Between the various dogfights, drug charges, assault charges and “sexts” taking over headlines in professional sports these days, it’s always good for fans to hear about a nice pro-athlete — especially when he once attended their alma mater.
[media-credit name=”Photo Courtesy of UCSB Athletics” align=”alignleft” width=”187″][/media-credit]Six-time All Star Michael Young currently dons red and white pinstripes as the starting third basemen for the World Series-contending Texas Rangers, but he once wore gold and bled blue, becoming a Gaucho baseball standout under UCSB’s current Head Coach Bob Brontsema.
“[Mike had] great athleticism and an even better arm,” Brontsema said. “He was a high-energy guy… any guy that has that desire to work hard, I enjoy coaching.”
It wasn’t an easy task to get Young to sign with UCSB. Perennial top-tier teams such as USC and LMU were also in the mix of college teams recruiting him, as well as many professional scouts.
After graduating Bishop Amat High School in La Puente, Calif., the Baltimore Orioles drafted Young in the 25th round of the 1994 draft, yet he chose to enroll at UCSB on an athletic scholarship instead.
Young struggled his freshman season with a .239 batting average and was forced to switch defensive positions when he first arrived at UCSB. Brontsema and the Gaucho coaching staff succeeded in transforming a high school outfielder into a first-team, All-Big West shortstop and third baseman throughout the three years Young was a Gaucho.
“The defensive switch was an important move, and the right move for his career,” Brontsema said.
Young would eventually prove Brontsema’s tactics to be of value, as he went on to win the Golden Glove award for one of the best defensive players in the MLB while playing shortstop for the Rangers.
“It was a great accomplishment for him,” Brontsema said. “The award is a testament to his work ethic and drive.”
Young will use what he learned during his time walking the fields of Caesar Uyesaka stadium today, at AT&T park as a Texas Ranger. First pitch is set for 5 p.m. from San Francisco.