MLB Draft ‘starting to feel real’ for North Allegheny’s Cole Young

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Thursday, July 14, 2022 | 7:03 PM


Rather than fly to Los Angeles, Cole Young will spend Sunday closer to home, watching the MLB Draft on television, maybe from his house in Franklin Park. The recent North Allegheny graduate was invited to attend draft festivities on the West Coast, but the likely first-round pick wasn’t lured by the bright lights.

“I want to be around my friends and families,” he said. “It’s pretty common in the MLB Draft to stay home.”

That’s maybe the only part of the draft day experience he controls.

Other details are still undecided, especially the big one: Which of the 30 MLB teams will pick him?

“I’ll be honest, I have no idea,” said Young, a 6-foot, 180-pound shortstop who impressed scouts with his bat and his glove. “My advisor said I’ll probably get a better idea the day of, but right now, I have no clue.”

The MLB Draft lasts three days with the first and second rounds Sunday night. The draft starts at 7 p.m.

Young won’t wait long to hear his name called, according to draft experts. Baseball America’s latest mock draft predicted the San Diego Padres selecting Young 15th overall. A recent MLB.com mock has him 25th to the New York Yankees. The Detroit Tigers at No. 12 and the Cincinnati Reds at 18 also were mentioned.

“He’s the type of kid that you go in for a day and watch him play and go, ‘Man, that guy’s a good player,’ ” said MLB Network analyst Dan O’Dowd, the former Colorado Rockies general manager. “You watch him play for three days and go, ‘Oh my God. I’m in love with that player.’ He does everything well on a baseball field. I highly doubt he’s going to end up on Duke’s campus.”

Young is signed to play baseball at Duke. He said he’s spoken with almost every MLB team during a monthslong process that saw pro scouts flocking to his high school games and drew him to San Diego last month for the MLB Draft Combine.

Now, days away from potentially becoming a millionaire, the wait is about to end.

“Honestly, it really hasn’t hit me,” Young said. “It’s starting to feel a little bit more real, but I’m sure it will hit me soon.”

Young can continue a recent trend of former WPIAL baseball players drafted in the first round. He’d be the sixth in the past eight years and the third drafted directly from high school, joining West Allegheny’s Austin Hendrick in 2020 and Plum’s Alex Kirilloff in 2016.

As a senior this spring, the left-handed hitter batted .433 with 14 extra-base hits and a .564 on-base percentage. He struck out four times in 78 plate appearances. Defensively, he committed four errors in 58 chances for a .931 fielding percentage.

“Mature kid, tremendous athlete, can stay at shortstop,” said O’Dowd, the former GM. “He’s got a feel to hit. There’s power you can project on. He runs well. There’s just nothing not to like about the kid. And he does it all in a non-showy, humble, professional way. He’s a good-looking kid, a really good-looking kid.”

Young traditionally would be playing summer baseball at this time of year but hasn’t since his high school season ended. He said he’ll continue to work out — “I lift, I throw a bunch, I hit a bunch, I field a bunch” — but wants to avoid any chance of a freak injury hurting his draft stock.

“It’s definitely feels weird,” he said of a summer without baseball, “but I understand the situation.”

Young also skipped the on-field workouts last month at Petco Park when he traveled to San Diego for the MLB Draft Combine. This was the second year for the event with games and drills for top prospects. He sat out the physical activities but still interviewed with about 15 teams and went through a full medical exam.

“I did a spine MRI, a shoulder MRI and then an elbow MRI,” Young said, “so it took awhile.”

Young can’t guarantee he’ll turn pro until he hears his name called. But if the experts are correct, he will be looking at a signing bonus that ranges from $2.9 million for pick No. 25 up to $4 million at No. 15. Each draft slot carries a projected value. The signing bonus for the first overall pick is valued at $8,842,200.

Teams still can offer a draftee more or less than that dollar amount, so a college scholarship provides some leverage in negotiation.

“Obviously, playing pro ball is a dream of mine,” Young said, “and Duke is also a good school to go to. I’ve just got to wait and see what happens.”

WPIAL to MLB

North Allegheny’s Cole Young on Sunday night could become the sixth former WPIAL baseball player chosen in the first round of the MLB Draft in the past eight years.

Year, Player, High School, College, Pick

2021, Will Bednar, Mars, Mississippi State, 14th

2020, Austin Hendrick, West Allegheny, none, 12th

2017, Brendan McKay, Blackhawk, Louisville, 4th

2016, Alex Kirilloff, Plum, none, 15th

2015, Ian Happ, Mt. Lebanon, Cincinnati, 9th

Chris Harlan is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Chris by email at charlan@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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