West Fargo's Andy Young reflects on 2020 - the year he debuted in the MLB

December 16, 2020 4:00 pm

By Tom Mix
NDHSAA Media Specialist

WEST FARGO – It’s safe to say a lot of people will be looking to forget the year 2020 as New Year's Eve approaches. Arizona Diamondbacks infielder Andy Young is definitely looking forward to 2021, but 2020 will forever be known for being the year he got the call to play Major League Baseball.

The COVID-19 Pandemic pushed back the start of the Major League Baseball season to July and with no minor league baseball being played, Young was slotted on the Diamondbacks’ 60-man roster starting the 2020 campaign at the team’s alternative training site in Scottsdale.

Young, a 2012 West Fargo High School graduate who lives in Phoenix year round, dug in trying to re-acclimate back to the game after the long pause and although he didn’t make the Diamondbacks’ big league roster following the brief “second” spring training he said he felt like he was playing well especially in the batter’s box.

Within a week of the 60-game MLB regular season starting, Young received what turned out to be one of the best phone calls of his life on July 31, but initially he thought it might be bad news.

“Our alternative site game was already done and I was on my way home for the day when I got a call from our farm director,” Young said. “Initially I thought it might be something to do with a COVID-19 test which we had done regularly, but when he said ‘you are being called up’ it was pretty good news. It wasn’t really an overly dramatic thing, but still it is a fun experience to go through.”  

The circumstances of 2020 may have deprived Young of the typical fanfare that comes with getting an MLB call up, but his dream of making it to the big leagues had come to fruition and after sharing the news with his family and friends, Young prepared for his debut which would come the next evening in Phoenix.

Young entered the game as a defensive replacement at second base in the top of the ninth inning during the Diamondbacks’ game against the Los Angeles Dodgers. With the Diamondbacks losing 11-2, the team would get to bat in the bottom of the ninth, but the side was retired in order and the game ended with Young in the on-deck circle.

“The first couple of days I was just so excited to be there I wasn’t worried about whether I was going to be in the starting lineup, come off the bench or however it was going to work out,” Young said. “The one thing I really wanted to do was hit. I wanted to hit so bad.”

Young would not suffer the fate of Archibald “Moonlight” Graham who famously appeared in just one game for the New York Giants in 1905, never getting a chance to get an at-bat. Young’s chance to hit would come a few days later – August 4 against the Houston Astros.

Once again, Young entered the game as a defensive replacement – this time in the top of the sixth inning. He remained in the game for two at-bats leading off the seventh inning with a double off Houston reliever Bryan Abreu for his first MLB base hit. Young later scored in the inning.

“It felt pretty normal in the batter’s box,” Young said. “I’ve always felt comfortable there and I was seeing the ball really well at the alternative site prior to my call up so I was ready to get in there. I didn’t want to sit around too long and maybe lose it.”

In the eighth inning, Young singled and finished the game 2-for-2. The former All-State baseball standout from West Fargo High School was batting a 1.000.

More special moments were in store for Young in 2020. His name would appear in the starting lineup of an MLB game for the first time on August 6 as a designated hitter. Three days later, Young would be part of a baseball moment that one would only think possible in a fictional Hollywood screenplay.

On August 9, Young hit his first career home run – a 419 foot blast off San Diego Padres reliever Luis Patino in the ninth inning of a 9-5 loss to the Padres. The special significance surrounding this milestone moment was that the ball was hit to left center into the Padres’ bullpen landing at the feet of Padres relief pitcher Matt Strahm, who is a 2010 graduate of West Fargo High School and Young’s former high school teammate.

“I didn’t even know Matt had the ball until I was back in the locker room,” Young said. “I knew it was in the bullpen so I assumed one of my teammates would get it for me. They said they didn’t have it and said I should go back on the field to look for it. When I got back out there Matt was waiting for me and they really did a nice job with it. I mean what are the chances? You can’t make this stuff up. It was really cool how it all happened.”

Young totaled 12 games, 34 plate appearances, 26 at-bats, three runs, five hits and four RBIs in 2020 and said he learned a lot to take with him as 2021 Spring Training approaches.

“I think getting the experience was the biggest thing for me,” Young said. “Seeing the speed of the game at that level is very valuable and once you start preparing for that it helps out a lot. Pitchers do a good job of pitching to your weaknesses and they don’t make as many mistakes, so if you see one as a hitter you really need to jump on it because they are fewer to come by at the big league level.”

This offseason Young also has had some time to reflect on how far he has come in his baseball career. Young was the subject of a recent baseball player feature story in The Athletic, which chronicled his baseball journey which started in West Fargo and continued with collegiate stops at University of Jamestown (NAIA), Neosho Community College (Junior College) and Indiana State University (Division I) before being drafted in 2016 by the St. Louis Cardinals (37th round).

“Being part of the different groups of players and teams that were successful on the field and in establishing West Fargo as a baseball town was a lot of fun,” said Young, who was a standout on the Packers’ 2012 Class A baseball state championship team. “I think there are people who are seeing what guys like Matt (Strahm) and I were able to do and they think they can do it too which is cool to see. Alex Urlaub (a senior at West Fargo Sheyenne) recently committed to Neosho Community College, which is where Matt and I played. The baseball tradition in West Fargo continues to get better which is nice to see.”

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