Tyler Austin: All-Around Athlete

Tyler Austin ended 2012 being named the Yankees ‘Minor League Player of the Year’, after level-jumping four times, with a two-game stint for Double-A Trenton. He began this year in Double-A and, while he’s had some difficulties, he’s adjusted well and shown more of what was so impressive in the lower level leagues.

The rightfielder has produced at the plate with 59 hits this season. In earlier games this season, he had a tendency to want to pull the ball, but in a game on June 11th, he tried to use all parts of the field, although he was stopped by a strong Binghamton Mets infield. Still, the promise of what he’s capable was clear. He scorched a two-out single to center, and with his excellent speed he might’ve been able to turn it into a double. Another ball was smoked to left-field, but was caught. In that at-bat he allowed the ball to get in close, and with his quick hands and impressive bat speed got to the ball in the zone fast.

He also displayed his aggressive two-strike approach. At times, that can hurt him (his second at-bat) other times it’s to his advantage (single to center). With 56 strikeouts already this season (4th of all current Thunder players), he’s on pace to exceed his 98 K’s in 2012. But he’s also working walks, with 33 through 57 games, compared to last season when he drew 51 over 110 games.

In the seventh, with the Thunder down two runs, he had an opportunity after Slade Heathcott doubled. He wasn’t selective, swinging at the first pitch he saw, and with the count 1-1, swung again. He fouled off the next two, and, with two strikes, and the count full, he took a tentative swing to strike out. However, he’s been a big run producer, driving in runners at an excellent clip as he’s descended through the system. He’s leading the Thunder with 34 RBI, and finished 2012 with 80 RBI, third overall of all Yankees minor leaguers.

His solid fielding and aforementioned excellent speed were showcased as well. And while the word grit can be overused in baseball, there’s no other way to describe Austin’s style of play. When a ball was hit deep, he and Heathcott collided trying to get to it. Austin caught the ball and hung onto it. Lean and muscular, he has tremendous agility at his position and gets excellent jumps on the ball. He’ll make a play that looks too difficult, like the one at the warning track, taking opportunities away from a team, even when he’s struggling to create one at the plate.

Speed on the basepaths didn’t help him a lot that game, but it has and will continue to. His attempt to leg out a ball hit to the third base side was impressive, though his stolen base attempts are way down so far this season, with just three.

He looked sometimes like he was trying too hard for the big hit, pushing for power in the hopes of tying it up, but when he trusted his ability to make solid contact with the ball and used his strength, he came through. He’s a solid defender, and the most complete hitter and the most advanced bat on that Thunder squad, perhaps even of all Yankees prospects.

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Jessica has provided minor league baseball coverage for Baseball Digest, Gotham Baseball Magazine, Pirates Prospects, Project Prospect, The Binghamton Bulletin, The Trentonian, The Worcester Telegram, and her blog 'High Heels On The Field'. She's covered MLB for MLB.com and Junior Baseball Magazine, for which she's regular contributed for seven years. Follow her on Twitter @heelsonthefield

19 Responses to “Tyler Austin: All-Around Athlete”

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  1. bdsparty32 says:

    When can we expect to see him in the show?

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    • Angelo says:

      He’ll be in MLB by either late 2014-early 2015. Maybe even earlier in 2014 if he hits amazingly well and the Yankees want to be aggressive. I wouldn’t count on that though.

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    • I’d put him at 2015. And, as Angelo said, a possibility of late 2014. I wouldn’t be surprised if he got a late season promotion this year to Triple-A, and began next year at that level. He’s moving at a very good pace.

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  2. Angelo says:

    Um… I’ve read about Yankee prospects for years. It’s one of my favorite parts of baseball and there’s something you said that seems to be inaccurate.

    Tyler Austin is said to be “maybe” a smart base runner. By no means is he a speedster. I’ve never read anything suggesting he has excellent speed. All the scouting reports I’ve read over the years have suggested he has average speed now to slightly below average speed in the future.

    Where did you get that he had excellent speed?

    I’m not trying to be a troll or jerk, just trying to understand where you gained this understanding from.

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    • Baseballblahs says:

      Try watching him instead of reading about him. Good athlete, good speed, also smart speed. Whoever said below average was terribly wrong.

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  3. Jessica says:

    I got it from covering him, and in covering baseball. They’re my own observations. I “gained the understanding” by seeing him in person, as I do with every player I write about.

    As for reports by others, it’s varied, between average and above average speed. For the most part, he’s always been rated as having good speed. Saying he had excellent speed was based on what I’ve seen from him this season. And I stand by it. He’s shown growth in that area, and I’ve liked what I’ve seen when he’s needed to put his speed to use. Where he lacks in that regard, he makes up for it in instincts. In that way, he’s the kind of player that uses good speed to great use.

    My opinions are based on observation, and that’s what this is.

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  4. Ashman says:

    Is he AKA Christopher Austin? If not, his name links to the wrong page..

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  5. Yikes says:

    “At times, that can hurt him (his second at-bat) other times it’s to his advantage (single to center).”

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  6. Yikes says:

    “He’s a solid defender, and the most complete hitter and the most advanced bat on that Thunder squad, perhaps even of all Yankees prospects.”

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  7. Yikes says:

    “Still, the promise of what he’s capable was clear.”

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  8. Yikes says:

    “She’s covered MLB for MLB.com and Junior Baseball Magazine, for which she’s regular contributed for seven years.”

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  9. Yikes says:

    This reads like a 16-year-old’s contribution to the sports section of his/her high school’s newspaper.

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    • Jersey says:

      And you read like an inconsiderate troll who never learned the reply function forcing the rest of us to read your nonsense. I mean, if you’re going to be a dick, at least be concise.

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  10. jcxy says:

    You noted the jump in Ks–do you think this is more the result of trying to see more pitches/work deeper counts (excusable, if not a positive attribute) or are you concerned that pitchers might be exploiting a flaw in his swing at this point (which would be more concerning)?

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    • Pitcher’s might be picking up on his tendencies, but he’s not being discouraged from swinging away. I’ve spoken to a few people, and while they’d like to see him keep the K’s down, the overall viewpoint is that he’s adjusting, and, as you said, working counts. I probably could’ve mentioned that I liked that about him. He came to Double-A maybe pushing too hard. He’s learning to slow it down, take a pitch or two, and not just jump on the first pitch. The flip side is that, as he’s figuring that out, he’s striking out a bit more. But he’s hitting, as the numbers show.

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  11. Wobatus says:

    .345/.390/.600 over his last 13 games. It does seem like he is picking it up after scuffling a bit at first this year.

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