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High Schools | BASEBALL PLAYER OF THE YEAR

Young Lets His Skills Do All the Talking

June 20, 2002|BEN BOLCH | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Delmon Young is a young man of many talents but few words.

When asked about the highlight of a season in which he made major league scouts' heads spin with his titanic bat and overpowering arm, the Camarillo High center fielder simply said, "The championship."

What was so special about it? "The dog pile."

Where were you? "On the bottom."

When it comes to coaches' lists of the finest players in Southern California, Young is almost always at the top. The Times' baseball player of the year batted .542 with 17 home runs and 56 runs batted in as a junior for the Southern Section Division I champions.

"He hit curveballs, fastballs and pitches up, down and around," said Lakewood Coach Spud O'Neil, whose team had the task this season of facing Young three times--all losses. "He's probably the best player I've seen in my career in 31 years. If they drafted juniors, he would be the No. 1 choice."

Young was at his best in the playoffs, when he pitched and hit Camarillo to the title. He had a game-winning home run in the eighth inning of a 3-2 second-round victory over Rialto Eisenhower, then pitched 1 1/3 scoreless innings of relief to seal a 2-1 quarterfinal victory over Palos Verdes Peninsula.

In the semifinal, Young gave up four hits in 6 1/3 innings and hit a mammoth home run as Camarillo pounded Long Beach Poly, 7-3. His two-run double keyed the Scorpions' 8-1 victory over Lakewood in the title game.

Young's pitching was nearly as impressive as his hitting. He finished 5-1 with three saves, a 1.67 earned-run average and 51 strikeouts in 46 innings.

"I don't see anything else he could do on the high school level," O'Neil said. "He needs to get to the next level."

One remaining achievement would be the section's season home run record of 20. Young seemed on pace to shatter the record when he had 14 by late April, but he didn't see many pitches in the strike zone the rest of the season.

"I wasn't hitting the ball like I was capable," Young said earlier this week by phone from Joplin, Mo., where he is trying out for the Junior National Team. "I was hitting line drives."

Young said his goals for next season are to get in better shape and win another section title.

"Setting the home run record is not a big deal," Young said. "It will come if the season is going all right."

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