When New Hampshire pitcher Brandon League was taken out of the Class AA Eastern League All-Star Game on July 14, the crowd at Prince George's Stadium booed heartily. Baysox first baseman Walter Young was in the on-deck circle, and the last time the two met in Bowie, Young had hit a home run over the fence in right-center field that several fans and team officials said was the longest they could recall at the stadium.
Such a display of power has come to be expected from the 6-foot-5, 294-pound Young, who is fast closing in on the Bowie record for home runs in a season. Last night against Akron, Young hit his team-best 27th homer to move within four of Calvin Pickering's record of 31, set in 1998.
"Walter has established himself as a legitimate power-type hitter," said Bowie Manager Dave Trembley.
Young -- who turned down a football scholarship to Louisiana State to play professional baseball -- has always had size and raw power. But subtle improvements the 24-year-old has made this season have made him even more of a threat, according to Trembley. Young has become more selective at the plate and has been hitting to the opposite field instead of always pulling the ball. Last night's shot was a perfect example. A lefty, Young drove the ball over the fence in left-center, and he did it after taking three straight pitches.
"I've cut back on bad pitches," said Young, who was Pittsburgh's minor league player of the year in 2002 and was picked up off waivers by the Orioles last year. "I'm getting my pitch to hit, not swinging at the pitcher's pitch."
That has become more difficult as Young's home run totals have grown. He said he only sees "one or two" good pitches per at-bat.
Young also has shown flashes of defensive potential at first base after being considered mostly a designated hitter by Trembley at the start of the year.
"He's improved in the field, and that's probably the most important thing," Trembley said. "When he first got here, I thought Walter was very one-dimensional. And he's improved."