Tampa Bay Devil Rays top prospect Delmon Young is facing a potentially lengthy suspension after throwing his bat at an umpire's chest during Wednesday night's game at Pawtucket.
The Durham Bulls outfielder, listed No. 1 on most prospect lists, including MLB.com's, took a called third strike from Pawtucket's Jon Lester in the first inning of the International League contest. Following the strike call, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2003 draft refused to leave the batter's box, glaring back at the home plate umpire for an extended period of time, according to those who witnessed the game.
"He stood there, looking back for a long period of time, maybe 30 seconds," Pawtucket broadcaster Dan Hoard recalled. "It was borderline, but not ridiculous from the vantage point of the broadcasting booth. I've learned since, from the Pawtucket catcher (Corky Miller), that the umpire told him to go back and he wouldn't go."
Young finally took a step or two toward his dugout when the umpire ejected him from the game. The timing of the ejection made it seem like Young said something to the umpire as he began his retreat, but Hoard said Miller told him Young was silent at the time.
Young then took a couple of steps and threw the bat at the umpire. According to AP reports, Young flipped the bat underhand. It sailed end over end and hit the umpire in the chest.
"It wasn't with force, but I'd say that was his intent," Hoard said. "He went back to the dugout and disappeared. That was the end of his night and the end of his playing for some time."
No one from the International League was available for comment on the incident. According to policy, the umpire will file a report with president Randy Mobley on Thursday. Mobley, in turn, will read it, interview those involved in the incident and make the decision what kind of suspension should be handed down.
In addition, no one with the Devil Rays, including several players reached for comment, would comment until executives in the organization had a chance to review tape of the incident. Young, 20, gave an official "no comment" when reached in his hotel room after the game.
"It's going to be interesting," Hoard said. "He's certainly looking at a lengthy suspension from the league. I'm not sure if the Rays will tack on anything.
"I've never seen anyone throw a bat at anybody. I've seen a lot of games and never seen that before."
This is not the first time Young has let his anger get the better of him. Last May, while playing in the Double-A Southern League for the Montgomery Biscuits, he drew a three-game suspension for bumping an umpire. He also was nearly ejected earlier in the season when, after being hit by a pitch, he flung his bat in the air and it landed about 20 feet from the pitcher.
Minor League Baseball games have been umpired by replacements for every game thus far in the 2006 season, with the regular crews currently out on strike.
Young was hitting .333 with 12 steals (tied for the IL lead with teammate B.J. Upton) entering the game.
Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for MLB.com. Bill Chastain contributed to this report.