#MLBPlayers411 | Eric Young Jr.
Today's #MLBPlayers411 player is filling some gigantic shoes these days. When superstar outfielder Mike Trout went down with a thumb injury in late May, the Angels called on veteran outfielder Eric Young Jr. to fill the void. In just 17 games for the Halos this season, Eric is surpassing expectations with a.316 batting average and .409 on-base percentage.
“He's been terrific,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. “He's worked hard to get back here, and he's making the most of an opportunity.”
On May 31, two days after his season debut, Eric hit his first home run since 2014, a solo shot that lifted the Angels to an eventual 2-1 victory over the Braves. Earlier this week against the Yankees, Young hit a solo shot in the bottom of the 8th to tie the game at two, before eventually winning the game on an infield single in the bottom of the 11th.
“Fortunately, that particular ball had enough backspin to carry over the fence,” Young said of the home run.
His 2017 success has provided something of a revelation for the 32-year-old switch-hitter. He hasn't hit above .250 since 2013 with the Mets and he played most of 2016 in the minors, getting into just nine games with the Yankees. But now Eric is just taking the game in stride.
The nine-year veteran was hitting .354 with five home runs and 26 RBIs in 44 games with the Angels' Triple-A affiliate in Salt Lake City and has continued hitting well since his return to the majors.
“Really not thinking about it too much,” Young said. “Enjoying seeing my name in the lineup.”
Eric has seen his name in the lineups of five teams over his career. He was drafted out of Piscataway (NJ) High School by the Rockies in the 30th round in the 2003 draft. Eric signed with Colorado despite having collegiate baseball offers and even a football scholarship on the table at Villanova University.
Eric, the son of former 15-year veteran major-leaguer Eric Young Sr., put himself on the map in 2006 when he led all minor leaguers with 87 stolen bases as well as winning the Arizona Fall League batting title. In 2013, after four years in Colorado, he was traded to the Mets in June 2013, after the Rockies designated him for assignment.
In the final game of 2013, Eric swiped his 45th and 46th bases of the year, becoming the National League stolen base leader and the first Mets player to do so since José Reyes in 2007.
From New York, it was on to Atlanta for the 2015 season, but he found his way back to the Mets via an August trade. Eric signed a minor-league deal with Milwaukee in 2016, but didn't crack the big-league roster. Traded to the Yankees in August, he got into just six games. “E.Y.” signed with the Angels before the 2017 season.
“I wanted to be here, but if not, there's 29 other teams out there,” Young said. “So if I go out there every day [in Triple-A] and make sure I get my work in, and keeping myself ready and keeping myself prepared, whenever that call was, I wanted to be ready to go.”
Check out some photos of Eric here.
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