D-backs' duo ahead of their time
Drew, Young in NLCS just one year removed from Minors
CHICAGO -- A year removed from helping make the Tucson Sidewinders a powerhouse in the Pacific Coast League, Steven Drew and Chris Young set their sights a little higher in 2007.
As central cogs of both the offense and defense for the National League West champion Arizona Diamondbacks, they have hit their target. Young plays center field and leads off, Drew plays shortstop and bats second. And they were the Snakes' two best players in a just-completed Division Series sweep of the Cubs.
If they handed out an MVP award in the Division Series round, Drew would have won it. And Young might have made a nice runner-up. Drew went 7-for-14 in the series, rapping four extra-base hits, driving in four runs and scoring four times.
"You want to talk about their team, start talking about their shortstop, what a job he did," said Cubs manager Lou Piniella. "The Drew kid. He made some great plays, hit some home runs. What did he hit, over .500 in this playoff? Pretty impressive."
Young put on a show as well. He was 3-for-11 with two homers, three runs, four RBIs and three walks. He got on base six times in four games, and his homer to lead off Game 3 was undeniably one of the series' biggest hits.
"It seemed like every time I came up, I was hitting with guys on base," said Arizona's No. 3 hitter, Eric Byrnes. "These guys were so instrumental. C.Y., to start the game off the way he did [in Game 3], it kind of let the air out of the crowd a little bit. That was awesome."
For both second-year players, the chance to start the numbers over at zero has some value. Each man posted a low batting average this year, though of course batting average doesn't tell anywhere near the whole story.
That's especially true for Young, who despite hitting .237 managed 32 home runs, a .467 slugging percentage and 27 steals in 33 tries. Drew put up a line of .238/.313/.370, but hidden in that line were some stretches of excellent play. Drew went 9-for-9 in stolen base attempts.
And whether things were going well or poorly, both youngsters carried themselves like pros. They're already saying the right things in their first postseason.
"You don't even think about personal success in the playoffs," Young said. "It's all about winning, and that's what we're doing right now. That's what counts."
Young and Drew are emblematic of the sort of team Arizona has built. They both came through the Minors as top prospects -- Drew as a D-backs Draft pick, Young acquired in a trade. Drew shined in his first taste of the Majors in 2006, while Young struggled a bit.
Along with Conor Jackson, Justin Upton, Mark Reynolds, Micah Owings and plenty more, they look like the core of a team to be watched for a long time.
"They've grown up a little bit," Byrnes said. "I wouldn't say a lot, but they've grown up a little bit. But they're still learning. That's what's so great about this team, and that's what's so great about the future of the Diamondbacks, is that these guys are so young and they are still learning, and I think we can get a whole lot better."
Considering that they led the National League in wins, and that they're the first team to advance to the second round of the NL playoffs, that has to be a scary thought to the rest of the league.
"Everybody just tries to do their job and pick each other up," Drew said. "If somebody can't do it, let the next guy do it. That's how it's been all year, and at the end of the day we just shake hands and try to win the series."
Matthew Leach is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.