Jan
02

Prospect Profile: Austin Aune

By

(David Minton/Denton Record-Chronicle)

Austin Aune | SS

Background
A Texas kid from the suburbs of Dallas, Aune was a two-sport star at Argyle High School. He led the Eagles to the Texas 3-A football championship game last fall spring by throwing for nearly 3,500 yards with 42 total touchdowns. On the diamond, Aune led the team in batting average (.447) and homers (eight) while also doing some pitching. He was named the district co-MVP in football and district MVP in baseball as a senior.

Aune was a strong quarterback prospect and committed to Texas Christian University, which was going to allow him to play both sports. Baseball America ranked him as the 15th best prospect in Texas and 128th best prospect overall prior to the 2012 draft, though there were plenty of concerns about his signability. The Yankees rolled the dice with their second round pick, taking Aune with the 89th overall selection. It was the compensation pick they received for failing to sign second rounder Sam Stafford in 2011. The Yankees had an agreement in place with Aune before the end of the draft, and he officially signed less than two weeks later. He received a $1M bonus that was nearly double the $548,400 slot recommendation.

Pro Debut
The Yankees assigned Aune to their rookie level Gulf Coast League affiliate after signing, where he hit .273/.358/.410 (130 wRC+) with one homer and five steals (in ten chances) in 163 plate appearances. He did strike out 45 times (27.6 K%), which isn’t terribly surprising for a kid who split his high school career between two sports. Aune participated in Instructional League after the season.

Scouting Report
Listed at 6-foot-2 and 190 lbs., Aune is a very good athlete and a toolsy player who the Yankees will keep at shortstop for the time being. He has a balanced left-handed swing with the kind of raw power that has a chance to grow into huge power down the line. Aune also offers a very strong arm and good speed, though his hands and footwork at the shortstop position are rough. Third base or the outfield could be options down the line.

Like most players the Yankees acquire these days, Aune’s makeup and work ethic are considered major pluses. He has struggled in showcase events and against advanced pitching, due in part to his inexperience. I’m guessing the strong intangibles are a big reason why the team is confident Aune will be able to turn his impressive tools into baseball skills now that he’s stopped playing football. Here’s is his MLB.com draft video and there are a number of other clips at YouTube, both baseball and football.

2013 Outlook
Give his lack of baseball experience, I expect the Yankees to hold Aune back in Extended Spring Training when the season begins. They could then assign him to one of their two GCL affiliates or bump him up to Short Season Staten Island in the second half. Neither would surprise me, but an assignment to Low-A Charleston to start the year would.

My Take
I love raw high school prospects as much as anyone, though I think the Yankees gambled an awful lot of draft pool money on Aune. I understand that a seven-figure bonus was needed to keep him away from TCU — Aune was on campus and already participating in early football workouts when he signed — but it’s still a huge roll of the dice. I get the sense that he’s the type of player New York would have drafted in a double-digit round and blown away financially under the old system, but the new rules meant they had to take him much earlier to make it work. Aune’s an exciting prospect with a high ceiling (you can count the number of quality left-handed hitting shortstops on one hand), but he has a lot of work to do these next few seasons.

Categories : Prospect Profiles

66 Comments»

  1. djyank says:

    will he stick at short?

  2. Jersey Joe says:

    Seems like his fielding characteristics are a good fit in right field, but I’d love to see him at SS if he develops into a top prospect.

  3. Vern Sneaker says:

    I guess it’s because Jeter’s in the end-game that I followed Aune’s progress during 2012. IMHO, he’s one to watch and will be getting Sanchez-Williams-Austin-type attention in a year or two.

  4. Arnav says:

    Did they essentially agree to the fact that City Culver is a bust by making this pick?
    Or are the Yankees trying to stock up on SS options hoping that one pans out?

  5. thunder rd runner says:

    Let’s hope not!

  6. Austin Aunelowitzky says:

    :)

  7. Alex H says:

    I think Aune is a great pick for the Yankees future. He has proven that he is an alaround great athelte by leading his high school to a football championship and leading his baseball taem in batting average and homeruns. The Yankees may have given him to much money for a siging bonus but he could prove he is worth it. we just need to keep a close look at him next year in the minors and see how he performs.

  8. Austin Aunelowitzky says:

    Casting an early vote for Aune for Prospect Watch in 2014.

  9. Really says:

    Yea see you in 2040 I mean really? Even if the Yankees were to bring this kid up he’ll never see the light of day because some 40 year old will be blocking him for 10 years. Or the Yankees won’t think he’s ever ready or will be over hyped. Get out while you can kid!

  10. Ted Nelson says:

    Often overlooked (or at least unsaid) in the 2014-5 discussions is that while guys like Aune, Bird, Cote, DePaula, Camarena, Hensley, etc. aren’t like to help directly in those years, some certainly might help indirectly through trades. I’m not saying that this or that individual guy will make it or should/shouldn’t be traded, just that out of the low-minors guys as a group there might be some good trade chips that emerge in sort of the mid-minors in ’13-’14.

    I’d be surprised to see Aune in GCL in 2013 after holding his own at the level (at least offensively) for 39 games in 2012. Barring an injury, more than a few games there would seem like a bad sign to me. Between the off-season, spring training, and potentially ExST, I’d hope that an elite athlete takes a nice step forward. I would personally be less surprised to see him in Charleston than GCL. I’d put my money on Staten Island, I guess.

    • Ted Nelson says:

      Also, I have no idea but I doubt they would have waited for double-digit rounds. AJax and Betances were 8th rounders, and they seemed to have sort of moved that strategy up taking Mason in the 4th and Bird in the 5th.

      • renzostew says:

        This was the first year under the new rules so where they drafted a few years ago cannot be compared,the rules have changed so that the yankees can only spend so much that is allocated to them before draft.

        • JAG says:

          His point wasn’t about where Aune was actually drafted, it was that he disagreed with the article’s claim that the Yankees would have waited until after the 9th round under the old system to draft Aune.

          • Ted Nelson says:

            Yeah, like JAG said I was just commenting on that one point in the article about waiting for double digit rounds. I think Aune is a raw athlete with first round talent but not certainty that fits into the mold of especially AJax and Mason (2 sport athletes who play CF), but also Bird and Betances in some regards (not the same level of athletes, but the huge potential and questions about signing or position). They’ve been very successful with that strategy, so I’ve got my fingers crossed that Aune is the next in that line.

            • Ted Nelson says:

              Then again, there are similarities to previous 2nd rounders under the old system: Angelo Gumbs and JR Murphy.

              I was hoping Vincent Jackson was going to be the AJax, Betances guy in 2012, but guess not.

    • renzostew says:

      I agree with you 100%.If Aune starts off in the GCL that would not be a good sign that the yankees have confidence that he was a good pick.he batted .273 so at the least he should start at staten island.

    • johnnybk says:

      Excellent point. It makes perfect sense that if money is tight, then you use the other commodity at your disposal. If I were gm I would be making a list of young impact bats and exactly what I am willing to part with to get them. Then at whatever point between now and spring training next year one of those players falls into the price range you make a deal. I know it makes for bad reading but there is a lot of sense in the patience cash has been preaching.

  11. Troll Hunter says:

    On a slightly different subject….has it been determined or announced where the Yankees second GCL team will be located?

  12. Paco says:

    I don’t believe a team can draft for need – I think a smart team drafts the best available talent. Most players end up being a bust, and players take so long to reach the Big Leagues that you are almost always better off taking the best talent and assuming that you can either fit them in somewhere or trade them for other talent later.

    Just ask the Portland Trailblazers whether it was right to take Sam Bowie in the draft just because they needed a big man and had Drexler…

    • Robinson Tilapia says:

      Exactly. Don’t not draft a catcher because you’ve got one you like in AA. Way too much in the air to draft by position.

    • MannyGeee says:

      I think this works in football, not baseball. Football players have the ability of being impact players immediately, but there is waaaaaay too much development time between the drafts and the bigs.

      Also, Greg Oden…

      • Andy Pettitte's Fibula (formerly Manny's BanWagon) says:

        Portland is just cursed. I couldn’t imaging missing out on both Michael Jordan and Kevin Durant for Sam Bowie and Greg Oden in the last 25 years.

        • Paco says:

          They deserve what they got – it was obvious in both cases that they were making a huge mistake – both lost time due to leg injuries and Jordan and Durant were clearly special talents. Just idiotic.

          • 24fan says:

            This is revisionist history. Oden was the consensus top pick and very few if any teams would have drafted Durant over him, given the concerns about how his game would transition to the NBA.

            • Ted Nelson says:

              I have no idea what team would have drafted him, but Oden was definitely at least the media consensus. There were voices calling for Durant, but they were a minority.

            • Andy Pettitte's Fibula (formerly Manny's BanWagon) says:

              I agree with your point about Oden. He was projected to be a dominant NBA center and did play 32 games averaging 29 minutes per game in his only season at Ohio State. Also, many people had concerns about Durant’s lack of strength and not having an NBA “body.”

              As for 1984, Portland deserves a lot more criticism. Bowie had missed 2 full seasons at Kentucky with the same leg injuries that ruined his NBA career. He was also projected to be a solid NBA center but he was definitely a few notches below the franchise type centers like Ewing, Olajuwon and David Robinson while the general consensus was that Jordan, Sam Perkins and Barkley were likely to become perennial all stars. They already had Clyde Drexler so they drafted for need instead of the best available player and got burned.

          • Voice of Reason says:

            Yeah…there was never any question who the #1 pick was going to be. Kevin Durant was floated there mostly as sports pundit talking point, Oden was locked in and it was not a remotely controversial selection.

            Plus, who knew Oden would be made out of glass? There was no reason to expect anything resembling those sorts of injury problems, and without them, Oden would probably be an excellent player right now.

      • MannyGeee says:

        And for the record, Sam Bowie lied about his balky knees during his physical.

        • Andy Pettitte's Fibula (formerly Manny's BanWagon) says:

          That was initially reported but I thought I read he backed off those statements afterwards.

      • jjyank says:

        Right, and not just development for the draft picks/prospects themselves, but a lot can change at the MLB level in terms of needs in that several year time frame.

      • Ted Nelson says:

        I don’t think it was obvious that Durant was better than Oden. In fact, I would say that the consensus at the time was that if healthy Oden was better. His health was a concern at the time, but not to the extent it’s become. Bill Simmons tooted his own horn for years because it was against the grain to say take Durant over Oden. Oden was the consensus choice.

        Also, not drafting for position is not ignoring position. A C in basketball is like a SS or C in baseball. They are scarcer, so all else equal they are more valuable.You shouldn’t take a C just to take one, but with the same grade on two guys it’s pretty easy to justify taking the C.

    • Laz says:

      Yep, you are often seeing 3-5 years before a prospect makes it to the majors.

  13. austinmac says:

    If a team relies on a player for an accurate report on their health when the player has millions to gain, it’s not too smart, wouldn’t you think?

    And Pineda’s arm felt great all through spring.

  14. Jacob says:

    But the question is, can he run like a deer? If so, throw him in CF.

  15. Ted Nelson says:

    Totally agree that’s what the Yankees are doing when they are looking for character, by the way. Looking for guys who will work hard enough to realize their potential (and possibly handle MLB pressure too) more than looking for nice guys for chemistry or marketing.

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