ANAHEIM, Calif – When Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels went down with torn ligaments in his thumb, the organization had few options to replace him. One option was down in Triple-A with the Salt Lake Bees where veteran outfielder Eric Young Jr was assigned.
For the Bees, Young was hitting .354 with 63 total hits, five home runs, 26 RBI and 15 stolen bases through 44 games. Now in the Pacific Coast League (PCL) it’s like the California League (Cal) where stats are hitter friendly.
Upon his call up by the Angels, Young continues to succeed. Through 18 games with Los Angeles, he is hitting .310 with three home runs, 10 RBI, and six stolen bases.
He also is playing some stellar defense. He is making some great catches, and throwing out would be base runners. This was displayed on Wednesday night in the final game of the New York Yankee series. He made two strong defensive plays to help contain Yankees rookie sensation Aaron Judge. Young threw him out at the plate in the fifth and made a diving catch of a Judge line drive with two on in the seventh.
On the previous night, it was the bat of Young who tied the score with a solo homer off Tyler Clippard in the eighth and drove home the winning run with a sharp infield single off the leg of reliever Ben Heller with two outs in the 11th.
Young shared his approach with the success he had “I just try to keep it simple as possible and just get the barrel on the ball,” Young said. “I was fortunate enough to hit it up the middle.”
His Manager Mike Scioscia followed with “He’s getting an opportunity and making the most of it, He’s getting big hits.”
For taking advantage of the moment and opportunity Young was every humble and knows his role “That’s a hard person to replace (Mike Trout). I just have to go out there and be myself. Not worried about trying to replace a guy of that caliber. I go out there and focus on the things I can control. Just do what I know I can. More times than not, good things will happen. Not always gonna have tremendous success, but if I stay consistent and stay persistent good things will happen.”
On the emotions of the game, Young talked about that too. “I love the game. I’m fortunate enough to play since I was seven years old. I still want to bring the same energy I did when I was seven. I want to go out there and have fun. Never know what can happen. Your gonna have your ups and downs in this game, as long as you keep treating it like a kids game, and go out there and enjoy playing with the love and the passion its gonna be fun regardless.”
Reflecting on his career, this has been a journey and has led Young all over the map. One thing that Young will never forget is his Major League Debut. “Having the dream finally becoming a realization. Now more so putting the work in staying humble and enjoying the moment. I’m just every moment I get to put on a big league uniform. I will let the front office control the things they can. I will only focus on the thing I can control which is my attitude. How I come and prepare myself and don’t take anything for granite. Go out there and enjoy the moment.”
On playing in the Cal League, he was there in 2007 with Modesto Nuts. That is when he and I crossed paths as I was umpiring there. Young talked about the relationships formed there that will always be special to him. “Relationships that I built there with the organization as well former teammates. At that time, my roommate was Dexter Fowler. To see where he is at in life now on and off the field it means a lot cause we remember from our humble beginnings in the lower levels and what it took to get to where we’re at. Cal League stands out to me for that. ”
To see Young have success and still be humble is not only a testament to him as a player, but it’s great for the game of baseball. More players need to be just like him. Enjoy the game while you can, embrace the moment and not let it get too big, as no one is bigger than the game.