THE NEWBERG REPORT — JULY 7, 2006
Michael Young got his 1,000th big league hit in his 827th game, a fourth-inning single on Tuesday. No Ranger hitter in the franchise’s 35 years has gotten there more quickly.
For a little context, consider this: Young has amassed 1.21 hits per game as a major leaguer. Over a 162-game season, that’s 196 hits.
Only seven Ranger hitters besides Young have ever collected 200 hits in a season. Each of them did it once.
Young, on the other hand, has eclipsed 200 hits three times in his four full seasons. Three months from now, it will be four out of five.
In classic Young fashion, he commented on Tuesday’s achievement with a mixture of humility, respect, and drive, all of which he comes by naturally: “Knowing how many good hitters they’ve had in Texas, it does mean something. But to me, 1,000 hits isn’t that many. I want to keep going.”
The owner of the top two base hit seasons in franchise history, Young is on pace to make it the top three.
And he does it all without the flair of six of the other Rangers who have turned in 200-hit campaigns — Mickey Rivers, Al Oliver, Rafael Palmeiro, Ruben Sierra, Julio Franco, and Alex Rodriguez — instead going about his business in a perfectly unassuming manner, intense but not animated. He’s more of a throwback to Buddy Bell, the seventh other Ranger to reach the plateau (collecting exactly 200 hits in 1979) and the hitter whose record Young broke on Tuesday as the fastest Ranger to get to 1,000.
Fifty-seven of Young’s hits have come with Bell in the opposing dugout, as manager of the Rockies and Royals with a two-plus-year stint as Indians bench coach in between. Young is a .375/.410/.553 hitter against Bell clubs.
And you know which of the two of them is more impressed with it.
Righthander Adam Eaton made his first game appearance of the 2006 season last night, firing two near-perfect innings for Oklahoma. Kicking off his rehab assignment with the RedHawks, three months after surgery on a tendon in the middle finger of his right hand, Eaton struck out former big leaguers Ruben Gotay and Chad Allen, got two ground ball outs and two flyouts, and permitted one baserunner, on an error by third baseman Aarom Baldiris. Promising start for Eaton, who threw 25 pitches (19 fastballs [touching 92] and six cutters), 16 for strikes.
Michael Young has no hits off Eaton. But that’s because Young has never faced Eaton. In the big leagues, that is. The two faced off twice in the High A Florida State League in 1999; Clearwater’s Eaton held Dunedin’s Young hitless on May 20 while Young doubled and walked twice on June 4. Mobile’s Eaton held Tennessee’s Young hitless again on May 9, 2000, in the Class AA Southern League.
The Rangers named Oklahoma righthander Edinson Volquez (1-0, 0.84 in five starts, nine hits and 15 walks allowed in 32 innings, 39 strikeouts) and Bakersfield outfielder Ben Harrison (.364/.443/.586 in 99 at-bats, with five homers and 27 RBI in 25 games) their minor league pitcher and player of the month for June. Rob Cook and Eric Carter will have the related Newberg Report features within a few days.
Young never won the award in his four months as a Ranger minor leaguer.
The Rangers’ unsigned 22nd-round pick, Ohio State lefthander Cory Luebke, has gotten off to a great start in the prospect-laden Cape Cod League. In three starts for the Falmouth Commodores, the 6’4″ Luebke is 2-0, 0.98, with 18 strikeouts and just 12 hits and six walks allowed in 18.1 frames. Drafted by Texas as a sophomore-eligible, Luebke (who was chosen out of high school by Pittsburgh in the 18th round in 2004) went 4-2, 3.55 as a Buckeye freshman and 7-6, 3.38 as a sophomore this year.
Young never played in the Cape Cod League. He did, however, play for the Alaska Goldpanners in the Alaska Summer Baseball League after his Cal Santa Barbara sophomore season in 1996, hitting .335/.416/.479 and earning team MVP honors.
The Rangers’ 32nd-round pick last month, Lewis-Clark State College righthander Shannon Wirth, was the Goldpanners’ pitching MVP in 2005, going 5-1, 1.90 in six starts and three relief appearances that summer, fanning 56 in 52 innings while walking only nine. A 36th-round pick of the Giants in 2003, Wirth signed with the Rangers a week after this year’s draft, and in two Spokane relief appearances he’s yielded three runs (one earned) on two hits and two walks in three frames, fanning two.
The latest excellent installment of Bakersfield righthander Michael Schlact’s 2006 player diary is now posted on Eleanor Czajka’s Minor Details page.
We once did an “Ask the Prospect” feature with Michael Young, about a month after Texas acquired him from Toronto with righthander Darwin Cubillan for righthander Esteban Loaiza.
(The interview includes this exchange:
Q: What is it with you and multi-hit games? Who do you think you are, Shannon Stewart?
A: If I’m ever put in Stew’s category as a hitter, I’m doing good things. I feel as though any hitter should want to have a solid plan at the plate and not give away at-bats. If I accomplish that, I’ll be in good shape.
Think he’s attained Shannon Stewart status?)
Former Ranger farmhand Will Smith, released late last month, has hooked on with the Winnipeg Goldeyes of the independent Northern League.
There have been three William Smiths to appear in the big leagues.
And two Michael Youngs.
Center fielder-second baseman Ruddy Yan was dropped from Oklahoma to Frisco. Michael Young was never demoted, but he was a center fielder-shortstop in college.
In conjunction with the Yan demotion, Frisco outfielder Luke Grayson was sent down to Bakersfield, replacing right fielder Steve Murphy, who landed on the disabled list with a hamstring pull. Corner infielder Mauro Gomez, who spent two weeks with the Blaze in late April and early May before returning to extended, hit .409/.480/.682 in 44 Arizona League at-bats, earning a return to the California League. He replaces Phillip Hawke, who was released after hitting just .220/.318/.303 in 132 Bakersfield at-bats, a far cry from the impressive .310/.430/.576 numbers he put up at the two short-season levels last summer after being drafted in the 29th round.
Hawke’s 2005 production was better than the .308/.392/.493 line Michael Young put together in his first pro summer.
Kevin Millwood won’t start tonight. (Michael Young will.) He hasn’t been able to get his side work in since a biceps strain chased him from his Sunday night start.
Righthander Wes Littleton made his big league debut on Tuesday, throwing six strikes in eight deliveries to retire All-Stars Vernon Wells and Troy Glaus in the ninth inning.
Wells, an Arlington native, is Michael Young’s best friend, dating back to their days together in the Toronto system. The Blue Jays drafted Young in 1997 in the fifth round, after taking Wells fifth overall in that same draft. The two were teammates at Short-Season A St. Catharines in 1997, at Low A Hagerstown in 1998, and at High A Dunedin in 1999.
It’s easy to imagine that Young and Wells will both be in Ranger red (yes, red) when Young becomes the first player to collect 2,000 hits as a Ranger, and on August 14, 2019 (see page 290 of your 2006 Bound Edition), when the 42-year-old Young reaches 3,000, maybe even with the 39-year-old Wells on deck.