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Andy Young brings power, but D-backs see defensive versatility

Andy Young #85 of the Arizona Diamondbacks poses for a portrait during photo day at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick on February 20, 2019 in Scottsdale, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

PHOENIX — It’s no secret that the Arizona Diamondbacks called up No. 15-ranked prospect Andy Young on Saturday to get a look at another promising bat who can help a team off to a cold offensive start.

Even though Young debuted at second base against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Saturday during a blowout, where he might earn playing time outside of pinch-hit situations isn’t obvious. Arizona’s best player, Ketel Marte, starts at second and Eduardo Escobar at third. A rotation of options have been filling in at first.

It seems the D-backs planned for finding a solution. In January, they placed Young, who was acquired in the 2018 Paul Goldschmidt deal with the St. Louis Cardinals, at outfield.

Young said on a Zoom call Sunday that he did dabble at outfield in the Cardinals organization, but this year was the first significant time spent at the corner outfield spots.

“In college I played second, short and third,” he said, pointing out he’s fine playing anywhere on the infield. “This year I came down to early camp in January and I’ve been working my tail off in outfield, so I feel pretty comfortable there, too.”

Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo expressed confidence that Young’s defensive versatility is a big part of the call-up and that he could play infield or either corner outfield spot when a starter needs a day off.

Arizona also wanted a right-handed bat off the bench to go with lefty prospect and recent call-up Daulton Varsho, a catcher and outfielder who also will need to show defensive versatility to earn more at-bats.

On Saturday, the Diamondbacks sent lefty batter and infielder Josh Rojas to the team’s Scottsdale alternate training site in order to call up Young. But Lovullo cautioned that adding a right-handed bat wasn’t the sole priority with the move.

“The defensive versatility, the right-handed bat, just to continue to give me as many options as possible,” Lovullo said prior to a game against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

“I want to just make sure I don’t trigger one simple response for a reason for him being on this team. He can smash both lefties and righties,” Lovullo added.

Young only hit one of his 21 homers against lefties with Triple-A Reno in 2019, but his average wasn’t so bad with a .261 clip against lefties compared to a .288 average against right-handers.

The D-backs hope he brings quality at-bats to a team that’s bottom-five in average (.204) and bottom-nine in runs scored (25). Arizona has, however, scored 18 of 25 runs after the fifth inning through a 3-5 start to the season.

Pandemic-caused circumstances or not, Young is excited to join the major league team.

He took a phone call thinking he was being asked to the practice facility for coronavirus testing only to be surprised with better news. His father, Jeff, immediately booked a flight from Fargo to Phoenix, even though he wouldn’t be able to attend the game.

“You’re so excited it doesn’t matter,” Young said before the D-backs faced the Dodgers. “It felt awesome telling my parents.”

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