By: Brian Frank
Chavez Young has endeared himself to Buffalo baseball fans this season with his exciting style of play and magnetic personality. Young recently spoke with The Herd Chronicles about growing up in the Bahamas, his rise through the Blue Jays minor-league system, and the positive outlook he brings to the baseball field and life.
It wasn’t a given Young would play baseball when he was growing up in the Bahamas.
“Growing up in the Bahamas, baseball wasn’t really a big thing,” Young said. “It was more focused on track and field. I feel like that was our big industry was running track.”
“One of my coaches from primary school wanted me to come fill in,” he said of how he began playing baseball. “Then I just ended up falling in love with it. Also, I saw one of my favorite players growing up – Alfonso Soriano – I saw him playing on TV and he hit three home runs in one game and I was like – I want to do that.”
Young has become a fan favorite at Sahlen Field. Photo Credit: Brian M. Frank, The Herd Chronicles
Young certainly looks like a natural center fielder now, but when he began playing baseball, he moved all over the diamond.
“In the Bahamas we just play every position,” he said. “I played everywhere. I played catcher, first base, shortstop. I thought I was a shortstop. I played outfield as well and I pitched. I got moved into the outfield when I came over to the states when I came to boarding school.”
Young came to the U.S. at the age of 15 to attend boarding school in Florida and then Georgia. His success on the baseball field led to him being drafted by the Blue Jays in the 39th round of the 2016 MLB June Amateur Draft.
“Obviously it was a dream come true,” he said of being drafted. “That’s something that my mom wanted. She saw I wanted to pursue baseball and she was one of my biggest fans. Yeah, it was a dream come true.”
His first taste of professional baseball came with the Blue Jays’ Gulf Coast League team, where he slashed .274/.346/.438 in 21 games. The next season, he moved up to Bluefield in the Appalachian League and slashed .282/.332/441. In 2018, at Low-A Lansing, he slashed .285/.363/.445 and made a big jump in stolen bases - increasing his total from four in 2017 to 44 in 2018.
“I feel like 2018 was a big year for me,” he said. “I went to Overtime Athletes in St. Pete and I worked with Chris Barnard. He helped tremendously with my (base running) jumps. A lot of my offseason was just working on my jumps, being under control, and just being a better athlete. Just enhancing more of my abilities. It’s always the key to get a good jump and always trying to be under control and relax at all times.”
He progressed to High-A Dunedin in 2019. When the 2020 minor-league season was cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Young ended up going to play in the Australian Baseball League along with current Bison teammate Samad Taylor.
“It felt like I needed some games and some reps because we didn’t play that year,” he said. “I thought it was a great opportunity for me to experience a different type of culture and play baseball over there and obviously to get some at-bats. It was fun. I enjoyed my time in Australia.”
He slashed .265/.350/.409 and stole 20 bases at Double-A New Hampshire when minor-league baseball finally resumed in 2021. After a bit of a late start to this season due to an oblique strain, Young joined the Bisons in late May. He quickly became a fan favorite as Buffalo baseball fans enjoyed his constant hustle, regular highlight-reel catches, and outgoing personality.
“I really can’t pick,” he said when asked to pick his best defensive play. “I don’t even know because at the end of the day it’s like I’m always having fun. Every day for me I’m having fun, so I can’t really nit-pick.”
One personal highlight for Young this season was when he caught his father’s ceremonial first pitch on June 9 at Sahlen Field before the Herd took on Worcester.
“It was dope because my dad rarely sees me play because he’s home in the Bahamas,” he said. “It was very cool for him. He really enjoyed it and it was a thrill for me too.”
Young’s walk-up song this season is Bob Marley’s Three Little Birds. As he steps to the plate, Marley's lyrics fill Sahlen Field: “Don’t worry about a thing, ‘cause every little thing gonna be all right.”
“I changed it this year,” Young said of his walk-up song. “I just started to listen to a lot of Bob Marley when I was in Florida, when I work out. I always knew Three Little Birds, but it just hits different with the world we are living in today, you know? We need peace but we can’t find peace within ourselves – the true peace comes from God. So that’s the most important thing and I feel like baseball brings a lot of people together and a lot of different cultures and that’s the beauty of the sport.”
Young’s positive attitude is put on display daily on his Twitter account, where he begins each day by posting the same positive message: “Another Day! Another Opportunity! Thank you Lord for your blessings.”
“I felt like 2020 was a kind of down year where I just realized how much I missed baseball,” he said of his Twitter message. “Sometimes you take this game for granted and we take sports for granted. We have a position now where a lot of kids wish they could be. You can’t take these moments for granted. Just enjoy the opportunity. You’re here every day. Just have fun and enjoy it because you never know when your last day is.”
Young chats with coach Danny Solano. Photo Credit: Brian M. Frank, The Herd Chronicles.
It’s that positivity that has endeared Young to Bisons fans. It’s impossible to watch the young Blue Jays prospect and not notice the joy he exudes on the field. The gregarious outfielder can often be seen smiling, chatting, and waving to fans.
“I mean it’s baseball, right?” he said. “I’m still a kid and I’m still going to enjoy this game. You tell your kids always have fun when they’re playing little league and when you come here it’s the same thing. It’s the same game but it’s just on a professional level. Why are we trying to change not to have fun? Because as soon as you stop having fun, that’s when it gets stressful. At the end of the day you want to enjoy what you do. So if you can’t enjoy what you do, you might as well stop what you’re doing and don’t waste the youth of your life. So have fun because this is just baseball. This isn’t a nine to five job some people work and don’t know how they’re going to pay rent or how they are going to take care of their family. That’s pressure. This is just baseball. We come here, show up, have fun, and play the game.”