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Former Pirates prospect Walter Young dies at 35

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Former Pirates first base prospect Walter Young has died of a heart attack at 35.

It appears Young last played competitively in 2009. He was working as a school resource officer in his native Mississippi.

Young appeared briefly in the big leagues with the Orioles in 2005 (and actually hit very well in a small sample), but Pirates fans will remember him as a symbol of lost hope in the Dave Littlefield era. If you followed the Pirates closely at that time, you probably know who he was.

Young was drafted under Cam Bonifay's leadership in 1999, and he showed serious power while making his way through the lower levels of the Pirates' system -- he hit 25 homers for Class A Hickory in 2002 and 20 more for Class A+ Lynchburg in 2003.

Although Young looked a bit like an offensive lineman rather than a baseball player, he was a well regarded prospect in a decent Pirates system. Before the 2003 season, for example, the Post-Gazette ranked him the Bucs' ninth-best prospect. Littlefield, however, let Young depart via waivers after the 2003 season, around the time when he left Jose Bautista, Chris Shelton and others unprotected in the Rule 5 Draft. Littlefield might have been skeptical that Young's bat would play in the majors, but there was little reason not to keep him on a 40-man roster that didn't have much talent.

After getting to the big leagues with Baltimore, Young played in the Astros and Padres systems before winding up in independent ball.

Via Roch Kubatko.