Carter Young was a potential early-round pick in the 2019 MLB draft out of the Washington high school ranks. But the highly-talented prep shortstop wanted to honor his commitment to Vanderbilt University instead.
The decision to play for one of college baseball’s top programs has paid off for Young over the last two years. As Young enters his junior season this spring, scouts project Young as a potential top-15 pick in the 2022 MLB draft.
Despite evaluators considering him as one of the top players in college baseball, Young keeps a team-first mindset and doesn’t focus on the attention, he said.
“I try to not think about being a top player, so I can stay in the present and focus on this year,” Young said. “I’m just focused on doing what we need to do to get back to Omaha (for the College World Series).”
As a freshman, Young posted a .328 batting average with three doubles and 12 RBIs in 61 at-bats in the pandemic-shortened 2020 season.
Young showed flashes of his offensive potential as a sophomore last year. He hit .252 with 15 doubles, five triples, 16 home runs and 52 RBIs in 238 at-bats in 61 games. But Young struggled with his plate discipline, as he struck out 84 times while drawing 31 walks.
Young is a 6-foot, 180-pound switch-hitting shortstop with an exciting toolset and the potential to be a five-tool player.
Defensively, Young is a slick-fielding shortstop with speed, athleticism and above-average arm strength. He moves well laterally to make difficult plays to his right and left.
“Right now, my biggest strength is my defense,” Young said. “I feel like that has always been my biggest strength. I’ve improved a lot since I have been here too. I have improved my range and ability to get to balls that I felt like I could get to in the past.”
Offensively, Young started switch-hitting when he was 10 years old but didn’t fully implement it into his game until his senior year of high school, he said.
Young has hit the ball with authority and tapped into more power in his time at Vanderbilt. Despite his impressive power last season, it came with high strikeout numbers. This season, Young hopes to show improved plate discipline.
“Last year, about halfway through the season, it felt like I was swinging at everything,” Young said. “That is just something I am looking to clean up. I want to only swing at balls that I think I can drive. If I don’t get my pitch, I need to foul it off or take it for a ball.”
Last season, Vanderbilt nearly won its second consecutive College World Series title. But the Commodores dropped the final two games in the best-of-three championship series against Mississippi State.
The Commodores have made 15 consecutive NCAA tournament appearances. They also have advanced to the College World Series five times since 2011. In 2020, the NCAA didn’t hold a postseason tournament due to the pandemic.
Vanderbilt is a premier baseball program with national title aspirations every year. This season, expectations will be high for the Commodores, who return plenty of talent and likely have a well-balanced team.
“Our pitching is going to be pretty good this year,” Young said. “Our offense is going to be better than last year. We have our core guys that are coming back from last year. I think we have a really good opportunity to be really good this year.”
Dan Zielinski III has covered the MLB draft for seven years. He has interviewed 356 of the top draft prospects in that period, including four No. 1 overall picks. Multiple publications, including Baseball America, USA Today, MLB.com and The Arizona Republic, have quoted his work, while he has appeared on radio stations as a “MLB draft expert.” Follow him on Twitter @DanZielinski3.