UL pitcher Young opts to sign with the Baltimore Orioles

Tim Buckley
Lafayette Daily Advertiser

In his heart, Brandon Young knew that no matter what happened in the 2020 Major League Baseball Draft his days at UL were — in all likelihood — done.

It was time to move on.

So even after Young was not selected in the abbreviated two-day, five-round, 160-player MLB Draft that opened last Wednesday night and closed Thursday night, the UL baseball team has lost a second player to pro ball this year.

Young, a senior starting pitcher, agreed to free agent terms Sunday with the Baltimore Orioles organization.

“I kind of knew for sure,” Young said of planning to sign even if he wasn’t drafted.

“In my exit meeting with (UL head coach Matt) Deggs and the whole coaching staff, they wanted me to go get my shot this year. I’m graduating this summer, taking my last class, so I think it was a good time for me.

“I talked to Deggs and B.J. (B.J. Ryan, a two-time All-Star pitcher who is now UL’s pitching coach), and they had nothing but good things to say,” Young added during a telephone interview Monday morning. “I appreciate them, to the fullest.”

Ryan, incidentally, spent more than six of his 11 MLB seasons with the Orioles, then finished with Toronto in 2009.

The Ragin’ Cajuns lost one player to the draft, with junior shortstop Hayden Cantrelle saying he would sign with Milwaukee after the Brewers selected him Thursday night in the fifth round, 151st overall.

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'I'm going to sign.':Milwaukee Brewers pick Cajuns, former Teurlings shortstop Hayden Cantrelle

UL's Brandon Young, who has agreed to sign with the Baltimore Orioles, throws against Virginia Tech in February.


Young had been slated to step into UL’s Friday night spot for the start of Sun Belt Conference play when the 2020 season was cut short due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

The righty with a four-pitch mix from Lumberton High in Texas played two seasons for the Cajuns after transferring to UL from Howard (Texas) College.

He was 3-5 with a 4.80 ERA as a junior in 2019, including a 13-strikeout outing against Arkansas State in April of that year.

Young then went 3-0 with a 1.09 ERA — best among all Cajun pitchers with more than 2.1 innings worked — and a team-leading 37 strikeouts in a team-high 24.2 innings over four appearances including three starts before 2020 ended early.

Young’s three starts included a complete-game shutout of the team Deggs coached before taking over UL in 2019, Sam Houston State, in his final outing as a Cajun on M.L. “Tigue” Moore Field at Russo Park.

Because play was halted due to the coronavirus, all NCAA spring sport athletes were offered an extra season eligibility — meaning Young had the option to remain at UL and play in 2021 if he wanted.

Related:MLB Draft, coronavirus impact UL roster management

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But Deggs knew too that it was quite likely Young would go pro even if he was not drafted, and that turned out to be the case.

“He’ll sign,” Deggs said during a telephone interview late last Friday.

By Sunday, the first day MLB teams could talk with undrafted draft-eligible players following a two-day dead period, Young had decided which team’s organization he’d join.

But he did not make the call until talking during Zoom meetings with representatives of 14 or 15 clubs in all.

“It was kind of like a recruiting trip, all in one day,” Young said. “So it was pretty chaotic.”


Why did he ultimately opt to go with the Orioles?

Because the coronavirus pandemic has impacted MLB organizations hard, signing bonuses for undrafted players this year were limited to just $20,000 — evening the playing field for all.

So ultimately it came down to fit and feel.

More:Two Ragin' Cajuns playing in CSBI baseball tournament

“I’ve got a pretty good path to the big leagues,” Young said. “You know, they (the Orioles) promote their guys pretty quick.

“And if I’m pitching well, they’ll promote me. I mean, I’ll get my opportunity pretty quick.

“I just like what they were offering,” added Young, who finished his Cajun career ranked seventh on the NCAA’s career leaders list in strikeouts per nine innings at 12.42. “I had a good conversation with their GM (Baltimore general manager Mike Elias), and it kind of went from there.”

The 6-foot-6, 210-pounder does not yet know when or where he will report for extended spring training or minor league work because the coronavirus has all that still on hold for now.

What he does know is that his days of college ball at UL are done.

“I’m gonna miss it, for sure,” Young said. “The coaching staff was good to me.

“(It was) a very special team. This upcoming year is going to be pretty good for the Cajuns, I believe.”

Related:Deggs hopes his Cajuns can pick up where they left off


But UL, 8-9 when the season ended, will have to move on now without both its starting shortstop and its would-be No. 1 starter.

Deggs is prepared for that.

“I am very proud of Brandon Young,” he said in a statement released by the team.

“He is a young man with a ton of potential that found a way to put it all together and finish a shortened season as legitimately one of the top pitchers in the country.

“Brandon is big, physical and very versatile. He can start or pitch in the back of the bullpen,” Deggs added. “He always wants the ball, loves to pitch and most importantly loves to compete. He pitches with bad intentions for the hitter and I love that.”

That should serve Young well at the next level, the Cajuns coach suggested.

“Brandon has the stuff to pitch in the big leagues in the next three years if he stays healthy,” Deggs said.

“I will miss Brandon, as I have a fond appreciation for guys that attack the zone with intent and a lot of compete in every pitch, and that’s what he did.”

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