Player: Delmon Young
Age: 30 years old, born on September 14th, 1985
Career Span: Drafted in 2003, Currently a free agent (2003-2015, 13 years)
- #1 Overall Pick in the 2003 Draft
- #1 Prospect in Baseball by BA following 2005
- Numerous minor league awards and honors
- AL Player of the month in July, 2010
- 2012 ALCS MVP
|MILB||2004-2006, 2011, 2013||376||1,646||.316||.360||.513||79||18.4%||6.0%||NA||NA|
Following their horrendous 2002 season, the Tampa Bay Devil Rays were rewarded with the number one overall pick in the 2003 draft. So, with that choice, Tampa Bay decided to take a 17 year old high school baseball star, and brother of major leaguer, Dmitiri Young (who also happened to be drafted by the Devil Rays in the expansion draft). Delmon Young was their star, as they chose him over college infielder Rickie Weeks.
Here's a portion of what Baseball America had to say, among other things
Young is an outstanding hitter, particularly for his age. He routinely puts on a show in batting practice and carries his power into games, often hitting balls 450 feet or better. He has quick hands and the ball jumps off his bat. Young also has a powerful arm and has been clocked up to 95 mph on the mound.
The team waited until Delmon turned 18 to sign him, doing so on September eighth to a major league deal worth $5.8 million.
Following the 2003 season, Delmon traveled to Arizona to participate in the annual fall league where top prospects are sent to work on their crafts. He displayed the skill there that made him a #1 pick, but did have troubles with plate discipline, nevertheless, he still hit over .400 in the few weeks the league took place. When he was first drafted, Young triumphantly predicted he'd be in the majors by 2005, however after his performance in the AFL, he pushed it up a year to 2004.
Following the season, Baseball America named Delmon Young the 3rd top prospect in all of baseball, yet that still made him just the 2nd best in the Devil Rays' system behind Melvin Upton, who was ranked 2nd by Baseball America. For his first taste of minor league action, Tampa Bay aggressively assigned the 18 year old to Single-A Charleston. Young struggled over the first month, but quickly got hot and earned a spot in the Futures' Game.
Young finished the season in Charleston, unable to make it to the majors as he predicted but still put up an excellent debut season as he slashed .320/.386/.536 with 25 HR and 21 SB with a respectable 20.5 K% and a 9.0 BB%, while also displaying his powerful arm racking up 14 assist. Following the season, Young was moved up to number one in the organization and third in baseball by Baseball America.
In 2005, the Devil Rays assigned the 19 year old Young to Double-A Montgomery, where he again excelled. After 84 games that earned him another Futures' Game selection, Young was promoted to Triple-A Durham, still at the age of 19. Young handled the new level splendidly striking out just 14% of the time, but did show a strong aggressiveness, walking just four times in 234 plate appearances. Overall, Young slashed .315/.354/.527 with 26 HR and 32 SB over 136 games. Following the year, Baseball America named him their minor league player of the year and #1 prospect in all of baseball.
Heading into 2006, the future looked bright for Young as he was inches away from the majors at just 20 years old. The only problem was Young's attitude, which became known throughout the baseball universe after a very unfortunate incident took place towards the end of April.
During his first at-bat of game, Young took a called third strike and took a moment to stare down at the plate and had a few choice words for the home plate umpire. Young then walked towards the Bulls' bench when suddenly but apparently said something to warrant being ejected from the game. As a result, he immediately flung his bat at the umpire, striking him in the chest. Young was immediately tossed and was suspended indefinitely following the game. Young would later be suspended 50 games for this event.
Young returned to the Bulls in July, but again quickly found himself under scrutiny along with two other top prospects for an article in USA Today where the trio publicly stated their unhappiness with the organization.
"I don't know what they're waiting for, they're what, 30 games (actually 20) out of first place? They think we're going to mess up their clubhouse chemistry. B.J. (Melvin Upton) should be up there. What are they waiting for? They always have excuses." - Delmon Young
The Rays brass were quick to show their dissatisfaction of the three prospects, with Joe Maddon stating that he was appalled and Andrew Friedman stating that they disrespected the game. Nonetheless, Delmon Young's production in Triple-A was too much and in late August, he was finally given the promotion to the majors.
Finally in the Majors
Young played in his first major league game on August 29th, 2006 at US Cellular Field in Chicago against the White Sox and stepped in for his first at-bat in the top of the second against Freddie Garcia. He stood in and waited for the pitch in an extremely highly anticipated event for everyone involved with the organization, then he got hit with the very first pitch he seen.
After striking out in the forth, Young came up again in the seventh and provided everyone with what they wanted to see, a laser beam mammoth shot that almost drilled a hole through a concrete wall over the bullpen in left field.
Young stayed with the team the rest of the season and showed strong promise as he finished the season at just 21 years old, having slashed .317/.336/.476 with three homers over 30 games. However, he showed a lack of plate discipline as walked just once over 131 plate appearances (0.7 BB%), but didn't strikeout that much, as he had a 18.3 K%.
In 2007, Delmon Young spent his first full season in the majors, literally playing the full year as he played in all 162 regular season games. Young struggled over the first month of the season as he was hitting just .222 at the end of play on May 13th, however he'd bat over .300 from that point on and finished the year having slashed .288/.316/.408 with 13 HR and 10 SB, giving him a 89 wRC+ which put him below average.
For his year, Young was voted 2nd in the annual Rookie of the Year voting, finishing behind Dustin Pedroia.
Young turned 22 towards the end of the season and could still progress into the star that seemed inevitable when he was drafted. However, the Rays weren't so sure, and already having dealt with his character issue in the past, they were ready to cut ties with the potential star.
Towards the end of November, that came to fruition as the Rays and Twins combined to pulloff a six player deal that sent Delmon Young, Brendan Harris, and Jason Pridie to Minnesota, while the Twins sent Matt Garza, Jason Bartlett, and Eduardo Morlan to Tampa Bay.
Minnesota made the deal as they desperately sought to replace Tori Hunter, who had left following the season as a free agent and signed a 5-year $90 million deal with the Angels the previous week.
Young had a sluggish start for Minnesota, but (again) toward the end of May, he flipped a switch and hit over .300 from June til the end of the season. Young's his power numbers were still far below what was expected of the former top prospect as he waited until June to slug his first homer with Minnesota, and only finished the year having hit 10 home runs, while slashing .290/.336/.405 with a 96 wRC+ which put him slightly below average.
Still, it was a decent year considering Young was 22 years old for the majority of the season.
In 2009, Young dealt with a sore shoulder toward the end of spring training and it may have hampered his play slightly. He was used cautiously by the Twins management and finished the month of April having only played in 16 games and only registered two extra base hits during that time.
Once June hit, Young turned the page once more hitting above .300 to close out the year, including hitting .340 during the final month of the year. Yet, the power still wasn't there for Young and his defense was becoming more dreadful meaning a future playing in the field was questionable.
Young also lacked the speed that made him a 5-tool player as he was only able to snag two stolen bases over the course of the year. When it was over he had slashed .284/.308/.425 with 12 homers, again struggling with his plate discipline as he walked just 2.2% of the time, while he struck out at a 22.1% rate over 108 games.
The Twins made the playoffs that year but were swept by the Yankees in three games with Young going just 1-12 during the series.
2010 seemed like a turning point in Young's career as he looked ready to make the leap into stardom. He entered spring training in much better shape, having shed 20 pounds and he was still just 24 years old. Like clockwork, Young started the season in a dreadful slump, entering play on May 2nd having hit just .219 over his first 20 games.
After that, he hit .308 the rest of the season, and had an incredible month of July where he earned Co-Player of the Month honors along with Jose Bautista.
During the month, Young slashed .434/.455/.736 with six home runs. It was downhill from there though as he hit just .238 to close of the year. Overall, Young slashed .298/.333/.493 with 21 home runs, while doing slightly better with his discipline as he walked 4.6% of the time and struck out at a 13.2% rate over 153 games, good for 120 wRC+. The season was noticed around baseball as Young finished 10th in MVP voting.
Once again the Twins made the postseason, but once again were swept in three games by the Yankees, but this time Young went 4-12 so he slightly improved.
Baseball's Biggest Stage
In 2011, Delmon Young spent his first time on the disabled list as he was off to his usual slow start that suffered an oblique strain that sidelined him for about a month. He returned in mid-May and entered play on the 30th hitting just .210. So when June arrived, Young decided to start hitting again and batted over .300 until August 13th, when he was involved in a post-deadline waiver deal that sent him to the Detroit Tigers who were in the middle of their own playoff run.
Oddly enough, Minnesota was actually traveling to Detroit the day so Young actually took the Twins' team bus to the stadium and just switched his things over to the Tigers' locker room. During his first at-bat for his new team, Young immediately stuck to his former team as he crushed a solo home runs to left-center.
Young finished the season by finding his power stroke, homering eight times in the final 40 games of the season and hit .274 during that stretch. The Tigers were able to make the playoffs so Young would partake in his third straight postseason and homered to give the Tigers an early game one lead against New York, who had eliminated Young's team the previous two seasons.
The series lasted five games, with Detroit taking the win, three games to two. Young homered in game five to put Detroit up once again, however he'd the leave the game early due to an injury that cost him the first game of the ALCS against the Rangers. Young struggled during the series, going just 2-15, with both of his hits coming in a multi-HR games, but the Rangers were able to take the series, four games to two.
In 2012, Delmon Young entered a contract season, meaning he would be a free agent for the first time in his career following the world series. After just 18 games into the season however, Young found himself once again in trouble and under the public spotlight as he was involved in altercation outside of the team's hotel in New York.
Young reportedly shouted anti-Semitic remarks which sparked the violence. Young would be arrested later for this and suspended by major league baseball for seven games.
Young returned on May 5th and proceeded to have a mostly forgettable season as he slashed .267/.296/.411 with 18 home runs in 151 games. However, he did reach the playoffs yet again for the fourth straight season.
In the ALDS, they faced off against the Atheltics and took the series in five games with Young going 4-17 (all singles) in the process. Then in the ALCS, Young was instrumental in the series victory over New York as he went 6-17 with two home runs in four games.
For his efforts, Young was named the ALCS MVP
Unfortunately for Young and the Tigers, they ran into the San Francisco buzzsaw and were swept in four games in the World Series. Delmon Young had a decent series, going 5-14, but he still didn't carry that much value heading into free agency and didn't find many suitors on the market as he underwent surgery to repair his right ankle.
30 Year Old Free Agent
In early January, Young was finally able to sign a deal as he and the Phillies were able to agree to a one year deal valued at $750 thousand. since he had the surgery, Young began the season on the DL and was activated on April 30th. He went 2-3 in his Phillies debut, with a home run, but then proceeded to struggle in the month of May as he hit under .200 in 26 games.
Young followed his dreadful start with his usual June hot streak as he hit .320 from June 1st to mid-July only to violently crash back to earth in the weeks that followed.
On August 9th, the Phillies designated Young for assignment, as putrid defense and a lack of production made him replaceable. He'd be formally released on the 14th and then signed a few days later back with the Rays who were in the wild card hunt.
The Rays stashed Young in Montgomery until rosters expanded in September and used as either a bench bat or the designated hitter. The Rays reached the postseason after a dramatic one game tie breaker with the Rangers, and the first ever AL Wild Card game where Young blasted a solo home run.
As the Rays took on the Red Sox in the ALDS, Young had reached the postseason for the fifth straight time.
During the series, the Rays suffered mental lapses and their usual formidable rotation crumbled beneath the Boston bats. Young for his part, went 2-8 over the four game series as the Red Sox advanced to the ALCS and eventually became the world champions.
Following the Rays elimination, Young was again a free agent and had even less suitors than the year before, even though he would just be 28 years during the 2014 season. In early January, Young was signed to a minor league deal by the Orioles.
Young was able to break camp with Baltimore, but his starting days were behind him as he would be used primarily as a pinch-hitter, or a platooned designated hitter.
The role worked for Delmon as he slashed .302/.337/.442 with seven home runs in 83 games for Baltimore to help them to the playoffs, meaning Delmon Young had reached the postseason his sixth straight year.
During game two of the ALDS, Young had a clutch, pinch-hit double with the bases loaded that propelled Baltimore to an 8-7 victory. The Orioles would advanced to the ALCS, but lost the series to the Royals. Young only played in four games that postseason and went 2-9.
The Orioles decided to give Young another try in 2015, resigning him in early January. Unfortunately, this go around was less fruitful for Delmon. He had an excellent start, average wise, as he was hitting .308 in early June after 38 games. However, most of his hit were singles and he was walking at an atrocious rate of 2.2%.
On July 1st, the Orioles designated Young for assignment and formally released him on July 9th. He didn't find a job the rest of the season and finished having slashed .270/.289/.339 with two home runs in 52 games. Young is currently playing in the winter leagues for the Toros del Este who are using his minor league headshot for his picture, for some reason.
Delmon Young's career certainly didn't turnout like it was expected to when he was drafted. If he had done as he was projected, he'd currently be in his prime and almost a shoe-in for the Hall of Fame at this point.
Whether it was his character, skill, or just plain bad luck that caused him to trail off, Rays and baseball fans across the map can only wonder: what if?