Tyler Austin #60 – 2013 Top 100
New York Yankees
Date of Birth: September 6th, 1991(age 21)
Origin: 13th Round Pick(#415 overall) in 2010 out of Heritage HS(GA)
Evan Rentschler: The first time I saw Austin was via some 2009 Aflac BP footage, and he already looked like he had the body of a major leaguer. The skills play older than his experience as well in the way he works the count, the willingness to take what the pitcher gives him, the apparently seamless transition to right field after playing primarily third base, and ending the season with a .331 career batting average.
Of recent high school players, Austin brings to mind Devin Mesoraco, or a right-handed Stryker Trahan — players who are built like fullbacks and feature short, hard swings that generate natural loft without completely sacrificing plate coverage. Austin’s hitting mechanics are sound; starting slightly closed with his hands behind the right ear hole before dropping down to shoulder level, the momentum is towards the ball throughout the swing. What separates him from similar hitters his age, and keeps the swing so short, is the almost complete lack of bat wrap. It’s a nice approach that bodes well for his ability to hit for average at highest levels.
The bat gives Tyler Austin a seemingly high floor no matter where he plays, but in some ways it’s a shame that the Yankees gave up on third base so easily. It’s doubtful that he would have ever excelled there defensively, but even average defense at third base with his bat would be a real commodity. As it is, he’s on track to be a homegrown every day right fielder with occasional All-Star potential, something the suddenly parsimonious Yankees desperately need.
Chris Blessing: Unlike other writers, like Evan, here at Bullpen Banter, I have little knowledge of players such as Tyler Austin prior to their professional debuts. Reading Evan’s comments, I’d like Austin much more if he were even a mediocre defender at third compared to his current assignment in the outfield. Even as an outfielder, Austin is a pretty nifty looking prospect. With a higher floor than most twenty year olds, Austin’s ability to get on base is going to be a humungous asset as he makes the leap to the upper level of the minors this season. While I don’t expect him to maintain a .400 on-base percentage as he continues his trek to the big leagues, I do expect the OBP to be his greatest asset. I think Evan is spot on with his major league projection, although I’d hedge against an all-star appearance or two unless Yankees fans come out in droves and elect him in fan balloting.
Al Skorupa: I saw Austin play some third base in 2011 Evan, and I just didn’t see the necessary athleticism or actions. He’s got a heck of an arm; maybe you could work on his first step quickness and foot work, but I’m skeptical that he’d even be viable at third base. As you guys mention, it’s not like he’s a standout defender in the outfield either. Boy, he can hit though, can’t he? Austin hits good velocity; he hits lefties and righties; he makes mid-at-bat adjustments; he uses the whole field; and he’s a tough out. I would say that classifies as a high floor situation. Of course, we shouldn’t expect him to develop into one of the top 5 or 10 hitters in the game. I think we’re looking at an above-average right fielder who will fit nicely with the Yankees.
Fantasy Outlook by Evan Rentschler
Because of his polish as a hitter, Austin could be in the majors as early as this season, but 2014 is more likely as he’s barely tasted Double-A pitching. It speaks volumes that Yankee skipper Joe Girardi had to explicitly rule Austin out as an option for the OF mix in the wake of Curtis Granderson’s injury. Of course, when your alternatives are Zoilo Almonte and Melky Mesa, you can see why Austin would be garner some premature consideration.
When he does arrive, he should be a solid corner outfielder who provides batting average and moderate power for the position. While I think his minor league stolen base success is misleading, he clearly knows how to pick his spots and may provide low double digit figures in the category. Austin may end up being one of those players who is better in real life than in fantasy as there’s not a lot of star power in his profile, but consistency does has its virtues. A player who provides a steady stream of .285, 20-homer, 10 stolen base seasons is a nice roster piece.