With Spring Training being upon, Bleeding Yankee Blue is continuing this series, highlighting the kids that are vying for a coveted spot on the major league roster. We are going over their respective backgrounds – how they have been playing, their strengths, their weaknesses, and what to look for.
Tyler Austin is a 23-year old prospect who has had a lot of promise and for whom prime time is upon him. The Yankees picked him up in the 13th round of the 2010 MLB June Amateur Draft, and showed tremendous promise. In his first full season of minor league baseball, in 2012, he had a meteoric rise through the ranks. He climbed through several levels, reaching the Class AA Trenton Thunder. He had a combined slash line of .322/.400/.559, an OPS of .959, and earned the Yankees’ Minor League Player of the Year Award.
Austin’s can hit for both average and power. He has hit over .300 for several teams, levels, and seasons in his minor league career. He has a career AB/HR of just under 35, showing good signs of power. He played the majority of his games in right field, where he had a .981 fielding percentage, as well as showing off a strong arm. He has also played some time at first and third, doing better at first with a .994 fielding percentage over 43 games.
Austin’s real problem is that he has not been able to reproduce his 2012 success. Part of the blame goes to a thumb injury, which he has struggled to overcome. His average dropped to .257 in Trenton, where he spent the entire 2013 season, and his OPS dropped to .717. Austin did a little better in 2014, getting his average up to .275, but his OPS still stayed at a modest .756. If he is going to make it to Scranton and the Bronx, the Yankees need to see him return to his 2012 form.
Look for the Yankees to be paying close attention to his time in the batter’s box. They need to see Tyler Austin making good contact with the ball, and driving it for power. His abilities with the glove have not been in question, so he may not get much attention in the field. He was on the 2015 plan, but that may be pushed back to 2016. Austin still has things to prove, that he is not a 1-season wonder. The fact that the Yankees have better options in both right field and at first base may buy him another season. Nevertheless, it will be fun to see if he breaks out for the Yankees in March. Wishing you the best of luck, Tyler!
--Ike Dimitriadis, BYB Senior Staff Writer
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