Phillies Trying to Tame the Giant in Seven-Foot Prospect Kyle Young
By John Town
The Phillies took a flier on pitcher Kyle Young in the 22nd round of the 2016 draft, and the seven-footer hopes to make a name for himself in the system.
To find someone seven feet tall not playing basketball is a bit of surprise. Even though he spent time playing basketball, Phillies prospect Kyle Young has made his way to the professional level in baseball instead.
There has never been a seven-foot-tall player in the major leagues. When people think of tall baseball players, most think of Randy Johnson, the 6’10” lefty who dominated the league for 22 years.
One person in the Phillies organization who saw Johnson back in the day was former manager and special adviser Charlie Manuel. He went on to say that Young is in a better spot than Johnson at this point in his career.
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“Randy had a lower arm angle,” Manuel told Sam Donellon of the Daily News, “and he would fly all over the place. But this kid is already a little bit smoother. And since last year he’s improved.”
Young’s command was definitely something he needed to work on after being drafted, and he told Donnellon that he walked plenty of batters in high school.
Young saw his control improve dramatically when he pitched in the Gulf Coast League.
In 27 innings, Young walked just two batters. His control helped him dramatically as he finished his debut with a 2.67 ERA and 0.93 WHIP.
Another problem Young had coming out of high school was his lack of velocity. While most tall pitchers are able to employ their long arms and leverage to ratchet up their velocity, Young sat in the low-80s in high school.
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Tuesday, Young was throwing his fastball into the upper-80s and hit 90 mph. Young told Donellon that he isn’t maxing it out his velocity, either:
"“I’m not really trying to throw as hard as I can every pitch,” he said. “They want me to master my pitches first before I start going crazy and adding all these pitches. They want to make sure I control pitches first. They want to make sure I have my true pitches down.”"
Beyond his fastball, Young is working on a curveball and changeup. His curveball is “still in the trial and error stage” according to Donellon.
However, Young has been able to employ his changeup to finish off at-bats.
In the long-term, it’s safe to say Young is probably going to be a reliever. Seven of his nine appearances in the GCL came in relief. Young’s control issues could flare up again as he ramps up his velocity in the future, only furthering the need to stay in the bullpen.
Hudson Belinsky of Baseball America wrote:
"“The Phillies see an upper-90s fastball in his future to go along with extremely promising command and a curveball that works well from his angle.”"
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If Young can reach those expectations, he could be a very good major-league reliever. If not, he may become one of several other extremely tall pitchers who could never put it all together.