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MLB Rookie Profile: Tyler Austin, 1B, New York Yankees

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Recovered from an ankle injury, Yankees rookie Tyler Austin returns to the majors.

Tampa Bay Rays v New York Yankees Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

We seem to be talking a lot about New York Yankees prospects lately, but they keep promoting rookies to the majors. That’s what happens when your farm system is going well. Here’s another one, familiar from his 2016 trial but still a rookie for 2017: Tyler Austin.

On the prospect radar as far back as 2011, Austin was drafted in the 13th round in 2010 from high school in Conyers, Georgia. He destroyed pitching in the low minors and wasn’t really challenged until reaching Double-A in 2013. Injuries slowed him at that point and it took him three years to get over the hump, not breaking out again until 2016.

Austin ranked 18th on the New York Yankees Top 20 prospects list for 2017 with a Grade C+ and the following comment:

18) Tyler Austin, OF-1B, Grade C+: Age 25, older prospect, was a hot property four years ago but stock dropped due to injuries and adaption problems against advanced pitching; made some changes in ’16 and hit .323/.415/.637 in Triple-A then .241/.300/.458 in 83 at-bat major league trial; will have to continue proving himself but can still be a useful Scott Van Slyke-like role player due to his pop. ETA 2017.

Injuries struck again this spring and he lost most of April and May with a fractured ankle, but he tore up Triple-A this June (.300/.366/.560) and is back in the majors now.

Austin is a right-handed hitter and thrower, listed at 6-2, 220, born September 6th, 1991. I compared him to Scott Van Slyke of the Los Angeles Dodgers pre-season and I still think that works: Austin has real pop in his bat and is capable of putting up something like Van Slyke’s peak 2014 season (.297/.386/.524), but will probably be inconsistent from year to year and end up with a career line similar to Van Slyke’s (.242/.326/.427, wRC+ 109).

In other words, Austin looks like a slightly above-average hitter overall, capable of an impressive peak but more of a role player than long-term regular. That’s my take. What do you think?