Sunday, August 14, 2016

Welcome to Yankee Stadium: Tyler Austin

Unlike the quick ascent of Aaron Judge, the story of Tyler Austin is a much longer and more difficult one.  For baseball players coming into the majors together at almost the same age, their routes are ones of big differences.  Both were drafted out of high school both Judge decided to go the college route where Austin went right to the Yankees.

Speaking of the draft, Austin was taken in the 13th round of the 2010 out of Heritage High School in Conyers, GA.  In 2010 he also got into his first taste of professional action, playing in 2 games for the Yankees GCL (Rookie League) squad.  In those two games he got only 2 at bats and had no hits.

As is no surprise for a player being drafted out of high school, Austin, started his first full season (2011) in the Rookie League (Gulf Coast League).  His career started out hot as in 20 games he hit .390 with 8 doubles, 3 HRs, 13 runs and 22 RBIs.  With that great started he was called up to Staten Island.  He did deal with some injury issues this season and therefore only played 27 more games that season.  In those games he hit .323 with 10 doubles, 3 HRs, 16 runs and 14 RBIs.    

The 2012 season was another hot one for Austin, but injuries continued to play a role in his young career.  He started the season with a promotion to Charleston where he would play 70 games in 2012.  There he hit .320 with 22 doubles, 14 HRs, 69 runs and 54 RBIs.  During this time in Charleston he did spend 8 days on the disabled list.  In early July, Austin was moved up to the Tampa Yankees (Advanced A).  He would play 36 games in Tampa that season but again spent some time on the DL, this time for 19 days, which included a rehab assignment in the GCL (In his 2 game rehab assignment he hit .500 with a HR, a run and a 2 RBIs).  In Tampa he hit .321 with 13 doubles, 2 HRs, 20 runs and 23 RBIs.  This earned him an end of the season call up to Trenton.  In only 2 games in Trenton he hit .286 with 2 runs and 1 RBI.

With the big movement from the year before, Austin became a known prospect in the Yankees system.  He was ranked as a top 80 prospect overall by both Baseball America and MLB.com.  He spent the entire 2013 season in Trenton (except again for a rehab assignment as injuries continue to pop up for Austin).  In 83 games he hit .257 with 17 doubles, 6 HRs, 43 runs and 40 RBIs.  This season he spent over a month on the DL and did play another rehab assignment in the GCL.  There he played 2 games hitting .667 with a run.

In 2014, Austin started his season at big league Spring Training.  However, he did not make the big league team and after a mediocre 2013 season he was sent to another full season at Trenton.  This season he play 105 games while hitting .275 with 20 doubles, 9 HRs, 56 runs and 47 RBIs.  However, as is becoming a trend, 2014 was another season with a DL stint.

Since his fast accent in 2012, Austin, had not been able to break out of Trenton.  However, 2015 would be the year where he broke through.  He started the season at AAA with Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.  He played 73 games there hitting a disappointing .235 with 8 doubles, 4 HRs, 33 runs and 27 RBIs.  During his time in AAA he had not one but two stints on the DL and in early August was sent back down to Trenton.   He finished his season in Trenton and played 21 games there hitting .260 with 5 doubles, 2 HRs, 8 runs and 8 RBIs.

After the 2015 season, Austin was no longer seen as a top prospect for the Yankees.  Even much so that he was designated for assignment after the season and spent the fall in the Arizona Fall League to try to get him back on track.  This move seemed to work as he has had a turnaround season this year. For the 3rd time in his career he started the season in Trenton.  He spent 50 games there hitting .260 with 10 doubles, 4 HRs, 22 runs and 29 RBIs.  He then was promoted back to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and since the promotion has been on a tear.  In 57 games at AAA he hit .323 with 24 doubles, 13 HRs, 39 runs and 49 RBIs.  This was also the first season he did not spend any time on the DL and it all came together for him to get the call up to the major leagues.

As mentioned in the start, Austin's trip to the majors was not an easy and quick trip.  He had some up and down seasons with many DL trips.  However, this season he has really seen his star rise again as he tore up AAA causing the Yankees to bring him up for the stretch run this year.

As I spoke of in the article about Aaron Judge, Austin is the other obvious call up at the end of this season.  However, with the youth movement going on in the Bronx we could certainly see quite a number of young players be called up once rosters expand in September.


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