I have to start this post off by admitting that I am un-apologetically one of the biggest Eric Young Jr. fans around, who has been lobbying for his presence amongst the Rockies’ best prospects for the past two seasons. The second baseman finally received his big-league shot and played in his first MLB game last night against the Los Angeles Dodgers in a key late season match-up. Young Jr. went 1-for-4 with a single. He was also caught attempting to steal a base.
The switch-hitter has purple and grey in his veins. Young Jr.’s dad, Eric Young Sr., was the Rockies’ everyday second baseman during the club’s inaugural season in 1993 (Junior was 8) and he spent five seasons with the organization. Young Jr. was appropriately selected by the Rockies in the 30th round of the 2003 draft out of a New Jersey community college.
Despite his modest draft selection (He was later signed in 2004 as a draft-and-follow), Young Jr. hit well in professional baseball right away. After batting .264 in his debut season, which included only 87 at-bats, Young Jr.’s average never dipped below .290 again in five seasons. He also showed a respectable approach at the plate with solid walk and strikeout rates. Although he possesses little power, Young Jr. – like his dad – builds his game around his speed. With a career high 87 steals in 2006, the youngster has 303 steals in his six-year minor-league career.
This season in triple-A, Young Jr. stole 58 bases in 72 attempts, while also posting an offensive line of .299/.387/.430 with 10 triples in 472 at-bats. Defensively, Young Jr. is considered an average-at-best second baseman and he has been seeing increased time in the outfield – which is where he made his MLB debut. With his pre-September promotion to Colorado, he’ll be eligible for the playoffs, where his base running could be extremely valuable as a late-game pinch runner.
Looking ahead to 2010, Young Jr. has a crowded second base and outfield picture to contend with. However, he possesses a skill that few Rockies do: Speed. If the organization is smart, it will find a way to make room for the speedster, who could combine with fellow rookie Dexter Fowler (26 steals) to provide a real spark at the top of the order.