Admittedly, I am “jazzed” to write up this piece on Chesny Young. One of the fellow contributors here at CubsChat, Robert Killen, would tell you that this is my man crush in the Cubs system; and he’s not wrong.
Just as in yesterday’s “Getting To Know You” piece, Chesny Young is a peach picked straight out of Georgia. However, unlike a highly-heralded and ripe peach in Dylan Cease, Chesny is like one of those peaches that feel a little squishy when you pick it and you have to hope that it is still good by the time you make your cobbler.
A 14th round pick out of little-known Mercer University in Macon, GA Chesny Young was a little-known name in a draft filled with the hype of Kyle Schwarber and the overslots of: Justin Steele, Carson Sands, and Dylan Cease. Mercer University isn’t exactly a MLB- producing factory, either. You can find a list of the players that have been drafted out of Mercer University here. It’s not exactly an awe-inspiring list. However, you do have Billy Burns recently who has carved out quite the niche thus far in Oakland.
Chesny Young wasn’t an over-slot, wasn’t highly-heralded, came from a so-so baseball school(if that), and wasn’t even ranked in the top-20 Cubs prospects for most baseball publishing’s leading up to the season.
So why am I highlighting CHESNY YOUNG?!?!?!
Because the kid is a stud. Drastically underrated now, but won’t be much longer.
From the moment the Chicago Cubs drafted him and signed him, he has shown nothing but consistent and drastic improvement each step up the ladder he has taken.
For example: The first place that Chesny Young got any significant amount of plate appearances after being drafted was when the Cubs bumped him up to Kane County Cougars shortly after the 2014 draft. In 114 plate appearances in Kane County, Chesny Young would hit .324 but would only have a OBP of .348 at the time. See, I look for the variance between a prospects batting average and OBP(on-base percentage) to tell me how effective they will be when moving up to a level of greater competition.
An advanced contact hitter may be able to have a high average against lesser competition(for example a college-drafted player in single-A) initially, however it is somewhat likely that you could expect that same player at the higher levels of the minors to struggle making the same consistent contact. By default, if he does not have a solid approach at the plate when it comes to knowing to “accept your walk”, then that player will likely stay in minor league obscurity as a someone who makes great contact against lesser competition, however is an automatic out whenever there is an extended slump because that player has no other consistent means of getting on base.
Even though Chesny Young was hitting above .320, he didn’t excite me in his first 100+ plate appearances Kane County. He had just completed playing college ball and was hitting the ball hard against some pitchers who had never stepped foot on college ball diamond. Chesny Young’s walk rate(admittedly my favorite stat for a hitter) was a mere 4.4% compared to a strikeout rate of 19.3%. Had you asked me right then, I would have told you that if EVERYTHING went RIGHT for Chesny Young he may be able to be a guy you call up from AAA when there is an injury at some point during his career.
However, Chesny Young clearly has a high baseball acumen and an ability to be coached. I say this because his improvements as he has gone up the minor league ladder are nothing short of jaw-dropping.
So far this season, Chesny Young is RAKING the ball in AA Tennessee. (Theo is on record saying the most difficult adjustment for a minor league hitter is the one from high-A to AA). In nearly 100 plate appearances, Chesny Young is hitting .402/.505/.524. That slugging percentage is something even the most optimistic Chesny Young fan wouldn’t have seen coming, however what I see is that HUGE variance between his batting average and on-base percentage of over .100 pts. Talk about a change in approach!!
Sexiest of all is his strikeout rate compared to his walk rate. He is WALKING 16.2% of the time compared to a strikeout rate of only 7.1%. That is nearly a complete flip-flop of his first 114 plate appearances in Kane County.
So that gives us a total of 787 plate appearances from the time Chesny Young hit Kane County to his most recent game. That is more than enough data to begin drawing some conclusions on the type of approach and skills Chensy will have at the dish. His stat line for the nearly 800 plate appearances, you ask?
.341/.408/.428 with a walk rate of 10.1% and a strikeout rate of 10.4%.
Those are not typical stats of a non-overslot 14th round pick from two years ago who is in hitting against AA pitchers. When a team drafts in the 14th round they are typically looking for organizational depth or players they can pass on or sign on the cheap to pay overslot(see baseball’s drafting slot system here) with other players in the draft.(which is what occured in Chesny Young’s case as the Cubs paid overslot with all of: Justin Steele, Carson Sands, and Dylan Cease).
It’s not just his approach that is changing at the plate, either. This season Chesny Young has added some more pop to his bat. Out of Chesny Young’s 33 hits, he has 2 home runs, 2 doubles, and a triple which is good for 9 runs batted in and 13 runs scored through the first month. Oh ya, he also has 11 stolen bases so far compared to only 2 caught stealings. That 11 stolen bases is 4 more than the total number of strikeouts he has this season. If this was a high-round draft then forget about the CUBS TOP 20 prospects, we would be talking about Chesny Young as a top 100 prospect in all of baseball.
It’s not just his bat, though. The kid has improved his defense at the keystone corner(2b) like it’s nobody’s business.
Through the first 199 innings in Tennessee this season, he has had 118 chances per baseball reference. In those chances he has had 49 put-outs and 68 assists to only 1 error. That gives him a .992 fielding percentage thus far with a range factor((putouts+assists)/innings played) of 5.28. To provide context to that stat, the top second baseman in terms of range factor to date in the Major League’s is DJ Lemahieu of the Colorado Rockies with a factor of 5.27.
All this at the age of 23 years old. That’s right, Chesny Young doesn’t turn 24 until October 6th of this year. At which point I’ll assume he will be actively watching the Cubs in the playoffs as he awaits his opportunity to play a role at Wrigley some day. Again, the average age for AA players is 24.5 years old. Providing more context to the Chesny Young ascension.
There is a reason why Ian Happ(the Cubs 1st rd pick last season who had initially started all season with high-A Myrtle Beach at second-base) moved to left field in yesterday’s lineup. It’s because as the Cubs top-100 prospect’s bat progresses and eventually moves him up to AA this season, Chesny Young is making it nearly impossible for the Cubs brass to move him off of second base with the way he is playing.
So meet Chesny Young: The Chicago Cubs AA-Affiliate Tennessee Smokies starting second baseman. Playing in a league where the average age is 1.5 years older than he is.Leading that league in Batting average, second in OBP, and 3rd in steals.
Chesny Young: Sounds like a top-100 prospect and future Cubs starting second-baseman to me.
**also posted on chicagostylesports.com