2010 Projections: Can Twins' Delmon Young Live Up to His 25-30 HR Potential?

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2010 Projections: Can Twins' Delmon Young Live Up to His 25-30 HR Potential?
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One of the most hyped prospects in recent memory, Delmon Young has yet to fulfill his lofty expectations.

From a bat-tossing incident which lead to a 50-game minor league suspension in 2006, to criticizing the Rays’ upper management and refusing to take coach’s instructions, Young’s character has always been in question.

Twins’ manager Ron Gardenhire attributes Young quick start to the 2010 season, however, to his new-found willingness to listen. “I think he’s finally sold on what hitting coach Joe (Vavra) is talking about, and he’s trusting a lot more now and it’s really starting to show up out on the baseball field,” Gardenhire said via Yahoo! Sports.

Entering Minnesota’s game on Sunday, the Twins’ left fielder was batting .294 (5-for-17) with two HRs, seven RBI, and a stolen base.

In three-plus seasons in the majors, Young has compiled a .290 batting average, an encouraging sign despite his limited power production.

If you’re looking for any signs of Young living up to his 25-30 HR potential, consider his 2009 HR/FB of 11.4 percent, up from 7.6 percent in 2007 and 2008.

Young’s tendency to hit balls on the ground opposed to in the air (career 49.8 GB percent, 31.1 FB percent), however, suggests the former No. 1 overall pick may never develop his projected power.

Despite his potential for a 2010 breakout season, regular playing time might actually prevent him from doing so. The Twins’ right field and center field spots are filled by Michael Cuddyer and Denard Span, respectively. Young is expected to share time with Jason Kubel , (who’s coming off a 28-HR, 103-RBI, .300 season in 2009) in left field.

Kubel will also share the Twins’ DH duties with Jim Thome , who was signed this off season. Working in Young’s favor is the fact that both Kubel and Thome are left-handed, meaning the right-handed Young should be in the lineup when the Twins face a southpaw.

It’s important to remember that Young is just 24 years-old, the same age as Evan Longoria and Adam Jones. Keep expectations in check for Delmon in 2010, but don’t give up on him yet; his prime years are still ahead of him.

FBI Forecast: 500 at-bats, 65 runs, 18 HRs, 75 RBI, 10 stolen bases, .280 batting average

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