Seattle Mariners select North Allegheny’s Cole Young in 1st round of MLB Draft

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Sunday, July 17, 2022 | 9:24 PM


Cole Young was introduced to the baseball world as an MLB Pitch, Hit & Run winner in 2014, hinting then that the 10-year-old from Franklin Park might have a bright future ahead.

Eight years later, that’s still true.

Young heard his name called again Sunday night at another MLB event, this time by commissioner Rob Manfred, when the Seattle Mariners selected the North Allegheny shortstop 21st overall in the MLB Draft. Young is the sixth WPIAL baseball player drafted in the first round in the past eight years.

“It’s such a crazy feeling, it’s hard to describe,” said Young, who watched the draft on television at home with family and friends. “I was super anxious the whole time, wanting to know what was happening. Whenever I got my name called, it was awesome.”

He said his advisor called him a few picks earlier to tell him the Mariners were interested, then called back to say he was definitely their pick. Young told only his family, so the reaction in the room was electric when his name was announced.

“That kind of made it a little more fun,” he said.

The 6-foot, 180-pound left-handed hitter is projected as a high-contact hitter with the defensive skills needed to play shortstop. The Mariners’ director of amateur scouting, Scott Hunter, said the team watched Young often as a standout on the 2021 summer circuit and called him “one of the purest hitters in this draft.”

“Sometimes it’s hard to say a Western Pennsylvania kid is as polished as this young man is,” Hunter said on a conference call with reporters, noting that high school baseball season here is short and the weather can be bad.

“We’re not only getting a good hitter but a darn good baseball player who can play shortstop and play the position really well,” Hunter added. “He probably even has the versatility to go to second or third, but the bat is what impressed us, as well as the kid’s makeup on and off the field.”

Young signed in November with Duke, which offered him a scholarship as a freshman. But he now could bypass college and turn pro, since the 21st pick carries an estimated signing bonus of around $3.3 million.

“Right now, I’m just really excited that I got picked,” Young said. “Eventually, we’ll have to get down to (details). There’s a lot of talking to do. I’ll have to talk with my agent. But I’m super excited and glad I got picked by the Mariners.”

Hunter said Young and his father Rick organized batting practice sessions whenever scouts came to Pittsburgh. Those swings in a cage were enough to convince the Mariners’ top scout that Young was a first-round talent.

“After two swings I remember texting (Mariners GM Jerry Dipoto) and saying, ‘Yeah, this is an easy one,’” Hunter said. “When you put him in a batting cage, it’s not hard to notice that he understands what he’s doing, and it’s a natural thing and a natural movement. The bat is an extension of his hands.”

Dipoto agreed, saying Young had “one of the pretties swings in the draft.”

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

Young is the sixth former WPIAL player taken in the first round in the past eight years. He joins West Allegheny’s Austin Hendrick in 2020 and Plum’s Alex Kirilloff in 2016 as recent first-rounders drafted directly from high school.

Baseball America ranked Young as the 14th-best prospect in this year’s draft. The website’s pre-draft analysis said: “Young separated himself over the showcase circuit as one of the best shortstops in the 2022 class with arguably the best hit tool of anyone not named Termarr Johnson,” comparing him with the high school middle infielder from Georgia drafted fourth overall by the Pittsburgh Pirates.

In his high school career, Young batted .428 with a .554 on-base percentage and a 1.320 OPS. He scored 73 runs and drove in 64 RBIs in 73 career games with 17 doubles, nine triples and 11 home runs.

As a senior this spring, he struck out four times in 78 plate appearances.

During the MLB Network draft telecast, analyst Jonathan Mayo said Young doesn’t have one “wow” tool but instead is a player who does everything well.

“His one standout tool is probably the hit tool. He has a chance to be a plus hitter,” Mayo said. “He really barrels up the baseball on a consistent basis. He’s an above-average runner. He’s got a strong arm. He has every chance to stay at shortstop. He’s a left-handed hitting shortstop. Everybody loves one of those.”

WPIAL to MLB

North Allegheny’s Cole Young became 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

2022, Cole Young, North Allegheny, none, 21st (Mariners)

2021, Will Bednar, Mars, Mississippi State, 14th (Giants)

2020, Austin Hendrick, West Allegheny, none, 12th (Reds)

2017, Brendan McKay, Blackhawk, Louisville, 4th (Rays)

2016, Alex Kirilloff, Plum, none, 15th (Twins)

2015, Ian Happ, Mt. Lebanon, Cincinnati, 9th (Cubs)

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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