MESA, Ariz. -- Chesny Young wanted to learn about another country, do some exploring, maybe even surf this offseason, so he got a spot on a team in the Dominican Republic and stayed until the end of the playoffs. The experience was worth it.
"I've always been someone who wants to go out and see things," said Young, 24, the Cubs' 14th-round pick in the 2014 Draft who is in his first big league Spring Training camp. "I wanted to see a different culture and see the country, not just play baseball."
Young, ranked by MLBPipeline.com as the Cubs' No. 14 prospect, can hit. He's compiled a .314 batting average over three Minor League seasons, hitting .303 last season at Double-A Tennessee. On Sunday, he started at third, flied out to right and helped start two inning-ending double plays.
"I've hit everywhere I've been," Young said. "I've hit for average. I haven't hit for high slugging or power. I've just hit for average. and [improving the slugging percentage] is one of the things I'm trying to work on. In the big leagues, it's more about slugging, not average. There's so much more to hitting that I need to improve on. I'm trying to do it here with some new minds."
This spring, he's been able to talk to Ben Zobrist about his approach at the plate.
"I'm a hitter where I free swing early in the count and hit balls that I should take," Young said. "In the big leagues, it's tougher to take pitches because they're moving and you can't see them as well. It's definitely something I need to work on."
Playing in the Dominican gave Young a chance to work on his craft. He batted .351 in 22 games for Escogido, then he joined Aguilas in the playoffs and hit .314. He also took advantage of his time on the island. On an off-day during the playoffs, he rented a car and drove to Encuentro, a surf town. Young is from Atlanta, which is not known for its waves.
"I wanted to go surf in a different country and that's what I did," Young said.
His Spanish improved the longer he was there, and he can converse a little. He dined on arroz con pollo, yuca and plantains. He survived the rough infields, which can create tough hops.
"You have to make last-minute adjustments, and it makes you a better player," he said of the infields. "They all have really good hands down there. Maybe through osmosis, I gained some hands."
"In the Dominican, you can't replicate that environment in the Minor Leagues," Cubs Minor League hitting coordinator Andy Haines said. "It's a Major League atmosphere as far as the team, because it's there to win. You go from the Minor Leagues, where it's all about the player, and go to the Major Leagues, it's the complete opposite. It's only about the team and winning the game. I think it was a great environment for him."
Young didn't get much time off before reporting to camp. That's OK.
"I got everything I wanted out of [the experience] and more," Young said.
Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.