WEST FARGO — Brett Peterson witnessed a former player of his make his Major League Baseball debut last weekend.
It wasn’t a first for the West Fargo Packers head coach.
Four years after proudly watching Matt Strahm, a 2010 West Fargo graduate, make his big-league debut, Peterson saw a second Packer make it to The Show. Andy Young, a 2012 West Fargo graduate, was called up to the Arizona Diamondbacks’ 30-man roster Saturday, Aug. 1, in a game against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Peterson’s varsity baseball program has produced two current Major Leaguers in the last decade — Diamondbacks infielder Young, and Strahm, a pitcher for the San Diego Padres.
“It’s a very cool feeling,” Peterson said. “For them to get to where they’re at, I think for anybody that was involved with West Fargo baseball both spring and summer that's had a hand in coaching those guys, it’s really cool to watch. And it's cool to see West Fargo and West Fargo baseball mentioned nationally.”
Young and Strahm were undoubtedly prep standouts, but neither one was drafted out of high school.
Peterson, who has been at the helm of the Packers since 2004, coached the pair throughout their entire prep careers. Strahm was a two-year varsity player and Young for three.
“They were key parts of our team. Matt was at the top of our pitching rotation and was always a real good pitcher,” Peterson said. “He had an outstanding senior year. Really, the thing about both of them is just how much they got better from year to year.”
Young’s senior year was a similar story. The middle infielder, who was primarily at shortstop for the Packers, worked his way up to the top of West Fargo’s rotation his last year of high school.
Still, neither Strahm nor Young were on a major league radar coming out of high school.
“The thing that stands out for both of those guys is the amount of work they put in and how much they improved year to year just to get to where they're at right now,” Peterson said. “Not only in high school, but obviously every year after high school as well.”
Young’s college career started at the University of Jamestown. He attended Neosho Community College in Kansas for a season before finishing his college career at Indiana State. Strahm also attended Neosho before getting drafted by the Kansas City Royals in the 21st round of the 2012 MLB Draft.
The former Packers were both drafted from their college teams. The St. Louis Cardinals drafted Young in the 37th round of the 2016 MLB draft. He was acquired by the Diamondbacks in a trade in December 2018 from St. Louis.
“That just speaks to the amount of work they put in after graduating from high school,” Peterson said. “You don’t just get better with age, it takes a lot of work, and I think both of those guys really exemplify what it means to work hard and to achieve the ultimate goal, which for those guys, was making a big league team.”
Peterson didn’t see Young’s first MLB hit live. On vacation in Yellowstone National Park with spotty cell phone reception, Peterson had to check the box score to see that Young collected two hits in his first two Major League at-bats Tuesday, Aug. 4.
Luckily, he may be able to catch another big moment. As Peterson makes his way back home the next couple days, the Padres and Diamondbacks will meet in a three-game series that begins Friday, Aug. 7.
“Once you get out of Yellowstone, you get a little better reception, so I think we’ll be able to at least pull it up and watch games on our phone,” Peterson said. “It would be cool if somehow those two faced each other over the course of the weekend. But definitely will be keeping tabs on it as we venture back home.”
The Padres have gotten off to a 7-6 record this shortened MLB season. The Diamondbacks will enter the series with a 5-8 record.
Keeping tabs on Strahm and Young is nothing new for Peterson, who has closely followed their journeys.
“Whichever minor league or college team they’ve been on, I think all of our coaches say, ‘Hey, did you see that 3-for-5 night last night?’ It’s just fun to follow them,” Peterson said. “They’ve both played for a variety of minor league teams on the road to where they're at right now. So you just bookmark whatever team that they're currently playing on, and it just kind of becomes part of a daily routine.”
Peterson shares those successes of his former players with his current ones, though a lot are already aware, deeming Strahm and Young their role models.
“All the time we mention those guys, because they’re not that far removed from the program,” he said. “It’s definitely a talking point. You talk to all your youth baseball players right now about ‘Hey, these two were right where you are right now. It’s not an impossibility to get to where they’re at.’”