Charleston Battery midfielder and Mexico youth international player Fidel Barajas has won the Young Player of the Year award for 2023's USL Championship season, the league said on Thursday.
According to the USL Championship, the 17-year-old dual-national from Sacramento received 58% of the votes from media and club management.
"Just being able to win that award with all these amazing talented young men who are also in the league just shows that I have that level in me, that I could do something with it, and I could keep improving every day," Barajas said in a news release.
First making his debut with the Battery at age 16 last October, Barajas went on to thrive in his first full professional USL Championship season with five goals and 11 assists for Charleston in 2023.
His instant impact this year led to his inclusion in The Guardian's Next Generation 2023 list and the USL Championship's All-League Second Team. Charleston earned an Eastern Conference championship this season.
"Fidel is beyond deserving of this award as it shows his outstanding abilities and performances throughout the season. He has had an incredible 2023, between helping the Battery achieve a record-breaking season and the FIFA U-17 World Cup matches. We are so happy for him, his family and his teammates who have battled with him all year long," Battery head coach Ben Pirmann said.
Previously representing the U.S. at the youth international level, Barajas is currently playing for Mexico in the U17 World Cup group stage. Earning an assist in El Tri's latest 2-2 draw with Venezuela, Barajas will now seek to guide his side to a spot in the knockout round through their final group stage match against New Zealand on Saturday.
Without Barajas due to his involvement in the U17 World Cup, Charleston narrowly lost last Sunday's USL Championship final on penalties against Phoenix Rising.