Young living up to hype

Originally Published: November 30, 2004
By Bill Ballew | Baseball America
1. Delmon Young, of
Age: 19. Ht.: 6-3. Wt: 205.
Bats: R. Throws: R.
Drafted: HS-Camarillo, Calif., 2002 (1st round).
Signed by: Rich Aude.
2004 statistics: Baseball America Player Finder.

Background: Tampa Bay narrowed its options for the No. 1 overall pick in 2003 to two players, Young and second baseman Rickie Weeks. Though their greatest strength was their outfield depth, the Devil Rays couldn't resist taking Young. He may not have reached the majors during his first pro season after predicting he would shortly after signing a big league deal with a $5.8 million guarantee, but he was anything but a disappointment. The right fielder overcame a modest start to display outstanding maturity and consistency for a teenager making his pro debut. Young fanned 19 times in 84 at-bats during April before warming with the weather. He led the low Class A South Atlantic League in hits and RBI, earning recognition as the league's top prospect as well as a spot in the Futures Game. His older brother Dmitri was the fourth overall pick in 1991, making them the highest-drafted siblings in history. They might be displaced in 2005, however, as B.J. Upton's younger brother Justin could go as high as No. 1 three years after the Devil Rays took B.J. with the No. 2 choice.

Strengths: An intimidating presence from the right side of the plate who elicits Albert Belle comparisons, Young has a powerful, consistent stroke. He's selective at the plate and has outstanding baseball instincts, thanks in part to his close relationship with Dmitri. His quick bat and plus power enable him to hit the ball out of any part of any ballpark. Unlike many young sluggers, Young doesn't try to pull every pitch, mainly because his opposite-field power is outstanding. His ability to hit for power and average also stems from the fact that the head of his bat stays in the strike zone a long time. His plus arm has plenty of strength for him to play right field in the majors.