Mariners draft HS SS Cole Young and his ‘beautiful swing’ 21st overall

Jul 17, 2022, 7:01 PM | Updated: 8:53 pm
Mariners MLB Draft...
MLB commissioner Rob Manfred opens the 2022 MLB Draft on July 17 in Los Angeles. (Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
(Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

The Mariners went back to the high school ranks for the second year in a row in the first round, selecting Pennsylvania prep shortstop Cole Young with the 21st overall pick in the 2022 MLB Draft.

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Young, MLB Pipeline’s No. 20 overall draft prospect and Baseball America’s No. 14 prospect, is a 6-foot, 180-pound shortstop from North Allegheny High School in Wexford, PA.

A left-handed hitter, the 18-year-old averaged over .400 at the plate during his high school career. Young joins catcher Harry Ford (2021) as the only two high school players the Mariners have selected in the first round under director of amateur scouting Scott Hunter and president of baseball operations Jerry Dipoto.

Young slashed .428/.554/.766 in 73 career high school games with 11 home runs, 64 RBIs, 37 extra-base hits, 34 stolen bases and 53 walks to 24 strikeouts.

The selection of Young caused an awful lot of cheers, hugs and fist bumps from the Mariners’ draft room, and Hunter told reporters after the selection that he and his staff were doing a lot of work on the phones to see whether Young would even make it to 21st overall. Luckily for Seattle, Young was indeed available and the Mariners didn’t hesitate to pull the trigger.

Both Hunter and Dipoto made it clear that Young’s bat is one the organization grew enamored with.

“Probably one of the best swings and what we believe is one of the best, purest hitters and the best swings in this draft,” Hunter said. “Just a combination of pure hit to all fields and tools across the board … The bat is what impressed us as well as the kid’s makeup both on and off the field.”

Hunter went out to Pennsylvania at one point this year to meet with Young and his family, and the 21st overall pick made a quick impression that led Hunter to text Dipoto.

“After two swings, I remember texting Jerry and saying, ‘Yeah, this is an easy one,'” Hunter said.

Dipoto said dating back to last year that the Mariners felt that there was “a really good chance (Young) was going to be in the crosshairs of our pick.”

“We were just so comfortable with the young man. He’s bright, he’s articulate, he’s a hard worker. It’s that baseball cage rat-type mentality,” Dipoto said. “And he just has a beautiful swing. I thought this was one of the prettiest swings in the draft. He kind of checked every box for us and to get him with the 21st pick we thought was fortunate.”

The Mariners preach controlling the zone both on the mound and at the plate, and Hunter thinks Young fits that mold very well, noting that the young hitter had more walks than strikeouts during competitive summer circuit games a year ago.

“He’s going to fit in real nice with our hitting group because he buys into using the whole field, he buys into pitch selection, dominating the strike zone,” Hunter said. “He is probably the definition of what we want our hitters to be and he is probably going to be the one of the candidates to lead our organization in that kind of control the zone as a hitter.”

Young is more of a pure hitter than a masher, with MLB Pipeline giving him a 40 grade (below average) for his power compared to a 60 grade (plus) for his hit tool. Hunter thinks that Young has some untapped pop in his bat, though.

“With hitters like this, there is power in there, but he doesn’t sell out for it,” Hunter said.

Hunter added that “you take the hitter first and the power surprises you,” and that Young likely fits that bill.

“This kid has raw power, but he is a kid that doesn’t give up at-bats,” he said. “He uses the whole field and he’d rather take a line drive than just sell out for power. But we do think with the maturity of this bat, I think he’ll be exceeding his power grades that probably our scouts have given because he’s such an advanced hitter.”

It’s clear that the Mariners are big fans of what Young can do offensively, but what about the glove? Hunter said the organization thinks Young can stay at shortstop, though he noted that could change as he gets bigger and stronger.

“But he’s one of the most consistent fielders,” Hunter said.

Young doesn’t have plus tools across the board when it comes to his hands, arm, speed and range, but the Mariners believe he can simply play.

“The kid gets the most out of his natural talent, and I think we can build off that,” Hunter said.

Young is committed to play college baseball at Duke, but Hunter seemed very optimistic that Young will be joining the organization and will potentially get in some game action at the team’s facility in Arizona before the end of the year.

“(We’ll) see when we can make things happen to get him not only to Arizona but up here for the (contract) signing and then off and running, because when I spoke to him, he said, ‘I can’t wait to get started.’ So I don’t think it’s gonna be too long before he’s out and running,” Hunter said.

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Mariners draft HS SS Cole Young and his ‘beautiful swing’ 21st overall