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Baseball : Hard-Throwing Young Concludes Season With Renewed Hope

Ray Young has spent five seasons searching for answers.

Young, a hard-throwing right-hander who was signed by the Dodgers out of Moorpark College in 1984, has been trying to gain control of the 90 m.p.h. fastball that blew scouts, if not batters, away after he moved from third base to the mound at the end of his sophomore year at Moorpark.

Last week, in his final outing of the season, Young pitched eight shutout innings for Modesto, Oakland’s Class-A affiliate in the California League, to earn a win against Fresno. The victory raised Young’s record to 8-7 and lowered his earned-run average to 5.80.

“I was working with the coaches trying to find a windup and delivery and it took some time,” said Young, who attended Carson High. “I was struggling. I didn’t have a consistent release point. I was out there searching every game and I gave up a lot of walks.”

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A lot?

Young, 24, issued 140 base on balls in 98 innings this season. He is headed for the Arizona Instructional League later this month to work on the control that eluded him when he was in the Dodgers and Toronto Blue Jays organizations.

“The Dodgers were excited to see a guy who could throw as hard as me. They saw raw ability,” said Young, who was purchased by the Blue Jays in 1986 when the Dodgers left him unprotected off their 40-man roster. “They couldn’t figure out why this guy could look so good on the side and not do it in a game.

“I was having a lot of mental problems as far as baseball, trying to rush to the big leagues before I was ready. I was too pumped up every time I pitched. I had so many expectations from the organization, I couldn’t relax.”

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Young pitched for Dunedin, Toronto’s Class-A affiliate in the Florida State League, in 1987 but was released at the end of the season.

Oakland picked him up and his season-ending performance for Modesto has given Young renewed hope for a major league career.

“At the end of the season, everything just kept getting better and better,” Young said. “It all came together. I finished the season on a great note.”

Parked in the playoffs: During the off-season, Rob Hernandez works as a parking-lot attendant at Los Angeles Raiders games at the Coliseum and Clippers games at the Sports Arena.

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“Those Raider fans come out early in the morning but they’re not too bad,” said Hernandez, a left-handed pitcher in the New York Mets organization. “The Clipper games are the worst. They don’t have a lot of fans there and people always want to park where they’re not supposed to. You see some scuffles down there.”

Hernandez, who signed out of Valley College in January, 1986, waged a battle himself this season with the Mets’ Class-A Florida State League affiliate at St. Lucie. After starting the season 1-6, Hernandez won five consecutive games in April, posting an 0.69 ERA for the month.

Hernandez, 23, finished the season 8-7. His 2.20 ERA was fifth best in the league and he was a key figure in the Mets’ drive to the second-half title in the Eastern Division. St. Lucie opened a best-of-three playoff series against Lakeland on Friday.

“I was throwing well, but I just wasn’t getting the breaks during the first half,” said Hernandez, a reliever and spot starter from Reseda who has 64 strikeouts and 39 walks in 122 innings. “I turned it around the second half and so did our team. No one expected us to be in the playoffs.

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“Now, we’ve got as good a shot as anybody of winning the whole thing.”

Add St. Lucie: Mike Anderson, a right-handed pitcher from Sepulveda who was the Mets’ No. 1 pick out of Valley College in the January, 1985, draft, was promoted to St. Lucie in July from Columbia, S.C., in the Class-A South Atlantic League.

Anderson, 22, went 5-2 for St. Lucie with a 3.20 ERA in nine games as a starter. He had won five games in a row before surrendering three two-run homers in a 6-1 loss to Tampa last week.

Powerful program: Has there ever been a Valley-area high school baseball team that sent more players to the four-year college and professional level than the 1986 Simi Valley Pioneers?

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Nine players from a Simi Valley team that went 24-5 and lost to Esperanza in the Southern Section semifinals are playing in the minor leagues or at Division I schools. One is playing for Orange Coast College.

The illustrious alumni includes: David Milstien, an infielder in the Boston Red Sox organization; Duane Mulville, a catcher with the Cincinnati Reds; Scott Radinsky, a pitcher with the Chicago White Sox; Tim Laker, a catcher with the Montreal Expos; Corey Aurand, an outfielder at USC; Mike Hankins, an infielder at UCLA; Shaun Murphy, an outfielder at Nevada Las Vegas; Scott Sharts, a first baseman at Miami; Marcus Lockwood, a catcher at Pacific; and Von Herron, an infielder at Orange Coast College.

Simi Valley Coach Mike Scyphers said Radinsky, a hard-throwing left-hander, was the kingpin of the group.

“He brought the scouts out and they saw that it wasn’t just a one-man team,” Scyphers said. “I think that helped the nucleus of that ballclub get scholarships.”

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Bible’s school: Mike Bible, who batted .255 and had 35 runs batted in last season at College of the Canyons, will play baseball next season at Sonoma State.

Bible was a junior college All-American in 1987 when he batted .520 and had 15 home runs and 69 RBIs.


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