawkins has been talking to the Iowa coaches and they’ve had good things to say about the only Prince George baseball player ever to make his mark as a professional.
Hawkins told the Des Moines Register: “A guy that I've heard a lot about just from our staff in terms of quality at-bats is Jared Young. It sounds like he's really been a professional in terms of the way he's approaching the plate. That's the kind of guy that you could see (moving up to Chicago) at some point.”
Words like that, coming from the top, are enough to put Young’s parents, Dana and Randy, and the rest of the family in Prince George on standby, waiting for the day he does get that call for his first major league cup of coffee. Whether that’s in Chicago or any other National League city, they’ll want to be there in person if it happens.
“I saw (Hawkins) in the locker room and chatted with him but it was just a brief conversation between me and him,” said Young. “He’s an important person in this organization and of course it was exciting to talk to him, but it’s just like anybody else. If go and do my job on the field it’s going to take care of that.”
Young hit five home runs in April, including a grand slam in the bottom of the eighth inning in a game April 15 against the Toledo Mud Hens. That gave the Cubs all they needed to break a tie game and win 5-1.
Four days later, playing in Kentucky against the Louisville Bats, Young knocked out two home runs and delivered a single, driving in four runs in a 7-2 victory.
“Helping the team win and doing it in that fashion is always fun, everyone likes home runs and it’s enjoyable,” said Young. “
Iowa has been one of the hottest team in the International League lately, winning eight of their last 10 games. The Cubs have moved up to third place in the West Division, five games behind division-leading Nashville. They wrap up a two week homestand Sunday at Principal Park against the Columbus Clippers, the Cleveland Guardians’ top affiliate, then head to Tennessee to play the Memphis Redbirds in a six-game series that starts Tuesday.
“We’ve got a really good team and that makes going to the park and playing a lot more enjoyable and things seem to go a bit smoother, so it’s been good the last two weeks,” said Young.
“We just have a lot of good baseball players. I’d say we’re an older team in this league and that’s going to benefit us, the longer this season goes.”
This marks the second year triple-A teams are playing six-game series, rather than the traditional four-game sets. That was a switch designed to limit team travel during the pandemic and the idea seems to have taken hold. During the 140-game season, that gives the players Mondays off to do their laundry, sightsee or in Young’s case, get out on the golf course.
Young was moved up to Iowa last summer from the Tennessee Smokies and had his first triple-A game Aug. 10. He played 37 games for Iowa in 2021 and hit .254 with five home runs.
“I feel the same, last year I had some success too when I got called up in the middle of the year and I wanted to continue that into this year,” he said. “I’m pretty happy with how everything’s going actually.
“I haven’t really changed, just getting better every year and playing more baseball. I think every year you play you have a chance to get better and that’s how I feel.”
Pitchers in triple-A are often moved up or down, to or from their major league teams, and Young the chance to hit big-league pitches coming his way on a regular basis.
“The higher you go up in the minor leagues, the better the pitching you’re going to see and vice-versa for them, when they pitch they’re facing me and the Iowa Cubs lineup, and that’s not an easy task either,” he said. “It’s just good baseball. At this point in time, nothing’s going to come to you easy and I don’t expect it to. There’s been a lot of guys on our team that have been up and down (playing for Chicago).”
He's knows he’s close and remains confident that call will eventually come to him.
“I sure hope so, that’s why I’m doing this,” Young said. “I’m definitely not playing this game to play in triple-A. I love it here in Iowa and the team’s great but I think you’d be a fool if you said you did this to play in triple-A.”