In his first at-bat in his first game this season for the Chicago Cubs, Jared Young made the most of his moment in the Wrigley Field spotlight.
The 27-year-old Prince George native hit the first home run of his major league career, launching an Aaron Nola two-strike pitch 425 feet over the right centrefield wall to lead off the third inning Wednesday for the Cubs.
“I was really fired up,” Young said. “I know it was a 5-0 ballgame at the time and we just gotta get runs and gotta get baserunners. A good swing like that can help sometimes. I was just pumped up. I was excited. My family was here. It was just a really good moment for me.”
Called up Monday to Chicago from the triple-A affiliate Iowa Cubs, Young batted eighth in the order as the designated hitter.
"J.Y., that was nice, that's exactly what he's been doing down there (with Iowa), mashing righties," said Cubs manager David Ross. "That was a ball shot out of a cannon, that was loud."
Young also hit into an inning-ending ground ball double play with runners at first and second base in the fourth inning and was replaced in the sixth for pinch-hitter Miguel Amaya, who struck out swinging.
"He hit that ball really hard on the ground right at (Phillies infielder Josh) Harrison," said Ross. "Two really good at-bats for him."
The Cubs went on to lose 8-5.
Young has been the hottest hitter for the I-Cubs over the past month and his triple-A numbers show it. In 20 games this month he hit .395 with 25 runs batted in, eight home runs, four doubles and a triple. His on-base percentage in June with Iowa at the time he got called up was .489.
“We’ve been watching him for a while, he’s been swinging the bat really well,” said Ross.
“Mashing right-handed pitching, an area that we’ve struggled in a little bit. So he’s a guy who will pinch hit off the bench, play some first and outfield where it matches up.”
Young has been reunited with Cubs infielder Nico Hoerner, a former teammate of Young with the double-A Tennessee Smokies in 2019. Hoerner was there to congratulate Young as he touched home plate on his round-tripper.
“I’m excited for him and (he’s) very deserving,” Hoerner said. “He’s really hit this year and really his whole life. I have a lot of confidence in him and just excited for him to show what he can do.”
Young was sent to the development list in April for a two-week stint in which he did not play any games and that set the stage for what’s been the most productive season of his six-year professional baseball career. In an interview with Marquee Sports Network, Young explains how his swing has evolved.
“I’m feeling pretty comfortable at the plate right now,” Young told The Athletic’s Sahadev Sharma.
“I think if you take the confidence from everything that’s happened the last few weeks and bring it here, I don’t think things are going to change. I’m pretty excited to be here.”
The Cubs tracked down the man who caught Young's home-run ball and after the game they met and Young offered him a bat and autographed photo in a trade to get the ball. He plans to give it to his one-month old niece, the daughter of his brother Tanner, who Young met for the first time on Wednesday.