UL senior right-hander Brandon Young was unflappable in his four outings during the abbreviated college baseball season.
Over the eight weeks since then, Young has had to absorb more than his share of bad news.
None of it, though, has changed his mood, mindset or approach.
Like most spring sports athletes these days, UL junior shortstop Hayden Cantrelle has a lot of potentially chaotic scenarios to ponder these days.
In those four starts, the 6-foot-6, 210-pounder was 3-0 with a 1.09 ERA, allowing just 13 hits, nine walks and striking out 37 in 24⅔ innings against Southeastern, Virginia Tech, Sam Houston State and Michigan State.
Opposing batters were a mere .157 against the former Howard Junior College standout.
But the NCAA suspended the college baseball season March 12 and canceled it four days later.
On May 8, reports surfaced that Major League Baseball will cut this year’s amateur draft to five rounds. Also part of that agreement is talk that minor league farm systems would cut all rookie league teams.
“I really don’t think about it too much,” Young said. “I just kind of control what I can control.
“Honestly, for a while I was just kind of playing it by ear. No one knew anything for at least a month or two. Now we’ve finally got some answers — a five-round draft. It’s kind of disappointing, but that’s life. It happens.”
After that kind of red-hot start, naturally Young was anxious to pitch again — especially coming off a frustrating junior season at UL, during which he was 3-5 with a 4.80 ERA in 54⅓ innings.
“When the year started, I just wanted to play good and throw well and whatever happens, happens. It kind of turned out in my favor in a way,” Young explained.
“I just finally trusted my stuff and I had everything going for me. I had four pitches that I could throw for strikes. My velo (velocity) was up. I felt good. Everything just kind of fell in place.”
And even when that redemption season he’d worked for was finally unfolding, Young didn't alter his demeanor when it ended.
“Yes, it was disappointing, but I honestly didn’t think too much about it,” he claimed. “I didn’t let it get to me. I still kept on throwing. I haven’t really stopped throwing since the season stopped. I’ve still been healthy.
“The disappointment honestly really came from my parents. They were way more disappointed than I was.”
Helping Young keep a positive attitude through the frustration is constant communication with Major League clubs.
“I figured it was going to be five or 10 rounds anyway,” said Young, whom D1Baseball.com ranked as the No. 5 draft prospect in the Sun Belt Conference. “I had a pretty decent year to where I’m still in the mix. I still have been getting calls every day and Zoom meetings.”
Young said several clubs told him he’s on their draft boards. With less money available to franchises this year, any team that drafts a high school prospect or two might look Young’s way.
“Let’s say they draft a high schooler for a million or $2 million, they’re going to have to free up some money later in the draft,” Young explained. “That’s where I come into play for some teams.”
In many ways, Young was his own worst enemy last spring. It wasn’t that his stuff wasn’t good enough – only allowing 41 hits in 54⅓ innings — but he walked 34 and hit nine batters, and 17 of those 41 hits went for extra bases.
So he definitely opened up some eyes when he looked like a polished pitcher this spring.
“A hundred percent yes,” Young said. “That’s what they said. I had a couple of teams that liked me last year, but the stats and the outings didn’t really line up with what I was doing.
“This year, they were surprised. I was fortunate that I had that kind of start. I was definitely a different pitcher I would say from last year to this year.”
In the small sample size, Young showed he could now throw four pitches for strikes to appeal to scouts.
“That and just my fastball, I got a lot of strikeouts with it,” he said. “I had a lot of strikeouts period I guess and they liked that. Any time somebody’s got three or four pitches they can throw for strikes, that can do something.”
But if things don’t work out in the draft June 10, Young would enjoy returning to the Ragin’ Cajuns for a do-over senior season.
“If that happens, I would love it,” Young said. “I’m sure coach (Matt) Deggs would like that and I’m sure the community would like that too. It would be awesome. We’d have an really excellent pitching staff.”
While the Cajuns got off a rough 2-8 start before finishing 8-9, Young relished the experience.
“It really was close,” he said. “I know the results at the start of the season didn’t go too well, but we stayed together and we were tight. That was probably one of the tightest teams I’ve ever been a part of and coach Deggs had a lot to do with that. He got us right and mentally prepared for sure.”