Q&A: MPI shortstop/slugger Wyatt Young

Mid-Pacific right fielder Micah Pi, left, and shortstop Wyatt Young have helped the Owls to an ILH-best 10-2 record. Photo by Dennis Oda/Star-Advertiser.

Away from the diamond, Wyatt Young seems like any scholar-athlete at Mid-Pacific Institute.

Once the practice gear is on, Young is in his preferred state of mind. He can practice and hone his craft as a hitter morning, noon and night. And he does, given any opportunity.

“He loves baseball,” longtime friend and teammate Micah Pi said. “I think of baseball, I think of Wyatt. I’m not even kidding.”

Coach Dunn Muramaru recalls the times when Young would ask when the practice batting cages would be open on Sunday mornings. That was sometimes 6:30 a.m. Muramaru would arrive. Young was usually there already. That hasn’t changed in all these years.

In fact, up until 2016, players had access to the cages much earlier in the morning and Young would be there at 4 a.m., even 3 a.m. to get his cuts before school.

The work has paid off, not that Young would stop even after accepting a scholarship offer from Pepperdine. He is admittedly “obsessed” with hitting. As a left-handed hitting shortstop, he is an uncommon asset to any program.

The senior is hitting .500 with four doubles, two trips, five stole bases and an on-base percentage of .565. His slugging percentage is .700, OPS 1.265. The astronomical numbers don’t due him justice, though. Watching him battle ace pitchers like Li‘i Pontes of Kamehameha on Monday is epic.

Pontes had an 0-2 count on Young, popping the mitt on the inside corner with fastballs. Young worked the count to 2-2 before jumping on a slightly hanging slider for a double that drove in the go-ahead run in the fifth inning. MPI won 5-2 and leads the ILH with a 10-2 record.

“Wyatt has become a leader not only with his actions, but now more verbally,” Muramaru said. “Which for him is out of character. He’s really had to work at it. Everything that he has accomplished, he’s earned. I’m going to miss him when he graduates.”

Wyatt Young 
Mid-Pacific baseball
Senior

Q&A / Favorites

Athlete: Dustin Pedroia 
> Similar in stature, of course, I’ve been reading a book about him. His personality and where he came from resonates with me well. 

Team: Boston Red Sox 
> I was a lifetime fan. They’re doing OK this year. I’m not really keeping up with them. When Shane Victorino hit that home run with the bases loaded, it was a pretty memorable experience. I’ve never been to Fenway Park yet. 

Food (at home): Mom’s Furikake Salmon and Dad’s Ribs
> She makes it whenever we have a family get-together, Sundays usually. It’s one of my favorites from whenever I can remember.

Can you make it?
> Nope. I have an idea. I can wing it, definitely. As long I have ingredients, I think I can. 


Food (eating out): Yakiniku or Steak 
> Gen (restaurant). They have it in Ala Moana. They have it on the mainland, too. It’s all you can eat for two hours. Kal bi, brisket, a variety of steaks. Some calamari. 


Hobby outside of sports: Hanging out with family and friends 


Movie: It’s been a couple years since I watched a movie… I’m not really sure.

What does this mean, “I haven’t seen a movie in a couple of years”? Like 2016?
> I couldn’t tell you what my favorite movie is. I haven’t been to a movie theater in three years, I think.

You probably saved a lot of money.
> I watch whatever’s on TV when my dad’s watching. I’ll watch baseball on ESPN at home. 


TV show: ESPN/ Sportscenter/ MLB Tonight, Quickpitch
> There’s like four of those guys. I’m not sure. 


Video game: Call of Duty, but I haven’t played any video games in a few years.
> There’s just not enough time.

Are you in a prison?
> No.

But you love your life?
> Yes.

This is the story I was told by Micah Pi and others. You get to the field at 4 a.m., get a lot of swings in at the pitching machine. Lift, go home, shower. Come back to school. Rinse, repeat every day.
> That was my sophomore year, but now the field is locked up because of safety. You need someone there for safety.

For some people on Earth, that was the perfect life. Actual swings, pitching machine. Not paying $20 for 10 minutes. Would you be just getting daily reps or working, tinkering on slight details.
> This would happen in the offseason, working on whatever I needed to work on for the coming season. A lot of it would be in the weight room.

So a lot of this is basic upper and lower body work, squats stuff like this.
> Squat, deadlift, cleans, bench. Those are the main ones.

Did you have an area that was specific?
> No, it was anything to get stronger.

How much difference did it make?
> A lot, you have more stability through the season. When you’re stronger it’s easier to hit. 


Music artist: Drake

Favorite song by Drake?
> God’s plan


Teacher (elementary through high school): I have a lot. Mr. (Nathan) Hu. Mrs. (Michele) Miyamoto. Mr. (John) Chance. Mrs. (Monica) Flores.
> They’re mostly high school and one middle-school teacher 


GPA : 3.5
> If I didn’t have baseball, my GPA would be higher. I wouldn’t have anything else to do but do homework. 


Class: Health 
> The teacher is Mrs. Miyamoto. Her class is real interesting. Learning about the body is pretty cool to me, so many pieces. 

Place to relax: The fastball machine at the baseball field… and some quiet coffee shops 

You don’t want to divulge where the quiet coffee shops are.
> I could. 


But then they would be less quiet, so don’t.
> OK.

Motto/scripture: Every wall has a door. Find that door. —David Goggins
> He’s a retired Navy SEAL. He’s mostly known as the first African-American Navy SEAL, I believe. He’s a motivational speaker, so he makes an impact on everybody. 


What your mom (Claire) says that you can’t forget: Always be humble and kind.

What your dad (Gary) says that you can’t forget: Not so much what he says but what he does, he wakes up every morning before 4 a.m. to go to work and that didn’t go unnoticed. Every morning before school he would drop me off at the baseball field around 4:30 AM so I could get extra work in while everyone else was asleep.
> That’s where I learned it from.

So you both go to bed early.
> Every day except Wednesday. That’s when he’s off.

Do you miss the 4 a.m. batting cage work?
> Yeah, I do, a lot.

Don’t you hear from friends, classmates, family, “Wyatt, are you crazy?”
> I hear that all the time. A lot of people are like, you’re really motivated. Some people are confused by why I’m doing it. They don’t understand.

Is it fair to say you’re a perfectionist or craftsman, or even obsessive about the art of hitting?

> There’s no doubt I’m obsessive, but perfectionist, I don’t know. You fail so much in this game. I try to find myself. Once you hit so much, you figure out your adjustments much more quickly.

Do some or most of your friends feel like work can be done during normal hours, but don’t get that studying and training are different?
> I agree with people who say you can get the work in when school’s over, but the biggest thing for me is working out at 4:30 a.m. is everyone’s asleep, you’re alone and it’s more peaceful. A lot more time to think about what I want to accomplish. It’s opening up more time. 

What your coaches say that you can’t forget: There is no limit to the amount of cuts you can take a day.

So the past two years, no access to the pitching machines early in the morning.
> I’m hitting off a tee. Coach Dunn (Muramaru) is there sometimes.

Coach Dunn said you would ask him what time he’s going to be at the field, and you’re there. He compares you to (former MPI player) Alex Oley.
> Alex had a much stronger work ethic compared to everyone else in the program.

How does your sport affect your daily life during the season and offseason? 
> It doesn’t really make a difference whether its during the season or offseason. Of course during the offseason I’ll lift more weights and try to work on my skills much more. In season is more maintaining what I’ve worked on all offseason. But everyday I’m in competition with myself to be better then I was yesterday. That’s all there is to it.

You mentioned Pedroia. Is there anything technical about his swing or his defense or anything else about his eating habits, or anything that you notice?
> No. Nothing.

What middle and elementary schools did you attend?
Manoa Elementary and Mid-Pacific for middle school.

What youth teams did you play for? What club do you play for and what are the daily commitments like year-round?
> I don’t really have a single club that I play for, but I’ve played for a couple travel ball teams. I also played for the Victoria Harbourcats of the West Coast Collegiate League during my sophomore summer.

Victoria? Canada?
> They’re in Canada. The Corvallis Knights, the West Coast League is a summer collegiate league I got to play my sophomore year. The shortstop was still in the College World Series for Arizona. That was crazy. I was supposed to be there just two weeks, but I stayed another week because I had some time. They said I could stay longer because I was doing all right. I had to go back to Hawaii. They said, you can come back up, but I had a camp at Nevada-Reno. I figured that was better, I wasn’t being recruited at the same time.

What about Pepperdine?
> They were the first one. I was targeting some other schools, but they’re the only one that offered.

What did you like about the campus?
> Everything is super close to each to each other. The baseball field is right next to the freshman dorm, 100 feet below you. 

Where have you travelled for baseball? 
> Canada, Australia, Arizona, Oregon, California, Las Vegas, Montana

What have you learned from your many travels?
> I like California. Malibu is really nice. Can’t really explain it. The atmosphere matches up to the beach in Hawaii. The campus is 100 feet from the beach. 


What do you like to do — or what’s something else you’re good at — that would surprise most people?

> I was a good swimmer in elementary school. I swam for nine years at Manoa Aquatics. My older brother, Callan, he swam at Lindenwood University. I wasn’t as good as my brother. 


What is your ultimate dream/bucket list? Or where would you like to travel, what life would you like to have as an athlete? And away from sports? 
> My entire bucket/dream list revolves around living life on my own terms, that way I can do anything I want and whenever I want. I’ve been saving up for a trip to the Maldives where they have luxury hotels sitting on the ocean. It’s not as expensive as people think and it’s a nice place to rest and refocus. Plus you’re away from the rest of the world where there are more coconut trees than people. Life as an athlete would be amazing because I get to play the sport I love all the time.

The Maldives aren’t to be confused with Dubai.

> Basically, the Maldives is a bunch of little islands. Literally, it’s random islands with a hotel on it. Good place to relax for a day or two.

This sounds like classic workaholic who gets a good rest break, then goes back to work.
> I had to take some rest in the past because I got injured. Overuse. All of them.

What is the history and background of your name? 
> There’s actually a funny story behind “Wyatt,” my brothers wanted to name me Wyatt because they thought it was a vegetable. My parents wanted to name me after Wyatt Earp. All around it worked out pretty well I would say.

Coach Dunn admits he’s enjoying himself more this season.
> We’re having a much better season than last year. He knows when have a little more experience, so that gives us an edge on everyone else.

Are you having more fun?
> 100 percent, it’s way funner.

What’s going to be the legacy of this senior class?
> I think it’s more rebuilding culturally what we have. We’re trying to rebuild what we had before and I think we’re getting it back.

SEEING MICAH
Micah said he met you on the first day of sixth grade and that you’re one of his best friends. When he was diagnosed with lymphoma last year, he was in the hospital for a long time. He said getting visits from his friends and teammates as the thing he looked forward to most every day.
> He didn’t really show any emotion. He was tired from the chemo and sleeping a lot. But you couldn’t see sadness from him. He was pretty persistent throughout the process. Two days out of every week we’d bring him lunch or dinner. He likes Spicy Ahi, so we’d bring it sometimes.

> When he was sick, it was kind of iffy if he’d come back for the season. For the most part, things progressed in his favor. I don’t know anything about cancer, but he fought through it, and pushed through for the season.

DISCIPLINE
> It’s just the way the program works. We’re much more driven to prepare year round. That shows much more than any school out there. The dedication is what Coach Dunn wants from you, showing up and working hard from practice.

Any shout-outs or additional thoughts?
> I need to thank my Mom and Dad for parenting me the right way and making me who I am today. Also my brothers for always supporting me and giving me words of wisdom all the time. My grandparents took care of me a lot when I was young and instilled a lot of essential traits that I possess today.

> Also to the baseball boys for always having my back on and off the field. Shoutout to Pepperdine for being one of very few schools to believe in me.

COMMENTS

  1. ILH April 10, 2018 1:36 pm

    what a great article. He has certainly worked hard to where he is now. Inspires hope for the older generation that some young uns understand the benefit of hard work.

    I must say, however, 3 am BP is pretty nutz. Baseball is Life, that is for sure.

    Btw, can you even practice on a Sunday??


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