RENO, Nev. — Former Packers baseball standout Andy Young is one step away from playing in the MLB.

The 2012 West Fargo High School graduate was named to the Arizona Diamondbacks 2019 Organizational All-Star team. Each offseason, MiLB.com (official site for Minor League Baseball) goes through every position across each system and honors the players who had the best seasons in their respective organizations.

Young is primarily a second baseman for the Reno Aces, the Diamondbacks’ Triple-A affiliate in Reno. He played 133 games this year between Double-A and Triple-A; 68 for Reno and 65 for the Jackson Generals (Jackson, Tenn.), Arizona’s Double-A affiliate.

He hit 29 home runs this year and boasts a .271 batting average. Even though he didn’t earn a spot on a major league roster, Young was happy with his playing performance in the second half of this season.

“I was playing pretty well down the stretch, (I had) a pretty good second half in general,” he said in an interview on Dom Izzo’s Hot Mic show on WDAY 970-AM.

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The West Fargo alumnus may be well on his way to a shot at the major leagues. And it’s finally feeling more realistic.

“When you start in rookie and you’re seven levels away from the big leagues, it’s hard to imagine it,” Young said. “But you get to Triple-A and you have a good half, you’re one step away and that’s when you really start to think about it. You don’t think about it as going to the major leagues as much as you think about it as, ‘I want to go to the next step and make a good impression.’”

Next season is Young’s Rule 5 year, which lets clubs without 40-man rosters select unprotected players. With the Rule 5 Draft on the horizon, he’s hoping the Diamondbacks protect him this offseason.

“Every team takes a look at you, and if they like you, you can get grabbed. But if they protect you, it’s nice to stay with one organization,” he said. “I already switched once last year with the Cardinals.”

Young was acquired by the Diamondbacks organization through a trade with the St. Louis Cardinals in December. The Cardinals drafted him in the 37th round of the 2016 MLB Draft.

“I would hope that, at some point if you play well enough, I think that they have to put you up there. I’m hoping that if the season would’ve went another month I would’ve been able to jump up there,” he said on the radio show.

West Fargo graduate Andy Young makes a putout for the Double-A Springfield Cardinals in the summer of 2018.  Photo courtesy of the Springfield Cardinals
West Fargo graduate Andy Young makes a putout for the Double-A Springfield Cardinals in the summer of 2018. Photo courtesy of the Springfield Cardinals

But, clinching a Major League spot isn’t the be-all-end-all.

“It’s not like the weight of the world is on your shoulders. I was in Triple-A last year and I played really well for half,” Young said. “More than likely, that’s where I’m gonna start, regardless of if I’m on the roster or not. You get called up for playing well in Triple-A. It’s not really any extra pressure there, you just do what you did last year and when the situation comes, then you go. Then it’s another challenge.”

Young said a shot at the big leagues is close enough to where he can prepare for it. He had a breakout season at the level right under it, and played with and against the major leaguers at Spring Training.

Young was the 2012 North Dakota Class A senior player of the year, and was also named player of the year in the state. His college career started at the University of Jamestown. He then went to Neosho Community College in Kansas for one season before finishing his college career at Indiana State for two seasons.

West Fargo currently has one other alum playing in the Major League. Matt Strahm, 27, is a pitcher for the San Diego Padres. The 2010 West Fargo graduate had a 4.71 ERA this season. Strahm also attended Neosho and was drafted by the Kansas City Royals in the 21st round in 2012.