In a similar manner to which he avoids hitting his head on door frames, Williamsport southpaw Kyle Young is doing the same with hitters by being comfortable in his body and knowing how to use his surroundings.
At 6-foot-10 he is impossible to miss on the mound, unless of course you happen to be in the batter's box, where the Phillies prospect offers up a four-pitch repertoire that has baffled many who face him.
After honing his arsenal in extended spring training -- which includes a four-seamer, circle change, slurve and "a two-seam sinker thing" -- Young is satisfied with both feel and results thus far.
"I feel pretty comfortable with all of them at the moment," Young said of his pitches. "I feel confident and just working on getting better. I've felt great so far, and I think all the work that we did in extended spring training with the coaching staff, that really prepared me for this."
In four starts, the 19-year-old is 3-0 with a 1.47 ERA, 26 strikeouts over 18 1/3 innings.
He's gone five innings in three of those starts, and in his last outing July 7 versus Mahoning Valley he showed his best stuff in front of some top Phillies brass, allowing just one hit while striking out 11.
"He really executes the bottom of the zone, in and out, pitches to both sides of the plate," said Crosscutters pitching coach Hector Berrios. "He knows how to go for strikeouts when he needs them. He's getting the knack at an early stage, and those are things that put guys on a fast track."
A 22nd-round selection last year out of St. Dominic High School in Oyster Bay, New York, Young went 3-0 during his debut in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League and showed remarkable control, allowing only two walks over 27 innings.
This season he's given up only five walks and carries a 0.98 WHIP, but always wanting to be the absolute best with every pitch he throws, it's one area of his game where he grows harsh upon himself.
"That's one of the main things I try to focus on when I'm out there," he said. "Walks, that's just a free base. In my mind, I try to do whatever is possible to not walk someone. I'll make sure I throw a strike. I'm a very harsh critic on myself. I'm actually pretty upset about those walks so far this year. It's more than I would like. It's just something to keep working on."
Young has thrown 66 percent of his pitches for strikes this season, and opponents are hitting just .194 against him.
His coaches laud his baseball acumen and his ability to game plan for each and every start, holding him high as an example for how the organization expects all players to go about their business.
"He's executed the game plan," Berrios said. "If I have to pick a role model of who's done it the best, he's probably the guy at the top of the list. The game plan is always in place -- be able to locate the fastball into areas where hitters don't have a high success rate. He's done just that."
It also helps to have a frame that, when standing on a raised hill of dirt, puts him over seven-feet tall -- a menacing sight for any hitter.
"Standing on the mound, being a little bit taller than everyone else, the added height, I just try to make myself look a little bit bigger out there in a way," said Young. "It's something I still have to work on a bit."
"I say that intimidating an opponent is being able to do so many things," added Berrios. "Just because you're big and tall does not bring the intimidation factor to the table, unless you can do the things he's done and mastered."
No free rides: With just one crooked number in the base-on-balls category, Scooter Hightower is proving to be more than just a great name for West Virginia. A 15th-round selection in 2015, the right-hander has a league-low 0.70 WHIP thanks to allowing just one walk and 13 hits over 20 innings. In five appearances for the Black Bears, including four starts, the 6-foot-6 hurler yielded runs just one time and his 1.35 ERA sits third best in the league. Hightower's 20 strikeouts are tied for ninth among the league's hurlers.
Catching fire: Four of the top six hitters on the circuit happen to be catchers. Aberdeen's Ben Breazeale is leading the league with a .500 average after collecting hits in half of his 46 at-bats through 13 games. State College'sJoshua Lopez isn't far behind with a .469 average in 15 games. Vermont's Jordan Devencenzi (.347) and Hudson Valley's Rafelin Lorenzo (.333) sit fifth and sixth, respectively. While a catcher has finished second in batting average in each of the last two seasons, the last backstop to win the batting title was Tri-City's Tyler Heineman in 2012.
Clean getaways: With a perfect 13-for-13 mark on stolen-base attempts, Brooklyn's Jose Miguel Medina is tops in the league in swiped bags. The Cyclones outfielder is 8-for-8 in July alone and is in the midst of a four-game streak of successful steals. On the year, Medina has 17 stolen bases across three levels with his lone caught stealing coming back on April 26 while with Class A Columbia.