Senior catcher guides Blue Hawks
By Dustin Monke, The Dickinson Press
Dickinson State senior catcher Chris Young doesn’t just follow baseball — he analyzes it.
He studies pitchers’ nuances and he keeps an eye on how batters approach the plate. He even records “Baseball Tonight” on ESPN and watches it more than once.
“I overlook and probably over-analyze more than anybody,” Young said. “That’s probably a reason why my baseball knowledge is so defined. When it comes to watching baseball, I’m addicted.”
Young’s addiction, however, has been one of his greatest attributes during his two seasons at DSU.
Young has defined himself as a defensive-minded catcher with a knack for calling games and keeping pitchers under control.
“He’s a phenomenal catcher,” DSU senior pitcher Julian Ramirez said. “He’s real smart back there. He doesn’t ever really get lazy.”
The Hemet, Calif., native also happens to be hitting better than ever as the Blue Hawks head into this weekend’s Dakota Athletic Conference Tournament.
The tournament was scheduled to be at Dickinson’s Southside Municipal Ballpark but was moved to two different sites because of weather conditions. Second-seeded DSU has a first-round bye and opens the tournament at 4 p.m. Saturday in Mayville against the winner of an early game between Mayville State and Valley City State.
In a tournament where pitching with the ability to silence the ping of homer-crushing bats can do nothing short of win a team a championship, DSU head coach Duane Monlux said he’s extremely confident having Young behind the plate calling the games.
“It’s the consistency, having him back there,” Monlux said. “They (DSU’s pitchers) know how he’s going to call the game.
“If you’re a pitcher, you may not agree with every pitch that being thrown, but they understand what he’s thinking back there and they understand what his strengths are. It’s one good thing about having a guy that’s back there a lot is he gets to see very pitcher. If you’re rotating guys in a lot, he may only catch a guy once or twice a year.”
Young has been a consistent and durable presence behind the plate this season, starting 42 of the Blue Hawks’ 46 games. Last season, he started 36 of 41 games.
While Young had to fight for his playing time last season as a junior college transfer, he came into this spring knowing he was the guy Monlux was looking at to lead the Blue Hawks on the field.
“When I first came here, I didn’t know I was going to be starting that many games. But did I want it? Yeah. You’ve got to,” Young said. “After last year, I came back knowing he was going to ask me to do it again. I had to be ready.”
While defense has never been a problem for Young — he has caught 20 base runners stealing this season — it took him a little while to warm up his bats.
After batting .284 with three homers last season, Young started his senior off in a 1-for-19 slump.
He’s currently batting .339 with 27 RBI and seven doubles and was recently moved from the No. 9 spot in the lineup to the No. 7 hole.
“He’s really swung a very good bat from there,” Monlux said.
One would think a player like Young, who considers himself a student of the game, would gravitate toward a career in coaching.
Maybe, he says. But he’s not thinking too far ahead.
“I always felt that being a coach would be nice, but, right now I’m a player and I can’t look at being a coach,” Young said. “To me, when I’m done with the game, being near it, I’m going to get that urge. I would coach, but it might be down the road a little ways. It’d be nice, but we’ll see what happens. I’m not done playing yet.”