Prospect Profile: Tyler Austin

Yanks prepared to offer Sabathia a six-year extension
Learning From The Rangers
(Kevin Pataky/MiLB.com)

Tyler Austin | 1B, 3B

Background
A Georgia kid, Christopher Tyler Austin attended Heritage High School in Conyers, about a half-hour outside Atlanta. He was a fixture at showcase events and in various travel leagues, and was a high-end recruit for Kennesaw State. Baseball America (subs. req’d) ranked him as the 24th best prospect in the state prior to the 2010 draft, but noted that he could come off the board as early as the fourth round. The Yankees were patient and able to nab Austin with their 13th round pick, the 415th overall selection. He signed for $130k close to the signing deadline, over-slot but actually a bit of a bargain.

Pro Career
Austin signed rather quickly in 2010, but his season was cut short after a pitch broke his wrist in his second professional game with the Rookie Level GCL Yankees. The Yankees held Austin back in Extended Spring Training to begin the 2011 season, then reassigned him to the GCL Yanks when the season started in late-June. He wasn’t long for that league though; after posting a .390/.438/.622 batting line with three homers and eleven steals in 20 games, the Yankees bumped him up to Short Season Staten Island for the remainder of the season. Austin battled a minor wrist problem, but he still managed to hit .323/.402/.542 in 27 games while helping the Baby Bombers to the league title.

All told, Austin hit .354/.418/.579 with 18 doubles, two triples, six homers, and 18 steals (in 18 chances) in 201 plate appearances in 2011. Baseball America subsequently ranked him as the eight best prospect in the NY-Penn League. The Yankees sent him to Instructional League after the season.

Scouting Report
Listing at 6-foot-2 and 200 lbs., Austin is a bat-first prospect. He was drafted as a right-handed hitter with big power to the pull side, but the Yankees have done a good job of getting him to use his strength to drive the ball to all fields. An advanced approach and the ability to not only recognize, but turn on offspeed pitches makes Austin a dangerous middle-of-the-order type of bat. He’s athletic and surprisingly quick, but the gaudy stolen base total this season has more to do with instincts than raw speed. Chances are he’ll slow down as he gets older.

The Yankees drafted Austin as a catcher, but quickly put an end to that experiment and have used him at both first and third bases as a pro. He’s got the arm for third, but he must get more experience at the position and work on his footwork to avoid letting the ball play him. The corner outfield could also be an option since he runs well. Here is Austin’s MLB.com draft video, and here’s another clip from YouTube.

2012 Outlook
With the short season leagues sufficiently dominated, the Yankees will move Austin up to Low-A Charleston to start next season. He’ll likely play third base full-time, unless the Yankees get aggressive with 2011 first rounder Dante Bichette Jr. and send him to Charleston as well. Either way, it’s time for Austin to deal with the grind of a full season league.

My Take
The Yankees have done a really nice job of finding high school players with at least one standout tool in recent years, and Austin fits the bill as a power hitter with plate discipline. He’s not a zero with the glove either. I’m a fan because he fits the Yankee mold of power and patience, especially at such a young age, and the big performance is always nice to see as well. He’s probably too good to be considered a sleeper, but I definitely don’t think he’s generating as much buzz as he should. I’m excited to see what Austin will do with a full season’s worth of at-bats next year.

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Yanks prepared to offer Sabathia a six-year extension
Learning From The Rangers
  • Johnny O

    Thanks Mike! Austin quickly became one of the guys I always looked out for in DoTF. Maybe too early, but where do you think he’ll be in the next prospect ranking? Mid to high teens? Or is he too far away from MLB for that?

  • JohnC

    Great to see the Prospect Profiles back. Nice job as always Mike.

  • JohnC

    Austin sounds alot like JR Murphy. A bat first prospect, with a decent glove, can play a few different positions,and patience at the plate.

  • Andy In Sunny Daytona

    Love the Prospect Profiles.

  • http://www.thefatladyblog.com JoshTFL

    Austin, Cervelli, Noesi, Nova for Felix. Who hangs up first?

    /derp’d

    • Tom O

      Jack Z say no way unless you include Nunez.

      /kidding

      Or is he?

  • pat

    I’d love to see him get some reps in RF for Charleston next year with Dante as the starting 3B. Not likely to happen seeing as though he’s yet to play an inning in the OF, but that Charleston team would be ridiculously fun to follow. Dante, Cito, Angelo, Mason,Isaias Tejada, Ben Gamel and Tyler Austin? Sign me up.

    • Alex Lantigua

      Pat, you forgot about Gary Sanchez!

      • JobaWockeeZ

        Hopefully he’ll be in Tampa.

      • pat

        Hah, very true. He could repeat Charleston, but I figure if he does start there he’d be bumped up to Tampa if he gets off to a quick start.

        • Murakami

          We’ve got another stud in the making in Charleston in Anderson Feliz. Very toolsy 2B who is also a switchy. Really a smooth operator at second with a great arm. Is learning to identify breaking pitches and has a very nice stroke and hits line drives that really take off. I could see him being converted to OF at some point, if need be. His athleticism is really dynamic. Be interesting to see how his body develops. Right now, he’s a skinny, rangy kid with long limbs.

          • Chris

            You sound like you should be writing these prospect profiles.

          • http://none Bernard

            I agree. Feliz signed for $1.1 million as an International free agent. So the Yankees thought that he had a lot of talent. He’s a sleeper among those other bigger bats at Charleston.

            BTW, did you see that Austin hit his 9th home run today? Strange, because Sanchez and Bichette haven’t hit any yet. Even Williams has 1.

        • Rick in Boston

          Slade could also be back there, depending on how his shoulder is doing. They might want to see him get some AB’s there and gain confidence before the FSL kills his offense.

          • Coach

            Slade will be in Tampa. As a former coach of his I talk to him quite a bit, he’s headed there for sure

            • Murakami

              Coach of Slade,

              Your boy was very impressive during a 3-game set I saw in Lakewood last year. In fact, he did everything right except a curious base-running mistake that barely marred a strong showing. My concern about him is his aggressiveness. While I admire his tenacity, I wonder if he might not prolong his career by relying on his god given ability more. He doesn’t seem to protect himself all that well, and so far, a knee surgery and two shoulder surgeries, have me concerned. IYO, is this just the way it’s gonna be with this kid? Just his in game personality he and we have to live with?

  • http://bleedingyankeeblue.com Jesse

    Yay Prospect Profiles!

    Good post. I’ll be keeping an eye on Austin as the minor league season progresses.

  • http://twitter.com/#!/SteeeeveO Steve O.

    A little late on this, but without further ado:

    OH SHIT IT’S MIKES PROSPECT PROFILE

    • George

      Miky is in the house. Up next Ravel Santana?

  • rbizzler

    Love the prospect profiles.

    Love the power and patience combo with Austin. He seems to have a bit more upside than the Roller-Lyerly-etc crew.

  • Pounder

    One does not see as sweet a RH swing as this H.S. kid has shown.Needs work on the top hand if he wants to maintain power stroke.Yankees got a steal on this kid,expect to see his name in trade discussions soon.