Jacob Young has had 10-full games to show-off his hot tools!

The Statcast™ math on Jacob Young has already highlighted some of his impressive tools. He is not a 5-tool player as nobody expects him to be a power hitter. Is he a 4-tool player? He will have to show he can hit at the MLB level — and so far, so good in his 10 ⅓-game MLB career. A small sample size that Young is trying to make the most of. His three stand-out tools that are obvious — and starts with blazing hot speed to burn, a sizzling arm, and electric defense. The intangible tool, known as the clutch gene, is the secret hot sauce that Young flashed last night with a walk-off single in an 0-2 count to win the game last night for Washington Nationals. Nobody is saying that he is Ryan Zimmerman or Derek Jeter with that clutch gene, just nice to see it so prominently, this early in his career.

“It’s meant the world to be given this chance by the Nationals, and then to have all these moments, these ‘firsts,’ is an awesome opportunity. To be able to help win a game … it feels really good … Hopefully we can keep it going.”

— Young said after his walk-off

Drafted by the Nationals in the 7th round of the 2021 draft from the University of Florida, Young spent his 2022 season in Single-A Fredericksburg for the full season and was promoted to begin this year in High-A Wilmington where he flashed the hit tool that earned him a promotion to Harrisburg where he put up even better stats and an .805 OPS that opened eyes, and he parlayed that to a promotion to Triple-A and then the bigs. It is rare to have a player go from A-ball to the Majors in the same season.

This year, Young’s power came from lots of legged out triples (5), and also six home runs, and 21 doubles. That does not include the four doubles he already has in his Nats career so far. Before his MLB debut, Young was ranked №24 on Baseball America’s recent rankings in their Nats’ Top-30. He was №29 in MLB Pipeline’s rankings. More proof that anyone who ranked Young that low was not paying attention. He was №18 in our last ranking.

Here is what Baseball America wrote in their scouting report on Young, “In his first full season, he wowed at the plate and on the basepaths. He was one of just two minor league players to score at least 100 runs and steal at least 50 bases in 2022. Some scouts called him one of the best baserunners they have ever seen.”

His MLB Pipeline Scouting grades: Hit: 45 | Power: 35 | Run: 70 | Arm: 45 | Field: 55 | Overall: 40

You might say that MLB Pipeline was light on the hit, arm, and fielding tools. One fact most might not know is that the Florida Gators recruited the 5’11” player as a middle infielder and played him at second base for most of his first season, and then converted Young to an outfielder to take advantage of that blazing speed. Maybe the Nats will realize that Young was once a really good infielder and work him over the offseason at second base as another option.

In his third career start, Young really opened eyes. He threw out a runner at home that covered 3-feet short of 300 feet at 93.4 mph of arm strength that keyed the win. His running sprint speed on his bunt single in Toronto had an elite 30.7 sprint speed defined by Statcast™ as “feet per second in a player’s fastest one-second window”. Young already put up the Nats’ fastest sprint speed, and second best arm strength just behind Lane Thomas. Absolute tools blazing to help win games (plural). With those type of tools, Young will be a starter (if he can hit) or at the very least a bench player who can sub in for defense, steal a base, and bunt for you. A major havoc wreaker who was the lead-off batter on Tuesday and went 2-for-4 with a walk and some impressive defense.

Where Young needs to improve is on his bunting. He has bunted three times so far and one was a single, one a popup, and one went back to the pitcher for an easy 1-5 force-out. That is not a good percentage. As manager Dave Martinez always says, it is the little things, and it is the little things that Young must improve on. It is the defense and speed that are so valuable as you look at Young as a possible reason the Nats decline Victor Robles‘ $3 million option this offseason. Young might also push Alex Call to the bench or to a DFA depending on what the Nats do with their top-2 prospects in Dylan Crews and James Wood who both play centerfield. Lane Thomas should be the Nats right fielder to open the 2024 season. Having too many good players is the type of problem you want to have.

“I would have been really excited [if someone told me what I would have accomplished already], but I don’t know if I would have believed them. It’s been a dream come true, and it’s been awesome. I hope to keep it going.”

— Young said last night

We all know that baseball is all about “what have you done for me lately” and as Young acutely said, “I hope to keep it going.” You must or you will be gone. They don’t expect walk-offs every time you have the opportunity, but they do expect you to put up the numbers. Martinez was criticized immediately by some for moving Young from the lead-off on Tuesday and back to the ninth spot in the line-up on Wednesday — but it sure did pay-off with immediate dividends!

To have that type of speed with CJ Abrams at the lead-off is a lot of potential stolen bases. He notched his 40th steal of the season last night, and Young hitting before him as the lineup turns over, really sets up some havoc wreaking opportunities on the competition. Maybe Martinez knows what he is doing! Oh, by the way, Young has 41 stolen bases this year. Now he just needs to figure out how to match Abrams in home runs, and who knows what we have in this dynamic duo. Maybe the future middle infield of the Nats?

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