SOUTH BEND — As a youngster on the diamonds of baseball-rich Atlanta, a smallish Chesny Young saw himself as a grinder.
In his second year of professional baseball, the South Bend Cubs middle infielder still sees himself in that way.
“Growing up, I was a little undersized and I still am,” the 6-foot-1, 180-pound Young said. “That little minor setback makes you work that much harder to compete with the big boys.”
Young was drafted by the Chicago Cubs in the 14th round of the 2014 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft and played at Arizona (Rookie), Boise (Short-Season A) and Kane County (Low-A) last summer.
Primarily a shortstop in high school and third baseman at Mercer University in Macon, Ga., the former Marist War Eagle and East Cobb Astro now finds himself mostly at second base and batting second in South Bend manager Jimmy Gonzalez’s batting order.
All the while, he’s still grinding.
“A grinder is somebody who works hard and doesn’t have all the physical abilities that all the top prospects have,” Young said. “(Grinders) don’t waste opportunities. Grinding out at-bats means you go deep in counts, you’re always fighting to get the bat on the ball and you don’t strike out much. Yes, I am a grinder.”
Going into play Monday, April 20, Young had 35 strikeouts in his first 197 pro at-bats, including three in 35 with South Bend.
“(Cano) is not really like me at all,” Young said. “He’s not a grinder. He’s flashy. He’s got it all. (Jeter) was a leader and consistent for all those years.”
In the field, Young is often paired with shortstop Gleyber Torres. The 18-year Venezuelan is considered among the top prospects in the Chicago Cubs organization.
Young, 22, marvels at how Torres is adapting to playing baseball for pay far away from his home while learning a different culture.
“I couldn’t imagine being 18 and playing up here,” Young said. “(At 18,) I was a freshman in college and struggling. (Torres has) impressed me that he can stay mentally focused, put good swings on baseballs and make the plays in field,” Young said. “There’s a little bit of a language barrier, but we communicate just fine. He’s a really nice guy.”
“I do play guitar,” Young said. “I think that’s the only thing we have in common. I don’t really like country music (preferring alternative rock and soft rock). People sometimes do call me Kenny.”
They also call him a grinder and he’s fine with that.